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Michael Bloomberg: Mayor or Mouse?

July 23, 2012

Right out of the box following the Colorado Batman movie massacre, Mayor Bloomberg was criticizing President Obama and Mitt Romney for their failure to advocate banning assault weapons.

What a contrast to Bloomberg’s silence back home in New York City in the aftermath of shooting rampages in early July and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s subsequent blast at minority leaders for supposedly not caring about violence in their communities.

When it comes to the shootings in Colorado, you can’t shut Mayor Mike up. His press office, which seems to include more people than at any time of his mayoralty, has been putting out multiple alerts about his radio and television appearances.

“In the end it is really the leadership at a national level, which is whoever is going to be President of the United States starting next January 1st — what are they going to do about guns?” Bloomberg told his favorite radio host, John Gambling, on Friday.

“Maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand and tell us what they are going to do about it because this is obviously a problem across the country.”

On Sunday’s “Face the Nation” Bloomberg said: “Leadership is leading from the front. It’s up to the two presidential candidates. Where are you now? Why won’t they stand up?”

Gun control has been a signature issue of Mayor Mike, who once viewed himself as a non-ideological, middle-ground, third-party presidential candidate.

Few others shared that thought.

So with national options eluding him, he paid off the City Council to reverse New York’s two-term limit law so that he could run for a third term, then spent tens of millions to barely win his reelection.

Now, with the clock running down and with few, if any, lasting accomplishments, he has become shrill — and superfluous.

“I mean, there are so many, so many murders with guns every day. It’s just got to stop. And instead of the two people — President Obama and Governor Romney — talking in broad terms about how they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how,” he told Gambling.

“No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them concretely, not just in generalities — specifically, what are they going to do about guns?”

This is not to suggest that Bloomberg is wrong about guns.

The killer in Colorado was able to legally purchase the assault weapon he used to kill 12 people and wound at least another 50 in the movie theater. [That he booby-trapped his apartment with trip wires and chemical devices suggests he might well have found other ways to kill people, even with a weapons ban.]

And, of course, there is our recent history of Tucson, Columbine and Virginia Tech, to say nothing of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, RFK, JFK, and the wounding of Ronald Reagan and his press secretary James Brady. [Reagan never spoke out against guns even as Brady remained paralyzed.]

But it’s easy for a politician like Bloomberg to pontificate about an issue over which he has no control. Especially when it’s far from his home turf.

Especially when, on his home turf, the same Mayor Bloomberg remained silent after Kelly, in the wake of the early July wild west shootings that wounded a three-year-old boy and left three black men dead in a 63-bullet barrage, accused the city’s minority leadership of being “shockingly silent” and lacking “outrage.”

Kelly’s remarks set off a city-wide explosion of outrage directed at him.

And where was Mayor Mike during all this? Hiding behind his police commissioner.

In the police department there is a term for a cop who prefers to stay inside a precinct house rather than work out in the street. He is called a “house-mouse.”

Bloomberg’s sole public statement on Kelly’s attack on minority leaders was given to the same John Gambling.

Failing to even address the controversy, Bloomberg said only: “No one has done more to improve community and police relations than Ray Kelly.”

Federal Judge Paul Engelmayer has ruled that the Metropolitan Transit Authority cannot reject an advertisement placed on city buses that calls opponents of Israel “savage.”

Donate to NYPD Confidential“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man,” the ad said. Then, between two Stars of David, it continued: “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

The ad comes from a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, whose executive director is Pamela Geller, a blogger who is, to put it mildly, crazed.

Geller, whose politics are to the right of Sheldon Adelson, calls herself a “proud” Jew. She also questions the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate.

She has been especially vicious towards Palestinian-American lawyer Lamis Deek, who is defending alleged terrorist, Ahmed Ferhani.

Deek could be earning six figures on Wall Street. Instead, she defends the rights of Muslims and indigents like Ferhani. In her blog, Geller has falsely called her a “jihadist lawyer” and an anti-Semite.

Engelmayer, a longtime federal prosecutor, is no ideologue. He has allowed the MTA time to appeal and to rewrite its rules. Maybe MTA authorities will figure out that political and ideological ads don’t belong on government property. Period.

As Chris Dunn of the Civil Liberties Union put it, Engelmayer made his ruling on a straight-down the line free-speech issue: If the government allows political ads on buses, it can’t censor them, says Dunn.

As for the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the Southern Poverty Law Center has called it a hate group.

Even the Anti-Defamation League has problems with the group. Without commenting, the ADL has written on its website that the group “seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy ‘American’ values.’”

Writing in the Jewish Week last March, ADL Chairman Abe Foxman said that Geller was “no better than Farrakhan or Buchanan,” the latter apparently a reference to Patrick Buchanan.

In return, Geller called Foxman a “traitor.”

. Is there a crime in any corner of the world that Ray Kelly has nothing to say about?

Early Friday morning, just a few hours after the Aurora, Colorado massacre, Kelly held a news conference to announce that the shooting suspect, James Holmes, had painted his hair red to look like the Batman villain, The Joker.

“We have some information,” Kelly said, “most of it is public…”

Most of it is public?

Most of it?

You might think that disclosing such information is the purview of Colorado authorities, not the police commissioner of New York. Especially since Aurora police chief Danny Oates has refused to elaborate on how Holmes was dressed and on anything Holmes told authorities.

So how did Kelly get this info? Well, Oates was a longtime NYPD officer, who retired as a Deputy Chief. Assuming he offered this description of the gunman to Kelly or to a third party who relayed it to Kelly, did Oates realize — as has the FBI or the London Metropolitan Police — that anything shared with Kelly in confidence ends up in a news conference — sooner rather than later — and with Kelly doing all the talking?

Want to watch a consummate pro? Check out CBS Senior Correspondent John Miller’s interview Sunday with Aurora police chief Danny Oates on “Face the Nation.” Miller elicits information on the shootings as well as some of Oates’s personal and professional feelings about them. [Oates’s daughter, we learn from Miller’s interview, had attended the Batman opening, but at another venue.]

There’s nobody around with more formidable media and law enforcement credentials than Miller.

He served as a spokesman for both the NYPD [where he came to know Oates] and the FBI, then did technological and analytic work for a governmental law enforcement agency with an unpronounceable name.

In between, with ABC News, he interviewed Osama bin Laden when bin Laden was living in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan.

If there’s anyone around who can top all that, let him come forward.


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Copyright © 2012 Leonard Levitt