'Mayor Caligula, Your Horse is on Line One'
"If historians debate whether Caligula’s apocryphal attempt to make his horse a consul of Rome signified serious mental illness or was just the emperor’s idea of a joke, contemporary New Yorkers should have no doubt that their new mayor, Bill de Blasio, is nuttier than a squirrel’s turd," Nick Gillespie writes at both Reason, and behind leftwing lines at the Daily Beast, Tina Brown's successor to the Washington Post's "We are all Socialists Now" Newsweek:
Upon taking office, de Blasio has made it his absolute highest priority “to quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer a part of the landscape in New York City.” Seemingly paraphrasing Richard Crenna’s Col. Trautman in the first Rambo movie, he flatly told a pre-inauguration press conference, “It’s over.” A hundred-plus years of tradition and a hundred-plus jobs (for humans) gone, just like that, because de Blasio believes that horse-drawn carriages “are not humane.” In their place will be “electric, vintage-replica tourist-friendly vehicles that provide jobs for current drivers.” And New Yorkers thought that the days of bizarre, Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria-style edicts had finally ended when three-term Mayor Mike Bloomberg finally left City Hall.
On the otherwise equally socialist CNN, Newt Gingrich dubs de Blasio an example of "Soy Latte Liberalism:"
After saying de Blasio is not a "courageous" progressive on CNN's "Crossfire" Thursday, Gingrich showed a clip from the new mayor's inauguration speech in which he said tax increases for the rich would amount to no more than $3 a day, "about the cost of one small soy latte at your local Starbucks."
With three different-sized paper Starbucks cups in front of him, Gingrich said, "Years ago, we used to talk about the Chablis and Volvo liberals in the suburbs. This gives a brand new definition of courageous. Soy latte. And not just soy latte, small."
"Do you know how hard it is for those of us who are in the business of trying to characterize liberals to have someone jump up and say 'soy latte'?" Gingrich added. De Blasio isn't the first person to tie his fees into the price of a cup of coffee at Starbucks; Rob Long has been using that comparison for the membership fees at Ricochet.com for several years now. Is archleftist de Blasio a closet Ricochet listener?
Late Thursday night, I quickly slammed together the Photoshop atop this post for Roger L. Simon's latest piece, on de Blasio's inaugural rants on income inequality. Having had a twinge of guilt over satirizing a newly ensconced mayor in the macho, sleeveless rig worn by Batman's equally redistribution-obsessed supervillain Bane, I quickly ran into Muggeridge's Law the very next morning; "Bill de Blasio Threatens to Strip During Storm Briefing," New York's Observer.com reported yesterday:
Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to make reporters pay attention to his winter snowstorm briefings.
At the very end of a detailed press update this morning at a sanitation garage in Queens, the newly-minted mayor was asked how many layers he was wearing by CBS radio reporter Rich Lamb.
Dressed in a mayor’s office wind breaker, button-down shirt and dad jeans, Mr. de Blasio jokingly pretended to strip, dramatically unzipping his jacket to show off his shirt.
“Do you want me to go farther, Rich?” he offered suggestively with a smile. “I have an undershirt also.”
The move from Mr. de Blasio–whose corny sense of humor has become a source of amusement for the press–drew hearty laughs from the crowd, including a crew of sanitation workers and two dozen-or-so reporters, who looked at each other in disbelief.
I wonder how many people will be laughing when de Blasio's reign concludes; Peggy Noonan wasn't laughing at the antics on display during his inauguration:
An inaugural address is a big thing. It declares an agenda but also sets a tone. An attitude. The tone Mr. de Blasio set was that of a divider.
A uniter's approach would have been one that was both more morally generous and more honest. It wouldn't set one group against the other, it would have asserted that all New Yorkers are in this together. Something along this approach: "To those who earn half a million dollars or more a year, we know and understand that your weekly paycheck is already subject to federal, state and city taxes. Which means we know you already contribute a great deal, and not only through taxes. So many of our citizens are deeply civic-minded. They give their time and effort to helping their local churches and synagogues; to building civic organizations; to raising funds for the poor and the hungry; to volunteering for literacy programs; and donating their wealth to keep the arts and the museums going. In our town, much has always been asked of those to whom much has been given—and they have come through. They have helped build a ladder. And now we are going to make that ladder sturdier, stronger, higher and wider so more of our young can use it."
What was absent in Mr. de Blasio's remarks was a kind of civic courtesy, or grace. The kind that seeks to unite and build from shared strength, the kind that doesn't demonize. Instead, from our new mayor we got the snotty sound of us vs. them, of zero-sum politics.
It was not a promising beginning. Or rather what it promises is unfortunate. I already miss Mike.
Which may be the scariest words of all written about the man whom Jonah Goldberg dubbed "Bill de Bane" in his emailed G-File yesterday, before noting that de Blasio is dusting off a variation of moribund "Progressivism's" hoary century-old "Moral Equivalent of War" playbook:
Over and over again, de Blasio invokes and appeals to the cult of unity to justify his policies. In One City we're all in it together and therefore what is yours is ours and what is ours is yours. It's lifeboat logic applied to the democratic polis. In a lifeboat, if you have ten candy bars and someone else has none, you must share. Property rights go out the window. The problem with lifeboat logic -- which is just another version of the moral equivalent of war -- is that it only applies in lifeboat situations. It doesn't apply when you can jump out of the lifeboat and swim to shore. It certainly doesn't fly when the boat is tied to the dock. That's why the moral equivalent of war argument is evil when misapplied. By invoking an existential crisis when there is none, you are saying that the rule of law and individual rights must be suspended for the greater good. If I yank you out of your car and drive off to defuse a nuclear bomb, I am a badass hero who did what was necessary. If I yank you out of your car and drive off because you can afford to get another one, I'm a thief with a penchant for romantic rationalizations of my crimes.
Ask Not, Again
Now, there's a problem for liberals. While they are always invoking the cult of unity, lifeboat logic, the moral equivalents of war, and the need not to let crises go to waste, they don't want to scare people. So they couch it all in the softer language of community. They frame the issue as one where all good people want to do these things voluntarily. Indeed, their agenda would be "universally shared" were it not for the tiny handful of greedy fat cats dressed like Mr. Monopoly invoking "rugged individualism." And even those people aren't being forced to do anything, they're being "asked."
In the above passage, de Blasio says he's "asking those at the top to help our kids get on the right path and stay there. That's our mission. And on that, we will not wait. We will do it now." The thing is, every time you see "ask" or "asking" in a discussion of tax policy, your should read "force" or "forcing." Read de Blasio's statement again. He's asking, but not waiting for an answer -- because it's not voluntary.
Every time I see someone quoting de Blasio's "We'll do it now!" grunt, I keep hearing Bill O'Reilly add in his classic barking tone, "and f*** it, we'll do it live! WE'LL DO IT LIVE!!!!"
While Peggy Noonan misses Mayor Mike, at City Journal, former New York Post editor Bob McManus noted the presence of Bill Clinton in a column titled "Irony and Oafishness on Inauguration Day," which concluded:
As for de Blasio, he’s committed to the politics of “income inequality”—or, rather, unfocused income redistribution—as was virtually everybody else present at City Hall Wednesday, but for Bill Clinton. How ironic it would be if such a singular achievement of Clinton’s presidency begins to unravel in the hands of a man the former president swore into office. For New York, irony would be the least of it.
(Matt Drudge also noted the ironic presence of Bill Clinton in a far less subtle, and highly effective way.)
And finally, is de Blasio Batman villain Bane, or Mayor Caligula, or perhaps as Kathy Shaidle posits, Rick Moranis as the Keymaster in Ghostbusters...?
"Welcome New Yorkers, to your future," Ron Radosh chilling writes in his new column at PJM, "Comrade De Blasio Takes the Helm." Since Batman and the Ghostbusters are fictional, who will real-life New Yorkers call for their rescue?