Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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by Noah

I don't know about you but I wasn't invited to the wedding of Trump's Directer of Neo-Nazi Outreach Stephen Miller and Mike Pence's Secretary of Bullshit Spinning Katie Waldman. The event was held this past weekend at some dubiously-financed hotel Trump owns. I wonder if the band will ever get paid. Actually, no, i don't wonder at all. Same for whatever suckers catered the food, and, hopefully that wasn't just hamberders and cold fries.

Alas, we have no dirty dancing photos of Trump and his daughter Ivanka, nor can we tell you if Miller had any spray painted hair since he kept his hood on the whole time. However, we at DownWithTyranny are proud to show you this "Official White House Photo" of the wedding. You'll just have to imagine the rest. One thing's for sure, I can't wait until the guest list goes public. I bet it was a Who's Who of Grand Wizards, FOX "News" ass kissers, porn stars, child torturers, Chinese spies and Russian diplomats. I think I heard that Robert Kraft was there but left early to get a hand job in the adjacent massage room. He had to wait. There was a line of Trump donors and republican $enators that extended out the door, down the street and around the corner.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Who Is More Likely To Have Been Created In A Right-Wing Super-Lab, Fox-bot Marie Bartiromo Or Arkansas Closet Case Tom Cotton?

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The Democratic Party is giving far right extremist crackpot Tom Cotton a free ride this cycle, not bothering to run an opponent against him, although Dan Whitfield, who calls himself a "progressive independent," is running on an independent line. Cotton has raised $7,583,447 for his reelection campaign. Whitfield hasn't raised the $5,000 that would trigger an FEC report. Cotton, who had presidential ambitions before he was outed as a closet case, is a garden variety Trumpist with nothing to recommend him.

Sunday, the NY Times noted that he's been spreading a conspiracy theory that the coronavirus was manufactured in a high-security Chinese biochemical weapons lab near Wuhan, although he admits he has no proof of this. The Times noted that "The rumor appeared shortly after the new coronavirus struck China and spread almost as quickly: that the outbreak now afflicting people around the world had been manufactured by the Chinese government. The conspiracy theory lacks evidence and has been dismissed by scientists. But it has gained an audience with the help of well-connected critics of the Chinese government." It looks like another psychopath from TrumpWorld, Stephen Bannon, started it.

Cotton has been carrying on about it for weeks and Maria Bartiromo had him on her show Sunday to spread it further, despite the rumor having been debunked by the scientific community. Yesterday, for example, Chemical Biology Professor Richard Ebright (Rutgers University) told the Washington Post that "there's absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered. The possibility that this was a deliberately released bio-weapon can be firmly excluded."



Cotton on Fox: "We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that. We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases. We don’t have evidence that this disease originated there but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says, and China right now is not giving evidence on that question at all." This of course, is a perfect explanation to a typical low-IQ Fox TV viewer incapable of independent thought.

Russian versions of Tom Cotton are blaming the U.S. in the same way he is blaming China.
[I]n Russia the misinformation has been particularly pointed. Russia’s spin doctors have capitalized on the fear and confusion of the epidemic to point the blame at the United States, following a well-established pattern of previous Russian disinformation campaigns and evoking a Cold War-era plot by the KGB to paint HIV as a U.S. biological weapon... [I]n Russia these theories are appearing on prominent mainstream news discussion shows such as Big Game and Time Will Tell on Channel 1, rather than just being confined to squalid corners of the internet. In late January, the firebrand leader of the far-right Liberal Democratic Party of Russia party told a Moscow radio station that he thought coronavirus was an American bioweapon or a big plot by pharmaceutical companies to get richer.

...The overarching theme of the stories that appear across the Russian media, from fringe websites to prime-time television, is that the virus is the product of U.S. labs, intended to kneecap China’s economic development. Some articles have flirted with the idea that Bill Gates or Kremlin nemesis George Soros might have had a hand in the outbreak. In one of the more bizarre turns, a host on Russia’s state-funded Channel 1 floated the idea that the name “coronavirus,” is a veiled reference to its American origins, because U.S. President Donald Trump once handed out crowns at beauty pageants, and corona means crown in Latin. (Coronaviruses are, in fact, a well-established group of viruses whose name is a reference to their shape.)

There is, however, no agreement between Russia’s propagandists about who foretold the virus, with some claiming it was Nostradamus, others say it was the blind Bulgarian mystic Baba Vanga, or maybe even Stephen Hawking.

The Russian messaging fits a now well-established pattern in that it doesn’t look to persuade audiences of a single alternative truth. That would take effort, planning, and persuasion. Modern-day Russian propaganda has instead been described by the Rand Corp. as a “firehose of falsehood,” a steady stream of underdeveloped, sometimes contradictory conspiracy theories intended to exhaust and confuse viewers, making them question the very notion of objective truth itself.

Right now, the main audience is largely domestic, with a sprinkling of conspiratorial reports across the different language services of Sputnik, the more tabloid of Russia’s international broadcasters. The conspiracy theories haven’t featured prominently on English-language Russian government-backed international broadcasters such as RT and Sputnik, however, according to Bret Schafer, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy who studies disinformation. While these channels have historically played around the edges of conspiracy theories, “they still want that veneer of being a legit international broadcaster,” Schafer said.

...[W]hile the Russian media has speculated wildly about the virus, the Russian government has taken the threat seriously, closing its land borders with China and checking the temperatures of reporters and officials at events attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Two people in Russia were diagnosed with the virus, having contracted it on trips to China, but they are reported to have since recovered. While disinformation doesn’t appear to have hamstrung Russia’s response to the virus, the lasting danger may be in its continued erosion of trust in the notion of truth itself.

“Where I do think is it’s unhelpful is that it flies in the face of facts and science,” said Schafer. “The real danger is more the impact it has on trust in information.”
I wonder if someone has been whispering in Trump's ear yet that this could be a plausible excuse to cancel the 2020 elections.


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GreenPeace Finds Bernie Is The Best Candidate On Climate And Bloomberg The Worst

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Bloomberg's campaign has been writing endorsement quotes for the elected officials who want to announce they are backing him. One talking point the campaign wants to float is that he's great on Climate. But he isn't great on Climate. The Sunrise Movement has vetted his plan carefully and doesn't seem impressed. And over the weekend, GreenPeace released an updated scorecard for all the presidential candidates. All of the Democrats did better than Trump, of course. Trump scored an F. But not all the Democrats have equally good plans and records. Bernie's at the top with an A+ and Bloomberg... way at the bottom of the pack.




Of Bernie, GreenPeace noted that he "has committed to take on the fossil fuel industry and enact a Green New Deal. He’ll halt new fossil fuel drilling and phase out existing coal, oil, and gas production. He’ll prioritize vulnerable workers and communities in a well-managed transition to a 100% renewable society. He’s championed climate justice in the Senate for years and has a detailed plan to continue his legacy if elected president."

At the other end of the spectrum, their comments on Bloomberg aren't great. "Bloomberg supports reaching 100% clean energy before 2050. He supports eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and halting drilling on public lands. However, he does not fully support a Green New Deal, nor has he put forward a detailed plan to phase out fossil fuel production for good while supporting working families and frontline communities along the way."

Klobuchar was also seen as lacking although she "supports ending oil and gas drilling on public lands and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. She set a goal of reaching net-zero U.S. emissions by 2050. But her climate plan lacks the level of detail and ambition She co-sponsored the Green New Deal resolution in Congress but has called it 'aspirational.'"


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The Democrats Completely Control Sacramento-- So Why Is It Such A Cesspool Of Corruption?

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If the old maxim is true that absolute power corrupts absolutely, then California Democrats have a very real problem. As the power and legitimacy of the GOP has waned, Democrats have seized control of a supermajority in the state, with both hands. With their power now left unchecked by a viable opposition party, the party politics of the left have drifted into corruption, led by party power players like Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Christy Smith, an unaccomplished freshman legislator running for the CA-25 seat abandoned by Katie Hill, as well as a wide cadre of party apparatchiks.

Their goal has been to put their thumbs on the scales of primary elections across the state in order to elect moderate back benchers who will maintain the status quo and not rock the boat for party leadership. The internal party bias has been especially hard on the progressive wing of the party, where the California Democratic party routinely tries to pick the winners of primary races.

The Young Turks recently reported one such story of unethical influence into races that are supposed to be democratic in nature. The story featured Eric Ohlsen who is running for State Assembly in District 36, the Antelope Valley district that is contained within the boundaries of CA-25. According to Ohlsen, he was told at a meeting with Christy Smith that the decision had already been made behind the scenes to support his opponent, Jonathan Ervin, so Ohlsen should just try again in a few years. She also took umbrage with his messaging to get big money out of politics and fight corruption. Ohlsen had said in a speech-- up top-- at the California Democratic Convention, "Democrats have a supermajority in Sacramento and they keep telling us that we need to learn how to compromise. We’re not compromising with Republicans to pass legislation, we’re compromising with industry because they’re donors." Regarding that anti-corruption stance, Ohlsen said, "Christy told me that my anti-corruption messaging was 'personally offensive' to her." Which is probably a good self-assessment because both Smith and Rendon had pushed Ervin from behind the scenes and made sure that opposing candidates did not get any endorsements, which gave Ervin a $121 thousand advantage over everyone else in his race.

Ohlsen confirmed in a follow up interview that during his meeting with Smith, she had noted that both herself and Rendon had endorsed Jonathan Ervin before any primary races had even begun, effectively removing any democracy from the Democratic Primary.

Rendon has a long track record of using his influence with the unions and special interest groups to deny funding and endorsements to any candidates that he does not hand pick. His position as Speaker of the House in the State Assembly gives him leverage over groups that may potentially offer endorsements to candidates. By offering to reduce access to legislators, Rendon can control or eliminate the flow of money to candidates that he does not approve of. Encouraging his membership in the Assembly to direct funds at particular candidates is another tactic that Rendon has used to starve out competition from progressive candidates, and favor ones, like Ervin, who will act as an empty vessel for his agenda.

Threats of the denial of funding have also been used against other progressive candidates such as those who support Cenk Unger. Alaina Brooks, SEIU delegate for California's 36th Assembly District, executive board member for Local 2015, made it very clear to the Ohlsen camp that if he continued to support his fellow progressive candidate that his political future would be in jeopardy.

Goal Thermometer"The amount of pushback that we have gotten is surprising to me," Ohlsen said, "Nearly every Democrat in Sacramento ran on talking points to get money out of politics, but as soon as you ask, 'that sounds great, so where is your bill?' they start working like crazy behind the scenes to block you from competing." With a supermajority of Democratic votes in the California Legislature, passing any anticorruption measures would be a simple task, the problem is that the measures would need the support of people who have spent their careers benefiting from the money in politics.

This is the reason why many states have enacted publicly funded elections, which limit the ability of party elites and special interests to pick and choose the winners of elections before they have even began. It is a proposition that has been supported on the national level by several Presidential candidates including Tom Steyer, who said, "I think the point about publicly funded campaigns means that if you are running, the public will fund a campaign that’s at least comparable to what anyone’s going to spend on their campaign," Steyer told reporters. "And that’s actually I think the easiest way to go about this and the proper way."

Also on the national level, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has faced many of the same problems by bucking the party establishment. She rose to prominence by defeating Joseph Crowley, a corporate Democrat who portrayed himself as being a progressive liberal while simultaneously taking money from Goldman Sachs, Facebook, Google, BlackRock, amongst others. AOC has continued to garner criticism from her own Democratic colleagues for holding House Democrat’s feet to the fire regarding financial corruption within the party.



The GOP lost their position as a viable opposition party in the state, but by quashing the voices of opposition within their own ranks, Democrats could undo any gains they have been given. The activities of Rendon and Smith to put their thumbs on the scales of party elections could create a culture of corruption that will bring down their own house. Matt Stoller summed the problem up nicely in a 2019 column for the Washington Post, "For too long, disagreements in the Democratic Party have been kept behind closed doors, and the result was the protection of powerful financial interests. It is time to start talking about this dynamic, so that voters can make a democratic choice about what kind of politics they actually want to build. That, in the end, is why it’s called the Democratic Party."

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Trump To Campaign For Congressional Republicans? Kara Eastman Says "Bring It On!"

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Hole-in-One by Nancy Ohanian

During the 2016 election, a putative Democrat from the South Bronx, Rubén Díaz, Sr., backed Ted Cruz for president and invited him to speak in his district. It didn't do Cruz much good. In the Republican primary, Cruz came in third-- with just 1,022 votes, in New York's bluest county. Trump won the county in the primary with 2,702 votes but in the general election, Hillary eviscerated him 318,403 (88.7%) to 34,424 (9.6%). Today, still running as a Democrat (or some kind of Democrat), Díaz Sr. is trying to sneak into the NY-15 congressional district from which progressive icon Jose Serrano is retiring.


NY-15 doesn't have many white conservatives. In fact, only 2.5% of the district's population is white. And when Republicans run there, it's usually just a vanity run or a publicity stunt. NY-15 is the bluest district in America. Obama won it with 95% the first time he ran and with 97% the second time. In 2016, Trump performance in the district was just 4.9%-- his worst results in the Bronx, in New York City, in New York State and in the U.S.A. This cycle, though, conservatives might get lucky. One of their own, Díaz Sr., is running for the open congressional seat... and running as a Democrat.

A a 77-year-old, cowboy hat-wearing Pentecostal minister known for his constituent services and ugly controversial statements on social issues, Díaz Sr. has a clear path to victory-- a split among a dozen progressive and mainstream candidates that could actually leave the crackpot with a primary win. Díaz was the only Democrat in the state Senate to vote against a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in 2011. He is vehemently anti-Choice and against stem-cell research. And last year he told New Yorkers that the City Council is "controlled by the homosexual community," which led to him being stripped of his chairmanship of the For-Hire Vehicle committee. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told him to resign.

The best way of beating Díaz is for progressives and normal Democrats to get behind Tomas Ramos... but that isn't going to happen, especially not with political careerists like Ritchie Torres and Michael Blake. But there's another way to beat Díaz, Sr.-- and Ramos told us about it today. An Alayna Treene post at Axios over the weekend pointed out that "In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections-- buoyed by Republican control of both chambers-- President Trump viewed campaigning for the House as a lower-tier priority and instead poured his energy into rallying for the Senate. But after the GOP reckoning in 2018, and experiencing firsthand how damaging a Democratic-led House has been to him, Trump is now personally invested in helping Republicans regain the majority in November. If Trump wins re-election and Republicans are able to hold the Senate and take back the House, Trump will essentially have free rein to do whatever he wants in his second term." Tomas Ramos, like many Democrats running for Congress, hopes Trump will come to his district to campaign.

It isn't likely to happen, but a Trump-Díaz rally would be an immense GOTV moment for real Democrats in the Bronx. "This," Ramos told me, "would give my campaign a huge boost. My district consists of 98% people of color from all over the world. It would expose Rubén Díaz, Sr. for what he really is, a conservative Republican who has been running as a Democrat in the most Democratic congressional district in the country. Remember, this is the same guy who brought Ted Cruz to the Bronx in 2016."

Goal ThermometerOmaha, Nebraska is very different from the Bronx and the congressional district there, NE-02, is a quintessential swing district. It went for Obama in 2008 and for Romney in 2012. Last cycle, Hillary lost NE-02 by less than 2 points. But Trump is incredibly unpopular there now. In 2018, progressive Kara Eastman won Douglas County (Omaha convincingly). Like Tomas, she would love to see Trump come to Omaha to campaign with his Nebraska-clone, Don Bacon. "If Trump wants to come to my district-- where polls show him under water by 14 points-- to campaign for Bacon," she told me, "I say bring it on!"

Liam O'Mara is less certain what a Trump visit to Riverside County to bolster endangered Republican Ken Calvert would mean. "Trump being here could energize Calvert's base and mine. Trump won the 42nd by 12 points," Liam continued, "But remember, he was running as a populist and talking about the working class. Yes, the district has a conservative history, but many of its independent voters have a populist streak. And Republicans make up only 38% of the electorate, and falling. The answer to a right-populist is a left-populist who knows how to frame the issues well." O'Mara thinks that if Calvert campaigned in the district with Trump, he could win with a campaign stop by Bernie. "Standing with him would do the most good... and his popularity in the district is growing. His appeal crosses party lines and scoops up the independent populists more easily than Trump. It is worth remembering that about 12% of Bernie's 2016 primary voters went for Trump in the general. These are swing voters that we can only win with the right kind of candidate."

Tom Winter is the progressive Democrat likely to take on Matt Rosendale for the open at-large Montana House seat. He reminded me that in 2018 Trump was in Montana four times campaigning for Rosendale when he was running against Democrat Jon Tester. "One of these campaign rallies was in a state legislative district Trump had won by 11 points the previous election and the one I was running in to replace an incumbent Republican that was seated right behind him as he spoke. While that local GOP lawmaker was enjoying his VIP tickets to that rally, I knocked dozens and dozens of doors that day right across the street. I talked with my neighbors about how politics was failing the working families of Montana. I laid out my progressive policy agenda that I felt would make it more affordable for all of us to live in the place we love. With loud cheers in the background as the president complimented our incumbent Congressman, Greg Gianforte, for body slamming a reporter that had asked him a tough question, I spoke with my neighbors about the need to restore civility in our politics. Gianforte, Rosendale, and that local legislator all laughed as the president praised the assault on journalists, 'Any guy who can do a body slam is my kind of guy.' They laughed and Jon Tester and I won. We won because we had not lost faith in Montanans and laid out our cases for how we would fight for them, each in our own way. Our good Senator won that year by his largest margin ever in his three statewide election victories. So, as I run to replace that body slamming Congressman I welcome the president to stop by our great state for as many times as he'd like. He can find me speaking with my future constituents."





Other districts where Trump visits would likely kill GOP chances include seats currently held by John Katko, Peter King, and Lee Zeldin in New York; Fred Upton in Michigan; And Barr in Kentucky; Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Washington; Chris Smith in New Jersey; Ann Wagner in Missouri; Brian Fitzpatrick and Scott Perry in Pennsylvania; Denver Riggleman and Rob Wittman in Virginia; Rodney Davis and Mike Bost in Illinois; Bryan Steil in Wisconsin; Pete Stauber and Jim Hagedorn in Minnesota; Devin Nunes and Tom McClintock in California; Mario Diaz-Balart, Ross Spano, Brian Mast and Vern Buchanan in Florida; Dan Crenshaw, Michael McCaul, John Carter, Chip Roy and Roger Williams in Texas; and Steve Chabot, David Joyce and Mike Turner in Ohio.


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Vote For A Republican-Lite Democratic Candidate And Don't Complain When You Get Republican-Lite Laws-- Conservative Democrats Defeat Assault Weapons Ban In Virginia

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Last Thursday night-- in a post called Scrub From Your Mind: Any Blue Will Do"-- we looked at how the much ballyhooed new Democratic majority in the Virginia legislature failed to repeal the state's venal, anti-union right to work law. Yesterday the state Senate again sided with the GOP, failing to pass a ban on the sale of assault weapons. The House of Delegates had passed the bill 51-48 last week, even though 3 Democrats voted against it (Steve Heretick, Roslyn Tyler and Lee Carter) and one, Kelly Convirs-Fowler of Virginia Beach, abstained. Yesterday, conservative Senate Dem Creigh Deeds-- backed up by fellow Senate conservaDems John Edwards (Judiciary Committee Chair), Chap Petersen and Scott Surovell-- got it tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, while the NRA-packed crowd in the visitors bleachers cheered and applauded.

Creigh Deed's name might sound familiar, since he was the Democratic candidate for governor in 2009, when he lost to crooked conservative Republican Bob McDonnell, 58.6% to 41.2%. He is well known as one of Virginia's worst xenophobes in the Democratic Party, having voted to make English the official language of Virgina as well as for bills that would prevent undocumented immigrants from applying for state and local benefits and to prohibit them from paying in-state tuition rates. In 2005 Deeds he had run against McDonnell for Attorney General, losing narrowly, after being endorsed by his pals at the NRA.

He represents a solidly blue Senate district (the 25th) that includes the City of Charlottesville and much of surrounding Albemarle County, stretching to also include all of Alleghany County, Bath County, Highland County, Nelson County, Rockbridge County, and the cities of Buena Vista, Covington, and Lexington. The district gave Obama a 55.5% victory over Romney and gave Hillary a 54.7% win over Trump, who scored only 39.3% there. Kaine and Warner both took the 25th in their Senate runs and Ralph Northam won it in 2017 (59.7- 39.2%) when he was elected governor. The district is way more progressive than its state Senator.





State Senator Louise Lucas, a Judiciary Committee member, said she was "deeply disturbed" by the vote and said Deeds and the 3 other Democrats who voted with the GOP had "wimped out... I want you to count now, start now, and start counting the number of people who would’ve died based on us not passing this legislation. A lot of people are going to die because this body didn’t have the spine to do what two million voters wanted us to do."

The corporate Dem who serves as House Speaker, Eileen Filler-Corn, called the Senate vote "a disappointment... The Democratic platform last fall was very clear. Limiting access to weapons of war used in mass murder was a key part of that platform."

Goal ThermometerNo one should really be surprised though. This is exactly what you can expect by electing Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. On the federal level, that would be Blue Dogs and New Dems. And that's why Blue America hosts this ActBlue page, supporting vetted progressives who are running in primaries against the worst Democrats in Congress. I asked some of them what they think about the Virginia Democrats decision to betray the people who voted for them. Michael Owens, the progressive Democrat taking on reactionary Blue Dog David Scott in the suburbs south and southwest of Atlanta, made the right connection: "Blue Dog Democrats and other conservative members of the Democratic Party do their constituents harm each and every time they bow down to a corporation or special interest lobbyist and put their profit-driven greed above the need of the people."

"Today," wrote Rachel Ventura last night, "I had a debate against Corporate Democrat Bill Foster. In it I pointed out that many Democrats are watching how the news media is casting the presidential race and defining it as a fight between progressives and moderates. It's not though. Instead, it is a struggle between the corporate wing filled with politicians who are bought and paid for, versus the people’s wing. Blue Dogs Democrats and Republicans are bought by the same industries. They both have taken money from Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Banks, and the list continues… my opponent is no different. These corporate politicians make us believe that our tax dollars must continue to go to endless wars and corporate bailouts. But they don’t. We can choose where are dollars are spent by sending a true representative to Congress. Incrementalism has only eroded the middle class and resulted in a president like Donald Trump. Since I first entered the political arena in 2016, my tagline has been 'no strings attached.' I have signed the 'no fossil fuel money' pledge and the 'patients over profit pledge.' My opponent cannot say the same. It is past time to send true representation to Washington D.C. as well as individual local and state reps like in Virginia!"


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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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by Noah

Look at the smug contempt in that face. Just look at it! Imagine the level of disrespect for the law and the contempt for America and its citizens that motivates Susan Collins in order for her to say what she said about the madmanTrump learning his lesson. She has obviously tapped into the same level of disrespect for the law and contempt for America that those who vote for her and cretins like her also possess.

Susan Collins's idol, Donald Trump, has sure learned his lesson, just like you claim, hasn't he, Susan? He's learned that you and your Republican colleagues in the $enate have given him carte blanche to break any law he wants to with impunity. He has learned, thanks to willing enablers like you and others like you who pretended to take your oath to the Constitution and your decision to acquit your boy seriously. I'm referring specifically to colleagues such as such as $enator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and $enator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who put on a big show of sincere deliberation before they backed the idea that the American judicial system is nothing but Trump's toy, his to play with. You did what you did along with an equally corrupt Errand Boy/Political Operative/Attorney General named William Barr, who now wants to impede investigations of himself and the president, not to mention dirtbags and dirtbag worshipers like you. You and your colleagues have decided that the judicial system is Trump's to use for any evil purpose including to ruin the lives of Americans whose only crime in your sick viewpoint was to obey the laws of the land.

Yes, Susan, how dare some people obey their oath of office! How dare some people take the Constitution seriously! You, Susan Collins have nothing but contempt for those people and you've shown it so many times. You don't even have to open your mouth anymore. It just shows up on your face. Voting to confirm Kavanaugh and Barr were just two recent examples of the depth of your contempt for America but you felt compelled to top even those despicable votes.

Susan Collins, it's time for you to learn your lesson. It's time for you be put on an ice flow so we can watch you float out to sea as it slowly melts. I dream! I long to watch you in the distance through my binoculars as you scream but I can't hear you because you're so far away. In a just world, your state of Maine has learned their lesson about you, but, given that they once elected teabagger Paul LePage for Governor, who knows? In a more just world...


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Monday, February 17, 2020

You Never Thought You Would Vote For A Republican Oligarch But You Are Considering Doing So This Time? Please Read This First So You Don't Slit Your Wrists In 2021

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Over the weekend, Bernie was in Nevada, where a new poll shows him leading in this next-up caucus state (next Saturday). He's not just leading; he's surging while his closest competitor, Status Quo Joe, is collapsing and has all but abandoned Nevada for South Carolina.
Bernie- 25%
Status Quo Joe- 18%
Elizabeth- 13%
Steyer- 11%
Mayo Pete- 10%
Klobuchar- 10%
Republican oligarch Michael Bloomberg won't be on the ballot Saturday but Bernie has been keeping a cautious eye on him. Last week, at the Clark County Democratic Party dinner, he criticized Mini Mike's longtime opposition to raising the minimum wage, which, for the sake of gaining votes, he has now flip-flopped on. Bernie also noted that Bloomberg has always backed Austerity plans that included cuts to Medicare and Social Security and that he opposed efforts to hold "the crooks on Wall Street accountable." Bernie told the party activists that "Regardless of how much money a multi-billionaire candidate is willing to spend on this election, we will not create the energy and excitement we need to defeat Donald Trump if that candidate pursued, advocated for and enacted racist policies like 'stop and frisk' which caused communities of color in his city to live in fear."

A Trump vs Bloomberg general election would be asking Democrats to participate in a Republican primary between a fascist and a mainstream conservative. Last week Sonali Kolhatkar noted that Mini Mike is having a moment as elites abandon the floundering Biden and turn to the big-spending oligarch. "One," she wrote, "could attribute this rise to the insane amount of cash he has spent on his campaign-- more than $200 million so far-- out of his own bottomless pockets to blast commercials on every platform as he sells himself to the public. Now, liberal pundits are contemplating things like, 'It is time to earnestly consider the possibility that Bloomberg will be the Democratic nominee for president.' But are we honestly considering him a serious candidate?"
Bloomberg’s main stint with politics was as mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013, during which time he pushed aggressively to criminalize and racially profile people of color under the guise of the “stop and frisk” policing model. The idea was simple: Preemptively arrest poor Black and Latino men, and crime rates would magically drop. Thousands of men were ruined in Bloomberg’s dragnet, and the policy persisted until legal challenges forced the city to end the program with a judge declaring it unconstitutional. In launching his bid for the White House last year, Bloomberg stood in front of black congregants at a church and said, “I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong.”

Perhaps the billionaire candidate simply expected that his money would wash the stench of racism away.

...Perhaps Bloomberg hopes white liberals can set aside any misgivings about his racism simply because they are fantasizing about the unlimited access to his campaign cash to defeat Trump. Bloomberg is currently the ninth richest person on the entire planet. In a sincere sounding op-ed in the New York Times, he explained how “the rewards of the economy are far too concentrated at the top,” and that he is “making the system fairer and more progressive, including by increasing taxes on wealthy people like me.” But only three years ago, Bloomberg-- in a conversation with the then-head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine La Garde-- explained that he was in favor of regressive taxation because it helped socially engineer poor people’s habits:
Taxes are regressive, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money and so higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves. So I listen to people saying, ‘Oh we don’t want to tax the poor.’ Well, we want the poor to live longer so that they can get an education and enjoy life. And that’s why you do want to do exactly what a lot of people say you don’t want to do… If you raise taxes on full sugary drinks, for example, they will drink less and there’s no question that full sugared drinks are one of the major factors in obesity and obesity is one of the major factors to heart disease.
While this clip has not received as much attention as Bloomberg’s defense of “stop-and-frisk,” it is just as instructive about his attitude toward low-income people. A multibillionaire’s opinion of those on the bottom rung of society is-- unsurprisingly-- utterly distorted by his obscene wealth.


How exactly can a racist, classist billionaire be favored by Democrats? As Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to build momentum, the liberal establishment is in full panic mode. All of the superficial criticism they have cast at Sanders-- that he’s an old white man who has been a Democrat for barely a minute-- apply just as equally to Bloomberg. But what is most critically important to Bloomberg’s backers is that his politics are the polar opposite of Sanders. Just days after the disastrous Iowa caucuses, the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson bizarrely declared Bloomberg “the biggest winner,” even though he skipped the caucuses. Robinson’s reasoning was that “the chaos in the Democratic Party and Trump’s White House are making Bloomberg’s argument for him.”

The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman this week opined that Bloomberg “has the best chance to carry the day” in a match-up against Trump and that he is “a moderate progressive with a heart of gold but the toughness of a rattlesnake.” The words “moderate progressive” are code for “not a Democratic Socialist like Bernie Sanders.” Defenders of the establishment are terrified that in a bid to sweep away Trump and his policies, too many Americans will want to strip wealthy liberals of their power and money as well.

For all the fears that [establishment] Democrats have about a Sanders’ nomination, the worst that Trump could accuse Sanders of doing is sticking to a set of economic, racial and gender justice principles for 40 years. He could harp on Sanders’ avowed socialism, but polls show Americans are actually quite receptive to socialism. He could lie and call Sanders a communist, but the Senator could retort, as he has already done, “Obviously I am not a communist,” even if Trump “maybe doesn’t know the difference.”

In demonizing Sanders and all he represents, Trump is siding with the likes of former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who is so terrified of Sanders he worried the senator would “ruin the economy” as president. By that comment, Blankfein of course means that Sanders plans to upend an economy that is working very well for him and terribly for the rest of us. Trump, Wall Street executives and wealthy elites like Blankfein and Bloomberg are all arrayed against threats to the corporate stranglehold on America. They are all part of the same team, and yet establishment Democrats claim there is a difference between Trump and Bloomberg.

As Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren dip in the polls, Bloomberg’s numbers are rising. In a head-to-head matchup with Trump, one poll showed him beating the president by the widest margin of all Democratic candidates. But Bloomberg has so far benefitted from scant media coverage and as journalists dig deeper, his many skeletons are tumbling out of the closet. He has also not yet faced his challengers on a debate stage. If he does cinch the nomination, picture Trump ripping him apart over his comments about crime in minority neighborhoods and his patronizing attitudes toward poor people.

Sanders surrogate Nina Turner, in a recent interview on MSNBC, dared to call Bloomberg an “oligarch” and raised the ire of liberal pundits. But the word “oligarch” is defined as a member of a nation’s economic elite unfairly using their status and money to wield power. Former Labor secretary and popular progressive author Robert Reich explained that, yes, at this stage, anyone is better than Trump and that “[o]ligarchy is better than tyranny.” But, he added, “neither is as good as democracy.”

Bloomberg’s immense wealth allows him to bypass the traditional reins of accountability that the public has over a candidate running for election. Bloomberg doesn’t need the public to donate to his campaign, and therefore there is no guarantee that as president he would care about serving the public. Already with Trump in the White House, we are suffering the ill effects of an unaccountable wealthy person who cares more about his money than his country. How can anyone who wants to defeat Trump want to replace him with someone not unlike him?
Alan Grayson's Twitter poll yesterday shows a lot of dissatisfaction with Bloomberg. He's far less popular than the other two conservative Democrats running, Status Quo Joe and Mayo Pete.




Maybe that's because plenty of Democrats agree with widespread assertions that he's a Republican plutocrat trying to buy the Democratic nomination. In Current Affairs Michael Robinson wrote that "The idea of Michael Bloomberg becoming the Democratic presidential nominee should be too absurd to even consider seriously. For one thing, he is a conservative who openly believes that the poor should be ruled over by the super-rich and is trying to buy the nomination outright. He has a history of saying monstrously offensive things about women and transgender people, and oversaw an infamous racist police regime that terrorized Black and Hispanic New Yorkers. If he did somehow manage to spend his way to the nomination, bypassing the democratic process, it would be such an outrage-- and so demoralizing to the Democratic base-- that it would guarantee Trump’s reelection. If the choice were between two sexist billionaires who hate the poor, how many young people would drag themselves to the polls to support “our side’s” billionaire? It would permanently disillusion an entire generation and vindicate every cynical theory of politics as a domain where money rules absolutely. But, troublingly, Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy has not entirely been laughed out of the room. A number of prominent Democratic officials, liberal intellectuals, and celebrities have endorsed him, including San Francisco mayor London Breed, Illinois congressman Bobby Rush, Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs, Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, TV’s Judge Judy, and singer John Mellencamp. Henry Louis Gates promoted Michael Bloomberg, and Evicted author Matthew Desmond effusively praised Bloomberg’s housing plan (without officially endorsing him). Some of this seems a little strange-- why is a sociologist known for studying evictions boosting the guy responsible for the New York homelessness crisis? Why are dozens of liberal elected officials suddenly stumping for a Republican billionaire?"




Well, first of all, virtually none of the elected officials endorsing Bloomberg is "liberal." Most of them are conservatives like Bloomberg (such as Wall Street shill Gina Raimondo) or, worse, corrupt buckets of slime like Bobby Rush, which Robinson notes: "In the case of some elected officials, the answer seems to be simple bribery. Bloomberg 'has supported 196 different cities with grants, technical assistance and education programs worth a combined $350 million' and 'now, leaders in some of those cities are forming the spine of Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign.' The mayors have all 'attended his prestigious boot camp at Harvard that gives the mayors access to ongoing strategic advice from Bloomberg-funded experts' and 'more than half have received funding… worth a total of nearly $10 million.' Bloomberg has been good to them and promises to keep being good to them in the future; endorsing him will probably guarantee the cash keeps flowing. Bloomberg hands out bags of money, they come on board."

Just as bad are the conservative Democratic Party elites who just care about one thing: stopping Bernie. Some would prefer Trump. Other believe Bernie can't win, regardless of polling points to the opposite, namely that Bernie has the best chance of any Democratic candidate of beating Trump. Much of this is based on wrongly thinking that ignorer to win, Democrats need to win moderate Republicans. Even if there are any "moderate Republicans," Democrats can win without them-- by exciting their own base and by winning independents. And that's Bernie's strength.
Bloomberg has never been shy about being a free-market conservative waging war on the poor, and the only reason it isn’t immediately obvious that he is right-wing is that so many Democrats have also been free-market conservatives waging war on the poor. Sure, his 2020 campaign has slapped together some hastily plagiarized literature pitching him as progressive, and he is publishing op-eds claiming that “fixing inequality is my priority.” After years of staunchly defending racist policing practices, he apologized for them the moment he began the campaign. But none of this should persuade anyone familiar with Bloomberg’s actual record.

Remember that Bloomberg himself says he is the type of conservative who believes in slashing the government to bits:
I actually am a conservative-- more so than other conservatives in the sense that I think you could go and cut 2 or 3 percent out of the budget in every agency. We’ve done that 12 times… 
Indeed, as New York City mayor, the billionaire mayor vowed to smash working people’s unions. He adopted an “aggressive approach to reforming the pension system” and made it his No. 1 legislative priority. He “threatened to withhold worker raises unless the municipal unions yielded on benefits.” Bloomberg vowed that nobody would get raises unless they accepted benefit cuts:
“Today, I will make this commitment: I will not sign a contract with salary increases unless they are accompanied by reforms in benefit packages that produce the savings we need…”
When transit workers went on strike after the transit authority’s attempted to raise the retirement age and substantially increase pension contributions, Bloomberg called them “selfish,” “greedy,” and “thuggish.” He even attacked the morality of the city’s firefighters. He eliminated the employee protection plan for the city’s 8,000 school bus drivers, leading to a strike. Bloomberg told public sector workers that “we have to find ways to do more with less” and would not pledge to end layoffs, even as the city spent millions on private consultants. Bloomberg said he wanted workers who appreciated that they should be grateful to the private sector for their salaries: “The unions I will get are the unions who understand that the private sector pays for the work of municipal employees.” (Bloomberg also spent $3 million backing right-wing Michigan governor Rick Snyder-- remembered for the Flint Water Crisis and seizing power from Black-led cities-- in part because Snyder “took on the unions.“)

Bloomberg has never shown himself to care much about workers’ rights. He once ordered that a low-level city employee making $27,000-- supporting a wife and child-- be fired after Bloomberg noticed Solitaire open on the man’s computer. Bloomberg forced the resignation of the director of the city’s first Arabic dual language school program after ludicrous allegations that she was a terrorist sympathizer. When Bloomberg found out that a New York City teacher had previously been a sex worker, he demanded she be fired, saying, “We’re just not going to have this woman in front of a class.” The teacher was suspended and ultimately had to resign.

Bloomberg’s own company was sued by 72 women who claimed “the company discriminated against them by decreasing their pay, demoting them, and excluding them from other employment opportunities after they became pregnant,” with one senior executive allegedly remarking “I’m not having any pregnant bitches working for me.”

Bloomberg has always opposed traditional Democratic policies for improving the lives of working people. He said he is “not, and [has] never been in favor of raising the minimum wage” (giving the usual discredited talking point about job loss), and as mayor vowed to veto a living wage bill, comparing it to Soviet Communism and promising to fight it in court. Bloomberg is a believer in “trickle-down” economics, whereby helping the rich helps the poor:
The way to help those who are less fortunate is, number one, to attract more very fortunate people. They are the ones that pay the bills.
This is far from the only time that Bloomberg suggested inequality was good and the city needed to lure more rich people. If the city was divided into rich and poor, he said, it was “one group paying for services for the other,” meaning that the poor should be grateful for their benefactors. He called New York City a “luxury product,” and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get all the Russian billionaires to move here?” and “If we could get every billionaire around the world to move here it would be a godsend that would create a much bigger income gap.”


Bloomberg’s New York was intensely friendly to rich developers. His city planning director, Standard Oil heir Amanda Burden, stated the administration’s aspirations: “What I have tried to do, and think I have done, is create value for these developers, every single day of my term.” Little-noticed zoning changes protected rich people’s neighborhoods from development and put poor neighborhoods up for grabs. Billionaires building luxury towers in New York City pay almost nothing in property taxes, and CityLab concluded of Bloomberg’s plan to lure as many billionaires as possible that “what Bloomberg saw as a way to provide for the welfare of New York looks more like one of the firmest expressions of inequality anywhere.” CityLab writes that “the property-tax burden has shifted from owners to renters, and from the wealthier to the poorer.” Under pressure, Bloomberg introduced a “market-based” solution for affordable housing, but it produced a pitifully small number of affordable units and “affordability” was often a joke, with units accessible only to those making more than the median income. Public housing was neglected, and “under Bloomberg, the city stopped checking for lead paint in public housing apartments, a disastrous decision that endangered thousands of children.” Kate Albright-Hanna describes the destructive effects of the Bloomberg philosophy for City & State New York, and warns what would happen to the country if Bloombergism were enacted on an even larger scale:
New York City is under siege, vanishing, empty or already dead as a result of the “Bloomberg Way”-- the concept of the mayor as CEO, businesses as clients, citizens as consumers, and the city as a product that’s branded and marketed. Bloomberg’s corporate worldview drained the color out of New York City-- a sterile, relentless kind of destruction that dehumanized its victims with the logic of the market… Bloomberg invited global investors to knock down old brick buildings and erect glassy, lifeless towers of secrecy that housed the wealth of foreign oligarchs and kleptocrats.
...Unsurprisingly, Bloomberg’s tenure saw an explosion in both rent prices and homelessness. By the end of Bloomberg’s time, “half of renting households paid more than 30 percent of their income in rent and utilities.” Commercial rents soared too, and beloved mom ‘n’ pop stores that had been in the city for decades closed by the hundreds. (Moss’ blog is a heartbreaking catalog of these.) The St. Vincent’s Hospital was shuttered and turned into luxury condos, just one of nearly 20 hospital closures between 2000 and 2013.

At the end, nearly one of every three children in the city resided in poverty, and the “record-high shelter population includes more than 22,000 homeless children.” The New York City Coalition For The Homeless has been absolutely scathing, noting that “the number of homeless people in NYC has soared to all-time record highs under Bloomberg; and the number of poor New Yorkers has also risen and remains at alarming levels.”

...Former City Council chair Christine Quinn [no progressive herself] was blunt: “In a time of prosperity, he took aggressive steps from a policy perspective to hurt the homeless.” Bloomberg’s idea of a solution to homelessness was giving them one-way bus tickets to get them out of the city. Today, Bloomberg insists that inequality is a top priority, but before his sudden transformation into a Democrat, Bloomberg said of inequality that “that’s not a measure of something we should be ashamed of.” (Recall he specifically wanted billionaires to move to New York to increase the “income gap.”)

...Bloomberg reserved his sympathy for bankers. As mayor, he gave Goldman Sachs more than a billion dollars in tax breaks to build a headquarters in New York. Later he said Occupy Wall Street was unfairly targeting financial industry workers who were “struggling to get by.” After all, he said, “This is our industry. We’d appreciate it if someone recognized that this is our tax base.” He was scathing about the Obama administration’s effort to regulate banks after the financial crisis, calling fines “outrageous” and suggesting that Wall Street insiders, rather than Congress, should be writing the laws, and has supported cutting the corporate tax rate. He called raising taxes on the rich “about as dumb a policy as I can think of,” making his usual case that rich people give us everything, describing Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax as “mean.” Bloomberg can be comically out of touch with working people; when the city was crippled by a blizzard he suggested residents use the free time to take in a Broadway show.

Bloomberg also established an insidious patronage system, whereby he would “slash funding in the city’s budget [then] backfill those cuts with anonymous donations.” This allowed him to boast of being a cost-cutter, but also made organizations completely depend on his largesse, meaning that the moment he personally decided to take funding away, it was gone, and forcing them to stay on his good side. (Remember, when billionaires give away money, it has nothing to do with generosity and should not be seen as virtuous, because it costs them nothing. If I give away $50, it is more meaningful than Michael Bloomberg giving away $50 million.) By making more and more organizations dependent on him, Bloomberg took decision-making out of the democratic sphere and turned it over to himself. This is clientelism, a system built on financial quid-pro-quos, and naturally “the mayor and his top deputies… pressed social service, arts and neighborhood groups that receive donations from Mr. Bloomberg to express support for his third-term bid by testifying during public hearing.” (A useful and comprehensive article on the Bloomberg Way in the International Socialist Review also explains how Bloomberg’s “philanthropy” offers solutions to problems he himself creates, such as funding organizations that help men with drug convictions get jobs while escalating drug arrests. It shows how Bloomberg’s wealth is dependent on making sure the financial sector never stops growing.)


I am sure you can guess what Michael Bloomberg’s education policy was like. He’s a strong believer in testing and charters and believes school is about preparing children for the job market. He has been a major contributor to “school choice” initiatives around the country. As mayor, he seized control over the schools, let private charters use city school buildings, and pushed for school closures. He tried to cut $170 million from early childhood education and after-school programs. He says he believes in doubling class sizes and halving the number of teachers (which is bananas). “Everybody I know in my generation went to classes of 40 or more. And education by some people’s argument was as good then as it is today,” he explained. Bloomberg went to war with teachers unions, who he compared to the NRA, and teacher morale was dismal. Bloomberg controversially appointed publishing executive Cathie Black to be school chancellor, a charter school advocate and union opponent who irritated educators and soon had to resign after jokingly suggesting that the solution to school overcrowding was birth control.

Bloomberg’s governing philosophy is very clear: He is one of these “run it like a business” types, which means a focus on maximizing “growth” and “development” even if doing that requires mass layoffs and pushing poor people out of the city. (“Running like a business” does not actually mean efficient and careful; the Bloomberg years saw the largest contractor fraud scheme in the history of the city, with half a billion dollars in waste). His goal for New York was to market it as a product to the super-rich around the world, not to govern it in the interest of its working class. Unsurprisingly, this meant mass evictions, staggering rent increases, billion-dollar luxury “pencil” towers, “poor doors.” This is the New York of taxi driver suicides, homeless 11-year-olds, and beloved diners turned into Chase banks. And this is the America we could expect if Michael Bloomberg were to obtain the power he thirsts for.

...So, considering that he is a sexist oligarch who has spent his life undermining democratic values, why would any Democrat even consider voting for Michael Bloomberg? The case for him is that we should set aside all of the above, suspend every political principle and standard of morality we hold, for one simple reason: He is a “pragmatic” choice to take on Trump. The New York Times reported that some Democrats were being “drawn to Mr. Bloomberg because they believed his fortune would give Democrats the best chance to beat President Trump in the fall.” I must therefore attend briefly to this argument, because anyone who buys it will not be swayed by my catalog of Michael Bloomberg’s foul deeds.

Now, first, I am not even sure that given his record, it is self-evident that Bloomberg is better than Trump. He seems even more ruthlessly effective than Trump at using his money as a form of absolute power. Bloomberg might believe that climate change is real, which is a critically important difference, but he’s also revealed himself to be an aspiring dictator who will bribe elected officials into doing as he pleases.

But the idea of Bloomberg as an effective candidate against Trump is an error. It rests on the idea that to beat a rich asshole, we just need an even richer asshole, one who is kind of a mirror image of Trump. (Instead of Mar-a-Lago, Bloomberg has a giant gaudy house in Bermuda.) Unfortunately, Bloomberg is just Trump without charisma or a narrative, Trump but with a far more obvious contempt for poor people. (Trump would obviously bring a Big Gulp to every rally, taunting Bloomberg as he slurped it.) He has the worst bits of liberalism (nanny state mentality that wants to take away your guns and drinks) with all the ugliest bits of conservatism (rabidly pro-Wall Street mentality, warmongering).

Michael Bloomberg’s “electability” against Trump is one of the most dangerous illusions in politics. In fact, all his run would do is destroy the Democratic Party completely. Many in the party would see him as a wholly illegitimate nominee who had subverted democratic institutions and bought the election. They would be repulsed by his record. And they would hardly be interested in doing a single thing to help one horrible Republican billionaire oust another horrible Republican billionaire. Turnout would collapse, because the Democratic Party would be running someone who does not share the values of Democratic Party voters. Who would rally under the “Tax The Poor” banner? The guy who would fire you for playing a computer game at work or for having been a sex worker? Who is going to lift a finger to help this guy? Not only is he unelectable, he’s probably the least electable candidate in the entire field.

...Racist, sexist, transphobic, anti-union, pro-War on Drugs, hawkish, authoritarian, plutocratic, and in favor of taxing the poor: Michael Bloomberg offends every single “Democratic” value. I am sure he is attempting a rapid pivot at this very moment, hoping his hundreds of millions can bury his record and “rebrand” him as a moderate progressive. But there is no reason to believe a thing he says-- or a thing he pays people to say.

Bloomberg has shown a far more terrifying form of clientelism even than Donald Trump. If someone opposes him, he simply uses his money to overpower them. Because Bloomberg’s wealth is virtually infinite (even the billion dollars he will spend this year will not diminish his net worth at all, since it’s just the money his money makes), if a newspaper reporter tries to expose him, he can just buy the newspaper and shut them down. If a nonprofit group complains about him, he can just give them a pile of money to shut them up. The reason this is a kind of dictatorship is that people need money, so it’s very hard to turn it down when it’s offered. How can a struggling city turn down Michael Bloomberg’s checks? Yet if they take them, they have to do what he says. The Michael Bloomberg pitch is that because of his money, he is not beholden to anyone. But leaders should be beholden—only a dictator is beholden to no one. When Bloomberg says that nobody owns him, it’s because he owns you.

I have already seen people around me suddenly and mysteriously turn into Bloomberg supporters, and I sometimes feel like being in the Ionesco play Rhinoceros, in which people unexpectedly become rhinoceroses overnight. I have already spoken to people I never would have expected to see supporting Bloomberg, who have taken jobs with his campaign out of need. As Bloomberg bribes more and more people, I fear that resistance to him will break down, former critics suddenly going oddly quiet. It’s an alarming prospect.


 


The fact that Michael Bloomberg has more money than Donald Trump is actually a good reason not to let him anywhere near the presidency, because it would mean he would have a kind of absolute power to shape political policy-- if a legislator opposed him, he could easily give a hundred million dollars to their opponent. If someone tried to sue him, he could bring a hundred million dollar legal team against them. Do not think Michael Bloomberg would not do this, because this is exactly what Michael Bloomberg has been doing. He simply bought a change in the law when he wanted an illegal extra term, now that he’s out of office he wants to see the old term limits restored because it was a “one-time thing,” and of course he called the idea of extending terms for city council members an “absolute disgrace.” (rules are for everyone else). The entire theory of his presidential run is that you can just use money to buy power.

A Bloomberg nomination would signal the end of what’s left of our country’s democratic politics. The bitterness his nomination would cause among young people would be immeasurable. The thousands of people who knocked doors in the Iowa snow to try to push Bernie over the top would be enraged to see a billionaire skip the contest because he has too much money to need to bother. Many would probably give up permanently on electoral politics, convinced that our efforts don’t matter, because ultimately we live in a plutocracy. And they would not be wrong. Nominating Bloomberg would be one of the darkest days in the history of democracy.

Goal ThermometerAny Democrat supporting Bloomberg should be ashamed of themselves, and should be confronted with the serious question of how they can possibly support someone like this. If Michael Bloomberg offers you money, do not take it. If people you know speak positively about Michael Bloomberg, confront them with his record. Michael Bloomberg should not be discussed seriously as a Democratic presidential contender. He should be a laughingstock. He is a delusional man squandering hundreds of millions of dollars on an ego trip. We should be disgusted at his choice to fritter away money that could do so much good on trying to subvert the democratic process and seize more of what isn’t his. It is an outrage that someone who shares no democratic values can be made a contender merely because, as Michael Moore so eloquently put it recently, “he has a billion fucking dollars.” The case is closed.
Yesterday on Meet The Press, even fellow Austerity hawk, Status Quo Joe, hissed at Bloomberg that "$60 billion can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can’t erase your record." Of course that might prompt someone to inquire what will erase Biden's? It doesn't matter; it's too late now. You can stick a fork in ole Status Quo Joe. That lane belongs to the Oligarch; he bought it.


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Could The Coronavirus Impact Bernie's Election?

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This morning I got an urgent letter from the biggest Berniecrat in China-- an America progressive who is a longtime resident there. He was urging me to to forward it to Bernie, his wife Jane and to Faiz, his campaign manager. His concern wasn't so much about Trump using the coronavirus to call off the elections, although that is certainly a consideration. It was generally far more mundane-- and useful-- about how to deal with a pandemic that is effecting daily life in China and, by summer, could be effecting daily life here to-- and on the campaign trail. His concerns are more in line with my own than with the far calmer perspective Reese Erlich urged over the weekend.

My friend's letter was all about how Bernie should prepare with contingency planning. The first part of his letter involved what he identified as potential events meriting advance planning:
1. Collapse of voter turnout.
2. Termination of face-to-face activities including GOTV
3. Government and/or Party suspensions of scheduled votes.
4. News and social media saturation by pandemic news (crowding out political news) for days, weeks or months.

5. Sudden overcrowding of hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units.
6. Economic disruption: (a) interrupted China supply chains; (b) quarantines of Americans.
7. Surge in discrimination against Chinese (and Asian-Americans) as suspected source of contagion.

8. After pandemic peak: (a) China head-start in newly-immune population returning to work; (b) USA xenophobia exacerbated by that head-start. 

These were my friend's suggestions-- who is living in a country where everything seems to be breaking down-- for dealing with that kind of disruption here during the most important election campaign in the lifetime of anyone currently alive. His suggestions:
1. Assign 1-2 people to closely monitor Center For Disease Control and to immediately re-transmit any official recommendations, especially on minimizing physical proximity via door-knocking, crowds, etc.

2. Stock an office in each region with gear for prevention and preliminary treatment.

3. Further prioritize early voting, and publicity about Bernie-positive news (such as “highest-ever number of college students have cast early votes”).

4. Publicize the fact that high medical costs facilitate virus spread. (“I avoided check to save money and then I infected my whole family...”).
5. Publicize the likelihood that, partly because of globalization, no matter how well or badly we cope with this pandemic, a worse one will follow sooner or later.

At the end of last week, Sonali Kolhatkar, writing for Truthdig, explored how coronavirus panic is exposing the pathology of nationalism, pointing out that "for years, scientists have warned about superbugs and other infectious agents borne out of industrial agricultural practices or unleashed by climate change" and how "the fears of a new disease with no known cure that is spreading like wildfire have been the bases of plots for science fiction books and movies... Misinformation about the [coronavirus] and its impacts has been transmitted at lightning speed, fomenting fear, confusion and xenophobia. What we do know is that the virus is spreading fast. In the face of this danger, borders are being closed, flights are being canceled, travel is being banned and racism is rising... Fears of this new disease have sparked many reported incidents of racism toward Chinese people and people perceived to be Chinese. Asian and Asian American students at U.S. universities are reporting heightened tensions, judgmental looks and outright xenophobia."
[H]ere in the U.S. there are deep concerns about whether President Donald Trump’s administration is adequately prepared for a pandemic. Under Trump’s leadership, former national security adviser John Bolton dissolved the National Security Council’s global health security team. That team, according to Mother Jones, was a “group of world-class infectious disease and public health experts,” and was “working on implementing a national biodefense strategy to coordinate agencies in order to make the United States more resilient to the threat of biowarfare and epidemics.”

Trump has additionally lowered the budgeted amount for global health funding. Gostin is worried that “taking away all of this expertise and coordinating function at the White House and at the interagency level is a serious disservice to the United States because we are not prepared.” He pointed out that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also seen its funding for overseas operations severely curtailed. He lamented, “We don’t learn the lessons of history. We just lurch from complacency when there is no disease to panic when there is. That’s no way to be prepared.”

The development and spread of dangerous new diseases are all but inevitable as the past several years have demonstrated. Rather than scramble to respond to each new contagion as it occurs, [infectious disease expert Lawrence] Gostin suggests investing in “upstream solutions” rather than “downstream” ones, such as “preparedness and prevention, and robust health systems in place.” They are “cheaper and better for the public health,” he said. What he is suggesting is antithetical to the rising right-wing populism the world over that has put more faith in strong borders, nationalism and deregulation rather than in cooperation, solidarity and greater investments in safety nets.

As a global health expert, Gostin insisted the most important message he wanted to convey to those worried about the coronavirus is this: “The idea of America First, the nationalist populism, is against everything that we believe in global health.” He explained, “We believe in mutual solidarity, we believe in strong institutions like the World Health Organization and the U.N. We believe in international cooperation. All of those things have been devalued by the Trump administration.”

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