Tag Archive: Holt

With Booker as the Democratic Nominee for the Special Election, NJ Progressives Face a Quandary

In what is no new news to Jersey Progressives, Cory Booker has unsurprisingly coasted to the Democratic Nomination for the late Sen. Lautenberg’s seat. He won over half of the vote, destroying Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Rush Holt, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. I worked and did everything in my power to help Rep. Rush Holt try and pull the upset, but to no avail. Many Jersey progressives had been hoping and working for Holt and Frank Pallone in the hope that we New Jerseyans could get a genuine progressive voice in the Senate. Instead, it looks like we will be getting a “New” Democrat, a socially progressive, but pro-wall street and fiscally moderate to conservative democrat. The knee jerk reaction would be to support Mr. Booker over the Republican nominee, tea party wackjob Steve Lonegan, as a “hold your nose” vote.

However, due to the fact that there, in a addition to the bizarre October special election this year, will be another election in November 2014, we (NJ Progressives) have several options. I will outline the pros and cons of them in order to facilitate debate between NJ Progressives. I have broken them down into courses of action that may be taken.

Option #1-Write in Cory Booker

This idea, proposed by vmars, is a simple one-write in Cory Booker. Instead of voting for him on the line, we will write him in.

Pros: This is perhaps the best idea to express the Progressive discontent with New Democrats like Cory Booker. If people see that even if a few percent of his votes come from write-ins, people will realize that Cory Booker truly is no progressive. At the same time, he will be getting votes that will be keeping out tea partier, Steve Lonegan, affirming his status as the lesser of the two evils.

Cons: There are certain technical problems with this strategy. Comments on vmars’s column question whether voters are allowed to write in candidates on the ballot. Furthermore, Cory Booker is a rising star in the Democratic Party. Having him in the Senate will brighten his political star, and maybe allow him to look onto bigger things (cough cough President). Progressives do not want another powerful New Dem like Booker in a party infested with them.

Option #2-Write in a Progressive Candidate

Pros: It would once again show our discontent with Cory Booker. It would also raise recognition of progressive candidates like Rush Holt and Frank Pallone.

Cons: Should the election come close, these protest votes could act as a spoiler and hand the Senate seat over to Lonegan. In addition it would accomplish very little other than express discontent.

Option #3-Vote for “Crazy” Steve Lonegan

Pros: The most unorthodox and bizarre idea of them all, it could just work. I don’t foresee Steve Lonegan upsetting Cory Booker, or even coming close for that matter. But what if further dirt is dug up, revealing the Newark mayor to be more corrupt than we already know, and somehow Lonegan pulls off the upset? This would mean a re-match in 2014, and with Booker losing over scandal, the Democrats will never re-nominate him. Boom. That leaves the door open for Rush Holt and Frank Pallone to seek the nomination. With NJ voting for Lonegan as a “hold your nose vote”, this could very well lead Holt or Pallone to victory over Lonegan in 2014. There is no way that people though, will vote for Lonegan just because they like him and they think Booker is bad. Some sort of miracle would have to happen. In addition, a loss in the Senate race would kill Cory Booker’s political career.

Cons: This is by far, the riskiest option. With Lonegan in as the incumbent, he might have a shot at winning again in 2014. And he really is that horrible. He has expressed support for privatizing Social Security, calling it a “Ponzi” scheme, has said he would have opposed for FEMA aid for Sandy, and is likely a racist, as evidenced by his tweet. Having him though for one year in the Senate even, would be harmful, not to mention embarrassing for the Garden State. How do we know that a Progressive will even run though in 2014, should Lonegan win? Holt and Pallone might decline to run in 2014.

Option #4-Vote for Cory Booker

Pros: Booker, as disappointing as he is, is the lesser of the two evils to Steve Lonegan. Like Obama in 2012, by voting for Booker, Progressives could say they stood behind him, and hold his feet to the fire, and maybe be rewarded. And voting for him 2013 would give Liberals a chance to watch him under the microscope for a few months in order to decide whether it is worth challenging him in 2014.

Cons: With him winning in 2013, he would be a shoo-in for 2014. Even if we united behind Pallone or Holt in 2014, it would be impossible to take him down. Allowing him in would increase his political star.

So I ask you, NJ Progressives, what do we do?

Rush, Frank, and Sheila: Alas…


According to Quinnipiac, Booker leads with 54 percent while U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone placed second with 17 percent from likely voters. U.S. Rep. Rush Holt accounted for 15 percent, ahead of N.J. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver’s five percent.

As for the Republican primary, Steve Lonegan garnered 74 percent of the poll to Alieta Eck’s 10 percent. Thirteen percent remained undecided.

If you combine Pallone’s, Holt’s, and Oliver’s votes, you still don’t get enough to beat Booker. But you do get a credible, serious candidate who could have been a real challenger; a candidate who could have forced New Jersey’s voters (and the press) to look at Booker’s corporatists leanings and actual track record in Newark.

Alas, it was not to be. For myself: I’ve always liked Holt and will vote for him on Tuesday. But I’ve come to admire Pallone; he would have been an excellent Senator. And my respect for Oliver has grown as well – far more than I thought it would have for a woman who is a product of the North Jersey machine.

Any of them would have beaten Lonegan; any would have been a better, more progressive leader for New Jersey than Cory Booker.

What a shame we liberals are once again denied our chance to have a voice. Once Booker wins, that’s it: short of a scandal, he’s in the Senate for as long as he wants.

He’ll be good on many social issues, and I grant you that’s no small thing. He’ll make sure the Supreme Court isn’t filled with rabid, conservative activists (assuming the Dems keep a majority and/or the presidency). He won’t go beating the war drums too loudly. He’ll make some wishy-washy concessions to income inequity; he’ll take away a few outrageous corporate tax deductions and pretend he’s leveling the playing field. Whoo-hoo…

But, in the end, this was yet another wasted opportunity for the left-wing, silenced majority of the Democratic Party. If only two of the three losing challengers had opted to pull out. If only they had thrown their support behind one candidate. If only they had agreed that it was time to do whatever it took to get a proud progressive into the upper chamber as New Jersey’s junior senator.


Holt Creates Distance From Booker on Education

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman

The next few weeks should determine whether there is actually going to be a Democratic primary race for the open Senate seat in New Jersey, or whether Cory Booker will simply stride to Washington with token opposition. Representatives Frank Pallone and Rush Holt are Booker’s only serious opposition, but each trails the Newark mayor by more than 40 points.

I’m watching this race carefully because, as my regular readers know, Booker is one of the reformyest politicians in New Jersey, if not the country. He supports school vouchers (but not health care vouchers – hypocrite), loves charters, thinks merit pay for teachers is a great idea, wants to do away with seniority, and seems to have no problems with error-prone test-based teacher evaluation. He accepts scads of money from edu-vultures like Andrew Tisch of K12 Inc., yet thinks that the teacher payroll in Newark is too big.

Cory Booker, in short, is one of the least friendly politicians to public school teachers and public education in the Democratic party. His election to the Senate would undoubtedly mean the upper chamber would gain yet another acolyte for SecEd Arne Duncan and his failed policies.

So I’m looking for some indication from Holt and Pallone that they are willing to distance themselves from this nonsense. As Bob Braun – formerly of the Star-Ledger, currently advising Holt – pointed out on his blog, Holt and Booker differ on vouchers, which is admittedly no small thing. Braun, however, went a step further and chided the NJEA for not getting behind Holt solely on the basis of this difference.

As I pointed out in a comment, however, I can’t see how NJEA would want to further isolate themselves from Booker if vouchers are the only difference between him and Holt:

Extending the PATRIOT Act: Why I Said No

Update: Patriot Act extension fails in the House.

– promoted by Rosi

The powers of intelligence and enforcement are the most important powers of government – but also the most fearsome. These powers must be wielded very, very carefully.

For decades, our government has routinely collected information on potential foreign threats through various forms of surveillance.  These intelligence collection activities enjoy broad, bipartisan support in our country because of their value in helping to protect America’s citizens and interests.  However, in the 1960s and 1970s, these collection capabilities were turned on the American people, and executive branch agencies engaged in spying on the American public – sometimes even for political purposes.  

How Much “More Science” Needed about Climate Change?

Gov. Chris Christie says he’s skeptical that global warming is caused by humans. Rush Holt, physicist and congressman, has a few words to say about that. – promoted by Rosi

This year, Republican candidates up and down the ballot questioned the science of climate change and opposed any policies to address it. This widespread platform was summed up well by the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia who spoke about the “myth of global warming and the other myth that man is causing global warming.”

Doubting or even denying the scientific consensus about climate change evidently now is a “must-do” for all ambitious Republicans, right up there with such Far Right orthodoxies as There’s Never a Bad Time to Cut Taxes for the Wealthy (or pay for those tax cuts), Keep Your Socialist Government Hands Off Medicare, and Drill, Baby, Drill.

I was disappointed to see Governor Christie join the growing list of prominent Republicans giving voice to skepticism about climate change and its causes. As quoted by the Associated Press, the Governor told a town hall audience that he believes “more science” is needed to convince him. He added that he’s not a scientist and doesn’t know what’s true on the issue – only that nothing has been proven.

If the Governor doesn’t know much about the subject, maybe he shouldn’t talk about it. The reason science is regarded as reliable is because it’s not subject to the political winds. We should look to evidence, not ideology.

In this instance, the overwhelming consensus of science in the world – including 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences – is that climate change is real and that human activities are contributing to it. According to NASA data released last month so far 2010 has been the hottest year on record so far.

We need “more science” to convince us that climate change is real as much as we need more science to convince us of the realities in Newton’s Theory of Gravitation, or Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Instead of trying to tear apart the science and engage in a false debate largely driven by corporate interests, we should be discussing how we can address the reality of climate change.

Tyler Clementi and the Fight for Civil Rights

Rush Holt attended last night’s forum on the Rutgers campus in the wake of Tyler Clementi’s suicide. The Trevor Project Lifeline and other help numbers are listed after the jump, if you know somebody who might like to have them.  – promoted by Rosi

The fight for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals is the next front in America’s struggle for civil rights.

The milestones of America’s progress have marked fights for equal rights, liberty, and justice for all.  The enduring struggle – to grant women the right to vote, to end Jim Crow, to provide opportunity and accessibility to individuals with disabilities – helps define who we are as a nation.

The tragedy of Tyler Clementi’s death – like the suicides of three other teens in three other states whose deaths reportedly are linked to anti-gay bullying and abuse – is part of that struggle.

Holt Town Hell Tonight

I went out to the Holt Town Hell tonight in Middletown. I really just went to observe and photograph the madness, and to see if it really was as bad as what I’ve been reading.

Before I get to describing what I saw, I’d say that Holt’s event planning  people are incompetent. The location was not in a town where Holt  enjoys his liberal base. The event should have been held closer to Hopewell where Holt could bring out his people. Second, the venue was far too small. The result was that the spillover crowd of a couple of hundred people (and press) was a captive audience for the Republican challenger,a  guy named Halfacre, who held an outdoor rally on the lawn that all these people attended. He might get better press than Holt.  Third, Holt must have known that the Town Hell folks would be out in force – I saw nothing to anticipate or manage that surge, or capitalize on political organizing opportunities with folks in line. In contrast, Holt’s Republican challenger, a Monmouth County Freeholder candidate, and several right wing groups were  aggressively working people in the lines. Media journo’s and photographers were disproportionately talking to wingers, and there didn’t seem to be an effort made by progressives to work the media at the event.

I talked to probably 50 people – exactly 5 had a perspective similar to mine. I tried to talk to listen to where they’re at. I think people are right to be angry about where the country is going, – loss of jobs, houses, savings, retirement, kids college opportunities,Wall Street bailout, war, deindustrialization, destruction of the middle class, et al.

But all this anger and resentment is being channeled against democrats,  government, and immigrants. I think it is obvious that people are being manipulated by corporate and media elites and right wing strategists. But when you try to talk about this, you come off as a conspiracy nut. There was non – none – zero – organized response to these people’s legitimate concerns I could see..

I’d say that various schools of anti-Obama outnumbered rational pro-healthcare (the topic of the meeting) folks by at least 10 to 1. Signs were 20 to 1 in favor of wingers.

I got there at 4:30 (for a 7 pm meeting). There was a long line. Only 238 people were allowed in. I didn’t get in.

The up front and personal reality of seeing and talking to many shameful and ignorant people is far, far worse than what I’ve read. There were people calling Obama a Nazi, signs saying he was killing their daughter, and all sorts of insults against liberals, labor unions, immigrants, environmentalists – even some openly celebrating Ted Kennedy’s death. One thug was shouting at the top of his lungs – and the crowd applauded.

Here are the words I jotted down as I took photographs of the event:

hatred, ignorance, fear, ugly, resentment, nativist, jingoist, vulgarity, thugs, shameful, group solidarity.

Overall, very scary dynamic.

House gives Bush another $50b for war, 3 NJ Dems back down

Yesterday Dems in the House passed another supplemental funding bill for the war, to the tune of $50b.  If it manages to pass the Senate, Bush promises to veto it, because it dares to ask for a few things that should have been asked for years ago:

Not later than January 15, 2008 and every 90 days thereafter through the end of fiscal year 2008, the Secretary of Defense shall set forth in a report to the Congress a comprehensive set of performance indicators and measures for progress toward military and political stability in Iraq.

  (c) The report shall include, at a minimum, the following specific provisions:

  (1) With respect to stability and security in Iraq, the following:

  (A) Key measures of political stability, including the important political milestones that must be achieved over the next several years.

  (B) The primary indicators of a stable security environment in Iraq, such as number of engagements per day, numbers of trained Iraqi forces, trends relating to numbers and types of ethnic and religious-based hostile encounters, and progress made in the transition to Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC).

  (C) An assessment of the estimated strength of the insurgency in Iraq and the extent to which it is composed of non-Iraqi fighters.

  (D) A description of all militias operating in Iraq, including the number, size, equipment strength, military effectiveness, sources of support, legal status, and efforts to disarm or reintegrate each militia.

  (E) Key indicators of economic activity that should be considered the most important for determining the prospects of stability in Iraq, including–

  (i) unemployment levels;

  (ii) electricity, water, and oil production rates; and

  (iii) hunger and poverty levels.

  (F) The criteria the Administration will use to determine when it is safe to begin withdrawing United States forces from Iraq.

Holt, Pallone and Rothman, along with 67 other House members, signed a letter back in July, which by October had 90 signers telling Bush:

We are writing to inform you that we will only support appropriating additional funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office.

I guess it’s all in the name?  Referring to the Supplemental spending bill, the last line is:

This Act may be cited as the `Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act, 2008′.

I don’t see how it gets anywhere near living up to its title.