Among the well-heeled Democrats running for the 2020 presidential nomination, we can
start with John Delaney, who served briefly as a congressman from Maryland before he decided it was his duty to run for
the White House. Delaney, a mere centi-millionaire, has been trying hard out on the campaign trail for two years, and
spending a lot—but not nearly enough, it seems. He’s at a mere .5 percent in the national Democratic polls.
Then there’s Tom Steyer, a certified billionaire; over the last few years, he’s spent
hundreds of millions on various causes, including saving the planet and impeaching Trump. And now, he’s found an even
more important cause—electing himself. He’s been dwarfing all the other candidates in ad spending,
yet even so, he’s still only at .9 percent in the polls. That must be
frustrating to a man who’s used to having everything. And maybe that’s why Steyer’s campaign has allegedly been getting
even more aggressive in applying the wiles of wealth. As the Associated Press scooped, the Steyerites stand accused of
trying to buy
endorsements for their man.
And now, here comes Michael Bloomberg, who truly puts the “pluto” in plutocrat—that
is, wealth to the nth degree. He ranks eighth on the Forbes 400 list, with $53.4 billion
to his name.
On his road to the White House, Bloomberg has thought in the past about running as an
independent, yet now he swears he’ll run only as a good Democrat. And so it must have been cheering to him that a
November 10 poll of 2020 Democrats showed him in sixth place, at 4 percent. That’s hardly a blitzkrieg number,
yet it’s not bad for not even having so much as announced—and he’s ahead of a dozen or so pre-existing hopefuls.
So can Bloomberg climb higher? He obviously thinks so, and so do his campaign
advisers, who must be salivating at the prospect of helming a campaign that will spend, as one of them said, “whatever it takes to
defeat Donald Trump.” So what does that mean exactly? How many millions—or billions? As an aside, we can speculate that
Bloomberg’s campaign could get the benefit of more than his own money; it could be helped by Super PAC expenditures from
fellow billionaires, at least one of whom has already expressed his support.
So a little bicoastal solidarity could carry Bloomberg to near-incalculable heights of spending.
Bernie Sanders, one of those soak-the-rich Democrats whom Bloomberg wants to keep
from the nomination, had his snappy comeback to this attempted leveraged buyout of the party. Decrying what he called
the “arrogance of billionaires,” Sanders jibed, “You see, when you’re worth $50
billion, I guess you don’t have to have town meetings, you don’t have to talk to ordinary people. What you do is you
take out, I guess a couple of billion dollars, and you buy the state of California.”
We can pause over that last line, “Buy the state of California.” That’s straight out
of the muckraking novel The Octopus,
or the neo-noir movie Chinatown. In
other words, maybe we’re about to see naked face of Capital, full frontal, as it takes to the hustings, eating hotdogs
and working rope lines, or at least staging photo-ops and buying Facebook ads.
For her part, the other lefty in the race, Elizabeth Warren, tweeted
right back at Bloomberg and his billions: “The wealthy and well-connected are scared that, under a Warren presidency,
they would no longer have a government that caters to their every need. So they’re doing everything they can to try to
stop our grassroots movement from winning.” Warren added, of course, “Chip in now to fight back.”
So there’s no need to worry: Warren, like Sanders, won’t be penniless. They are not
self-funders, and they have mostly refused to have anything to do with big donors, yet they can raise money. They both
have, in fact, substantially out-raised the notional frontrunner, the fat
cat-friendly Joe Biden.
Poor Biden. He is typically described as the big
loser in the wake of Bloomberg’s looming entry. That is, if rich Democrats
aren’t confident that Biden can go the distance, then Middle Class Joe might have to be replaced by One Percent Mike.
Thus we come to the paradox of the Bloomberg campaign: if in fact the New York mogul
has been enticed into the race because he fears and loathes Sanders and Warren and their wealth tax, he might be making
a big mistake—a 2008 bubble-level blooper. That is, Bloomberg could well sink Biden, and submerge the other candidates
in the gentle-on-the-rich “moderate lane,” such as Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. And it’s these middle (relative
term) candidates who would presumably have the best chance of beating the Dreaded Trump.
Okay, so what if Bloomberg himself actually won the nomination? That is, after
torpedoing Biden, what if he also gets past Sanders & Warren?
To this observer, Bloomberg is an obvious city slicker; around the country, he is
perhaps best known as the scourge of cigarettes, guns, soft drinks, and coal. In other words, he’s been pushing a long
list of limousine-liberal causes. And who should doubt that as the Bloomberg campaign staffs up, it will find itself
waking up to “woke” causes even further to the cultural left, such as transgender rights?
Admittedly, Bloomberg was the three-term mayor of New York City, and that counts for
something—but not too much. Other Big Apple mayors, including John Lindsay, Rudy Giuliani, and Bill DeBlasio, never did
well west of the Hudson River; in fact, they never even won their own party’s nomination.
And as the Democratic nominee, Mayor Mike would be particularly weak in the Electoral
College, which is full of square-shaped states that resent rich Manhattan swells—especially swells telling them how to
Still, there’s Bloomberg’s money; as they say, quantity has a quality all its own.
Never say never to someone who can buy and sell you—and if not you, then many of your neighbors. So even if Bloomberg
pokes along in mere single digits in the coming months, it’s not as if he’ll have to drop out of the race for the reason
most low-raters drop out, because they run out of money. So come the Democratic convention in Milwaukee next July, who
knows what could happen. And that’s what Bloomberg is counting on: Money talks, and delegates listen.
For perspective on the power of Unleashed Capital, we might recall the 1980
gubernatorial election in West Virginia, in which a young Democratic carpetbagger by the name of John D. Rockefeller
IV—but you could call him “Jay”—found himself running for re-election against a popular former governor, Republican Arch
Needless to say, Rockefeller was well-financed; to be precise about it, he outspent
Moore by 20:1. Indeed, the disparity was so grotesque that Moore supporters printed a bumper-strip reading,
Him Spend It All, Arch.”It was a funny line, but Rockefeller won the race.
So we must recognize an eternal truth: When it really puts its mind to it, more often
than not, Capital wins.
James P. Pinkerton is an author and contributing editor at The American Conservative. He served as a
White House policy aide to both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
20191127 : Antiwar.com ( The scene opens in Ferguson, Missouri, which Sen. Paul visited during the recent unrest – while the rest of his congressional colleagues stayed away. Paul recalls one woman in her seventies got up at a meeting he attended and said: "Where the hell is my Democrat congressman? I haven't seen him since this whole thing started." )
Putting on my prognostication hat, let me say that I don't think Bloomberg cares about the
rust belt. As for getting on the ballot Bloomberg can and would buy what he needed to get
onto the ballots.
In my mind this is all about the electoral college map. There could be a substantial slice
of voters in NY, Massachusetts and California who might go for Bloomberg. Making those safe
Democratic states in the electoral college vote more volatile, and thus requiring more
attention from a Sanders campaign.
If the votes are counted accurately in those states, I do not think it will be enough to
actually switch those Electoral College votes from Sanders to Trump or anyone else. The thing
is I'm pretty sure the vote count in NY could be gamed, and there is evidence from 2016 that
it could be done in California as well. Something that probably isn't possible without a
strong third party run that would cut into the substantial Democratic lead for cover.
Since I think Virginia could be a toss up for Sanders because of the MIC vote, A Bloomberg
run could destabilize the situation allowing an even larger 'landslide' for Trump or god
forbid Pence or Haley.
And that would be a huge win for the oligarchs, who despite all their bad mouthing have
done well under Trump, as it would allow the story to be about how Sanders took the worst
beating since Dukakis and it was all because he was too left for the American public.
I would hope our 1 to15% would not be so stupid as to vote for him, but like discussions
here the past few days, the managerial class is in protective mode so all bets are off.
Bloomberg tends to forget and want the world to forget how if one certain fernando ferrer
had not done an adlei stevenson and gotten into an ugly snit fit with mark green of fake
populist (nader raydr) rich real estate family fame, no way Bloomberg wins the 9/11 election
.as that fateful day allowed rudy and hence bloomberg to look leaderish while ferrer and
green decided to be petty.
"Michael Bloomberg's Right-Wing Views on Foreign Policy Make Him a Perfect Candidate for the
Republican Nomination" [
The Intercept ]. "Take the war in Iraq. The then-Republican mayor of New York not only
backed the illegal invasion and occupation
in March 2003, but he also supported perhaps the most egregiously dishonest and bizarre
justification for the war: that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. This, of
course, was a
brazen lie told by the likes of
Dick Cheney and Fox News . But it was
also publicly endorsed by Bloomberg . Three years later, in March 2007, the then-mayor of New
York backed the Bush administration against congressional Democrats who were trying to set a
timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq . Then there is the Israel-Palestine
conflict. Bloomberg is a longstanding supporter of Israel and especially Benjamin Netanyahu
Bloomberg helped launder the
reputation of the crown prince in March 2018, when he hosted the reckless autocrat in New
York and smiled for photos with him in a Starbucks." • I dunno. Sounds pretty mainstream
... ... ...
"Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the U.S. Response to Occupy Wall Street"
(PDF) [ The Global
Justice Clinic (NYU School of Law) and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic at
the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice (Fordham Law School) ]. Bloomberg was,
of course, Mayor at the time of Occupy. "The protests in New York City, as widely reported,
have been almost categorically peaceful, and only isolated instances of violence by individuals
at protests have been observed or alleged. But in many instances, the police have responded
aggressively to nonviolent protest, and have escalated situations -- through arbitrary or
misapplications of the law, an excessive police presence, or the use of unwarranted force. The
police response has thus, in some individual cases and considered cumulatively, undermined
basic assembly and expression freedoms. At times, it has itself also presented a threat to the
safety of New Yorkers." • Best quote I could find in the time available, but I'm sure
... ... ...
"Bernie lets it rip against Bloomberg 'arrogance'" [ Politico ].
"Bernie Sanders insists he has nothing personal against Michael Bloomberg. 'I really don't.' He
just thinks he's trying to 'buy an election,' is demonstrating 'the arrogance of billionaires'
and, as Bloomberg opens his near-bottomless wallet to pay for TV ads, is complicit in
'undermining' American democracy." • And indeed, those charges aren't personal. I mean,
Sanders isn't asking Mike what brand of lifts he uses in his shoes, after all.
UPDATE Bloomberg (D)(3): "China to lift ban on state-owned firms buying Bloomberg
terminals, source says" [South China Morning Post]. "China never explained the ban but it
came shortly after the agency published a story on June 29, 2012, about the finances of the
extended family of Xi Jinping – then the vice-president. After the ban, the company
withheld an investigative report about Wang Jianlin, the chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group
and the one of the wealthiest tycoons well connected with Chinese leaders, in 2013, according
to a report by The New York Times. Michael Forsythe, the key author of the investigative
reports, left the company shortly afterwards. Bloomberg has never admitted the practice of
self-censorship." • Hmm.
"Bloomberg is the antidote to President Trump; while Trump always finds new ways to lower
the bar, we are confident that Bloomberg will bring a sense of élan and grace to the
most powerful office in the world. "
Bloomberg 2020: élan and grace. I'm sure Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin will
go for that.
"... One of the suits included the following allegation: When Sekiko Sakai Garrison, a sales representative at the company, told Mike Bloomberg she was pregnant, he replied , 'Kill it!' (Bloomberg went on, she alleged, to mutter, 'Great, No. 16' -- a reference, her complaint said, to the 16 women at the company who were then pregnant.) ..."
"'I'd Do Her': Mike Bloomberg and the Underbelly of #MeToo" [
The Atlantic ].
From 2018, still germane: "From 1996 to 1997, four women
filed sexual-harassment or discrimination suits against Bloomberg the company.
One of the
suits included the following allegation: When Sekiko Sakai Garrison, a sales representative at
the company, told Mike Bloomberg she was pregnant, he
replied , 'Kill it!' (Bloomberg went on, she alleged, to mutter, 'Great, No. 16' -- a
reference, her complaint said, to the 16 women at the company who were then pregnant.)
allegations, Garrison added another one: Even prior to her pregnancy, she claimed, Bloomberg
had antagonized her by making disparaging comments about her appearance and sexual
desirability. 'What, is the guy dumb and blind?' he is alleged to have said upon seeing her
wearing an engagement ring.
'What the hell is he marrying you for?' Bloomberg
denied having made those comments, claiming that he passed a lie-detector test validating
the denial but
declining to release the results. (He also reportedly left Garrison a voicemail upon
hearing that she'd been upset by the comments about her pregnancy: 'I didn't say it, but if I
said it, I didn't mean it.') What Bloomberg reportedly
did concede is that he had said of Garrison and other women, " I'd
do her. "
In making the concession, however, he insisted that he had believed that to 'do'
someone meant merely 'to have a personal relationship' with them."
I imagine we'll be
cancelling Bloomberg shortly? This is a heck of a lot more than liberal Democrats had with
"... Bloomberg manages to have a lot of the same foreign policy baggage that Hillary Clinton had while still having no foreign policy experience. There are many reasons why Bloomberg is an awful fit with the Democratic Party, but on foreign policy he is particularly out of step and out of touch with where Democratic voters want to go. As we can see from recent surveys of public opinion, he is also out of step with a majority of all Americans. ..."
"... The absurdly anti-Iranian line from Bloomberg's editorial page also reflects the former mayor's own views. Back in 2015 when the JCPOA was still being debated, Bloomberg wrote an opinion piece in his own name decrying the Obama administration's alleged "demonization" of critics of the deal. His complaints about the deal might have come from any other Iran hawk: ..."
Now that Mike Bloomberg has made his vanity presidential campaign official
, it is worth reviewing his foreign policy record to understand why he is such a terrible
candidate. Mehdi Hasan
reminds us that Bloomberg was a conventional hawkish Republican until not that long ago,
and his foreign policy views haven't noticeably improved since he left the GOP:
Bloomberg, though, has been an abject failure on each of these issues. Take the war in
Iraq. The then-Republican mayor of New York not only backed the illegal invasion and
occupation in March 2003, but he also supported perhaps the most egregiously dishonest and
bizarre justification for the war: that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks.
This, of course, was a brazen lie told by the likes of Dick Cheney and Fox News. But it was
also publicly endorsed by Bloomberg.
I mentioned Bloomberg's disgraceful propagandizing on behalf of Bush and the Iraq war in an
post , and this was just the most memorable part of his poor record. It isn't surprising
that someone who presents himself as a "centrist" should hold such hawkish views, since that
hawkishness is usually an integral part of "centrist" posturing. Just as Bloomberg has no
interest in challenging concentrated wealth and power in domestic affairs, he has no desire to
challenge the status quo in foreign affairs, either. His foreign policy is to Washington's
militarism what his domestic views are to plutocracy.
Bloomberg manages to have a lot of the
same foreign policy baggage that Hillary Clinton had while still having no foreign policy
experience. There are many reasons why Bloomberg is an awful fit with the Democratic Party, but
on foreign policy he is particularly out of step and out of touch with where Democratic voters
want to go. As we can see
from recent surveys of public opinion, he is also out of step with a majority of all
Democratic voters are increasingly sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians and there
is much more pressure for candidates to be willing to criticize and penalize Israel when it
commits crimes against them. Bloomberg has nothing to offer such voters. Hasan comments:
You might argue that Bloomberg was only parroting the standard liberal defense of Israel
but, no, he went much further than that. During the 2014 bombardment of Gaza, in which more
more than 500 Palestinian kids were killed, Bloomberg told CBS News that Israel "cannot have
a proportional response" when fighting Hamas.
The absurdly anti-Iranian line from Bloomberg's editorial page also reflects the former
mayor's own views. Back in 2015 when the JCPOA was still being debated, Bloomberg wrote an
opinion piece in his own name decrying the Obama administration's alleged "demonization" of
critics of the deal. His complaints about the deal might have come from any other Iran
Overstating the case for the agreement belies the gravity of the issue and does more to
breed distrust than win support. Smearing critics is even less effective. In his speech, the
president suggested that critics of the deal are the same people who argued for the war in
Iraq. The message wasn't very subtle: Those who oppose the agreement are warmongers.
Of course, almost all of the people who vocally opposed the JCPOA were the same
people who cheered on the invasion of Iraq, and more than a few of them had called for
attacking Iran in the years before and since the conclusion of the agreement. It was not a
smear to point out the truth about the poor judgment and terrible record of many of the deal's
detractors. Obviously, Bloomberg himself was one of these Iraq war supporters who also
criticized the nuclear deal. In that piece, Bloomberg combined his annoying above-the-fray
complaints about "politics" with a boilerplate hawkish attack on an important nonproliferation
agreement. His pretense that a major foreign policy issue should somehow be separate from
"politics" at the same time that he was echoing the talking points of Obama's domestic
opponents was equal parts laughable and infuriating.
Almost all of the declared 2020 Democratic candidates have endorsed returning to the JCPOA,
but it seems very unlikely that Bloomberg will join them. The Bloomberg editorial page has been
relentless in ridiculing Democratic candidates for this position and has insisted on chasing
after a mythical "better deal" that will never happen. Their editorials have also called for
ever-increasing pressure on Iran and they have attacked European governments for seeking to
keep the current agreement alive. Given Bloomberg's ownership role and his acknowledged
influence over the content of the editorial page, we have to assume that this is what Bloomberg
the candidate believes. Thomas Meaney called attention to this in a
2016 article that addressed some of Bloomberg's views then:
The same is true of the third source for considering Bloomberg's foreign policy -- his
direction over the unsigned editorials written by the editorial board for Bloomberg View, the
opinion section of Bloomberg Media. (The company has not been shy about noting that these
articles correspond to Bloomberg's own personal opinions.)
Following the former mayor's entry into the race, Bloomberg has now
suspended these editorials, and I suppose they would end up being redundant since we will
be hearing directly from the candidate in the future. All of this raises the obvious question:
why would Democrats want to nominate someone whose foreign policy record has more in common
with Tom Cotton than with their own party? Bloomberg doesn't have an answer for that, and that
is one more reason why his candidacy is going nowhere at great expense. about the author
Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC , where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in the
New York Times Book Review , Dallas Morning News , World Politics Review ,
Politico Magazine , Orthodox Life , Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and
Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week . He holds a PhD in history from the
University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter .
"...Campaign books are usually forgettable, uniformly boring, and go mostly unread. However, Sen.
Rand Paul's recently published addition to the genre is neither forgettable nor boring: if it goes
largely unread then that will be a shame. For it is a sincerely written, even passionate defense
of liberty in the tradition of Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative – the book that launched the contemporary conservative movement
and eventually landed Ronald Reagan in the White House."
Campaign books are usually forgettable, uniformly boring, and go mostly unread. However, Sen.
Rand Paul's recently published addition to the genre is neither forgettable nor boring: if it goes
largely unread then that will be a shame. For it is a sincerely written, even passionate defense
of liberty in the tradition of Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative – the book that launched the contemporary conservative movement
and eventually landed Ronald Reagan in the White House.
It covers a wide range of subjects, from the economy to our criminal injustice system, many of
which are outside the purview of this column. Yet Taking A Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America does such a good job of
weaving all these separate strands together into a comprehensive worldview that deciding where to
mark the cutoff point is a difficult task. And so I'll start, somewhat arbitrarily, smack dab in
the middle of the book with the chapter entitled "The War on Liberty."
The scene opens in Ferguson, Missouri, which Sen. Paul visited during the recent
unrest – while the rest of his congressional colleagues stayed away. Paul recalls one woman in
her seventies got up at a meeting he attended and said: "Where the hell is my Democrat congressman?
I haven't seen him since this whole thing started."
Of course she hadn't: Rep. William L. Clay, Jr., inherited his office from his father, who held
the office virtually unopposed for 32 years. He's a political hack of the worst sort who takes his
voters for granted, just as his party does. What's interesting about Sen. Paul is that he is challenging
the monopoly the Clays and the Clintons hold on the minority vote. Here is someone who talks about
the "two Americas" – the Other America, albeit in ways that would make socialist Michael Harrington
(whose book of that title
a generation of lefties) blanch. For Rand sees the wall separating these two Americas as an artificial
barrier created, for the most part, by the State: by a justice system that
penalizes the poor for
being poor, and a "war
on drugs" that has incarcerated an alarming percentage of the black male population. Paul points
out that he has introduced bills to expunge the records of those who have committed nonviolent crimes,
so they can find employment. But "nothing gets done," he laments, even as America's first African-American
president sits in the Oval Office.
While excoriating the violence that accompanied the Ferguson protests, Paul aims his fire at "cops
"[T]housands of peaceful protesters were met with rubber bullets, tear gas, and a police
department that showed up at the protest in gear more fitting for Fallujah or Kandahar…. Why armored
vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned
by convenience stores and beauty parlors? Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo., so given to
quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting
of the Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards?"
What's impressive about Sen. Paul is that he puts all this in the context of "an erosion of our
civil liberties and due process of law that allows the police to become judge and jury – national
security letters, no-knock searches, preconviction forfeiture, and broad general warrants." The problem,
he says, is systemic. The military occupation of Ferguson dramatizes the
wholesale militarization of
American society in the post-9/11 era, where the lower rungs of society are literally
living under occupation.
This is the kind of talk that speaks directly to black America, to Latino America, to urban America
– and to all Americans who are wondering
what the heck is going on with
cops looking like Darth Vader's
murdering people left and right. No wonder the Democrats – and their neocon carbon copies on
the right – are scared to death of him. He's breaking down the right/left Fox News/MSNBC dichotomy
that has forced voters to "choose" between two differently packaged versions of what is essentially
the same poison. And he does so by reaching back into the nation's past, evoking its founding principles:
"If I am elected president of the United States, the Constitution will again be the law of
the land. There will be no government overreach by my administration. I will continue to fight every
day to restrain government and promote personal freedom. That's my promise."
Against this, his Democratic – and Republican – opponents have only the promise of a "free" lunch
to offer. And that kind of low-rent bribery isn't going to restrain the
rising anger of the Other America for very much longer.
Paul's foreign policy platform is as taboo-defying as his domestic prescriptions: he cuts through
the fog of confusion generated by both the right and the left, and presents an analysis that is bound
to appeal to a new American majority disgusted with the failures of the past. "If there is one theme
that connects the dots in the Middle East," he writes, "it's that terrorism is a direct result of
chaos, and chaos is a direct result of toppling secular dictators." The pattern repeats itself with
monotonous regularity in the cases of
Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, and
Syria's Bashar al Assad, "and yet, still today, those who steer our foreign policy either refuse
to understand or are incapable of understanding the indisputable fact that the same actions produce
the same results."
Unlike each and every one of his Republican opponents, Paul condemns
war as having produced a "vacuum," and "into that vacuum has poured radical Islam." Libya today,
he writes, is a "terrorist wonderland," where jihadists swim in what was our Embassy pool: what Paul
war" is the disaster-producing template for our interventions throughout the region. It was Ms.
Clinton who championed
the cause of arming the Syrian "moderate" rebels, who have now
defected – along with their US-provided arms and training – to Al Qaeda. Sen. Paul opposed this
at the time, just as he opposed the proposed bombing of Syria,
predicting that those arms would be used against us by our enemies – and he was 100 percent correct.
Yet US support to the "moderates"
continues, as their patrons in the Gulf ship money and arms to ISIS. "This is insanity," says
Paul, "pure and simple. It has to stop."
And the source of the madness is unrealism, the extremism of reckless "idealists"
who want to make the world safe for democracy – and wind up leaving nothing but destruction in their
wake. In contrast to this crusader spirit, Paul holds up the banner of a prudent realism that "rejects
the Wilsonian vision of recreating the world in our image or the utopian vision of nation-building.
Our government," he avers, "has trouble running the post office. What makes it think it can be somehow
successful building nations abroad? Foreign policy realism rejects the idea that we are the world's
policeman. So do I."
This is a remarkable statement for a Republican politician to make, and all the more so since
Sen. Paul is seeking his party's presidential nomination. The
conventional wisdom is that this is his Achilles heel, which will trip him up on his road to
the White House. However, as is so often the case, the conventional wisdom is dead wrong. Poll after
poll shows the American people want us to
mind our own damned business and stay out of the internal affairs of other nations. It's only
inside the Beltway that the interventionists represent the dominant strain of thought – but then
again, is anyone surprised that people who think they can
centrally plan the domestic economy and manipulate social attitudes at home believe they can
rule the world in a similar fashion?
taken issue with Sen. Paul's insistence that the mere existence of our embassy in Baghdad, and
our consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan, somehow requires us to become militarily involved in the region.
He repeats that insistence here: I won't repeat my critique. Suffice to say that the vagueness of
Sen. Paul's proposals – "aiding the Iraqi government in defeating ISIS" – are potentially "gateway
drugs" that could easily lead us down the
slope to the same addiction to interventionism that caused the present chaos in the first place.
"Some say ground troops will be necessary. I agree. I just want those ground troops to be Iraqis,
Kuwaitis, Qataris, Saudis – the people who live there."
Yet Paul's own analysis of the causes of the rise of ISIS contradicts this hopeful scenario: a
few pages back he's telling us that the Qataris and Saudis are funding and supporting ISIS. Does
he expect them to go to war against their own proxies? And I would note that he leaves out one significant
portion of "the people who live there" –
Oddly, for a lengthy chapter that deals exclusively with foreign policy, there is little mention
of Iran, and no discussion of the debate around its nuclear energy program. One wonders why that
It is the Iran-backed militias, and Hezbollah, who are now in the field, on the ground,
fighting ISIS and beating them. Is it too much to expect of a self-declared "realist" to acknowledge
this fact of reality, and even applaud it? Well, yes, in the present atmosphere, it may well be too
much to expect, given that Iran is the new bogeyman which has
replaced Iraq in the neoconservative demonology – although perhaps in the not so distant future
the Senator will muster the courage to fully embrace his self-proclaimed realism. One could argue
that these are mere details, but when it comes to foreign policy it's all about the details, wherein
the devil resides.
On the other hand, aside from some purposeful vagueness and a significant omission or two, Sen.
Paul's foreign policy platform represents a radical break from the bipartisan interventionist tradition,
and certainly signals a rupture with the recklessness that has characterized Republican thinking
on this issue. The narcissistic self-regard of
Marco Rubio's "New
American Century" and the blustering faux
machismo of a Lindsey Graham are entirely missing from Paul's proposals – and just as importantly,
from his tone. Instead of chest-beating rhetoric meant to mask an inner insecurity and fear of decline,
he touts the virtues of diplomacy:
"Some argue that we shouldn't negotiate with the Chinese or the Iranians or the Russians. We
can't trust them! We take China's money; how can we not negotiate with them? … Both China and Russia
have radical jihadist threats of varying degrees of their own."
On the issue of diplomacy Sen. Paul takes direct aim at his Republican antagonists:
"I have been a particular target of the neoconservatives. To this crowd, anyone who
doesn't agree with them on every war is the next Neville Chamberlain. To this crowd, diplomacy
is a dirty word. To this crowd, anyone who doesn't clamor first for the military option is somehow
Yet, as the Senator shows, it is the neocons who are the isolationists: their policy of isolating
Cuba, for example, has been a complete
failure. Whereas the policy of open trade with the countries of what was once the Soviet bloc
was perhaps the main reason for the collapse of that unlamented empire. China, Vietnam, and other
nations with "less than stellar" human rights records, Sen. Paul points out, have seen improvement
in the lot of ordinary people once diplomatic and trade relations were established. And those regimes
have paid the price of the resulting prosperity as their authority is increasingly undermined.
Paul makes an excellent point about the value of diplomacy, one I never thought of, when he writes:
"Theoretically, diplomacy is similar to a market transaction. As I see it, it's only
successful when both parties feel they have won, when each party perceives they have gotten the
best possible outcome from the bargain… [T]he market can also literally mend ties that seemed
The answer to terrorism, says Paul, isn't interventionism – it's
capitalism. Not the crony capitalism that is creating an oligarchy in this country, or even less
free versions of the same system that have been entrenched in the Middle East for centuries, but
an economy that allows people to breathe, to live, and to produce unhindered by self-serving bureaucrats.
Paul cites the example of Mohamed
Bouazizi, whose fiery suicide inspired the "Arab Spring": Bouazizi's little vegetable cart was
of Tunisian bureaucrats and cops who prevented him from making a living without applying for expensive
licenses and paying bribes. His self-immolation set off a prairie fire in the Middle East that is
still burning today. Bouazizi's brother is cited by Paul as saying his sibling "believed the poor
had a right to buy and sell."
the great liberating principle that, in the end, will defeat the jihadists and free the Middle
East from the twin devils of colonialism and homegrown autocracy. Now if only the Senator would apply
that principle to
– where Palestinians are held in a condition of helotry, unable to buy, sell, or even travel freely
– he would win much respect outside the narrow universe of the GOP's interest groups.
I haven't covered even half the topics dealt with in Sen. Paul's very interesting – and well-written
– book, both for lack of space and because a lot of it is outside the purview of this column. The
chapter entitled "Can You Hear Me Now?" is perhaps the most passionate attack on the Surveillance
State in print, right up there with the writings of
Glenn Greenwald. If Paul
is elected President, there is no doubt in my mind that the unconstitutional – and unconscionable
– violations of the Fourth Amendment
that have been hoisted on us in secret by our government will come to an end. That alone may win
him the support of not only libertarians but the majority of Americans who fear their own government
more than they fear a band of
savages holed up in the desert thousands of miles away.
I urge you to pick up a copy of Taking A Stand, read it, and decide for yourself. I've been critical of the Senator in the
past, but I've praised him when he puts on his man pants and sticks up for his principles – and us
ordinary folks. And in this book his passion for liberty and his concern for those of us who don't
live inside the Beltway come through loud and clear.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going
here. But please note that my tweets
are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out
"... He combines intrusive and authoritarian measures with an eager defense of plutocracy. ..."
"... This is the "centrism" of catering to corporate interests, pursuing a destructive hawkish foreign policy, and shortchanging the public at home. He would serve as the perfect foil for both Sanders and Warren. ..."
"... His stubborn brand of plutocratic centrism, as well as his overzealous use of stop-and-frisk tactics, would likely be a nonstarter for progressives, as well as the blue-collar workers who flipped to Trump in 2016. ..."
"... All indications are that most Democratic voters have no interest in what Bloomberg is selling. ..."
His brand of plutocratic centrism does not makes much sense in 2019
Bret Stephens cheers
on Mike Bloomberg's odd decision to run for the Democratic presidential nomination:
First, he would be a very good president, potentially a great one. Second, he stands a
much better chance of beating Donald Trump than anyone in the current Democratic field.
The claim that Bloomberg would be a good president is debatable at best, and there doesn't
appear to be any evidence to support the assertion that he has a better chance of winning than
any other Democratic candidate. Stephens is committing the pundit's fallacy by assuming that
the Democratic candidate that he finds least obnoxious must be the most appealing to voters,
and he is so ideologically biased against most Democrats and misrepresents their positions so
badly that his assessment of what they will do can't be trusted.
Both of Stephens' claims are almost beside the point, since it is very doubtful that
Bloomberg has any chance of securing the nomination. Bloomberg has repeatedly flirted with the
idea of running for president, and until now he has always been smart enough not to do it, but
for whatever reason he now intends to waste his money and everyone else's time with a vanity
campaign that has no real constituency among voters. The former mayor of New York could try
running on his record, but during his time as mayor he showed why he would have very limited
appeal in a general presidential election. He combines intrusive and authoritarian measures
with an eager defense of plutocracy. His presidential campaign is itself an expression of
that plutocracy reacting against what it perceives to be an unacceptable threat. Bloomberg has
as a centrist, but he is a "centrist" only in the worst sense of siding with entrenched and
powerful interests. This is the "centrism" of catering to corporate interests, pursuing a
destructive hawkish foreign policy, and shortchanging the public at home. He would serve as the
perfect foil for both Sanders and Warren.
Tina Nguyen summed it up very well in an article
His stubborn brand of plutocratic centrism, as well as his overzealous use of
stop-and-frisk tactics, would likely be a nonstarter for progressives, as well as the
blue-collar workers who flipped to Trump in 2016.
It would be difficult to think of a worse mismatch between a candidate and a party than
Bloomberg and the Democrats. Bloomberg is a multi-billionaire seeking the nomination of a party
whose voters tend to view billionaires with a mix of distrust and loathing. Where Sanders and
Warren speak to Democratic voters and activists' concerns about inequality and the
concentration of wealth and power, Bloomberg is the walking embodiment of those concerns and he
is entering the race in no small part because he rejects the other candidates' policy
As for Bloomberg's foreign policy views, his record will hardly endear him to Democratic
voters, either. This is the same man who disgracefully linked the Iraq war with 9/11 in
2004 back when he was still a Republican. He said, "Don't forget that the war started not very
many blocks from here." Of course, the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, except
that the Bush administration cynically exploited the fear produced by the attacks to sell an
unjust war based on lies. Bloomberg's past support for the Iraq war and his willingness to
promote Bush administration propaganda at the time will probably come back to haunt him as a
Finally, Bloomberg's campaign "strategy" is eerily reminiscent of Rudy Giuliani's hilarious,
failed attempt in 2008. John Cassidy
Did you hear the one about Michael Bloomberg's plan to win the Democratic Presidential
nomination? He's going to skip the first four primaries and caucuses -- in Iowa, New
Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina -- then come storming through on Super Tuesday, March
3rd, when fourteen more states will go to the polls, including three biggies: California,
Texas, and North Carolina. A week later, the billionaire former New York City mayor will
steamroll his way through more states, including Michigan, Missouri, and Washington, giving
him unstoppable momentum as he heads for a general-election battle with Donald Trump.
Actually, it isn't a joke -- or not an intentional one.
This "strategy" is just dripping with entitlement. The idea that any candidate, no matter
how wealthy or well-known, can simply "skip" the early contests and expect to be taken
seriously as a candidate later on is so arrogant that it is practically begging for voters to
repudiate it at the polls. All indications are that most Democratic voters have no interest
in what Bloomberg is selling. Cassidy continues:
Just last week, pollsters from Fox News asked a sample of people intending to vote in the
Democratic primary how they would react if Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Bloomberg
entered the race. Half said they would definitely vote for Obama, twenty-seven per cent said
they would definitely vote for Clinton, and six per cent said they would definitely vote for
Bloomberg. Actually, six per cent may overstate Bloomberg's potential pool of supporters.
Nathaniel Rakich, of FiveThirtyEight, notes that Bloomberg "was generally registering around
2 or 3 percent in national primary polls before first taking his name out of consideration in
Bloomberg is undoubtedly a successful businessman, and unlike Trump his success is real, but
he is also wildly out of touch with what most Democratic voters believe and want.
Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in
the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The
American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from
the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter .
"... Bloomberg also cajoled the NYC City Council to authorize him to seek a third term as Mayor even though NYC residents 'twice voted* for a referendum imposing term limits of 2 terms, but few speak of him as they do of Evo Morales, who got a court ruling: reuters.com/article/us-new... ..."
"... I was there when Mike Bloomberg launched an illegal paramilitary-style police raid in the middle of the night to crush the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Lower Manhattan. He defied a court order and arrested journalists. You don't forget that kind of brazen authoritarianism ..."
"... Should the media be referring to Michael Bloomberg as a "US oligarch"? ..."
Bloomberg also cajoled the NYC City Council to authorize him to seek a third term as Mayor
even though NYC residents 'twice voted* for a referendum imposing term limits of 2 terms, but
few speak of him as they do of Evo Morales, who got a court ruling:
Michael Tracey О @mtracey
I was there when Mike Bloomberg launched an illegal paramilitary-style police raid in the
middle of the night to crush the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Lower Manhattan. He defied
a court order and arrested journalists. You don't forget that kind of brazen
Glenn Greenwald в @ggreenwald • 5h v
Should the media be referring to Michael Bloomberg as a "US oligarch"?
If he (or someone reliant on the millionaire & billionaire class for funding) gets the
nomination, will that be proof that the US - and not just the Bad Countries - is an
Shane Goldmacher @ShaneGoldmacher
NEW: Bloomberg has reserved more than $30 million TV ads beginning on Monday.
A huge show of financial force. Story: nytimes.com/2019/ll/22/us/...
"China to lift ban on state-owned firms buying Bloomberg terminals, source says" [
South China Morn ing Post ]. "China never explained the ban but it came shortly after the
agency published a story on June 29, 2012, about the finances of the extended family of Xi
Jinping – then the vice-president. After the ban, the company withheld an investigative
report about Wang Jianlin, the chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group and the one of the wealthiest
tycoons well connected with Chinese leaders, in 2013, according to a report by The New York
Times. Michael Forsythe, the key author of the investigative reports, left the company shortly
afterwards. Bloomberg has never admitted the practice of self-censorship." • Hmm.
Bloomberg (D)(1): "Leon Cooperman, who has been battling Elizabeth Warren, says he will
support fellow billionaire Mike Bloomberg for president" [
"Cooperman is one of several Wall Street executives who are already preparing to
help Bloomberg in anyway they can if he runs for president. A private equity executive, who
declined to be named in order to speak frankly about the situation, said he would likely
support Bloomberg's campaign as well." •
the appeal for a socially liberal, fiscally conservative billionaire doesn't exist outside of
Tom Friedman columns.
As I wrote in 2016 in
dealing with one of the endless Bloomberg flirtations with the presidency, "An
anti-teachers'-union, anti-gun, pro-nanny state, pro-Wall Street, pro-stop-and-frisk,
pro-inequality, pro-immigration, pro-surveillance, pro-Iraq War neoconservative is almost
surgically designed to repel practically every American voter on some level." Oh, and he's 77, in
a race where everyone is allegedly longing for a contrast with the septuagenarians currently
leading the field.
Bloomberg is the architect of the paramilitary crackdown on Occupy Wall Street protesters,
who said out
loud in 2011 "it was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis," who saw his role as
mayor of New York City to stop by Goldman Sachs headquarters for
a pep talk (it's "my job to stand up and support companies that are here in this city that bring
us a tax base and that employ our people," he said), and who
compared wealth taxes to the policies of Venezuela , is supposed to steal votes from
Mike Bloomberg's base is, literally, the people whose failure brought the country to the
brink in 2008.
It gives me no pleasure to have become a serial chronicler of Bloomberg's absurd flirtations
with the presidency: here , here
, and here
, all the way back in 2008. Each time my point is the same: This is someone with no
constituency once you take the elevator down from an East 79th St. penthouse or step out of the
Morning Joe greenroom. This Twitter thread describing a
speech he gave less than a year ago -- coming out against marijuana legalization, minimum-wage
increases (!), and retraining workers for tech jobs ("they're just not wired that way") --
highlights the inanity of the exercise.
If anything, this strengthens the hand of Sanders and Warren by putting another competitor
on the moderate side to split votes. Bloomberg also
reportedly won't "seek or accept campaign contributions," a genius move which means, under
current DNC rules, that he won't appear in any primary debates. But that's not the only show of
ignorance on display here.
Bloomberg, speaking for his class, is terrified that popular ideas like the wealth tax are
getting traction. For about $50,000, he and his pals could get Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin, Jon
Tester, Chris Coons, and a handful of other Senate Democrats to block any legislation to that
effect (actually they probably don't have to spend a dime, these aren't exactly bold
progressive thinkers). They've bought the Congress for decades and they're afraid that somebody
talking about soaking the rich will penetrate the iron fortress they've built? Do they think
their corruption of democracy is that fragile?
Actually, that's a paradoxical ray of hope. The billionaires are convinced that they're
small men behind the curtain, and anyone pulling that curtain back will rob them of their
power. They know this is a country founded in rebellion to aristocrats, that fights Gilded
Ages, and they're desperate to stifle those voices, lest they start a fire. Maybe democracy
isn't quite dead yet.
all Bloomberg could realistically achieve in the race is weakening Joe Biden. The 77-year-old
billionaire is still a decent shape, but aging is visible even in his physical appearance.
At the end of the day, it does not matter much, as whatever you think of the merits of the
sweeping progressive agenda Warren and Sanders are running on, the chances that it will be
enacted by Congress in 2021 are nearly zero.
He will be 79 when he takes office, if elected.
Next week I will observe my 84th birthday. I have experienced the indignities of old age.
The decline of physical and mental capacities accelerates in the 70;s and goes into
hyperdrive in the 80's.
I don't think it is a good idea to have another Alzheimer's patient in the Oval
I also don't think it a good idea for the Democratic Party to nominate a Republican for
There's only one way to read this news coupled with Bloomberg: the establishment knows
Biden is all over but the crying and Pete has no path to the nomination, probably because he
has zero black support and it's too late to build those relationships.
Here's a president who's really nonverbal. He's like Eisenhower. He looks great in a
military uniform. He looks great in that cowboy costume he wears when he goes West. I
remember him standing at that fence with Colin Powell. Was [that] the best picture in the
He looks for real. What is it about the commander in chief role, the hat that he does
wear, that makes him -- I mean, he seems like -- he didn't fight in a war, but he looks like
Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we
like having a hero as our president. It's simple. We're not like the Brits. We don't want an
indoor prime minister type, or the Danes or the Dutch or the Italians, or a [Russian
Federation President Vladimir] Putin. Can you imagine Putin getting elected here? We want a
guy as president.
Yep, this is just hard hitting analysis from MSNBC! Trump didn't break these people. He's
simply a louder version of them, and they are all jealous they didn't go full in on an
anti-immigrant, anti Jeb Bush platform in the GOP primary.
LIDDY: Well, I -- in the first place, I think it's envy. I mean, after all, Al Gore had
to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man. And here comes George Bush. You know, he's
in his flight suit, he's striding across the deck, and he's wearing his parachute harness,
you know -- and I've worn those because I parachute -- and it makes the best of his manly
characteristic. You go run those -- run that stuff again of him walking across there with the
parachute. He has just won every woman's vote in the United States of America. You know, all
those women who say size doesn't count -- they're all liars. Check that out. I hope the
Democrats keep ratting on him and all of this stuff so that they keep showing that
MATTHEWS: You know, it's funny. I shouldn't talk about ratings. I don't always pay
attention to them, but last night was a riot because, at the very time [U.S. Rep.] Henry
Waxman [D-CA] was on -- and I do respect him on legislative issues -- he was on blasting
away, and these pictures were showing last night, and everybody's tuning in to see these
The early 00's were completely insane. Yes, that is G. Gordon Liddy appearing on MSNBC!
and discussing George W. Bush's costume.
Chris Matthews is really kinda getting brown there. Was the same for Obama when he
"I have to tell you, you know, it's part of reporting this case, this election, the
feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up
my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often."
There was widespread speculation that he would run as a third party candidate in the
presidential election , though he chose not to run, later endorsing Democratic nominee
for president. In October 2018, Bloomberg announced that he had changed his political party
affiliation to Democratic, which he had previously been registered as prior to 2001.
announced on November 7, 2019 that he was taking steps to enter the 2020 presidential
race , 
despite previously saying in March 2019 that he would not pursue the presidency,
Bloomberg officially entered the race on November 8, 2019 by filing to insert his name on
the Alabama Democratic Primary ballot and announced that he will make a decision about a formal
campaign launch on November 11 at earliest. 
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