This Progressive Likes Mike.

Amateur hour is over.

If the chaos of the Iowa Caucuses and Trump’s vicious “victory” lap and illegal, revenge-porn firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman proved anything, it’s that it’s time for the novelty candidates and the ideologues to get out of the way. Nothing is more important than removing the sociopath from the White House. Nothing.

It’s why as a progressive Democrat with 50 years and about as many left-wing candidates under my belt as bonafides, I’m backing Mike Bloomberg and working hard for him to do well in the California Democratic Primary on March 3, with it’s motherlode of 495 Delegates, or 25% of the total needed to secure the Presidential nomination.

As a political activist who came of age in the ‘60’s in the anti-Vietnam War movement and lived on the urgency of issues and ideology in each election, in this election there is only one imperative: Beating Trump. Ideology is irrelevant in this death struggle for Democracy. Beating Trump is all that matters. Everything else is distraction.

In 1969, I was one of a nucleus of former Robert F. Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy supporters who overcame our seemingly insurmountable differences in the aftermath of the election of the noxious Richard Nixon in 1968, and formed the New Democratic Coalition. We were Reformers, and our express purpose was pushing the Democratic party to the left, on issues that ranged from expanding Medicare for all, to ending the War in Vietnam, to enacting strict gun controls in the year following the assassinations by gun violence of RFK and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some of my early colleagues in the NDC (which Mario Cuomo, who was not a member, affectionately named, “November Don’t Count” because of our ideological insistence) included Bella Abzug, Paul O’Dwyer, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Ed Koch (when he was still a liberal), and many of the leaders of the Women’s Strike for Peace, like Cora Weiss and Sarah Kovner. We worked with progressives of passion and hope, who rewrote American history like Allard Lowenstein, Senator Barbara Mikulski, US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Senator Paul Wellstone, and the first, and only, African-American Mayor in NYC’s history, David Dinkins.

We campaigned for every progressive Presidential candidate from George McGovern to Mo Udall; from Fred Harris to Teddy Kennedy, and Jesse Jackson to Barack Obama. We fought for more sweeping Voting Rights and Registration Laws, tough gun control legislation, compassionate welfare reform, more funding for public education, collective bargaining rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights and affirmative action programs. We won, and lost, many policy battles, and elections. We always got up the next day, picked ourselves up, dusted off our bruises, and started anew — never giving up nor giving in; never surrendering. We had purpose and decency on our side, and, the nobility of our causes was what propelled us.

A few years later we learned to meld our progressive ideals with pragmatism. I worked with Mario Cuomo for nearly a decade when he was Governor of New York, and we fearlessly — and successfully — took on Ronald Reagan in the battle over State & Local Tax deductions (SALT), and waged a seismic struggle to shut down the unsafe Shoreham Nuclear Power plant. With tenacity and political savvy, we won both battles against overwhelming odds and enormous political and financial power. We had learned how to mesh our progressive beliefs with Cuomo’s pragmatic, respect-for-the-law, high-integrity approach to governing and we uplifted millions of lives in the process. I saw a similar strain of progressive pragmatism in Bloomberg.

I was living in New York when Mike was first elected Mayor of NYC in the awful aftermath of the 9–11 attacks on the World Trade Center, which killed nearly 3,000 of my fellow New Yorkers, and left the rest of us with varying degrees of traumatic stress. Undaunted and upbeat, Bloomberg took control of a City still reeling from the unimaginable, with many of us unable to get past the hundreds of “missing” photos of mostly bright young people, pinned to the mournful walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital. Mayor Mike carried our suffering City on his strong shoulders for months, while Donald Trump, slinking toward insufferability, bragged that his building at 40 Wall Street was now, not only, the tallest in New York (with the World Trade Center in cinders) but also eligible for $150,000 of special federal financial assistance from a 9/11 relief fund. Trump was shameless and soulless then, too, in our nation’s darkest hour.

It was Bloomberg, who, living around the corner from me, took the subway to work instead of a limo, buoying our spirits each day, and lifting 8,000,000 New Yorkers out of the darkness of post-9/11 despair, with his indefatigable attitude that anything was still possible for a resilient City and its people. It was Bloomberg who regularly met with Black community leaders and civil rights organizations after they had been deliberately excluded from New York’s City Hall for the entire eight ugly years of intentional racial division during Rudy Giuliani’s mayoralty. And it was Bloomberg, who, while still a Republican, opposed President George W. Bush’s nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice, believing that Roberts was not committed to upholding Roe v. Wade.

The biggest knock against Mike Bloomberg by many Democratic Presidential candidates this year is that the billionaire is buying the nomination with his money. It’s an odd charge, since not one of my fellow Democrats complained when Bloomberg spent $110 million of his own money in 2018 to help elect 21 Democratic candidates, flipping the House of Representatives from red to blue and making Nancy Pelosi Speaker. No one, except the NRA, had anything negative to say when Bloomberg contributed over $200 million to highly effective gun-control and gun-safety efforts around the country.

Not one Democratic Presidential candidate has criticized Mike’s motivation to spend hundreds of millions of dollars — perhaps billions, to not only Hold the House and Flip the Senate in 2020 — but to build grassroots organizations and keep 500 paid staff members in place around the country between now and November 3, to elect ANY Democrat over Donald Trump.

I don’t hear my fellow Progressives complaining that Bloomberg is drawing from his vast expertise in technology and spending whatever it takes to build an on-line presence to wipe out the advantage that Trump, his Russian operatives, and Right Wing trolls have over us on Facebook, Twitter and all social media.

I don’t buy the lament by some of my fellow Lefties that “no one becomes a billionaire without exploiting workers.” This is not the 1890’s or the 1930’s. We aren’t talking about fortunes being made on the backs of railroad workers as the Vanderbilt’s did, or, like the Rockefellers, off the sweat of oil-field workers, at the expense of the environment. We’re not even mentioning the fake, mini-fortune made by Fred Trump and Son by shaking down middle-income renters, and playing three-card monty with taxpayer money from federal, state or City housing programs.

The high-tech fortunes of Bill Gates and Mike Bloomberg fall into an entirely different sphere, delivering far more value to society than they extract from it. I doubt if anyone would seriously argue that Gates shouldn’t contribute billions of dollars to fighting HIV/AIDS and malnutrition around the world, because his money came from some undefined “exploitation,” or that Bloomberg is wrong to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to Johns Hopkins’ School of Public Health or to fighting gun violence.

Over the past several years, I’ve donated money to moderate and progressive Presidential candidates including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as to Democratic Senate candidates in key states I believe we can win in 2020. My contributions have always reflected my ideals and fundamental beliefs in justice, equality and the Rule of Law.

Those ideals, and not ideology, are more urgent to follow in this election, than ever before. Hair-splitting purity of political belief needs to be set aside for the immediate and practical reality of preserving our Democracy. There is one unifying imperative this year: Beating Donald Trump.

The best candidate to do that is Mike Bloomberg, and if he wants to spend half of his $60 billion fortune to do that, and bring along a Democratic Senate, God bless him.

2020 Super Bowl Champion: Nancy Pelosi Has Hammered the GOP


Whether or not her beloved San Francisco 49ers’ win the 2020 Super Bowl, Nancy Pelosi has already proven herself to be the political Super Bowl Champion of the year. She won the championship this time by running such a sophisticated play against the mysogynist Mitch McConnell and the Senate GOP that they still can’t figure out what hit them, and probably won’t until they get hammered at the polls in November.

The first female Speaker of the House of Representatives in American History has, time and time again, demonstrated not only her strategic savvy and tenacity, but her intuitive genius of grabbing powerful men by their egos, and shoving it down their throats.

Pelosi has masterfully performed her magic on both the House Impeachment-for-Life of Donald Trump, and the Senate’s self-immolating vote to shut out witnesses and documents from the Senate Trial, which, as Nancy knew it would, became a nationally-televised, continuing cover-up of the crimes of the Trump Criminal Enterprise, with Mitch McConnell and his water boys of the GOP Senate showing that they were all in the loop.

Nothing else could have, on a play-by-play basis, exposed the utter corruption and complicity of McConnell and his mendacious members in the GOP as completely in cahoots with the most corrupt and lawless President in US History, than the fight over a fair trial, which, as Pelosi predicted, the rich old, White men’s Cover-Up Club running the Senate, would resist with all it’s deviousness.

Her masterstroke was withholding the Articles of Impeachment until educated the public about the need for “impartial justice” and a fair trial with witnesses and documents in the Senate. Nancy knew that by goading the gout-looking McConnell over how all Americans deserved a fair trial in the Senate, the teetering terrapin would puff up his multi-layered neck with too much air to try to scare her away, and never agree do what she was requesting. With one Phineas T. Bluster-like bellowing of “she can’t tell us how to run our house,” McConnell and the overmatched, quivering co-conspirators he led, were trapped by their own bellicosity.

Of course they whined for weeks about how Pelosi’s power play of holding up the Articles of Impeachment would ricochet back to hurt her, without realizing that their own words — especially Lamar Alexander’s — would be used to hammer them. They were strong, smug shrewd Reptiles of Raw Power, who would never waffle on witnesses or vote for a fair trial because that woman from next door told them to do it, and they could do whatever they damn well wanted.

“Harrummph,” McConnell indignantly harrumped, expanding the girth of his Galapagos-sized goiter. That uppity female would never tell them what do to — even if it meant their own extinction!

So, on the Friday before Super Bowl weekend, McConnell led his troop of Trump-terrified turtles, off of their slippery rocks where they were basking in kleiglights, down deep into the murky waters of the Senate swamp, until they disappeared from sight. They covered themselves so completely with mud, money and corruption, that no witnesses nor documents could ever find them, and they would be protected from tomorrow’s twitter tantrums of the Trump Child.

It’s why Cory Gardner of Colorado, being pounded by John Hickenlooper in early polls, caved in quickly. He knew we was going down, and was betting everything on the Impeached-for-Life-Trump winning re-election and giving him some sycophant’s job. Martha McSally of Arizona, who lost one Senate election two-years ago, was preparing to lose another, this time to the natural Democratic heir to John McCain, former Astronaut Mark Kelly. She, too, would need a new job next January, only now, the GOP Governor of Arizona couldn’t hand her a Senate seat.

In eight other states, from Maine to Texas, Iowa to North Carolina, Georgia to Montana and even McConnell’s own Kentucky and Lindsey Graham’s South Carolina, an outstanding crop of strong Democratic candidates — which includes four Veterans, an Astronaut and at least 6 women — are within striking distance of winning. Only three Senate seats need to be flipped to create a 50–50 tie, which a newly-elected Democratic Vice-President can break, sending Moscow Mitch to political Siberia.

The prescient Pelosi knew that the terrified terrapins couldn’t hide from their constituents forever, especially when some 75 % of the people who give them their air to breathe, were demanding a fair trial in the best American tradition, with first-hand witnesses called to testify to crimes committed right in front of their eyes. The slimy, mud-covered GOP Senators chose a cover-up over the call for fairness from their fellow citizens, refusing to believe that when their dark swamp gets drained in November, they’ll be naked before the world, hands cuffed together in the criminal loop they formed.

“Right Matters. Truth Matters.”



“ If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost.

Framers couldn’t protect us from ourselves, if right and truth don’t matter.

And you know that what he did was not right. That’s what they do in the old country, that Colonel Vindman’s father came from. Or the old country that my great grandfather came from, or the old countries that your ancestors came from, or maybe you came from.

But here, right is supposed to matter. It’s what’s made us the greatest nation on earth. No constitution can protect us, right doesn’t matter any more.

And you know you can’t trust this President to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to.

This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed.

Because right matters. Because right matters and the truth matters.

Otherwise, we are lost.”

I Know Why the Caged Lev Sings.




I know why the caged Lev sings.

Trapped, he’s looking for his wings.

Marked for erasure, pain or death,

Lev will talk ‘til his last breath.


I know why the caged Lev sings.

Silence only buys him slings

And arrows, bile and hate,

So, he has to Lev-itate.


I know why the caged Lev sings.

“Suicide” is not his thing.

Poison hankies, gas for nerves,

Lev would rather dodge and swerve.


I know why the caged Lev sings.

Like Valachi, he’s learned a thing.

Scream out loud, use TV,

Out-run murder, for all to see.


I know why the caged Lev sings.

Gangsters working for the King.

Pence & Rudy, Pomp and Barr,

Run from sunlight, very far.


I know why the caged Lev sings,

Louder and harder he flaps his wings.

All the fuss, all the sound,

Drive his hit-men underground.


I know why the caged Lev sings.

Celebs win the golden ring.

Free from harm, hi-falutin,

Out of reach of even Putin.


I know why the caged Lev roars:

Lev-itation lets him soar.











Wooden Spoons & Women Warriors


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — the first female Speaker in American History, and the first Italian-American female to be the most politically powerful woman in the country — continues to give fits to Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and all other aging, shallow, soulless, white men. Regardless of the issue — from Obamacare (which was pushed through by Pelosi and should bear her name), to Impeachment, to pointing her finger at the ManChild in the Cabinet Room and scolding him for having gangster friends, like the punk Putin — these pathetic old patriarchs cannot fathom the inherent power of this woman warrior.

It’s pretty simple, actually. She is a grounded Italian woman who has zero tolerance for lies, meanness and bluster. My mother was just such a woman warrior. Brilliant, but without any formal education, my mother had an innate skill to get to the heart of the matter. If you crossed her, you did so at your own peril. Paralyzed in her right arm by Polio, my mother enforced her word wielding a wooden spoon in her “good” left hand, when she wasn’t using it to cook.

My middle brother, Vincent — the most misogynistic, racist and troublesome of her four children — was frequently the target of my mother’s wrath. She used the wooden spoon on him regularly to drive home her displeasure with his anti-social actions. Each blow she landed on him with the wooden spoon would come with the uttering of a powerful word of opprobrium: “If (spoon smash)…you…(spoon smash) ever…(spoon smash) do…(spoon smash) that…(spoon smash) again…(spoon smash)…” Well, you get the picture. If my brother talked back, (like Trump’s OCD tweeting) he simply prolonged his syllabic pummeling.

Under today’s laws, my mother — a small, plump Italian woman, usually wearing a housedress — would be subject to charges of child abuse or endangerment. In the “old days” — which Trump is fond of recalling — it was merely considered spanking, something which the Rich Blonde Brat never experienced. When we were kids, we simply knew not to cross my mother — especially her powerful left arm. She used the wooden spoon so frequently on my brother Vinny that she broke more than one by beating him on the back. Nevertheless, she persisted, and went out and bought an indestructible Iron Spoon, and the first weapon of mass destruction was born.

Neither mumbling Mitch McConnell, nor the completely corrupt Captain Queeg from Queens, were ever exposed to the full wrath of an Italian woman like my mother, nor Nancy Pelosi. McConnell, a polio survivor himself, who contracted the disease as a 2-year old, was cured thanks to the generosity of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (later the March of Dimes) and the life-saving treatment he received at FDR’s Warm Springs facility in Georgia. McConnell’s fight with Polio, like her own, might have endeared him to my mother — who worshipped FDR and saved her dimes for decades toward the discovery of a Polio vaccine — if the Kentucky ingrate hadn’t dissed the March of Dimes — an unpardonable sin — when he had the power, and the means, to pay back their kindness. As for Trump, he was dead to my mother when she found out his father joined an Anti-Italian immigrant KKK rally, and that Trump’s WASPY coifed-mother used to chauffer her spoiled Little Lord Fauntleroy to private school in her rose-colored Rolls Royce. Seriously.

I have thought of my mother and her wooden spoon-justice frequently over the past month when Nancy Pelosi, herself a no-nonsense Italian grandmother, let a few people have it. First, she slammed a slithery, white male reporter who asked her if she “hated” Trump, stating that she didn’t “hate” anyone, since she was raised a Catholic, and her religion taught her not to hate. My mother’s less artful answer would have been, “ Look, you little bastard, I don’t hate the miserable son-of-a-bitch, but his mother should have used the wooden spoon on him.”

Secondly, when repeatedly pressed about when she would transmit the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, Pelosi pointedly responded, “When I’m ready.” Her flinty, feisty, don’t-mess-with-me response sounded so much like what my mother would have said: “ When I’m good and god-damned ready.”

Speaker Pelosi’s retort, while less earthy than my mother’s, had the same pulverizing effect on puffy, pasty, panting Donald, and on Phineas T. Bluster-the-Ingrate McConnell, who it was clear, had no experience with tough, Italian women wielding wooden spoons or words as swords, to teach decency.

A Contested Democratic Convention is the Ticket to Victory

(JFK as a Delegate for Adlai Stevenson, at the last contested Democratic National Convention in 1952)

If the Democrats want to win and to drive the dripping-with-dollars Trump campaign to distraction, they would be quietly pushing for the first deadlocked—or contested—Democratic National Convention since 1952.   And, it’s not such a stretch to see it happening with four leading candidates divvying up the primary delegates (Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren), and several favorite son or daughter candidates (Klobuchar and Booker) already playing a prominent role among their home state’s delegations.


Let’s look back to the 1952 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, —the last time any major party convention went past the first ballot—for some instruction, recognizing the one huge difference between the Democratic Convention rules of 68 years ago and now—which make a contested convention more likely today.  In 2018, Democrats, for the first time in modern history, passed a rule change preventing 766 so-called “super-delegates,”—DNC Members, Members of Congress, Senators and Governors, and “distinguished party members like ex-Presidents or Vice-Presidents– from casting their votes on the first ballot.  This change alone might guarantee that no candidate will have enough delegates to win the Democratic Nomination on the first ballot, as happened in 1952, the first year national political conventions were televised.


Despite having Harry Truman as an incumbent President, Democrats entered the 1952 election cycle deeply divided.  Truman, bogged down during the third year of the Korean War and being mauled on television each day by Wisconsin’s Right Wing Senator Joseph McCarthy during the “Red Scare,” was supported by only 36% of Democrats nationwide, according to a Gallop Poll.  In the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire Democratic Primary in February, 1952, Truman was toppled by Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, who was then conducting televised Senate investigations into organized crime, and surfing a wave of public support.


Just as Lyndon B. Johnson would do 16 years later, Truman interpreted his weak New Hampshire primary showing as a message to not seek re-election.  With Truman out, Kefauver became the front-runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination, locked in a tough competition with Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, a staunch segregationist, and the liberal Averell Harriman of New York, who served as President Truman’s Secretary of Commerce, and later became Governor of New York.  No one arrived at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that year with anywhere near the 616 delegates needed to win the nomination.


The Convention opened with a welcoming speech by the Governor of Illinois, Adlai E. Stevenson II, whose grandfather by the same name served as Vice President under President Grover Cleveland.   Young Adlai’s speech was so well received, it began a boomlet for him to seek the nomination—something he had steadfastly resisted until that moment.  Truman, who fought hard to integrate the Armed Services forcing segregationists into their own Dixiecrat Party in 1948, was adamantly opposed to having a Southern segregationist as the Party’s standard bearer.  President Truman threw his backing behind Stevenson, persuading Averell Harriman to pledge his 121 delegates to the Illinois Governor after the second ballot.  With strong support from Harriman and Truman, Stevenson stormed past the two Southern Senators on the Convention’s third ballot, tallying 617 votes to the combined total of 540 for Kefauver and Russell.


In 2020, with a half-dozen or so Democrats seriously competing for the party’s Presidential nomination, the likelihood of a deadlocked convention is the greatest it’s been in 68 years.   Support from 1,990 elected delegates is needed to win the nomination, and with both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary just one month away, none of the present candidates appears positioned to win a majority of votes on the first ballot.   Granted, the delegate votes of all of the February, 2020 contests—including Nevada and South Carolina—represent only 4% of the total number of delegates needed to win the nomination.   Yet, even if one candidate swept all four of the February primaries, they’d still have to dominate delegate elections on Super Tuesday, March 3, and during the remainder of March and April, when a whopping 83% of the delegates to the Democratic Convention will be chosen.


As of today, that does not appear likely to happen, with four major candidates—Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders, and Warren — carving up the votes into four roughly equal slices in a consensus of national polls, and early state-by-state polling.  California, which holds the motherlode of 495 delegates—or 25% of those needed to secure the nomination– serves as a perfect illustration of why we might be headed for a deadlocked convention.  Now that the State’s own Senator Kamala Harris has withdrawn from the race—even though she already had some two dozen California “Super” or “Automatic” delegates committed to her—at best, that could give each of the other four candidates 100-125 delegates from California, since there’s a 15% threshold requirement to claim delegates in Congressional districts, and proportional voting is the rule.   And, that doesn’t account for a further splitting of California’s delegates if Cory Booker or Amy Klobuchar does well in the earlier primaries.


On the same Super Tuesday California Democrats vote, so do Democratic voters in delegate rich states like Colorado (80 delegates), Texas (262), Minnesota (92), Virginia (124), North Carolina (122) and Massachusetts (114).   If Minnesotans and Massachusetts voters give strong support to their favorite daughters, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, and Coloradans back their own Senator Michael Bennet, the drive to a deadlocked convention will only deepen.  Since there are a total of 3,769 Democratic delegates up for grabs for a first ballot nomination—not counting the 766 “Super” or “Automatic” delegates who cannot vote on the first ballot— the Democrats could have four top candidates with 800 to 1,000 delegates each, and a smattering of lesser candidates dividing up the rest.    With some 1,990 delegates needed for a first ballot victory, it’s entirely possible that no single candidate will have enough to win.   Rather than whining about this prospect, Democrats should welcome it.  A fresh, new Democratic nominee would have the distinct advantage of not having been attacked by Trump and his Twitter Trolls for the past year.


A second ballot, would not only free-up committed delegates to vote for anyone of their choice—including potentially new candidates like Admiral William McRaven, Stacey Abrams, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, former Attorney-General Eric Holder, or Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth (a woman of color and a disabled Veteran, who coined the knock-out nickname “Cadet Bone Spurs” for Trump)—it would also free the 766 “Super” or “Automatic” delegates—the elected and party officials—to vote for anyone they choose.  Conceivably, it could take a second, third or even fourth ballot for one candidate to aggregate enough support to win the nomination, the way Adlai Stevenson did after three ballots in 1952.


It didn’t work out so well for Stevenson and the Democrats in the general election 68 years ago because they had the distinct disadvantages of following five-consecutive Democratic Administrations, and running against Dwight D. Eisenhower, an immensely popular bi-partisan war-hero, with a spotless record.   This time around, however, the circumstances are far different.  Singularly focused on beating Trump, Democrats could, after several ballots, nominate by acclamation, a war hero of their own like Admiral McRaven, or Senator Duckworth, who would stand as stark, patriotic and incorruptible contrast to Trump or any GOP candidate. The choice of an Eisenhower-like McRaven, who commanded the Navy Seals which Trump has disgraced by pardoning one who committed war crimes—forcing the Secretary of the Navy to resign in protest–would unify the party and the nation. The Admiral who led the mission to bring down Osama Bin Laden could further electrify party activists by picking a rising star for his running mate, like Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, Rep. Val Demings of Florida, or Senators Duckworth, Harris or Booker—all candidates of color who would drive Democratic voters to the polls in droves.   A McRaven-led Democratic ticket could win both the popular and electoral votes in a landslide, which is precisely what we need to do, to flip the Senate and hold onto the Nancy Pelosi-led House.


Only a deadlocked convention can produce such an unanticipated result, catch the GOP flat-footed, and send mainstream and social media, and the Trump campaign, into a frenzy during the final four months of the campaign, making everyone forget the droning Democratic debates of 2019.   All it needs to work is for a highly diverse group of 4,500 Democratic delegates from across the nation to reach a consensus, because they believe the future of our Democracy and the rule of law are at stake.