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    • And They Made A Desert: 80 to 90% Drop In Nutrients In Food
      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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The Confluence endorses Rush Holt for Senator of NJ

Rush Holt (NJ-12) for US Senate

I can do this because up until a few months ago, I lived adjacent to Holt’s district.  In fact, it’s a mystery why Hillsborough wasn’t *in* Holt’s district given our proximity to Princeton and how the shape of NJ-07 was drawn, dipping down in a weird way to trap the unfortunate residents of Hillsborough in a Republican district against their wills.

There are a few things the senate needs more of: women, African-Americans and scientists.  Let’s give it to the NYTimes for acknowledging that NJ has a male dominated political machine in BOTH parties.  There hasn’t been a single woman representative in the NJ Congressional House or Senate delegation for about 2 decades.  That’s disgraceful for a state that has as many people in it as NJ does.  It’s the densest state in the nation (in more ways than one) and over half of the population there has no representative in the House or Senate from either party.  NJ does not promote or mentor female politicians.  Just fugeddaboudit.  It’s not going to happen.

The US Senate doesn’t have enough African-Americans either and while they’re underrepresented, one would hope that the past African-American senators would prove to be more willing to step up and advocate vigorously for the needs of underrepresented groups.  Alas, this has not proven to be the case in recent history.  Cory Booker would be no exception to this rule.  Booker is a Democrat in the Barack Obama style.  His record in Newark might be admirable but in that case, his absence from NJ would be detrimental to that state.  Beats me why he didn’t run for Governor.  I blame Frank Lautenberg for his untimely demise.

Booker is Wall Street friendly and a happy corporate schmoozer.  Sure he’s done some super hero things during the recent hurricanes.  But he wouldn’t have to run into buildings and rescue people if his emergency services were running well.  If I recall correctly, his fire department refused to rescue a mother and her kids from rising flood waters during Sandy and Booker was nowhere to be found.  (Ah, wouldn’t you know, another news article that should be easy to find mysteriously disappeared.  Hmmmm…)That’s the problem with being a superhero.  There’s only one of you and you have to be everywhere at once.  What Booker has failed to learn is how to make his infrastructure run efficiently without him and how to delegate the rescuing to other people.  I mean, shouldn’t he have been in a central command center during Sandy directing things instead of riding around the city on fire trucks like some kind of department mascot??  There were whole sections of his city awash in flood waters, those sections still blighted by insufficient public services and poor infrastructure.  That wouldn’t have happened had Booker been as good with the poor as he is with the business community.

I’m going to venture a guess that Newark would have revitalized without Booker anyway.  Any politician with a sufficiently ingratiating attitude towards business could have done what he did.  Manhattan has finite real estate, housing and office space is expensive for businesses and people, and it was bound to expand. Newark is close and cheap.  It might as well be NYC’s sixth borough.  (Funny we’re not promoting the mayor of Hoboken who held it together during Sandy.  Oh, that’s right.  Dawn Zimmer is a girl.  Nevermind.) Amtrak, the PATH train and the NJ Transit NE Corridor train run right through it.  Sure, it has problems, and a history, and an educational system that needs help.  But gentrification was going to get there anyway.  All Booker had to do was get ahead of it slightly and take all the credit.

Enough about Booker.  He’s just another flashy aspirational candidate with a great Bonus Class funded PR campaign.  Besides, we don’t need Booker riding shotgun around DC putting out fires, walking little old ladies across the street and getting kitties out trees for little children.  We need a real Democrat in the Senate who will not be afraid of his own party’s platform and who will fight, vigorously, for it.  Even if that means pissing some people off.  Frankly, I can’t see Corey Booker doing that.

Now, for the scientist.  Rush Holt is a astrophysicist.  Presumably, he can think his way out of a paper bag.  That seems to be in short supply in the Senate these days.  Holt would be the only scientist in the Senate.

One of the reasons I like Holt is not just because his views on national security, single payer healthcare or the financial crisis make sense, though all of that is extremely important and his perspectives admirable.  He would be a credible successor to Lautenberg.  Holt’s stance to repeal the Patriot Act would put him ahead of Lautenberg.

No, the reason why I think Holt would be an important contribution to the Senate is because he was the author of H.R.5816 (112th): Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2011.  That bill would put an end to unaccountable, tamper prone electronic voting machines and would ensure ballot accountability.   In this respect, Holt is way ahead of his colleagues and is truly looking out for the only way that citizens have to change the status quo- their right to vote.  If you want single payer, privacy from intrusive government spying, protection of your 4th amendment rights, and punishment for the financiers who blew up the world, you have to be able to protect your sacred right to throw Bonus Class toe suckers out of office.

If you’ve ever voted on an electronic voting machine without a paper trail, or a punch card machine with hanging chads, or some butterfly ballot designed by nitwit, you know how important it is to protect your only real right.  Eventually, the bad guys are going to run out of Voting Rights Acts to destroy and they’ll start outright manipulation of the outcomes, if they haven’t already (I suspect that the Democratic presidential primary in Indiana in 2008 was a precursor of things to come)  I have to admire the guy who used logic and foresight to cut through all of the extraneous bullshit going on in government these days to realize that protecting the vote is THE most important thing ever.  If recent rulings from the Supreme Court and actions of state legislatures in Republican dominated states haven’t proven that point, I don’t know what will.  We need that kind of mind in the Senate.  Maybe he can tag team with Elizabeth Warren.

Since Holt is in the House, that bill is going nowhere.  Maybe he’ll have a better chance in the Senate.

Vote for Holt in the NJ Senate Primary.

You can learn more about Rush Holt and contribute to his campaign here.

AAAAAND, last but not least, in honor of Geek Week on YouTube, this is a Geek Out session with Rush from four days ago.  Dust off your Geek Speak and Enjoy!

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A suggestion about demands for OccupyWallStreet

Update: Is anyone soaping “99%” on their windows tomorrow?

The Big Dawg has weighed in regarding OccupyWallStreet and says that the movement has to start making its intentions known.  He suggested that OccupyWallStreet get behind Obama’s jobs program but we’ve already seen what a failure that bill was.  It was too little, too late and came with too many long term effects to social security.   But now that OWS has seized Pilate’s wife, it has to issue some demands.

So, assuming that the 99% want some say over what to do with the money they earn through actual, you know, *work*, part of the task has to be to get politicians to rewrite the rules and reimpose regulations so we don’t get screwed again.  At the top of the agenda should probably be some set of policies that reward people who make their living from work over people who make their living through investments.  If it is the case that the 1% has the money to lobby the rulemakers to write the rules in its favor, then it must also be the case that there are rulemakers who will happily do its bidding and not ours.  The only way to change that is to get rid of a lot of rulemakers and replace them with rulemakers who are more to our liking.  And the only way to do that is to vote the compromised rulemakers out of office.  But before we get to the point where we decide who gets to stay and who has to go, there has to be a mechanism in place that will ensure the integrity of the voting process.  Because, as we have seen recently, the rulemakers are very intent on preventing the wrong kind of people from voting.  Then there is the problem of voting machines.  They are very easy to hack and most states do not require a paper trail.

There is a proposed remedy for this.  Rush Holt, congressman from NJ’s 12th district, has proposed a bill called the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005.

On February 2, 2005, Rep. Rush Holt reintroduced the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550), a bill designed to restore confidence in the outcomes of elections and in our electoral process generally. The measure would require all voting machines to produce an actual paper record that voters can inspect to check the accuracy of their votes and that election officials can use to verify votes in the event of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity. Experts often refer to this paper record as a “voter-verified paper ballot.”

“Anything of value should be auditable,” said Holt. “Votes are valuable, and each voter should have the knowledge—and the confidence—that his or her vote was recorded and counted as intended. Passage of this bill will be a big step in restoring that confidence, which is the very foundation of our democratic republic.”

The bill was sponsored in 2005 and was reintroduced by Holt in 2009, probably with the sunny optimistic view that with Democrats in the driver’s seat, the bill would have a prayer. But it has been sitting in committees ever since.  I guess it was too much to ask the Democrats to pass it when they had majorities in both houses, because that would have been politically astute and the right thing to do but Democrats don’t seem to have a good sense of self-preservation.  Don’t expect the Republicans to do it.  That’s not their thing.  But if there is a movement demanding its passage, well, that would be a very big step in the right direction.   Because no matter how popular this movement is, it can’t do a damn thing if there are irregularities with the voting system.  When the vote is compromised and can’t be reliably verified, you’ve already lost.

Consider it a ‘first principles” thing.  Demand the integrity of the voting system so that the 99%’s voice can never be overridden during a election.  You’ll see pretty quickly who’s on your side and who isn’t and the answer may surprise you.  It also has the added benefit of favoring neither party, which is what you want.  The act is only intended to benefit voters and make sure there is a verifiable paper trail.  And who among the 99% can argue against that?  Part of the problem with this country is that people don’t think their votes count.  Here’s a way to make sure they do.  (We’ll have to tackle the corrupt party primaries separately)

Voting should be orgasmic.