“Hypocritical politician” is almost a redundancy, but surprisingly, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to be scrambling as hard as he can to get to the very pinnacle of the hypocrisy heap.
New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer got it right recently in a kind of roundup article that mentioned a variety of misdeeds – and their self-evidently deceitful justifications – presumably orchestrated by the mayor against the Occupy Wall Street protestors .
For example, not long ago, while the movers of the movement were still encamped in Zucotti Park, police and fire officials raided them, carting off electric generators that provided warmth at night on the grounds they were “fire hazards.” Then on November 15th, the cops came back and tore down the protestors’ tents, which were declared “health hazards.” Yeah, right.
Meanwhile, as Dwyer points out, the city is leasing land in busy Union Square Park to merchants-from-nowhere, who occupy park space each Christmas season selling holiday tchotchkes in – wait for it – tents that are in fact lighted and sometimes heated by portable generators. The city quite cheerfully encourages this ummn –what did they call it in Zucotti Park? – oh, right, a health and fire hazard.
When the Zucotti Park occupiers still held fast, the cops swooped down on them at one o’clock in the morning. A few videos that survived the thuggish violation of the first amendment indicate that cops forcefully pushed the press out of camera range, threatened to confiscate their press passes, trashed personal property, ripped tents apart with knives, dumped piles of books and personal property into garbage trucks and generally acted like Kristallnacht storm troopers.
The only difference was that the cops here don’t gas their victims like the Nazis did. Oh, wait a second! Come to think of it, they’ve been using pepper spray gas all along. Recently, a senior police official walked some distance across a street to pepper spray a couple of women who were breaking no laws. Of course, after the event went viral, the errant senior police official was “disciplined” with loss of two weeks’ vacation time and a transfer to different duty. Had one of the women sprayed him with the same can of gaseous irritant, they’d be facing years in prison for assaulting a police officer. But hey, a lifetime that falls short of two vacation weeks is like eight years in Attica, right?
Each time one of these atrocities against the first amendment happens, Mayor Bloomberg or one of his flunkies has a handy explanation. Freedom of speech doesn’t protect sleeping in tents in the park, said the mayor. Well, yes it does. A park crowded with angry protestors enduring hardship of sleeping in tents makes a statement. And visual statements are “speech” just as much, if not more so, as corporate money. If the tents created an eyesore, it was also a symbolic poke in Wall Street’s eye.
Then there was the book trashing. Not quite as bad as a Nazi “book burning” but bad enough. The Bloomberg excuse, as reported in the local TV news here, followed the line that freedom of the press, or is it speech? does not extend to having bookshelves. Uh huh. Well, here’s a thought for the Occupy Wall Street folks, at least until the police start confiscating thoughts.
The mayor lives in a very grand personal private Manhattan mansion on East 79th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues. It seems that the official mayor’s mansion, on a bluff in a park overlooking the East River wasn’t good enough for him.
In fact, his personal private mansion is growing larger. There’s another former mansion next door turned into apartments, and each time someone moves out, the mayor buys up the vacated apartment and busts through, adding more space to his digs.
Hell, a man living alone – or maybe with his mistress, I forget which – needs lebensraum. You can’t expect a poor fellow to cram himself into a mere 5,000 or 8,000 square feet. His "annexations" of the apartments next door adds to the shortage of living space for the rest of us New Yorkers, but that’s a story for another day.
It’s time for Occupy Wall Street to occupy East 79th Street, between Fifth and Madison. Let the mayor’s neighbors know that Wall Street hypocrisy and political hypocrisy lead to major annoyances, even on the Upper East Side.
Of course, the mayor won’t have to endure the noise and squalor himself. He’ll simply fly off to one of his little hideways in Bermuda, or Paris or wherever, and take a private jet to the office.
But the neighbors will learn that rich, egotistical, self-serving billionaires with a streak of hypocrisy a mile wide make lousy neighbors, even when they don’t happen to be sleeping in the neighborhood while the street is occupied.