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Maybe Nominating Bloomberg for President Isn’t a Crazy Idea

Not long ago, my teenaged kids and one of their friends asked me what I thought about Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. The question momentarily took me aback, since even though I spend hours a day following campaign coverage, so little of that coverage is devoted to Bloomberg, who has barely campaigned yet, I almost forgot he declared his candidacy a couple months ago. But ads for Bloomberg’s campaign — unlike ads for nearly all the other candidates I do read about — have found their way onto whatever screens my kids look at. That is not surprising, since Bloomberg is spending far more than all the other Democratic candidates combined. He is creeping up in the national polls, having crossed the 5 percent mark.

I am not endorsing Bloomberg for president. In point of fact, I’ve changed my mind on who I plan to vote for several times and may change it again. But the notion that once struck me as totally ridiculous, and is still not taken seriously by many political journalists or party officials, may not be crazy. Against Bloomberg’s liabilities — and there are many, which I will discuss below — his candidacy would bring some enormous advantages.

1. Money. Back to School is a 1987 comedy in which Rodney Dangerfield plays a déclassé millionaire who buys his way into college. A professor objects to admitting a rich guy simply because he donated to the school, to which the dean replies, “I don’t think Dr. Barbay understands the actual amounts that are involved here.”

You surely realize that Bloomberg is a very wealthy individual with the ability to self-fund, but you may not have focused on the actual amount of money Bloomberg could bring to bear on the campaign. It is beyond any experience in presidential history. In the last presidential election, Donald Trump spent $343 million. Spending by both sides, including outside money, barely exceeded $1 billion. Bloomberg is personally worth $56 billion. If nominated, he could easily part with one-tenth of his fortune and outspend the entire Republican party by five to one.

The evidence of the effect of political spending is mixed. Studies have reached contradictory conclusions on the marginal benefits of voter-registration drives, turnout operations, and paid advertising. But it seems fair to guess that potential outspending your opponent by five or ten to one on all these things is probably worth a couple points in the polls.

2. Climate. Bloomberg’s commitment to the progressive agenda may be, on the whole, shallower and narrower than other candidates’. But climate change is an issue on which the sincerity of his commitment cannot be seriously questioned. He has poured energy and hundreds of millions of dollars into the cause, giving it a singular priority no other candidate (except the departed Jay Inslee) can match.

It may well be true that Bloomberg would give lower prioritization to issues that the Democrats would emphasize — like social welfare spending or regulation of finance and other industries — but he will not give climate change short shrift. And climate change is a very good issue, perhaps the best issue, to emphasize. The next Democratic president after Bloomberg can always come along and crack down on Wall Street, but the timing of the climate emergency presents no such luxury. The losses caused by climate change are irreversible. And since climate change is probably never going to be an urgent first-order concern for voters, having a president with a sincere commitment to the issue over populist reforms with more short-term popularity actually matters a lot.

3. Competence. Bloomberg ran a city with a population that exceeds that of 38 states. It has more than twice as many people as Arkansas, the governorship of which was considered a perfectly satisfactory résumé for Bill Clinton. And while his stewardship was not always agreeable, it was generally quite efficient.

The same holds true of his environmental activism. Michael Grunwald reported on Bloomberg’s “Beyond Coal” activism, which helped force 300 coal plants to close, and which has caused the dirtiest power source to continue shrinking despite Trump’s efforts to revive it. (Bloomberg has since broadened his objective to “Beyond Carbon,” taking on the harder task of replacing natural gas with zero-emission fuel.) Bloomberg obviously had the advantage of enormous resources to support this project, but the fossil-fuel lobby is hardly poor. In any case, lots of wealthy people have spent lavish sums on political projects to no avail. Bloomberg has quite a lot to show for his money.

What about the downsides? There are plenty of them. In general, Bloomberg’s ideological orientation is an awkward fit for the Electoral College. He leans left on social issues and right on economics, while the states with the greatest chance to swing the election — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — have disproportionate numbers of working-class voters whose instincts run in the opposite direction. The kind of populist language to which Trump is vulnerable does not come naturally to Bloomberg.

If elected, Democrats would have good cause to distrust his instincts. Bloomberg is close to Wall Street, which he ludicrously absolved of blame for the financial crisis, and is generally over-trusting of the rich. Only after announcing his candidacy did he offer belated and a patently insincere apology for the stop-and-frisk policy that justifiably angered so many of his nonwhite constituents.

But some of these concerns would be resolved simply by dint of Bloomberg running as a Democrat. This is an era of party government, and while the president’s talents and beliefs matter, the personal idiosyncrasies of any one officeholder are usually swallowed up by his political coalition. This is why Donald Trump defied the distrust of his fellow conservatives and has governed in an ideologically — if not personally — conventional style. Bloomberg’s platform has largely converged with the Democratic mainstream.

Whether his commitments to party constituencies are sincere hardly matters, because his incentive to hold together his coalition is the binding force. Trump used to identify as a proudly pro-choice Democrat, and then as an independent. No reversal was more laughably insincere than Trump’s conversion to the pro-life cause, yet he has held to that stance because it is in his interest as a Republican to do so.

Bloomberg would be a seriously flawed candidate. But the campaign seems to be exposing all the candidates as seriously flawed, while frequently generating new flaws as they and their supporters tear each other to shreds. Whoever survives the primary, which still has months to go, will face a well-funded incumbent president benefitting from a mature economic expansion he inherited. Winning the presidential election is starting to look hard. How about buying it instead?

By Jonathan Chait

Original article at: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/01/michael-bloomberg-president-democrats-beat-trump.html

At Unminced.com we like calm, thoughtful Presidents. #mikebloomberg #bloomberg #bloombergforpresident #america #election #friend #resist

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Thrash Metal Drummer Awakens from Coronavirus Coma, Doesn't Think Satan Is That Cool Anymore

Will Carroll of Death Angel says, “I don’t think Satan’s quite as cool as I used to.”

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, researchers are discovering new symptoms and side effects of the disease. Some people who have recovered from COVID-19 are still reporting lingering chest pain and shortness of breath, and in some cases people are reporting a rash disgustingly referred to as "COVID toes." And in at least one case, the novel coronavirus has caused visions of a Dante-like trip to Hell.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Datebook, the thrash metal band Death Angel was in Europe for a tour in early March when the outbreak went global. They cancelled the tour and headed back to the U.S., but on the flight back drummer Will Carroll started showing symptoms. After testing positive, he spent 12 days in a medically induced coma. When he finally woke up on March 30, the staff at California Pacific Medical Center applauded. "(The medical staff) couldn’t believe it," he told the Chronicle. "They were ecstatic because it was a success story."

Carroll had more reason to celebrate, not just because he was returning to good health, but because those 12 days were full of some pretty upsetting visions. Per the Chronicle:

While in the coma, Carroll said he had dreams of visiting the afterlife. He saw himself leave his body and plummet down to hell, where Satan—a woman in his case—punished him for the deadly sin of sloth, morphing him into a Jabba the Hutt-like-monster who vomited blood until he had a heart attack. "I woke up on the hospital bed with tubes coming in and out of me, and there was a nurse right there and my first words were, 'Am I still in hell?'" Carroll said. "She ignored me."

It takes a very professional nurse to take a patient rambling about hell in stride. In Carroll's case though, the experience has him reevaluating some things. "I’m still going to listen to satanic metal, and I still love Deicide and bands like that," he told the Chronicle. "As far as for my personal life and my experience of what I went through, I don’t think Satan’s quite as cool as I used to."

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Around 13,000 cutouts filled the stands on Saturday as Borussia Mönchengladbach hosted Bayer Leverkusen in a Bundesliga game which could help decide Champions League qualification.

Gladbach fans took pictures at home in a shirt or scarf and paid 19 euros ($20.70) to be turned into one of the “Pappkameraden” or “cardboard companions.” Season-ticket holders have their cutout placed in their usual spot, though some fan groups denounced the idea.

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The cutouts didn’t do Gladbach much good on Saturday. Leverkusen won 3-1 to overtake Gladbach for third in the table, as Gladbach missed good chances to score late on.

“Despite that it still looks really super,” Gladbach right back Stefan Lainer said. “It creates a certain atmosphere.”

Coach Marco Rose and some of his players were also in the stands in two-dimensional form, along with greats of the club’s past. They include Günter Netzer, who won the West German title with Gladbach in 1970 and 1971 and the World Cup in 1974. There’s even an away end with pictures of supporters from Leverkusen and other clubs. Gladbach said it was a nonprofit initiative with proceeds going to charity.

Gladbach’s form this season has echoed its golden age from the 1970s. The club led the table early in the season and is still fighting for a Champions League spot.

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“Football without fans is nothing,” read a large banner placed at one end of the stadium on Saturday.

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Can face masks help slow the spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19? Yes, face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, help slow the spread of the virus.

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How do the different types of masks work?

Surgical masks

Also called a medical mask, a surgical mask is a loose-fitting disposable mask that protects the wearer's nose and mouth from contact with droplets, splashes and sprays that may contain germs. A surgical mask also filters out large particles in the air. Surgical masks may protect others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer.

At this time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any type of surgical mask specifically for protection against the coronavirus, but these masks may provide some protection when N95 masks are not available.

N95 masks

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Health care providers must be trained and pass a fit test to confirm a proper seal before using an N95 respirator in the workplace. Like surgical masks, N95 masks are intended to be disposable. However, researchers are testing ways to disinfect N95 masks so they can be reused.

Some N95 masks, and even some cloth masks, have one-way valves that make them easier to breathe through. But because the valve releases unfiltered air when the wearer breathes out, this type of mask doesn't prevent the wearer from spreading the virus. For this reason, some places have banned them.

Cloth masks

A cloth mask is intended to trap droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes. Asking everyone to wear cloth masks can help reduce the spread of the virus by people who have COVID-19 but don't realize it.

Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus when they are widely used by people in public settings. And countries that required face masks, testing, isolation and social distancing early in the pandemic have successfully slowed the spread of the virus.

While surgical and N95 masks may be in short supply and should be reserved for health care providers, cloth face coverings and masks are easy to find or make, and can be washed and reused.

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The CDC recommends that you wear a cloth face mask when you're around people who don't live with you and in public settings when social distancing is difficult.

Here are a few pointers for putting on and taking off a cloth mask:

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  • Remove the mask by untying it or lifting off the ear loops without touching the front of the mask or your face.
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It can be challenging to get used to wearing a face mask. Here are some tips for making the transition:

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If these tips don't help or you have concerns about wearing a mask, talk with your doctor about how to protect yourself and others during the pandemic.

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