It is, Among Other Things, Funny

twitter war

It is, among other things, funny, to see two elderly rich guys like Trump and Bloomberg duking it out on Twitter. That was Maureen Dowd’s insight. It seemed like a good idea for a column, but she really didn’t have much to say on the subject. That did not, however, dissuade her from writing the column anyway.

Here’s my two cents’ worth.

An effective politician has a whole variety of skills. One of the most important is to know how to communicate—in particular, to know how to communicate in a whole variety of ways, as the the situation demands and as the audience changes.

Trump is a one-trick pony. He knows how to bully and insult. He knows how to inspire fear and loathing. But he lacks the capacity to persuade by rational argument.

Trump insulted his way into the Republican nomination. But before you ascribe magic power to his insult comic routine, think about the context. What was his message about folks like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz? The message was that they were a bunch of empty suits whose own constituents didn’t like them much, and probably hated their guts.

And what made those insults effective, with the audience to whom they were addressed? What made them effective was that the audience knew the conventional candidates were a bunch of empty suits, and they largely hated their guts already.

Hardy haar haar! That sort of thing makes for a really good belly laugh.

Some people you can terrify, at least some of the time. Some people you can insult, at least some of the time. And some people you can bully, at least some of the time.

And some you can’t. Trump loves to insult people for being poorer than him. But that line of insult isn’t going to work on a rival who’s the twelfth richest person in the world and who could buy you out a hundred times over. And, by the way, having told your own cult followers to worship you because you’re allegedly wealthy, how can you turn around and say that wealth doesn’t matter.

So, Mike, just twit away. That’s what I say.

But, if you can, you need to show me that you have the right policies and the right attitude. And you have to address all the bad stuff about your “baggage” that keeps coming out. You can’t ignore it, and you know you can’t ignore it.

In short, Mike, you got some splainin’ to do.


Broken Strings

As Valentine’s Day draws to a close, I am happy to report that Dr. Aardvark and I billed and cooed. But I am saddened by an authoritative report that George and Kellyanne truly hate each other’s guts.

On the bright side, they have spent $8 million to buy a 45,000 square foot mansion. So each one can have his or her space.

We Report, You Decide

we report

A friend has forwarded Eric Levitz, The Price of a Bloomberg Nomination Is Too Damn High, a well-reasoned and well-argued essay whose thesis is that nominating Bloomberg would be making a Faustian bargain. See also:

Alex Pareene, Michael Bloomberg’s Polite Authoritarianism: He never hid his callous indifference to civil liberties; too many people just didn’t care.

Charles M. Blow, The Notorious Michael R. Bloomberg: His racist stop-and-frisk policy as New York mayor can’t be forgotten.

Charles Warzel, Mike Bloomberg Is Hacking Your Attention: Shamelessness and conflict equal attention. Attention equals power.

A Few Preliminaries

As you all know, here at, we are nothing if not FAIR and BALANCED. Our constant motto is WE REPORT, YOU DECIDE. Hence, our willingness, yea eagerness, to cite articles with which we disagree, either in whole or in part.

When I vote in the primary next month, I will choose among the four plausible candidates for nomination, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Sanders, but I don’t know which will earn my vote, and I don’t know about Dr. Aardvark, either, though I think she’s leaning toward Amy.

Donald Trump wishes to overthrow the constitutional republic. If he is reelected, the American experiment that began in 1776 may come to a screeching halt in November, 2020. Certainly, he will do his damndest to achieve that end.

By contrast, Messrs. Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Sanders, along with Ms. Klobuchar, do not aspire to overthrow the constitutional republic. Accordingly, I will choose which among them I think is most likely to beat Donald Trump. And I will apply that criterion rigidly, even if I also think that more than one of them would be likely to beat The Donald.

If you have a different criterion for casting your primary vote, then I am sure you are a nice person, but I don’t agree with you.

Finally, I would say that, to apply my criterion in a fully informed way, I need to fully wrap my mind around the best case that can be made against  each candidate—and especially Bloomberg, who is both unconventional and problematic.

The Stop-and-Frisk/Racism/Civil Liberties Issue

In my judgment, this is the most serious gripe about Bloomberg, and it would probably be disqualifying, except for the fact that Trump wants to overthrow the constitutional republic and Bloomberg does not.

Moreover, Trump is in an extraordinarily poor position to take advantage of this concern. (a) It implies that you should vote on the issue, “Who is the bigger racist?” And, if anyone does want to vote on that single concern, Trump will gain the accolade of The Biggest Racist. (b) A lot of Trump supporters will like the stop-and-frisk policy. If Trump talks a lot about it, that would only make Bloomberg a more acceptable option in the eyes of many of his racist supporters.

So the question becomes: Does Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk record drive down voter enthusiasm on our side, especially among black voters. If the answer looks like it’s going to be yes, then I will be voting for a nominee other than Bloomberg.

And, by the way, I will be looking for information and data about what actual black people think. I’ll bet that lots of pundits don’t know any actual black people.

On this issue, we really need to let our African-American brethren and sistern drive the bus.

The Misogyny Issue

The first source cited above reports a claim that, when one of his employees showed up with an engagement ring, Bloomberg is said to have asked her, “What, is the guy dumb and blind?”

I once had exactly the same thought when a secretary walked in one morning, ecstatic about last evening’s marriage proposal from a New York City fireman. The difference between Bloomberg and me is that I only shared the thought with some of my colleagues. To the young lady, I offered my warmest congratulations and best wishes.

No, he shouldn’t ought to have said what he said, especially to the person he allegedly said it to. (And, of course, there are plenty of other alleged incidents along the same lines.)

But, on the other hand, he does not aspire to overturn the constitutional republic.

The Richie Rich Issue

Ceteris paribus, it might not be such a wonderful idea to vote for the twelfth richest person in the world. But folks, we are in desperate straits, and right now ceteris ain’t bloody well paribus.

The Campaign Spending Issue, or, Why Did Mike Bloomberg Go to the Mountain?

Mike Bloomberg went to the mountain for the same reason Mohammad went to the mountain: because the mountain would not come to him.

Here, the metaphorical mountain of which I speak is Facebook.

We live at a time when vast swaths of our fellow citizens have elected not to get their political information from reliable sources, but instead from unreliable social media. It is a ridiculous situation, and the tendency to rend our garments and cry to heaven over the futility of getting them to mend their ways is very strong. Alternatively, you can find a multi-billionaire willing to spend a million dollars of his own money every day on Facebook advertisements.






Judge Frank Easterbrook Would Like You to Know that Bill Barr in Bizarre


In the circles in which I used to move, the name of Frank Easterbook, a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, is a name to conjure with. A very big noise indeed, especially in conservative legal circles. One of the biggest of the very big noises.

Judge Easterbrook has just reamed out Bill Barr—who most assuredly needs a good reaming, and who has been begging for it. See Politico, A Conservative Judge Draws a Line in the Sand With the Trump Administration: Outraged the attorney general had ignored a court order, he authors a blistering opinion rebuking William Barr for overstepping his constitutional authority.

Or read the opinion yourself. You might check out the language I have emphasized, beginning at page 3 of the 7 page opinion.

Mrs. Warren’s Depression

Mrs Warren's Depression

In Elizabeth Warren Rejected ‘You Win, I Lose’ Politics. Then She Lost in New Hampshire, two New York Times writers suck their thumbs at some considerable length, seeking an explanation about why Pocahontas did not do better.

Was she too nice? Should she have been more assertive in the debates, particularly the last one? Was she too unwilling to jab at her competitors?

I really think it’s a lot simpler. Now, I have to say, I like her just fine, and I appreciate her willingness to make detailed policy proposals.

But I think her manner just put a lot of people off, most especially the working class.

If she’s so concerned about the cause and about the party, she needs to get out now.