Bloomberg’s Ethical Brouhaha

Michael Bloomberg – what can you say? First, he tried to place a ban on the personal choices of the citizens of New York City by imposing a ridiculous ban on how much Diet Coke they can drink. It came as little surprise, after that failure, that he opted to take on the national gun battle all by himself. I won’t go into arguments that are making the rounds on Facebook and all the national media outlets, the reasons why he should or shouldn’t – mostly because it’s been argued to death. And let’s face it – this man is as stubborn as a mule tied to a fence bloombergpost. He doesn’t get it now and he won’t get it tomorrow – he’s too wrapped up in an ego that continues to propel him into the spotlight. This is a man who doesn’t back down, even if his efforts are falling woefully short.

Bloomberg announced over the weekend that he’s prepared to spend millions to keep the NRA at bay. I’m pretty sure he and Donald Trump share some DNA somewhere down the line because this falls into the category of that embarrassing announcement Trump made just before the elections that promised to change everything – and by “everything”, Trump meant it would keep Obama from becoming a two term president. The only thing it changed was the tolerance factor many of us already felt for him -another exhausting ego that forced itself front and center, if only for a very brief moment. The only thing worse for these two when it comes to American tolerance is the fear that either or both decide to run for president. Not that either would win (Bloomberg shows no loyalty to any party; he’s been a registered Democrat, Republican and is now an Independent), but can you imagine these two doing anything else other than pulling out all of the million dollar stops they have access to? The day they didn’t access those unlimited funds is the same day I dig deep and try to find any shred of respect for Jamie Dimon – which, ironically, is another public image who lacks ethics but makes up for it with his own brand of narcissism.

From a common sense angle, it’s curious that Bloomberg believes it’s money well spent, until you consider a few facts – one being he’s worth more than $17 billion. He also spent millions in his efforts of getting re-elected; in fact, it’s believed he’s spent more of his own cash than any other American politician in history. Bloomberg says his only interest is making sure universal background checks become part of the process any of us must go through before buying a gun. That’s a lot of money to spend on something that, if it were realistic, would already be well on its way of becoming law. Contrary to what the rest of the world believes, America is still home to plenty of folks with common sense. It’s not realistic because he’s wanting these background checks to be based on an imperfect system. The results of those checks, were they ever to become law, are only as good as the system providing the results.

More importantly, Bloomberg has taken on the responsibility of speaking for all, whether they agree with him or not. Making the Sunday morning rounds, he said during an interview on Meet the Press, “We’re trying to do everything we can to impress upon the senators that this is what the survivors (of the Connecticut shooting) want, this is what the public wants,” he said.

And that’s the problem…that one declaration he muttered: “this is what the public wants”. I think a more accurate, across the board statement would be something along the lines of “the public wants accountability and ethical leaders who aren’t dictating their Diet Coke (or Sprite or Dr. Pepper) intake nor putting their own spin on the Constitution”. Not holding my breath on that one either.

I reckon it’s a combination of a lack of ethics and an oversized ego, not that he’d ever slow down long enough to see it.

If I live to be one hundred, I’ll never forget this quote from Hendrik Hertzberg in the November 2009 issue of The New Yorker:

The Mayor has ruled us well, but he has infantilized us…If Bloomberg had been satisfied with two terms, he would be leaving office a beloved legend, a municipal god. He’ll get his third, but we’ll give it to him sullenly, knowing that while it probably won’t measure up to his first two—times are hard, huge budget gaps are at hand—it’ll probably be good enough. The Pax Bloombergiana will endure a while longer. But then what? Will we have forgotten how to govern ourselves?

Are Castle Laws, Stand Your Ground Laws in Jeopardy?

There has been a tremendous amount of media attention and scrutiny focused on Sanford, FL recently. There’s no denying a tragedy occurred when a young man, 17 year old Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed because of what he was wearing. The police chief and others have recused themselves from this growing controversy by “temporarily” stepping down from their positions. Race has become a sticking point as have gun rights. It’s the comments made by President Obama, however, that have many concerned about the future of gun rights – specifically, the Castle Doctrine.

Each state (or at least, those who have them on their books) has its own description of these laws: the “Make My Day” law, “Stand Your Ground” law and here in Mississippi, it’s referred to as the “Castle” law. And believe me, I’m not the only one who’s concerned.

These laws allow justifiable homicide when a person feels his own life or property is in jeopardy. Not every state has these legal sections in their constitutions; however, in Mississippi, these laws have been on the books for as long as I can remember. Make no mistake: I vehemently support these laws and while I pray every night I’m never put in the position to do so, I can assure you I’m not afraid of stopping another from coming into my home. And I’m a pretty good shot.

While it’s not so much about the material things, I would absolutely take another’s life with no apologies if my son’s life or my life was being threatened. The material things, sure, they can be replaced. It’s the life we live that allow for those material things I’m more concerned about. The fact is, though, what little any of us have – TVs, cash, computers, cars, jewelry- we work hard for. I don’t think anyone would question that. The law, at least in my state, allows us to protect our “castles”.

Here’s where things are about to become very divided: President Obama, in his speech today, has identified on a very personal level with the family that’s grieving the death of their son. He said he felt if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. He then used to that to leap off with a request that every American do a bit of “soul searching” over how this could have happened. In other words, do states really need these laws on their books? (The accused shooter is saying his actions were justifiable due to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law).

This isn’t the first time this president has overstepped his bounds. He has crossed the line many times, but maybe it’s because this is the first time he’s asking lawmakers to rethink the laws that allow me to feel safe in my own home that I’m suddenly feeling quite defensive. He’s taking the Constitution, yet again, and dismissing it. A president have a very limited scope in terms of what his role is in that once-respected position. To call on Americans to “soul search” over these very core rights is just wrong. Compromising my sense of safety is not an option of his or anyone else.

Whether or not the man who shot this kid has a viable case is something I don’t know. If he took this boy’s life for any other reason, he deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. One thing about living in a free country is the responsibility that comes with it. If this man’s actions jeopardize the rights of you, me and every other American that supports gun rights, you can be sure there are millions who are going to have a problem with him.

This isn’t the platform the president or any other lawmaker should take in their goals of eradicating these laws. Then again, they’ve never been successful on any other platform, so maybe it’s an opportunity to do so at the expense of a family’s grief.