web analytics
November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Cory Booker’

Cory Booker + 2 More Senators Announce Support for Nuclear Iran Deal

Friday, September 4th, 2015

When the retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announced her support for the Nuclear Iran Deal yesterday, Sept. 2, hers was the last vote commitment in support needed to defeat hopes of a veto override. However, the pile on today of three more Senators expressing support for the deal was still painful for its opponents.

New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker was someone opponents considered a possible “no” vote, in particular given the extraordinarily high praise given to him by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, someone who has known and been close with Booker since the then Rhodes-scholar was at Oxford where Boteach ran an organization for Jewish students. Boteach studied Torah with Booker during his time at Oxford.

At a recent event Boteach held with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie specifically to call upon Booker to oppose the deal, Boteach gave several reasons why he believed Booker would not support it.

Boteach recounted that when Booker was mayor, he refused to perform heterosexual marriages until gay marriage was legalized. With such a strong position, Boteach questioned, how could Booker possibly validate a regime that publicly hangs homosexuals.

The Englewood rabbi also said that a “senator at the forefront of prison reform in the United States could not legitimize a government that locks up thousands of people just because they are political opponents of the regime.”

However, on Thursday, Sept. 3, Booker announced his support for the Nuclear Iran Deal. But his statement suggests that the entire negotiations process was wrong from the start, and culminated in a deeply flawed deal. He said the following in the announcement of his decision:

We began negotiations with Iran at a time when our sanctions regime was having its most significant impact on the Iranians. We were gaining maximum leverage on Iran through coordinated economic sanctions with our international partners. We joined with our partner nations at the outset of negotiations with the stated intention of preventing Iran from having the capability to get a nuclear weapon.

Unfortunately, it’s clear we didn’t achieve that objective and have only delayed — not blocked — Iran’s potential nuclear breakout.

But, with the JCPOA, we have now passed a point of no return that we should have never reached, leaving our nation to choose between two imperfect, dangerous and uncertain options. Left with these two choices, I nonetheless believe it is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse.

Also on Thursday Senator Mark R. Warner, Democrat of Virginia and freshman Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat representing North Dakota, announced their support for the Nuclear Iran Deal.

Bad Day for Nuclear Iran Deal Opponents

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, Sept. 1, three members of the U.S. House of Representatives announced they were supporting the Nuclear Iran Deal. As the afternoon wore on, word came that first Senator Bob Casey (D) of Pennsylvania, and then, to close out the afternoon, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) also came out in favor of the agreement.

The three members of the House of Representatives who said they will support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action are Rep.s Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18), Bobby Rush (D-IL-01) and Adam Smith (D-WA-09). None of these were real surprises.

But people were quite hopeful that Casey might swim against the tide. In fact, his statement announcing his support went on for 17 pages.

Casey, like so many other politicians who say they will vote to support the deal, admits that the chances of Iran cheating are significant. He began his analysis with this understanding.

So why support it?

Casey weaves a tale punctuated by “there is no alternative,” and “our allies have decided this is the best deal.” He also cites the letter from 36 U.S. military officials endorsing it (ignoring the letter from more than 200 retired officers opposing it) and mentioned that certain Israeli military leaders support it (ignoring the universal opposition to the deal across the Israeli political spectrum, including its defense department.)

Casey concluded his statement strongly endorsing the need for the U.S. to ensure Iran understands the U.S. will take military action if Iran attempts to develop a nuclear weapon, and stating that the U.S. should aggressively work to curtail Iran’s destabilization of the region through its terror proxies and direct participation in terrorism.

His constituents should watch to see whether Casey does anything to make this happen, because it is doubtful this administration will do any such thing.

Coons told the Washington Post that he was still undecided as recently as ten days ago. But he called Vice President Joe Biden, whose Senate seat Coons now holds, and that conversation finally convinced him to support the deal.

The White House now has 32 Senators who have announced support for the agreement. It only needs one more Democrat to ensure that any congressional effort to defeat his veto of legislation opposing the deal, should he need one, will fail.

And as the numbers increase, the White House is surely beginning to hold out hope that its supporters in Congress will be able to filibuster and thereby prevent any vote against the agreement at all. Senate supporters would need 41 votes to achieve that.

Eleven Senate Democrats have still not revealed how they will vote. Opponents of the deal need each one to go their way or the agreement will be approved.

The remaining fence-sitting senators to watch include Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who is up for re-election in the fall, as is Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, and New Jersey’s Cory Booker.

Meet the 16 Democratic Senators Who Can Scuttle ObamaDeal

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Opponents to the agreement with Iran are lacking approximately nine Democratic senators to override a Presidential veto of its rejection, but the truth that is an opposition victory might have limited meaning.

Congress cannot strike down the agreement, which was made along with five other Western powers. All it can do is block President Obama’s agreement to lift U.S. sanctions.

Doing so would be very significant, both politically for President Obama and the Democratic party as well as for American’s relations with the other P5+1 countries and Iran.

There are seven undecided Democratic senators, according to a tally by the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips.

If all of them turn against President Obama, it will be easier to convince a couple of others whose positions are not yet known.

The seven undecided Democrats, acceding to Phillips, are:

Michael Bennet of Colorado;

Ben Cardin of Maryland;

Bob Casey of Pennsylvania;

Joe Donnelly of Indiana;

Tim Kaine of Virginia;

Bill Nelson of Pennsylvania;

and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Cardin is one of the most important of the undecided. He attends Baltimore’s largest and wealthiest modern Orthodox Beth Tfiloh Congregation, which is highly pro-Israel.

He told NPR this week:

Israel’s security issues are of major concern. We don’t want to see an arms race in the Middle East, so it is a factor. And it’s a factor that I’m sure we will carefully consider.

Earlier in the week, Cardin told Bloomberg:

There is no trust when it comes to Iran. In our deliberations we need to ensure the negotiations resulted in a comprehensive, long-lasting, and verifiable outcome that also provides for snap-back of sanctions should Iran deviate from its commitments.

The nine Democratic Senators whose positions are not known are:

Cory Booker of New Jersey;

Maria Cantwell of Washington;

Claire McCaskill of Missouri;

Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota’

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota;

Barbara Mikulski of Maryland;

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington;

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan; and

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

One of the most pivotal of the “unknowns” is McCaskill. She stated this week:

Preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon is paramount to our national security, and if this agreement accomplishes that goal, it will make the world a safer place for America and our allies. I plan to spend the coming weeks taking a hard look at the agreement’s details to ensure that it will result in a verifiable way to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Phillip’s tally shows 43 senators “leaning” to vote against ObamaDeal, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, and only 26 are in favor or are leaning in favor.

Cory Booker, NJ Torah-Versed Black Christian, on Way to Senate

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is leading the Democratic primary polls and if he wins, he is a shoo-in for a general election victory to replace Frank Lautenberg in the Senate.

Already touted as possible presidential candidate in the future, Booker’s interest in Jewish studies began approximately 20 years ago when he met a Chabad rabbi. A “chavrutah” Torah study partner is – who else? – Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

The Wall Street Journal noted Monday that his wide contacts with Jewish sources have helped him fill his campaign chest, even though Lautenberg’s family is far from thrilled with his candidacy and have endorsed one of his opponents, Rep. Frank Pallone.

Booker, a black Christian, usually appears at a Passover Seder, and he is so interested in Israel that he once took his parents to visit the Jewish state.

His knowledge of Judaism “could put many of us to shame,” New Jersey philanthropist and Jewish Federation leader Lori Klinghoffer told the Journal.

Booker has been in politics since a young age, after having grown up in a predominantly white upper-class borough of Bergen County. His parents were among the first black executives at IBM.

After earning a law degree at Yale, he moved to Newark to become a tenants’ rights attorney when he was  only 27. He quickly moved into politics and was elected to the city council in 1998. Booker narrowly lost his seat in 2002 but regained in four years later and then became mayor.

The Apotheosis of Chris Christie

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Turn on the television and wait five minutes and it begins playing. “It’s in our blood, our DNA,” the painfully high voice sings, “Because we’re stronger than the storm.” The ad closes with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his family playing on the beach.

The 25 million dollar ad campaign feels like it has been in rotation forever.  The earnest warbling of the song can be heard everywhere. It probably isn’t doing much to move tourists to the Jersey Shore, but that isn’t what it’s there for. It’s there to remind everyone that Christie is the guy who flew over the state in a helicopter after Hurricane Sandy. We’re not stronger than the storm, is the message. Christie is.

The 25 million dollar ad campaign like the 24 million dollar special election is about the Governor of New Jersey.

Some Democrats have criticized both moves as cynical elections ploys and that’s true and it isn’t. The election, against a placeholder candidate, is no threat to Governor Christie who is running 60 to 28.

No matter how many minority voters Cory Booker brings to the polls (and it’s no sure bet that he will bring any, Booker for the moment is far more popular among white liberals than among the inner city voters he is deserting in Newark)  there is no conceivable way that Christie could lose this election.

But it’s not just about winning another four years. It’s about 2016.

Christie doesn’t just want to win. He wants to win by a landslide. And he doesn’t just want to win by a landslide. He wants to win as many Democrats and Independents as he can to make the case that he is the sure thing for 2016. The candidate who is bound to be electable because he has a track record of winning over blue voters.

The 2012 election involved two deals being cut for the 2016 election. Obama cut a deal with Bill Clinton to endorse Hillary for the Democratic nomination in 2016 in exchange for Bill coming out there and campaigning for him and another deal with Chris Christie to give him an easy election now and a clear path to the Republican nomination 2016.

Unprecedentedly the deals made in 2012 are supposed to lock down the nominations for both parties in the 2016 presidential election.

Christie considered jumping into 2012, before deciding to stay out of it. But that didn’t mean that he had any interest in Romney locking down the job and preventing him from running until 2020. And he gave Romney exactly the kind of help you would expect from a man who ran ads in 2008 touting his compatibility with Obama.

New Jersey politics has always been cynical. Its last governor was responsible for a monumental financial scam. The governor before him resigned after a gay affair spilled out into the tabloids. The President of the New Jersey Senate doubles as the General Organizer for the International Association of Ironworkers.

In carefully culled soundbites, Christie’s brazen attitude can seem like a reformer’s breath of fresh air, but it actually reeks of the contempt for voters and everyone else that is typical of Jersey politicians who pride themselves on not even pretending to give a damn.

When it comes to carefully cultivating the attitude of not giving a damn, Christie has been ahead of the pack. And that’s still his attitude while planning for a national election as the candidate from a party whose base and activists and even fellow politicians despise him. It’s not an unreasonable attitude. The Romney ticket was met with groans and distaste, but was sold on electability. If Christie can nail down a huge percentage of Democratic voters, then he has a much better case for electability.

Christie is running for election on liberal training wheels. The media sings his praises and liberal donors send him big checks. His real opponent, Cory Booker was pressured by his own party into running for a senate seat that unfortunately happened to be occupied by Lautenberg, who to everyone’s relief passed away conveniently clearing a path for Booker and Christie. But if Booker were going up against Christie, then Christie wouldn’t be planning to use all those Democratic vote totals to make his case for 2016.

In 2009, Christie squeaked by with 3 percent. This time around he’s running against a non-candidate as the man who got New Jersey through the storm. Whatever numbers he gets won’t translate to a national election against Hillary Clinton. And the glowing media profiles will shut off once he gets the brass ring and becomes the fat man standing in Hillary’s way. And then the hero will become the villain. That’s what happened to moderate mavericks like John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Learning from history isn’t really a specialty for Republican operatives. And unlike his prospective opponents, Christie will be able to show that he won Democratic votes in a recent election. And he expects that with a few tough talking videos the base will learn to love him while the party will come around the way that they did on amnesty for illegal aliens. Everyone wants to win, don’t they?

Christie certainly does. The Governor of New Jersey is many things, but a loser isn’t one of them. Unfortunately he’s also opportunistic, unprincipled and completely cynical. Christie went from being a US Attorney prosecuting terrorism cases to using his office to pander to terrorists once he ran for public office. He spent his first term releasing punchy video clips of him yelling at people to give the impression that he was dramatically turning things around, when he was actually slapping band aids on the bruises. And in both elections, he used Obama as his political trump card to win a blue state.

The real Christie isn’t a reformer. He’s not really any different than Governor Cuomo next door in New York or Jerry Brown in California. He’s a Republican by registration in a region where that doesn’t mean very much except connections with a particular political machine. It says nothing about his beliefs and values. And assuming that he has any may be a very generous interpretation.

We know that Christie likes Bruce Springsteen and the image of him crying over getting a hug from New Jersey’s second most overrated aging rocker while families in his state were mourning loved ones and living in tents may say all that there is to say about the authenticity of Christie’s Sandy tour.

What really moves Christie isn’t the opportunity to do good for the people of his state, but the nearness to celebrities like Springsteen and Obama. And perhaps that is why Christie has tried harder to be famous than to be a good governor.

Politics for Chris Christie was a celebrity audition. Now finally the cool kids have let him into the club and made him one of them.

On television the show ends and the commercial break begins. Once again the high voice begins warbling. “Stronger than ever. Whoaaah. New Jersey is stronger than the storm.” The song, like so much about Christie is a fake. It comes from BANG, a New York City music production company run by a former ad executive who donated six thousand dollars to Obama. New Jersey isn’t stronger than the storm. Chris Christie’s political career is.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Cory Booker & Shmuley Boteach: The Rabbi and the Rhodes Scholar (Video)

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Twenty years ago this Monday, corresponding to the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah, a young African-American Rhodes scholar walked into a Chabad Jewish student center in Oxford, England. He had had a date with a Jewish woman who told him she was going to be at the Sukkot festivities at Rabbi Shmuley’s and would meet him there. As it turned out, he was stood up, and as he waited sheepishly in the corner of the room not knowing what to do next, he was approached by the Rabbi’s wife who invited him to sit in ‘the hot-seat’ next to the young Chabad Rabbi. Being the most joyous night of the Jewish calendar, the young student would later join with hundreds of other students dancing with the Torahs. This accidental meeting would change both their lives.

Cory Booker had little exposure to the Jewish community prior to that evening and I, who was serving as the Rabbi to the students of Oxford University, had only sporadic exposure to the African-American community. But in the days, weeks, and months that followed we began studying together almost daily. We studied the great texts of Judaism and discussed the great speeches of African-American leaders. Cory would later serve a full term as President of our Jewish student organization, which was then the second largest student group at the University with thousands of members. Together we hosted luminaries like Mikhail Gorbachev and other world leaders who lectured on values-based leadership.

Twenty years, countless conversations, and hundreds of Friday night Shabbat dinners later, Cory today is a much-loved honorary member of the American Jewish community, regularly lecturing at Synagogues and Jewish conferences across the country. More significant, Cory has challenged the Jewish community to live up to its Biblical calling to serve as ‘a light unto the nations.’ In many of the speeches we deliver together he asks the Jewish participants if they study the weekly Parsha, if they honor the commandments, and cherish the Sabbath. What allows an African-American Christian Mayor to challenge Jewish leaders to deepen their Jewish commitment? Because those same leaders are amazed at Cory’s knowledge of Judaism and appreciation of the Jewish contribution to civilization.

I have long believed that the next wave of Jewish commitment will be inspired by non-Jews. In massive conferences like Christians United For Israel we are already seeing a great wave of Christian interest in Judaism and a desire to reconnect Jesus back to his Jewish roots. But Cory has taken this a step further, studying Judaism with a view to teaching it to Jews.

A few years ago AIPAC invited Cory and me to address a large group in Chicago. It was the week where we read the story of Genesis in Synagogue and Cory delivered a moving speech on the creation of Adam and Eve, culled from a speech by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The wife of a prominent American Jewish leader approached me after the speech and asked if I would study the Parsha of the week with her, as I do with Cory. I asked her why now. She responded, “When you hear someone so prominent in the American political landscape deriving inspiration from the Torah, and he’s not even Jewish, you become a little embarrassed that you are ignorant of your tradition and you want to discover what he has discovered.” I have heard similar sentiments expressed by other Jewish listeners on many occasions.

My friendship with Cory also sparked a lifelong closeness between me and the African-American community. I became the first-ever white morning radio host on America’s legacy black radio station, WWRL in New York City. I took the Rev. Al Sharpton to Israel to alleviate the enmity between him and the Jewish community, I was the driving force behind an effort to have 600 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina find permanent homes in Utah where they have been moved only temporarily, and I preached at the Martin Luther King chapel at Morehouse College at a conference with Coretta Scott King. And as part of my current run for Congress in New Jersey, I travelled to Rwanda to highlight the 1994 genocide and help combat efforts to deny it. The Rwandan government invited me to meet President Paul Kagame in New York last week and I hosted a reception for Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo with American Jewish leaders.

There are those who believe that the black and Jewish communities share a common history of persecution. But being among the world’s foremost victims is not the basis of our bond. The relationship between blacks and Jews is built on shared faith rather than shared oppression, common destiny rather than common history, shared values rather than shared interests, and a mutual commitment to social justice rather than a mutual alienation from the mainstream.

I thank God for a friendship that has endured for two decades and the enrichment it has brought to us and our respective communities.

Boteach Invites Opponent to Sabbath Dinner

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Dear Congressman Pascrell,

Much was made of the nasty primary battle that took place between you and Congressman Steve Rothman. Many believe you prevailed precisely because Rothman’s campaign had gone woefully negative. Americans are sick and tired of toxic campaigning and politics. My friend Mayor Cory Booker used the word ‘nauseated’ when he discussed the negative attack ads being used by both Republicans and Democrats alike.

I agree. People want to be inspired. They look to public leaders to lift them up, not to pull them into some personal gutter of vicious attack.

Now that you and I are the formal candidates of our respective parties we have the ability to do things differently. We can run a positive campaign that stays focused firmly on the issues. We can rise above personality and make this a policy and ideas-driven race. In so doing we can excite not only New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District but others around the country who can learn from the example we seek to set.

In pursuit of that I have a simple idea. You and I don’t know each other and to my knowledge have never met. I’ve heard a lot about you and you’ve probably heard some about me. Let’s start this race by getting to know each other as people before we get to know each other as opponents.

Every Friday night at our Sabbath table my wife and I host all kinds of people. We love having guests and it would be my honor for us to host you and your family either this coming Friday night or whenever it may suit you, although sooner would be better than later.

Over the years we’ve hosted thousands of people at our home. Many are students, some work in media, others in academia, even more are business executives, laborers, and professionals. Many have been Democratic politicians like yourself, from Governor Jon Corzine, who came several times with his wife Sharon, to Mayors Michael Wildes and Frank Huttle of Englewood. Mayor Cory Booker and I have shared hundreds of Shabbat dinners together, beginning in our Oxford days and continuing into Jersey.

The Sabbath is a day of peace. We don’t argue about business, politics, or anything else contentious. It’s devoted to higher things. It’s the kind of setting where no matter how much you disagree you never become disagreeable. Our Friday night table is a place of warm conversation, spirited discussion, laughter, and inspiration. There would be nothing to separate us, only to unite us.

Joining together for a Friday night meal also allows us to highlight the importance of regular family dinners for the people of our district and beyond. Indeed, together with some leading American personalities and celebrities, I started a non-partisan, non-political organization called Turn Friday Night Into Family Night (website www.fridayisfamily.com) to encourage Moms and Dads to give their children two uninterrupted hours of family time, and to invite guests to the home, every Friday night. Part of the way we promote the initiative is with 30-second web commercials featuring well-known figures promoting the important of family time (We’d be very pleased if you would agree to do a spot for us. It takes only about half an hour to shoot and its painless.).

I suspect, Congressman Pascrell, that you have attended a Jewish Friday night meal. So no doubt you are aware of the unique peace to be found on a day when no one looks at their cell phones, the television is off, and the internet is down. It’s liberating and allows one to focus on people instead of all the distractions that currently separate us.

No doubt in the coming months there will be spirited disagreements between us. No doubt you and I will wish clash mightily over issues that affect the residents of New Jersey’s Ninth District. But that does not mean that we can’t start on the right foot by experiencing a shared humanity that should spur us to running campaigns that are effective yet respectful.

While reaching to you directly to accept my invitation, I have also chosen to make this letter public in order to make it clear to the residents of our district that I am committed to a positive, inspired, and values-based campaign that transcends the politics of personal destruction and hyper-partisanship and focuses squarely on what each of us would do to renew America. After your recent experience, I assume you are in agreement. I eagerly await your affirmative response and my family and I look forward to warmly welcoming you to our home.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/rabbi-shmuley-boteach-invites-political-challenger-congressman-bill-pascrell-for-sabbath-dinner/2012/06/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: