Category Archive 'Michael Bloomberg'
26 Mar 2013

Cheering For the Nanny State

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Bowdoin’s aspiring Platonic Guardian Sara O. Conly recently published a great big book arguing in favor of Nanny State paternalism over Liberty. Not surprisingly, we now find her defending Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban in the New York Times.

Giving up a little liberty is something we agree to when we agree to live in a democratic society that is governed by laws.

The freedom to buy a really large soda, all in one cup, is something we stand to lose here. For most people, given their desire for health, that results in a net gain. For some people, yes, it’s an absolute loss. It’s just not much of a loss.

Of course, what people fear is that this is just the beginning: today it’s soda, tomorrow it’s the guy standing behind you making you eat your broccoli, floss your teeth, and watch “PBS NewsHour” every day. What this ignores is that successful paternalistic laws are done on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis: if it’s too painful, it’s not a good law. Making these analyses is something the government has the resources to do, just as now it sets automobile construction standards while considering both the need for affordability and the desire for safety.

Do we care so much about our health that we want to be forced to go to aerobics every day and give up all meat, sugar and salt? No. But in this case, it’s some extra soda. Banning a law on the grounds that it might lead to worse laws would mean we could have no laws whatsoever.

In the old days we used to blame people for acting imprudently, and say that since their bad choices were their own fault, they deserved to suffer the consequences. Now we see that these errors aren’t a function of bad character, but of our shared cognitive inheritance. The proper reaction is not blame, but an impulse to help one another.

That’s what the government is supposed to do, help us get where we want to go. It’s not always worth it to intervene, but sometimes, where the costs are small and the benefit is large, it is. That’s why we have prescriptions for medicine. And that’s why, as irritating as it may initially feel, the soda regulation is a good idea. It’s hard to give up the idea of ourselves as completely rational. We feel as if we lose some dignity. But that’s the way it is, and there’s no dignity in clinging to an illusion.

La Conly’s argument (in both her book and this editorial) really boils down to the claim (based on behaviorist social science, no less) that people are incompetent, make bad choices, and have difficulty recognizing their own best interests. Therefore, Conly says these other people over here, the ones who attended Princeton, who have important official titles and positions, know better what is good for everyone; and you ordinary people over there, you dimbulbs and dufi, should be willing to surrender (just a little) liberty here and some other liberty there, when those wiser and better, and more prestigiously and officially placed, than you decide that it is time to lay down the law and tell you what to do, for your own good.

Speaking philosophically, I went to Yale (which outranks Princeton all day long), so I get to point out to Professor Conly that in reality, the behaviorist social sciences prove that our Mandarins, politicians, and experts are just as fallibly human as everyone else, and are also subject to errors produced by biases toward short-term satisfaction and unrealistic optimism, particularly –in their case– optimism about their own capacities, objectivity, and motivations. Platonic Guardians tend to think that they are being disinterested and only trying to maximize everyone’s well being, while all the while they are busily gathering greater powers and control over the lives and fortunes of others to themselves. The best political philosophers are those, like Jefferson and Madison, who recognize the fact that no one enjoys the kind of superiority of perspective which entitles him or her to prescribe to someone else what he ought to do inside his own private sphere of liberty.

25 Mar 2013

Mayor Bloomberg: “There Are Certain Times We Should Infringe On Your Freedom”

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The Washington Times makes clear that Hizonner is not actually referring to cases of civil war or national emergency either. He means, in fact, whenever we (the bien pensant class of busybodies) are convinced that we know best what’s good for you.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Sunday: Sometimes government does know best. And in those cases, Americans should just cede their rights.

“I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom,” Mr. Bloomberg said, during an appearance on NBC. He made the statement during discussion of his soda ban — just shot down by the courts — and insistence that his fight to control sugary drink portion sizes in the city would go forth.

Read the whole thing.

We need to find a way to expel Michael Bloomberg from the Republican Party.

12 Mar 2013

First Michael Bloomberg Came For….

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When the Mayor of New York provokes ridicule for his authoritarian overreach from representatives of the Confucian culture of Taiwan, it is clear that he has gone way too far. Happily, a New York State Supreme Court Judge agreed with the Taiwanese perspective yesterday, and blocked enforcement of Mayor Bloomberg’s soft drink edict.

Via Bookworm. Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

02 Mar 2013

A Fiscal Paschendaele and Somme

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Richard Fernandez likens the economic destruction being produced by the current delusional and ever over-reaching Welfare State policies of the international elite to the waste of human lives produced in WWI by the diplomatic and strategic incompetence of an earlier elite, predicting that Obama, Bloomberg, Jerry Brown, and their European equivalents are going to wind up not long down the road just as popular as Germany’s Wilhelm II and Russia’s Nicholas II were in 1918.

A whole generation is finished. Like their counterparts a hundred years ago, the European young are being sent to their professional death in millions. The carnage at both ends of the age spectrum — with the old being killed off and the young’s professional lives essentially buried — is a sign that the welfare state, the future on offer to “Julia” and Sandra Fluke, is now an empty box.

The guys who voted for Hope and Change voted for nothing. The cupboard is bare. Everything that is left in the dying system is being spent to provide a luxurious lifestyle for people like Sir David Nicholson.

It’s broke. Bust. Finished. It’s not true, as Mayor Bloomberg confidently says that government, unlike ordinary people, doesn’t have to pay their debts.

    “We are spending money we don’t have,” Mr. Bloomberg explained. “It’s not like your household. In your household, people are saying, ‘Oh, you can’t spend money you don’t have.’ That is true for your household because nobody is going to lend you an infinite amount of money. When it comes to the United States federal government, people do seem willing to lend us an infinite amount of money. … Our debt is so big and so many people own it that it’s preposterous to think that they would stop selling us more. It’s the old story: If you owe the bank $50,000, you got a problem. If you owe the bank $50 million, they got a problem. And that’s a problem for the lenders. They can’t stop lending us more money.”

It’s not true any more than it was true that machine gun bullets wouldn’t kill you at the Somme if you went over the top kicking a soccer ball, as some did. …

Bloomberg can’t believe they’ll stop; because that’s the way its always been in the past? The establishment genuinely thinks the music will keep playing. And they won’t believe it will stop until it actually does.

The current elite has abused, as very few elites have abused in the past, the power of trust. They’ve taken legitimacy built by generations of competence and used it to paper over mediocrity and madness. The trust they had to squander was immense; and they squandered it.

When the crash happens the disillusionment will be tremendous. It won’t be the kind of disillusion that loses elections or topples a government. It will the kind of disgust that pulls down a civilization.

Read the whole thing.

03 Nov 2012

“All Jacket, No Bombers”

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Mark Steyn scathingly reviews the recent performances of two chief executives.

In political terms, Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi consulate debacle exemplify at home and abroad the fundamental unseriousness of the United States in the Obama era. In the days after Sandy hit, Barack Obama was generally agreed to have performed well. He had himself photographed in the White House Situation Room, nodding thoughtfully to bureaucrats (“John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; David Agnew, Director for Intergovernmental Affairs”) and Tweeted it to his 3.2 million followers. He appeared in New Jersey wearing a bomber jacket rather than a suit to demonstrate that when the going gets tough the tough get out a monogrammed Air Force One bomber jacket. He announced that he’d instructed his officials to answer all calls within 15 minutes because in America “we leave nobody behind.” By doing all this, the president “shows” he “cares” – which is true in the sense that in Benghazi he was willing to leave the entire consulate staff behind, and nobody had their calls answered within seven hours, because presumably he didn’t care. …

Last week, Nanny Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, rivaled his own personal best for worst mayoral performance since that snowstorm a couple of years back. This is a man who spends his days micromanaging the amount of soda New Yorkers are allowed to have in their beverage containers rather than, say, the amount of ocean New Yorkers are allowed to have in their subway system – just as, in the previous crisis, the municipal titan who can regulate the salt out of your cheeseburger proved utterly incapable of regulating any salt on to Sixth Avenue. Imagine if this preening buffoon had expended as much executive energy on flood protection for the electrical grid and transit system as he does on approved quantities of carbonated beverages. But that’s leadership 21st-century style: When the going gets tough, the tough ban trans fats.

Back in Benghazi, the president who looks so cool in a bomber jacket declined to answer his beleaguered diplomats’ calls for help – even though he had aircraft and Special Forces in the region. Too bad. He’s all jacket and no bombers. This, too, is an example of America’s uniquely profligate impotence. When something goes screwy at a ramshackle consulate halfway round the globe, very few governments have the technological capacity to watch it unfold in real time. Even fewer have deployable military assets only a couple of hours away. What is the point of unmanned drones, of military bases around the planet, of elite Special Forces trained to the peak of perfection if the president and the vast bloated federal bureaucracy cannot rouse themselves to action? What is the point of outspending Russia, Britain, France, China, Germany and every middle-rank military power combined if, when it matters, America cannot urge into the air one plane with a couple of dozen commandoes? In Iraq, al-Qaida is running training camps in the western desert. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are all but certain to return most of the country to its pre-9/11 glories. But in Washington the head of the world’s biggest “counterterrorism” bureaucracy briefs the president on flood damage and downed trees.

I don’t know whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can fix things, but I do know that Barack Obama and Joe Biden won’t even try – and that therefore a vote for Obama is a vote for the certainty of national collapse.

Read the whole thing.

16 Jun 2012

Harvard Prof: Evolution Endorses Nanny-State Coercion

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Daniel E. Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

It was not for nothing that the late William F. Buckley, Jr. declared: “I would rather be governed by the first two thousand people in the Boston telephone directory than by the two thousand people on the faculty of Harvard University.”

Daniel E. Lieberman, a Harvard-educated Anthropologist who has managed to segue smoothly from his native social science to teaching Evolutionary Biology, won recent top marks in Scientism, the inappropriate and hubristic application of scientific theories to political and moral issues, when in a New York Time’s editorial last week, he informed readers that Evolution was voting in favor of Mayor Bloomberg’s soft drink ban specifically and government coercion in general.

Lessons from evolutionary biology support the mayor’s plan: when it comes to limiting sugar in our food, some kinds of coercive action are not only necessary but also consistent with how we used to live. …

Since sugar is a basic form of energy in food, a sweet tooth was adaptive in ancient times, when food was limited. However, excessive sugar in the bloodstream is toxic, so our bodies also evolved to rapidly convert digested sugar in the bloodstream into fat. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors needed plenty of fat — more than other primates — to be active during periods of food scarcity and still pay for large, expensive brains and costly reproductive strategies (hunter-gatherer mothers could pump out babies twice as fast as their chimpanzee cousins).

Simply put, humans evolved to crave sugar, store it and then use it. For millions of years, our cravings and digestive systems were exquisitely balanced because sugar was rare. Apart from honey, most of the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate were no sweeter than a carrot. The invention of farming made starchy foods more abundant, but it wasn’t until very recently that technology made pure sugar bountiful.

The food industry has made a fortune because we retain Stone Age bodies that crave sugar but live in a Space Age world in which sugar is cheap and plentiful. …

We humans did not evolve to eat healthily and go to the gym; until recently, we didn’t have to make such choices. But we did evolve to cooperate to help one another survive and thrive. Circumstances have changed, but we still need one another’s help as much as we ever did. For this reason, we need government on our side, not on the side of those who wish to make money by stoking our cravings and profiting from them. [Emphasis added] We have evolved to need coercion.

Professor Lieberman neglects to explain how Evolution effectively draws the line between acceptable, desirable, and morally justifiable forms of state coercion, including taxes, regulations, and special paternalistic supervision of children, and even more effective and draconian measures, for instance, the Khmer Rouge marching the overweight urban inhabitants of Cambodia back into the country at machine gun point, aimed at “restoring a natural part of our environment. ”

He doesn’t offer any general principled account of why Evolution supports this and doesn’t support that precisely because he hasn’t got one. Professor Lieberman simply assumes that Evolution and Science (and Progress and the God of History) is embodied in the world by the consensus of people like himself, by the current opinions of the educated elite community of fashion.

One can find the scientific way of deciding things simply by reading the editorial pages of the Times.

All this, of course, is rubbish. The opinions and theories of Evolutionary Biology (let alone Anthropology) are anything but set in stone. Someone may discover next week the intense Neolithic cultivation of sugar beets in the Fertile Crescent. Medicine may decide that obesity is really caused by a particular gene, and that the specifics of diet play only a small role.

In the 1950s, Evolution would have decreed that you must drink milk to cure ulcers produced by the unnatural stress of modern capitalist life. Our latest information contends that bacteria are to blame and milk-drinking doesn’t do a thing.

More importantly, though, mere scientific facts are incapable of addressing philosophical questions of individual rights and the proper role and limits of the powers of government. Those issues have nothing to do with imaginary dietary teleologies and have to be debated on an entirely different level.

Scientism, the presumptuous attempt to misapply scientific theories or data in contexts in which they cannot possibly be determinative, is actually, I would argue, decisive evidence of bad education and intellectual incompetence.

It has been recognized for many decades now, certainly back to the 1960s or 1970s when Bill Buckley offered his famous apothegm concerning the faculty of Harvard, that there exists a tremendous and thoroughly alarming disconnect between our establishment intelligentsia and wisdom and common sense. Professor Lieberman is simply the most recent in a long series of wise fools.

15 Jun 2012

In New York Very Soon

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Via Theo.

06 Jun 2012

Bloomberg’s Big Drink Ban

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James Lileks loses his temper about Mayor Bloomberg’s latest exercise in Nanny Governance.

A culture that redefines food choices as moral issues will demonize the people who don’t share the tastes of the priest class. A culture that elevates eating to some holistic act of ethical self-definition – localvore, low-carbon-impact food, fair trade, artisanal cheese – will find the casual carefree choices of the less-enlightened as an affront to their belief system. Leave it to Americans to invent a Puritan strain of Epicurianism.

It’s worth looking at the whole thing.

There is some sort of paradox about the fact that you cannot have significant cultural resources without the critical mass of humanity provided by a great urban metropolis, but to live in a city with access to concerts, opera, and theater, you have to submit to living under the rule of crooks and nincompoops.

01 Jun 2012

Nou Nou D’Enfer

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Hat tip to Adrian.

03 Feb 2011

Bloomberg Wary of Official Groundhog

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It turns out that the recent silly custom of public officials play acting weather divination on February 2nd with the assistance of large cthonic rodents frequently results in the politician’s fingers paying a price for manhandling the marmot. And who would be a more deserving recipient of negative scuirid reaction than New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg?

The news of Bloomberg cheating this year even reached British Daily Mail:

Once bitten, twice not so shy, it seems, in the case of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his ongoing feud with Staten Island Chuck.

Two years after he got bitten by the woodchuck, the Mayor called the animal a ‘sonofab**ch’ on Wednesday, not realising he was being filmed.

Chuck lives at Staten Island Zoo and is the city’s official woodchuck for the Groundhog Day ceremony.

This year his new home featured a plunger-style device which pushed the furry fiend out into the cold.

‘I love the plunger. That was so much better than having to reach in and let the little sonofab**ch bite you,’ Bloomberg said.

His comments are clearly captured in a video by the New York Daily News.

04 Sep 2010

Hugh Hewitt Interviews Mark Steyn

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Steyn delivers a number of gems.

On Michael Bloomberg:

This pompous twerp, Bloomberg, who I think has come to embody the particular stupidity of the American ruling class, because it’s a very parochial kind of stupidity. Presuming to lecture his knuckle-dragging, moronic constituents on how they don’t apparently understand the United States Constitution? It’s nothing to do with that. There are all kinds of things that are Constitutional and are legal, but are not necessarily appropriate.

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On Obama:

A lot of people think he’s going to be a one-term president. The interesting thing is whether he’s going to be a one-termer, as you say, by choice, like a James K. Polk. In other words, he figures he’s going to do what he needs to do in four years, and then he’s going to move on. And I said sometime last year, I think, that what I found odd about him is that he’s the first American president I can think of who gives the impression that the job is too small for him. …

And he’s just kind of killing time in it until something more commensurate with his abilities comes along. And given that his entire view of the world, as John Bolton likes to say, he’s the post-American president for a post-American world, the idea that he would be focused on reelection in the way a conventional politician such as Bill Clinton is, I think is not really part of his thinking. I think he’s much rather utterly transform the United States, and then swan off after a couple of years, and go be a secretary-general of the United Nations with enhanced powers, or whatever racket has been cooked up for him in those years.

06 May 2010

Iowahawk: The Case of the Purloined Pathfinder

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Iowahawk
‘s latest is a Bloomberg Holmes classic detective, with Eric Holder playing the role of Watson!

“What have we here, officer?” Holmes inquired of the chief constable on the scene, pausing to alternately suck in his left and right nostrils and shudder in deep contemplative satisfaction.

“Open and shut case, you lordship,” said the man, whose badge bore the name Sainsbury. “Roight. Now if you look here, this is a late model Nissan sport utility brougham, registered to a man what goes by the name of Faisal Shahzad, and what soaped up these signs in th’ windows that says ‘death to those who insult the prophet,’ all written up in the Arabic nice-as-you-like. Now if you look, the vehicle is parked pretty-as-you-please in front of Parker & Stone’s…”

“Parker & Stone? Do you mean those ghastly men who produce the South Park penny dreadfuls that have so offended the city’s peaceful Muhammedans?” I inquired. “I thought they were to be taken in for questioning.”

“Patience, Holder. It is the next item on my agenda after shutting down the sodium dens,” said Holmes. “Go on, officer.”

“Roight. It seems our Mr. Shahzad is a member of the mosque of the cleric what read him a death fatwa against Parker & Stone. Now sir, if you look inside the brougham you’ll see what is some wires that is set up to this bomb, ready to go off with this mobile telly, and a basket of baklava and a note what says ‘Dear Faisal, good luck with the big infidel cartoonist killing, Love, Mum.’ Ah, there’s our suspect now!”

Our discussion was interrupted by another constable, an affable Chinaman by the name of Ming, accompanied by a swarthy ululating young man whom he had entrapped in handcuffs.

“Pinched ’em sarge!” enthused the man’s captor. “An’ just in th’ nick of toime. Just as you said, the scoundrel was down at the docks tryin’ to stow away on a tramp steamer to the Suez.”

“Well well well, what ‘ave we here?” said Constable Sainsbury, reaching into the man’s pocket without so much as a warrant. “A mobile telly what has the number of the bomb telly on the old speed dial. Book ‘im, lad!”

“Unhand this man at once, you incompetent fools!” exhorted Bloomberg Holmes, angrily smacking the Nissan with his magnifying glass. “He may be speaking and gesticulating in a tongue strange to our ears, but it is quite obvious he is protesting his innocence!”

“…but sir…” stuttered Sainsbury.

“But nothing, Sainsbury. Why would a guilty man so vehemently maintain his innocence, particularly one who is a devotee of the religion of peace?”

“but sir, I assumed…”

“And quite obviously assuming makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘Ming.’ With its own constabulary engaged in such blatant racialist profiling, is it any wonder our city’s peaceful Mohammedans are occasionally driven to piques of frustration? If nothing else, that cavernous hole in lower Gotham should stand as a monument to the consequences of such blithe and ignorant bigotry.”

“I… I don’t know what to say, your Lordship,” said Ming, head held low in shame.

“Say nothing more,” said Holmes. “Release this man at once, and turn in your badges. On the morrow, you shall report for mandatory diversity training. Consider yourselves fortunate if you are reassigned to the anti-sugared drink enforcement squadron. As for you, Mr. Shahzad, please accept my sincerest apologies for interrupting your evening activities, and my personal invitation to serve as Grand Marshall in the gala Macy’s parade. If you would like to file a discrimination suit over this unfortunate incident, my friend General Holder will be delighted to assist you.”

I tipped my silk hat to the young man and handed him my calling-card.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

11 May 2008

Constitution Irrelevant in New York City Firearms Suit

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Mayor Bloomberg’s attorneys argue in their brief, and the Second Amendment may wind up excluded, being traded for a similar gag order on references to the National Rifle Association, the New York Sun reports.

Lawyers for Mayor Bloomberg are asking a judge to ban any reference to the Second Amendment during the upcoming trial of a gun shop owner who was sued by the city. While trials are often tightly choreographed, with lawyers routinely instructed to not tell certain facts to a jury, a gag order on a section of the Constitution would be an oddity.

“Apparently Mayor Bloomberg has a problem with both the First and the Second amendments,” Lawrence Keane, the general counsel of a firearms industry association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said.

The trial, set to begin May 27, involves a Georgia gun shop, Adventure Outdoors, which the city alleges is responsible for a disproportionate number of the firearms recovered from criminals in New York City. The gun store’s owner, Jay Wallace, says his store abides by Georgia and federal regulations and takes steps to avoid selling firearms to gun traffickers. Mr. Wallace’s store is one of 27 out-of-state gun shops sued by New York City, and the first to go to trial.

City lawyers, in a motion filed Tuesday, asked the judge, Jack Weinstein of U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, to preclude the store’s lawyers from arguing that the suit infringed on any Second Amendment rights belonging to the gun store or its customers. In the motion, the lawyer for the city, Eric Proshansky, is also seeking a ban on “any references” to the amendment.

“Any references by counsel to the Second Amendment or analogous state constitutional provisions are likewise irrelevant,” the brief states. …

Of the city’s recent motion to preclude mention of the Second Amendment, a lawyer for Adventure Outdoors, John Renzulli, said, “If you can’t discuss the Bill of Rights in a court of law, where should we discuss these issues? Should we reserve it for the tavern?”

Mr. Renzulli said the city’s lawsuit did implicate the Second Amendment: “The politics involved here is whether the city has the power to go into another state and control the lawful sale of firearms.”

Still, Mr. Renzulli said he did not plan to oppose the city’s request regarding references to the Second Amendment. Mr. Renzulli, who has defended suits against the gun industry in Judge Weinstein’s courtroom before, said that in the past the defense has struck a deal with the plaintiffs on the matter: Lawyers for the gun industry won’t mention the Bill of Rights to the jury, if the plaintiffs don’t mention the National Rifle Association.

“We usually say we’re not talking about the Second Amendment and you’re not talking about the NRA as a huge lobbying group that controls the legislature,” Mr. Renzulli said.

He said he expected a similar agreement to be struck in the Adventure Outdoors case.

The Sun article fails to note that care had to have been taken to assure that this suit will be coming up before Judge Jack B. Weinstein, an activist leftist appointed to the bench by Lyndon Johnson, who routinely makes headlines with rulings favoring this sort of politically-motivated litigation.

Adventure Outdoors needs a better attorney. How can anyone be properly represented in a lawsuit involving firearms who thinks there is some kind of stigma attached to the National Rifle Association?

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

15 May 2007

Bloomberg Reputedly Contemplating Third Party White House Run

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Washington Times:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is prepared to spend an unprecedented $1 billion of his own $5.8 billion personal fortune for a third-party presidential campaign, Ralph Z. Hallow will report Tuesday in The Washington Times.

“He has set aside $1 billion to go for it,” a long-time business adviser to Mr. Bloomberg tells The Times. “The thinking about where it will come from and do we have it is over, and the answer is yes, we can do it.”

The $1 billion would represent about one-fifth of Mr. Bloomberg’s personal fortune.

Last Sunday, RINO Chuck Hagel was speculating on Face the Nation about sharing a ticket with Bloomberg. link

Hagel is better-known nationally, so I naturally assumed that Bloomberg was considering the VP slot on that Third Party ticket, but if Bloomberg will be ponying up a billion dollars, his plans must be the other way around.

There is clearly something about the media-saturated atmosphere of Manhattan which induces excessive vanity. Not one, but two, NYC mayors think that their local office atop a governmental dunghill of corruption, bureaucracy, and political featherbedding is likely to be regarded nationally as an appropriate stepping-stone to the presidency of the United States. They are both sadly mistaken.

But if Michael Bloomberg is sufficiently self-infatuated and frivolous enough to waste that kind of money to get into the history books somewhere south of Alf Landon, more power to him. He will really wind up playing the role of Ralph Nader in recent elections, sucking away a small percentage of the votes of airheads who would otherwise be voting for the democrat.

I do think that he ought to ask Donald Trump to be his running-mate though, instead of Chuck Hagel.

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