“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee”

Tell me, Gov. Soprano: Is it wrong that I am smiling?

That was an email from Bridget Anne Kelly, Deputy Chief of Staff in Chris Christie’s office, to David Wildstein, Christie’s Port Authority patronage appointee, two weeks before Wildstein gridlocked Ft. Lee traffic for the first four days of the school year by shutting down two of the three access lanes from Ft. Lee to the George Washington Bridge.

Perhaps the most chilling exchange in the trove of emails someone handed to reporters is this one:

Wildstein: Is it wrong that I am smiling?

Kelly: No

W: I feel badly about the kids

K: They are the children of Buono voters

So tell me, Gov. Soprano: Is it wrong that I am smiling now?

Footnote My friend Stuart Levine emails: “The Republican field for 2016 just got materially lighter.”

Update More here, implicating more Christie cronies. Probability the Gov was out of the loop: epsilon. Both the Times nor the Bergen Record conceal the provenance of the emails behind the Mysterious Passive Voice: the records were “obtained by” both outlets, apparently immaculately. Anyone know the back-story here? [Updated update Apprently this is Wildstein’s redacted version of records he produced under subpoena.]

Second update As far as Memeorandum can find, there doesn’t seem to be anyone standing up for Christie. And the usual collection of “It’s-all-liberal-nonsense-and-what-about-Benghazi” comment trolls seems to be on vacation. (Maybe that’s because most of the trolls are Teahadis who hate Christie almost as much as they hate Obama.)

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

41 thoughts on ““Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee””

  1. Obviously the govenor’s office is filled with jackasses, but can we stop with the weight jokes? They’re offensive.

    -A Fat Democrat

    1. Sorry if you’re offended. Personally, I’m somewhat short for my weight, so I fell entitled to mix some fat-guy jokes in with my Jew-jokes.

      1. There are a surprising number of online posters who embody the humorless stereotypes of THATS NOT FUNNY liberals. Standup comedy must be absolute hell for them. I feel pity, not sympathy, for the offense police.

        1. I’m not saying I have never in my life made a joke about someone’s weight, but the problem is that since certain jokes really are off limits (I am sure Mark and a lot of the commenters here, including even some of the conservatives, would be VERY uncomfortable about statements that mixed a substantive criticism of Obama with a reference to his race, and I know even some liberals have gone after statements that mixed substantive criticisms of Sarah Palin with references to her gender), there is a serious question as to why something like obesity ISN’T off limits. Especially since there are serious problems with fat-shaming.

          It’s a better idea to stick to the substance, especially when (as appears here) there are legitimate issues to be raised with respect to the conduct of Christie and his administration.

        2. Great comedy is about empathy and about punching up – not about punching down or bullying. Christie is a target-rich environment; targeting him for his pedestrian human frailties as opposed to his monstrous traits is just lazy.

    2. Yeah, I was terribly offended when TBogg called him “The Outlaw Jersey Whale.” Well, first I laughed until I could hardly breathe. But afterwards, sure, I was offended? I guess?

      – A Fat Democrat

      1. The pun is funny even if one of the meanings of Whale/Wales happens to be an unkind synonym for ‘obese person’. After appreciating the novelty of the pun, you might start to regret the aftertaste.

    3. I also don’t think picking on people for their weight is funny.

      It’s mean, and it’s boring. A twofer.

      1. Well, let’s be clear. Fat jokes are not cool. So I’ve been thinking about that, and about why my gut tells me why, in cases like this, it’s bad but not so bad that I’ve got a problem with it. It basically comes down to a two-pronged test: Are you attacking someone because they’re heavy, or are you attacking someone and they’re heavy? And are you punching up?

        There’s just a world of difference between “Hey, here’s a photo I took of a morbidly obese lady I saw at the grocery store today, and let’s all make fun of her” and “The Republican field…just got materially lighter.”

        I think the offense police would like to pretend that there’s no significant difference there, and there is.

        1. There is. And times change. Add in the reach, effect/impact, and influence of Mark’s words, and Borscht Belt comedy loses its ‘lightness.’ This said as an inveterate bubble buster. Is “materially lighter” funny? Of course it is. Has the time for this particular kind of humor in the public sphere passed? It has. If I were Christie’s bud, in private, tossing barleys? No problem with the fat jokes. I mean, really – how does he choose a zip code? But in a public forum like this – and I’m not in any way trying to be ‘correct’ – it detracts, distracts, provides ammo, and just sounds ‘off.’ Eh.

          1. Priggishness is also offensive, and so is walking around looking for an excuse to get angry by projecting ill intent onto others. There is such a thing as a genuinely offensive thing to say, and there is also such a thing as deliberately misreading something to create offense out of thin air. Making other people walk on eggshells is a crappy habit and we should stand up to it more often.

        2. Laertes, I think you need to reflect on what your gut would have told you about other jokes at other times in history. Times are changing, and while it’s still okay to make fun of the overweight, that’s not as true as it once was. Herman Cain is a nitwit, but there are certain kinds of insults that are no longer permissible. Christie has earned abuse, but people who share his body-type do not, and I don’t see any way of directing the abuse at one without hitting the others.

          When you find yourself looking for ways to justify what your gut tells you, you need to be careful that you’re not just rationalizing your prejudices. Similarly, when one finds oneself using language like “the offense police,” one is often looking for a way to ignore someone else’s feelings.

  2. I love one of the recent Balloon Juice post titles: “Is it wrong that I’m smiling?”

    Seriously: this is the trifecta. Nasty (borderline sociopathic)? Check. Corrupt? Check. Stupid? Check.

    They put this stuff in emails. Oh my.

    1. Well actually a four pointer.
      I would add: Oversized bully gets his comeuppance.
      That’s a core plot that Hollywood literally got fat on…

      True, it ain’t over until Gov. Soprano sings…
      But nevertheless: Kudos to Kleiman for sensing this story out from the get-go.

  3. I’m three-quarters finished with Double Down: Game Change 2012, the definitive book on the 2012 Presidential campaign.

    I just got through the chapter on Vice Presidential vetting. (The chapter is “Project Goldfish” and I think it’s #18, but I’m not sure.) Anyhow, one of Romney’s closest advisors on the team had started out as a Christie partisan to be Mittens’s #2. When he was through with the vetting, he said something like, “If this guy was nominated for the other side, I would destroy him. He wouldn’t be able to be governor anymore.

    Sadly, the complete depths of what he plumbed were not revealed in the book. But what’s included is ugly. There is the fact that Christie was a lobbyist for Securities Industry of America when Bernie Madoff was working his magic. There’s also the fact that his brother pleaded guilty to “systematically overcharging his clients” and paid a settlement to the SEC. There’s also the Inspector General’s report that stated that of all the Attorneys General, Christie exceeded his expense account for travel, lodging, and food more than any other AG in the nation..

    Governor Christie is 100% corrupt. Good riddance.

    1. Unfortunately, all of us NJ residents are 4 years away from being able to say “Good Riddance”. But if this at least stops all of the absolutely nauseating garbage we’ve had to listen to from people all over the country saying “Gee, I’m usually a Democrat but your guy Christie is one Republican I like”, then I’ll consider that a plus.

      1. Unless the legislature follows through on impeachment, which I wouldn’t entirely rule out even if it is unlikely.

    2. I haven’t read Double Down – I’ll not give those nihilistic politics-as-a-game hacks my money – and so I don’t know if it’s covered in the book, but one big Christie vulnerability that rarely gets enough play is his personal corruption: he used settlements negotiated by his US Attorney’s office to enrich his friends and his causes; negotiated settlements that included charitable donations in lieu of damages found the money going to institutions associated with Christie and not with the US government, the other plaintiffs or injured parties, or the defendant – and, even more damningly, settlements that involved the appointment of special administrators found the highly lucrative jobs going to Christie’s pals.

      And then there’s the rumors (or were they substantiated?) about special treatment amounting to peculation of government funds for a female attorney in his office who was rumored to be involved with him.

  4. Keith!

    If you show up here, how do I know which OTC PSE are extraction-resistant? If it comes in generic, I’ll buy it.

    1. Oh, I forgot to say, someone turned off the “reply” buttons on your other post about polls, which is why I put it here.

  5. I’m no Christie fan, but think there’s too much guilt-by-association going on here. Unless evidence comes out directly linking Christie to this debacle by his aides, I don’t think it will sink his battleship.

    1. “Guilt by association” is perfectly fair when you’re blaming a leader for the doings of his subordinates. He sets the tone, and bears command responsibility for what his subordinates–and especially his direct reports–get up to in his name.

        1. Right. It’s not guilt by association when you are the one choosing your associates. It seems implausible that these thugs were acting independently, but it seems impossible that they weren’t part of a culture where this sort of behavior is encouraged.

    2. It’s his personal aide and lifelong (since high school) buddy, using the powers Christie has granted him to punish citizens for living near a politician who’s done nothing even controversial (he refused to cross party lines and endorse Christie! The horror!). Christie might well evade meaningful damage, but it’s far too close a relationship to be reconciled to “guilt by association” without at least Christie publicly and vehemently denouncing his lifelong friend as being the scum of the earth and calling for his prosecution.

    3. It’s like Henry II crying “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”. Then pretending to be shocked when Beckett is assassinated. Please wake up. This IS Chris Christie. This is his life. This is his career, going back through his time as Dubya’s AG, back to his time as Mayor. This is what he is, what he has always been, and what he always will be. I am so sick of people who claim to be liberal or progressive saying they like Christie. He’s a thug, utterly corrupt, petty and vindictive.

  6. The next thing is to see if his aides are liable to legal problems for their actions; I assume that they interfered with interstate commerce and that the feds would have an interest in the case. If they are facing serious charges, will they implicate Gov. Soprano?

  7. “Both the Times nor the North Jersey Record conceal the provenance of the emails behind the Mysterious Passive Voice: the records were “obtained by” both outlets, apparently immaculately.”

    The Times article says the documents are “heavily redacted by Mr. Wildstein, who turned them over under a subpoena from Democratic legislators investigating the lane closing….”

    The article at the NorthJersey.com link says the documents were “supplied by Wildstein in response to a subpoena issued by a panel of state lawmakers.”

  8. Christie reminds me very much of Mayor Rob Ford. Same fake populism. Same lack of self control. Same right-wing delusions.

    1. Well, Ford is a fake, a bully, an oaf, a liar and an incompetent, but he’s not as corrupt and nasty as Christie seems to be. His buddies are very petty crooks and lowlifes, not big-time ones. Sense of entitlement is big, though – the rules don’t apply to him because he’s on the side of the angels re low taxes and hitting on public servants.

    2. lol wut?

      You know which trademark-Christie-attributes Rob Ford lacks? Sanctimony and meanness.

      Rob Ford is the only politician in the world for whom I would seriously consider taking a bullet. (Like, in the leg or in the shoulder or something. Maybe in the crotch. But it would have to be non-fatal. What I’m saying is I like the guy.)

      Comparing Rob Ford to the Jersey jerk-off is blasphemy. Next time we duel.

  9. “Maybe that’s because most of the trolls are Teahadis who hate Christie almost as much as they hate Obama.”

    Amazing. I’d swear that you’re trying to imply that not having a double standard is a bad thing.

Comments are closed.