Call him Michael Hosni Bashar Bloomberg. He loves money and power. Democracy and the Constitution, not so much. He is the richest man in New York and 23rd richest man in the world. He is the Mayor of Wall Street (and also, he sometimes forgets, the rest of New York City).
In the dead of night on 15 November, he really earned his $19.5 billion net worth. The shameful way. By ordering the NYPD to thug up and drive the legitimate and peaceful Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and protestors from their 2-month long encampment in Zuccotti Park.
Armored for war and with helicopters hovering as if Lower Manhattan was Anbar Province, Iraq, New York's "finest" (???) in cahoots with private security goons (can you say: Blackwater, Triple Canopy, DynCorp??) wilded on the law-abiding, non-violent (and half-asleep) Occupiers and enquiring journalists alike. This massive Mayor-ordered riot squad in full raid-rage indiscriminately pepper sprayed, kicked, thumped, cracked heads and eventually arrested over 200 people, including at least one bloodied City Council member. Park emptied. Belongings and makeshift Liberty Library books trashed. First Amendment rights routed. Mission accomplished.
Alibiing his appalling action at a morning press conference, the diminutive Bloomberg, dishonest, condescending and tone deaf to irony, declared in his familiar nasally whine that the park was cleared because "health and safety conditions became intolerable". He meant, of course, the wealth and security conditions of the 1%.
Journalist Robert Scheer calls Bloomberg "the villain Occupy Wall Street has been waiting for". More than Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein, JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon, Citibank's Vikram Pandit and all the other faceless fraudsters, bankster gangsters and hedge fund hooligans who make up the top ranks of El-Qaeda of Wall street, Michael Bloomberg is becoming the Mr. GotBucks caricature cartoon of the 1%. He might have been invented by Charles Dickens. Or Orson Welles.
Once upon a time, a Solomon Brothers investment bankster ( eventually sacked with a $10 million golden handshake), Bloomberg then combined his considerable technological foresight with a bundle of money from Merrill, Lynch, to create Bloomberg, L.P., a computerized financial information system, which has hugely contributed to Wall Street's subsequent ability to trade its concocted financial products at lightning speed for dizzying profits. There is also Bloomberg News a sturdy pillar of financial journalism and a staunch Wall Street cheering section. The money rolled in.
In 2001, in search of something more self-signifying, Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat, launched a vanity campaign for Mayor of New York as a Republican. With a fat wallet but no political resume to speak of and uncomfortable shaking hands with poor people who vote, he was bobbing along at borderline oblivion, 16% in the polls. Until 9/11.
Osama Ben Laden changed everything, it has been said. Including Michael Bloomberg's political fortunes. The Mayoral Primary elections had barely just begun that morning as the Twin Towers collapsed in rubble and the city went into terror-shock. When the process of primaries and general election resumed, thanks to Osama's terrible timing and $50 million of his own money (not to mention an endorsement by outgoing Mayor Rudy Mussolini), Bloomberg's fate had gone from invisible to (just barely) invincible. He won by a margin of 2%.
Seemingly sane (compared to his predecessor), slimmed down and boned up on where exactly Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island are located, he came across at first blush as a reasonably sensible and reassuring figure. Nobody knew for sure where he disappeared to in his private jet on weekends, but it didn't much matter.
He began to show a bit of an authoritarian bully streak and a taste for pretzelizing the Bill of Rights when New York hosted the GOP Convention in 2004. Protestors were "kettled" off by the NYPD in "1st Amendment free speech pens" (say what?) far from Madison Square Garden. Positively a negative. But he also shut down smoking in bars and public buildings. A plus. He won re-election in 2005 by 20%.
But what does a man who has everything, except a decent respect for the laws and the Constitution, do when his two official terms as Mayor expire and his political power and lord of the 5 boroughs position revert to nostalgia and the amnesia of history? In Bloomberg's case, he moneyed up and muscled up, coercing the City Council to sell out its own meager integrity and change the law for his personal benefit. Goodbye term limits. Hello Mayor-for-life?
Voters have this naive and innocent notion that because you are already filthy rich, you cannot be corrupted. Ridiculous! Bloomberg forked out close to $100 million bucks for a 3rd bite of the Big Apple. And his continual lobbying and sales-pitching for bonuses, tax breaks and get-out-of-jail -free passes for his Wall Street constituency of mega-criminals, his frequent snarkiness toward unions, especially public school teachers, and now his almost cement-headed misunderstanding of Occupy Wall Street's legitimate beefs against and constitutional rights to protest the Wall Street-Washington DC Axis of Evil and his Gestapo-like efforts to demean, disperse and silence the Movement, show him to be not so much corrupt as morally corroded.
Despite his noted philanthropic largesse and the early political assessment that at least he was not completely insane, as chief defender of the 1% against the 99%, he is now on the wrong side of history and even standing on his wallet seems a small man indeed.
He too much resembles in this fade, the man anchoring the other end of the Wall Street-Washington DC Axis of Evil, President Pipsqueak himself, who seems to be diminishing before our eyes as though viewed from the wrong end of a telescope.
While a virtual conspiracy of Mayors and Chiefs of Police have unleashed in the past week coordinated and choreographed rampant riot upon largely non-violent Occupiers from Oakland to LA, Portland to Seattle, San Diego to Salt Lake City, Chicago to Chapel Hill, Albany and New York City, Obama has been blithely barnstorming around South Asia talking up trade pacts and military bases but nobody's listening.
Obama, Bloomberg and the unholy 1% seem to be occupying an alternate universe and bubble world of greed and corruption, where the 99% constitute a vast peanut gallery looking in from outside. Mugs and marks. Rubes and dupes. Collateral damage of the greatest thievery in the history of the world.
It has been said that in totalitarian and authoritarian dictatorships, the people fear their government. In a Constitutional democracy, the government fears the people. By their constant lies and smears about Occupy Wall Street and by turning loose their dogs of war on the peaceful (if a bit crowded and dissheveled) tent encampments of the Occupiers in the hope of frightening them off, the Mayors and bought off minions of the arrogant and bullying 1% are clearly demonstrating that they are the ones who are scared witless of the 99%.
Two days after Bloomberg's storm troopers "cleansed" Zuccotti Park, over 30,000 people marched through Manhattan from Wall Street to Union Square to downtown Foley Square to the Brooklyn Bridge (where the NYPD over-eagerly busted 700 demonstrators 2 months ago and super-charged the Occupy Wall Street Movement). On this night of action, however, the marchers could look up and see a giant 99% "Bat Signal" projected on to the broad side of the big bland Verizon building in lower Manhattan.
Who's afraid of the Wall Street-Washington DC Axis of Evil? Not us, the 99% are beginning to say loud and clear! Mayor Bloomberg, President Obama can you hear us now??