Tag Archive: Israel

Senator Booker will Vote to Support Iran Deal

While it is disappointing that Senator Booker waited to see which way the vote on the Iran deal was heading before he committed himself, it is encouraging to me to learn that he will support President Obama’s initiative to keep Iran free from nuclear weapons.

From Booker’s statement:

I have come to recognize that on both sides of this debate there are people who want peace and share my fervent determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Both those who support this deal and those who oppose it have reasonable arguments as to why their chosen path is the right one or the better option for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran without the necessity for military conflict.

These provisions make this deal an effective framework for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in the near-term, provided we are willing to address infractions – however small they are – with meaningful actions immediately when they occur.

This deal can by no means be a final act in our diplomatic dealings with Iran, but must rather be a beginning of an era of increased vigilance, strict accountability, and rigid oversight.

Booker goes on to talk about his relationship with a “respected New Jersey rabbi” (most likely he is referring to his friend Shmuley Boteach) about family members who perished in the Holocaust and the senator recognizes that Iran is “an existential threat to the State of Israel and to the Jewish people.” But he rightly concluded that this agreement, as flawed as it is, is better than the status quo which would ensure that Iran would have nukes in a matter of months instead of decades.

Just Because its Legal Doesn’t Mean it’s Ethical

Like many of us, I receive a slew of e-mails from politicians asking for my money. I guess they feel that they don’t receive quite enough from the corporation-persons that wine and dine them as well as fill their campaign coffers.

Most of these solicitations are annoying, but having just worked on a Congressional campaign, I know that they are part of the electoral game. But a solicitation I received this week from Congressman Tom MacArthur was particularly galling.

The letter opened as follows:

I’m leaving for Israel tomorrow. I think that it is important that I go there, meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in person and get a firsthand understanding of just how bad this Iran deal is going to be.

This is wrong on so many levels:

  • If Congressman MacArthur already has his mind made up that this is a “bad deal”, why go on a fact-finding mission in the first place? Then it just becomes another congressional boondoggle.
  • Congressman MacArthur is using a critical and sensitive element of U.S. foreign policy not for any policy reason, but simply to raise funds for his re-election.
  • He doesn’t even need the money. He raised virtually no money from contributors for his last election, instead self-funding his campaign to the tune of $5 million – the most expensive congressional campaign in 2014.
  • The junket is not being paid for by the taxpayer, but instead by AIPAC, a far-right organization. MacArthur made no indication that he would also be meeting with any pro-Israel peace organization (such as the Israeli intelligence and military operatives who say that President Obama’s peace deal should be approved). Why travel all that distance without hearing all sides of the argument?

AIPAC invited every freshman congress member to this junket. Fifty-seven freshmen, from both parties, are going. Only three are not.

Those who are opting to attend by accepting AIPAC’s invitation are in essence taking a bribe – a trip to a wonderful historic and spiritual place. Since Congress writes the rules, this bribe is perfectly legal. But like many things in Washington (and Trenton) that are legal, the ethics of accepting this trip from a strong lobbying organization are dubious. Especially, as in the case of MacArthur, you are going there with a closed mind and using it to raise money.

Taking On the South Jersey Goliath

Whether you’re a disciple of South Jersey Democratic boss George Norcross, or just someone who is running for political office on the Democratic ticket, conventional wisdom says that you don’t get very far without kissing George’s ring. Even those people who are not part of his inner circle take pains not to piss him off if they hope to win an election here.

So challenging George’s brother Donald, who was handpicked to replace another Norcross acolyte who resigned under a cloud of scandal, is a hapless task, right?

Don’t tell that to Alex Law, a 24-year old systems analyst who has put his career on hold in order to challenge The (South Jersey) Donald.

Today, I sat down with Law to discuss his seemingly quixotic quest, his positions on key issues, and his plans for the campaign.

Senator Bob Smith

Senator Bob Smith of Central Jersey’s 17th Legislative District is not one to grab headlines like many of his colleagues. A smart, determined legislator, he is the chairman of the Energy & Environment Committee – a thankless job at a time when the all-powerful governor takes his marching orders from the Koch Brothers and not the people of New Jersey.

Despite the governor’s bungling of energy and environmental policy, there are important issues facing the state. As Senator Smith explains in this interview, in many areas progress will be stagnant until we have a new governor.

I met with Senator Smith earlier today at his Piscataway office. We spoke about many of the issues that the governor is ignoring, about lost opportunities in job creation under this governor’s energy policies, and the impact of President Obama’s recent anti-environmental move to allow drilling oil spillage in the Atlantic Ocean not far from our Jersey Shore.

We also talked about what the Senator learned on his recent trip to Israel and what he calls a “crisis for Ocean County” that Congressman Tom MacArthur has so far ignored.

The interview ends with comments on a controversial bill that he is sponsoring to put firearms in the hands of ten-year-olds and his take on the 2017 governor’s race.

Comcast’s Data Caps Threaten More than Higher Prices

Cross Posted From Dan Kurz’s Jersey Globe Blog http://kurzglobe.blogspot.com/…

With recent news that Comcast plans to implement some sort of bandwidth/usage cap on its Internet users, it inadvertently and probably put a nail, at least from an ideological standpoint, in its soon-to-be corporate coffin. Now I know from a present-day perspective, that seems a bit extreme to say, considering that it’s one of the nation’s largest and most profitable corporations. Nevertheless, by implementing bandwidth caps, Comcast is doing more than falling off the Internet wagon; it’s shooting the horse. At the least, Comcast data caps ought to be declared by the Federal Government to be monopolistic activity and regulated; in an ideal situation, the Internet giant should be broken up into several rival corporations to drive prices down and internet speeds up. The U.S. Supreme Court did this in the early 1980’s by breaking up the old AT&T “Bell System,” and the result, frankly, was our modern-day communications miracle.

It bears repeating. The Internet is our network of networks. It’s very presence in our lives is something that is, frankly, without historical precedent. It is quickly forming into the economic backbone of the global economy, and that’s a fact that’s not going to change in future years, it’s only going to expand. And as one of the nation’s largest (and perhaps, soon to be the largest) Internet service providers, capped Internet represents an intentional plug on national economic growth and security. Internet caps are the equivalent of internal tariffs, an evil of the past that is outlawed in our own national constitution. There are so many reasons to reject the idea of caps, it’s not even funny. Here are a few:

1.   There is no bandwidth crisis. We know this because while Comcast and other big-time Internet Service Providers tell the FCC that there is, they’re bragging to their own investors that there is plenty of bandwidth to go around, and profitably so.

2.   New fiber optic cables and data compression technologies are amply keeping up with bandwidth needs

3.   Capping internet use and charging more for it will make all forms of digital communications and commerce artificially more expensive; it’s the equivalent to a physical attack on the national communications infrastructure in order to keep prices high

4.   We know from the short history of the Internet that today’s “Internet sipper” is tomorrow’s “power user” as more Internet use is the norm, not the opposite

5.   In places where Comcast and its monopolistic equivalents encounter competition prices have gone down and value for consumers has gone up; don’t believe me? Ask anyone from Austin, Texas, where the cable companies are being forced to compete with Google Fiber’s amazing packages…no internet caps there and speeds on par with South Korea’s (100 mbs+)

I could care less about Comcast and its quest for profits, especially if it comes at this kind of price. Our international competitors in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Israel don’t cap their web use, because they know they’d be insane to do so. With so many start-up businesses depending on broad Internet use from both sides of the business model (producer and consumer), they have no intention of stifling the digital commons or limiting it in any way. If anything, our international rivals are making web use less expensive and more ubiquitous. Just this year, Tel Aviv’s municipal government began a plan to make the entire city wireless – for free. Taipei, Taiwan is already wireless, with Wi-Fi available on nearly every street and alleyway.

What we need is more competition and antitrust enforcement. In America we believe in the right to private property, but not at the expense of endangering the growth potential of the entire national economy. That’s what the Sherman Antitrust Act and similar legislation are for. We don’t believe in monopolies and, in fact, regard them as a threat. And that’s not just me – Adam Smith, that “Father of Capitalism,” makes the exact same argument in the very Bible of Capitalism: The Wealth of Nations.

Comcast’s quest wring the national Internet market for every dollar even at the expense at destroying its most valuable aspect, that being the vast potential for individual and national financial growth, must be countered and reversed. It’s in everybody’s interest to do so, especially those who still embrace the ideals of America as a place for broad economic opportunity and an unregulated marketplace for ideas.