Robert Reich’s View On Bloomberg

Yesterday, I shared Jeff’s post about the possibility of Michael Bloomberg becoming the democratic nominee for the office of president.  While he is not my first choice, I do accept that if he manages to buy the nomination, I will certainly do everything in my power to help him beat the megalomaniacal incumbent.  Robert Reich, whose views I greatly respect and whose work I have shared here before, rings in on Michael Bloomberg as a candidate, and I think there is value in hearing a variety of opinions, so I am sharing his latest.  It’s a bit longer than my usual, but well worth the time.

Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the presidency – that should set off alarms
Robert Reich

Robert ReichWe haven’t seen his name on any of the ballots in the first four states, but that’s about to change. I’m talking, of course, about multibillionaire presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg has a chance of winning the presidency because his net worth is more than $60bn.

The yearly return on $60bn is at least $2bn – which is what Bloomberg says he’ll pour into buying the highest office in the land. It’s hardly a sacrifice for him, but it’s a huge sacrifice for American democracy.

Encouraged by the murky outcome from the Iowa caucuses and the notable lack of enthusiasm for Joe Biden, Bloomberg has decided to double his spending on TV commercials in every market where he is currently advertising, and expand his campaign field staff to more than 2,000.

He’s not competing in the first four states with caucuses and primaries but focusing instead on 3 March. So-called Super Tuesday will be more super than ever because it now includes California, Texas, Virginia, Minnesota, North Carolina and Massachusetts – a third of all delegates to the Democratic convention.

“It’s much more efficient to go to the big states, to go to the swing states,” Bloomberg told the New York Times. “The others chose to compete in the first four. And nobody makes them do it, they wanted to do it. I think part of it is because the conventional wisdom is, ‘Oh you can’t possibly win without them.’”

Later, he added: “Those are old rules.”

Yes, and the new rules are also to spend billions of your own money, if you have it.

In January alone Bloomberg spent more than $300m on advertising for his campaign. That’s more than Hillary Clinton spent on advertising during her entire presidential run in 2016. It’s multiples of what all other Democratic candidates have spent, leaving even Tom Steyer, another billionaire, in the dust.

The heart of Bloomberg’s campaign message is that he has enough money to blow Trump out of the water. As if to demonstrate this, Bloomberg bought a $10m Super Bowl ad that slammed Trump in the middle of the big game, then bashed Trump again in a national ad just hours before the State of the Union address.

“The Real State of the Union? A nation divided by an angry, out of control president,” a narrator says. “A White House besotted by lies, chaos and corruption.”

If Trump’s tweets are any barometer, Bloomberg’s tactics are getting under the thin-skinned president’s fragile epidermis. According to one Trump adviser, the president “thinks that money goes a long way” and those who believe Bloomberg has no hope are “underestimating him”. Another says Trump “takes money seriously. He’s a businessman.”

The Democratic National Committee is ready to boost Bloomberg into the top tier. Last Friday it abandoned one of its criteria for getting on to the coveted debate stage – the individual-donor threshold, which was used for the first eight debates including this week’s event in New Hampshire – presumably because Bloomberg doesn’t take donations.

To participate in the 19 February debate in Las Vegas, candidates will need to show at least 10% support in four polls released from 15 January to 18 February. Three candidates have met that threshold: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Bloomberg’s wall-to-wall advertising is giving him a good shot.

Last Monday he tied with Warren for third place in a Morning Consult tracking poll. He’s in the top four in many Super Tuesday states. In Texas and North Carolina, he has overtaken Pete Buttigieg for fourth. He has the third-highest polling average in Florida, ahead of Warren, and fourth-highest in Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, whose primaries all fall after Super Tuesday. In the past week, polls have Bloomberg tied for second in New York and trailing only Biden in Missouri. He was also fourth in a Suffolk University poll of Utah, at 13%.

Amazing what money will buy, if there’s enough of it.

Bloomberg has some attractive public policy ideas: he’s for gun control, he wants to reverse climate change and he’s unveiled a plan to raise an estimated $5tn of new tax revenue from high earners and corporations, including a repeal of Trump’s 2017 tax cuts and a new 5% “surcharge” on incomes above $5m a year.

But he’s also a champion of Wall Street. He fought against the milquetoast reforms following the near-meltdown of 2008. His personal fortune is every bit as opaque as Trump’s. Through his dozen years as mayor of New York he refused to disclose his federal taxes. Even as a candidate for president, he still hasn’t given a date for their release. And, let’s not forget, he’s trying to buy the presidency.

America has had some talented and capable presidents who were enormously wealthy – Franklin D Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, John F Kennedy, for example. The problem lies at the nexus of wealth and power, where those with great wealth use it to gain great power. This is how oligarchy destroys democracy.

The word “oligarchy” comes from the Greek word oligarkhes, meaning “few to rule or command”. It refers to a government of and by a few exceedingly rich people or families who control the major institutions of society. Oligarchs may try to hide their power behind those institutions, or excuse their power through philanthropy and “corporate social responsibility”. But no one should be fooled. An oligarchy is not a democracy.

Even a system that calls itself a democracy can become an oligarchy if power becomes concentrated in the hands of a corporate and financial elite. Their power and wealth increase over time as they make laws that favor themselves, manipulate financial markets to their advantage, and create or exploit economic monopolies that put even more wealth into their pockets.

Since 1980, the share of America’s wealth owned by the richest 400 Americans has quadrupled while the share owned by the entire bottom half of America has declined. The richest 130,000 families in America now own nearly as much as the bottom 90% – 117 million families – combined. The three richest Americans own as much as the entire bottom half of the population. According to Forbes, Michael Bloomberg is the eighth richest.

All this has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in the political power of the super-wealthy and an equally dramatic decline in the political influence of everyone else. Unlike income or wealth, power is a zero-sum game. The more of it at the top, the less of it anywhere else.

In the election cycle of 2016, the richest one-hundredth of 1% of Americans – 24,949 extraordinarily wealthy people – accounted for a record 40% of all campaign contributions. By contrast, in 1980 the top 0.01% accounted for only 15% of all contributions.

Make no mistake: the frustrations and insecurities that fueled Trump’s rise – and are still the basis of his support – have their origin in this power shift, which has left most Americans with a small slice of the nation’s prosperity and almost no voice in its politics.

A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the left wanted stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the right sought greater reliance on the free market.

But as power and wealth have moved to the top, everyone else – whether on the old right or the old left – has become disempowered and less secure. Today the great divide is not between left and right. It’s between democracy and oligarchy.

Bloomberg is indubitably part of that oligarchy. That should not automatically disqualify him but it should set off alarms. If the only way we can get rid of the sociopathic tyrant named Trump is with an oligarch named Bloomberg, we will have to choose the oligarch. Yet I hope it doesn’t come to that. Oligarchy is better than tyranny. But neither is as good as democracy.

Snarky Snippets … Yes, Again!

It wasn’t my intention to write snarky snippets tonight, but … you know what Robert Burns said in his poem, To a Mouse“the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.  Well, actually he said, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”  It’s rather a cute little poem, actually, though sad.

To a Mouse

On Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough, November, 1785

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a pannic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

Thy wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!cartoon-mouse

But, I have managed to digress, haven’t I?  Now where was I?  Oh yes, snarky snippets … the big news of the day, of course, is the Democratic debates, but I shan’t speak of those.  Why?  Because I didn’t watch them, haven’t yet read the transcripts, and from what I hear they were something less than informative.  Later ones will, no doubt, be more relevant, but these … not so much.  Too many candidates who haven’t a snowball’s chance clutters the discussion. But it seems that everything I saw in the news today annoyed me in one way or another.  Take, for example …


A most unqualified nominee …

justin-walker

Justin Walker

Earlier this year, Trump nominated an attorney named Justin Walker to a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Western District Court for Kentucky.  However, Walker is highly UN-qualified for the spot.  Turns out he has rarely spent any time in the courtroom, has never served as a sole or even lead lawyer in a federal trial case, apparently has never even taken a deposition from a witness, since he evaded that question more than once during his confirmation hearings.

“My role has been at times in the courtroom, but more often than not, exploring the law, writing about the law.”

The American Bar Association has warned the Senate that he is unqualified for the position. What, then, with little or no courtroom experience, possessed Trump to nominate him?  Well, turns out Walker pushed hard for the appointment and subsequent Senate approval of Brett Kavanaugh. The “good ol’ boy reward system” hard at work.

It seems a no-brainer that this nominee, like so many of Trump’s others (well, ALL of them, actually) is a poor choice and should not be confirmed by the Senate.  However, there is one senator, himself from Kentucky, who thinks Justin Walker is wonderful.  Can you guess who?mitch-justin-walker.pngYep, none other than #MoscowMitch himself.  Go figure.


Sigh … just shut up, Senator …

Kevin-Cramer

Senator Kevin Cramer

Unless you are from the state of North Dakota, you’ve probably never heard of Kevin Cramer.  Trust me, you’re not missing anything.  Kevin Cramer is one of two senators from North Dakota and is, apparently, not too bright.  In fact, after doing a bit of research this evening into Mr. Cramer’s not-so-illustrious career in the Senate, I am considering reprising my Idiot of the Week feature!

On Monday, for some reason, he addressed a gaggle of reporters.  When asked about Trump’s recent and ongoing tirade against Representative Elijah Cummings, he responded that Cummings …

“… is not a victim of racism. He’s been given great privilege. The thing that’s offensive more than anything is that … the anti-Trump folks in Congress – use their positions to keep the weird impeachment thing alive. It does get a little bit tiring to have somebody who’s achieved as much as Elijah Cummings somehow calling people racist as though somehow he hasn’t been given a fair shake. My goodness gracious, he’s the chairman of a major committee, he’s elected to Congress.

I’m not really in the position to determine whether an offense has been made or not, but I also know that people in this town that are members of Congress that have achieved high things don’t make very good victims. They’re always liberals that are claiming victimhood, and yet they’re paid the same as us. They have the same power as every other person that’s in Congress, some of them have achieved high accomplishments like Elijah Cummings, who, again, it’s impossible not to respect him.

I could be a victim of racism, but I don’t offend easily, I just don’t offend that easily.”

Say WHAT???

“Well, if somebody said something about being from North Dakota, every now and then I get a snicker about it, somebody will say something about North Dakota in some snide way, I don’t offend because I’m comfortable with where I come from, I’m comfortable with who I am. I’m comfortable with my own accomplishments and the accomplishments of our state.”

Seems to me this man needs to study the definition of the word ‘racism’.  Perhaps he could go on back to … what was the name of that obscure state that hardly anybody lives in again?


Well, folks, as you might guess, I have not yet run out of snark, for I haven’t even touched on Jeffrey Epstein yet, but … it’s late and I seem to have written enough for one night.  I’m sure I’ll be back with more later.  And one last thing.  Next time one of your republican friends (if you have any left) tells you that he has the right to speak his mind, tell him that as soon as he finds it, you’ll be interested to hear it!  Thanks to our friend Roger for that one!laughing-gif

492 Days … 🙄

There is a slow burn starting somewhere in my gut tonight, and I think it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a full-blown rage.  Thus, this morning’s post is a rant, complete with, in all likelihood, a few words not fit for the children’s ears.  Why is Filosofa angry?  Because, there are more than 16 months until election day 2020, and already the bullshit, the ugliness, the utter nastiness has started.  I. Am. Sick. Of. It.  Already … and there are still 492 days (that’s 11,808 hours) to have to listen to the trash talk.  So far, it’s all on the republican side, but soon enough it will be on both, no doubt.  Two episodes in yesterday’s news stand out and set my hair on edge.


The Trumps are really nasty people, y’know?  When I was a child, the grown-ups always cautioned, “If you can’t say anything nice about somebody, then say nothing at all”.  Apparently, nobody bothered to say that to any of the Trump clan, for they are the filthiest people I know.  So, it started yesterday morning with Junior, who is a chip off the block of ugly, when he re-tweeted a tweet by a right-wing commentator …

“Kamala Harris is implying she is descended from American Black Slaves. She’s not. She comes from Jamaican Slave Owners. That’s fine. She’s not an American Black. Period.”

Who the Sam Hell died and left Junior in charge of authenticating the ethnicity of anybody, let alone a woman who is far more intelligent and honest than he???

It is heartening, though, to see fellow-democrats, those against whom she is competing, come to the defense of one of their own …

“Donald Trump Jr. is a racist too. Shocker.” – Senator Bernie Sanders

“The presidential competitive field is stronger because Kamala Harris has been powerfully voicing her Black American experience. Her first-generation story embodies the American dream. It’s long past time to end these racist, birther-style attacks.” – South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg

“The attacks against @KamalaHarris are racist and ugly. We all have an obligation to speak out and say so. And it’s within the power and obligation of tech companies to stop these vile lies dead in their tracks.” – Senator Elizabeth Warren

“@KamalaHarris doesn’t have shit to prove” – Senator Cory Booker

“The coordinated smear campaign on Senator @KamalaHarris is racist and vile. The Trump family is peddling birtherism again and it’s incumbent on all of us to speak out against it.” – Washington Governor Jay Inslee

“These troll-fueled racist attacks on Senator @KamalaHarris are unacceptable. We are better than this (Russia is not) and stand united against this type of vile behavior.” – Senator Amy Klobuchar

Perhaps Junior unwittingly did the Democratic Party a favour, for this pulling together, this unity, is what we must have in order to effect change in 2020.  It doesn’t, however, make me inclined to forgive him for being every bit as much of a scumbag as his father and the rest of his family.  Frankly, I would ask him which side of his family was related to Adolph Hitler.


Patrick Mauldin … remember that name.  He and his brother Ryan are techno-geeks working on Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.  I don’t know what rubbish heap Trump found them in, but they fit perfectly with the rest of his cadre of deplorables.Patrick-MauldinMr. Mauldin makes videos and other digital content for President Trump’s re-election campaign, and along with his brother, they run a Republican political consulting firm in Austin whose website opens with the line “We Kick” followed by the image of a donkey — the Democratic Party symbol often called an ass.kick-ass.pngMauldin created a fake Joe Biden website that looks at a glance like the real deal, but is, in fact, laden with disinformation and outright lies.  In addition to some doctored photos and videos, the site proclaims Biden to be …

  • Against same-sex marriage
  • For mass incarceration
  • Against abortion rights
  • Against school busing
  • For the Iraq war
  • For the death penalty and harsh drug sentences

At the very bottom, barely noticeable, in grey-on-grey lettering, is the disclaimer …

This site is political commentary and parody of Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign website. This is not Joe Biden’s actual website.

It is intended for entertainment and political commentary only and is therefore protected under fair use.

It is not paid for by any candidate, committee, organization, or PAC. It is a project BY AN American citizen FOR American citizens. Self-Funded.

Trouble is, see, it is set up in such a way as to look like a legitimate site for Joe Biden, and the address, joebiden.info, would sound legit to those who may not be tech-savvy.  And, despite the disclaimer, despite the obvious bullshit, there are those who aren’t going to question, who will blindly believe whatever they read, regardless of source.  This is the danger.  This was the same sort of tactics used by the Trump campaign in collusion with the Russians to trash Hillary Clinton in 2016.  It is the ONLY damn reason we have a loony bird in the Oval Office today!  I will not take another 4 years of Bozo the Maniacal Clown!!!


More than 16 months of this, and I am already tired … exhausted, actually.  If wishes could only come true, I would ask for …

  • A shortened election season … no more than four months prior to the election. Until that time, no advertisements, no debates, no campaign rallies … NOTHING!
  • Platform-based campaigns. No, “Build that wall” and “Lock her up” do not constitute a political platform.  Proposals for feeding the poor, health care, foreign policy, social issues such as discrimination in housing and employment, etc. are what comprise a political platform.  I want to hear what the candidates believe, how they think, how they view We the People.
  • No mention of “the other side” in any advertisements … save it for the rallies. I refuse to view any political ads for that very reason.  The candidates waste a golden opportunity to promote themselves, but instead they spend their time and money slamming their opponents with lies and rhetoric.

We the People includes every man, woman and child in this nation, citizen and non-citizen, white and black, Latino, Muslim, Christian, gay and straight, male and female, republican or democrat or neither.  We the People deserve much better than we are getting from either side.  The democratic debates this past week were, in my book, garbage.  Make them worthwhile, or don’t have them at all.  And yes, I have better ideas for how to conduct meaningful, enlightening debates, but that is a subject for another day.

Every adult in this nation should sit down tonight and write their will.  And in that document, they should write that if they die of any stress-related illness between now and 03 November 2020, their estate may and will file suit in federal court against either or both political parties for wrongful and untimely death, to the tune of $5 million.  I think most of us with an ounce of intelligence, thinkers who understand what is happening to the political process in this nation, can feel the heart attack, stroke, or bleeding ulcers just waiting to strike.  It isn’t fun anymore, folks … it’s dirty, it’s disgusting, and it is literally sickening.  Bah Humbug.  End of rant.

A Debate Worth Having …

It’s a damn shame.  It’s a damn shame that the lust for power takes precedence over the well-being of the inhabitants of planet Earth.  It is as if the house is on fire, and half the people living in it say, “Oh no, we cannot go out into the street looking like this … we must first put on nicer clothes and fix our hair.”  Helllloooooo … wake up people!  That fire isn’t going to go into a holding pattern while you get prettied up, and climate change cannot be put on hiatus until the politicians make up their minds to grow a pair of cojones!

The latest?  Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, who is one of the many democratic candidates vying for the office of president next year, along with at least five of the other candidates, requested of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that at least one of the presidential debates be devoted to climate change.  Given that climate change is the number one problem facing every nation in the world today and given that our current excuse for a president has, bypassing Congress and using the power of his executive pen, accelerated and exacerbated the effects of climate change, then it makes perfect sense that it should be a major topic of the debates.  However, the DNC is cowering in the corner and says “no”.  WHY?

Because the DNC fears that such a climate-centric debate could force Democratic contenders to confront policy differences they have so far papered over, including how quickly they would push the U.S. to shift away from the fossil fuels that provide jobs — union jobs. The candidates would also face pressure to offer specifics on their position on the Green New Deal, the ambitious progressive climate resolution that Republicans have sought to tar as an expensive socialist boondoggle.  In other words, it is politics as usual.

Let’s get something straight here.  The purpose of these debates is to provide an opportunity for the candidates to share their ideas and platforms, and to help We the People to decide, based on where the candidates stand on a host of issues, which candidate is most closely aligned with our own views and values.  The purpose is not for the party to control the agenda and ensure we get ‘cookie-cutter’ choices that all look basically the same.

There will be a total of twelve … yes, count ‘em, twelve … democratic primary debates during 2019 and 2020.  TWELVE.  And they cannot make the topic of one of those twelve, climate change???  In this, the Democratic Party is starting to act a whole heck of a lot like the Republican Party!

Not only is the DNC refusing to hold a debate where climate change is the main topic, but they have also threatened to punish democratic candidates who participate in such a debate hosted by other organizations!  Gestapo tactics?  According to Jay Inslee …

“Today, my team received a call from the Democratic National Committee letting us know that they will not host a climate debate. Further, they explained that if we participated in anyone else’s climate debate, we will not be invited to future debates. This is deeply disappointing. The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time. The next president must make defeating this crisis the top priority of the nation. And I will continue to do everything I humanly can to ensure the climate crisis is at the top of the national agenda.”

DNC Chairman Tom Perez justified his decision thusly …

“The DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single-issue area—we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on all the issues. You have my word that I will do everything I can to make sure our candidates are able to debate all of the critical issues during this primary.”

First, with twelve debates scheduled, I really think that if one were set aside for climate change, the other eleven would still provide the candidates with ample opportunity to debate every other issue at some length.  Second, if we don’t address climate change, frankly there are no other issues, or at least none of the other issues will matter 50 years, 100 years down the road.

I have to concur with what freshman Representative Sean Casten of Illinois said …

“This is the most important issue that we face as a planet and a species right now. If you don’t want to have public debate, this is probably the wrong line of work for you.”

The survival of this nation depends on the democrats defeating Donald Trump in 2020, but this is not the way to go about it.  The democrats need to stand above the fray of the republicans, need to get their priorities straight.  While it is the strategy of the Republican Party to deny climate change in favour of corporate profit, the democrats cannot mimic this strategy.  The majority of people in this country, in the world, understand what the climate scientists are telling us … that this planet cannot continue to sustain life as we know it if we do not act now to stop the damage being done every day to our environment.  To eschew the issue is to condemn every living creature on earth to a near-certain death by the end of this century.  I suggest that every concerned citizen respond to Mr. Perez’ tweet, letting him know that he is wrong, that We the People want debate on climate change, that we need to know where the candidates stand in order to make an informed and intelligent choice.  We cannot afford to put political posturing ahead of life on earth.