Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Obama/Bloomberg '12?

Before getting into the speculation du jour, how's this for plutocratic chutzpah: Mayor Mike Bloomberg of NYC is spending millions of his own dollars on annoying TV commercials to try and convince us that public sector workers are enemies of the people. Unless we do away with the pension plans of future hires, our houses will burn down and there will be no cops to patrol our streets. Or so Bloomberg's ubiquitous TV ads imply.


And then there is the speculation that President Obama actually wants this odious little man, fellow deficit hawk, and sworn enemy of the Occupy movement as his running mate to replace Joe Biden. But first, the local stuff, just to give you an idea of what Bloomberg is all about. Clue: it isn't about you or your interests.


As I was watching TV last night, a whole series of commercials popped up as often as every five minutes. On every channel. There was literally no escaping them. These spots, sponsored by the "Committee to Save New York" big business lobby, ominously warn us that greedy teachers and cops and firefighters will destroy the entire state unless Gov. Andrew Cuomo keeps the taxes of Wall Street financiers and real estate moguls at their current low levels. Of course, the ads don't say this in so many words. They are very insidious and oblique. If you have seen those "I Vote" flag-draped commercials sponsored by the oil and gas industry, you know what I am talking about. Those greedwashing ads try to convince you that polluting the water and causing earthquakes via toxic hydrofracking is the patriotic thing to do.


But back to Bloomberg. As an elected official, he is not allowed to contribute directly to the Committee to Save New York propaganda effort. But as the 12th richest person on the Forbes List (net worth $19.5 billion) there is nothing to stop him from running a parallel propaganda campaign of his own. At a speech this week, he referred to public unions as "special interests", public pensions as "ticking time bombs" (union benefits are terrorists, my friend) and oligarchies as "people":
“Too often in Albany, it is only the special interests who are heard; we want to make sure that the people are heard,”Bloomberg said today at a breakfast sponsored by the Long Island Association, an 85-year-old organization of business groups, unions, nonprofits and government agencies representing Nassau and Suffolk counties, which have each declared fiscal emergencies.
You can see Bloomberg's ad here.


And the complementary multimillion-dollar ad campaign from the Committee to Save New York is just another in a series of pro-Cuomo commercials which largely praise the fiscally conservative Democrat for not raising taxes on the wealthy. The so-called Millionaires surtax was allowed to expire last year, thus reducing revenue to the state by an estimated $4 billion a year, and thus causing the manufactured disaster of budget shortfalls and imminent bankruptcies in many of our towns. That cloying ad can be seen here.


If you are saying to yourself, "Well, Bloomberg will be out of power next year and besides, he doesn't live in my back yard" here is a little factoid that might give you pause. According to the New York Times, President Obama recently hosted Mr. Moneybags at a long, intimate, private White House luncheon to discuss the mayor's future plans (the parenthetical speculations are mine and mine alone):
They traded thoughts about education (privatization via charter schools, teacher union destruction via mass layoffs through a phony race to the bottom program?), ruminated on the state of immigration ( chewed the cud on deporting more people while kicking reform down the road, and how to profit from all those private detention centers being built with public money?) and discussed the federal deficit. (how to win another term and finally be able to cut Social Security and Medicare?)
But most intriguingly, they talked about the future. Over a long private lunch at the White House, President Obama posed a question to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg: what are you interested in doing next?
Mr. Bloomberg’s precise response is unknown. But their meeting a few weeks ago, confirmed by aides to both leaders and previously undisclosed, was potentially significant for both men, as Mr. Obama seeks support for his presidential campaign and Mr. Bloomberg ponders his post-mayoral career.
The New York Daily News speculates that Obama asked Bloomberg to be his running mate, or offered him the leadership of the World Bank, or wants him to be (heaven forfend) his next treasury secretary. The opinion piece lists five reasons why the shrillionaire mayor would be an ideal running mate for Barry: $$$money$$$, business connections, "post-partisanship" (my translation -- neoliberalism or phony centrism, which amounts to privatization of profits and the socialization of costs), the Jewish vote and electoral math (Florida!) and Tough on Terrorism. (both men have deemed the Constitution and civil liberties to be optional things.)


Remind me again why a President Romney would be any different than Bush's Fourth Term. Nothing would spell doom to our democracy more than a Vice President Bloomberg, an arrogant oligarch with more than enough money to eventually buy himself the presidency in 2016. And the second and third terms to which he is accustomed. (He is already a spry 70, so there would probably be a limit, even for him). Nothing. Just ask the spied-upon Muslims and the Occupiers rousted and pepper-sprayed with impunity by the mayor's private NYPD army, the thousands of laid-off teachers, the neighborhoods whose fire stations he closed, the patients and staff of the charity hospital he shut down to make room for luxury condos.

<><><><><><><> <><>
A Pondering Plutocrat
The Putting Panderer and the Peevish Ponderer



Update 3/15: The New York State Legislature did its job the usual sneaky middle of the night way: under cover of darkness, it gave Bloomberg a little of what he paid millions for. The retirement age for state workers has been raised, and they will have to contribute more to their pension plans. Bloomberg's reaction? If people don't like it, they don't have to accept state employment. Let them get a better deal at WalMart! More here.


16 comments:

James F Traynor said...

Ah, Karen one of your best. Though 'Shut Up And Eat Your Romney' by Drift Glass is hard to beat, but then it's a one liner. You're an Artful Dodger. Still maintaining your preferred status with the Grey Lady- you've got to have something juicy on the old broad. 'Fess up, what is it? She's a cougar, right?

The only thing more pathetic than Bloomberg is Charlie Rose, his PBS mouthpiece.

Jay - Ottawa said...

"They are leaving us with nothing, little by little."

--(Rough translation of a line from http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas/)

Hats off to the prospective new "they." Obama/Bloomberg would form a great team for mincing the middle class ever further, little by little, into nothing. It shouldn't take too long post 2012, seeing as how much was accomplished during O's first term.

BTW, what was the score on the links? And what's the etiquette: Does the powerful one let the rich one win, or does the rich one let the powerful one win? It's already clear who the losers are when plutocrats get together.

Valerie said...

@Zee

I responded to your comment about the comparing the U.S. sliding off a cliff to the descent of Germany under Hitler under the same thread.

Karen Garcia said...

Keeping my promise to paste my NYT comments here, this is my response to Gail Collins, who wrote about our crappy Congress and what they do and don't get done....

And let's not forget the near-unanimous passage this month of H.R. 347, aka the "Federal Restricted Buildings & Grounds Improvement Act." This variation on an old established law now makes it illegal to "knowingly" disrupt, say, a session of Congress with cat-calls and derision. The bill's authors nefariously took out the "willfully" part. So, for example, if Code Pink attends a Senate hearing in the vicinity of a Secret Service detail, and an old bumbling legislator gets so rattled that he stubs his toe, the protesters theoretically could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The bill, signed into law last week by the president, hasn't gotten much press. But legal experts are calling it dangerous just because of its surface blandness. Our rights to free assembly and protest may be threatened. The ACLU says it may be a deliberate attempt to silence the Occupy movement. And since our friendly neighborhood cops on the beat have indeed been transformed into paramilitary thugs shooting pepper spray at peaceful protesters, the fear seems justified.

I guess we'll find out the law's true intent only when the first Occupiers are arrested and charged with breaking it.

When it comes to funding the forever wars, and the Homeland Security State, and renewing the Patriot Act, and generally whittling away civil rights in the name of terror, our politicians never waste a single moment on partisan bickering. They only, and always, serve their masters.

James F Traynor said...

It's hard not to become a conspiracy freak when you see, bit by bit, the tightening noose around freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. At the same time habeas corpus has simply faded away, erased by the 'right', both Republican and Democratic and led by Obama, Criminal in Chief. Were it not for the reasoned brief of Glenn Greenwald I would feel as if I were losing it.

Zee said...

@Valerie--

I've replied to your remarks with an apology--well, sort of--to you, @Denis and @Jay for not reading your earlier remarks more carefully. Nevertheless, I've also tried to clarify some of my earlier remarks, which will probably only stir the pot more.

In short, if many things look much worse than they did a decade or two ago, that does not negate some of the amazing changes for the better that I am seeing today.

If @Jay's glass isn't "fuller" than it was a few years ago, neither is it bone dry.

I'll try to follow up with an e-mail where space isn't a limitation.

Zee said...

Obama/Bloomberg 2012?

Har. Har. Har.

The main thrust of National Rifle Association's campaign to unseat Obama this year is that Obama has laid off the “gun issue” until he's re-elected in 2012.

Then, as a lame duck with nothing further to lose, he'll come after guns and gun owners with a vengeance.

That's the NRA's theory, at least.

But next to Obama, Bloomberg is probably viewed by the NRA as the most visible, most powerful, and most anti-gun politician in the nation.

Selecting Bloomberg as his running mate would mobilize the NRA's money and people to an extent never before seen! Whether or not the NRA's theory holds any water.

If the NRA's theory is correct, why would Obama “tip his hand” by selecting Bloomberg as his running mate? If the NRA is wrong, and Obama has in fact been laying off gun control simply because it's a losing issue, why would he want to needlessly kick the hornet's nest by choosing Bloomberg?

Obama/Bloomberg 2012 is a non-starter either way.

Suzan said...

Final straw. Nail. Casket.

No reason to vote for this guy at all.

And I keep remembering how he said he had no problem with being a one-term President if he was able to accomplish "important" tasks.

Like abolishing SS, Medicare, pensions and putting Bloomberg in line to be the next President?

We'll be all agog as Bloomie runs against Jebbie, won't we?

I think your "Z" commenter is caught up in NRA nonsense as it will make absolutely no difference about where the guns are when they come to take us to their prisons.

Yes, a few shots will be heard, but they'll probably just make those holdouts feel good. For no real reason other than ego to be the last ones rounded up.

Keep writing! And as long as possible, I'll keep reading.

Love ya!

S

Karen Garcia said...

I wrote a few more Times comments this evening. The first is to Paul Krugman and his theme of the Republicans unfairly blaming Obama for gas prices. This response will probably not go over too well with the Bots....

Since speculation by Wall Street greedsters is perhaps the biggest culprit behind the sharp rise in oil and gas prices, President Obama has asked Atty Gen. Holder to reconvene the "Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group." Sound familiar? That's because it's a subdivision of that crack Financial Fraud Task Force which has been so instrumental in (cough) investigating the banksters and mortgage fraudsters.

Cynics have expressed doubt that Holder's Justice Department will do anything at all to inconvenience Big Oil, Big Gas and Big Shots. Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program for the consumer group Public Citizen, was quoted in the Huffington Post as saying that the Obama administration "isn't reconstituting this task force because this task force wasn't even meeting in the first place.... It kind of shows this is a bit of a farce."

Moreover, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act already calls for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to set rules to curb speculation in the energy market. Two years have elapsed since its passage. And yes, you guessed it: they have done nada, zilch, nothing.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and 70 of his colleagues have sent a letter to CFTC Commissioner Gary Gensler to ask what gives. Sanders also said he thinks the Holder task force is just another PR gimmick. But since Obama's re-election may actually hinge on gas prices, perhaps his interests and our interests will serendipitously collide for a change.

And David Brooks wishes Obama were brave enough to make us hate him by slashing entitlements....

The conservative idea of shared sacrifice is to find new and reckless ways to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The president's role is not to "offend everyone all at once". In an ideal world, he would stand up for the 99% and be bold and brave enough to put his money where his mouth is. Sadly, his populist campaign rhetoric has not been in sync with his actual performance in office.

Instead of continuing his misguided "Grand Bargain" with the GOP -- which, by the way, has served only to drive the recalcitrant right wing ever further to the extremist edge -- the president should be calling for progressive tax reform. Instead of reducing the corporate tax rate, we should be abolishing the income limit on FICA taxes. That would save Social Security.

Any more talk of "entitlement reform" should be banned. Instead, the real entitlement class of the .01% should see their own benefits slashed -- including the Bush tax cuts and their use of the publicTreasury as their own zero-interest piggy bank. We have to put a stop to the privatization of profits and the socialization of costs.

Let's just call out austerity for the pathological fetish it is. It's a gimmick to appease the greedy oligarchs and to keep the rest of us in our place.

Instead of shared sacrifice, how about some shared prosperity? This country is not broke. But the reasoning powers of our political elites seem to be damaged beyond repair.

Suzan said...

Brava!

Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap!!!!

TimothyD11 said...

Karen you are amazing. I regularly seek out your comments at the very top of the readers picks to articles and opinion pieces over at the NYT.

Cuomo has me SEEING RED. A DISGRACE of a Democrat. Refusing to raise taxes on the megarich, reducing already modest pensions for public employees, and the best one of them all - giving ZERO resistance to the GOP redrawing of district maps. This guy is a REPUBLICAN.

I understand he too Koch brother donations while he was running for governor also.

Am I overreacting? Were cuts to public employee pensions necessary as the overwheming majority of New Yorkers seem to believe, going by the majority of comments over at the NYT?

I mean, factoring in OT to come up with pension numbers seems like BS, but that is where I would stop. And for all of the people who want to keep their taxes low by being cheap with public workers in their retirement - why don't they ever propose raising taxes on the rich?

And the best one of them all - excluding police and firefighters from the hair cut - what, to divide us and keep us pitted against each other?

Karen Garcia said...

@Timothy,
Thanks! Cuomo's Tea Party challenger, Carl Palladino, actually sent out emails last year urging the GOP faithful to support Cuomo because of his severe fiscal conservatism. And you can be sure that Andy will be seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Remember that it was the Obama Administration that threw David Paterson under the bus in that New York Times series of smear articles to make room for Wall St-friendly Cuomo.

TimothyD11 said...

It just bother me because some people are so mindless that they give Cuomo a pass to do Republican-like things because he's a Democrat. In many cases the lines between Republican and Democrat is getting harder and harder to see. Sadly I think we are going to have to wait until both Republicans and Democrats do so much damage to so many people before the people rise up and happily take their socialism. Or at least put a very short leash on capitalism while reinforcing social programs.

Valerie said...

@Timothy D11

Not sure if you are still following this thread but one of the best essays I have ever read on Obama -basically says because he is black and more importantly, carries the Democratic label, he has been able to push through Republican policies without a whimper from most of the Democratic Congress and the Democratic voters of this country. We have GOT to stop giving our politicians a free pass to do whatever damage they are inclined (bribed) to do just because they CALL themselves Democrats. Talk about letting the foxes into the henhouse! You might want to check out this article. It isn’t on Cuomo or Bloomie but I think you will find similarities in theme. http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/barack-obama-vs-those-craaaazy-republicans-he-lesser-evil-or-more-effective-evil

Val said...

Bloomie is really up there with my most disliked Democrats. Can't believe he is even in the running - but then again, look at Obama's advisors and cabinet! I cannot believe the people of this country have not demanded a challenger for the Democratic nomination - and all they can manage to pull out in his defense is that he is better than the Republicans. I say, in name only!

Me Again said...

Bloomie races to Goldman Sach's side after that traitor, Greg Smith, told the truth about Goldie's cut-throat policies toward their own clients. Need I say more about this man and where his allegiance lies? (Of course, the same could be said about our Commander and Cheif.)http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/nyregion/in-visit-bloomberg-defends-goldman-sachs.html?ref=nyregion