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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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Mather does not Cotton to the Pseudo-Puritanism of O’Keefe and Giles

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O’Keefe and Giles, in their portrayal of pimp and prostitute, reek of puerile classism. Were it not for the overwhelmingly noxious fumes emanating from the handful of ACORN employees who were apparently willing to enable a child prostitution ring exploiting illegal immigrants, the stink of the ill-informed moral superiority of O’Keefe and Giles would drive evolutionarily advanced members of our species to avoid contact.

Let’s cut to the chase. The child prostitution enablement shown in the videos is beyond the pale. It is wholly unacceptable. Giles and O’Keefe deserve credit for exposing this potential for promoting abuse with ACORN’s structure.

For ACORN to continue doing the good they do for the community, they must clean their house. This said, many houses and streets in the U.S. are in need of a good cleaning.

Credit granted where it is due, I am discomforted by the prurient form of Puritanism implicit in the method O’Keefe and Giles chose to expose ACORN’s illness. Their sting starts with a young female sex worker trying to buy a home, before it lures the ACORN workers into the ugliness of underage sexual exploitation. My issue with O’Keefe and Giles is that they appear to believe that people engaged in the sex trade should not be able to have normal life dreams.

Life in the Sex Trade

Life circumstances lead some people to prostitution. In our culture, it is rarely a profession of choice. This is something our political class should be well aware of, given the large number of personally undertaken, hobby social science, in-depth probes they have engaged in over the years.

There are volumes of research on the various factors and dynamics that create the participants in the world’s oldest profession. In our culture, an experience of sexual abuse and economic vulnerability are common themes in the dynamic of becoming a prostitute.

Should being a sex worker be a barrier to living as other citizens live?

If a sex worker wants to buy a home, and she meets all of the relevant requirements for obtaining a mortgage, other than that she cannot state her profession on the mortgage application because her form of employ is illegal, what is she to do, other than lie? If that sex worker wants to do the proper thing as a citizen and pay her taxes as a self-employed person, what is she to do, other than lie?

The simple answer is that citizens who want to pay taxes and buy homes should not choose to live the lifestyle of a prostitute. This is the type of answer one expects from those who are ignorant of the dynamics that create prostitution, especially in the underage realm. For example, leaving is often not merely a personal decision and few pimps are as non-threatening as the one portrayed by James O’Keefe. Accordingly, it fits that such an answer would come from those who choose to disregard how the practice of their political philosophy enhances the conditions that create the sex trade.

In this regard, Ms. Giles words to Sean Hannity on how she conceived the project:

It’s amazing what girls think about when they are jogging. And that was just something that popped into my head. I had never seen an ACORN office, I really didn’t even know that they existed and I jogged into the wrong part of town, saw some homeless people and street ladies and I put two and two together when I turned around to get back into a safe neighborhood. And it’s like — what if these people went into ACORN — a prostitute and what would come from that? No bills, no nothing — would they get a house? Could they start a business? So we put it to the test.

It is telling that Giles was interested in whether or not ACORN would help a street lady buy a home and, apparently, not so interested in what caused the women to become street ladies. Then again, perhaps that’s simply a feature of rarely running into the “wrong part of town?” Regardless, Giles began her project with two targets, ACORN and street ladies who wanted to buy a home.

For O’Keefe and Giles, having to live with the danger, and adopt the stigma, attached to selling sexual services does not seem to be enough punishment. They appear to think there is something improper about a prostitute wanting to own a home, which, if she worked there, would also be a brothel. They seem unable to see that owning a home might serve as a base upon which to leave the sex trade. Thankfully, many ACORN employees are not afflicted by the anti-New Testament immorality that informs that type of thinking.

ACORN: The Bad and the Good

ACORN has problems at a variety of levels. It is reasonable to call for a proper audit of the organization, given their government funding. A good time for the audit might be immediately after a full accounting of every dollar of TARP funding is released to the public.

Notwithstanding ACORN’s many problems, it provides valuable community services. ACORN employees work to bring a better life to many citizens and many of these citizens reside in the underclass. Working with people in the underclass requires empathy for their circumstance and a pragmatic attitude that involves working with limited resources to bring about optimal results, which will necessarily be modest at best. To me, it is entirely appropriate for an ACORN accountant to bend a category to find a way for a sex worker to pay her taxes so she can buy a home. (Perhaps the idea of a citizen wanting to pay taxes is outside the worldview of the young Republican film makers?)

O’Keefe and Giles have done a community service by exposing rot in the structure of ACORN. Unfortunately, their methodology lacks the discipline of the precautionary principle. As a tool for the healing of the body politic, therefore, the methodology of O’Keefe and Giles is flawed, because they are willing to worsen the lives of sex workers to achieve their aim of disarming ACORN. Accordingly, the methodology of O’Keefe and Giles is unethical because it causes a wholly unnecessary amputation, where a good anti-biotic would have done the job. For this reason, I reject the pseudo-Puritanism implicit in their methodology for its lack of empathy and wisdom.

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