By Stephen C. Webster on December 18, 2013

Two of Governor Chris Christie's political appointees have hired lawyers amid mounting questions over whether they abused their positions to inflict political retribution on a mayor who refused to endorse their boss.

The Wall Street Journal reported that appointees Bill Baroni and David Wildstein hired outside counsel after resigning their posts at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey following congressional intervention into an ongoing inquiry.

That inquiry is asking why two of the entry lanes to the George Washington Bridge were shut down in September after the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, refused to endorse Christie for reelection. Christie and his allies insist the lane closures were due to a traffic study, but they've so far been unable to produce this study.

A collection of documents detailing correspondence between Christie's office and the port authority are due to be delivered to New Jersey Democrats by Thursday, which may or may not be an influencing factor in the appointees' decision to hire attorneys. Members of Congress have also asked the federal Department of Transportation to investigate the lane closures, which led to hours-long delays.

"Whatever did happen still has not been explained," MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said Tuesday night. "Governor Christie has gone so far as to say mistakes were made, he's gone so far as to accept the resignations of his top two appointees at the agency -- his longtime political allies of his -- but so far he's still trying to stick to the line that it was a traffic study."

"That has never seemed credible, and the executive director of the agency says it is not true," she added. "With a federal inquiry now, and a new round of subpoenas on the issue, it seems like we are going to learn definitively whether or not this traffic study line is true. And if the traffic study line is proven to not be true, what happens to Chris Christie then?"

This video is from "The Rachel Maddow Show," aired Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013.

Photo: Flickr user Bob Jagendorf, creative commons licensed.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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