This time of year usually features all kinds of award shows. There are the Oscars, the Emmys, the Globes and others where entertainment people appear dressed to the nines to pay each other on the back. Major League Baseball has just conducted its annual voting for its own Hall of Fame. In this spirit I would like to inaugurate a new feature on the Weekly Bystander called the “Bystander Hall of Shame.” We will begin the nomination process this month and continue throughout the year. The new year has already produced some good candidates.
New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, tops the list so far this month with the now famous “bridgegate” scandal. Although he has apologized profusely for the political decision that caused massive traffic jams at the entrance to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey, he insists that he knew nothing about the decision of his underlings to punish the Fort Lee Mayor for his failure to endorse Christie.
A couple of aides have been dismissed and Governor Christie can only hope that his run for the Presidency has not been damaged too badly. Despite his apology the Governor still deserves nomination to the Hall of Shame. The deliberate traffic jams did last four days and occurred four months ago. It took him that long to realize that something was wrong. Also, he was the one who appointed the nefarious aides who have now been thrown under the bus. He must have hired them for a purpose. It is hard to imagine that the Governor’s aides would have had the authority to direct the New Jersey transportation authorites to set up phony construction sites in Fort Lee without knowing that the Governor would have no objection.
Perennial candidate Hillary Clinton earns the second nomination this year for the revelation in a new book by Robert Gates, the former head of the Defense Department, that she opposed the 2008 military surge in Iraq only to head off the candidacy of Barack Obama before the Iowa primaries. This is not as bad as her Benghazi blunders of 2012 and 2013 but we will see what develops.
The third nomination goes to the group of more than 100 New York City policemen and firemen who managed to scam the City with false disability pension claims. A disability pension will not only often result in higher benefits but it also has the advantage of being free from Federal income taxes. New York pensions are already free of state and local income tax. These nominees apparently employed two octogenarian former state officials to show then how to make their fraudulent claims for largely psychological ailments. Some even had the gall to claim 911 trauma when they had been nowhere near the scene.
Finally, another nomination goes to the Connecticut Post, the newspaper of Connecticut’s Fairfield county. The editorial page of the paper continually runs cartoons depicting Republicans as wealthy fat cats. However, last Sunday’s front page led with a story about the multi-millionaire status of Connecticut’s all Democrat Congressional deligation. Senator Richard Blumenthal led the list with a net worth of around 120 Million although he did explain that most belonged to his wife. He was followed by Rosa Delauro ($26 Million), Jim Himes (9 Million), and Elizabeth Esty (5.6 Million). I don’t complain about the wealth of these public servants. It is important to hold office to protect and enhance your wealth. They might earn a subsequent nomination for the fact that they will receive pensions and medical subsidies but for January the nomination to the Hall of Shame goes to the Connecticut Post for constantly portraying the Republicans as the party of the rich.