2 Takeaways From a Pandering Booker
2 Takeaways From a Pandering Booker
Senator Corey Booker sold himself on center stage last night in South Carolina. He was the star of a “CNN Presidential Town Hall.” Don Lemon hosted the presumptively titled and friendly event. I watched it, so you don’t have to.
You’re welcome. Here are my two favorite takeaways, and one question that needs to be answered.
It seemed as if every question came from a Democrat or progressive leaning citizen. Some were leading, while others kindly stated. Nothing was particularly inquisitive or probing in tone. As expected with soft-ball questions, we saw Senator Booker use his charm and Mr.Clean image to sell his pre-packaged responses. 420 Good, 2A Bad. Big Pharma money good, until caught in a pinch. Then Big Pharma money is bad. Very BAD! Scandal in Newark and unaccounted for cash from a public utility company… Well, nobody asked about that!
Booker has very entrenched views on convictions for marijuana. Crack too. He says that he will “absolutely” consider mass sentence commutations for those convicted of federal marijuana crimes. He went on to say that the conviction rates for black and brown people are higher, and their sentences longer than their drug selling white peers. He would also consider commuting those sentences and clearing their records. This will allow them to become vested members of society, and not be hampered by something “that two former presidents have admitted to doing.”
I was unaware that Clinton and Obama sold drugs. Pretty sure they smoked them, equally sure they didn’t sell them. But it’s hard to let facts interfere with the narrative.
But this is a contrast to the next point. One of the participants was a teary eyed mother, talking about her fear of sending her daughter off to kindergarten. A place where they teach concealment, lock down, and how to stay safe from a school shooter. Her question was leading, and who could look at her teary expression and say anything but the obvious talking points of the Democrats. Booker talked of the evil NRA, and how it’s beholden to the “gun manufacturers” and not the individual memberships. This corporate loyalty blinds the NRA to the very “real” Booker held truths – the majority of NRA membership wants to end the loopholes, and have universal background checks. Two pillars of the Left’s assault on firearms. If by 2 points he means majority, it’s a squeaker at best. The table below outlines a more accurate, and less biased overview of what NRA members want with background checks, and firearm policy.
Senator Booker wants to exonerate convicted drug dealers. A group who rarely go to prison after their first drug bust. Who are often gang affiliated. But they should benefit from a “get out of jail free” pass. Meanwhile, innocent people who want to legally purchase a firearm should be subject to multiple federal background investigations, beyond what is already required. For the record, most firearm sales already require a background check. From the NRA-ILA
Federal law requires firearm dealers, regardless of location, to initiate a background check before selling or otherwise transferring a firearm to a person who is not a dealer.
There is no “gun show loophole.” Federal law is the same, regardless of where a firearm sale takes place.
There is no “online sales” loophole. Federal law is the same, regardless of how people communicate about selling/buying a firearm. Federal law prohibits anyone— licensed firearm dealer or not—from shipping a firearm to a person who lives in another state, unless that person is also a dealer. Dealers must document all firearms they receive. Federal law requires all firearm dealers to be licensed and to initiate a background check before transferring a firearm to a non-dealer, regardless of where the transfer takes place. Background checks for firearms have been conducted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) since November 1998.”
Let’s not forget that most people who commit firearms crimes either never applied for a background check, or passed one. So the expanded system will do nothing to stop firearms from being used to commit crimes. But the Democrat line is that it’s necessary and not restricting to the 2nd Amendment.
All that “big money” being spent by gun companies to the NRA…it’s a drop in the corporation donation bucket. In total the NRA 2014 individual membership has raised $22 million dollars. This is a very strong grassroots support network.
Incidentally, does Booker realize that by expunging the records of convicted drug dealers that they are now able to pass the background checks required to legally purchase a firearm? Whoops. That may be a problem.
The Hill reports “Booker has also sought to tamp down questions about his fundraising from pharmaceutical companies. [He] raised more money from the pharmaceutical industry in 2014 than any other senator.” In the Town Hall he gave the politician answer, of a non answer.
“So let me give you this commitment — because you can’t campaign wrong and then think you’re going to govern right. So I will not only not take pharmaceutical executives’ money, but I will not take corporate PAC money and I will not take federal lobbyists’ money.”
When Don Lemon pressed the question Booker replied,
Do I regret taking pharmaceutical executive money? I didn’t need it and I’m glad now that I’m not taking it,”
He “didn’t need it”? In the context of what he’s saying, it sounds like he didn’t need it for his initial Senate run. If that was the case, and he had long term goals, why did he take it? Because it’s politics! All money is good money until someone calls you out on accepting it. The odds of being found taking money from “repugnant” sources is very low. Therefore, most politicians work under the “ask forgiveness” approach. Worst case, they give it back to the donor, then grovel for forgiveness. But that is a rare occurrence.
The reason Booker won’t take the Pharma donations is because he wants to excoriate drug companies who don’t bow down to his demands and match their lower prices in foreign countries. If the drug is sold cheaper in another country, he wants it sold here for the same price. He said that if the drug companies don’t comply then he will remove their patent protections and allow generic versions to replace them in the marketplace. I think this is what dictators do in a Banana Republic. They strong arm private businesses and extort price controls for goods. How long before he “nationalizes” the manufacturing process and destroys an industry? Let’s hope he doesn’t get the chance.
Drugs are expensive. Research and Development is expensive. The FDA trials and approval process is very expensive. There are better ways to reduce the cost of drugs, and looking at the lengthy FDA regulation process is a good place to start. But Democrats don’t demonize wasteful government agencies. Unless it’s the military.
When Corey Booker was the Mayor of Newark, there were some financial discrepancies. Most notably was the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. — a decades-old nonprofit organization that until 2104 operated the city’s water infrastructure. The Daily Beast (a friend of progressive politics) writes,
Months after he [Booker] first entered the Senate, the New Jersey comptroller alleged that under Booker’s watch—or, more likely, because he was not watching—corruption ran rampant at a publicly funded water-treatment and reservoir-management agency, where Booker’s former law partner served as counsel. And speaking of his former law career: Despite having resigned from his law firm once entering the mayor’s office, Booker received annual payments until 2011, during which time the firm was profiting handsomely off of Brick City. That would be the Brick City [Newark] that Booker professed to love with the fire of a thousand suns, but did little to fundamentally change. Murder, violent crime, unemployment, and taxes all rose dramatically under his stewardship.”
Additionally, Fox News reports that
Booker received payments totaling $698,000 between 2007 and 2012 from Trenk DiPasquale, a law firm where he once worked that in turn raked in over $2.5 million in fees from the Watershed and the Newark Housing Authority.
Yet there’s no paper trail: neither Booker nor the Watershed has produced contracts explaining their relationships with Trenk DiPasquale. Booker even omitted his payments from the U.S. Senate mandatory financial disclosure, only to add an amendment to his filing when his tax return revealed the money months later.
He has offered three different public explanations of what the money was for: services rendered, an equity interest, and (most recently) a “separation agreement for work he performed before he became mayor,” according to his campaign spokesperson.”
A presidential candidate available in a “town hall” setting, but nobody asks about a potential scandal. Certainly a scandal from his past, and one that can return. He was responsible for oversight of an agency that lost several millions of dollars. Yet it’s reported that,
A federal judge last year  dismissed a lawsuit by the watershed’s trustees against U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, whom the trustees argued failed to properly oversee its administration while he served on the agency’s board.”
I’m sure there’s no backdoor connection at work, helping him out of a jam. No duality of the justice system where the connected, wealthy, and powerful have a lenient outcome.
This is the first of what will be many CNN Town Hall events with Democrat candidates for President. If they maintain the easy lobbing of fluffy questions, you may as well skip it. You will learn nothing new about the candidate that you couldn’t learn from their website in under 5 minutes. If CNN is hoping to recover any semblance of journalistic pride, they need to step up their game. Or at least try harder to pretend that the candidate didn’t have a preview of the questions before the event. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that has happened.
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