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New & Noteworthy

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Don’t Be that Guy

“Use your passive aggression to instead point out that your cousin’s new “look” doesn’t really work very well for him or to suggest that perhaps your nieces and nephews should sit down and eat instead of being little idiots running around all over. Focus, is the point. If you must undermine those around you, do it in a way that will still be relevant at next year’s Thanksgiving”.

http://www.thewire.com/politics/2013/11/dont-talk-your-family-about-politics-thanksgiving-no-one-cares/355511/

Doom & Gloom & Sensationalism 

“”If you’re feeling some déjà vu, there’s a reason,” Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth political scientist and media critic wrote in his column in the Columbia Journalism Review last week. “Journalists are falling victim to the same extrapolation fallacy that pervades so much political coverage. In these sorts of stories, reporters identify a current trend and spin out a story in which it continues to implausible extremes.”

But in reality, of course, any shifts in public opinion around specific events are transitory and limited. Obama recovered from his disastrous Denver debate and went on to win the 2012 election; the GOP recovered from its loss in 2008 and went on to win a historic victory in 2010.”

http://www.nationaljournal.com/white-house/can-obama-recover-he-did-already-20131125

Reverend Hobby Lobby

“The appeals court judges relied on the Supreme Court’s much-disputed Citizens United decision that said corporations have the same right as people to make political contributions; they concluded that “for-profit corporations” can be considered “persons” with religious beliefs.”

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obamacare-religion-20131125,0,2545589.story#axzz2llZTAmiN

Dinkins Disses de BlasioOn Campus!

“In an unscripted and cringe-inducing moment of political candor, Mr. Dinkins opined before a crowd of journalists and academics at Columbia University that Mr. de Blasio should consider a different approach to funding an expansion of prekindergarten programs, throwing a wrench into what was meant to be a carefully choreographed day of municipal theater”.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/nyregion/praised-by-de-blasio-dinkins-responds-with-an-arrow.html?partner=socialflow&smid=tw-nytmetro&_r=0

No Tea Party for JFK 

From the speech he was set to give in Dallas, until the unthinkable occurred: 

“But today other voices are heard in the land – voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality . . . At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the single greatest threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.”

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/john-f-kennedys-prophetic-rebuke-of-tea-party-politics-20131122

Photo Credit: whitehousemuseum.org

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US Politics

Christie’s Formidable One-Two Punch

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By Tom Elustondo

I was happy to see Chris Christie handily win the New Jersey gubernatorial race Tuesday night. In my view, Chris Christie provides precisely what the muddled and confused American political scene needs right now: straight talk.

People are beyond disgusted and frustrated with the incompetent do-nothing Congress and are looking for honest and direct leadership. The amount of fatigue that exists from hearing the liberal MSNBC line on one side and the conservative Fox News line on the other is extreme. Both sides talk past one another without actually engaging the issue or the other side. They screech snarky political platitudes that do nothing but pollute the public’s understanding of the issues. In the process they facilitate polarization of the electorate and decrease the potential for common understanding.

Chris Christie has proven time and time again that he is willing to stand by his positions and tell it like he sees it, rejecting the aforementioned political posturing. After Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey, Christie established himself as a strong defender of his state’s well-being, lobbying the federal government for billions of dollars in aid and actively participating in the clean-up and rebuilding processes. When Congress rejected a bill that would provide New Jersey with $60 billion in aid, Christie chastised his own party’s leadership stating that “There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering. The House majority and their speaker, John Boehner.”[1] Furthermore, despite being governor of a Democratic-leaning state, Christie confronted the highly powerful and entrenched New Jersey teachers unions in 2010 upon assuming the governorship. Asking teachers to accept a pay freeze and to begin contributing to 1.5% of their salaries toward health care, Christie vigorously dismissed claims that he was endangering New Jersey’s public schools in direct and stinging speeches.[2] Christie was ultimately successful, displaying the value of toughness and straight talk.

However, straight talk is not enough to be a successful politician. Politics is a much more complicated art than that. An enormous degree of tact and savvy is involved in the process, what some people would call “playing politics.” Yet, as John F. Kennedy touches upon in Profiles in Courage, “playing politics” is inherent to the process of governance. Despite appearing slimy and uncouth, tit-for-tat deals, half-measures, and unsatisfying compromises are necessary and important to accomplish the difficult goal of governing. In a speech in front of supporters at the Jersey Shore last week, Christie touted bipartisanship and compromise as the key to solving not only Republicans’ recent election woes, but also to solving the dysfunction in Washington. He criticized Republicans for seeking 100% “purity” in candidates, saying that it elicits representatives who simply tell the voters what they want to hear. Also taking a shot at the federal level, Christie stated that “That’s why we have the political system we have in Washington now, because we have people who have become convinced that they have to be 100 percenters.”[3] The New Jersey governor’s emphasis on compromise and bipartisanship illustrates his appreciation of the tact involved in political success.

Christie’s strength is that he combines these two crucial traits, straight talk and political tact, but emphasizes straight talk to a greater degree than other politicians. Christie’s landslide reelection in New Jersey, a Democratic state, by a margin of 61% to 38% validates the legitimacy of his strategy.[4] Corroborating Christie’s attitude is the fact that Ken Cucinnelli, a Tea Party Republican “purist,” was defeated in the important Virginia gubernatorial race the same day as Christie’s victory. The path to the Republican Party’s salvation must include straight talk and political tact via compromise and bipartisanship. They should look to Chris Christie for pointers.

 

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