U.S. Politics and Culture

Tag: Bernie Sanders

Michael Bloomberg Wants to be Your Pre$ident. Maybe.

Michael Bloomberg, former three-time mayor of the City of New York, has launched his campaign with a TV blitz costing $150 million. That’s a lot of Simoleans, double the amount spent by Tom Steyer, the only other bona fide billionaire in the race. Steyer’s spending laps the amounts spent by the conventional candidates. Unlike Bloomberg, Steyer has been running in traffic, qualifying for the debates. Now that his singular goal of impeachment had been achieved, he’s moved on to his economic message. He claims to be the real deal – a billionaire with a human touch. Steyer has been surging, owing to his identity-building TV spots. Steyer has not been pigeonholed or tested in the Frontrunner’s Crucible yet.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg is skipping the opening farewells in Iowa and New Hampshire, the graveyard of many candidacies. He will debut on the Super Tuesday ballots. By that time, one of his rivals may catch fire. In that case, his run may be over effectively, and his prodigious spending will have been for naught. Or will it?

Mayor Mike’s party-crashing is having a clarifying impact on the race. He is a centrist economically and left of center socially. He believes in the necessity of regulation but will never be considered an anti-capitalist. If he could add a little religion, a little warmth and an ear for Middle-America, he would be a formidable candidate.

But that is not who he is. In truth, Bloomberg lacks the connection to people of diverse backgrounds necessary to create a groundswell. After all, he is a Jewish billionaire, missing only the Eastern European inflection of George Soros to strike fear in American Gothic hearts.

Service as Mayor of New York City is not a useful resume builder for the national stage: John Lindsay, Rudy Giuliani, Bill DeBlasio. If nominated, Michael Bloomberg will run, and if elected, he will serve. Even so, Bloomberg will be satisfied if the current White House occupant is evicted, driven off to Palm Beach to spend eternity in a Maximum-Security sand trap.

Whatever the outcome of his candidacy, Bloomberg will use his wealth and influence to defeat the party that has supported the megalomaniac and his agenda. Bloomberg will step aside happily if one of the middle-of-the-road hopefuls breaks ahead of the pack. He is more likely to hang around if Bernie Sanders takes a commanding lead. He will want to keep Sanders from getting too far from Bloomberg’s concept of the Mainstream.

Mayor Mike will keep pouring money into the race one way or the other to defeat the institutional catastrophe we’re enduring. The administration is an imminent danger to our democracy, the kind that warrants extreme political action. Would a person with $56 billion invest one of those billions to save this nation? Bloomberg certainly would. He wouldn’t suffer if a billion went missing.

Even if in the future Congress restores limits on campaign financing, national elections will always be a big-money game. Sanders and Warren notwithstanding, paraphrasing the words on a bumper sticker supporting Jesse Ventura, political savant and former governor of the great state of Minnesota, you better hope that your billionaire can outspend their billionaire.

Summer Storms

For the second time, protesters yesterday adopted aggressive tactics against Trump supporters emerging from a San Jose rally. The malcontents let loose a fusillade of eggs and water balloons against the defenseless Trumpists. The winter clouds, thus seeded with Trump’s professions of bigotry and mob justice, are producing summer squalls of social unrest.

The San Jose police department, trained primarily to ticket Teslas parked in No Standing zones, was unable to control the assemblage. Nevertheless, those officers arriving on the scene eventually broke up the demonstration, confiscating eggs and gathering up the balloons. “We’re in the middle of a drought,” said one officer, asking to remain anonymous. One egg-tossing protester, undaunted, warned, “Next time we won’t poach them first.”

Meanwhile, in San Diego, Hillary Clinton delivered what was promoted as a foreign policy speech. It is being acclaimed her finest moment of the campaign so far. San Diego is the home of the Pacific Fleet. This presented Secretary Clinton with an ideal backdrop for ripping Mr. Trump for his lack of competence in foreign matters. Working with Mr. Trump’s own words, Clinton reminded the crowd that Mr. Trump is his own advisor on foreign policy by reason of his “good brain.” Not to be overlooked is his considerable experience running the Miss Universe pageant in Russia. Retired  part-time Alaska governor Sarah Palin has attested to Mr. Trump’s deft  handling of this summit, at least those parts she was able to watch from her porch.

 Secretary Clinton’s high-pressure front has had the secondary effect of pushing Bernie Sanders’ campaign a bit farther out to sea.  Forecasters predict that the pelting, physical and verbal, will continue unabated until early November.

The New Sport of Kings: Casino Litigation Pt. 1

Until recently casino litigation meant law suits involving actual casinos.   No more.   Thanks to Peter Theil, the Paypal founder backing a law suit against Gawker media seeking vengeance, casino litigation now means  some fat cat fueling litigation for profit or private purposes.
It’s spurious for a lot of reasons, most directly that litigation is not particularly a game of chance, and the investors are not suckers holding cards that were dealt from the bottom.

Third-party financing of litigation isn’t new,  The most basic case, a personal injury case, is funded on one side by the plaintiff’s attorney’s line of credit  and sometimes a litigation funding firm and on the other side by an insurance company.  Not the same?  What about issues-based non-profit organizations funding lawsuits to test principles?  Flag-burning, integration, school prayer, women’s reproductive rights, etc.  Some even are test cases, situations designed for litigation to test the principle. No disrespect to the plutocrat who funded the law suit against the well-healed dot-com, but the only thing new about this case is the personal nature of the animus that fueled it.

If you’ve visited a state courthouse recently and witnessed the under-staffing, slowness and dilapidated conditions, you can safely conclude that if this is the era of casino litigation, the odds are against the courts.  Litigation has become an over-used tool of retribution, and the state court systems are not given the resources to keep pace with the case load.  For those cases that are truly casino litigation, shouldn’t the house at least get a piece of the action?  That’s the way it works in Vegas.

I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party

 Bernie Sanders trails Hillary Clinton. Even though he can’t catch her, he refuses to concede.  He  he will try to convince the super-delegates that he gives the Democrats the best chance to win.Clinton insists that the nomination is all but official.  She will be the nominee.  The problem is that recent polls show her slipping against Donald Trump, the Republican nominee.  The same polls show Sanders leading Trump by double digits.  Sanders has a good argument, if you follow the polls.   Clinton and Trump are in a statistical dead heat, each with about 40% of the vote.  The other 20%, undecided, mostly are Sanders voters.  Sanders, with his support and Clinton’s, opens a large lead over Trump.

Super-delegates in the Democratic Party process were intended to smooth out some of the potential problems that crop up in primaries.  In a sense, they are successors to the party bosses who ran conventions in the past.   If the goal is to win the White House, they should be taking a hard look at the Sanders campaign.  However, Sanders has railed against Deborah Wasserman Schultz, the Convention Chairperson who supports Clinton. Presumably, she is not giving Sanders a fair hearing.

This spring we witnessed the Fall of the GOP.  Turns out, the announcement of its death was exaggerated. In the end, Trump and the party regulars, with a few notable exceptions, seemed to kiss and make up.  We didn’t realize that the Democrats were playing out the same drama, but they are. There has been no rapprochement between Sanders and the party apparatchiks so far. Many of Sanders’ voters will not vote for Clinton, Some consider her a “monster.”

The Democrats have made the mistake of viewing the 2000 election as an anomaly.  The Supreme Court stopping the Florida recount was a once-in-a-lifetime event.  However, the threat of a third-party run dividing the electorate is common.  The Democrats stick to the  narrative that Ralph Nader played the role of spoiler. They refuse to address the schism in the party that enabled Nader to make a meaningful run.

The Democrats are about to do it again.  In order to win nationally, the party moves center and marginalizes its most progressive members.  They are Sanders’ supporters, and many of them will be damned if they’ll vote for Hillary Clinton. For them, she epitomizes the Corporate Democrat.  Sanders won’t have to stage a third-party run like Nader.  Bernie’s voters will stay home, and the Democratic Party will lose its left flank and the White House, with no help from him.

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