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People Chanting ‘Death to America’ Were Very Friendly to Me

A stray comment from a CNN reporter is emerging as a possible window into the mindset of the Iranian people amid growing anti-government protests.

CNN’s Erin Burnett was talking with Republican Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio about recent developments in Iran when she said there was a dissonance in Iran between public actions and private comments.

Turner had noted that the chant “death to America” is even used in Iran’s parliament, according to The Daily Wire, when Burnett replied.

“I will say, I was in Tehran when they were chanting ‘death to America’ once. I was at a rally, the people couldn’t have been more friendly to me personally as an American. It sort of felt like a thing and a trope as opposed to anything that was actually seriously meant and considered. I understand your point, but my experience was different,” she said.

TRENDING: During Obama Years, Biden Reportedly Helped Soleimani, Iran Gain More Power in Middle East

Turner agreed that the leadership and people in Iran could be on different wavelengths. But the deadly intentions of the Iranian government toward the United States have made themselves obvious over the 40 years since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 — something the 43-year-old Burnett should be aware of, he said.

“Erin, your entire life, Iran — pretty much your entire life, just by a few years, has chanted death to America and they have taken actions against Americans and American interests and in ways that are lethal killings of Americans, given weaponry to people who do kill Americans,” Turner said.

“So, it’s not just a slogan. This obviously is something that Iran has systematically continued to do …

“These are real threats from the leadership of Iran, even though and I’m glad you had a safe and warm response, the people on the street may be different than those who are controlling their military,” Turner said.

See more of the interview here. The “death to America” exchange starts about the 30-second mark:

Some questioned Burnett’s comments, coming as they did from CNN, which has been stoutly opposed to President Donald Trump and his policies.

RELATED: Iranian Protesters Are Chanting the Regime Is Their Enemy, Not US: Iranian Journalist

Plumbing the depths of anti-government attitudes in Iran became a major concern after protests that broke out Saturday in Tehran following Iran’s admission that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people aboard. Initially, Iran’s government had claimed the plane suffered technical problems.

As reported by the Voice of America, Iranian students called for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to step down and also criticized Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose recent funeral filled the streets of Tehran.

“Soleimani is a murderer, his leader a traitor,” the protesters chanted.

Protesters refused to step on U.S. and Israeli flags painted on the street and called out, “Our enemy is right here, they lie saying it’s America.”

Iran deployed riot police and tear gas to disperse the protesters, according to The Guardian.

President Donald Trump tweeted a reminder to Iran that the nation is being judged as the world watches how its leaders respond to the protests.

“To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!” Trump wrote.

One commentator said Iran could be at a crossroads.

Are the Iranian people prisoners of their leaders?

“This is an unprecedented moment in the history of the Islamic Republic,” Milad Odabaei of McGill University said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Traditionally it uses external threats to create national unity and push away dissent.

“Now, [Iran] has to play a tightrope, and is unable to gain the trust of the public and gather legitimacy. Its ability to draw on international hostility to create a national front is radically limited,” he said.

Iran had just been recovering from a wave of anti-government protests in November. The U.S.-based Center for Human Rights in Iran estimated that in November protests, at least 304 people were killed, with up to 7,000 people arrested.

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Thank goodness Michael Bloomberg is running for president — America’s just crying out for a self-interested billionaire

Yesterday, it was announced that Michael R. Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and former Republican-turned-Independent-turned Democrat, would be filing for a run for president of the United States. Bloomberg has toyed with a presidential bid in the past, but decided not to pursue such a run at the time. According to his camp, he has officially changed his mind.

For everyone leaping for joy at the prospect of the former mayor entering the ring, I’d like to offer a few words of caution. Michael Bloomberg was a three-time mayor of New York City. In October of 2008, as his second term was ending — New York City had, at the time, a city limit of two terms — he sought to extend the mayoral term, arguing that he was best suited to address the massive financial crisis that faced the city.

“Handling this financial crisis while strengthening essential services,” he said, “is a challenge I want to take on.”

The board approved the measure, and Bloomberg was re-elected.

Some may argue that Bloomberg, a billionaire who is reportedly the ninth wealthiest person in the world (he is worth $51.5 billion, as compared to Donald Trump, who is worth only $3 billion) was, indeed, the best-equipped person to address the financial problems of the late 2000s. But even if that is true, his late entrance into the presidential race, his political tactics, and the commentary coming from his camp all indicate that this run, like his final mayoral run, is about fulfilling his ego, and not about fulfilling a promise to Americans.

Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Bloomberg, indicated in The New York Times that the former mayor “has grown uneasy about the existing trajectory of the Democratic primary.” This concern sounds hauntingly similar to the argument made to reconfigure New York City’s political landscape. The Democrats have a problem, Bloomberg is alleging. And only he can fix it. 

Michael Bloomberg says Brexit is the most stupid thing a country has done except Trump

Except that Bloomberg is not the only person who can fix America’s problems. As a candidate, he, too, is flawed. At 77 years.old, he would be one of the three oldest candidates. Like Bernie Sanders — and, to be fair, like Elizabeth Warren — Michael Bloomberg is not a lifelong Democrat. In the past decade, he has changed his party affiliation twice. His sheer wealth indicates that he is no more in touch with the everyday American than the current president, even if the policies he endorses are emphatically less upsetting than the policies endorsed by Donald Trump.

Michael Bloomberg does have some redeeming qualities as a candidate, of course. For one, his deep pockets mean that he will likely not need to rely on fundraising as a tactic, nor will he face the inherent challenge of going up against an incumbent who has deep coffers. As a former Republican, he is a moderate candidate, and his views may appeal to swing-state voters who have lost faith in the president. He’s also Jewish, and his election— like Bernie Sanders’ election — would be a watershed moment for American Jews, who have never been represented in the presidency.

Because of his wealth, and probably for other reasons, Bloomberg has already gotten underneath Donald Trump’s skin. “There’s nobody I’d rather run against than little Michael,” the president said on Friday in the Rose Garden, referring to the former mayor’s stature. In the past, Trump has been most prone to attack when it comes to candidates whom he believes to threaten his position. The fact that the president has already come out with guns blazing, even before an official disclosure from Bloomberg himself, speaks volumes about the perception of the race.

But in 2020, many Americans are looking for an impassioned candidate, for someone who is in this for the good of the country and not for the good of himself. The past decade has not made Bloomberg any less of an egoist. And his entrance into an already-full field is just more proof that Michael Bloomberg is interested in what benefits Michael Bloomberg. Does that self-interest translate to a great presidency? If the past three years have taught us anything at all, it is that a self-interested president is no asset to the American people.

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Michael Bloomberg reveals plans for ‘ambitious’ gun control reform

Michael Bloomberg proposed a sweeping array of federal gun control measures on Thursday, calling for a national gun licencing system and stricter background checks, hundreds of millions of dollars in new enforcement spending and the passage of a federal red flag law that would allow courts to temporarily confiscate firearms from people deemed dangerous.

Mr Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City and the most recent entrant in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, paired the policy announcement with a visit to Aurora, Colorado, the site of a 2012 massacre at a movie theatre that left a dozen people dead and many more injured. He appeared with state representative Tom Sullivan of Colorado, whose son was killed in the Aurora shooting. Mr Sullivan, a Democrat, was elected to the legislature in 2018, unseating the incumbent Republican.

Mr Sullivan said in an interview that he was endorsing Mr Bloomberg for president because he trusted him above all the other candidates to wage a fight for stricter gun laws. Mr Bloomberg called him the day before Thanksgiving, Mr Sullivan said, to seek a meeting and ask for his support – the first presidential candidate to do so.

“I’ve seen what he can do, and has been doing, since the day my son was murdered on his 27th birthday in the Aurora theatre massacre,” Mr Sullivan said on Thursday. “There’s no one else I’m confident would be in the White House and stand up to the gun lobby.”

By putting an ambitious gun violence plan at the centre of his emerging candidacy, Mr Bloomberg is seeking to leverage his long record on the issue to set himself apart in the Democratic race. He has made gun control a personal cause since his days as mayor of New York, spending tens of millions of dollars from his personal fortune supporting stricter gun laws at the federal level and in a number of states, including Colorado. And it is a policy area where Mr Bloomberg, an ideological moderate who became a Democrat only in 2018, is closely aligned with the party’s liberal base, and where his prolific personal spending has bonded him closely with important activist groups.

But if Mr Bloomberg has strong credentials as a gun control advocate, it remains to be seen whether Democratic voters will give him more credit than other candidates for outlining a detailed agenda on the subject. Although there are gradations in their views and priorities, all of the major Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed a common set of policies on gun control, including imposing comprehensive background checks and reviving the federal ban on assault-style weapons. All but one of the leading candidates have endorsed a form of federal gun licensing, with former vice president Joe Biden as a notable exception.

The plan Mr Bloomberg unveiled on Thursday represents, in some respects, a shift leftward even for him. Where his advisers have in the past expressed some scepticism about the idea of a national gun licencing requirement, he is now embracing the idea.

The policy paper drafted by Mr Bloomberg’s campaign said that he would seek to require all would-be gun buyers to obtain a licence, either from the Department of Justice or from a state-level authority, before the purchase could go through. The paper also calls for the creation of a “central system” for tracking illegal guns and people who have been barred by courts or other authorities from possessing guns.

Mr Bloomberg’s endorsement of a federal licensing policy is likely to ripple widely in the world of gun control advocacy, where many groups, including those funded by Mr Bloomberg, have focused chiefly on tightening background checks. The idea of a national licencing requirement, which would be even more restrictive, gained wide traction in the presidential race after senator Cory Booker proposed one in May. At the time, John Feinblatt, a prominent gun control strategist close to Mr Bloomberg, expressed hesitation about the policy and suggested it was not “research tested.”

But versions of the policy were quickly endorsed by leading candidates such as Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. Mr Biden has not gone as far, proposing instead that states be encouraged to set up licencing systems but suggesting that it would be excessive and politically risky for the federal government to get directly involved in issuing gun licences.

The stakes for Mr Bloomberg in the gun debate may be particularly high, as he seeks to persuade Democratic voters to look past some of his more conservative positions – including his record of championing aggressive policing as mayor and his general sympathy for the banking industry – and embrace him as a key champion of a few core progressive concerns. And as other Democrats criticise the way he is using his personal fortune in the election, Mr Bloomberg has pointed to his self-funded advocacy on guns, climate and other issues as proof of his good intentions.

A number of the gun control ideas Mr Bloomberg is proposing have been debated extensively in congress, endorsed by other Democratic presidential candidates and, in some cases, enacted at the state level by Democratic-controlled governments. His policy paper identifies states that have tried out some of the ideas he is endorsing, including red flag laws, certain kinds of background checks, the elimination of gun sales loopholes and different systems for tracking firearm sales.

Colorado has been a proving ground for some of those policies: As the state has trended steadily towards Democrats, lawmakers there have passed laws tightening background checks, limiting the size of ammunition magazines and enacting red flag procedures for seizing firearms from certain people. But the implementation of certain gun restrictions remains contested, with conservative Colorado sheriffs resisting them.

Mr Sullivan, who said he had been briefed on Mr Bloomberg’s plan, described it as mainly containing “the standard issues” that gun control groups advocate for, with the notable addition of the national licencing policy. That measure, he said, was “the next heavy lift” for lawmakers like him.

“It would be tough to do, but I think we’re headed that way,” he said.

Mr Bloomberg’s agenda includes a long list of other restrictions on firearms and ammunition, including raising the minimum age for gun purchasers to 21, banning guns in schools and creating a safe-storage requirement for gun owners. He is proposing to appoint a White House gun coordinator, to declare gun violence a public health emergency and to empower the Consumer Product Safety Commission to oversee guns as it does other products.

Mr Bloomberg is also calling for at least $300m (£230m) in new federal funding for gun violence prevention, split three ways between local violence-reduction programmes, public health research and an expanded budget for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

And like other candidates, Mr Bloomberg aims to repeal a 2005 federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, that gives gun makers special protections from exposure to lawsuits.

The gun control platform is Mr Bloomberg’s second policy announcement since joining the presidential race last month, after a slimmer criminal justice agenda released earlier this week.

The New York Times

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Bloomberg defends spending to oust Trump in 2020 election: ‘You can’t get to 330 million people by shaking hands’

US presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is ready to spend much of his vast fortune to oust Donald Trump from the White House in 2020, rejecting criticism from rivals for the Democratic nomination that the billionaire is trying to buy the US election.

Ranked by Forbes as the eighth-richest American, Mr Bloomberg has flooded US airwaves and social media feeds with messages that he stands the best chance to beat Mr Trump, spending more on campaign ads since he launched his campaign in November than his main Democratic rivals have over the last year.

“Number one priority is to get rid of Donald Trump. I’m spending all my money to get rid of Trump,” Mr Bloomberg told Reuters aboard his campaign bus on Saturday, during a nearly 300-mile drive across Texas, one of the 14 states that will vote on Super Tuesday on 3 March.

“Do you want me to spend more or less? End of story.”

Elizabeth Warren, one of the leading Democratic presidential contenders who has vowed to get money out of politics, blasted Mr Bloomberg when he launched his campaign with a $37m (£28.3m) TV advertising blitz, accusing the former New York City mayor of trying to buy American democracy.

These are just political things they say, hoping they catch on and they don’t like me doing it, because it competes with them, not because it’s bad policy,” Mr Bloomberg said.

After entering the race late and missing the first six Democratic debates, Mr Bloomberg generally sits fifth in national public opinion polls behind Joe BidenBernie Sanders, Ms Warren and Pete Buttigieg.

But not just the two liberal standard-bearers of Ms Warren and Mr Sanders, all of the four are too liberal to beat Mr Trump, Bloomberg said.

“One of the reasons I’m reasonably confident I could beat Trump is I would be acceptable to the moderate Republicans you have to have,” said Mr Bloomberg, a former Republican who made his fortune selling financial information to Wall Street firms.

“Whether you like it or not, you can’t win the election unless you get moderate Republicans to cross the line. The others are much too liberal for them and they would certainly vote for Donald Trump.”

After a late entry into the race, he is skipping the first four Democratic nomination contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina all due to take place in February.

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Michael Bloomberg Is Open to Spending $1 Billion to Defeat Trump

The Democratic presidential candidate said he would spend big even if the nominee was someone he had sharp differences with, like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

By 

SAN MARCOS, Texas — Michael R. Bloomberg on Saturday did not rule out spending a billion dollars of his own money on the 2020 presidential race, even if he does not win the Democratic nomination, and said he would mobilize his well-financed political operation to help Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren win in November if either is the party nominee, despite their sharp policy differences.

Mr. Bloomberg’s plans would effectively create a shadow campaign operation for the general election, complete with hundreds of organizers in key battleground states and a robust digital operation, ready to be inherited by the party nominee — regardless of who that nominee may be.

Already, Mr. Bloomberg has spent more than $200 million on advertising, putting him on pace to spend by early March about the same as what President Barack Obama’s campaign spent on advertising over the course of the entire 2012 general election. If Mr. Bloomberg fails to win the nomination, future spending would be redirected toward attacking Mr. Trump.

“It depends whether the candidate needs help; if they’re doing very well, they need less. If they’re not, they’ll need more,” he said in an interview after a lunch stop at a barbecue restaurant during a campaign swing through Texas.

While he did not rule out dropping a billion dollars on his effort, the former mayor of New York City blanched slightly at the size of the number, before mentioning the $2.8 billion he spent on charitable contributions last year, with the bulk going to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University.

“You know how much money a billion dollars is?” said Mr. Bloomberg. “It’s a lot of money to me. It’s a lot of money to anybody.”

No firm decisions have been made about how his operation might transition to a general election, or what form it would take, but aides say hundreds of field organizers have been offered jobs through the general election. In Texas, where Mr. Bloomberg spent Saturday campaigning, he plans to open 17 offices and keep the “major ones” operational through the general election, he said. In 2018, Mr. Bloomberg spent more than $110 million to elect Democratic House members through his Super PAC, a vehicle that could be transitioned to assist with a general election effort.

His extraordinary wealth, estimated at more than $50 billion, has drawn a series of attacks from the liberal candidates in the field, who argue he is essentially trying to purchase the party nomination. Some of their aides also fear that Mr. Bloomberg could turn his massive machine against them in the primary, leveraging his spending to block them from capturing the nomination.

Mr. Bloomberg said he would mobilize his operation behind any of the Democratic candidates, even Ms. Warren, the Massachusetts senator, or Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator. Mr. Bloomberg said he did not plan on running negative ads against any Democratic candidate, even those he strongly disagreed with.

“I really don’t agree with them,” he said, of Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, “but I’d still support them, yes, because compared to Donald Trump that’s easy.”

While most of the candidates are spending the bulk of their time in the first four primary states, Mr. Bloomberg is orienting his operation toward the Super Tuesday primaries in states like Texas on March 3, when about 40 percent of all the delegates are at stake.

With recent polling showing four candidates — Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. — all in a position to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, Mr. Bloomberg could play an influential role in the primary process, once the race moves past the early contests. His aides have indicated that Mr. Bloomberg is not inclined to keep pouring money into an extended contest with Mr. Biden and would instead reorient his campaign into an organization dedicated to battering Mr. Trump, should the former vice president emerge as the leader in the race.

His spending, entirely self-funded, has meant that though Mr. Bloomberg meets the polling requirement for the party debates, he does not meet the donor qualifications for participating.

As he campaigned across Texas, Mr. Bloomberg cast that decision as a campaign strength, illustrating his independence from financial interests.

Yet he also criticized the party’s process, echoing concerns leveled by other candidates who say the rules set by the Democratic National Committee are excluding qualified contenders. Mr. Bloomberg will not appear on the debate stage on Tuesday, when the candidates meet in Des Moines for their final face-off before the Iowa caucuses.

“I think Cory Booker’s got a good complaint. If I wanted to complain, I could make a good case that it wasn’t fair,” he said. “In the meantime, while they’re debating, I’m out visiting a whole lot of people. I’m not wasting the time.”

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Tom Steyer surprises in the polls

1. Steyer surprises

Two sitting senators, a congresswoman and a former governor didn’t qualify for the next Democratic debate — but after spending more than $116 million on TV ads, billionaire businessman Tom Steyer did.

“Every presidential election seems to feature a surprise, and Tom Steyer is making the case that it’s going to be him in 2020,” said Associated Press Washington bureau chief Julie Pace.

“He’s really surprised a lot of people with his showing in the polls last week in Nevada and South Carolina,” Pace said, thanks in large part to all that money. “In some of the states where he’s on the air, he’s basically the only candidate who’s spending on advertising. And he can keep spending more, he’s worth $1.6 billion.”
One problem: the other billionaire in the race.

“Michael Bloomberg is worth 40 times as much as Steyer, and has already vastly outspent him in advertising,” Pace said.

2. Second choice matters

With just three weeks left until the Iowa caucuses, the battle is on to be the second choice of every voter who doesn’t pick you first.

That’s because according to the Iowa rules, the second round of voting only includes candidates who hit a 15% threshold in the first round. If you support someone who doesn’t meet that mark, you pick someone else.

“Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, even Michael Bennet and John Delaney and others who are asterisks in the polls are suddenly incredibly important,” CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny said. That’s because the frontrunners want to identify their voters ahead of time and win them over for Round 2.

“On caucus night, the precinct leaders and captains can pull them over to their side, and so it’s all about organization. The Warren campaign has been building organizations since the beginning, much sooner than the others,” Zeleny said. “Getting the second choice is so key to winning.”

3. Europe & Iran

The US and Iran seem to have backed off the brink of war, at least for now. But one big question now is how aggressively the Islamic Republic will move to restart its nuclear program now that its deal with the West is effectively dead.

“The Europeans are now in the middle and watching everything,” Washington Post congressional correspondent Karoun Demirjian said. “They may be the decision-makers and power-brokers that we don’t usually give them credit for. Europe is going to be critical as the focus moves not just to what the next steps are on proliferation, but also the arms embargo that’s supposed to be expiring later this year. The United States is not the only decision-maker.”

4. China trade deal & 2020

Top Chinese officials will be in Washington this week to sign “phase one” of a trade deal with President Donald Trump. It doesn’t end the trade war, but it may serve effectively as a truce.

“The deal is going to include tariff relief, which is critical, as well as an increase of the Chinese purchases of US agricultural products, as well as some changes to rules on technology and intellectual property,” Wall Street Journal White House correspondent Vivian Salama said.

“This is really critical going into the 2020 campaign, because a lot of farmers in states that are critical for the President’s reelection were hit hard by the tariffs, and so they’re going to be looking for some relief.”

In another sign of reduced tensions, Washington and Beijing agreed to hold new bi-annual meetings to talk about trade and economic reforms, Salama said.

5. Trump 2016 vs. Trump 2020

And from CNN Chief National Correspondent John King:

Incumbent presidents have an advantage: the “Rose Garden strategy.” They can use their powers to shape policy debates in a way they believe helps them on the reelection campaign trail.

Just Friday we saw three glimpses of this from the Trump administration. And they offered clear evidence of where the President’s 2020 strategy will hew closely to his 2016 approach, and where it will be different.

Two of the examples relate to immigration, which clearly will again be a major campaign theme. Remember the 2016 firestorm over the so-called Muslim ban? The Associated Press reported Friday it had obtained administration documents detailing a significant planned expansion of the travel ban.
That same day, the acting chief of the Department of Homeland Security traveled to Arizona to highlight border wall construction, insisting the administration had reached the 100-mile mark in terms of building the border wall across new locations, even though the site of his news conference was one of the places newly constructed wall is replacing older border barriers. The President is pushing for more construction progress, and you can be certain his election-year travels will include a border wall visit.

The big shift made clear Friday? Health care.

Remember in 2016, then-candidate Trump promised to quickly repeal Obamacare. His efforts floundered in Congress as Republicans could not get legislation to final passage even when they had majorities in both the House and Senate the first two years of the Trump administration.

But there is another opportunity now: a federal challenge to Obamacare initiated by Republican governors and attorneys general and supported in legal filings by the Trump administration.

Democratic groups are asking the Supreme Court to fast track consideration of the Obamacare challenge, hoping the nation’s highest court decides whether to uphold or invalidate the Affordable Care Act before Election Day.

But Trump’s Justice Department asked the high court in a filing Friday to take a go-slow approach, arguing there was no emergency and the issue could be dealt with in the next term in 2021.

So why would the President want to stall a chance to get a ruling that could allow him to claim he is keeping a major 2016 promise?

Look no further than the 2018 election results.

Protecting Obamacare was the lead Democratic issue in a midterm campaign strategy that resulted in giant gains, including the House sweep that created the new Democratic House majority.

The administration says it still supports the Obamacare challenge. But asking the Supreme Court to wait until next year to consider the case is clear proof Team Trump does not want to risk winning this year, and disrupting health care for millions of Americans just before they decide whether the President deserves four more years.

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Billionaire Tom Steyer defends place in Iowa Democratic debate

Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge funder, has claimed picking a nominee to face Donald Trump in November is “more about judgment than experience”.

Related: Impeachment: Trump fumes as Pelosi prepares to send articles to the Senate

Steyer this week became the sixth qualifier for the seventh Democratic presidential debate, in Des Moines on Tuesday, after he met polling and donor-based marks set by the Democratic National Committee.

He is way down the field in Iowa, the first state to vote, but polls in South Carolina and Nevada, where he has spent heavily on ads that depict him as an “outsider” ready to take on Trump, put him over the top.

Steyer will line up against former senator and vice-president Joe Biden; senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar; and Pete Buttigieg, formerly mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

None of the other candidates, among them New Jersey senator Cory Booker, tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and another billionaire, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, will be present.

Steyer’s success has prompted pointed remarks from analysts and other candidates. Warren said recently she did not “believe that elections ought to be for sale”. Others have pointed to an all-white debate lineup in the absence of Booker, the only African American left in the race, and what that says for a party committed to recognising diversity.

Asked what qualified him to seek the White House, Steyer told CNN’s State of the Union: “I did business for over 30 years working and traveling around the world, meeting with governments, talking to the heads of huge corporations, and understanding actually what drives America’s business around the world and our relationships with other countries, and what makes that trade and relationship succeed.”

He also said the person who “did the best job in figuring out American foreign policy and military policy” over the last two decades was “a state senator from Illinois with absolutely no military or international experience named Barack Obama, who said, against the advice of everybody who was an insider in Washington DC, that the Iraq war was a mistake”.

Amid fierce controversy over Trump’s aggression towards Iran, Steyer added: “When you tell me that what we really need is more conventional DC thinking about our international policy, our foreign policy, and our military policy, I would actually suggest to you that maybe this is more about judgment than experience.”

Steyer has a financial advantage over most other candidates. Many have criticised him, and Bloomberg, for seeking to “buy” the nomination, in order to face another billionaire at the polls.

Stayer made his fortune running Farallon Capital, out of San Francisco, but has spent the last 10 years or so giving money philanthropically and pursuing policy priorities including accessible banking and climate activism.

“I think that the thing that has put me on this stage,” he told CNN, “is message. I have a very simple message, which is, the government is broken. It’s been bought by corporations. I spent 10 years as an outsider putting together coalitions of American citizens to fight and beat those corporations.

“I’m the only person in this race who will say that his or her No 1 priority is climate. And I will attack it from the … very first day from the standpoint of environmental justice, and I can take on Mr Trump on the economy in a way that nobody else can, because I built a business from scratch, and I understand job creation and prosperity and growth, as well as economic justice.”

Related: Joe Biden is overwhelming favourite among black voters, poll finds

The Nevada caucuses are on 22 February and South Carolina holds its primary seven days later. Steyer’s concentration on the two states has had national benefits: on Saturday a Washington Poll post poll showed him second, if distantly, to Biden among black voters, a key bloc in South Carolina.

Other candidates, with less to spend, have been busy in Iowa and New Hampshire, which vote on 3 and 11 February respectively. Challenged over figures that show 91% of political advertising so far in South Carolina and 97% in Nevada has been from his campaign, Steyer insisted he had “82 organisers on the ground in South Carolina” and was “actually a grassroots person”.

“I have been there,” he said. “There’s someone who didn’t endorse me who’s a politician in South Carolina who said, ‘Steyer came down here. He rolled up his sleeves. He went out. He listened to people. He sat across the table. He worked.’

“I have been a grassroots organiser, as you know, for 10 years. And that’s exactly what I’m doing in these early primary states. I’m going. I’m listening to people. I spend all my time in the kinds of meetings that I love, which is taking questions and asking questions and listening and learning.”

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Mike Bloomberg interview: Bloomberg says “if it’s Donald Trump vs. Bernie, I would support Bernie”

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would support Senator Bernie Sanders in the general election if Sanders wins the Democratic nomination. Bloomberg, who is campaigning in Texas, said in an interview with CBS News’ Tim Perry that “the number one thing is to replace Donald Trump.”

“While I certainly would disagree with Bernie on an awful lot of things, if it’s Donald Trump vs. Bernie, I would support Bernie,” Bloomberg said.

But he deflected when asked whether Sanders’ recent surge in some polls shows momentum.

“I can’t sit around and play these games of guessing, I don’t look at the polls,” Bloomberg said. “I’ve got a job ahead of me. I’ve got to go out to as many places as I can get to, before the primaries start taking place. And before each state’s primary comes up, and explaining what I do, and why I think that I can replace Donald Trump, and why I think I can unite this country. Those are the two objectives that I have.”

Bloomberg told Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” in December that he watched all the candidates and ” I just thought to myself, “‘Donald Trump would eat ’em up.'”

Michael Bloomberg kicked off campaign bus tour in Texas

Bloomberg is not competing in the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary, but is choosing instead to focus on more delegate-rich states that will have later primaries. The Texas’ Democratic primary will be on Super Tuesday. 

As for foreign policy, Bloomberg questioned whether President Trump had sufficient information before ordering the airstrike which killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani.

“Well I don’t know, number one, whether Donald Trump actually received the information that he said he did, or whether that was spin created afterwards. I just don’t know,” Bloomberg said. He said Soleimani was “a very bad guy and killed a lot of Americans.”

“I don’t have the intelligence to know whether it was a good decision or a bad decision,” Bloomberg said. “What I do know is that Donald Trump has gotten rid of, either driven out or fired, all the people in the State Department and NEA and some other agencies, where they could give him advice. And making life and death decisions that have potentially enormous implications around the world. Without having a great staff and having the input from people with experience and who have studied all these things, is just not a smart thing to do.” 

Bloomberg also addressed the Ukrainian passenger plane shot down by Iran last week. Iranian leadership said Saturday that it was a mistake.

Judge Judy says she endorsed Bloomberg because Americans “deserves greatness”

“Whether it was a mistake or deliberate, people are dead no matter what. We just have to be careful. Weapons in this day and age are so powerful that we can do some very bad unintended things, and bad guys can use them for intended things,” Bloomberg said.

As for other recent world news — Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision to step away from their royal duties — Bloomberg said he knows that being followed by the tabloids can be “annoying.” But, on the other hand, he said “Harry is part of the royal family.”

“He’s taken advantage of being part of the royal family, that’s how he got raised, that’s how he went to school, and seems to me has some kind of obligation,” Bloomberg said. “Is it a lifelong obligation? Probably not, you have a right to change your job. But I think he does owe the British public for their support of him, and in the end, got to do what’s right for himself, for his wife and their family.”

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Gun Grabbers Who Complained About Big Money Were Funded Almost Entirely by Big Money

If you go to the website for March for Our Lives — the supposedly student-run gun control organization that popped up in the aftermath of the 2018 Parkland school shooting — you can print out a price tag that says what the life of each student is worth by state.

Come again? Perhaps I should let them explain it: “We’ve calculated the price of each student in states across the country, based on the millions of dollars politicians have accepted from the [National Rifle Association]. Scroll through the options and print out a price tag to wear and share,” the website states.

“If your state doesn’t have a price tag, that’s good news. It means that your politicians aren’t taking large sums of NRA money. Instead, use the national average price tag to show your support for reforming our gun laws. And then make a donation to help us change gun laws and beat the NRA.”

Those price tags featured prominently in the 2018 march:

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It’s not that March for Our Lives has any sort of issue with big money, however — just who’s giving and receiving it.

Do you think anti-gun activists are hypocrites?

That’s the only takeaway from a just-released tax form that shows the group took in almost all of its money from donations that were over six figures.

“The March For Our Lives Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) ‘social welfare’ organization launched in the aftermath of the deadly 2018 shootings at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is bankrolled almost entirely by large donations in excess of $100,000,” The Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday.

“The group reported $17,879,150 in contributions and grants over the course of 2018, its first year of operations. Ninety-five percent of those contributions came from 36 donations between $100,000 and $3,504,717 — a grand total of $16,922,331.”

That’s quite a price tag.

According to the tax document, $7.8 million went to the eponymous march in Washington two years ago, including $4.7 million to a D.C.-based marketing firm for production.

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Four million dollars, meanwhile, went to a summer tour to register voters and promote the organization’s mission.

There are several questions raised by the report, as the Free Beacon points out. Only 0.5 percent of the group’s revenue in 2018 — inarguably its most fecund period, given how frequently it was in the news — came from donors who gave less than $5,000. It’s clear the group is entirely reliant on big money, which is a serious problem for sustainability purposes.

It also raises questions, however, about how the group was received back in 2018.

I understand the difficulty of raising questions of how activists are funding their work when those activists are high school students who’ve been through an unspeakable tragedy. Their policy prescriptions may have been controversial but their grief was hardly unearned.

That said, treating March for Our Lives with the kind of adulating copy it got was hardly appropriate, either. Back when the march happened, media coverage pretended the organization and march had sprung, like Athena from the head of Zeus, fully formed out of the sorrow and drive of plucky teenagers.

We weren’t supposed to ask, for instance, whether what we were seeing was being astroturfed by other gun control groups. Nobody raised concerns that large celebrity donors were using teenagers as avatars for their own political views.

Both of these were absolutely factual, mind you, and probably ought to have been covered more extensively. The Michael Bloomberg-founded gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety pledged $2.5 million to March for Our Lives in the weeks leading up to the protests — a fact that was covered in the media, if at all, in the manner of a news release.

A snippet from Reuters’ report on Everytown’s involvement, for example:

“Gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety said on Friday it will donate up to $2.5 million to support marches around the United States on March 24, the date of a planned March For Our Lives in Washington to demand an end to school shootings. …

“Many student survivors of the Florida shooting have emerged as prominent advocates for greater gun control. They hope to tip the balance in a long-running national debate over how much regulation is permitted by the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled guarantees an individual right to have guns.”

What wasn’t underwritten by gun control groups was covered by celebrities and deep-pocketed liberals. According to Vanity Fair, George and Amal Clooney pledged $500,000, as did Oprah Winfrey.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and billionaire Eli Broad both pledged $1 million, Gucci pledged $500,000, the Free Beacon reported.

Meanwhile, the amount pledged by small donors? Almost zilch. Gun control apparently isn’t an issue that gets much play among the public at large, but six- and seven-figure donations abound to an organization that puts itself forward as a grassroots movement of teenagers — teenagers who are apparently very upset that politicians are taking money from the NRA.

Apparently, they can’t live up to their own standards.

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America “deserves greatness,” joins Bloomberg in Texas

The jury is in – Judy Sheindlin a.k.a. Judge Judy, has endorsed billionaire Michael Bloomberg for president. The television star is even going on the campaign trail with him to plead his case to voters. The two campaigned together in Texas Saturday.

Sheindlin, like Bloomberg, is 77 years old and a New Yorker. She references Bloomberg’s tenure as Mayor of New York City as proof of his skills – he’s “innovative,” “courageous” and “beholden to no one.” Most of all, she was searching for greatness in the Democrat primary and wasn’t finding it with the other candidates.

“I looked at the rest of the field and I said America is the greatest country in the world and it deserves greatness. And I looked at everybody else and I said, “I don’t see greatness there,” she said.

“Everybody else out there is just a lot of noise, I also think that he is the only person — you’re going to have an election in November, and you’re going to need someone who can stand toe-to-toe, who understands the incumbent, and who understands and appreciates how to manage him. I think he’s the only one who can do that,” Sheindlin said.

Not to put too fine of a point on this but doesn’t that sound like she’s describing Donald Trump? His 2016 campaign was centered around the premise that he wasn’t beholden to anyone because he was an outsider, which Bloomberg is not, and Trump’s appeal was his willingness to think outside of the box. “Innovative” is how Trump rolls. And as far as “courageous” goes, well, does anyone think Trump’s afraid to go up against anyone? Trump also campaigned on his ability to defeat Hillary Clinton because he knew her, he traveled in the same social circles and even donated to her past political campaigns. She and Bill were guests at his wedding to Melania.

On Biden’s candidacy, Judge Judy says he’s a nice guy but America needs a “great guy” by virtue of what he has accomplished. She likes the word “great”, doesn’t she? She also pointed out that this is Biden’s third run for the nomination. She acknowledged that voters seem to think Biden is the safe choice in the race.

Judy doesn’t think we need a revolution, which is good news, I suppose. America is already great, she said. Some systems just need to be tweaked.

“I don’t think we need a revolution in this country, I think it’s the greatest country on Earth. Everybody wants to come here, nobody’s asking for a permanent exit visa out of the United States of America. Everyone wants to come here. That doesn’t sound to me like a country that needs a revolution,” Sheindlin said. “That doesn’t mean that some of its systems don’t need tweaking. They need tweaking. It has to be made fairer and the ability to realize the American dream has to be made available for more people.”

So, in other words, she presents no clear reason that Bloomberg should replace Trump as president. Is she a good surrogate? Not really, but she brings star power to Bloomberg’s events. People know her name and have likely seen her on television. She can offer a little added interest to Bloomberg’s otherwise ho-hum campaign.

Texans have been bombarded by political ads on television from Mr. Bloomberg. I don’t mean once a day or even twice a day. Due to the nature of my work, our television is on from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. I can tell you that his ads come on multiple times in a 24-hour cycle – both on network television and on cable stations. The closest competition he has on-air is Tom Steyer, the other billionaire in the Democrat primary. He runs several each day, too. As we move closer to Super Tuesday, it will only get worse. These two guys have made it clear that they’ll spend whatever it takes in this race.

Bloomberg and the judge are campaigning in Texas on a bus tour this weekend. For some reason, Bloomberg sounds as though he thinks Beto O’Rourke won the Senate race against Ted Cruz. One snippet from his rallies Saturday that appeared on social media has Bloomberg saying that Beto proved that a Democrat can win in Texas by visiting all of its 254 counties. Robert Francis O’Rourke consistently mentioned that he visited all of the counties in his stump speeches, as though it was a badge of honor.

Alas, Mr. Bloomberg, no one refers to Beto as Senator O’Rourke because he didn’t win the race. Ted Cruz is still the junior senator from Texas. Currently, Joe Biden is leading in Texas polls for Democrats. No one is betting against Trump to win Texas in November. The fever dream of turning Texas back to a blue state after a couple of decades of Republican dominance will not be realized this cycle, no matter how much money Bloomberg spends here.

Bloomberg started in San Antonio and went on to Austin and Dallas. Bloomberg campaigned in Houston last month. His strategy is to focus on the Super Tuesday (March 3) states, not the early voting states.

“You can rest assured I will not spare a penny to defeat Donald Trump in Texas,” Bloomberg said in December.

Bloomberg has also announced plans to open a state campaign headquarters in Houston and 16 field offices around the state. He’s spending big in Texas, sinking more than $8 million on TV ads in the state.

“Our teams on the ground are in more states at once during primary season than any campaign in history,” said Dan Kanninen, states director for Bloomberg’s campaign. “We have organizers, volunteers, and supporters in all corners of states throughout the country.”