Saturday, January 06, 2018

Democrats’ dishonest scramble to disown the Trump ‘dossier’

January 4, 2018
Image result for hillary steele dossier
Hillary Clinton and Christopher Steele. with text from the Federal Election Commission complaint. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Matt Rourke/AP, Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
Democrats have been quoting from the infamous anti-Trump “Steele dossier” as if it were gospel, but now that Hillary Clinton has been revealed as its paymaster and a Hillary-friendly FBI is under investigation for possibly launching the Trump-Russia “collusion” probe under its false pretenses, they are suddenly in full retreat from it.
Their credibility is in tatters along with the discredited document.
Rep. Adam Schiff, who’s led the Democrats’ “collusion” inquisition as vice chair of the House Intelligence Committee, fully embraced the dossier from the moment the panel kicked off a public hearing in March with then-FBI Director James Comey. The California Dem eagerly read into the record its unfounded criminal accusations against Trump campaign advisers.
Since then, Schiff has dramatically changed his tune to one of caution and even regret: “I certainly would have liked to know who paid for it earlier.”
And he admits it “still remains to be seen” if the gossip against former Trump adviser Carter Page he read aloud and broadcast to the world, with McCarthyite relish, is actually true. In a recent closed-door meeting with Schiff, Page denied under oath the dossier’s claim that he met with two Kremlin officials to end US sanctions on Russia in exchange for bribes.
Also beating a hasty retreat from the dossier is Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a colleague of Schiff’s on the House Intelligence Committee.
“There may very well be errors in the dossier,” Himes conceded Wednesday to CNN, even though he had also cited the document repeatedly and vouched for its contents.
Over in the Senate, Democrat Mark Warner, who’s been leading the effort in that chamber to frame Trump as a Kremlin-backed traitor, is suddenly having reservations about the dossier he previously touted.
“Much of it still remains a real question of whether it is true or not,” the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said, adding, “It’s obviously very inflammatory.”
Democrats’ new mission is to bury the dossier, and the media are providing them the shovel.
The New York Times now reports “it was not [the dossier]” but other factors, including a tip from an Australian diplomat, that triggered the Russia probe.
On cue, Democrats are using the report to help them downplay their own party’s opposition-research paper and make it look like the now-obvious political smears were never a big factor in their witch hunt, either.
Even the Democratic opposition-research firm Hillary hired is distancing itself from the dossier it subcontracted.
While Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS claims “we’re extremely proud of our work,” nowhere in his defensive op-ed in the Times earlier this week does he specifically defend that work. Astoundingly, he’s completely silent about the dossier’s core claim that ginned up this whole alleged scandal — that Trump officials and Russian intelligence worked together to hack the Democrats and spread stolen emails.
Instead, he changed the subject to “money laundering” and “financial ties,” which were never part of the “stolen election” narrative that Democrats have flogged to dog the presidency without end.
“We don’t believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling,” Simpson now maintains, even though the dossier’s author, ex-British spy Christopher Steele, worked closely with the FBI, while Simpson met with a top Justice official married to one of his researchers, to make sure the dossier’s wild allegations were taken seriously by investigators.
This is damage control.
What we have here is the miniaturization of the scandal as originally presented. The conspiracy-mongers are receding and retracting from their original accusations and smears in a fit of anxiety over what Congress will uncover about the Obama Justice Department’s reliance on this Democrat-underwritten dossier.
Its shameless Democratic promoters got everyone lathered up over a false conspiracy theory, and now they’re realizing they overreached and are running for the exits, revising history, recasting narratives, covering their keisters.
They led the nation on a wild goose chase, and now they fear the reckoning.

Paul Sperry is a former Hoover Institution media fellow and author of several books, including the bestseller “Infiltration.”
FILED UNDER              

Friday, January 05, 2018

"Wild Books, Homeless Books"

R.I.P., Fred Bass of the Strand Bookstore
January 4, 2018
Related image
Fred Bass and daughter Nancy Bass Wyden
Like many teachers of English literature, my father couldn’t pass a used bookstore without going in. He often left with well-worn volumes in hand, often texts by or about his favorite Williams—Shakespeare, Blake, and Yeats. There were 3,000 hardbacks in our living room, but what did that matter? There was always room for a few more.
Dad’s compulsion lies deep in my DNA. But where he could visit an archipelago of Manhattan bookstores—more than a dozen on Fourth Avenue alone, back then—that cluster has shrunk to a few pushcarts and one main island: the Strand Bookstore on Broadway and 12th Street. Fred Bass, the owner of that island, has died at 89. I remember him affectionately for his dream of seeing “18 miles of used books.” He and I had a lucrative business arrangement: At Time, where I was the books editor, tomes of all sorts arrived by the day. By the end of the month, books on every conceivable subject had piled up in a storeroom—on cooking, travel, animals, vegetables, minerals, politics, history, biography, and more besides, in addition to fiction. With space at a premium in Rockefeller Center, I would call the Strand.
Fred was only too happy to send a man with a dolly to load the Strand truck and take away the books that had been reviewed—or that would never be reviewed. He paid about a third of the list price and sold the works for about half that figure, making many people happy—including certain members of the Time staff, who split the proceeds. In a way, Fred got more than he paid for: my colleagues and I often visited the Strand. Invariably, we exited with merchandise in hand.
But that was then; this is 2018. When Fred’s father, Benjamin, founded the Strand in 1920, and for decades afterward, New York City real estate was reasonably priced, and street-level shops offered such exotica as buttons, butterflies, shells and toy soldiers—and, of course, used books. Today, rents have skyrocketed so severely that chain stores and banks mostly occupy those spaces. And then there’s Abe Books, a consortium of online used booksellers, whose wares are available with a few clicks of the computer keyboard, to say nothing of Amazon.
At least for now, the Strand continues. Fred bought the building outright 20 years ago, so his store is safe from predators. Besides, every true used-book hunter needs the aroma and feel of texts whispering on the shelves, waiting for the buyer to hear the full-throated message. And every one of those hunters knows the truth of Virginia Woolf’s observation: “Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes lack.” R.I.P, Fred Bass—but not his dream.
Image result for fred bass strand

The Norm Is NOT Democracy -- the Norm Is Extinction

January 3, 2018

Image result for iran ayatollah ali khamenei
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 

Before we wax too eloquent about the democratic aspirations of the great Iranian people, we should keep in the mind that the most probable scenario for Iran under any likely regime is a sickening spiral into poverty and depopulation. Iran has the fastest-aging population of any country in the world, indeed, the fastest-aging population of any country in history. It has the highest rate of venereal disease infection and the highest rate of infertility of any country in the world. It has a youth unemployment rate of 35% (adjusted for warehousing young people in state-run diploma mills). And worst of all, it has run out of water.

We might be observing the birth of Iranian democracy in the protests of the past few weeks, but it is more likely that we are watching the slow-motion train wreck of a once-great nation in all its gory detail. As I noted in an Asia Times analysis this morning, the most violent protests, e.g. the burning of a police station near Isfahan captured on this video, happened in the boondocks where water has run out. The river that runs through Isfahan, a legendary city of gardens in the desert, literally has run dry. Some Iranian officials warn that tens of millions of Iranians will have to leave their homes for lack of water. The country has used up 70% of its groundwater and its literally drying up major rivers to maintain consumption. It's the worst ecological disaster in modern history.

The Islamic Revolution presided over an orgy of corruption, brutality, and mismanagement. Despite the Obama administration's cash infusion and the lifting of sanctions on oil exports, the government is nearly bankrupt. It has allowed several major banks to fail, wiping out the savings of millions of depositors, after the banks lent vast sums to regime cronies for real estate speculation. Forty-five percent of Iranian bank loans are toxic and the cost of cleaning up the bank mess is estimated at half of GDP (to put that in perspective, the U.S. Treasury set aside $700 billion, or 1/20th of U.S. GDP, to bail out the banks in 2008, and needed only a fraction of it. The Iranian banking crisis is a full order of magnitude worse than the U.S. 2008 crisis).

Iran's pension funds, as I report in Asia Times, are bankrupt. The civil service pension fund has only 100 employees paying in for every 120 employees receiving a pension. The government is on the hook for the rest.

Add up the costs of dealing with the water emergency, the bank crisis and the pension crisis, and Iran is close to broke. And that's just the beginning: The average working-age Iranian today comes from a family of seven children, but has fewer than two children. That means that when the older generation retires, there will be fewer than two new entrants into the workforce to pay for the pensions of seven retirees. The demographic crisis hasn't hit yet, and when it does, it will be the financial equivalent of an asteroid hitting Iran.

In other words, Iran's exhaustion of physical as well as human capital may have pushed it past the point of no return.

Iran has plenty of smart people, and two of the best engineering universities in the world, except virtually all the top graduates leave the country. There probably is a theoretical way out of Iran's economic spiral, but no collection of Shi'ite mullahs is going to find it. The most likely outcome is that Iran will undergo economic and social collapse.

That, sadly, is the norm in human history. The democracy first practiced by the Greek city-state is exceptional, and classical Greece is Exhibit A for civilizational self-destruction.  Of the nearly 150,000 languages once spoken on this planet, a couple of thousand are left, and 90% of those will fall silent forever during the next century or so. Sometimes the best thing you can do for dying civilizations is, don't be one of them, as I wrote in my 2011 book, How Civilizations Die.

This makes the mullahs all the more dangerous, like a bank robber with a brain tumor who takes hostages. I sincerely wish a happy outcome for the people of Persia. But we need to be prepared for a very unhappy one.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

A Righteous Campaign against MS-13

Even Trump critics should support his crackdown on bloodthirsty killers who prey mostly on Hispanic immigrants.

By Rich Lowry
January 3, 2018

Image result for ms-13
Jose Cabezas / Reuters

Donald Trump is given to lurid rhetoric, and in the MS-13 gang he has finally met a subject beyond his ability to exaggerate.

He calls members of the largely Salvadoran gang “animals.” He charges them with “spreading gruesome bloodshed.” He says that “they kidnap, they extort, they rape, and they rob, they prey on children.” And, finally, he insists that “they shouldn’t be here.”

He’s right on every count. If there is any aspect of the Trump immigration agenda that should command universal support, it is his crackdown on an immigrant gang whose motto is “murder, rape, and control,” and whose signature weapon is the machete.

Yet the Trump administration’s focus on MS-13 has occasioned criticism from the usual quarters, for the usual reasons. A piece in the Boston Globe objected to the administration’s blaming crime on “highly organized gangs of immigrants.” Well, what if a highly organized gang of immigrants is indeed responsible for its own crime wave?

Philip Bump of the Washington Post objected to Trump’s speaking, at an Ohio rally, of the brutal stabbing death of a teenage girl at the hands of MS-13. It was a “graphic depiction of Hispanic immigrants in the United States,” Bump wrote, as “violent, bloodthirsty animals.” As it happens, MS-13 are, indeed, bloodthirsty, and they are Hispanic immigrants.

Jamelle Bouie of Slate accused the president of undertaking “a political plan to demagogue Hispanic immigrants as imminent threats to white Americans, and white women in particular.”
This has it backward. The chances of a white person getting extorted, assaulted, or killed by MS-13 are vanishingly small compared with the chances of poor Hispanic immigrants who live and work in the communities blighted by the gang.

As Jessica Vaughan and Jon Feere noted in a report for the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies, a surge of more than 2 million immigrants came to the United States from Central America during the 1980s and 1990s, most settling in Los Angeles, most illegal immigrants. Nurtured on violence in the guerrilla wars of Central America, members of the incipient MS-13 were well prepared to fight it out in the worst gang-ridden neighborhoods in the city.

Law enforcement substantially disrupted the gang in the United States during the 2000s, but it has made a comeback. The gang’s leaders in El Salvador professionalized its U.S. operations. And the flow of so-called unaccompanied children from Central America across the southern border has replenished the gang’s ranks; MS-13 members have been among the migrants, and the influx of non-English-speaking young males with no connections to the U.S. provides a ready base of recruitment.

This has led to horrifying headlines in places across the U.S. with large Central American populations, from Long Island to Houston to the Washington, D.C., area.

In a lengthy report on Langley Park, Md., the Washington Post detailed the depredations of MS-13 “seven miles from the White House.” According to the Post, “it took Abigail Bautista less than a month of living in Langley Park to learn that her new neighborhood in Maryland had its own set of laws, written not in statutes but in gang graffiti and blood.”

Needless to say, Bautista is not a white woman. She’s an illegal immigrant and mother of five, whose street vending business made her a prime target for extortion by the gang. The tragedy of immigrants in places like Langley Park is that they encounter in the U.S. exactly the breakdown in civil society and lack of rule of law that they thought they were escaping in Central America.

It will only stop if we continue the newly invigorated campaign against MS-13 members and get a better handle on migrants coming here from Central America. The commentators tsk-tsking Trump’s focus on MS-13 surely don’t, by and large, live in neighborhood dominated by savage gangs. Why should anyone else?

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: Copyright © 2018 King Features Syndicate

An Unfond Farewell to Un-statesman Orrin Hatch

By Michelle Malkin
January 3, 2018

Image result for orrin hatch retire
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history announced this week that he will finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally retire.

That's seven "finallys" -- one for each of the consecutive six-year terms Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, served. He begin his occupancy in 1976, when all phones were dumb, the 5.25-inch floppy disk was cutting-edge, the very first Apple computer went on sale for $666.66, the Concorde was flying high, O.J. Simpson was a hero, Blake Shelton was a newborn, the first MRI was still a blueprint, and I was a gap-toothed first-grader wearing corduroy bell-bottoms crushing on Davy Jones.

This encrusted longevity will be marketed by Hatch, 83, and his supporters as proof of his "statesmanship." Indeed, The Atlantic magazine described him this week as "an elder-statesman figure in the GOP." Newsweek likewise reported on the farewell announcement of the "elder statesman." And Hatch's own press minions have disseminated press releases quoting other entrenched politicians such as Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., hailing their boss's "reputation as a statesman."

But that word doesn't mean what Beltway barnacles think it means.

Merriam-Webster defines a "statesman" as a "wise, skillful, and respected political leader." Earning the approbation of other office-clinging politicians doesn't make you a "respected political leader." It makes you an echo-chamber chump.

Wise? Skillful? Hatch was a Big Government business-as-usual dealmaker. His wisdom was of the wet-finger-in-the-wind variety, claiming a Reagan conservative mantle during election cycles and then throwing constitutional conservatives under the bus once comfortably back in his well-worn Senate committee seats.

Hatch joined with his old pal Teddy Kennedy to create the $6 billion national service boondoggle and the $8 billion-a-year CHIP health insurance entitlement.

He preached about the "rule of law," but was an original sponsor of the open-borders DREAM Act illegal alien student bailout, and, despite claiming to oppose it, he voted to fully fund the unconstitutional Obama amnesty during the lame-duck session.

He crusaded for "fiscal conservatism," yet voted for massive Wall Street bailouts, 16 debt ceiling increases totaling $7.5 trillion, and scores of earmarks totaling hundreds of millions of dollars for porky projects. He ends his four-decade reign as the Senate's top recipient of lobbyist cash.

And for the past two years, Team Hatch allies have spearheaded a multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign, squeezing donations from corporate donors and pharma and tech lobbyists to subsidize a "Hatch Foundation" and "Hatch Center" to commemorate the Hatch legacy.

"Statesman" isn't a titled earned by mere length of service. It's not a cheap status conferred like an AARP card or IHOP senior discount. A politician who notches decades of frequent flyer miles back and forth between Washington and his "home" state, enjoying the endless perks of incumbency, does not acquire statesmanship by perpetual re-election and political self-aggrandizement.

The idea of amassing $4 million to $6 million campaign war chests, as Hatch did the past two election cycles, is antithetical to the ideal of statesmanship. In the days of Cincinnatus and George Washington, self-sacrifice and civic virtue marked true statesmen. Affability, which Hatch is credited with possessing by his backroom Democrat chums, was no substitute for the humility exhibited by statesmen who volunteered to relinquish power at the very height of it -- not in its waning twilight.

So: Call Hatch a clock-puncher. Time-bider. Log-roller. Deal-cutter. Back-slapper. Call him most anything else now that he's finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally called it a day.

Just please don't call him "statesman."

The Critics of Proactive Policing are Wrong

Public order creates a virtuous circle that enables neighborhoods to flourish
January 2, 2018
Image result for nypd
In the last week of 2017, it was announced that homicides in New York City were at a 60-year-low and that gun murders of officers nationally had dropped 33 percent, after rising 53 percent in 2016. Inveterate cop critics seized on the information to argue that there was no such thing as a war on cops, and that proactive policing was irrelevant to crime control, since pedestrian stops had dropped in New York City along with homicides. I responded in National Review Online that gentrification was likely now contributing to New York’s crime decline. Nationally, however, the rising civilian violence in 2015 and 2016 resulted from the prolonged rhetorical onslaught against the police since the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. But now it is considered bigoted even to mention racial crime and victimization rates, or to suggest that demographic and economic change can affect a neighborhood’s crime picture.
Let’s look at the facts.
The fact that should concern us all, and that should be at the forefront of discussions of crime and policing, is that blacks die of homicide at six times the rate of whites and most Hispanics combined. That is a serious civil-rights issue, but to my knowledge, Black Lives Matter protesters have remained silent about it. Blacks disproportionately suffer from nonlethal violence as well. Last year in Chicago, 4,300 people were shot—one person every two hours. Those victims were overwhelmingly black. If one white Chicagoan had been shot every two hours, there would be a national uproar; it is unthinkable. But because the victims were black and not shot by the police, the national media are indifferent. (The Chicago police shot 25 people last year, most of them armed or dangerous, amounting to 0.6 percent of all shooting victims in the city.)
The shooting victims in Chicago last year included 24 children under the age of 12, among them a three-year-old boy mowed down on Father’s Day 2016 who is now paralyzed for life, and a ten-year-old boy shot in August whose pancreas, intestines, kidney, and spleen were torn apart. None of the two dozen children were shot by the police. When white children are shot or killed, an outcry ensues—see Newtown, Connecticut. When black children are shot or killed, the country largely looks away—though cops do not—unless the assailant is an officer. This year’s child shooting victims in Chicago include a four-year-old boy shot on the West Side in July while standing next to his mother, who was fatally shot in the head; another four-year-old boy and his six-year-old sister, shot in July while getting snow cones on the West Side; a ten-year-old boy fatally shot in the back while riding in an SUV with this stepfather; and two girls, seven and 13, shot in June on an elementary school playground during a picnic. In February 2017, 11-year-old Takiya Holmes was fatally shot in the head in Chicago by a 19-year-old marijuana dealer, who was blasting away at rival marijuana dealers. While the world knows the name of Michael Brown, the public at large remains ignorant of these young victims because they do not fit the Black Lives Matter narrative. Black Lives Matter activists have held no rallies on their behalf.
Who is killing and shooting black crime victims? Overwhelmingly, not whites, not the police, but, tragically, other blacks. The high black homicide-victimization rate is a function of the black homicide-commission rate. Blacks commit homicide nationally at seven times the rate of whites and most Hispanics, combined. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at 10 times the rate of white and most Hispanic males between the ages of 14 and 17. Officer-involved shootings are not responsible for the black homicide-victimization rate, either. In fact, a greater percentage of white and Hispanic homicide victims are killed by a police officer than black homicide victims: in 2015, 12 percent of all whites and Hispanics who died of homicide were killed by a cop, compared with 4 percent of black homicide victims who were killed by a cop. Nor is white violence responsible for the black victimization rate. Blacks commit most interracial violence. Between 2012 and 2015, there were 631,830 violent interracial victimizations, excluding homicide, between blacks and whites, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Blacks committed 85.5 percent of those violent victimizations, or 540,360 felonious assaults on whites, while whites committed 14.4 percent of those violent victimizations, or 91,470 felonious assaults on blacks.
These national disparities are repeated locally. In New York City, for example, blacks, 23 percent of the population, committed 71 percent of all gun violence in 2016; whites, who, at 34 percent of the population, are the city’s largest racial group, committed less than 2 percent of all shootings. These identifications are provided by the victims of, and witnesses to, those shootings, overwhelmingly minorities themselves. A black New Yorker is thus 50 times more likely to commit a shooting than a white New Yorker. In Chicago, blacks and whites are each a little under a third of the city’s population; blacks commit 80 percent of all shootings, whites, a little over 1 percent, making blacks in the Windy City 80 times more likely to commit a shooting than whites. In Oakland, blacks committed 83 percent of homicides, attempted homicides, robberies, assaults with firearms, and assaults with weapons other than firearms in 2013, even though they constitute only 28 percent of Oakland’s population. Whites were 1 percent of robbery suspects, 1 percent of firearm assault suspects, and an even lower percent of homicide suspects, even though they make up about 34 percent of the city’s population. In Pittsburgh, 82 percent of known homicide suspects were black in 2015, even though the Pittsburgh population is just 26 percent black. In St. Louis, nearly 100 percent of homicide suspects were black through August 8, 2017, though the population is 47 percent white and 47 percent black.
The vast majority of black residents—in high-crime areas and elsewhere—are law-abiding and hard-working; they deserve the same freedom from fear as residents of safer neighborhoods and they beg for more proactive police enforcement, as reporters from the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post bothdiscovered when covering the aftermath of the Freddie Gray riots. But a disproportionate amount of all violent crime is committed by a small percentage of the black community. This taboo fact has enormous implications for understanding police activity, whether stops, summons, arrests, or use of force, since policing will be more intense where people are most being victimized and are most calling for help in maintaining public order. The national discourse about policing over the last two decades has been conducted in a vacuum, where any mention of racial crime rates is banned as racist, even as the discussion of policing is carried out exclusively in racialized terms.
In 1994, a policing revolution began in New York City that would eventually save thousands of minority lives nationwide. The radical idea behind that revolution was that policing could actually prevent crime, not just respond to it after the fact. For years, the FBI’s annual crime tabulation, the Uniform Crime Report, contained a disclaimer that homicide was a social problem unamenable to a law enforcement solution; the policing establishment accepted this view of its own marginality. When William Bratton took over the NYPD in 1994, however, he explicitly rejected that passivity and declared that the NYPD itself would lower violence and disorder in New York. Backing up his words, he set a numerical target for crime reduction in his first year, something few police chiefs would have dreamed of doing before then. Bratton not only met his target of 10 percent, he beat it. He did so by establishing the principle of commander accountability for crime, by relentlessly collecting and analyzing crime data, and by asking officers to respond proactively to observed suspicious or disorderly behavior, if only by asking a few questions.
This data-driven “Compstat” revolution spread across the country and resulted over the next 20 years in a 50 percent nationwide felony crime drop. Minorities were the primary beneficiaries of that crime decline.  Starting in late 2014, though, violent crime started rising in urban neighborhoods across the country. From 2015 to 2017, the nation’s homicide rate rose 20 percent; the homicide increase in 2015 was the largest in nearly half a century. The victims of that homicide increase were predominantly black. An additional 900 black males were killed each year in 2015 and 2016 compared with 2014’s numbers, bringing the black homicide total in 2016 to 7,881. Those 7,881 black bodies, in the parlance of Ta-Nehesi Coates, were 1,305 more homicide victims than all white and Hispanic homicide victims combined, even though blacks are only 13 percent of the nation’s population—and black males, who are the vast majority of black homicide victims, are only 6 percent of the nation’s population.
The reason for this rise in violent victimization was depolicing. Officers were being told relentlessly by the mainstream media, President Barack Obama, Black Lives Matter activists, and academics that proactive policing—whether pedestrian stops or public-order enforcement—was racist. So it was no surprise that cops started doing less of it. Seventy-two percent of the nation’s officers reported that they and their colleagues were less willing to stop and question suspicious persons, according to a Pew poll released in January 2017, thanks to the persistent anti-cop climate. The only surprising thing was that the same anti-cop activists who had virulently denounced pedestrian stops and broken-windows policing as racist started accusing the cops of not doing their jobs, when officers backed off of these discretionary activities.
Former FBI Director James Comey repeatedly sounded the alarm about the rising urban bloodshed and publicly confirmed what I have called the “Ferguson Effect”—the combined phenomenon of depolicing and the resulting emboldening of criminals. The last two decades’ progress against crime was at risk, Comey observed at the Chicago Law School in October 2015, because officers were reluctant to get out of their cars and do the proactive work that prevents drive-by shootings. They were answering 911 calls, but avoiding the informal contact that deters bad guys with guns, he said. Comey recounted a conversation with officers in a big-city precinct who described being surrounded and taunted the minute they got out of their cars. Because of officers’ growing hesitation about engaging with potential suspects, cities across the country were seeing an explosion in senseless violence, Comey said. There was a “chill wind blowing through American law enforcement” that was “surely changing behavior.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also confirmed the Ferguson effect in October 2015, during an emergency meeting of mayors and police chiefs convened by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss the rising violence. “We have allowed our police departments to get fetal,” Emanuel said.
What Comey and Emanuel were hearing from cops about the atmosphere on the streets matched my own reporting. A black U.S. Marshall described to me being immediately surrounded by two dozen hostile bystanders taunting him as he tried to arrest a violent felon absconder. He had to call for backup to get safely away from the scene. A Chicago cop told me that he had never encountered so much hatred in his 19 years on the job: “People want to fight you. ‘F--- the police. We don’t have to listen,’ they say.”
The war on cops has consisted of an endlessly repeated narrative, amplified in the White House and across the mainstream media, that the nation’s officers were infected by lethal bias and that we were living through an epidemic of racist police shootings of blacks. That narrative was false. Policing today is data-driven; it is determined by the incidence of criminal victimization, not by race. Four studies came out in 2016 that found no racial bias against blacks in police shootings. Blacks have made up about a quarter of all victims of fatal police shootings in 2015 and 2016, according to the Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings. That proportion does not suggest bias. Police use of force is most likely in confrontations with violent and resisting criminals—and those confrontations happen disproportionately in minority communities. In America’s 75 largest counties in 2009, blacks constituted 62 percent of all robbery defendants, 57 percent of all murder defendants, and 45 percent of all assault defendants, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, even though blacks made up only 15 percent of the population in those counties. The roughly 25 percent share of black police shooting victims nationally should be benchmarked against those violent crime rates, not against population share.
Yet so insistent was President Obama about reinforcing the false narrative about lethally biased policing that he even repeated it during the memorial service for five Dallas police officers assassinated in July 2016 by a killer inspired by Black Lives Matter ideology. Black parents were right to fear that a cop could shoot their child merely for doing something stupid, Obama said, as the families of the assassinated officers grieved their loss. This false narrative had tragic, real-world effects in the heightened loss of black life and neighborhood safety.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson addressed the effect of anti-cop narratives on crime last week. The video of a Chicago cop killing Laquan McDonald and the resulting coverage emboldened criminals to break the law, he told the Chicago Tribune. “I think that they used that to their advantage because if you think they don’t pay attention to that type of thing, you’re fooling yourself because they do,” Johnson said. “I think the boldness of them is starting to tick down a bit, but it’s still there.” Deniers of the Ferguson Effect apparently think that they know more about criminal behavior than Superintendent Johnson does.
Cop critics have seized on the fact that gun murders of officers have dropped 33 percent this year to claim that the war on cops is chimerical. “There Still Wasn’t a War On Cops in 2017,” tweeted Reason. Their argument is specious. The war on cops has been overwhelmingly rhetorical. The hatred spewed toward cops on the street at the height of Black Lives Matter agitation, the endlessly repeated media conceit that policing was racist, were realities, with tragic consequences for crime victims. But even if the war on cops were viewed exclusively as a physical one, this year’s decline in murders of police officers cannot be used to dismiss that war without counting last year’s 53 percent increase in cop killings as a confirmation of it.  (It is too soon to know what is behind this year’s decline, but officer disengagement on the streets is a reasonable explanation.)  And if the murder rate of officers is used to dismiss the war on cops, then there is also no police war on unarmed black men.  In 2015, a police officer was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be killed by a police officer. Black males have made up 42 percent of all cop-killers over the last decade.
The critics have also seized on the ongoing crime drop in New York City to argue that proactive policing is an unnecessary crime-fighting strategy and that depolicing has no consequences. The New York Police Department’s reported stop activity plummeted earlier in this decade as a result of a groundless trilogy of racial-profiling lawsuits against the department. Yet crime in New York ultimately continued its downward trajectory. Therefore, say the critics, proactive policing such as pedestrian stops is unnecessary.
At first blush, New York’s recent crime experience appears to be a counterexample to the national pattern that shows a relationship between depolicing and crime. New York’s ongoing crime decline is cause for celebration and acclaim. It is also almost sui generis. That New York managed to hold on to its lowered crime levels during the last three years while so many cities did not hardly erases what was happening in those other cities; the 1,800 additional lost black lives speak for themselves. After the riots in Baltimore in April 2016, for example, the Baltimore police virtually stopped enforcing drug laws and other low-level offenses. Shootings spiked, along with loitering and other street disorder. “We know for a fact that around the time Freddie Gray was killed, we started to see homicides increase,” a Baltimore pastor recently told NPR.  “We had five homicides in that neighborhood while we were protesting.”  A similar pattern was shown in Chicago, St. Louis, and other cities with high degrees of publicly expressed anti-cop animus.
For most of the last two decades, New York’s crime decline was accomplished through data-driven, proactive policing.  No other department has had as uninterrupted and intense a focus on crime analysis and targeted policing.  The NYPD’s commitment to public-order enforcement (also known as Broken Windows policing) was, until recently, unshakable. Even after the drop in stops, the NYPD had the manpower to flood emerging shooting zones with officers whose mere presence deterred crime, as happened following a 20 percent homicide spike in the first half of 2015. The sustained enforcement of public-order laws may have effected a culture change in at-risk populations.        
But now another factor has come into play: the policing-generated transformation of formerly high-crime areas into middle-class neighborhoods. A virtuous cycle has set in, whereby lowered crime brings more commerce, more street traffic, and stable families, which in turn help lower crime. Gentrification has introduced informal social controls into neighborhoods that once had to rely almost exclusively on the police to maintain order. In off-the-record discussions, NYPD officials agree with this assessment.
It is not a novel observation. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the H Street corridor in Northeast Washington D.C., where “poverty, violence and trash-ridden streets . . . have given way to bars, restaurants, shops and condos [that have] led to further drops in crime.” Lowered crime in the early 2000s attracted new investment, which helped deter violence. That gentrification “has created a virtuous cycle that has allowed violence to decline in that part of the city,” John Roman, former executive director of the District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute, told the Journal.
The most important aspect of gentrification for crime control is the greater percentage of two-parent households among the gentrifiers. While many single mothers rear self-controlled, law-abiding offspring, children raised without fathers and in a community where marriage has almost disappeared are more likely to get sucked into gang life. It is the high rates of out-of-wedlock childrearing that explain the higher crime in inner-city areas. The relative incidence of out-of-wedlock childbirths, from Asians (low), through whites, Hispanics, and blacks (very high), tracks these groups’ relative standings in crime rates. If the same percentage of African-American children were raised by both parents as are Asian children, black and Asian crime rates would likely be close to indistinguishable.  If you want a stable neighborhood to raise your kids in, look to the number of married moms and dads, of whatever race. 
Diversity is fully compatible with public safety. Mott Haven, in the NYPD’s 40th precinct, has had a significant crime decline since the 1990s, though its white population has not increased significantly. It has a heavy police presence, and is gentrifying with first-generation immigrants and educated minorities, who are more likely to be married than was the existing population. These newcomers are disrupting the criminogenic environment of formerly high-crime neighborhoods.  Bourgeois African and Caribbean blacks are also stabilizing traditionally troubled areas in other parts of the Bronx, Harlem, and Brooklyn.
The reflexive charge of racism is an excuse to continue ignoring high crime and victimization rates in inner-city neighborhoods. The police, however, do not. While the rest of the country looks away from the drive-by shootings that take children’s lives, the police work overtime to try to solve them, even if witnesses are not cooperating. The story of New York and the rest of the country over the last quarter-century is that policing matters. That is the conclusion also reached by a recent National Academy of Sciences report that found that stop, question, and frisk and concentrated policing of criminal hot-spots reduced crime by statistically significant margins. When the police back off in high-crime areas deficient in social controls, however, lives are lost, as we have seen during the height of the Black Lives Matter era.
Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The War on Cops.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The Iranian Uprising

By Melanie Phillips
January 1, 2018
Image result for iranian uprising 2017
An Iranian woman raises her fist amid the smoke of teargas during a protest at the University of Tehran December 30, 2017 (STR/AFP)
What’s happening in Iran is of the greatest significance. Thousands of anti-regime demonstrators have taken to the streets now for four days in protest. Reports suggest that at least twelve people have been killed by government troops. It is hard to over-estimate the courage of those demonstrators.
The scale and scope of these demonstrations across Iran is unprecedented: estimates suggest they have been occurring in at least 30 cities, including some places long deemed to be the regime’s power base.
With President Hassan Rouhani acknowledging economic “grievances”, a “lack of transparency” and “corruption”, the regime has responded with patent alarm. As well it might. If these protests continue to accelerate, they can produce an upset that was unimaginable until now. For this is an uprising against the regime itself.
Demonstrators have been chanting “Death to Khamenei” (|Iran’s supreme Leader), “Reformists, hardliners, it is game over now,” “Death to the Islamic Republic” and “Shame on you, mullahs.”
They are also chanting: “Forget about Palestine, forget about Gaza, think about us”, ‘Death to Hezbollah” and “Leave Syria alone, think about us instead”.
As Dr Majid Rafizadeh observes here, this uprising is more significant even than the “Green Revolution” demonstrations in 2009. People then were protesting against rigged elections and the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Today they are demanding regime change: an end to the Islamist regime that took power in 1979.
This of course shows up as utterly risible the gloss initially put on these protests by the western media – those outlets, that is, that even bothered to report the demonstrations when they first erupted – that the issue which has brought Iranians onto the streets is merely economic privation.
They said this because the media reflects the European/Obama view that the Iranian regime is not an enemy but an ally. How then can they acknowledge that the Iranian people are rising up against oppression?
The Obama/EU axis and its media supporters have consistently dismissed or denied Iran’s role as the world’s principal sponsor of terrorism. They have ignored or downplayed its march to regional hegemony. They procured or applauded the shocking nuclear deal which enables this fanatical Islamist regime –– which has been at war with the west since 1979 and which openly declares its genocidal intent to wipe out out Israel – to become a nuclear armed power in ten or fifteen years’ time: a deal which, though sanctions relief, has also funnelled money to the regime to enable it to step up its terrorism and embed itself further in the region.
The result has not been merely that the free world has been placed in hugely increased danger. The European/Obama axis also abandoned and betrayed the Iranian people who have been suffering under the cruel tyranny of a regime which oppresses women, jails dissidents and hangs gay men from cranes.
When the people previously rose up in the 2009 “Green Revolution”, they were brutally suppressed. That revolt was put down with the tacit connivance of President Obama who said and did nothing to support them. So why have the Iranian people now risen up again and in such huge numbers? The answer is two words: Donald Trump.
For he has changed the dynamic of the entire region by signalling from the get-go that he has the Iranian regime in his sights. The Iranian people have been thus encouraged to believe they will be backed by the president of the most powerful nation on earth, rather than betrayed as they were by his predecessor.
Since the uprising began, Trump haas tweeted his support several times, saying:
“The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”
“Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!”
“The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most….”
Slowly, reluctantly, the media are being forced to revise their previous indifference and dismissive attitude. Yesterday, CNN reported that this wave of protests seems to be a direct challenge to the rule of the Supreme Leader.
“’This is something that didn’t happen in 2009. This is a huge thing to happen in Iran’, said Nic Robertson, CNN’s international diplomatic editor.”
You don’t say! But if you think this means CNN is finally waking up to reality, you’d better calm down. For lower down the story, it solemnly tells us:
“The consensus from experts: US President Donald Trump’s tweets about the situation are not helpful.Rather, they say, the world should show solidarity with the Iranian people by supporting freedom of expression.”
As opposed to people supporting Trump’s freedom of expression, I suppose. Don’t you just love these anonymous “experts”? In glorious technicolour all-singing all-dancing consensus: just plain wrong.
Trump’s tweets are aimed at both the regime and the demonstrators. To the regime he’s saying: your time is up and the US will be helping the people make that a reality. He’s saying this to demoralise and weaken it. To the people he’s saying: we’re with you. That message of backing from the most powerful leader in the world is aimed at giving the people the courage to continue. Without it they are far less likely to persevere.
If people are to rouse their courage to pit themselves against the might of a regime that can kill and crush them, the support of the rest of the world is absolutely crucial. So far, though, Trump is alone in offering such support. Apart from Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson feebly and pointlessly tweeting his “concern”, Britain and the EU have been silent. They are not supporting the people of Iran against the regime. They are not trying to weaken it. How can they? They have helped empower it. As have their cheerleaders and Obama sycophants in the media.
Dr Rafizadeh writes: “The fault lines are completely visible. If you are on the side of justice, freedom, and basic human rights, and if you respect humanity, you will not be able to remain silent. Let us at least give moral support, if not more, to the Iranian people. Justice and truth need to prevail. This is what history has repeatedly shown us. Let us not be on the side of history that would remain silent in the face of such crimes against humanity, let us not join the ranks of other dictators, terrorists, and criminals, that turned a blind eye to violence, and the will of brave, innocent people.”
Alas, on this Britain and Europe are, as so often, on the wrong side.