Police charged eleven and arrested an alleged Alphabet City drug kingpin after a nearly two-year investigation that involved wiretapped cell phones and undercover officers, with scenes that sound like they’re straight out of The Wire. In order to get close to Dwayne Mitchell, who allegedly ran the crack trade on Avenue D, investigators used an undercover officer and tapped the cell phones of his crew. He allegedly ran his operation from a courtyard in the Jacob Riis Houses. “Prosecutors say Mr. Mitchell held court there, using cellphones to transact business and dispatching members of his group to make sales,” the New York Times reported. It’s reminiscent of Marlo Stanfield in that concrete park from the show, though apparently Mitchell wasn’t as careful.
[B]ad systems corrupt good individuals [by] enlisting our self-interest to convince us to betray our values. And make no mistake: America’s campaign finance system is a disaster. Most candidates can’t self-finance their campaigns, so they spend a disproportionate amount of time asking the rich to donate to their campaigns. Those donations are limited to $2,800 per individual, but the Supreme Court believes political spending is a protected form of free speech, so the rich can spend as much as they want on their own campaigns, or on Super PACs to push their political agendas.
Populists like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and, in his complicated and contradictory ways, even Donald Trump, have risen in part because Americans loathe seeing their political system bought by the rich. Bloomberg isn’t so much a defense against those critiques as he is a confirmation of them. The populists say that politics is rigged, elections are bought by those with enough money to spend, modern liberalism is mere lipstick on perpetual corporatism. Bloomberg is here to test whether they’re right. He may pitch himself to centrists as an answer to the populists, but in leveraging his fortune to fight them, he offers the country the (hopefully) false choice between populism and oligarchy.