And the money keeps rolling in…

Commentary

A former president of the United States, who is also a declared candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, released his “Limited Edition Digital Trading Cards. And, they’re only $99 (per card)!

The Trump grift is back!

When, the other day, the former president teased a “major announcement,” fans expected a bombshell campaign update. And what was it?

“MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT! My official Donald Trump Digital Trading Card collection is here!” he posted on Truth Social Thursday morning. “These limited edition cards feature amazing ART of my Life & Career!”

The announcement went on:

“Collect all of your favorite Trump Digital Trading Cards, very much like a baseball card, but hopefully much more exciting,” he continued in the post. “Only $99 each! Would make a great Christmas gift. Don’t Wait. They will be gone, I believe, very quickly!”

Claiming, “These are just like baseball cards, but you collect them digitally, on your computer or phone. All you need is an email address and a credit card to start collecting 1, 10, 20 or 100. Instantly become part of a new league of collectors. 

Let me remind you, these are not cards. They’re “NFTs” or “non-fungible tokens,” so they’re not “just like baseball cards.” And, at $99/”card,” if you wanted to collect all 100 images, you’ll be out $9,900.

Oh, and by the way, while most observers thought that this “major announcement ” would be about his embryonic campaign, not only was it not; none of the proceeds will go to Trump’s campaign treasury. He’s keeping the money for himself.

I won’t bore you with all the extras a Trump Digital Trading Card buyer can receive. But I have included Trump’s introductory video for this scam (above). Nor will I preview some of Trump’s statements…nothing I transcribe would be as thrilling as hearing directly from Trump himself. As you watch it, please note that the Trump “card” website is now claiming that these cards are already “sold out’ even though they’re not real, but digital, so by definition, they can’t sell out!

Now, I’m pretty sure that almost no one who regularly reads Around the Block will be interested in taking part in this offer. But I’m sure that some readers might know people who are not just Trump supporters, but Trump zealots. Recognizing that $99 a pop might be too rich for anyone, in the interests of bi-partisanship and civility, I’m offering the following, something that you might share with your Trumper friends as a token of your love and respect.

Here are eight of the 100 Donald Trump Digital Trading Cards that appeared on the site. All your Trumper friends need to do is to print these out, (preferably using heavy stock paper), trim them and your friend will have and, most importantly be able to hold, Donald Trump non-Digital Trading Cards.

While I’m not offering any of Trump’s “Lucky Strike Extras,” I am offering these cards completely free of charge. This, despite the fact that after ten years of posting this blog, this might have been the first opportunity to monetize my efforts.

At least for me, the grift stops here!

Don’t cry for me, Arizona

Commentary

By leaving the Democratic Party, Kyrsten Sinema proves she’s a bigger diva than Broadway’s first Evita, Patti LuPone

Two days after Senate Democrats celebrated Raphael Warnock’s runoff victory in Georgia to give the Party a 51-49 majority, Arizona Democratic senator (and model for senatorial workplace decorum) Kyrsten Sinema announced she was leaving the Party to become an independent.

And not only that, unlike the two other former Democratic, now independent senators, Bernie Sanders (Vermont) and Angus King (Maine), both of whom caucus with Democrats making them de facto Democrats, Sinema did not indicate with which Party she would caucus.

Talk about buzz kill!

In declaring her new status, Sinema said “I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington,” offering no evidence that there really are “growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics.”

Several observers believe that Sinema’s announcement to switch political affiliation confirms her “diva status” by keeping herself in the spotlight. But perhaps more importantly, it allows her to avoid what is likely to be primary challenges in 2024 when she is up for re-election.

As reported by The Washington Post, “She has angered quite a few Democrats in the Grand Canyon state, so much so that she was likely to face a Democratic primary challenge in a 2024 reelection bid. The lawmaker has been repeatedly criticized by the Democratic Party’s base for not being on board with core liberal priorities, including increasing the minimum wage.”

The Post went on to report, “Sinema did not say whether she would seek reelection in 2024. [But] In announcing her switch in party affiliation, she avoids a direct challenge from Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) in the Democratic primary.”

Sinema has blocked Democratic attempts to increase taxes on corporations and Wall Street and has been accused of kowtowing to for her wealthy donors. Which, of course, fits in nicely with the allusions to “Evita,” as this slightly altered song suggests:

Coming so soon after Kari Lake’s unfounded claims of voter fraud in her losing campaign for Arizona governor (a claim that she said she would not have made if she won!), Sinema’s switch in affiliation simply confirms what we know of the Grand Canyon state (with apologies to Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice).

Warnock defeats Walker in Georgia Runoff

Commentary

Was this a glass half-full or half-empty moment?

Many readers who know me are aware that I’m really a “glass half-empty” kind of guy. So, while I watched the election results in the senatorial run-off in Georgia, I reveled in the fact that Senator Raphael Warnock defeated his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker, but lamented the fact that Mr. Walker garnered 48.7% of the vote.

Yes, that’s correct. almost 50% of Georgia voters cast their ballot for Herschel Walker, a man…

  • Who said, “I was watching this movie called Fright Night. It was about vampires. I don’t know if you know, vampires are cool people, are they not? But I want to tell you something that I found out. A werewolf can kill a vampire, did you know that? I didn’t know that. So, I don’t want to be a vampire anymore, I wanted to be a werewolf.”
  • Who said, regarding the border wall advocated by his political mentor Donald Trump, “A wall do work. When you got a wall around your house, people don’t… yeah, but they can get in. But, you know what? If they get in, it would be hard to get out because I got a dog that… well, my dog really won’t bite, but he’s pretty bad anyway.”
  • Who said, regarding climate change, “But since we don’t control the air, our good air decide to float over to China, bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space.”
  • Who said, despite the fact that he did not graduate from college, “Guys, I also was valedictorian of my class. I also was in the top 1% of my graduating class in college.”
  • Who said, without any evidence, that he “supervise[d] six hospitals around the United States.”
  • Who claimed, despite the fact that he’d never been in the military, “I’ve been very fortunate in my military, uh, career – that I was doing a lot of things in the military.”

Yes, my fellow half-empty glassers, almost 50% of Georgia voters cast their ballot for the man who said, or claimed, all those things.

But wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, your “glass half-empty” correspondent actually had a “glass half-full” moment tonight.

When?

After listening to Raphael Warnock’s victory speech to his supporters.

Now, I didn’t expect you to view the entire Warnock video. But even if you didn’t watch the entire clip, I hope you watched enough to agree with me…agree with the idea…that tonight might have been a “glass half-full” moment. If you watched enough, I hope that you agree with me that 2022’s Barack Obama might very well be Raphael Warnock.

Raphael Warnock is 53 years old, somewhat older than Barack Obama’s 43 years when he delivered the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention that put him in the national spotlight, but still young compared to some Democratic pols. Obama was 47 years old when he ran for, and was elected president. In his speech tonight Warnock told his supporters, “You’ve got me for six more years.” My response: Is that all? Or, have we seen the future and is it Raphael Warnock…if not in 2024, then in 2028?

Despite the ridiculous closeness of this election, did Warnock turn me, a traditional pessimist, into someone who can finally celebrate that full glass? Did we, tonight, see the future? And, is that future, Raphael Warnock?

Trump entertains anti-Semites Ye and Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago dinner

Commentary

30% of American Jews voted for Trump. Will his latest hobnob with a neo-Nazi, Holocaust denying, white supremacist change their minds?

I concluded a column posted before the midterms, Catching up on the mid-terms – GOP arrogance, campaign donations, Trump, Ye and anti-Semitism…what a week! with this:

I know this will get me into trouble with some, but I’m going to say it anyway: How any American Jew can vote for Trump or any of the racist, anti-Semitic MAGA candidates around the country he hand-picked and is supporting; how any coalition of American Jews can say silent in the face of blatant anti-Semitism by two public figures, one of whom is the former President of the United States, is beyond my ability to comprehend!

What’s wrong with these people?

Little did I think that just about a month later, almost everything I lamented about in that column was in the news again.

Let me provide some context.

As I’m sure most of you know by now, the former, twice impeached President, Donald Trump, invited Kanye West, aka Ye, and far-right, white supremacist, anti-semite, Nick Fuentes to dinner at Trump’s self-described “Florida White House/Governmental Classified Document Storage Center,” Mar-a-Lago. I’ll let historian and professor of history at Boston College, Heather Cox Richardson, fill in the details from her November 26 newsletter, “Letters from an American:”

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, November 22, former president Trump hosted the antisemitic artist Ye, also known as Kanye West, for dinner at a public table at Mar-a-Lago along with political operative Karen Giorno, who was the Trump campaign’s 2016 state director in Florida. Ye brought with him 24-year-old far-right white supremacist Nick Fuentes. Fuentes attended the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in its wake, he committed to moving the Republican Party farther to the right

Fuentes has openly admired Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and authoritarian Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is currently making war on Russia’s neighbor Ukraine. A Holocaust denier, Fuentes is associated with America’s neo-Nazis. 

In February 2020, Fuentes launched the America First Political Action Conference to compete from the right with the Conservative Political Action Conference. In May 2021, on a livestream, Fuentes said: “My job…is to keep pushing things further. We, because nobody else will, have to push the envelope. And we’re gonna get called names. We’re gonna get called racist, sexist, antisemitic, bigoted, whatever.… When the party is where we are two years later, we’re not gonna get the credit for the ideas that become popular. But that’s okay. That’s our job. We are the right-wing flank of the Republican Party. And if we didn’t exist, the Republican Party would be falling backwards all the time.”

Fuentes and his “America First” followers, called “Groypers” after a cartoon amphibian (I’m not kidding), backed Trump’s lies that he had actually won the 2020 election. At a rally shortly after the election, Fuentes told his followers to “storm every state capitol until Jan. 20, 2021, until President Trump is inaugurated for four more years.” Fuentes and Groypers were at the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, and at least seven of them have been charged with federal crimes for their association with that attack. The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed Fuentes himself.

Accounts of the dinner suggest that Trump and Fuentes hit it off, with Trump allegedly saying, “I like this guy, he gets me,” after Fuentes urged Trump to speak freely off the cuff rather than reading teleprompters and trying to appear presidential as his handlers advise. 

But Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2024 just days ago, and being seen publicly with far-right white supremacist Fuentes—in addition to Ye—indicates his embrace of the far right. His team told NBC’s Marc Caputo that the dinner was a “f**king nightmare.” Trump tried to distance himself from the meeting by saying he didn’t know who Fuentes was, and that he was just trying to help Ye out by giving the “seriously troubled” man advice, but observers noted that he did not distance himself from Fuentes’s positions. 

At the time of Professor Richardson’s letter, not one leading Republican politician had come out against Trump’s actions. In the two days that followed, several have, including former speaker Paul Ryan, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and two Republican members of Congress, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who have no future in the party and were not reelected for another term, among a few others. But, spokespeople for nearly two dozen House and Senate Republicans — including party leaders, co-chairs of caucuses and task forces focused on Judaism or antisemitism and sponsors of legislation to combat antisemitic hate crimes — did not respond to requests for comment.

And, significantly, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in line to become speaker of the House in January has been notably, but characteristically silent about the scandalous affair. 

As Professor Richardson wrote, “…McCarthy desperately needs the votes of far-right Republicans [like Representatives Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) who have affiliated themselves with Fuentes] to make him speaker of the House. To get that support, he has been promising to deliver their wish list—including an investigation into President Joe Biden’s son Hunter—and appears willing to accept Fuentes and his followers into the party, exactly as Fuentes hoped.”

Trump, for his part, went to his well weathered “Trump Book of Outrages and Excuses,” you know, the one that includes “witch hunt,” “not fair” and other time-dishonored phrases, choosing this often-used rationale, (I) “never met and knew nothing about” as he characterized the racist Fuentes before he arrived with Ye at his club. Trump went on to “make nice” to Ye saying, “We [Ye and I] got along great, he expressed no anti-Semitism, & I appreciated all of the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker Carlson.’ Why wouldn’t I agree to meet?”

Remember, this is the same Donald Trump who, in 2016, waffled when asked to denounce the KKK after he was endorsed by the group’s former leader, saying in a televised interview that he didn’t “know anything about David Duke.” The same Donald Trump who as President in 2017, in the aftermath of the deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, said there was “blame on both sides” for the violence. And the same Donald Trump whose rallies frequently feature inflammatory rhetoric from figures like U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who spoke earlier this year at a far-right conference organized by Fuentes.

In that October column I prefaced my final thoughts with, “I know this is going to get me in trouble…” One month later, I will say it again…but this time more strongly and with no equivocation or caveat:

How any American Jew can vote for Trump, or any of his acolytes, goes way ‘beyond my ability to comprehend,’ it angers me; it disgusts me.

It makes me wonder how I, and Jews who vote for Trump, come from the same cultural, moral and ethical backgrounds.

It makes me incredulous as they give Trump, a former President of the United States who still has a staff and advisors, a pass when after sitting down with a neo-Nazi, Holocaust denier claims he didn’t know who he was. Or claims he didn’t know who David Duke was. Or the Ku Klux Klan...

It makes me question whether there is anything more important to these American Jews than tax cuts and unencumbered, unfettered, unquestioned support of the Israeli government, right or wrong. Are those things more important than following a man who is a serial liar, who deals in false equivalencies, and entertains and then lies about people like Ye and a 24-year old neo-Nazi like Nick Fuentes?

Yes, it makes me angry, it makes me wonder, it makes me incredulous, it makes me question. But most of all, it makes me ask, as I did back in October:

What’s wrong with these people?

No “red wave” but a colossal Florida “wipe out”

Commentary

Florida Dems consider borrowing California surfer song for their new theme

Thomas Friedman began his Times’ column today with this:

“You can hold off moving to Canada. You can forgo the call to the New Zealand Embassy on how to become a citizen there. Tuesday’s election really was the most important test since the Civil War of whether the engine of our constitutional system — our ability to peacefully and legitimately transfer power — remains intact. And it looks to have come through — a little dinged up, but OK.”

Titled, “America Dodged an Arrow,” he closed this way:

“In sum, we did not get a clean bill of health. We got a diagnosis that our political white blood cells did OK in beating back the metastasizing infection that threatened to kill our whole electoral system. But that infection is still here, which is why the doctor advised, ‘Behave in healthy ways, build back your strength and return in 24 months for another scan.’”

Friedman’s lede struck a chord with me; many readers who know me personally have been hearing me joke(?) for years about moving to another country as our American democracy declines. But maybe Tom is correct; with the care his doctor advised, America can recover.

The issue for me is that there is one really big place in this country which might be beyond recovery; where the “arrow wasn’t dodged.” And I happen to live in that big place: It’s called Florida!

If the U.S. is healing expatriating is probably not necessary. But after the 2022 midterms, Florida went directly to the ICU. So, before I think anew about redirecting my geographic aspirations, let me explain how bad is it really down here in the Sunshine State.

For quite some time, Florida has been described politically as a “swing state,” or a “battleground state,” or a “purple state.” Why these adjectives have been applied to Florida is, frankly, a mystery:

  • Florida hasn’t had a Democratic governor since 1999;
  • Of the 11 presidential elections held since 1980, Republican candidates won eight times, Democratic candidates three times (Clinton once; Obama twice);
  • Since 2000, there have been 60 different individuals representing Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives; 40 Republicans (67%) but just 20 Democrats (33%)

Now to be fair to the pundits, particularly regarding presidential elections, the victory margins have been close (the eight wins include Bush’s 2000 “win” over Gore…so maybe the count should be 7-1/2 to 3-1/2. But all that is past history. Today is today. And for me, today isn’t pretty!

The results of the 2022 midterms are in and for Florida Democrats it was a WIPEOUT!

  • Republicans swept all statewide positions!
  • Governor Ron DeSantis beat former Republican governor, now Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist by 20 percentage points! In 2018, in his first race for Governor, DeSantis beat former Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum by a mere 0.42 percentage points!

Note: Shortly after losing the election, Gillum was found by police at a South Beach hotel accompanied by a man who was suspected to have overdosed on drugs. Police reported that Gillum was unable to talk to the police due to his “inebriated” state. But wait, there’s more. In June 2022, Gillum was indicted on 21 felony counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements for allegedly diverting money raised during the campaign. C’mon Florida Dems, is this the best we can do?

  • Senator Marco Rubio beat Democratic Representative and former Orlando chief of police Val Demings by 17 percentage points!
  • Republicans increased their majority margins in the State Senate from 23-16 (59%) to 28-12 (71%)!
  • Republicans increased their majority margins in the State House from 78-42 (65%) to an estimated 85-35 (71%)!
  • Of the 27 representatives Florida will send to the U.S. House in January, 20 (74%) will be Republicans up from 16 (59%) in the current Congress!
  • Miami-Dade County, once a deep blue bastion went for DeSantis, whose margin over Crist was 11.3 percentage points; Rubio’s margin over Demings in Miami-Dade was 9.5 points!
  • Palm Beach County, where I live, went for DeSantis 51% to 48%. In 2020 Biden took the county by 13 percentage points; in 2016 Clinton won the Palm Beach County by 16 percentage points!

I think I made my point (and I certainly have reached my quota of exclamation points in one story – OK, just one more for emphasis!).

The disaster that Democratic Florida has become is shocking. Where is the Florida Democratic Party leadership? Who’s been asleep at the switch watching this slide into irrelevance? I’ve already reached out to my Democratic Congresswoman’s office and staff. The Democratic Party of Florida is next. My question to both: What can I and like-minded Democrats do? We only have two years to get our act together. This is not just about canvassing; it’s not just about phone banks. We need a master plan. We need a strategy. We need to execute that strategy flawlessly with the best tactics we can muster. We, and I’m including every elected Florida Democrat no matter what their position as well as every Democratic party Poobah in this “we,” cannot let this continue. 

Borrowing from “Do You Hear the People Sing” from “Les Miserables,” “

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes

Folks, I fear that for Florida Democrats, if we don’t start today, “when tomorrow comes,” it won’t be pretty.

And, for you non-Floridian Democrats, stop smirking and making jokes while you’re reading this, as this affects you as well. Florida will have 30 electoral votes in 2024, third after California and Texas. Those 30 votes represent 11% of the total votes needed to elect the next president. If you don’t think the Democratic collapse in the Sunshine State has a bearing on your life, think again.

What happened at the mid-terms yesterday?

Commentary

While it wasn’t a “Red Wave,” GOP control of the House for the next two years means a rocky road ahead. Can you say “impeachment?”

Today is November 9, 2022. It is the day after the 2022 midterm elections. No “Red Wave.” No total disaster…unless of course you believe, as I do, that attaching “Speaker” to the name Kevin McCarthy will be a total disaster. But all in all, at least for the glass half-full crowd, not a bad day.

As of this writing it appears that Republicans will have a slim majority in the House of Representatives so get ready for the end of any further Congressional investigations of the January 6 tourists visiting the Capital Building. And for the impeachment of President Biden, the ending of support for Ukraine and the potential of losing your Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Wait, why are Democrats smiling again?

Regarding the U.S. Senate, control is still up in the air. There are three key undecided races that will have to play out to determine if Congress will be completely controlled by the GOP or if the Democrats can hold on to at least the 50 seats they currently have, maintaining control with the help of Vice-President Harris. (As I was typing, Wisconsin was called for Republican incumbent Ron Johnson, perhaps the dumbest man in the Senate…that is if and when Herschel Walker joins that august body – more on that below. And, of course, let’s get real. A majority in the Senate is not control of anything when we have filibustering and 60 votes needed to pass anything. But, I digress.)

The three states still to be determined: Arizona, Nevada and Georgia.

At this point, Arizona is considered too early to call. But incumbent Mark Kelly is leading his AR-15 toting Republican opponent, Blake Masters, 51.4% to 46.4% (89,969 votes). If Kelly prevails the Dems hold the seat and nothing changes.

In Nevada, Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto is about 23,000 votes behind Republican challenger Adam Laxalt (47.2% to 49.9%) in another “too early to call” election. Although Nevada sources are suggesting that most of the missing votes are from Democratic-leaning Las Vegas, whether that suggestion is correct of not, let’s give Nevada to the GOP.

So, unless both Kelly and Cortez Masto win, it will come down to Georgia and the aforementioned Herschel Walker. And, of course, his opponent, the Democratic incumbent, Senator Raphael Warnock. Although Warnock has a slight lead, 49.2% to 48.7% (17,491 votes), to avoid a runoff, Georgia law requires the winning candidate to win at least 50% of the vote. The runoff will occur on December 5. If Warnock wins, the result will be, pending Arizona and Nevada outcomes, a 50-50 split at a minimum and Democratic control So, I guess I’ll have bad ol’ Herschel to kick around (pun intended) for another month while I’m saying to anyone who’ll listen, “How can anyone in their right mind vote for Herschel Walker?”

That’s it. Yesterday was a good news/bad news day for folks on both sides of the aisle. Of course, one piece of good news was saying bye-bye to the “Charlatan of Oz” in Pennsylvania, er, New Jersey, er, Turkey. I guess he’ll have to go back to selling his cancer-curing green tea extract. And while the ultimate Senate outcome will not be known for a while, while you’re waiting, stay tuned for Around the Block later this week which will focus on, for me at least, the disaster that is the state of the Democratic party in Florida.

As Donald Netanyahu meets Bibi Trump…

Commentary with a little twist

…Britain is getting browner.

With two weeks to go, I thought I’d take a break from the U.S. midterms and turn to the political situation in two of our closest allies, Israel and the United Kingdom.

Yesterday, I opened my daily email from the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, to find two remarkable headlines:

Lapid Warns: Netanyahu Could Contest Israel’s Election Results

Netanyahu Loyalist Says Israeli Officials Behind ex- PM’s Trial ‘Should Be Jailed’

I hope you, even without reading the stories, share my sense of irony that led to today’s Around the Block headline.

Let me break these these stories down.

In the first, Lapid is, of course, Israel’s current “caretaker” prime minister, Yair Lapid. The upcoming election will be Israel’s fifth in the last three years. I’ll leave it to my Israeli friends to explain Israel’s convoluted political system that led to these seemingly never-ending elections, but doesn’t Lapid’s warning have a “close to home” ring?

Casting doubt on the integrity of an election BEFORE THE ACTUAL ELECTION? Sounds a little Trumpian to me. But Bibi might even be ‘trumping’ Trump with, as the article reports: “Netanyahu has already said that Likud activists would film vote counting, despite the fact this breaches election law and even constitutes an electoral offense.”

And doesn’t the second headline also sound familiar? Aren’t Trump loyalists demanding that the prosecutors investigating the never-ending Trump potential ‘crimes and misdemeanors’…er…’felonies,’ saying the same thing? Like, for example, everyone’s favorite multi-shirt-wearing-grenade-thrower, Steve Bannon, who said the other day as he was being carted off to prison: “The FBI is a Gestapo, the Justice Department – Merrick Garland, you’re going to go to prison, brother.” 

I was at a gathering last night with an Israeli friend. I mentioned the headlines. But when I told him they were from Haaretz, he told me that Haaretz is too left-wing; that if I wanted to get real news I should read Ynet, a much more centrist source of Israeli news. When I got home I re-read the election fraud article and saw something I had overlooked in my first read: Lapid’s comments were from an interview with…you guessed it…Ynet!

BTW, the comments of the Netanyahu Loyalist, a wing nut named David Amsalem, were recorded in an interview on Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, and also covered by the Times of Israel. So despite Haaretz’s leaning left, their article is not “fake news.”

Heading north to the United Kingdom where the political situation might be as bewildering as Israel’s, the third prime minister in six weeks was announced today.

Liz Truss, Britain’s 44-day prime minister – her tenure set the record for the shortest serving PM in British history; she is the first PM since Winston Churchill to have served two different monarchs; and, for her service, will receive a lifetime annual pension of £115,000 – was replaced by former Chancellor of the Exchequer (aka Treasury Secretary) Rishi Sunak.

Rishi Sunak

Sunak is the son of African-born Hindu parents of Punjabi Indian descent. With his ascent, the head of UK’s government is Hindu and the mayor of London, Britain’s capital and biggest city, Sadiq Khan, is a Sunni Muslim.

Sadiq Khan

I wonder if the right-wing, Brexit-loving British MUKGAs* have noticed this. And if they’ll react with outrage like their MAGA brethren in the “colonies?”

(*Make United Kingdom Great Again – pronounced, muck-ga)

Around the Block reached out for comment from Simon Darby-Lewthwaite, the head of MUKGA’s most influential militia, “The Proud Mates,” who told me, “Well at least Sunak and Khan weren’t born in Hawaii like your guy, Hussein Obama.”

Of course in Britain, there isn’t much choice. I mean, would you vote for this man?

Boris Johnson

Catching up on the mid-terms

Commentary

GOP arrogance, campaign donations, Trump, Ye and anti-Semitism…what a week!

With just over two weeks to go until Election Day, mail-in and early voting is beginning to pick up steam. And while I promised to follow-up on my Senatorial donation recommendations with House and Governor races picks, I wimped out; too much work for potentially too little return.

Instead, I thought I’d write about the mid-terms in a little different way.

Let me start with the letter to the editor I wrote which The Palm Beach Post published today. The headline the Post chose for my submission says it all: “Arrogance of GOP office holders unseemly.” While the example of that ‘unseemliness’ is Republican incumbents in Florida, I can almost guarantee these Florida GOP officeholders are not alone.

Palm Beach Post, October 20, 2022

By the way, as some of you know, I’ve had many letters and about five Op-ed pieces published by the Post. Some of my Florida liberal friends tend to disparage the paper…”I don’t trust it;” “There’s nothing to read;” “They don’t reflect my views.”

Here’s why I read it (along with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Miami Herald, among other dailies) and contribute opinion pieces to it.

On the same editorial page with my letter, the Post endorsed my district’s incumbent Democratic Congresswoman, Lois Frankel as well as Jared Moskowitz, the Democrat running for the open seat in the adjoining Congressional district. (The incumbent, Ted Deutch, did not seek reelection instead becoming chief executive officer of the American Jewish Committee.)

Not only that, they published this political cartoon:

Not much for a liberal to argue about on the Post’s editorial pages today.

Next, I’d like to go back to my contribution analysis. My premise was – unless you have unlimited money to contribute, you’re better off donating where the candidate has at least an even chance to win so you can get the best return on your campaign investment. With that as background, I thought you’d like to read this piece about Marcus Flowers, the Georgia Democrat trying to unseat Marjorie Taylor Green. I’ve attached a PDF of the article by journalist George Chidi which is headlined: Democratic Small Donors Have Found a New Hole to Throw Money Into.

As Chidi writes, “Half the country hates her, and not without reason…Still, it’s hard not to look at this in the same light as Amy McGrath’s $94 million bid against Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell or Jaime Harrison’s $130 million shot at South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham in 2020. Both broke fundraising records challenging political figures that were deeply despised by Democrats and the left. Both lost by double digits.”

It was Amy McGrath and Jaime Harrison, both of whom I contributed to in 2020, and both big losers, which was the impetus for my crusade to donate where the return might be the best.

Finally, this has been quite a week for anti-Semitism.

First, the former, twice impeached President of the United States tweeted (well, not tweeted since he’s been banned from Twitter, but ‘TruthSocialed?’ ) this:

This is appalling. What’s more appalling is that it garnered over 31,000 likes!

At least it drew quick criticism.

“We don’t need the former president, who curries favor with extremists and antisemites, to lecture us about the US-Israel relationship,” Anti-Defamation League chief executive and national director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “It is not about a quid pro quo; it rests on shared values and security interests. This ‘Jewsplaining’ is insulting and disgusting.”

The Jewish Democratic Council of America similarly lambasted Trump’s remarks. “His threat to Jewish Americans and his continued use of the antisemitic dual loyalty trope fuels hatred against Jews,” the group tweeted. “We will not be threatened by Donald Trump and Jewish Americans will reject GOP bigotry this November.”

“If that’s not an antisemitic threat, I don’t know what to call it,” tweeted Laurence Tribe, law professor emeritus at Harvard.

Alex Holder, a filmmaker who made a documentary on Trump, called the outburst irresponsible and dangerous. “As a Jew,” Holder said on Twitter, “I experienced this language firsthand while interviewing Trump.”

The Trump post came just after his sometimes ally – the musician Ye, also known as Kanye West – was locked out of Twitter and Instagram accounts for antisemitic statements, saying he was “going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”

In a statement that only Herschel Walker would be proud of West defended himself by saying he could not be antisemitic because “black people are actually Jew [sic].”

The aforementioned Ted Deutch, in his new role at the AJC, sharply criticized Kanye West’s antisemitic statements, calling them “a clear and present danger to every Jewish person.” Deutch urged Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms to keep West’s anti-Jewish hate off their channels.

But wait, there’s more.

Trump went out of his way to support West saying “he thinks highly of me and is often misinterpreted,” continuing, “He was really nice to me, beyond anybody. He was great to me and he was great to the MAGA movement which was really impressive. He was really high on a guy named Donald Trump.” (Why do so many Trump statements make you think of the old narcissist saying, “Enough about me. What do you think of me?”)

But who haven’t we heard from on all this? Republicans, exemplified by the fact that the Republican Jewish Coalition, the self-described “unique bridge between the Jewish community and Republican decision-makers,” has remained quiet on social media and on their website, issuing no statements addressing the comments made by Trump or West.

I know this will get me into trouble with some, but I’m going to say it anyway: How any American Jew can vote for Trump or any of the racist, anti-Semitic MAGA candidates around the country he hand-picked and is supporting; how any coalition of American Jews can say silent in the fact of blatant anti-Semitism by two public figures, one of whom is the former President of the United States, is beyond my ability to comprehend!

What’s wrong with these people?

Zei gezunt! (And I mean that in the sarcastically condescending interpretation of that Yiddish phrase.)

Political Contribution Analysis – Down ballot addendum

Politics

Important: Relatively obscure state elections might determine the future of our country – here’s a guide

I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s post, Around the Block’s 2022 U.S. Senate – Political Contribution Analysis with a quick addendum.

In the commentary about Arizona I wrote, “…With the possibility of all Arizona state offices in charge of elections going Republican in 2022, with the result that any Democrat who is elected may not, in the state’s eyes, win…”

Well, obviously it’s not just Arizona, although the state, as ‘election denial’ ground zero, is getting the most attention. In many other states if down ballot election deniers win races for positions like Attorney General, Secretary of State of State Supreme Court, it’s probable that Democratic wins in those states will be contested and possibly, given our partisan judiciary, overturned.

Now, if you think deciding who to contribute to in U.S. Senate, House or governor races is difficult, determining who to support in relatively obscure, but vitally important state executive positions is near impossible.

And then I received this, from the Daily Kos:

Theodore, if you’re worried about Trump 2024 — and I sure am! —then you need to be paying attention to down ballot races in key states this year. And you don’t need to take my word for it because Republican candidate for Nevada secretary of state Jim Marchant is out there saying it: “If we get all of our secretaries of state elected around the country like this, we take our country back.”

With that admonition, Michael Langenmayr of the Daily Kos went on to provide a list of 17 down ballot candidates in eight states worthy of a contribution to help protect us against GOP duplicity.

  • Colorado: Phil Weiser (attorney general) and Jena Griswold (secretary of state)
  • Georgia: Jen Jordan (attorney general) and Bee Nguyen (secretary of state)
  • Michigan: Dana Nessel (attorney general), Jocelyn Benson (secretary of state), Richard Bernstein (supreme court) and Kyra Harris Bolden (supreme court)
  • Minnesota: Steve Simon (secretary of state)
  • Nevada: Aaron Ford (attorney general) and Cisco Aguilar (secretary of state)
  • North Carolina: Sam Ervin and Lucy Inman (both for supreme court)
  • Ohio: Jennifer Brunner, Terri Jamison, and Marilyn Zayas (all for supreme court)
  • Wisconsin: Josh Kaul (attorney general)

If this moves you to act, go to this website for more information: Stop Trump from stealing the 2024 election!

One last thing: Arizona, the state I consider the most problematic, is not on the list. Is this because of the listless campaign state Democrats are running against the GOP, epitomized by the fact that current Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democratic candidate for governor, will not agree to debate her Republican opponent, Kari Lake, an election denying, gun advocating, anti-masking, believer that “abortion is a sin,” who accused President Joe Biden and Democrats of harboring a “demonic agenda?”

I don’t know. But I will write to Michael Langenmayr to find out.

Around the Block’s 2022 U.S. Senate – Political Contribution Analysis

Politics

Recommendation on the candidates to support in the most critical races with the highest likelihood of a good return on investment.

As of this writing we are one day short of four weeks until mid-term election day. As ever, many pundits are describing this mid-term as one of the most consequential in memory…aren’t they all? But there are some consequences to this one: If the GOP takes the House, the January 6 committee will be shut down and it might only take until mid-January for Biden impeachment hearings to begin. (Can you say…without breaking out in hives, Speaker of House Kevin McCarthy?) And, if you think the American judicial system is partisan now, just wait to see what happens if Republicans retake the Senate and Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader again.

As Larry David might say, “Pretty, pretty, pretty consequential!

I’m sure by now you’re both fed up with political solicitations and, if you’re of a mind to contribute to certain candidates’s campaigns, confused or conflicted regarding which ones might provide the best from a return on investment standpoint. And that’s where I come in.

I’ve done an analysis of ten critical Senate races. I’ve looked at the polls. I’ve looked at the candidates. I’ve made my recommendations. The ten races I picked are the ones that have drawn the most attention and, perhaps, are the most contentious. I’ve not looked at races where there’s really no contest, either on the Democratic or Republican side. My goal, as this campaign winds down and final contribution decisions need to be made, is to provide you with some insight into where you might best spend your money.

Since the analysis is long, rather than include it in the body of this post, I’ve embedded it as a PDF.

But here’s the top line (see the detailed rationale for these recommendations in the PDF). And, just to be clear, all the recommendations are for the Democratic candidate, as you might have guessed:

  • Arizona: Democrat Mark Kelly vs. Republican Blake Masters – Kelly: Donation Importance: GOOD; Potential return on donation investment: GOOD
  • Florida: Democrat Val Demings vs. Republican Marco Rubio – Demings: Donation Importance: HIGH; Potential return on donation investment: MODEST TO POOR
  • Georgia: Democrat Raphael Warnock vs. Republican Herschel Walker – Warnock: Donation Importance: EXTREME; Potential return on donation investment: EXCELLENT
  • Iowa: Democrat Mike Franken vs. Republican Chuck Grassley – Franken: Donation Importance: SYMBOLIC; Potential return on donation investment: Bad
  • Nevada: Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto vs. Republican Adam Laxalt – Cortez Masto: Donation importance: EXTREME Potential return on donation investment: GOOD
  • New Hampshire: Democrat Maggie Hassan vs. Republican Donald Bolduc – Hassan: Donation importance: GOOD; Potential return on donation investment: GOOD
  • North Carolina: Democrat Cheri Beasley vs. Republican Ted Budd – Beasley: Donation importance: EXTREME Potential return on donation investment: GOOD
  • Ohio: Democrat Tim Ryan vs. Republican J.D. Vance – Ryan: Donation importance: EXTREME; Potential return on donation investment: GOOD
  • Pennsylvania: Democrat John Fetterman vs. Republican Mehmet Oz – Fetterman: Donation importance: EXTREME; Potential return on donation investment: UNSURE
  • Wisconsin: Democrat Mandela Barnes vs. Republican Ron Johnson – Barnes: Donation importance: EXTREME; Potential return on donation investment: GOOD

Hope this helps. I’ll be working on critical House and Governor races in the next few days. As I do, comments and suggestions are appreciated.