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In the wake of the dust-up of Don Imus' racist remarks against the Rutgers Women's basketball team, a number of people showed themselves predictably tone-deaf on the race issue. Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, and other bats in the right-wing cave remained characteristically upside down and without light, opting to distract the discourse to hip-hop music or other topics, lest their own records on the race issue become subject to too much sunlight before an angry public. And some politicians got a little stuck to the fly-paper, like the sinking ship of the John McCain campaign, and the curious waffling of John Kerry, not directly refusing to go on the program.
    But almost lost in the background noise is the extremly curious, unprovoked, attack by New York City Mayor (Jump the Hudson River here!)
   

Michael Bloomberg against neighboring New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, badly hurt in a car crash as he was speeding at 91-miles per hour on the Garden State Parkway on his way to meet with both the Rutgers Women's Basketball team and now-fired shock jock Don Imus. In a press conference, Bloomie, in a rather calculated way, made a point of criticizing Corzine for reportedly not wearing a seat belt, and, in effect, rushing there "just for a photo op." Aside from the blatant falsehood of the statement, little examined in the halls of the usual array of media pundits, it betrayed an attitude on the part of the Mayor that he seems to be stone-cold deaf on the issue of race.
   That has some significance for at least two reasons:
   1) He has harbored some aspirations for running for president. His current term as NYC mayor runs to 2010, but, given his age, 2008 might be the year to try. And, having spent some $74 million of his own money getting elected as NYC mayor, he could self-fund a significant portion of a presidential bid. So far, he has not denied that he will run. And tabloid media sleazeball Rupert Murdoch has even said he would back Bloomie for the presidency, which could generate lots of future photo-ops for Mike guaranteed to appear in supermarket checkout counters everywhere (Daily Intelligencer, 3-3-2207).
   2)Before the Imus controversy, there was a huge outcry in NYC over the 50 plus bullets fired into Sean Bell, who was leaving a bar from his batchelor party, unarmed,  and was shot to death by undercover and then uniformed police officers. Sean Bell was black, and some of the police officers in the shooting were black, but it still struck a raw nerve in the community as the apparantly excessive number of shots fired smacked of racism. Community leaders called for the firing of NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Bloomie turned a deaf ear to their complaints.
   In short, Bloomie may yet decide to try to buy the presidency, yet he seems to be going out of his way to make a public display of indifference to the black community. Is this the kind of "character" voters would like to see in a presidential candidate. IMO, Bloomie's snub of Corzine as "chasing a photo-op" seems less calculated to hurt Corzine--a fellow Wall Streeter and Salomon Brothers manager--and more designed to send a political signal. But, to whom?
   One answer may have to do with securing the base of hard-core Republicans, for both New York City politics, and national politics. In an illuminating article not quoted often enough, Village Voice reporter Tom Robbins did an article in his paper titled "Bloomberg's tainted outer-borough ally,"(Village Voice 10-18-2005). Two items are noteworthy from the article: That Staten Island provided more than enough votes for Bloomie to win the mayor's race; and that the Staten Island pols
are alleged to have links--named in the article--with organized crime.  
   At the same time, two of the other boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens in particular, is suffering a rate of bankruptcy from sub-prime loans so high that it has brough Queens to national attention. Add to that that Queens is second only to one county in Texas in the depth of poverty, nation-wide. Bloomie's attitude is a low-key variety of Marie Antoinette's "let-them-eat cake," i.e. the laissez faire stance that the bankruptcies are the "free market at work" (Daily Intelligencer, 3030-2007).  
  If you take a look at the mayor's long term plan, it openly states that downtown NYC (read Wall Street) is the centerpiece of planning efforts (NYC.gov, Bloomberg's speech on the office of long-term planning and sustainability's plan, 2-26-2007). Loosely translated, it involves 300 neighborhood councils more or less co-operating in gentrification. Anyone with a speculative bent can see that this means soaring real estate values both downtown, and in residential areas that are a short commute from Wall Street, such as, Staten Island! The potential for real estate windfalls is certainly there, for those with the available cash to capitalize on the opportunity. By the same token, those without will be forced to give way to those with cash-on-hand. There is a large potential transfer of wealth about to take place, in NYC real estate.
  Bloomie is hardly one to criticize another politician for pursuing "photo-ops." He's stood before the camera at the annual stickball competition between the NYC Police Dept. and the NYC Fire Dept. And, BTW, imitating Bush by then promptly implementing policies that are the opposite of what seems to be going on in the photo-op. Thus, the stickball appearance did neither the police or firemen much good when Bloomie cut death benefits for both groups, the ones who dug out Ground Zero to make the Wall Street redevelopment possible, reducing death benefits from 100 percent to 50 percent (Officer.com, reprinting a New York Post article by Carl Campanile and David Seifer 10-20-2006).
  In fact, Bloomie has developed a reputation as a stumblebum in the photo-op area. Governing.com did a whole story on Mike for Mayor's photo-bungles, titled How Bloomberg Flubs his photo-ops( August 2004). The howler that got the most prominent mention was when there was a need to find some shelter for the homeless, when green-eyeshade Mike offered a vacant prison facility, setting off howls of protest in the community, shocked at how unaware Upper East Side Mike was tone-deaf to the symbolism of putting free citizens (some of color) into a prison facility.
   Then there was the photo-op where Mike opposed a transportation union contract (big surprise) and showed up at the press conference with his "impromptu" substitute transportation, a $540 mountain bike, promply dubbed by the union Mike's "strike bike." And when there was a known terror threat against the subway system, Mike used a photo op to show him riding the subway, probably intended to instill confidence, but inspiring questions like: what was he thinking?
   Granted, Bloomberg hasn't yet escalated his level of consistent faux pax to the level of George W. Bush--the aircraft carrier photo-op to announce the end of major combat operations in Iraq--nearly $1 Trillion ago. Or the mid-level bungles, as when Bush was shown to fake the levee repairs for a photo-op on 9-3-2006, chronicled on AmericaBlog. Or even the routine W mishaps, such as a wide-angle lens photo on 9-11-2006, published right here on Daily Kos, that showed just how phoney the stagecraft of W and Laura looked, as the tight shot looked important and the wide angle lens shot showed them almost entirely alone.
   Yet, in the eyes of the National Rifle Association, Bloomberg has been accused of being anti-gun, pressing some 240 big city mayors into a conference on problems of big cities, stressing an agenda of no-smoking, control of illegal handguns, and disease reduction in the area of AIDS, diabetes and obesity (no-trans fats in restaurants). Students of power politics (read Machiavelli) would view this as an attempt to build a national power base (perhaps for a presidential bid); cynics might see it as a way of improving cities so that values would increase on their tax-free bonds; but the NRA sees is as not much more than a "photo-op." So, readers, the point of this paragraph is to draw the contrast between Corzine's ill-fated trip to Rutgers to talk with the basketball team and shock jock Don Imus (which only Bloomberg called a photo op), and the work that went into the big city mayors' conference, which of course yielded its own photo-0p for Mayor Mike.
  IMO, Bloomie not only demeaned himself by criticizing Corzine, and the meeting at Rutgers, but opened the curtain a bit on just how cold-blooded he really is. Americans had a glimpse of it when the [protestors tried to demonstrate at the Democratic Convention in New York City. Years later, we learn that the Mayor and the Police Commissioner had undercover operatives working The Entire United States, spying illegally on church groups, anti war protestors, and quite possibly acting as agents provacateurs, attempting to entrap people into committing crimes they would not otherwise have even thought of.
   Bloomberg has tried to escalate the photo-op charge also against Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House of Representatives, who of course is a Democrat, and even the Democrat who said (much to the groans of many Democrats) that impeachment was off the table. Bloomie ventured the photo-op slime-term in connection with Pelosi's visit to Syria, which of course was an attempt to moderate the impending neo-con induced saber-rattling widely expected to presage another first-strike policy disaster in a war with Iran.
   Bloomie, reportedly more comfortable doing a powerpoint presentation than mingling with real people, has publicly expressed concern at various times that his aloof demeanor would not help him in the rough and tumble of street-level retail politics. With so many Democrats in the presidential race, doing so well in the polls, Mike for Mayor's latest photo-op slime comment against Corzine might be a bit of sour grapes, as he sees Guiliani in the Repub Party (inexplicably, I might add, to those of us in the Metro NYC area who saw his crackdown on poor people in general) actually edging toward the brass ring. But is also shows quite a bit of what Real Republicans vehemently deny--that they are mean spirited.
  IMO, the next time Bloomie tries to apply the photo-op charge to another Democratic candidate for president, all they have to do is refer back to another Bloomie faux pas (see his bio on Wikipedia). On his drivers license, it says, Mike lists his height as 5 ft 10 inches, whereas Wikipedia says even 5'7'' would be a generous assessment. If he lies at such a small, basic "photo-op" as a driver's license (More shocking when you consider that he is an Eagle Scout), then it raises questions on what else he would bend the truth on. His criticism of Corzine may have played well in Staten Island (Hannity country), but it showed just how callous Mike really is on the race issue.
   If Mike gets the itch to run for president, this issue should definitely be on the table.  
   

Originally posted to jfdunphy on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 03:57 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  smoke-free tip jar? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pioneer111

    tips, cash or American Express

  •  Sad as Gov. Corzine's accident was, why was he (7+ / 0-)

    rushing at 91 mph with sirens on to go to a meeting with Don Imus and the Rutgers players?  It appears odd, don't you think?.

  •  This is possibly one of the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smedley Hirkum, tvb, debedb

    most unfair diaries about any politician that I've read at this weblog. Do you live in NYC?

    "Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." ~ Diderot

    by Bouwerie Boy on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 03:59:39 PM PDT

  •  Gotta tell ya - (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bouwerie Boy, debedb

    I like Mayor Mike.

  •  Bloomberg's Running (0+ / 0-)

    It's well known in NYC political circles that Bloomberg is running for president in 2008. Even if he drops out, especially before he announces, his campaign staff is running. If Bloomberg drops out, his campaign will just hire itself out to some other campaign, fully warmed up.

    Don't let Bloomberg be the president. He's an OK NYC mayor (which makes him better than most Republican prez candidates). But his flaws are serious. First and foremost, the power of an NYC billionaire with a fully functioning major business news and market info service network is much too much power for one person. Look at Italy's fascist Berlusconi. Think of eviler Rupert Murdoch running smaller Australia. Bloomberg will of course run America for the rich, the way he's running NYC. We can handle it better than the country at large. And after Bloomberg has helped raise so much money to perpetuate Bush's regime, and kept the awful (R-NY) Governor Pataki driving our great state into debt and disrepair, it's obvious that Bloomberg would keep our country in the hands of the corporate hacks we so desperately need to get it away from.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 04:23:25 PM PDT

    •  Not blkoody likely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      debedb

      It's widely speculated, but hardly "well-known in NYC political cirlces." He's a sharp guy -- he knows he's too liberal for the Republican Party, and that a liberal Jewish billionaire is not the kind of guy who gets support from independents. There is no reason for him to run, except ego. And he's smarter than allowing his ego to be crushed like that.

      Tell me, will you publish a diary explaining that you were dead wrong, when it becomes clear that he is not running?

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

      by FischFry on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 04:56:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  NY'ers Don't Say "Bloody" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jfdunphy, debedb

        Well, I advise the NYC City Council (legislature) for several years. We've been hearing specific developments for over a year. And I work directly with a Mayor's Office official (an executive) in a separate business, who is part of Giuliani's campaign, and he's confirmed that Bloomberg is running.

        So while you're free to speculate on your info, I have some confidence in speculating on mine. Tell me, how are you qualified to comment on what's "well-known in NYC political circles"?

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 06:03:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't think the NYC channels reached (0+ / 0-)

        all the way to Philly ... Is Bloomie on CNN that much?

  •  excellent diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfdunphy

    One complaint however - can you put some links in for confirmation purposes?

    When do I get to vote on your marriage?

    by tvb on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 04:39:10 PM PDT

  •  It's diaries like this. . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    debedb

    that make me wonder how any Democrat anywhere ever gets elected.

    In addition to the general lack of facts, the diarist may not be aware that Bloomberg, a billionaire Jewish Republican from Boston, got just shy of 50% of the black vote in New York in the last election.  The magnitude of that achievement is almost unimaginable.

    He sure didn't do it by acting like Don Imus.

    I happen to like Bloomberg on the whole and the job he's done in the city.  But even people -- or perhaps especially people -- who don't like him shouldn't live in some fantasy world in which they avoid even the tiniest recognition of what's actually happening in the body politic.

    Don't blame me -- I voted for Weicker.

    by LarryInNYC on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 06:04:10 PM PDT

    •  Citations were provided ... (0+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:
      debedb

      if you fail to read them or check them ... well, that's the free market at work ...

      •  here's some citation checking for you (0+ / 0-)

        You don't give links. You mistype the dates in some
        of them. And then you site secondary sources:

        Your "let them eat cake" refers to "Daily Intelligencer, 3030-2007". I was able to find it at http://nymag.com/... but all it says is:

        Mayor Bloomberg is dishing out some of his patented TLC as thousands in Brooklyn and Queens begin defaulting on their high-interest mortgages: It's "the marketplace at work," he explains. "You can blame the people that borrowed the money." Stop griping! [NYDN]

        And the Daily News article says (emphasis mine):

        Mayor Bloomberg said it was "sad" that thousands of New Yorkers were losing their homes because of subprime mortgages.

        But there's nothing he can do to help - and he suggests that subprime lenders and the borrowers are equally to blame.

        You also write:

        Governing.com did a whole story on Mike for Mayor's photo-bungles, titled How Bloomberg Flubs his photo-ops( August 2004).

        I thought the typos in 2 references to Daily Intelligencer was an accident. Now it appears you just want to confuse the readers and then smugly say that you sited the sources. Because Governing.com does not have a story entitled that. The August '04 story is "Late Bloomer". Regarding what you describe as

        The howler that got the most prominent mention was when there was a need to find some shelter for the homeless, when green-eyeshade Mike offered a vacant prison facility, setting off howls of protest in the community, shocked at how unaware Upper East Side Mike was tone-deaf to the symbolism of putting free citizens (some of color) into a prison facility.

        it reads, in prominently mentioned 7th paragraph (emphasis mine):

        Yet Bloomberg has learned a lot about politics since his early months as mayor, when he appeared at times to possess none of the most routine political instincts for his job. When the city’s intake center for the homeless overflowed, Bloomberg suggested that an unused jail in the Bronx could be used as a backup. "He didn’t understand the symbolism of it all — putting homeless families in a jail," says Arnold Cohen, director of the Partnership for the Homeless. "He was so politically tone deaf in the beginning that he was surprised by how vehement the opposition was."

        For this in combination with smug responses to request for citations, a TR on such responses. How ya like them big apples?

    •  Plus if you can prove any facts are wrong (0+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:
      debedb

      you can cite your research in the comments. Factual corrections welcome, in the citizen journalist tradition.

  •  Quick update NBC News reports Corzine now (0+ / 0-)

    breathing on his own .... good news, it seems ....

  •  what should he do? (0+ / 0-)

    Bloomie's attitude is a low-key variety of Marie Antoinette's "let-them-eat cake," i.e. the laissez faire stance that the bankruptcies are the "free market at work" (Daily Intelligencer, 3030-2007).  

    And you'd expect the mayor to do what?

    •  Stop looking to provoke an incident over (0+ / 0-)

      the race issue, for starters ... Sort of a basic idea in a city he calls one of the more culturally diverse in the world ...
        Address the bankruptcy issues in sub-prime lending ... do more about affordable housing in NYC ... Work on bringing real jobs to NYC, as Wall Street jobs only get you so far ... plus there's a big disparity between the year-end bonus class and the sandwich-delivery class .... All things kind of covered in the post 9-11-2001 news coverage ...

      •  I see (0+ / 0-)

        Point 1 is a non sequitur.

        Point 2: How can a mayor address bankruptcy
        issues?

        Point 3: I don't see the connection of affordable housing to foreclosures. It's not like you can't rent.

        Point 4. What's a 'real job'?

        •  Have you tried renting in NYC? (0+ / 0-)

          Defense rests ....

          •  Yes I have. (0+ / 0-)

            Defense wishes to continue?

            •  See dictionary for definition of word "rests" ... (0+ / 0-)

              n/t

              •  Forgive me (0+ / 0-)

                I did and still don't understand you rpoint.

                •  Try this .... The Repubs are searching for (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  debedb

                  another code word or gimmick that will replicate the effect on the Republican Base that "Willie Horton" did for Bush 41, the whispering campaign against John McCain in South Carolina that the rival had a "black child," (which gambit helped W. secure the Repub nomination for himself), etc. Like hundreds of picadors, these Repubs come out from their offices, and keep trying to "stab the bull" so that it bleeds a little each time, so that when the matador comes in (in their mind, the main Repub presidential candidate), the opponent has lost so much political blood that the electoral vote goes against them (the Democrats).
                    They will try anything, and do anything, but typically their ace divisive ploy is to stir up racial tensions, which plays well in the South, but is not restricted to that region for "good results" for their divide-and-conquer strategy.  
                     This is one reason why Democrats should care about this issue, IMO. By making the clearly calculated comment, Bloomie is playing the race card for the Repubs. It is quite clear what he is doing. New York State and New York City are among the biggest economies in the world, and New Jersey, thanks to chemical and pharmaceutical companies, is no economic slouch either. Bloomie knows very well what he is doing, and he's doing it at a time when he knows racial tensions are higher than average. IMO, it's the Repub equivalent of "Bring it on." The political significance, IMO, is that with fundraising for the Repubs starting to lag behind Democratic fundraising, so early in the 2008 race, the Repubs are going to the race card early... and will probably do so often.
                    Only time will tell if the electorate of the 2008 race is different from the George Wallace constituency of earlier years. The groundswell of support for Senator Barak Obama may presage a change for less bigotry in the voting public, and the public support for the Rutgers Women's team against Imus may be another indicator of a real change.
                     Bloomie's remarks, IMO, are part of a Repub strategy to play the race card to the hilt. It is probably well focus-grouped, and there will be lots of other "issues" advanced, swift-boat style, to try to disguise the centrality of their race-baiting to their strategy. For Bloomie to do this in light of the Sean Bell shooting, and the Rutgers vs Imus dust-up, sends a clear signal that the Repubs intend to run the old playbook of race and class issues until they no longer work for them.
                    If enough people fall for it, or get swindled out of their vote,  and a Repub gets in, IMO, at that point the Repubs will have to go immediately to a draft to support these wars of aggression.  In this election, the immigration issue will invoke overtones of additional racism against Latinos, especially in the Southwest.
                    That's the bet. The Repubs are betting that the race issues will carry them over the finish line again. If you have draft age kids, you have a lot at stake in the 2008 election.

                  •  wait wait (0+ / 0-)

                    I agree that he may not be above the coded speech
                    and playing the race card. I just don't see where
                    it is in any instance that you cited (excepting
                    the jail as a homeless shelter, but again, that
                    was early on)

  •  I am not a big fan of Bloomberg (0+ / 0-)

    But it takes serious effort to care even a bit
    about most of your 'outrages'. (I agree about Corzine
    thing being a photo-op, and really, who cares,
    everybody does that). But I mean... drivers license?
    Foreclosures? Yawn...

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