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.

Democratic Jitters

As always, our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters is spot-on in his assessment of the current Democratic candidates and their campaigns. He has also drawn a scenario about Michael Bloomberg that, while it doesn’t please me, I certainly cannot argue otherwise. The goal that we must not lose sight of is to topple the bully-in-chief, for another four years under Trump, who has been handed the keys to the kingdom, is unthinkable. Good work, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

It’s time to state the obvious: Beating Donald Trump must be the main objective in the 2020 election. While we all may have our personal favorites, and should proudly vote for that person in the primary, when it comes to November 3, whoever is the Democratic nominee deserves all of our support.

No matter who it is.

I know this upsets a lot of people. Ideological purity tests are running rampant all over social media. “But wait, he’s too far to the left.” “Hold on. We need to excite the base and increase the turnout. Only a real progressive can do that.” I’ve heard and seen them all. Everyone’s nerves are frayed. We know what the King is doing to our democracy, and none of us want to see what another four years of Trump will do to our beloved country.

Right now, the bane of all of the hand-wringing…

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My Own Hypocrisy

On June 14th 2017 I wrote a post about Michael Bloomberg.   It was actually a ‘good people’ post.  Here are a few of the things I said about Bloomberg, some two-and-a-half years ago …Wed-Bloomberg

  • Many outside the New York area may not be aware of how much good Bloomberg does, but over his lifetime he has given away more than $4.3 billion!
  • I have always had rather a soft spot for Mr. Bloomberg, knew he was a good man, but even I had no idea just how much he has given back to the world.
  • The majority of his contributions are in the fields of Environment, Public Health, the Arts, Government Innovation, Education, Women’s Economic Development in Africa. Mr. Bloomberg has also signed the Giving Pledge started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, vowing to give away at least half of his wealth over the course of his lifetime.

Then I went on to list some of his causes in the fields of the environment, education, public health, women’s economic development, the arts and more.  I wrote …

  • One thing that makes Bloomberg stand out in the crowd of wealthy philanthropists is that he is willing to try new things rather than, like some, wait for what they think will be the perfect organization and miss a lot of opportunities along the way.
  • Bloomberg is human, so I am certain that he wasn’t always right, either, but overall I believe he was a good mayor and is a good human being.
  • Bloomberg, in addition to being a philanthropist, is two things: a politician and a very successful businessman.  In recent months, we have had every reason to trust neither politicians nor businessmen, but Mr. Bloomberg is the exception.

And I concluded, back in 2017, with …

  • He is living proof that politicians and businessmen CAN also be good people. I thought it important for us to remember that, especially now.

And then, in a response to a comment by Roger, I wrote …

“I would love to see him run on a democratic ticket, however … I would surely support him!”

Fast forward to November 12th 2019, nearly a year-and-a-half later, when I wrote a post titled Please Mayor Bloomberg, Don’t Do It where I re-blogged one of Jeff’s posts and in my intro blurb, I said …

“We do NOT need wealthy businessmen running our government … men who have never in their entire lives known what it’s like to have to beg for someone to help you pay the rent, or make a choice between paying the electric bill or taking your sick kid to the doctor!”

Left to my own devices, I would not have remembered what I said about Mr. Bloomberg in June 2017, nor likely what I said just over a month ago.  I am old with a calcified brain, remember?  But, our friend rawgod asked me, a few days ago …

“Today is Jan. 1, 2020. Bloomberg is running for the Dems, as you hoped. But I have not heard his name much on Filosofa’s Word. Has something changed? Or do you still believe he is a good person for the Oval Office?”

And I had to find out what he was talking about, for I had all but forgotten that Michael Bloomberg was once my ‘good people’ and that I had said I would support his candidacy on the democratic ticket.

So, now I ask myself the tough question:  Am I a hypocrite, or has my view changed, and if so … why has it?  What has changed?  Is my reversal valid?

Well, the answer isn’t going to be found in any of my usual sources, such as The Washington Post, the New York Times, The Guardian, or Politico … the answer will have to come from some soul searching, some pondering.  And here are the results of such pondering and musing …

  • I think that when I responded to Roger that I would “love” to see him run on the democratic ticket, I was caught up in the mood of the moment, having just researched all the philanthropic works Mr. Bloomberg has done.
  • I am certain that he would make a better president than Donald Trump could ever think about being.
  • That said, I do not think he is the man I want to see win the nomination to be the democratic candidate. Why?
    • Because for the past three years, we have watched the wealthy take over this nation, make decisions that in no way, shape or form helped the average person.
    • Because the more I see, the more I am convinced that we need in the Oval Office somebody who can honestly understand the plight of the average person, and I find it hard to believe that someone born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth can truly relate to We the People.
    • Because as Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg was responsible for the long-standing “Stop-and-Frisk” policy that was used to discriminate against African-Americans and other minorities, though he has recently apologized for that.

There are still things I like about Mr. Bloomberg’s platform …

  • Gun control – he supports universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and a crackdown on gun trafficking.
  • Climate change – he upholds the Paris Accord and is a proponent of action to combat climate change, though not to the extent I might like.
  • Civil and LGBT rights – he is supportive of both.
  • Women’s rights – he claims to believe that reproductive choice is a fundamental human right.

But, he does not support raising taxes on the wealthy, which I believe is critical to reducing our national debt and deficit.  He is not strong enough on environmental and other issues.  I would not vote for him at this point, though I might have in 2017, as I told Roger.  That said, I would vote for him if he were to become the democratic nominee, but I see the chances of that being slim-to-none, for he is polling at only around 5% and is not even on the ballot in a number of states.

The Democratic Party really needs to pull itself together, to stand behind the strongest candidate and soon, in order to unseat the incumbent, for if they keep backstabbing and eating their own, they are doomed, and will doom the citizens of this nation to an almost-certain autocratic regime.  Michael Bloomberg is not the solution, though through his philanthropy he can continue to make a positive difference in this world.  Not all of us can be president.

So, am I a hypocrite, or have circumstances merely led to an evolution of my thoughts?  I leave it to you to decide.  Jerry?  Roger?  Keith?  David?  Ellen?  Jeff?  Scottie?  Nan?  Padre?  John?  Let me know what you think, for I’m truly not sure.

Please Mayor Bloomberg, Don’t do it

Jeff shocked me today by posting not one, but TWO posts! This one … he speaks for me with every single word. We do NOT need wealthy businessmen running our government … men who have never in their entire lives known what it’s like to have to beg for someone to help you pay the rent, or make a choice between paying the electric bill or taking your sick kid to the doctor! Thank you, Jeff, for this timely and apropos post!

On The Fence Voters

Instead, how about an effort to end homelessness?

So now Michael Bloomberg is considering a run for the presidency. Please, Mr. Mayor, do us all a favor and un-consider.

I’m sorry. I’ve had about enough of billionaires with political aspirations. Look, I admire what many of these guys have accomplished in life. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have donated billions of their fortunes to worthy causes. And Bloomberg himself has donated to many charities. I do not begrudge them for making a ton of money. It’s not their success that turns me off — whining about paying a bit more in taxes? Oh yeah, that does it.

Have we not learned anything at all? The idea that people can dip into their massive fortunes to, in a sense, try to buy themselves into political office is unseemly and just plain wrong. It’s something we need to fix as part of…

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Snarky Mini-Snippets To Start The Weekend!

snarky-2Today, I had a bunch of snark-buildup, but all just little things, small thoughts (no comment from the peanut gallery about small minds –> small thoughts!) that only warrant about a paragraph each, so I went with calling them mini-snippets.  Besides that, it’s housecleaning day, so my time to write is somewhat limited … somebody’s got to keep this place from being condemned by the city!

What is this with the republican loons, from Trump and his family, to Fox News, to the republicans in Congress running around saying that the ongoing impeachment process is naught but an attempt to overturn the 2016 election???  No, dear misguided republicans, it is not an attempt to ‘overturn’ an election that happened three years ago.  It is an attempt to remove from office the most corrupt and dangerous president who has ever been in the Oval Office.  It is an attempt to restore some semblance of order to our federal government.  It is an attempt to save what shreds are left of our democratic system.  Got it?  Does that register?  I, for one, am sick and damn tired of hearing that sorry attempt at a defense.

Now it comes out that not only did Trump attempt to blackmail Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in order to force him to announce an investigation of presidential candidate Joe Biden, but also his former nemesis Hillary Clinton.  WTF???  Why Hillary Clinton?  My best guess is that he is still so embarrassed by the fact that she won nearly three million votes more than Trump did in the 2016 election that he will not leave her alone until he takes his last breath!  Vindictive, ignorant, jealous … what a waste of space on earth is Donald Trump.  If he spent half as much time studying the briefs his staff provide him, trying to understand how our government works, actually reading the Constitution, why we might actually have a president.  As it is, we have a very ignorant and dangerous juvenile delinquent in an old man’s body.

Trump has been ordered by New York Judge Saliann Scarpulla to pay $2 million in damages for misusing funds from a tax-exempt charity — taking the charity’s money to pay debts for his for-profit businesses, to boost his 2016 campaign and to buy a painting of himself.  A painting of himself?  Blech.  In addition to the $2 million, Trump also agreed to disburse the $1.8 million remaining in the foundation to a set of charities, and to shutter it for good.  Funny, isn’t it, that the man who claims to be president of the country, a man who holds our lives in his hands, bilked people out of millions of dollars, spent them on himself rather than such things as helping the poor, or veterans, and yet he remains in office.  What a low this nation has sunken to.

bloombergFormer New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is apparently throwing his hat in the ring for the 2020 presidential election, after saying he would not do so earlier this year.  Bloomberg is another billionaire businessman, folks … just about the last thing we need at this point.  At least he does have some governing experience and has a bit of a brain in his head, unlike the incumbent, but still … we do not need somebody with such great wealth that he cannot even begin to appreciate the problems of the average person struggling to provide for their families.  Not, mind you, that any of the top candidates in this race are living below the poverty level:  Elizabeth Warren’s net worth is estimated at $12 million, Joe Biden’s at $1.5 million, and Bernie Sanders’ at $1.9 million.  Still, they are peons as compared to Bloomberg.

Trump, by the way, has already picked his nickname for Bloomberg:  Little Michael.  He says Bloomberg won’t do well because he has “some personal problems”, and that there is nobody he’d rather run against.  Personally, I think he’s jealous because Bloomberg has more money, with a net worth of $51.5 billion, than he does.

Ol’ two-faced Lindsey Graham is back on the radar (did he ever leave it?)  Lindsey is so certain that the impeachment process against Donald Trump is without merit that he now says he will not even bother to read the evidence, the pages of testimony that has provided proof that Donald Trump broke the law.  Talk about hypocrisy!  Look what Lindsey had to say back in 1999 after Bill Clinton had been impeached by the House and was facing trial in the Senate:

“So, the point I’m trying to make is: You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic, if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role … because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

Yes, Lindsey … let us ‘cleanse’ the Oval Office, let us restore some honour and integrity to the office.  And speaking of honour and integrity, Lindsey … where is yours???

Seems that there are millions of people out there, mostly republicans, who claim to think that everything Trump has done is ‘okay’.  Obstruction of justice in trying to shut down the very legitimate Mueller investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 election.  Obstruction of justice in refusing to allow government employees to honour subpoenas by the House investigative committees.  Blackmailing the Ukrainian government to help him against a competitor in the 2020 election.  Threatening and bullying political opponents.  Removing almost every environmental protection that was on the books and selling off our national land to the fossil fuel and logging industries. Lying on a daily basis to cover his own a$$.  And much, much more, yet all of it is ‘A-okay’ with those 40% or so of people who still sing Trump’s praises.  Let me just throw out a single question here:  What if it was President Barack Obama who had done even a small percentage of those things?

Well, those little mini-snippets should give you something to ponder on this weekend, eh?  And to start the weekend off on a humorous note, here’s Seth Meyers …

With Our Heads In The Sand …

The 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is taking place this week and next (November 6-17) in Bonn, Germany. Despite Donald Trump’s desire to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord, he is not able to do so officially until 2020, and thus the U.S. is represented in Bonn this week, albeit by a weak party with no voice, for fear of rousing Trump’s ire.

As I reported in my post of June 1st, all but two nations on the entire globe, Nicaragua and Syria, had signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.  Since then, both Nicaragua and Syria have signed the agreement, but Donald Trump has announced his decision to pull out at the earliest possible date, making the United States the only nation on the entire globe that will not participate, at least not at the federal level or officially, in trying to save the planet from the greed and ignorance of mankind. We stand alone, and on the wrong side of the fence.

The delegation to Bonn from the U.S. is led by two men:  Thomas A. Shannon, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and Trigg Talley, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change.  Both men have shown themselves in the past to be committed to addressing issues of climate change, and Mr. Talley served as the head of U.S. delegation during three years of preparatory conferences for the Paris Agreement.  However, this week their hands are tied, and they are ashamed and embarrassed at the stand their nation has taken.  According to one delegate, “It’s as though the US negotiators have been dipped in aspic. They are scared stiff of upsetting the White House. They try to be constructive, but they don’t want that known.”

Thomas Shannon (left) and Trigg Talley

The White House has confirmed that the US will promote the “efficient” use of coal, nuclear energy and natural gas as an answer to climate change in a presentation to delegates in Bonn. Trump has vowed to revive America’s ailing coal sector but this message is likely to provoke outrage on the global stage. “We are seeing 196 parties trying to move forward and put the Paris accord into effect. They don’t want to let the US impede that progress,” said David Waskow of the World Resources Institute.

Another delegate said: “We have lost the leadership the US used to provide. They have the best negotiating team and they are usually put forward strong arguments, but in talks this year, they have been quiet. You can feel they are a little lost. It must be so hard for them now. I sympathise.”

But there is a bit of a bright spot …

But the U.S., or at least parts of it, was also represented in another way. According to an article in The Guardian

Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement has created a vacuum into which dozens of state, city and business leaders have leapt, with the aim of convincing other countries at the international summit that the administration is out of kilter with the American people.

The counter-Trump movement in Bonn is being spearheaded by Jerry Brown, the governor of California, and Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York. Brown, in particular, has assumed the role of a de facto US leader, scheduling more than two dozen events to agitate for renewable energy and emissions cuts to combat what he has called an “existential crisis”.

A US Climate Action Center has been set up for delegates in Bonn, representing the climate change priorities of several thousand US cities, states, tribes and businesses. Corporate giants Mars, Walmart and Citi are expected to push for action on climate change. The center is in lieu of an official US presence – for the first time, the US government won’t have a pavilion at the annual UN climate summit.

At the razzamatazz opening of the alternative US centre on Thursday, California state senator Ricardo Lara told the audience: “Greetings from the official resistance to the Trump administration.” Pausing for cheers and applause, he said: “Let’s relish being rebels. Despite what happens in DC, we’re still here.”

A coalition of 14 US states, including California and New York, have said they are on track to meet the US target of a 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, compared to 2005 levels. The goal was set by Barack Obama’s administration as part of the Paris agreement between 195 nations to avoid dangerous global warming of more than 2C.

Brown has raised his profile in recent months by meeting with China’s leadership to discuss clean energy technology and becoming a special adviser for states and regions during the Bonn talks.

The efforts of Brown, Bloomberg and others is definitely heartening, is a step in the right direction, and sends a loud and clear message to Trump that he does not, in fact, represent our nation in his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. But ….

Governors such as Brown and Cuomo cannot officially take the place of the US president in UN climate talks. Their emissions pledges do not supersede the official US position and, in any case, the 14 committed states only have influence over around half of total US emissions. Without national leadership, the US is in danger of missing its emissions reduction goals and will jeopardize international efforts to stave off 2C of warming, which would lead to elevated sea level rise, intensified droughts, heatwaves and wildfires.

By what right, I ask, does one ‘man’, Donald Trump, determine the destruction of the planet?  And to what end does he make this decision?  For the jobs of a few thousand coal miners whose jobs will be gone, despite Trump’s best efforts, within five years at the latest, for there is little market for coal anymore?  For a handful of jobs, he is willing to risk the lives of the 7.442 billion people who call this planet ‘home’?

We, the United States, are rapidly becoming a pariah in the world, thanks to only one person.  The world has already waited too long to address the issue of climate change, and it is imperative that every person on the earth step up to the plate and do his/her part immediately.  And yet, here in the U.S., life goes on – we mine coal, start up new oil pipeline projects without proper environmental studies, drive our cars wherever we wish, keep our homes toasty, pollute our cities with antiquated factories, emitting more Co2 every day.  And we are the only country left on the planet whose leadership is thumbing their noses at the rest of the world and sending the message “we don’t care”.  Shame on Donald Trump, and shame on the U.S.

Idiot of the Week — Julie Gunlock

Idiot of the Week medal

Until today, I was blissfully ignorant of Julie Gunlock.  She flitted across my radar, and I set out to write a post about some very foolish remarks she made on Fox & Friends yesterday morning.  A simple post about a single issue, yes?  But nooooooo … Julie would not be satisfied with that.  She wanted more.  She begged for more … and then she showed me why she deserved the famous and much-coveted Idiot of the Week Award.  I must admit, Julie is more than qualified for this award and who am I to argue with an idiot?  First, let me tell you what put her in the cross-hairs to begin with.

On Fox & Friends, Julie despaired that schools are becoming too liberal.  Why?  Because … wait for it … they are providing meals and sometimes even healthcare for children!  GASP! 

“More and more now these schools, elementary schools are taking on and supplanting parents. They get dropped off at 6:30 in the morning, they get three meals a day. There is after-care. There is even health care services at some schools. So, really schools have tried more and more to take on the role of parenting.”

Gunlock added that liberal bias was seeping into the curriculum as well, lamenting the fact that some schools were teaching kids about climate change and transgender issues.  OH HORRORS!!! To remedy the problem, Gunlock suggested reading The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. Um, no thanks.

So who is Julie that she is such an ‘expert’ on children and education?  Is she a teacher?  No.  Does she have a degree in education?  No.  She is “a Senior Fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum and directs the organization’s Culture of Alarmism project. She is the author of the book ‘From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back’.”

Ms. Gunlock has contributed articles to a number of publications, including The Washington Post, New York Times and Huffington Post, but more recently she is a regular contributor for such conservative publications as The Federalist, Townhall, National Review, and The American Spectator. Just a look at the titles of some of her recent articles in these publications reinforces her qualifications for this award:

Radical Environmentalists Should Mind Their Own Business – Takes on the “Mind the Store” campaign which is a coalition representing more than 11 million individuals and over 450 organizations and businesses united by a common concern about toxic chemicals found in homes, places of work, and products consumers use every day. Ms. Gunlock claims to know better.

It’s Best to Take Government Health Advice with a Pinch of Salt – claims that FDA guidelines are “completely ineffective and based on dubious and outdated science.”

This Summer, Let’s Stop Blaming Soda “These days, soft drinks are in the cross hairs of the food nannies, and are blamed for a variety of conditions and social ills – from obesity to violence in children … such rhetoric has little to do with actual research.”  Gee, she has no degree in any of the hard sciences, so I wonder … ???


The Food Marxists at the FDA – rants against FDA requirements limiting salt in processed foods.  “And, if that isn’t outrageous enough, consider also that food manufacturers are already providing consumers an abundance of low-salt and no-salt products.”  Oh the inhumanity!!!

Popping the Bee-Pocalypse Myth – claims that despite scientific evidence, she somehow knows that “the environmentalists’ dirty little secret is that bees are actually doing fine”. Again … where is that relevant science degree?

#FreakoutFriday: The Truth About Gummy Bears “How in the world could anyone freak out about adorable, sweet, chewy Gummy Bears?”  I’d hate to see your kids’ dental bills, lady!

Ms. Gunlock also writes a blog:

Debbie Downer Alarmists Ruin the Greatest Show on Earth – criticizes animal rights groups for protesting cruel treatment of wild animals, specifically elephants, in circuses.  Oh yes, by all means let us continue abusing animals, for they were put here only for your entertainment, Ms. Gunlock!

Alarmism About Food Creates New Mental Condition: Orthorexia – claims that such things as nutritional labels and FDA warnings contribute to a “fixation on righteous eating”, and “an obsessive focus on clean food consumption”.

Gunlock’s main focus seems to be about food.  She is miffed at the government for issuing advice and warnings about GMOs, sugar, salt, and raw cookie dough, to name a few.  She rails against former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and former First Lady Michelle Obama for their campaigns to get people, especially children, to eat healthier and consume less sugar.  She is against environmental regulations, and just about everything else that makes sense.  She seems obsessed with food, and is resentful of any attempts to advise consumers about eating healthy.

She decries the fact that if shopping for toys on Amazon, the toys are not labeled as being for either ‘boys’ or ‘girls’.  I guess that gives us a clue where she stands on LGBT rights, eh?  And by the way, she appears to be a fan of da trumpeter, which by now should come as no surprise.

So, back to her complaint about schools serving meals to the children.  Never mind that, in many school districts, the meals they receive at school may well be the only nutritious food they get in a day. And never mind, I suppose, that in many cases both parents in the family work full-time just to make ends meet. I can just picture Ms. Gunlock saying, “Let them eat cake!”


Ms. Gunlock says she fixes her children (she has two children) a breakfast of cinnamon toast (with sugar) in the morning, packs their school lunch, including cookies or candy, gives them a cereal bar for an afternoon snack, prepares dinner (with desert, of course), and then gives them a bowl of cereal (with sugar) at bedtime.  I can see where her way is so much healthier than the fruit, veggies and protein they would have gotten in those awful school lunches, can’t you?

So, Ms. Julie Gunlock, for your beliefs that healthy eating is a liberal plot to make you and your children miserable, and for your obvious intent to spread the joy of tooth decay, obesity and heart disease to the rest of us, I now award you Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award!  No, don’t thank me … you have more than earned it!  Just please, stay away from my kitchen!

Oprah for President in 2020 ???

Last November we elected the most unlikely, unqualified, unfit person for the highest office in the land.  Now, people are looking around and saying, “Sheesh … if that ignoramus can win, anybody can … maybe I’ll take a shot at it!”

According to David Axelrod, who was Barack Obama’s chief strategist in 2008 and 2012. “It is more expeditious to put together a list of Democrats who are not thinking they are running for president in 2020, than ones who are.”

Last month, The Hill published a list of 43 of the most likely Democratic candidates to run in 2020.   Many are predictable … some who ran in the early primaries in 2016 but dropped out.  Many are stodgy old white men, already well into their 70s.  A few stand out as what I would consider viable candidates:  Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kamala Harris, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Senator Tim Kaine. There are certainly some others on the list who are worthy, however I discount anybody who is already over 70.  Age discrimination?  Well, yes and no.  The election is still 41 months away.  Take, for example, Bernie Sanders, whom I consider well-qualified and who I would love to see in the Oval Office.  But, he is currently 75 years of age, so he would be 79 by the time he took office, and 83 upon finishing his first term.  I have concerns with that.

Among the more ludicrous (but hey, Trump was as ludicrous as they come, and …) potential candidates are Oprah Winfrey (sure, I would love an African-American woman in the office, but prefer one with experience in government!), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (apparently he is a wrestler and an actor), and the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz.

I actually considered a run once upon a time.  I was four years old, and my father told me that if I would stop sucking my thumb, I could grow up to be president.  I took him literally for a time.  Four-year-old’s are naïve.

I find it disturbing that we are already discussing an election that is nearly four years away.  But I also understand it.  Some unlikely candidates, apparently encouraged by Trump’s equally unlikely win, may be thinking “why not?”  But the reason goes deeper … we made such a huge mistake last November that those who are actually taking this seriously are determined to get it right this time.  Unless Trump is removed and somebody, be it Pence, Ryan, Hatch or Tillerson, can turn things around 180° from where we are today, the Republican Party might as well run Mickey Mouse for all the chance they will have of a win in 2020.  But it is not too early for the Democratic Party to start collecting their ducks and putting them in a row.

Some predict that the democrats will lean toward their own version of Trump, a wealthy business mogul like Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, or Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.  I think this would be a huge mistake, and David Axelrod agrees: “I don’t think you beat Trump by coming up with our own version of Trump. What is it that people find lacking in Trump? They find him lacking in experience, and lacking in knowledge of how government runs.”

The other trap that democrats must not fall into is that of having too many cooks stirring the soup.  Remember when there were some 17 republicans running in early 2016?  Remember them on the stage in a debate, yelling and shouting each other down, critiquing hand size and other irrelevant details?  Bad idea.  There need to be 3 or 4 viable candidates.  According to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, if the democrats have too many candidates, it would mean “a 55 percent chance he [Trump] gets reelected.” Let us hope that he is not still president by then, although he apparently believes he will be and is already soliciting funds and holding campaign rallies … on our time & dime, I might add.

Don’t worry, folks … I do not plan to start writing about the 2020 elections just yet, but this came onto my radar and I thought it might be worth a bit of thought.  I shall now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.