Sunday, February 23, 2020
Mike Bloomberg had his coming out party at the Nevada Democratic
debate, and the response was harsh -- e.g. (including a few extra
3 winners and 4 losers from the Nevada Democratic debate.
The 7 most dramatic, eye-popping moments from the Democratic debate
in Las Vegas.
'A bland, clueless billionaire with feet of clay': Comments on the
debate from 14 observers, including: "Bloomberg was totally unready";
"Bloomberg failed miserably"; a reference to "the emperor has no clothes";
but some of these pundits were also pretty clueless (e.g., "the winer
may have been Tom Steyer, for missing a particularly hostile debate
marked by personal attacks").
How beating up Bloomberg has reinvigorated the Democratic field.
Michael Bloomberg's campaign is an insult to democracy.
Matt Flegenheimer/Alexander Burns/Jeremy W Peters:
How Bloomberg bungled a debate that he had been prepared for.
Bloomberg is a climate change con man.
Sheera Frenkel/Davey Alba:
Digital edits, a paid army, Bloomberg is 'destroying norms' on social
media. Social media has norms?
Bloomberg walks onto the stage and into a buzzsaw.
Love wanting to die? Then check out Bloomberg's anti-Trump billboards.
At first I suspected a spoof; I mean, is this really the work of a human
brain? One billboard message: "DONALD TRUMP EATS BURNT STEAK." Smaller
print: "Mike Bloomberg likes his medium rare." I'm partial to medium
rare myself, but I can't imagine that working as a litmus test -- not
least because I come from a family (of farmers) where no one wants to
see red oozing out of their meat. Nor does this one do anything for me:
"DONALD TRUMP CHEATS AT GOLF. Mike Bloomberg doesn't." I don't have
enough experience with golf to even have an opinion on that, but I
don't think Bloomberg wouldn't cheat if all it took was money.
Mike Bloomberg's stop-and-frisk problem, explained.
Why Bloomberg can't beat Trump: "It's hard to imagine a Democrat less
able to win working-class votes."
"I'd like to do that piece of meat": The sexism allegations against
Michael Bloomberg's polite authoritarianism.
Bloomberg: The 'Democrat' who treated minorities as inherently criminal.
Rebecca R Ruiz:
The Bloomberg campaign is a waterfall of cash.
Michael Bloomberg's troubling record on unions and workers.
The debate exposed Bloomberg's downside -- but it was there all along,
and visible to anyone who cared to look, not that anyone close to Bloomberg
might dare point that out.
Elizabeth Warren's evisceration of Mike Bloomberg should make Donald
The Bloomberg myth exploded on live TV.
Bloomberg stood in mute fury as his $400 million campaign investment
went up in smoke. His contempt for democracy and sense of entitlement
surpass even Donald Trump, who at least likes crowds -- Bloomberg's
joyless imperiousness makes Trump seem like Robin Williams.
That Bloomberg has been touted as a potential Democratic Party
savior across the top ranks of politics and media is an extraordinary
indictment of that group of people.
Some endorsements were straight cash transactions, in which politicians
who owe their careers to Bloomberg's largess repaid him with whatever
compliments they could muster. How much does a man who radiates impatience
with the idea of having to pretend to equal status with anyone have to
spend to get someone to say something nice?
California Congressman Harley Rouda called him a "legendary businessman":
Bloomie gave her more than $4 million. New Jersey's Mikie Sherrill got more
than $2 million from Bloomberg's Independence USA Super PAC, and in return
the Navy vet said Bloomberg embodies "the integrity we need."
Georgia's Lucy McBath, a member of the congressional black caucus, got
$4 million from Bloomberg PACs, and she endorsed him just as an audio clip
was coming out of the ex-mayor talking about putting black men up "against
the wall" in stop-and-frisk. News accounts of the endorsement frequently
left out the financial ties.
That's fine. If you give a politician $2 million or $4 million, it must
be expected that he or she will say you approximate a human being.
But how does New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman excuse
writing "Paging Michael Bloomberg"? (Well, Bloomberg philanthropies
donated to Planet Word, "the museum my wife is building," says Friedman,
so there's that.) How about Jonathan Chait at New York, who wrote,
"Winning the election is starting to look hard. How about buying it
instead?" Or John Ellis in The Washington Post, who declared
Bloomberg the "dream candidate"?
These pundits clung to a triumvirate of delusions: Bloomberg "gets
things done," he's more electable than a Bernie Sanders or an Elizabeth
Warren because he can spend unlimited amounts, and he has the "toughness"
to take on Trump.
Far from showing "toughness," Bloomberg on Wednesday wilted under
attacks from his five Democratic opponents.
Mike Bloomberg tweeted a doctored debate video. Is it political spin or
Mike Bloomberg is a disaster: "He's bad at politic and running scared
from his own record."
Watch: Elizabeth Warren grills Mike Bloomberg over allegations of sexism
and nondisclosure agreements.
The Nevada caucuses were held on Saturday. Results came in much faster
than in Iowa, but 24 hours later we still only have 87.47% reporting (see
Nevada Democratic caucuses: Live results. As with Iowa, there are
three sets of results. The first-round votes are: Sanders 34.27%, Biden
17.86%, Buttigieg 15.18%, Warren 12.76%, Klobuchar 9.25%, Steyer 9.12%.
Bloomberg wasn't on the ballot, and no write-in votes have been reported,
so he's currently 123 votes behind Michael Bennet, and 12 behind John K
Delaney. As in Iowa, there's also a "realigned vote", as most "unviable"
candidates lose votes to "viable" ones (Bennet drops to 12 votes, but
somehow Delaney got a boost to 16): The top six held place, but Sanders
gained the most, to 40.73%, vs. Biden 19.69% and Buttigieg 17.14%. But
the most commonly reported results were "County Convention Delegates:
Sanders 47.08%, Biden 20.94%, Buttigieg 13.63%, Warren 9.71%, Steyer
4.65%, Klobuchar 3.89%. (This week's best humor article:
Klobuchar congratulates herself for 'exceeding expectations' as early
Nevada results show her in distant 5th.)
Unlike Iowa, it was clear early on who the winner was. Dylan Scott
came up with
3 winners and 2 losers from the Nevada caucuses, but the only
candidate on the list was Sanders (winner), and two of the other
items were clearly Sanders wins (winner: Medicare-for-all; loser:
Culinary Union Local 226). Sanders' win was so complete that Vox
republished Matthew Yglesias:
Mainstream Democrats shouldn't fear Bernie Sanders. Also on Nevada
The last few days have produced an avalanche of Sanders articles --
hysterical attacks on him, defenses (including some meant to reassure
mainstream Democrats, like Yglesias above, and Paul Krugman
here -- although not without lamenting that Sanders may have no use
for "center-left" wonks like Krugman), promotions, and good old fashioned
horse race handicapping, but little I cared to get into.
Some scattered links this week:
Justin Baragona/Asawin Suebsaeng:
Trump grants clemency to another round of crooks he saw on Fox News.
Rod Blagojevich gets the most press, but Bernard Kerik and Michael Milken
are nearly as famous (and, if anything, more extravagant criminals).
Julian E Barnes/Adam Goldman/Nicholas Fandos:
Richard Grenell begins overhauling intelligence office, prompting fears
of partisanship. Following up:
How Stephen Miller manipulates Donald Trump to further his immigration
This is how kleptocracies work: "Trump's pardons were shocking to some,
but to me they were eerily familiar -- straight out of the kleptocratic
playbook I've studied in a dozen other countries."
Multiple studies show Medicare for All would be cheaper than public option
pushed by moderates.
How capitalism underdeveloped rural America.
The war in questions: "After 18-plus years of our forever wars, where
are all the questions?" I'll quote his questions, but they probably need
more context (see the article, not that it fully works):
- When the Bush administration launched that invasion and occupation
of Afghanistan in 2001 and followed it up with an invasion and occupation
of Iraq in 2003, did we, in some curious fashion, really invade and occupy
- Has there ever been a truly great power in history, still at or near
the height of its militarily prowess, that couldn't win a war?
- How and why did the "hearts and minds" factor move from the nationalist
left in the twentieth century to the Islamist right in the twenty-first?
- When it comes to preparations for war, why can't we ever stop?
- How can Washington's war system and the military-industrial complex
across the country continue to turn failure in war into success and
endless dollars at home?
- Why doesn't the reality of those wars of ours ever really seem to
sink in here?
Finding Neverland: "The American right's doomed quest to rid itself
The fact of the matter, then as now, is that ideas on the right are not
so much irreconcilable as they are irrelevant. More than principle, the
presence of threat and an enemy is the most important driver of right-wing
energy, and since the end of the Cold War, the hunt for enemies has become
ever more desperate. That's especially been the case from the moment since
the wars on terrorism and Iraq failed to coalesce the movement -- let alone
the country -- into any viable political coalition for any sustained
interval beyond the moment they launched.
You may recall how often we were lectured in the 1980-90s that all
the good new ideas were coming from the right, but at this point Lionel
Trilling's admonition has never been more accurate that all that's left
of conservative thought are "irritable mental gestures."
The billionaire election: "Does the world belong to them or to us?"
Quote from Alexander Theodoridis, when asked "if any scholarship could
shed light on Mr Bloomberg's method of campaigning," answered: "Most of
the work on buying votes is about the developing world, which perhaps
the US is joining."
Rohrabacher confirms he offered Trump pardon to Assange for proof Russia
didn't hack DNC email.
Yes, Trump's job-approval ratings are finally rising. Well, up to
43.3% according to
FiveThirtyEight, from 41.8% on Jan. 10, a low of 39.5% on Jan. 23,
2019, a record low of 36.5% on Dec. 15, 2017 (or 36.6% on Aug. 7, 2017).
That's still well below his 52.2% disapproval rate. His approval rate
never came close to 50%, and was above the disapproval rate only for
about his first week after inauguration (crossover was Feb. 2, 2017,
at 44.8% each). Of course, any change in his favor is disturbing, as
it makes you doubt the sanity of your fellow citizens.
A military perspective on climate change could bridge the gap between
believers and doubters. I doubt it, but it is true that the Pentagon
has been uniquely free to consider the issue, and they're likely to buy
into anything that could result in larger budgets, so their interest
could disturb the convictions of some doubters. Klare has a new book,
All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon's Perspective on Climate
James Russell Kretschmer:
I was sexually abused as a Boy Scout. Thousands like me deserve a
reckoning. Well, I was just abused (if there was anything sexual
to it, I was too naive to recognize it). I can't even imagine what
a proper reckoning might entail. But I have for many years referred
to "a proto-fascist organization of my youth."
The shadow cabinet: How a group of powerful business leaders drove
Warren, Bloomberg and what really matters: "Dems should be talking
about fiancializatio and fraud."
Have zombies eaten Bloomberg's and Buttigieg's brains? Krugman
has a new book of old essays to flak, called Arguing With Zombies:
Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future. As you
may know by now, "zombie ideas" are ideas which have been repeatedly
proven to be false and bankrupt, but which keep getting resurrected
by people whose interests they seem to support. John Quiggin either
invented or popularized the idea with his 2010 book, Zombie Economics:
How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us.
Trump seeks deal on foreign workers that could anger base: Looks
like "guest workers" are back on the Republican agenda.
Green New Deal: The urgent realism of radical change.
The making of Joe Biden's conservative Democratic politics: An
excerpt from the author's "forthcoming" book, Yesterday's Man:
The Case Against Joe Biden. Seems likely to me that the publisher
missed the window on this one.
Justice Sotomayor warns the Supreme Court is doing special favors for
the Trump administration.
Trump's expanded travel ban just went into effect for 6 new countries.
Why are nonprofit hospitals so highly profitable?
The reports about Russian meddling in the 2020 election, and Trump's
Roger Stone was just sentenced to 40 months in prison.
There's no resurgence in American manufacturing. It's a myth.
The tyranny of the minority, from the Iowa Caucus to Electoral College.
Why Trump's post-impeachment actions are about vengeance, not retribution.
She's Pete Buttigieg's top fundraiser. He's the founder of Nest. And
they're Silicon Valley's new power couple. Swati Mylavarapu and
Matt Rogers. What kind of person says this? "I would love to see the
billionaires of Silicon Valley spend at least as much on giving back
as they do on their yachts." Probably the kind that thinks hiring
Buttigieg to defend and promote neoliberalism is "giving back."
Palestine and the West: A century of betrayal.
Why no retired generals oppose America's forever wars.
Keith A Spencer:
Why does the "BernieBro" myth persist? Because pundits don't understand
how the internet works.
Mike Bloomberg and his billions are what Democrats need to beat Trump:
Part of Vox's series where their various writers try to make the "best
case" for each of the Democratic candidates. The case for Bloomberg is
he has a lot of money, and that could be helpful -- although I'm unsure
how helpful in an election where a major issue will be the overwhelming
corruption of money. Less impressive is "Bloomberg has a strong record
from City Hall." An even bigger stretch is "Bloomberg has spent years
lifting up the Democratic Party and building an apparatus around him."
No mention is made of his numerous contributions to Republicans. (Vox
"does not endorse candidates," but note that founders Matthew Yglesias
and Ezra Klein started the series off by claiming
Bernie Sanders and
Elizabeth Warren, leaving
Joe Biden to Laura McGann,
Pete Buttigieg to Dylan Matthews, and
Amy Klobuchar to Kay Steiger.)
America's monopoly problem, explained by your internet bill. "In 2017,
the average monthly cost of broadband in America was $66.17; in France, it
was $38.10, and in South Korea, $29.90."
Trump's presidency isn't a dark comedy -- it's an absurd tragedy.
Headline reminds me of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi, but even that
play is more generous than Trump deserves.
Jeff Bezos's $10 billion climate pledge is actually tiny: "Judged
by the standards of the climate crisis, the sum is, practically speaking,
almost nothing." And that's even before you discount the amount of graft
it's likely to attract.
What the mass shooting in Germany tells us about its far-right extremism
The one war that the human species can't lose: The "battle" to keep
Antarctica frozen solid.
How the good economy is benefiting workers with disabilities.
It's deficits as far as the eye can see, and it's been paired with
a low interest rate policy from the Fed that Trump has very much
encouraged that has helped people get jobs without sparking inflation.
This formula of bigger deficits plus a supportive Fed is exactly
what progressives spent the years from 2011 to 2016 calling for. Trump
delivered a version of it (although a progressive administration would
obviously have used the money for different things) and it's basically
working. As a result, the long-term unemployed, the disabled, the
discouraged, and even some early retirees are hopping back into the
labor force with no need to cut anyone off from benefits.
The mutually beneficial war between Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg,
A Supreme Court for the rich: A review of Adam Cohen's book,
Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court's Fifty-Year Battle for
a More Unjust America.