Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Prime Choice, or Recalled Beef?

NYC is really no longer anything but a democracy in name only-not when the city's richest man is literally buying up support (and buying off opposition) with record monetary outlays; those that can be seen as well as those that fly below the radar. Which is why, as the NY Daily News' Michael Goodwin explains, it looks as if Mike Bloomberg is headed for a coronation: "These days, realists are everywhere in New York City. The sense that Bloomberg is headed to an inevitable victory in November is gaining so much steam that in certain quarters, the election is shaping up as a coronation. Is it over? Should, as a friend half-seriously suggested, the city just call the whole thing off and save the money?"

Now this isn't what we were lead to expect when Mayor Mike usurped the popular will in the term limits override. Remember when he told us that this would lead to more choice? No one really believed him then, and certainly there are no true believers left on this score. What Mike the Narcissist meant was that his presence was the only choice New Yorkers really needed.

Which is why we are left with a out of control mayoral election spending excess that is already-even when the opposition is either absent or in quiet retreat-setting new records. As Liz Benjamin points out: "Here's Mayor Bloomberg's latest TV ad, which touts his five-borough economic plan, and features the mayor saying that while he can't fix the national or worldwide economies (no matter how much he might wish he could) he can "take care of the New Yorkers who are here now."

What chutzpah! Here's a guy, whose tax, spend and regulate policies have killed the city's Main Streets, telling New Yorkers that he's Mr. Fix It. As one liberal critic of the mayor underscores: "What we have now is New York's richest citizen, flooding our TV stations with ads that drown out the voice of the opposition, and living in a tragic disconnect from the average citizen of the city. Here is a man with the warmth of a snapping turtle and the charm of an impatient bank teller waiting for his lunch break, offering to work for a dollar a year for the pleasure of holding on to power. And power is the ultimate pleasure for the man who has everything."

But what about his touted expertise? "A frightened population, losing jobs, and seeing so many store windows shuttered, while prices rise as incomes fall, may turn to this Messiah to save them. I can see very little about this man of great wealth that understands the lives of ordinary citizens -- actually extraordinary citizens for having managed to live in New York during the past ten years of unrestricted growth. He may ride the subway from time to time, but it's a tourist ride, not a necessary way to get to a necessary job."

How true, but the liberal critic misses just how much the policies that he agrees with the mayor on are the very ones that have made the city one of the worst places to do business in the entire country. Yes he has done too much big building; but his edifice complex has been concomitant with a disdain for all of the small businesses that really bring a rich diversity and economic well being to New York.

Still, left and right agree that a coronation is on the horizon; and that the prospect is a knife in the back to real democracy: "I keep hoping that the Democrats will get behind a human scale candidate and put up a decent fight against this Mayor -- but I don't see one in sight. The Bloomberg landslide that seems likely to come is one that may well bury the greatest city we have. He brings the smarts of an accountant rather than the wisdom of a philosopher-king to his office -- and right now we need the philosopher-kings to get us through the hard times. But money not only talks, it shouts, and it can be shaped into a club to beat the opposition into submission. The silence in the Democratic field is deafening as the Bloomberg avalanche rolls on."

All of which makes it incumbent for the local press to ratchet up its vigilance. So what is it doing? Putting the local pols under a microscope for various misdeeds. So while Albany may be the "toxic waste dump" that the News labels it, the city is becoming a royal fiefdom and the manner of the usurpation is left unexamined by the pol-hating editorialists.

Which once again reminds us of our favorite aphorism: “The law in all its majesty punishes the thief for stealing the goose from off of the Commons, but lets the greater felon loose who steals
the Commons from the goose.”