DUNEBOGGLE! The media loved Chris Christie’s previous traffic jam
The Fort Lee traffic jam in September is not the first time New Jersey Gov. Christie took on a local mayor while closing off roads and stranding Garden State residents far from their homes. But when Christie bullied and insulted Jersey Shore residents during the panic over Hurricane Sandy, he was widely praised for his judicious use of state power.
Christie has also used the 2012 weather event as a pretext for an unpopular beach engineering project that would threaten the delicate economies of the state’s shore communities.
Christie on Thursday gave a two-hour news conference denying prior knowledge of the closures of a George Washington Bridge on-ramp in September that caused a massive traffic pileup in Fort Lee. Recently surfaced emails suggest Christie aides planned the closure as a political swipe at the city’s mayor. (RELATED: Christie claims ignorance of bridge closure)
But when Christie went to war with a local mayor and blocked off crucial traffic to shore communities in the aftermath of 2012’s largest storm, the media rewarded him with glowing coverage and President Obama came up to the Garden State to give his personal support. Even still-living rock star Bruce Springsteen met with the governor. Prior to that, Springsteen had long given Christie the cold shoulder rather than expressing gratitude that the 2016 presidential hopeful remained a fan nearly 40 years after Springsteen’s last listenable album.
Christie got a lovefest in 2012 because his bullying tactics — which included attacking Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford for providing shelter to displaced residents, repeatedly calling shore stalwarts “stupid” and “irresponsible,” and even punishing people who obeyed his evacuation order by closing roads back into barrier islands days after the storm had passed — because his nanny state impulses in that case appealed to liberal worshipers of government power, who hate the individual liberties on which this country was founded.
“If something looks like it’s stupid, it’s stupid,” Christie sagely announced at the time, adding “Don’t be stupid.”
In another press conference, Christie attacked shore residents who chose to remain in their homes to and safeguard their hard-won property against looters, warning of the “dangers of portable generators” and calling holdouts “stupid and selfish” for staying to defend the inalienable right to property our forefathers died to defend.
As Absecon Island, the barrier island on which Atlantic City and three other towns stand, stood nearly empty after the storm, the always hysterical media warned of looting in Sandy-hit regions. But rather than letting locals return to keep their homes safe, authorities kept all bridges and causeways to the island closed for three days, despite the pleas of courageous residents who disobeyed the evacuation order without harm that the government allow their neighbors to return and begin rebuilding the hard-hit area.
But Christie’s real attack on shore communities began after Sandy faded into history. The governor has been pushing a plan to rebuild the bad-smelling, unsightly dunes that were originally dismantled, with great effort, during the creation of the Jersey Shore as a tourist destination. The plan has received strong opposition in the Absecon Island town of Margate (this reporter’s childhood home), where residents overwhelmingly voted against a dune-building plan that would ostensibly prevent shore erosion caused by global warming, rising oceans, melting polar ice caps and other fictions.
True to form, Christie has responded to property owners by insulting them. As the dune war heated up, the governor dismissed the shore residents as “knuckleheads” and called their arguments “bullshit.” In league with global warming con artists, Christie hopes to overturn the property rights recognized by a thousand years of English common law in order to return the Jersey Shore to a more “sustainable” state of nature.
What Christie and his allies don’t recognize is that the Jersey Shore in its natural state was not a paradise but a horrific hellhole overrun by mosquitoes and greenhead horse flies that were once the region’s virtual apex predators and still dream, in their tiny insect minds, of a return to power. According to a report cited in Alfred Miller Heston’s “Absegami: Annals of Eyren Haven and Atlantic City, 1609 to 1904,” here is what the shore was like in the early days of its settlement by civilized Americans:
“So numerous were the mosquitoes and greenheads in August, 1858, that horses, covered with blood, laid down in the streets, and cattle waded out into the ocean to escape the torture. Children scratched and squalled from the poisonous stings on limbs and faces. Excursionists begged the conductors to start homeward ahead of schedule time. Men and women converted their handkerchiefs into masks for their faces and a smoking fire was building front of every house. Before bed-time the windows and doors were opened, and a board placed on top of the chimney, and a dense smoke sent through every chamber, to drive out the mosquitoes. After the house had been thus thoroughly smoked, the board was removed and the people re-entered.”
Christie now faces an investigation by the Obama Justice Department over the Fort Lee scandal. However, his dune war on shore communities, like his authoritarian response to Sandy, has been applauded and supported by the federal government, environmentalists and the media.