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Chris Christie: Brave, Bully, Or Bigot?

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Without genuine bravery, all of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s brashness amounts to nothing more than the predictable disrespect and petulant tantrum throwing of a standard issue bully.

Chris Christie has a reputation for being a tough guy. It’s kind of his shtick. The image he has spent cultivating throughout his career is one of unwavering fortitude, based on the notion that he is his own man, that he doesn’t take crap from anybody, and that while some politicians will kiss your ass and tell you how pretty you are, Chris Christie will keep things real, hurt feelings or not.

Keep in mind, this is no more reflective of reality than any other politician’s contrived image management. It reminds me of John McCain’s fictional “Straight Talk” persona, or Newt Gingrich’s professorial “scholar of the party” nonsense, or the cartoonishly absurd rootin’ tootin’ cowboy act George W. Bush cultivated over 8 years. In reality, John McCain proved himself every bit the flip flopper people used to accuse John Kerry of being, these brilliant “ideas” Newt cooks up tend to be of the “we should live on the moon” variety, and as you will note, the minute George W. Bush stopped being president he abandoned that ridiculous prop of a ranch in favor of a proper Dallas, Texas mansion. Perhaps it was the crippling brush problem at Prairie Chapel Ranch, which could somehow only be cleared in the presence of photographers.

Chris Christie has chosen to take the lemons of his generally unpleasant demeanor and turn them into tasty, “I’m a freewheeling tough guy” lemonade. Be sure not to mistake any of this tough guy posturing for reality. He is every bit the craven, wobbly politician everyone else is. He just phrases his conservative boilerplate in the form of an insult. For example, this statement he made regarding his abortion stance:

I am pro-life, I believe in exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. That’s my position, take it or leave it.

That is a completely non-controversial standard issue Conservative statement, but by tacking that “take it or leave it” thing on the end he comes across as an independent thinker who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. It’s like saying, “I don’t care what people say, sweatpants are comfortable.” Yeah. Not really breaking any new ground there.

How then, did this plain spoken bad ass respond to the New Jersey Legislature sending to his desk a bill that would legalize gay marriage in the state? With hard edged “I don’t take no crap from nobody nohow” gravitas? Hardly.

Back in 2009, when Governor-Elect Christie was asked about the issue, he made it clear that he wasn’t just inclined to veto a marriage equality bill, he was enthusiastic about the prospect.

“If a same-sex marriage bill comes to the desk of Governor Christie, it will be returned to the legislature with a big red veto across it. Because, one, I believe that and I made it very clear to people during the entire campaign that that was my position and so there will be no surprise for the 1.2 million people who voted for me that that was and that is my position.”

How brave of Christie, to take such a clear and controversial stance during a time when absolutely no one was actually asking him to do anything. It’s easy to look tough when no one is trying to fight you. I can say “If current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silvia came in here right now and tried to start a fight with me, I would totally whip his ass.” This in no way prevents me from urinating on myself and crawling in to the fetal position should such a scenario actually occur. Regardless, Christie had taken a clear pro-hate stance on marriage equality and wasn’t afraid to be kind of a jerk about it.

Fast Forward three years, and with polls showing far more public support for marriage equality, Christie seems to be willing to consider his options. In early January 2012 he said this regarding a potential vote in the legislature:

“They have a right to set their agenda, I’ll set mine, we’ll see who gets there first,” he said today in Camden . “When forced to make a decision, if forced to make a decision on it, I’ll make a decision.”

No mention of the big red veto. In fact, he avoids making any definitive statement. When it became evident that Democrats weren’t going to back down, he tried to dodge it again, this time by attempting to talk New Jersey lawmakers out of passing the measure in favor of putting the question to a referendum.

“I think this is not an issue that should rest solely in my hands, or the hands of the Senate President or the Speaker or the other 118 members of the Legislature,” he said. “Let’s let the people of New Jersey decide what is right for the state.”

Aside from the fact that the people of New Jersey elected those 118 members of the Legislature to make exactly those sorts of decisions, as that is sort of the entire point of representative democracy, this was an attempt on the part of Christie to escape the corner he had painted himself into. This is the same corner the entire Republican Party currently resides in. On one hand, his base, those Christie warriors who love telling the Governor all about how tough he is, have made it clear that they are taking anti-gay bigotry to the grave. They will never be letting up about it, ever ever ever, and will expect nothing less than 100% compliance on the matter if their support is to continue. When he had made his comment about the big red veto, marriage equality enjoyed only lukewarm support. Three years later those same polls showed substantial public support for equality. Suddenly, cheerfully vetoing equality legislation ran the risk of alienating independent voters. Displaying some of that patented Christie Toughness, the Governer did everything he could to slink out of the fight. It almost sounds like he is about to cry in this quote.

If the majority of the people want [same-sex marriage] prove it. Put it on the ballot, let it be voted on….I’ve told every Republican in the state legislature to vote to put it on the ballot. They need three-fifths to put it on the ballot. The Republicans have two-fifths in the legislature. So that means the Democrats only need to come up with one-fifth of the legislature…this is the bargain of your life. I’m giving you two-fifths! And the polls they show me say that if it goes on the ballot, it will lose. How much more magnanimous can I be? What else do you want me to do? Go campaign for it too? Look, I’m doing the best I can here!

By which he means, “I am too cowardly to sign this bill. I am going to go cry now.”

In the end, real bravery and genuine toughness could only be found in the legislature, who despite knowing that the bill would face a sniveling, pandering veto from the office of Governor Christie, passed the measure anyway; both because it was the right thing to do, and because it was going to be hilarious to watch Mr. Tough Guy bitch and moan about having to veto it.

As promised, Christie promptly applied his veto, cementing his legacy as one of a thousand politicians too morally insolvent to buck their party’s short sighted and bigoted views and side with equality. Christie chose to be small minded and unremarkable. Rather than do what is right, Christie has successfully avoided the wrath of his base by choosing to do what is wrong. The true measure and depth of his cowardice can be shown in the statement put out by his office in the wake of the veto. Calling his move a “conditional veto” he said this:

Today, I am adhering to what I’ve said since this bill (S-1) was first introduced – an issue of this magnitude and importance, which requires a constitutional amendment, should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide,” Christie said. “I continue to encourage the Legislature to trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing our citizens to vote on a question that represents a profoundly significant societal change. This is the only path to amend our State Constitution and the best way to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in our state.

I have been just as adamant that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples – as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits,” the governor added. “Discrimination should not be tolerated and any complaint alleging a violation of a citizen’s right should be investigated and, if appropriate, remedied. To that end, I include in my conditional veto the creation of a strong Ombudsman for Civil Unions to carry on New Jersey’s strong tradition of tolerance and fairness.

Screw you, Governor Christie. You don’t get to have it both ways. You can’t intentionally deny civil rights to the LGBT citizens in your state, and still get lecture everyone about how important equality is to you. Actually doing these things at the exact same time is positively appalling. Trying to pander to everyone simultaneously is the work of Mitt Romney, not someone who is supposed to be the down to earth, straight talking hero of the Republican Party.

Christie has sided with bigotry, and no amount of pathetic equivocation is going to change that. Equality has no middle ground, and the quest to find one is a temptation only the weakest and most pigeonhearted among us fall prey to. Without genuine bravery, all of Christie’s brashness amounts to nothing more than the predictable disrespect and petulant tantrum throwing of a standard issue bully. At some point New Jersey will see equality, and it will be due to real strength and authentic moral fortitude. Then we will know what real backbone looks like.

Related: Law, Unwrapped: Gay Marriage – Why Chris Christie Is Wrong On All Counts

 

Image, top, by boris.rasin
Benjamin Phillips is a Humor Writer, Web Developer, Civics Nerd, and all around crank that spends entirely too much time shouting with deep exasperation at the television, especially whenever cable news is on. He lives in St. Louis, MO and spends most of his time staring at various LCD screens, occasionally taking walks in the park whenever his boyfriend becomes sufficiently convinced that Benjamin is becoming a reclusive hermit person. He is available for children’s parties, provided that those children are entertained by hearing a complete windbag talk for two hours about the importance of science education, or worse yet, poorly researched anecdotes PROVING that James Buchanan was totally gay. If civilization were to collapse due to zombie hoards or nuclear holocaust, Benjamin would be among the first to die as he has no useful skills of any kind. The post-apocalyptic hellscape has no real need for homosexual computer programmers who can name all the presidents in order, as well as the actors who have played all eleven incarnations of Doctor Who.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Watch: Nazis and Proud Boys Clash With Anti-Fascists Outside Texas Church Hosting Drag Queen Bingo

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Authorities from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Harris County Sheriff’s Department responded to an anti-LGBTQ protest outside a Texas church on Saturday.

“First Christian Church Katy is hosting a drag bingo fundraiser benefiting the ministry’s Transparent Closet, a free boutique aimed at helping young people in the LGBTQ community in the largely conservative west Houston suburb,” Jay R. Jordan reported for Axios on Friday. “Protect Texas Kids, led by North Texas’ self-described “Christian fascist” Kelly Neidert, plans to protest outside the church, according to a Facebook event from the group.”

The report noted anti-fascist activists were planning a counterprotest.

“Neidert’s protests have drawn support from neo-Nazis and other anti-LGBTQ groups,” Axios reported. “Men in Nazi regalia and alleged Proud Boys wearing Buc-ee’s masks joined Neidert’s protest outside a drag brunch at Hamburger Mary’s downtown in July.”

On Saturday, Jordan posted a video clip from the scene.

“Proud Boys and Kelly Neidert’s Protect Texas Kids are in Katy, Texas, protesting a drag bingo fundraiser at First Christian Church. PB and Houston antifascists just clashed. Heavy police presence dividing the two groups now,” he reported.

He noted “Houston’s Nazis” had arrived and police formed a line between the two sides.

“The group of Nazis appear to be leaving the protest, sporting for the first time today a flag with a swastika. Proud Boys and Patriot Front have also left,” he reported.

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Image: Proud Boys in Washington, D.C. (Johnny Silvercloud / Shutterstock.com)

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News

‘Pretty Big ‘A-Ha’ Moment’: J6 Staffer Reveals White House Switchboard Called Rioter’s Cell Phone During Insurrection

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On Friday, 60 Minutes revealed that Denver Riggleman, a key staffer for the House Select Committee on January 6, discovered the White House switchboard patched through to the phone of a Capitol rioter — while the attack was in progress.

“Riggleman, an ex-military intelligence officer and former Republican congressman from Virginia, oversaw a data-driven operation for the January 6 committee, pursuing phone records and other digital clues tied to the attack on the Capitol. He stopped working for the committee in April,” reported Keith Zubrow.

“You get a real ‘a-ha’ moment when you see that the White House switchboard had connected to a rioter’s phone while it’s happening,” said Riggleman to 60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker. “That’s a big, pretty big ‘a-ha’ moment.”

He added that “I only know one end of that call. I don’t know the White House end, which I believe is more important. But the thing is the American people need to know that there are link connections that need to be explored more.”

This comes after a series of damning revelations about the involvement and support of former President Donald Trump in encouraging the people storming the Capitol.

One of the biggest allegations to come out of the public hearings by the select committee was the claim by former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson that Trump demanded the rioters be allowed onto the premises because “they’re not here to hurt me” — and that he lunged at his security detail in the car after they refused to take him to the Capitol to join the attackers.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Watch: Torba Warns GOP to Not ‘Disavow or Condemn Us’ Because ‘Christian Nationalists Are the Republican Party’

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Far right wing extremist, Christian nationalist, antisemite Andrew Torba, the founder of Gab, the social media platform that is popular with white supremacists, is telling the Republican Party that “80 percent” of its base is Christian nationalists, and warns them to not “condemn” or “disavow” them.

Torba has ties to far right Christian nationalist Doug Mastriano, the Republican party’s nominee for governor of Pennsylvania. Torba has also “endorsed” Arizona GOP secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem, an election-denier and member of the far-right antigovernment group Oath Keepers, and election-denying Arizona GOP state Senator Wendy Rogers.

“We have the numbers, we are the majority. And we are done being the footstool. We are going to wake up the body of Christ in this country. And we’re going to do something about you castrating our children, about you sexually indoctrinating them in the schools, about, you know, taking over our culture and taking over our government and sending all of our money to foreign countries and allowing our border to be invaded,” he says in video published by Right Wing Watch.

READ MORE: ‘Pledging to Sue’: Christian Nationalist GOP Nominee Subpoenaed by J6 Committee ‘Didn’t Answer a Single Question’

Gab is home to QAnon and “great replacement” conspiracy theorists, Trump supporters, MAGA and ultra MAGA extremists, white Christian nationalists, white supremacists, antisemites, and anti-LGBTQ extremists.

“We’re done,” Torba continues in his rant.

“We’re done with it, and we’re going to step up and we’re going to rebuild this fallen and corrupt society from scratch, just as Christians have done many times before. And yes, we absolutely are going to get involved in public discourse and in politics, and you’re not going to shut us up,” Torba declared.

“And it’s a message to the Republican party too that they are not to disavow us,” he warned. “They are not to condemn us, because we are 80% of the Republican Party. Christian nationalists are the Republican Party, and they’re going to start doing the will of God,” he says, appearing to order the Republican Party to meet his demands.

READ MORE: ‘Seize the Power’: Christian Nationalist Doug Mastriano Prayed MAGA Would ‘Rise Up’ Against the Gov’t on 1/6 (Video)

“And they’re going to start, you know, supporting biblical policies, and they’re going to start, you know, fighting back against this and not being complacent or they’re going to get out of the way and we’re going to go in there and we’re going to do it ourselves. Those are their two choices.”

Torba has appeared on Tony Perkins’ Washington Watch show. Perkins is the longtime head of the Family Research Council, which appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

Last week Jewish Insider reported on an “obscure new book calling for the construction of ‘a parallel Christian society’ to replace ‘the failed secular state'” that seemed to be “performing surprisingly well on Amazon.”

That book, Christian Nationalism: A Biblical Guide for Taking Dominion and Discipling Nations, was written by Torba.

Last month the House Committee on Oversight sent Torba a letter “regarding your company’s response to the surge of online threats against law enforcement following the execution of a court-authorized search warrant by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.”

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘Christian Nationalist’ Declaration Is ‘Alarming’ Says Religious Liberty Executive

“We are concerned that reckless statements by the former President and Republican Members of Congress have unleashed a flood of violent threats on social media that have already led to at least one death and pose a danger to law enforcement officers across the United States. We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your company’s platforms,” the letter reads.

But that letter also said, “On August 15, a Pennsylvania man was arrested and charged with making threats of violence against FBI personnel. He wrote on the social media platform Gab, ‘If You Work For The FBI Then You Deserve To Die.’ He also wrote, ‘Every single piece of shit who works for the FBI in any capacity, from the director down to the janitor who cleans their fucking toilets deserves to die. You’ve declared war on us and now it’s open season on YOU.'”

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