Assigning Priorities, And Saying No To Jersey Shore

Today provided another reason why I wish New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would throw his hat in the ring for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Christie vetoed a $420,000 tax credit that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority was going to give to the MTV show Jersey Shore.  Christie’s veto message says, “[i]n this difficult fiscal climate, New Jersey taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize projects such as Jersey Shore” and adds, “as Chief Executive I am duty-bound to ensure that taxpayers are not footing a $420,000 bill for a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the State and its citizens.”

New Jersey, like other states, has been grappling with serious budget concerns that have required Christie and state legislators to make some tough decisions and decide where to put scarce government resources.  Giving tax breaks to a hit TV program — especially one that makes your state seem like a repository for perma-tanned, muscle-bound idiots — has to be at the bottom of the priority list, as Christie recognized and explained in clear, unmistakable language.

I like those qualities.  That’s why I’d like to learn more about Christie and hear his take on how to tackle the federal budget deficit.

Another Week, Another Stalemate

Ho hum.  If it’s Monday, there must be another political stalemate in Washington, D.C., and another possible government shutdown looming.

The contours of this dispute are familiar.  Federal funds are running out and a short-term spending bill must be passed.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency also needs more money.  As a matter of fiscal discipline, Republicans insist that the increased funding for FEMA should be offset by cuts elsewhere.  House Republicans passed a bill that would make $1.6 billion in offsetting cuts that target the Department of Energy’s Advanced technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which makes loans to car companies to pay for things such as factory upgrades and the development of new, green, fuel efficient technology.  Senate Democrats object and argue that the cuts to the DOE program would cost up to 10,000 jobs.

I’m with the Republicans on this one.  Congress can always find an emergency to justify more spending.  If we don’t make cuts to compensate, spending will just spiral even more out of control.  Moreover, the DOE program sounds like a classic federal boondoggle.  If market forces make better fuel efficiency important to car buyers, car makers will have plenty of incentive to spend their own money to achieve better fuel efficiency.  And haven’t we done more than enough for auto companies lately, with the taxpayer-financed bailouts of GM and Chrysler?  We need to curb our appetite for ever-increasing spending, and curtailing programs that subsidize big auto companies seems like a good place to start.

For all of their protestations about being serious about restraining spending, Senate Democrats apparently are unable to identify even $1.6 billion in spending “cuts.”  Doesn’t that say something about how serious they really are?

The Last Taboo

HBO’s Boardwalk Empire started its second season last night.  Fans of this terrific series were plunged once again into the 1920s world of gunrunners, bootleggers, and . . . the Ku Klux Klan?

Wait a second . . . the KKK?  I didn’t think I could be shocked watching TV anymore — particularly on HBO — but seeing white-sheeted KKK members in full uniform shocked me.  I was shocked when I saw KKK members using a machine gun to mow down members of Chalky White’s bootleg operation in cold blood, and I was shocked again when Klansmen, in their hoods and robes, were shown chatting without embarrassment in full public view on the porch of a funeral home.  The Klan made a brief appearance last year — when Chalky White, played with seething magnificence by Michael Kenneth Williams, memorably used his father’s tools to interrogate a Klansman — but it looks like they will have a more prominent role this season.

The KKK was part of the dark and grotesque underside of America of the 1920s, and showing the role of the Klan, in all its violent, racist ignorance, therefore is just part of presenting an honest depiction of that era.  However, it disgusts and embarrasses me to the core to see the members of that hated organization shown on TV.  It hurts to be reminded of the craven and unforgivable acts of the KKK and those who tolerated its madness and lawlessness.

I’m not asking anyone to sanitize the ugly racist underbelly of America in the 1920s, but I’m hoping for some discretion on the part of Boardwalk Empire‘s creators.  I just hate seeing those despised hooded figures.