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Can Bloomberg do it?


You have to perform a thought experiment with each of the Democratic candidates: Imagine them onstage, debating Trump. Trump is a good debater. Granted, he lies, a lot, and he relies on appeals to fear and resentment; but those are proven debate techniques. In the 2016 primaries, he trounced his Republican challengers. They all seemed wooden and scripted; Trump by contrast was refreshingly “real,” not in the sense of morally authentic or humanly decent, but in his insults and contempt, he at least was someone you could look at and think, “Well, he’s certainly not afraid to say what he thinks.”

He’ll be even better this time around, having had the benefit of four years of being president. He’s perfected his reality show shtick: He was already good on “The Apprentice,” but now he’s got all that extra rehearsal time to benefit from.

So back to the thought experiment: Whoever the Democratic candidate is, is going to have to be as good as Trump on that stage. Trump is a tall man. Bloomberg is a short man. That’s going to count against him, because T.V. is above all a visual medium. (Remember that in 1960, according to polls, most people who heard the JFK-Nixon debates on radio thought Nixon won, but people who watched them on T.V. gave the nod to Kennedy.)

Americans don’t like short people. The evidence for that is overwhelming: we “look up” to our leaders but we “look down on” criminals and losers. Employers hope a new man will “grow into the job”; if he doesn’t, he “didn’t measure up.” “One way in which social weight—power, authority, rank, office, reknown—is echoed…is through relative size, especially height,” a former U.C. Berkeley sociologist wrote. One of the reasons for Ronald Reagan’s political success was his height. When he stood among the leaders of the free world his manly head towered above the rest. Trump, who infamously hovered around Hillary Clinton during one of their 2016 debates, already has begun insulting Bloomberg’s height. “Mini Mike is a 5’4” mass of dead energy,” he tweeted earlier this month. We can expect a lot more of that kind of personal smear.

Bloomberg, however, is no slouch. First of all, he’s a New Yorker. New Yorkers, I can tell you from personal experience, are fighters. Trump is a New Yorker: he goes for the gut, and his instincts tell him where each person’s gut is. (Remember “Low Energy Jed Bush”? That caused real reputational harm to Bush.) So Bloomberg’s going to have to fight back. He can’t base his response purely on policy: reversing tax cuts, fighting climate change, healthcare, protecting a woman’s right and so on. That kind of stuff, while important, doesn’t appeal to voters’ emotions, which is what so often drives them. No, Bloomberg is going to have to counter: tit-for-tat.

He can’t tease Trump about his height because, as I’ve explained, Americans already like and trust tallness. What can he go after Trump on? Let’s face it, Bloomberg (or anybody else going after Trump) is going to have to be bitchy. Mayor Pete can probably draw on his inner bitch (he’s got one, I’ve seen it, although he hasn’t had to unleash it much). Klobuchar? She’s pretty nice, and may not have the huevos (so to speak) for it. Warren might have the chops. But I’m writing today about Bloomberg, so let’s examine him a little further.

The thing about Bloomberg that can be so devastating to Trump is that Bloomberg knows Trump well. He’s lived and worked beside him in New York for decades. New York’s a big city, but all the billionaires know each other pretty well—the good and the bad. Trump carries a lot of baggage: ripping off vendors, lawsuits (including from porn stars), shoddy construction, misleading promises. That’s where Trump’s vulnerable: not his physical attributes but his business practices, which are a direct reflection on his character. The electorate already knows Trump is a pig. Bloomberg may be best situated to remind them of that.

Oh, I said Trump’s physical attributes aren’t his vulnerable point, but there’s one thing about him that nobody’s really poked fun at yet: his hair. It’s ridiculous. Everybody knows it. Bloomberg doesn’t have much to speak of in the hair department, but at least he doesn’t dye it and poof it up and do comb-overs, which are the marks of an insecure, vain man: everybody can see a comb-over, everybody knows it’s obvious, so when someone does a comb-over, it’s doubly-ridiculous, because he’s trying to fool people who aren’t fooled in the least. People who do comb-overs are con men. Donald Trump does a comb-over. Bloomberg can use that—and it’ll be all the more effective because Trump is thin-skinned and can’t stand criticism.

So, yes, I can see Bloomberg onstage with Trump, giving as good as he gets. But we’ll learn more about Bloomberg’s debating skills well before the Presidential campaign gets under way: Bloomberg is going to end up on the Democratic primary stage at some point, going up against whomever’s left. His performances then will tell us a lot about how he would “stand up to” Trump in the Presidential.

Post-Impeachment, Trump is frighteningly unhinged


The venomous criminal in the White House showed his true colors yesterday with his violent post-Impeachment rant. Well, I shouldn’t say “he showed his true colors” because he’s been showing those colors all along. What he showed us was his true colors in more starkly mad, vulgar insanity than ever before.

There is absolutely nothing surprising about this. We’ve known all along how this kabuki would end up. His Senate Republicans, out of their minds, having sold their souls to the devil, clear him of the criminal acts he obviously committed. Then, Trump claims vindication!

When he held up those newspapers with the headline “ACQUITTED,” he was consciously mimicking Harry Truman, who famously held up a copy of the Chicago Tribune that headlined “DEWEY BEATS TRUMAN.” That was a great moment for Truman, and for America. Truman proved the pundits wrong: they said he wouldn’t win, but the American people decided otherwise.

Trump’s newspaper headlines—ACQUITTED—are factually true. The cowardly Republican Senate did acquit him. The problem for him, though, is that a solid majority of the American public knows Trump committed a crime. This battle isn’t over yet, not by a long shot. When Truman beat Dewey, that was it: end of story, election over. When the co-conspirators in the Republican Senate acquitted Trump, it was only the end of a chapter in a very long book. And I will tell you what the end of that book will be: Trump will be deposed. Somehow, some way, at some point, we will be rid of him.

This could occur in several ways. We can beat him in November. This is the most likely way to get rid of him. We can re-impeach him; he’s bound to do something as stupid and criminal as his Ukraine bribe because it’s in his nature to break the law. The leopard can’t change its spot, although that’s unfair to leopards, which are lovely, pure beasts. Trump is an unlovely stain on humanity.

Of course, someone might assassinate Trump. This is unlikely; he never goes anywhere in public except to highly-orchestrated rallies stuffed with crazy rightwingers who love him, and who have to pass through various Secret Service gauntlets. Of course, neither I, nor any other Democrat, wishes physical harm to befall Trump; the last thing America needs is for him to be murdered. But political assassinations have been known to happen in American history, and you can never count them out.

Barring assassination, Trump is an old man: going on 74, fat and addicted to junk food, and with a volatile temper that must make his blood pressure soar. We don’t know the actual facts about his blood pressure, or his cholesterol reading, or anything else concerning his physical condition, because he hides those things from scrutiny, as he conceals so many other things—for instance, his taxes and his weird sex life. But his life expectancy can’t be much longer. Even if he’s re-elected—God forbid—I should think he’s unlikely to outlive his second term.

Speaking of life expectancy, did you see the photos of Melania putting the Medal of Freedom around Rush Limbaugh’s fat neck at the State of the Union? Limbaugh just announced he has terminal cancer. Again, I wish no physical ill upon anyone, but Limbaugh has been a cancer on American political discourse, and when he dies, that cancer will have been excised: which will be a good thing. Limbaugh is, clearly, a racist (which is why he’s a Republican); and I thought it appropriate that Melania associated herself so closely with him. She’s from Slovenia, one of the most anti-semitic, racist countries in Europe. She has consistently remained silent while her husband has hated on Blacks, Mexicans, Africans, Muslims, transsexuals and people of color in general. It’s not hard to imagine Melania having super-racist secret thoughts. I’ll bet you that, someday, we’re going to learn how much she objected to her stepdaughter, Ivanka, marrying a Jew.

But I digress. We now have Trump unhinged, wreaking vengeance upon his “enemies.” This is a dangerous Trump; hence, it’s an extra-dangerous time for America. It’s more important than ever to keep our eye on the prize. Trump, like a cockroach, is at his most effective in the dark. We, through the media, must shine a relentless light on him, and alert the public, every minute of every day, to his unnatural, illegal activities. We must organize. We must send money to whatever Democratic groups and candidates we favor. The 2020 Election will not be cheap! And above all, we must Take The Pledge: “I vow to vote for the Democratic nominee for president no matter whom it is.”

Iowa: A wrap-up


Back in November, here on my blog, I formally endorsed Mayor Pete for President of the United States. So I couldn’t be more pleased at how well he did in the Iowa Caucus. We still don’t know whether he won the raw vote, or a majority of the delegates, or what; but even if Sanders edges him out at the last minute, Mayor Pete’s performance in Iowa has indeed shocked the world. From Hong Kong to London, Capetown to Montreal, Tokyo to Auckland, they’re saying “Wow. A gay man might be the Democratic nominee for president of the U.S.”

There’s a long way to go before the party decides on its nominee, though. Most people I know who follow politics think that Mayor Pete will not be the nominee. He may have won Iowa, they say, but he’s unlikely to win New Hampshire, where Sanders is surging, and where even Biden is ahead of Mayor Pete. As for South Carolina, Mayor Pete is doing dismally. Even Tom Steyer is beating him. Pete might get a little bounce in the Palmetto State after Iowa, but it seems unlikely he’ll do well there. South Carolina has a lot of Black voters, and there’s a lot of homophobia in that community. There’s also this meme that Mayor Pete somehow underperformed with respect to Black people in South Bend when he was Mayor. Even some Black leaders in South Bend have criticized him. If Mayor Pete can’t garner tremendous support from Black voters, he can’t beat Trump in November.

But I think Black voters are strategic. They understand the importance of getting rid of the monster in the White House. They may not have the same enthusiasm for Mayor Pete, or any other current Democratic candidate for president, as they had for Obama, who was the candidate of a lifetime; but I have to believe they’ll rally around whomever the candidate is. Black voters are realistic. They know you can’t always get the candidate you might prefer. When the choice is between the Democrat and Donald J. Trump, I hope and expect they’ll do the right thing.

A friend here in Oakland, a Black woman who’s active in politics, told me yesterday she was glad that, in his live appearance after the Iowa Caucus, Pete didn’t kiss his husband, Chasten. My reply was, “Well, he will, eventually.” It would be phony for Mayor Pete to refrain from such a public display of affection with his significant other. Why shouldn’t he kiss his spouse? All the straight candidates do. As great as it is that a gay man has gotten this far, we still have a long way to go. If you don’t believe it, watch T.V. Car commercials, cruise ship commercials, pharmaceutical commercials—they never show same-sex couples.

I’m surprised Klobuchar didn’t do better in Iowa. She’s a really good candidate. She has the best smile in politics. I don’t think anyone dislikes her. She’s sunny, positive, smart and, as she says, she’s won every election she’s been in, including in red districts. I suspect she’s running for Vice President. Buttigieg-Klobuchar? That would be something.

And now, we have the end-game we’ve all seen coming for a year: Trump triumphant, holding up newspapers with “ACQUITTED” headlines, as if he was Truman showing that infamous Chicago Tribune headline “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” after the 1948 election. Trump is no Truman. The scuttlebutt this morning is that House Democrats might still subpoena Bolton. That would be great, but what is there to be gained? Even Senate Republicans, like Lamar Alexander, concede that Trump did it. “It was crossing the line,” Alexander said, of the attempted Zelensky bribe. Of course, that didn’t stop Alexander from voting to acquit.

If I were Pelosi or Schumer or the other senior Democrats who plan strategy, I wouldn’t give up. They should continue to be nudniks to Trump, to use an old Yiddish word. Why, at this point? First, because it annoys the crap out of Trump, and it’s fun to annoy him. Secondly, because Trump really has gotten away with High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Democrats would be remiss in their oath to the Constitution if they don’t press on, and on, and on, as long as they have breath. Third, because the majority of the American people who know that Trump did something really, truly wrong continues to grow, and reminding those people of Trump’s crimes must remain a top priority for Democrats.

Whomever the Democratic nominee is, he or she will have to go toe-to-toe with Trump, not only on policy issues, but on Trump’s unfitness for office. The American people already are primed to believe that: they need to be reminded, over, and over, and over.

In the Bay Area, we like winners


We’re sad in the Bay Area: The 49ers lost the Super Bowl on Sunday. That was heartbreaking enough, but it’s doubly tragic, because nobody even expected them to have a winning season, much less end up in the Super Bowl.

When the clock finally ticked out at Hard Rock Stadium, with the Chiefs winning 31-20, a deathly silence settled over my neighborhood (and over the entire region, I expect). Had the 49ers won, there would have been raucous cheering and applause. Instead—nothing. In every apartment and home, sadness infiltrated, like the Angel of Death. There would be no victory parade down Market Street in 2020.

We here in the Bay Area have a history of winning sports teams. The Niners have won five Super Bowls. More recently, the Warriors captured three NBA titles. And then there were the Giants, whose three World Series victories—2010, 2012 and 2014—made the city delirious with joy (and made a superstar out of Timmy Lincecum).

We’re a city of winners. San Francisco’s congressional representative, Nancy Pelosi, is the Speaker of the House of Representatives (second in the line of succession to the presidency, after the Vice President). San Francisco’s former mayor, Gavin Newsom, now the Governor of California, is a likely presidential contender in the future. One of our Senators, Kamala Harris, briefly caught the national spotlight when she ran for president; you’ll be hearing more from her. And our senior Senator, Dianne Feinstein, has been a famously effective Senator since her first electoral victory in “the year of the woman,” 1992.

It’s not just politics and politicians that make us winners. San Francisco itself is often considered the most beautiful city in America. It retains that status, despite its problems with homelessness. We have Silicon Valley just to the south, the greatest economic and technological engine on Earth. There’s wine country and Redwood forests to the north, the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east, and, of course, the mighty Pacific Ocean, whose shoreline—in sharp contrast to the addled coast of the Atlantic—is protected from development because Californians had the wisdom to pass the requisite environmental laws.

All in all, we have quite a lot to be proud of here. Republicans, on the other hand, have spent decades trashing San Francisco, heaping every conceivable nasty insult on us. Whenever I hear them diss us, I’m reminded of their jealousy and vindictiveness. They come here every chance they get, to visit and dine in our restaurants and sightsee—and then they go home and babble about “San Francisco Democrats,” or “libtards, or “nuts and fruits.” Trump has even led his crazed rallies to chant “Lock Her Up!” about Feinstein!

Well, I suppose what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. After all, most of us Californians wouldn’t want to live in the trailer parks of rural Mississippi or the evangelical wastelands of Kansas. Not only do most Republican sanctuaries have terrible weather, but they lack the cultural amenities and intellectual vibrancy Californians love. Californians also appreciate inclusiveness, and the small-minded parochialism of Republican precincts is a turnoff for us. That’s not at attack on anybody’s religion; but it is to suggest that we don’t cotton to having others impose their bigotry upon us.

So we’ll mourn the 49ers loss for a few more days. It’s all good. There’s always next year. It would have been fun, had the Niners won, to witness many, if not most, of them boycotting a White House visit (as many of the Warriors did in 2017 and 2018). Trump would have aired his grievances on Twitter, while the rest of us chuckled. But, alas, it’s not to be. That’s sports for you: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Hopefully, you win more than you lose! Which reminds me: We are going to win in the November elections! We’re going to elect a Democratic president, we’re going to elect a Democratic Senate, and we’re going to increase our majority in the House.

I would be remiss if I didn’t get in a word about the chaos in Iowa. Even now, as I write—Tuesday morning—nobody knows who won. Trump will make much of this, of course: “The Democrat Party can’t even manage a caucus, and they’re asking you to let them run the country!” It’s a good line and will find traction among his MAGA hat-wearing droolers, but I don’t think most American will blame an app malfunction on the Democratic candidate, whomever he or she is. Right now, in the midst of the uncertainty, there’s some speculation that Mayor Pete may end up getting the most votes. If he does, I’ll utter the famous catchphrase of my boyhood—“How ‘about that?”—which the N.Y. Yankees’ announcer, Mel Allen, used to use, whenever Mantle hit one out of the park, or Berra made a flying catch. “How ‘bout that?” will perfectly express the surprise and satisfaction of a Buttigieg victory.

Will there be witnesses? We don’t know


As I write this (Wednesday morning), we still don’t know if McConnell’s Repuglicans will let Bolton testify. The situation is vague. All we know for sure are (1) Trump doesn’t want any witnesses or documents, because any that come forward will hurt his case by exposing his lies, and (2) McConnell, his lackey, is doing everything he can to prevent a fair trial in the Senate.

Prediction: If the Repuglicans don’t allow witnesses and documents, there’s going to be an explosion of anger and disgust in this country, such as hasn’t been seen in a very long time. If these Repuglicans defy the will of three-quarters of all Americans, who are demanding witnesses, they will pay a severe price, beginning, but not ending, with losing the Senate.

One would hope that wavering Repuglicans know this. Senators like Susan Collins are getting besieged by emails and phone calls from their constituents telling them to heed the will of the voters! I certainly don’t feel sorry for Collins, Gardener, Murkowski or any of the other Repuglican Senators. They made a horrendous deal with the devil three years ago to stand by the perv in the White House, and now, I guess they figure, it’s “In for a dime, in for a dollar.”

Look: I don’t think that Bolton’s testimony will budge most of these Senate Repuglicans anyway. They’re beyond redemption, our American Nazis: “I was just obeying orders.” But I do believe that a Bolton testimony—at least, as we’re led to believe it would be—will change some minds, or at least embarrass some of these Trump enablers. Do they really want their grandchildren to ask why they lied to protect a lying, dangerous predator?

I’ve made something of a study about the children and grandchildren of the major Nazi war criminals. Their lives were effectively ruined by their association with their heinous parents. Sure, Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Heinrich Himmler and their ilk enjoyed fabulous lifestyles during their lifetimes, due to their unflinching alliance with Hitler. But all of them died violently in service to that nightmare, and their progeny suffered immensely from the condemnation of a world that, perhaps unjustly but understandably, visited the sins of the father upon the children.

Do I wish suffering upon the children of Michael Pence, Michael Pompeo, Michael Mulvaney, Alan Dershowitz, Sean Hannity and all the others? Sometimes, the stakes are so high that you have to take sides. Someone has to answer for their ancestral sins. If these children publicly renounce their parents, I might wish them well. If they don’t…well, they deserve whatever comes their way, whether it’s career-wise, at their clubs, or from their friends and neighbors. We see, in the way Dershowitz has been shunned by his summer neighbors on Martha’s Vineyard, how these societal sanctions work.

Should there be a quid pro quo with respect to witnesses? John Bolton in exchange for Hunter Biden? Wouldn’t bother me, even though Hunter Biden (and Joe Biden) have absolutely nothing to do with Trump’s blackmail of Zelensky. It is a complicating factor, though, that Joe Biden has publicly stated he will not testify under any circumstance, and presumably, he speaks for his son as well. I’m not sure he can get away with it, if push comes to shove. The Repuglican talking point would overwhelm the politics: What are the Bidens afraid of? Why are they resisting the will of the American people, who want witnesses? Repuglicans could turn the whole John Bolton thing on its head—and Democrats would be hard-pressed to come up with a working reply. My own feeling, based on what we know, is that, with respect to the Bidens, “there’s no there there,” and so nothing to fear. Maybe Hunter finagled himself a cushy little sinecure with his father’s help. So what? At the very worst, it would tarnish Hunter Biden a little bit—but this fight isn’t about Hunter Biden, it’s about the worst president in American history. If we have to throw Hunter Biden under the bus to get rid of Trump, so be it.

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