In a year when two boosters of the “luxury city,” Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg, are vying to run the whole country, the very model that created their “success” is slowly unraveling. After roughly 20 years of big-city progress, measured by economic growth and demographic progress, the dense urban centers, including New York, are again teetering on the brink of decline.
Long associated with glamour, money and cultural influence, the rise of the luxury city has foundered on the rocks of inequality and, increasingly, diminished upward mobility. Indeed, according to Pew research, the greatest inequality now exists in superstar cities such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and San Jose. Rather than working to create and sustain a middle class, as Jane Jacobs once suggested, by building local economies, these cities have depended on luring both the ultra-rich and the young and ambitious of the global marketplace to secure and enhance their place.
This approach worked somewhat in the first decade of the millennium, as illustrated by a remarkable rise in New York City’s newly listed condo prices over the last decade from $1.15 million to $3.77 million. But the gold rush is fading now, in part due to the decline of globalization which is also weakening the economies of rival global capitals like London and Hong Kong. Today, as The Atlantic recently noted, Manhattan now suffers conditions where “the homeless shelters are full, and the luxury skyscrapers are vacant.”
‘Cokehead, Womanizing, Fag’: Michael Bloomberg’s Book of ‘Wisdom’ Resurfaces
OPEN MOUTH, INSERT FOOT
The release of an unauthorized book of quotes by Michael Bloomberg paints a damning picture of the Democratic presidential candidate.
“Cokehead, womanizing, fag.” That’s the way Michael Bloomberg once characterized a competitor in New York’s financial industry, according to a book of quotes presented to the billionaire businessman for his 48th birthday in 1990.
The quote is one of a number of vulgar and degrading remarks, contained in a gag gift presented to Bloomberg by an employee, that may spell trouble for the former New York mayor as he attempts to convince Democrats he can topple Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
The tome, titled Wit & Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg, was published in full by the Washington Post on Saturday morning. It has been quoted at length over the years but has never been printed in full by a mainstream outlet.
The booklet was produced by Elisabeth DeMarse, who worked as Bloomberg’s chief marketing officer. “Yes, these are all actual quotes,” she wrote in her introduction. “No, nothing has been embellished or exaggerated.”
Some of the quotes are pure bathroom humor, like his comments on salesmanship that simply states, “Make the customer think he’s getting laid when he’s getting fucked.” Another says, “As Chuch Colsen put it: if you have them by their balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”
Others are highly sexist, like one that has a name redacted in the Post’s document. “What do I want? I want an exclusive, 10-year contract, an automatic extension, and I want you to pay me. And I want a blow job from [name redacted]. Have you seen [name redacted] lately? Not bad for fifty.”
The misogynistic, homophobic remarks predate the #MeToo era and show a sophomoric obsession with referencing oral sex. On the subject of computers, he said: “You know why computers will never take the place of people? Because a computer would say that the sex of the person giving you a blow job doesn’t matter.”
His company’s financial information computers “will do everything, including give you [oral sex]. I guess that puts a lot of you girls out of business,” he said in another remark.
Some of the quoted remarks are relatively mild, like, “The three biggest lies are: the check’s in the mail, I’ll respect you in the morning, and I’m glad I’m Jewish.”
Others are positively eyebrow raising, like, “The Royal Family—what a bunch of misfits—a gay, an architect, that horsey faced lesbian, and a kid who gave up Koo Stark for some fat broad.” He characterizes one competitor as, “Cokehead, womanizing, fag.”
The booklet is peppered with cartoons that depict Bloomberg in various poses, of which many are less than flattering, like him dressed as a Roman Centurion fighting off dogs with name tags like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sacks and Citibank.
The booklet’s publication caps a bad week for Bloomberg, who has been dogged by unearthed comments on income inequality and racial profiling.
Bloomberg has not made a public comment on the publication of the booklet. A campaign spokeswoman said on Saturday, “Virtually all of this has been reported over the past two decades. In any large organization, there are going to be complaints—but Mike simply does not tolerate any kind of discrimination or harassment, and he’s created cultures that are all about equality and inclusion.”
The Post says it informed the Bloomberg campaign that it would be publishing the full booklet online, to which they were told by spokesman Stu Loeser, “Mike simply did not say the things somebody wrote in this gag gift, which has been circulating for 30 years and has been quoted in every previous election Mike has been in.” Loeser also told them, “Mike openly admits his words have not always lined up with his values and that way he has led his life and some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong.”
The backdrop was full of red and white polka-dot hearts, but there was no love on display Friday morning between The View co-hosts Joy Behar and Meghan McCain.
What was supposed to be a light-hearted opening segment about the bizarre Twitter feud between President Donald Trump and 2020 hopeful Mike Bloomberg, began to fly off the rails when McCain joked that instead of saying “Happy Valentine’s Day” to her husband this morning, she woke up and asked him, “Does Bloomberg really think it’s going to be this easy?”
“Michael Bloomberg, when he was our mayor for three terms, I always knew to be a sort of calm, above-it-all politician, doesn’t get in the mud,” she said. “So this new version of him, it’ll be interesting to see how this works, this like, thug, white guy, ‘Yo mama’ thing.’”
As McCain questioned his ability to win over Democratic voters who so far have favored Bernie Sanders, Behar defended his credentials. “Listen, I’m not shilling for Mayor Bloomberg here,” she said.
“You kind of are,” McCain said, interrupting her.
“I like him fine,” Behar replied. “I like Biden too. I like all of them, I told you, I’ll vote for any of them, I’ll vote for Pee-wee Herman!”
McCain laughed at that line, but she then grew visibly angry when the conversation turned to Bloomberg’s record on racial issues. “Why are we so strict on Democrats and so lenient with Republicans, who have the most racist policies and the most racist track record?” she asked. “This is a racist country, right? Every single one of [the Democrats] has something in their background that doesn’t look good for race.”
This set McCain off, who argued that in addition to winning over black voters, Bloomberg would have to get midwestern Trump voters on his side as well. “And I’m sorry, a guy that wants to take away your Slurpee is gonna have a real problem in coal-mining towns!” she exclaimed.
“And you know what? A guy who wants to take away your health care is in even worse shape!” Behar shot back.
“You know what, Joy? I’ve been right about election stuff and you’ve been wrong,” McCain shouted at her. “Trust me on this.” When Behar asked how she’s been wrong, McCain told her, “You thought Trump was going to lose in 2016 and I didn’t.” As Behar noted that Trump “did actually lose” the popular vote, McCain asked, “Does that make you feel good at night? He’s in the White House! It’s a ridiculous thing to say every single day of this show. He’s president. Move on!”
After McCain accused Behar of trying to make herself “feel better,” the moderator replied, “I don’t want to make myself feel better, I want him out!”
The impact of Attorney General William Barr’s intervention in the Roger Stone sentencing won’t just be felt in the cases concerning President Donald Trump’s allies, current and former Justice Department officials warn. It’s cost the Justice Department one of its top public-corruption prosecutors at a time when public corruption is looking like a growth industry.
“It’s troubling and heartbreaking to see someone as talented and dedicated as Jonathan was known to be leaving under these circumstances,” said a federal prosecutor who requested anonymity during a precarious moment for the Justice Department. “His loss is all the greater given his focus on prosecuting fraud and corruption, at a time when both crimes appear to be on the march.”
“It’s heartbreaking to see someone as talented as Jonathan leaving under these circumstances... His loss is all the greater given his focus on prosecuting fraud and corruption, at a time when both crimes appear to be on the march.”
— federal prosecutor
Before joining Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election interference and its connections to Trumpworld, Kravis, who had also served in the Justice Department’s public-integrity section, scored several anti-corruption victories against high-profile targets. In 2016, he helped convict former Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah on a host of charges including bribery, wire fraud and racketeering. A year earlier, he helped prosecute three aides to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign for effectively bribing an Iowa state senator to endorse Paul ahead of the Iowa caucus.
“He was probably one of the best public integrity prosecutors this country has,” a former colleague, Glenn Kirschner, told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell after the Stone prosecutors quit.
Kravis did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Just as important as Kravis himself is the position that he held. The public-corruption section within the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has widespread prosecutorial authority over the federal government, as well as election activities. “In this administration, it along with SDNY [the Southern District of New York] are the two most important venues for public corruption prosecutions. It’s a significant loss to that office,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
And it comes at a time when there is no shortage of public-corruption targets. Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a former Justice Department public-integrity line prosecutor, pointed to the president’s conflicts of interests deriving from the retention of his business empire as an early signal of toleration for brazen public graft.
“There’s corruption at the federal government at a level we’ve perhaps never seen before,” Bookbinder said. “Somebody like Kravis resigning under the circumstances he did, and the entire team on the Stone prosecution withdrawing, is pretty clearly a protest that these line prosecutors believe DOJ was interfering for political reasons.” The Justice Department has spent all week denying the allegation.
Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University, said Kravis’ departure was “bad for the nation,” but considered its broader importance to be what it augurs for the independence of the Justice Department.
“In light of Barr’s change in the sentence recommendation for Stone, after Trump voiced his displeasure, this norm can no longer be assumed,” Gillers said. “That reality will discourage not only lawyers now working at DOJ from remaining, but also discourage good applicants who do not want to join a Department where their decisions may be subject to political interference.”
“When someone like Jonathan Kravis leaves the office,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney, “that means he will be replaced by someone hired by the new U.S. attorney, Timothy Shea, whose conduct today does not instill a lot of confidence in his integrity, in contrast to Jonathan Kravis, whose conduct is consistent with the best traditions of the independence of the Department of Justice.” (Shea is a former Barr aide whom Barr recently installed as acting U.S. attorney for D.C.)
CREW’s Bookbinder added that losing respected public-corruption prosecutors poses a unique challenge. Their high-profile, politically powerful targets frequently argue in court that the prosecutors themselves are corrupt. “You really need people with expertise and credibility who can come in and do those cases and not have anyone question what their agenda is,” Bookbinder said.
But instead, said Joshua Geltzer, a former Justice Department national-security official, “you’re seeing more people leave who dislike Trump and more [loyalists] coming in. Trump brought such a politicized, polarized vision about who runs the executive branch that his effect on those leaving and entering the federal workforce is more dramatic than previous presidents.”
After Senate Republicans saved Trump from impeachment, the president and his allies accelerated their efforts at making Main Justice an adjunct of the White House. In addition to the Stone sentencing reversal, Barr is now undercutting Mueller’s guilty plea from former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, for lying to the FBI. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates, whom Trump fired after she warned that Flynn was a counterintelligence liability, wrote in The Washington Post on Friday that the president was using the Justice Department for “retribution or camouflage.”
“The president has made it clear that his insistence on loyalty includes loyalty from the institutions that administer criminal justice, including DOJ and the FBI,” said NYU’s Gellers. “You might say without exaggeration that Trump wants personal loyalty from the rule of law itself.”