Many of the NJ voters I know tell me they'll vote for Cory Booker in the Democratic senatorial primary "because he can win." But Jersey is a blue state; whoever gets the nomination is likely to win. So why Booker? They like him. They like him the same way people like Chris Christie: They like his personality, and they ignore the policies.
I don't trust the man. I'm a professional skeptic, and I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't tell you why.
Let me put it this way: If you want to risk a Manchurian candidate who, while running as a nominal Democrat, is and has been deeply entrenched with the vulture capitalists and their disaster capitalism education "reform", grew up in and has never rejected the religious right (while selling himself as gay-friendly, he's cultivated the same extremist movement that has promoted homophobia in Uganda and benefited from their mythology of Newark's "transformation"), is steeped in Wall Street money and philosophy and is deeply admired by the usual right-wing think tanks, you should vote for Cory Booker in tomorrow's NJ Senate primary.
The charming, tweeting Cory Booker (stop me if this sounds familiar) was first identified and mentored years ago by the same elements against which we eternally fight. The Powers That Be, powerful people steeped in sales and marketing, realized how much easier it would be to sell their anti-democratic, un-American agendas if they could recruit some exemplary black Democrats as cover for their packaging of privatized education as the "civil rights issue of our time." Guess who fits that bill?
And Cory Booker, cheerleader for privatized schools, school vouchers and friend of Michelle Rhee, wants to be president. So he's happy to take that deal. (A lot of black Democrats have taken that deal, but he's the one with the highest profile.)
There's more background on Cory Booker than you can absorb in a day, so I'll just stick to the highlights.
First: Cory Booker is very, very tight with the religious right wing -- but he's also very careful about what he says, since he hopes to run for president one day and cultivates strong LGBT support. The problem is, he hangs with the Dominionists. Is this a case of "I'll work with anybody who wants to help my city", or is there something more?
He's very religious himself. So where are the lines he won't cross? Is it okay for Democrats to validate and support any parts of the right-wing agenda that's politically convenient?
Fundies claim their "Transformation Newark" program turned the city around by having volunteers pray for each street. Bruce Wilson at Talk2Action:
Endorsed by Newark's liberal mayor, PrayforNewark would seem a blessing for any city. What could be wrong with prayer ? But the effort is directly tied to aninternational movement that, as detailed in my new video documentary Transforming Uganda, played a significant role in organizing and inspiring Ugandan politicians who have backed the internationally notorious "kill the gays" bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before Uganda's parliament.
Remember the Seven Mountains theme so beloved of Dominionists? These are the same people:
These seven mountains are business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family and religion. There are many subgroups under these main categories. About a month later the Lord showed Francis Schaeffer the same thing. In essence, God was telling these three change agents where the battlefield was. It was here where culture would be won or lost. Their assignment was to raise up change agents to scale the mountains and to help a new generation of change agents understand the larger story.
The part they don't usually include on their websites? That Dominionists believe it's perfectly okay to "lie for the Lord." If by lying, you can win high political office with the larger agenda of winning the world for Jesus, Jesus would be okay with that! They actually intend to rule the world.
So here's the question: Does Cory Booker simply cultivate useful relationships with a lot of un-American, unsavory, pro-corporatist, right-wing religious extremists -- or is he one of them? I can't read his mind, but I've had enough of giving so-called Democrats the benefit of the doubt on this stuff. At the very least, he provides credibility to the rest of their agenda. (And, as the nuns always told us, "Lie down with dogs, rise up with fleas.")
Progressives keep getting caught in this image snare. Hey, he "seems cool!" He's on Twitter! He's a vegetarian! He shovels the walk for old ladies! He says he's for gay issues, how right-wing could he be? Too right wing for this particular progressive, as it turns out.
Booker has enthusiastically endorsed PrayforNewark, a coalition headed locally by Apostle Bernard Wilks, a minister at Booker's church and a member of the International Coalition of Apostles:
Here is the thing. The city’s charter specifically specified - and the expert on this is Lloyd Turner and I guess Joanne has a lot of it two maybe by studying and some by osmosis - the charter did specify that Newark was to be a representation as closely as possible to the Kingdom of God, here on earth. All of the voting citizens of the city, all of them were believers and members of the church. They allowed others to reside there but they didn’t have the same rights and privileges as those who were committed to Christ. Now, the original charter required that, and some how that aspect of our spiritual heritage has been lost, where it was the body of Christ that was [?] leadership with governments over the city. So, we want to see that restored as much as possible and we want to see the residents of this city no longer in great affliction and no longer a reproach?
These are the people "progressive" Cory works with?
Cory Booker was selected as an up-and-comer more than ten years ago, when he was first endorsed by right-wing think tanks like the Manhattan Institute for buying into their framing on education "reform". Glen Ford of blackagendareport.com described him thusly:
Cory Booker, Black mayoral candidate from the city's Central Ward, a cynical pretender who attempts to position himself as the common people's defender while locked in the deep embrace of institutes and foundations that bankroll virtually every assault on social and economic justice in America. His benefactors sponsor anti-affirmative action referendums, press for near-total disinvestment in the public sector, savage what's left of the social safety net, and are attempting to turn public education over to private suppliers. Along the way, Booker's soul mates are busy ravaging the environment and trampling civil liberties everywhere they find them.
Well, yes. That is a problem. Does Cory Booker simply embrace this one anti-democratic, anti-union policy of destroying public education, or is there more?
The Manhattan Institute, home of a repulsive roster of right-wing writers and speakers, and recipient of $250,000 in Bradley money in 2000, invited Booker to one of its power lunches, where he effortlessly dropped Right-speak code words.
"The old paradigm," he told the troglodytes, "was an entitlement program, in which large big city mayors controlled race-based machines.
"What that was really about was capturing big entitlements from the state and federal government and divvying them up among their cronies or among the people within their organizations to protect and preserve their organizations. It was about distributing wealth."
In just two sentences, Booker managed to stimulate the Right's erogenous zones by mentioning three of the phrases they most love to hate: "race-based," "entitlements," and "distributing wealth." This guy is good, very good. He speaks two distinct languages - one to the people he wants to elect him mayor of Newark, the other to the financially endowed, whose mission in life is to resist redistribution of wealth to race-based groups that think the poor could use some entitlements.
- Booker is a board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. Take a look at the funders. Any of those names sound familiar? Do they sound progressive?
- He was on the board of Alliance for School Choice until 2008 and spoke in 2012 at their summit. Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie also spoke at this anti-union, pro-school privatization event co-sponsored by ALEC. More familiar funder names!
- Booker is a co-founder of Excellent Education For Everyone -- known as E3. More of those familiar funders. Does it bother anyone else that the Walton Foundation is so very happy to fund his endeavors?
- "Street Fight," the documentary about Booker's first unsuccessful run for mayor of Newark, was funded by Marshall Curry, brother of Revenel Curry IV and son of Ravenel Curry III, both big Booker donors, Wall Street muckety-mucks and school "reform" funders. Starry-eyed altrusism -- or long-term investment?
And finally, there's Apostle Ed Silvoso, who oversaw PrayforNewark and held his North American summit at Booker's church in 2011. In Uganda and the Philippines, Ed Silvoso meets with heads of state. His ministry is closely tied to the so-called "kill the gays" bill that Uganda's parliament considered to execute or imprison Uganda's entire homosexual population. (But wait! Isn't Cory Booker pro-gay? I'm so confused!)
There are some actual Democrats running in this race, including Rep. Rush Holt. Do the country a favor, and vote for one of them.
UPDATE: Digby, Ari Melber and Charles Pierce have questions about Cory Booker, as well.