"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chris Christie's Big Fat Morbidly Obese Lies

In the middle of p.1 of the New York Times this morning is a story on the heavyweight dissembling and lies of New Jersey's Koch-headed governor, Chris Christie.  Like many bullies whose honesty never matches their intimidating enragement, Christie exploits an everyhungryman's cut-to-the-chase matter of factness slathered over with dripping sarcasm and abusive finger pointing.  Yum.

Too bad the facts don't back up the Mammoth One's bluster.  My favorite:  Last year when Christie bragged about balancing the budget without raising taxes, he "forgot" to mention that it was done on backs of the elderly and the poor, who lost tax credits that make it possible to live in a state where rents normally exceed the entirety of a Social Security check. 

But then, the lie about teachers getting free health benefits is a good one, too. 

Oh yeah, and remember when it was Schundler's fault that Jersey missed its chance in the BttT (Bribe to the Top)?  Another fat lie.  And the snowstorm business--well, here are some clips:
New Jersey’s public-sector unions routinely pressure the State Legislature to give them what they fail to win in contract talks. Most government workers pay nothing for health insurance. Concessions by school employees would have prevented any cuts in school programs last year.

Statements like those are at the core of Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign to cut state spending by getting tougher on unions. They are not, however, accurate.

In fact, on the occasions when the Legislature granted the unions new benefits, it was for pensions, which were not subject to collective bargaining — and it has not happened in eight years. In reality, state employees have paid 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health insurance since 2007, in addition to co-payments and deductibles, and since last spring, many local government workers, including teachers, do as well. The few dozen school districts where employees agreed to concessions last year still saw layoffs and cuts in academic programs.

“Clearly there has been a pattern of the governor playing fast and loose with the details,” said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University. “But so far, he’s been adept at getting the public to believe what he says.”
. . . .
Some overstatements have worked their way into the governor’s routine public comments, like a claim that he balanced the budget last year without raising taxes; in truth, he cut deeply into tax credits for the elderly and the poor. But inaccuracies also crop up when he is challenged, and his instinct seems to be to turn it into an attack on someone else instead of giving an answer.

When New Jersey narrowly lost $400 million in the federal Education Department’s Race to the Top competition last summer because of missing data in its application, Mr. Christie held a news conference blaming “bureaucrats in Washington” and said state officials had tried to supply the missing numbers at a hearing. It did not take long for the Obama administration to release a recording showing that, in reality, federal officials had requested the information at the hearing, and the New Jersey team had not had it.

Mr. Christie fired Bret D. Schundler, his education commissioner at the time, accusing him of lying about the hearing. But Mr. Schundler said he had warned the governor before the news conference that what he was about to tell reporters was false.

“His entire point was he likes to be on offense rather than defense,” Mr. Schundler said days later. “He wanted to make this all about the Obama administration’s picayune rules rather than our error.”

A few months later, in November, when the Assembly speaker, Sheila Y. Oliver, a Democrat, and the governor were sparring over pension issues, she said she had requested a meeting with the governor. Mr. Christie called that “a lie.” Ms. Oliver’s office promptly produced text messages from the Assembly staff making the request.

. . . .

“A lot of politicians would react cautiously, but not this governor,” said Professor Harrison, of Montclair State University. “He always wants to stay on the offensive, and he’s not going to say, ‘Let me look into that.’ ”
After the record snowfall in December, Mr. Christie defended his decision to stay on vacation in Florida with his family, saying that he had spoken with the acting governor, Stephen M. Sweeney, during the storm. When Mr. Sweeney, a Democrat and the State Senate president, said they had not talked, the governor attributed his own misstatement to lack of sleep.

. . . .
But in going beyond those facts, the governor sometimes wanders into gray areas. In addition to claims about unions circumventing collective bargaining to “get what they want” from the Legislature, he has frequently said that “there are dozens of states in this country” that do not let public-sector unions bargain collectively (there are, experts said, eight); that New Jersey’s last round of union negotiations, under a Democratic governor, were not adversarial (there were heated protests at the State House); and that the vast majority of teachers in the state get free health care (they did until last year). . . . .

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