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Trump Jr. fundraises for Zeldin

Donald Trump, Jr. on Oct. 15, 2019.

Donald Trump, Jr. on Oct. 15, 2019. Credit: AP/Eric Gay

Daily Point

Fundraising for a “friend”

Some very expensive copies of Donald Trump Jr.’s new book will be on sale in St. James on Thursday. 

As part of a fundraiser for Rep. Lee Zeldin, the president’s eldest son will sign copies of “Triggered” at Flowerfield, an event venue in St. James. An unsigned book goes for $150 while a signed one sets you back $200. Sponsorships that cost $5,600 will get donors six VIP tickets, signed books, and “special recognition at event,” according to an invitation Zeldin posted on Facebook. 

When someone responded to the post asking whether tickets were still available earlier this week, Zeldin’s account replied that “we still have a few remaining.” But insiders say it’s set to be a packed house raising more than $200,000 for the Shirley Republican, who is already far ahead of potential CD1 Democratic challengers in fundraising. 

It’s no surprise that Trump Jr. would take his book tour to Suffolk County for Zeldin. The new author has called Zeldin “my friend” on Twitter and has fundraised for him before. These days, Zeldin is one of President Donald Trump’s most vocal defenders in the House of Representatives, where impeachment hearings continued Wednesday. 

It comes as no surprise that activists who plan to protest the book event criticize Zeldin’s Trump ties. 

“Zeldin continues to put his own political future and his misguided loyalty to President Trump ahead of the needs of his working class constituency,” the North Country Peace Group said in a  statement. 

The group has protested at Zeldin functions, including his district office this spring, when members demonstrated against U.S. involvement in the Yemen conflict and the U.S.-supplied bomb that in 2018 killed dozens there, including children.

After that protest, group member Myrna Gordon says Zeldin’s staff arranged a future meeting, but the timing didn’t work for the group. She said the group tried to reschedule but hasn’t had success with Zeldin’s office. 

Will the impeachment inquiry and focus on Trump bring out more people than usual to the protest, even as Trump defenders throng to buy their “Triggered”? 

Gordon says the group has gotten a good response so far but that it’s too soon to tell. 

“It's always an unknown how many people will show up.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Speaking to the people

Wednesday night will be the fifth debate of this Democratic presidential primary cycle, and Andrew Yang is still afloat. 

With money to burn and poll numbers higher than many of his competitors, he’s likely in no rush to leave. 

The New York businessman’s 2018 book, “The War on Normal People,” gives a good sense of his enduring if concentrated appeal. It’s more a TED Talk than a memoir, but Yang comes across as clever and unfussy. He doesn’t try much to be “relatable” — he’s open about living in a coastal bubble. But the drive of the book comes from his sense that the bubble-dwellers ignore the tough lives of other people — to everyone’s peril.

Yang thinks it’s about to get worse with automation destroying jobs. This is where an early version of his “Freedom Dividend” comes in, paying $1,000 a month to many Americans. 

He has other ideas: lowering health care costs by using artificial intelligence to reduce expensive doctor training, for example. And it may be this kind of outside-the-box thinking that Americans want, so they’re willing to look at another Empire State business guy with no government background. 

There is a lot in Yang’s book that might have crossover appeal to Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters or even the kinds of disaffected voters who helped boost Trump. Beyond liberal favorite Ta-Nehisi Coates, conservative writers J.D. Vance and David Brooks are namechecked dutifully here, and Yang cuts bluntly through the usual politically correct niceties. Work as a home health care aide is a “terrible job,” he writes. College-educated women don’t want to marry non-college-educated men, “quite understandably.” 

But sometimes, a sentence will pop that appears less blunt than a bit eye-bulging. Intellect and attractiveness are converging in certain families and neighborhoods due to “assortative mating,” he writes. Video games are a “big reason” why men aren’t working. “History would suggest” a violent revolution coming with technological change. He imagines a dark picture of a trucker protest turning into the apocalypse. The people at the top during this time of revolution will be “whites, Jews and Asians,” with a broiling underclass below.

It’s dramatic and different, though “normal” can be necessary sometimes, too. 

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point


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Final Point

Bloomberg’s about-face

What was Michael Bloomberg’s calculation when he went to a black church in East New York, Brooklyn over the weekend to apologize for his stop-and-frisk policy? 

Bloomberg’s critics immediately cried pandering. The former New York City mayor as recently as this year had been defending the policy that led to thousands of disproportionate stops of black and Hispanic New Yorkers. Those skeptical of his motives wonder what changed beyond the possibility that he may face black Democratic primary voters if he enters the 2020 campaign.

A Bloomberg adviser tells The Point that Hizzoner has engaged in this issue as he considers a presidential run, including meetings with stop-and-frisk foes like Geoffrey Canada, president of the Harlem Children’s Zone, and Derrick Johnson, NAACP head. 

Bloomberg has said he was trying to get guns off the streets, and his speech was straightforward about evolving on the issue. But it’s hard to fully explain the abrupt turn.

It could be that the potential White House hopeful thinks he just had to say the words and the worst of the consequences would be over. Imagine the question coming to Bloomberg in a debate in the coming months: he says he has apologized already and the moderator moves on. Meanwhile, other candidates have their own problems with old stances on issues that affected the black community. Take Joe Biden’s recent apology for portions of the wide-ranging 1994 crime bill that had support at the time but helped deepen mass incarceration. Sen. Bernie Sanders also voted for the bill, though he criticized parts of it. 

Those angry at Bloomberg for the policy won’t be voting for him anyway, might be one argument. Outside of New York, NYPD directives may be less well-understood. And what politician hasn’t flip-flopped?

A look at the gun policy nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety might be instructive. Bloomberg doesn’t directly run the group now, but it bears his imprint as a founder and major funder. As with his political stances, the organization straddles the liberal-centrist divide with its focus on guns along with a dutiful respect for law enforcement. The group’s website often responds to shootings of police and underscores how guns endanger cops.

And, like Bloomberg, the group doesn’t appear averse to strategically adjusting with the times. It once “deemphasized an assault weapons ban,” reported ProPublica in 2014, citing a 10-question gun policy survey the group gave to federal candidates that didn’t ask about such a ban.

By 2019, post-Parkland, the group’s site was arguing that “states can reduce gun violence by prohibiting assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

The Bloomberg adviser said the potential candidate did not poll on stop and frisk. But it’s clear where the wind was blowing.  

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano