Monday, October 26, 2009

"Unprecedented Economic Ills"

We had thought that it would do little good to comment on the editorials of support coming from both the NY Post and the NY Daily News for the re-election of Mike Bloomberg-and we let the Post fatuous hosannas stand without critique-but sometimes we just can't help ourselves. And when it comes to yesterday's Daily News canonization effort, its gag response-inducing encomiums had to to be challenged.

First, there's the issue of greater choice-a guffaw when the mayor first used it as a rationale for overturning the will of the voters on term limits: "As for term limits, Bloomberg was right, in our estimation, because the extension has given November's voters greater choice. Had he bowed out, the winner of the Democratic primary would be coasting to victory as the public's sole option."

Of course, this dishonestly elides the fact that the Democratic field would have looked like Grand Central during rush hour if the prospects of the $100 million man wasn't looming in November-and neither the News or the Post mentions, or gives a tinker's damn, about the obscene levels of Bloomberg spending that gives the notion of choice a distinctively hollow ring.

All of which underscores how the tabloid press has failed to live up to the journalistic injunction of, "speaking truth to power." Hard to do when your all so cozy as bugs in the same billionaire rug. And Morticia has some more side-slappers in his slavish obeisance: "And, freed of electoral considerations, Bloomberg could swing for the fences without regard to political fallout. The rule would have to be: all pragmatism, all the time. No calculations of the sort that won labor peace through outsize raises."

Translation: We can't be honest, so in the tank as we are, and say that Mike Bloomberg was as crassly political as any Tammany ward-healer in his first two terms-and gave away the store to the municipal labor force while raising taxes and bloating the public payroll. Now, however, as we have already commented, he can play Mack the Knife with impunity.

And, since Bloomberg has already exhibited a callous disregard for the fate of small businesses and community quality of life-see Jim Dwyer's piece in Sunday's NY Times on the plundering of Bronx parkland-we can only imagine what an unfettered Bloomberg will do in the next four years. This prospect, however, doesn't phase the Park Avenue crowd-safe in the knowledge that the mayor will always look after their interests.

But, why won't Mike raise taxes some more-like he did in 2002? "Freed from electoral consideration," Mike could continue to be Mike and, as he did with the sales tax hike in this election year, continue to adhere to his Lindsay-like philosophy of sticking it to middle class tax payers. And in its brief lukey warm shout out to Thompson, the News inadvertently hits on this theme: "He has also given voice, constructively, to New Yorkers' real frustrations with living in a city where everything seems to go up but paychecks."

But the role of Bloomberg, in both creating as well as exacerbating this situation, is left unexamined by the hagiographer at 33rd Street: "Finally, New York is beset by unprecedented economic ills that will force the next occupant of City Hall to do more with far less. Who would you trust to get that mountain of a job done?

Breathtaking! No critique at all of the way in which Bloomberg has outspent even David Dinkins, raising taxes to unprecedented levels-shuttering small stores all over the city as a consequence; and has obligated the tax payers for the next fifty years with bloated pensions for a municipal workforce that has increased in the manner of Mickey Mouse's duplicating brooms in Fantasia's Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Let's face it, we have as free a press when it comes to this mayor as the old Soviet Union-at least as far as the tabloid editorial boards are concerned, And did anyone think that Pinch would come out swinging against the $100 million man? Sorry, this Pinch hasn't grown an inch.

Here's his "excoriation" of the man who simply made a mockery of campaign finance reform-in the paper's overall enthusiastic endorsement of its future bail out hope: "Like Mr. Thompson, who has made the mayor’s wealth a major issue, most New Yorkers are concerned about Mr. Bloomberg’s spending $85 million — so far — to win re-election. In his first campaign in 2001, he argued that he was spending so much to introduce himself. Now a nationally recognized figure, he argues that as a candidate running on Republican and Independent Party lines, he needs to fight for votes in a city that is so predominantly Democratic. We think Mr. Bloomberg exaggerates his vulnerability. New York City’s campaign finance system is one of the best in the country. He does everyone a disservice by not complying with the system’s limits on spending."

But it should be pointed out that, as bad as the editorial boards have been, the reporters and columnists-especially at the News and the Times, have distinguished themselves in an effort to provide balance and perspective about the Reign of Mike. And Adam Lisberg does just that in yesterday's News, by pointedly critiquing the mayor's blatant tax dishonesty: "Bloomberg has been careful not to make an explicit no-new-taxes pledge, though, telling a Crain's breakfast last week: "Nobody can ever promise for sure that they won't raise taxes." He should know: The last time he said he wouldn't raise taxes was his 2001 campaign, which was followed by his 18% property tax hike to fill a $6 billion budget gap. Which could add up to a bit of a credibility problem."

Yah think? And going back to the phony claim that the voters have more choice with Mike running for a third term, it might be nice for Mort to muse a bit on how a $100 million dollar flood of ads and mailings not only sucks the air out of the democratic debate, but also limits the voters' awareness's that there is even another candidate running-making the argument for more choice ludicrous. In fact, the only way most New Yorkers are aware of a Bloomberg opponent comes from the attack ads that we've seen proliferating in the final weeks of this one sided campaign. Choice? More like Grade A fraud.

So, with "unprecedented economic ills" facing New Yorkers, we have one candidate running from his tax and spend record, while using his vast fortune to attack his opponent as duplicitous on-of all things, taxes. As Lisberg points out: "But he hasn't said how he'll balance the budget either. When reporters asked him the other day, this was his response: "I'll talk at another time. I can't in two seconds here outline how you're going to balance the budget. It's much too serious for that, and much more complex." We're still waiting for a more serious and complex answer. In the meantime, we have those TV ads and mailers slamming Thompson. Shown a copy of one of Bloomberg's mailers last week, one of Bloomberg's highest-paid advisers shrugged and said, "Thompson is not running on his record either." Then he walked away."

Just as the editorial boards of the Post and the News have walked away from the truth about Mike and his record-so intent, as they are at acting as an amen chorus for their leading classmate. We can't wait for the fallout when the financial sh#t hits the fan-and when it does, the shameful sycophancy of the editorialists will stand exposed..