Vox Populi Nevadae


99 peercent

Politico, Sanders eviscerates the conventional wisdom about why he can’t win: In Nevada, he exposed his main rivals as weak, divided, and grasping at increasingly tenuous arguments about their viability:

Nevada exposed his four main rivals as weak, divided, and grasping at increasingly tenuous arguments about how they can still win. …

The race is Sanders’ to lose. He’s the best funded non-billionaire candidate. He has the best organization. He is winning the broadest coalition.

A Time to Gather Stones Together

The Uniters and the Dividers

Five of the six Democratic candidates favor a rhetorical/political strategy of “national unity.” One of the six pursues a rhetorical/political strategy of “Us good. Them bad.”

The Diver has the support of about 35-40 percent of Democratic voters, while the Uniters have the collective support of about 60-65 percent of primary voters. However, most of the Uniters are “dangerously close to going broke.” Likewise, it’s reliably reported that Democratic megadoners are standing aside as the Divider increases his popularity.

Let Me Be Clear

“Divisiveness” as such is not inherently inferior—or, for that matter, inherently superior—to “inclusiveness.”

Nor is the majority view necessarily to be preferred to the minority view, just because it’s the majority view. Majorities are often wrong.

It depends on what the issues are, and on what the times demand.

As Ecclesiastes happened to remark, there is a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together.

The Central Question and the Central Issue

The Central Issue is whether Democrats ought, or ought not, to counter Trump’s version of divisive hatred with an equal and opposite divisive hatred: less wealthy people encouraged to hate the affluent, and especially the very rich.

Us good. Them bad.

The central question is how Democrats should address a toxic coalition of their enemies, a coalition made up of the pathologically racist and the cynically affluent.

An Illustration and Example of the Central Question

Here is Proposition A: “It is immoral for society to allow anyone to have $60 billion in net worth.” And here is Proposition B: “John Smith has a net worth of $60 billion, therefore John Smith is an immoral person.”[1]

What I heard on the stage Wednesday was the Divider asserting Proposition A and pretty clearly implying Proposition B. Which does not, in fact, follow logically from Proposition A.

Resolving the Central Issue

As I said, the central issue is how to defeat Trump’s toxic coalition.

A problem with the Divisiveness rhetorical/political strategy is that it tends to push the cynically affluent back into the arms of the toxic Trump coalition. What some of the affluent will hear is, “We don’t want your money, we don’t want your support, and we don’t want your votes.” This tends to encourage the well off to overlook little matters like the treasonous destruction of United States intelligence, or the breakdown in the rule of law, or the overthrow of the constitutional republic.

Now the Dividers may retort: “Well, there is that. But, at the same time, our Us-Good-Them-Bad rhetoric can go at the toxic coalition from the other direction, breaking off some of the working class white Trump voters.

A Wonderful Ideal if it Works

Getting lots of working class Trump voters to start voting the economic interests for a change would be terrific, if it were possible.

After all this time, color me skeptical.

And, so, it seems to me that this is the season to gather stones together, not to cast them away.

[1] “Oh, but” you say, “John Smith is not only very rich, he also has committed misogynistic deeds, uttered misogynistic words, and pursued racist policies, and he’s a very bad man.” “That’s as may be,” I respond, “but the bad acts and words you describe do not arise from the fact that he has a lot of money. There are plenty of allegedly racist and misogynistic folks around who have very little money.”

Aardvark’s ONE BIG THING, or, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

curious incident

Axios has One Big Thing, so why can’t I? No reason at all. So here it is.

What I Was Listening For

I was listening for Biden/Buttigieg/Klobuchar/Sanders/Warren to turn toward Bloomberg, put his or her finger in his face, and say the following, in words or substance, in a very manful (or womanful, as the case may be) tone of voice:

“Now, Mike, so far in this campaign you have spent tens of millions of dollars in advertising, trying to get the American people to believe [Proposition A] and [Proposition B] [about your record, your experience, your policies, i.e., about something of actual relevance to the campaign].

“And, Mike, you know what, [Proposition A] is a bald-faced lie and the truth is not in it. [Insert one-sentence elaboration on the falsity of Proposition A].

“And what about [Proposition B]? Well, Mike, [Proposition B] is the truth in the narrow and literal sense. But you are so selective and parsimonious with the facts that [Proposition B] is grossly misleading.

“Mike, you should be ashamed of yourself. You are trying to buy the election by bombarding us with false and misleading propaganda. You are monopolizing the free marketplace of ideas by shouting down the truth [about your record, your experience, your policies, or other stuff of actual relevance to the election].”

And Did I Hear What I was Listening For?

No, ladies and gentlemen, I did not hear what I was listening for.

That particular hound dog did not bark last night.

What Did I Hear Instead?

I heard that, when running against a criminal who wants to overthrow the republic, put his enemies in jail, and let the world burn to a crisp, it’s very important to play strictly by the Marquis of Queensberry rules.

Heaven forfend that a very rich person should bombard us with truthful advertising.

It’s just not the done thing, don’t you know?



What Bloomberg Should Have Said About the Non-Disclosure Agreements


This morning, a zillion pundits are telling us how badly Bloomberg performed last night. They are right, of course.

Folks who know about high stakes business litigation have seen this movie before. Marvin Moneybags hires several people, at a combined cost of several thousand dollars an hour, to help him prepare for his testimony. They give good advice.

Marvin Moneybags does not take their advice because he is Marvin Moneybags, and he has some serious blind spots. Because of Marvin’s blind spots, some things that make perfect sense to Marvin Moneybags don’t make any sense to anyone else.

I have seen this movie. In fact, I have been in this movie. Marvin Moneybags testifies, ignoring the expensive advice he received, and he makes himself look like a jerk.

Such was Bloomberg’s contention that the women who signed the non-disclosure agreements wanted them to continue, and he would respect their wishes. He said that several times. It sounded worse and worse, every time he said it.

What He Should Have Said

Some talking heads this morning said he had no good answer, so he should have “pivoted” to some other women-related issue.

I think that is wrong. What he should have said, I think, is this:

“Back in the 1990’s I said some things I should not have said. Some people sued me. I settled the cases by paying money in exchange for their dropping the lawsuits and signing non-disclosure agreements.

“And will I now waive my legal rights under these NDSs? No, I will not do that, and let me tell you why I won’t do it. Because, if I did that, then we would spend the next weeks and months debating about exactly what I said to some folks back in the 1990s—instead of focusing on how to defeat a criminal who wants to overthrow the republic, put his enemies in jail, and let the world burn to a crisp.

“Can we just have a little perspective here, please?”

One More Pre-Game Read


Most of the anti-Mike pieces I see are from the left. Here’s one from a former Jeb Bush employee: Tim Miller, The Skeptic’s Case Against Bloomberg: Just a few questions before we anoint Mayor Mike as the moderate savior. Hilarious. Informed. Trenchant. I’m not going to reproduce the high points. There are too many of them. Just read it for yourself.

On the stage we will see one Bernie, one Bernie Lite, and four Not Bernies. If the people who like any of the three Not Bernies will just get behind one candidate, that candidate will win the Democratic nomination. If not, then Bernie will win the nomination, and the alea will bloody well have been iacta.

But before that happens, Mike has one chance, tonight, to show that he’s an actual human being, not the robot he has been made out to be. Sort of like those windows that pop up in your browser, asking you to prove you’re not a robot by picking out which of the nine fuzzy, fuzzy pictures show a bus or a part of a bus.

And so, tonight, may the race be to the swift.

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.