Saturday, August 13, 2016

The DOJ’s Baltimore Police Report Contributes to a Hostile Environment for Law Enforcement

As long as police are vilified, more black lives will be lost in high-crime areas.

By Heather Mac Donald — August 11, 2016
Vanita Gupta, Loretta Lynch
Vanita Gupta, left, head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, with Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

In early May 2016, a 90-year-old woman in northwest Baltimore was severely beaten during a home invasion. Police found her barely conscious on the floor, unable to move or call for help. This was the second time in two months that she had been the victim of a burglary. She was hospitalized for three weeks following the beating and died in the hospital. Police concluded that the suspect in the May assault was familiar with the neighborhood.

On May 31, 2016, a 71-year-old woman in northwest Baltimore was raped and robbed in her home. The assailant took jewelry and cash from the victim’s purse, then stole her car and crashed it. A bystander helped the rapist out of the crashed car; the thug fled.

These heinous crimes occurred as Baltimore was experiencing the bloodiest year in its history, measured on a per capita basis. Shootings, homicides, and robberies surged after the April 2015 riots triggered by the accidental death of drug dealer Freddie Gray following an arrest. Nearly two dozen children were killed in 2015. Baltimore’s homicide count matched that of New York City’s, a city 13 and a half times Baltimore’s size.

Unfortunately, such crime merits but a few passing references in the 163-page report on the Baltimore Police Department released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The Justice Department accuses the Baltimore police of a pattern or practice of violating blacks’ civil rights. Justice’s methodology for reaching that conclusion is by now drearily familiar: Because blacks are stopped and arrested by the Baltimore police at a higher rate than their representation in the Baltimore population, the police are guilty of racial bias.

This use of a population benchmark to analyze police activity is preposterously misguided, given the large disparities in rates of criminal victimization and crime commission. In 2015, more than 90 percent of Balimore’s homicide victims were black, even though blacks are only 63 percent of the city’s population. Though the police department does not report the race of criminals, it is certain that at least 90 percent of homicide and shootings suspects in Baltimore are also black. To expect police activity to match population ratios when crime commission is not evenly spread throughout the population is either disingenuous or disqualifyingly ignorant.

Yet it’s hard to place exclusive blame on assistant attorney general for civil rights, Vanita Gupta, for this travesty of common sense and sound methodology. President Barack Obama routinely blasts the nation’s police for their alleged systemic bias, because blacks are overrepresented in police activity. Just hours before five officers were assassinated in Dallas, Obama was at it again, lambasting the police for the fact that blacks are arrested nationally at twice the rate of whites. Obama was silent as usual about the reality that blacks commit homicide at eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined; their robbery and shooting rates are even more disproportionate.

The Justice Department’s latest sally against proactive policing has been ecstatically received by the mainstream media, which have dwelt lovingly on the policing disparities highlighted in the report: 44 percent of the stops made by the Baltimore police between 2010 and 2015 occurred in two small, predominantly black districts containing only 11 percent of the city’s population; blacks accounted for 86 percent of all criminal offenses charged by the police; blacks are arrested for drug possession at five times the rate of whites.

The report claims that the arrest data are particularly skewed for more discretionary types of enforcement, thus allegedly revealing police bias in its most exposed and overt form. Blacks accounted for 87 percent of resisting-arrest charges; 89 percent of charges for making a false statement to an officer; 84 percent of failing-to-obey-an-order charges; 86 percent of hindering or obstruction charges; 83 percent of disorderly conduct arrests; and 88 percent of trespassing-on-posted-property arrests.

In fact, those numbers are not skewed at all compared to blacks’ 86 percent portion of all arrests, which include property and violent crimes. Low-level-misdemeanor enforcement simply tracks felony crime, and is not racially driven.

Never asked in the report is what those numbers represent. What, for example, goes on in those two districts accounting for 44 percent of all stops? Might they contain a vastly disproportionate number of criminal victimizations? Is open-air drug trafficking terrorizing the law-abiding residents there? We never learn. The report presents such data as prima facie evidence of arbitrary, bias-driven policing. But if stops are so concentrated in those two districts, the police are not in fact indiscriminately stopping every black person, but are presumably targeting the highest-crime areas — unless DOJ thinks that cops in those two districts are for some mysterious reason even more racist than those in other districts.

It is simply beyond the ken of the attorneys in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division that perhaps blacks make up 87 percent of resisting-arrest charges because they resist arrest at a higher rate than their population ratios, but consistent with their crime rates. Ed Norris served as deputy commissioner in the New York Police Department and as the Baltimore police commissioner from 2000 to 2002. The “level of violence in the streets here [in Baltimore] and the willingness to fight with the police is much worse than what I experienced in NYC,” he says. “It really does need to be seen to understand what it’s like here.”

The media have endlessly recycled the DOJ finding that between 2010 and 2015, 34 blacks were stopped at least 20 times and seven blacks stopped at least 30 times. One man in his 50s was stopped 30 times in four years, mostly for loitering and trespassing. By contrast, no other person of any other race was stopped more than twelve times in those five years, according to the report.

Might it be relevant to know something about those stop subjects? An infamous gang-banger whose gang is engaged in tit-for-tat retaliatory shootings against rival gangs might easily be stopped four times a year; that only 34 suspects had that stop record in a city with the sixth highest violent-crime rate in the country and a population of 620,000 hardly shows racial bias. Seven blacks were stopped six times a year and one black man stopped seven times a year. What were their criminal histories and behavior on the street? We are not let in on the secret. Until we do, no inference of bias is valid.

The report makes much of drug arrests. The DOJ lawyers trot out the usual national surveys that show that blacks report using drugs at a slightly higher rate than whites (without accounting for frequency of use over the previous month). If blacks in Baltimore are arrested for drug possession at five times the rate of whites, the lawyers conclude, it can only be because the police are vindictively harassing them. But drug enforcement follows community calls for service. The police enforce drug laws where residents ask them to, and that is overwhelmingly in minority areas plagued by open-air drug markets. If residents of white neighborhoods lived in the thrall of the drug trade, they would be demanding enforcement and enforcement would follow. Police bring possession charges as stand-ins for trafficking charges, which members of street drug rings are careful to avoid through a tight choreography of facially lawful transactions.

The report is assiduously blind to, and silent about, the burdens faced by residents of high-crime neighborhoods. It complains about racial and economic segregation, then proceeds as if street behavior and street crime are identical across Baltimore. The authors are shocked by evidence that suggests that “trespassing enforcement is focused on public housing.” One can only conclude that the civil-rights lawyers are unaware of the shootings and muggings that characterize public housing, as well as of the relationship between trespassing and more serious forms of crime. The authors likely do not rely on the police to keep trespassers away from their homes and can count on informal social controls like parents to maintain public order. They are offended by the police practice of trying to disperse large groups of people hanging out. Yet the most frequent complaint made in police–community meetings in high-crime areas concerns just those congregating throngs of youth, because law-abiding residents know from experience that it is out of those knots of loiterers that assaults and shootings emerge. Those same law-abiding residents do not understand why the police can’t simply arrest everyone for loitering or truancy. The report cites a Facebook post from a sergeant as evidence of racism and brutality: “Do not treat criminal[s] like citizens; citizens want that corner cleared.” I have never been to a police–community meeting in the inner city where residents are not begging for the corners to be cleared.

The report contemptuously bandies around the phrase “zero-tolerance policing” to try to stigmatize proactive policing. (That is a phrase used almost exclusively by police critics and almost never by police departments.) But it is the residents of high-crime areas who have zero tolerance for street disorder. Do the police look to make stops following a gang shooting to try to deter retaliation? You bet. And when they back off from proactive policing, crime explodes. After the Freddie Gray riots, drug arrests dropped and shootings soared 75 percent over the course of 2015.

It is unclear how the DOJ lawyers think the police should respond to the high levels of street disorder in high-crime areas. Proactive policing is an attempt to regain control of the streets, on behalf of the law-abiding. If trespass stops and loitering summons are illegitimate, what are the police to do? Yet the report also cites complaints about a lack of police response in “poor, minority areas” and allegations that the police do not take crime seriously there — a calumny. Hard-working detectives could solve every crime in the inner city if they could find witnesses and victims willing to cooperate; they usually can’t. The report faults the police for allegedly leaving black neighborhoods “unguarded” during the Freddie Gray riots — this from the same White House that criticizes the police for an over-aggressive response to the wanton destruction of livelihoods and property.

This ignorant analysis is just one more reckless attack on police legitimacy. On Wednesday, when the media were not trumpeting this latest Obama administration finding of systemic police bias, they were denouncing Donald Trump’s thoughtless sally on Tuesday about Hillary Clinton and the power of Second Amendment advocates to stop her alleged court-packing schemes. Fair enough. But almost no attention was paid to the far more credible threat against police officers in Chicago from gang-bangers hoping to kill more cops in revenge for alleged police racism. While the Baltimore DOJ report is far from an overt invitation to attack officers, it belongs to a mendacious narrative about policing that is contributing to an environment of virulent hatred against cops and that is obstinately blind to the realities of crime. As long as that narrative is dominant, more black lives will be lost, and probably also more blue ones.

— Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of The War on Cops, released in June.

Friday, August 12, 2016

How Global Elites Forsake Their Countrymen

Those in power see people at the bottom as aliens whose bizarre emotions they must try to manage.

August 11, 2016
Heidenau Mayor Juergen Opitz, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Saxony State Prime Minister Stanislaw Tillich (L to R) arrive for statements after their visit to an asylum seekers accommodation facility, Aug. 26, 2015.
Heidenau Mayor Juergen Opitz, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Saxony State Prime Minister Stanislaw Tillich (L to R) arrive for statements after their visit to an asylum seekers accommodation facility, Aug. 26, 2015. (Reuters)

This is about distance, and detachment, and a kind of historic decoupling between the top and the bottom in the West that did not, in more moderate recent times, exist.
Recently I spoke with an acquaintance of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and the conversation quickly turned, as conversations about Ms. Merkel now always do, to her decisions on immigration. Last summer when Europe was engulfed with increasing waves of migrants and refugees from Muslim countries, Ms. Merkel, moving unilaterally, announced that Germany would take in an astounding 800,000. Naturally this was taken as an invitation, and more than a million came. The result has been widespread public furor over crime, cultural dissimilation and fears of terrorism. From such a sturdy, grounded character as Ms. Merkel the decision was puzzling—uncharacteristically romantic about people, how they live their lives, and history itself, which is more charnel house than settlement house.
Ms. Merkel’s acquaintance sighed and agreed. It’s one thing to be overwhelmed by an unexpected force, quite another to invite your invaders in! But, the acquaintance said, he believed the chancellor was operating in pursuit of ideals. As the daughter of a Lutheran minister, someone who grew up in East Germany, Ms. Merkel would have natural sympathy for those who feel marginalized and displaced. Moreover she is attempting to provide a kind of counter-statement, in the 21st century, to Germany’s great sin of the 20th. The historical stain of Nazism, the murder and abuse of the minority, will be followed by the moral triumph of open arms toward the dispossessed. That’s what’s driving it, said the acquaintance.

It was as good an explanation as I’d heard. But there was a fundamental problem with the decision that you can see rippling now throughout the West. Ms. Merkel had put the entire burden of a huge cultural change not on herself and those like her but on regular people who live closer to the edge, who do not have the resources to meet the burden, who have no particular protection or money or connections. Ms. Merkel, her cabinet and government, the media and cultural apparatus that lauded her decision were not in the least affected by it and likely never would be.
Nothing in their lives will get worse. The challenge of integrating different cultures, negotiating daily tensions, dealing with crime and extremism and fearfulness on the street—that was put on those with comparatively little, whom I’ve called the unprotected. They were left to struggle, not gradually and over the years but suddenly and in an air of ongoing crisis that shows no signs of ending—because nobody cares about them enough to stop it.
The powerful show no particular sign of worrying about any of this. When the working and middle class pushed back in shocked indignation, the people on top called them “xenophobic,” “narrow-minded,” “racist.” The detached, who made the decisions and bore none of the costs, got to be called “humanist,” “compassionate,” and “hero of human rights.”
And so the great separating incident at Cologne last New Year’s, and the hundreds of sexual assaults by mostly young migrant men who were brought up in societies where women are veiled—who think they should be veiled—and who chose to see women in short skirts and high heels as asking for it.
Cologne of course was followed by other crimes.
The journalist Chris Caldwell reports in the Weekly Standard on Ms. Merkel’s statement a few weeks ago, in which she told Germans that history was asking them to “master the flip side, the shadow side, of all the positive effects of globalization.”
Caldwell: “This was the chancellor’s . . . way of acknowledging that various newcomers to the national household had begun to attack and kill her voters at an alarming rate.” Soon after her remarks, more horrific crimes followed, including in Munich (nine killed in a McDonald’s) Reutlingen (a knife attack) and Ansbach (a suicide bomber).


The larger point is that this is something we are seeing all over, the top detaching itself from the bottom, feeling little loyalty to it or affiliation with it. It is a theme I see working its way throughout the West’s power centers. At its heart it is not only a detachment from, but a lack of interest in, the lives of your countrymen, of those who are not at the table, and who understand that they’ve been abandoned by their leaders’ selfishness and mad virtue-signalling.
On Wall Street, where they used to make statesmen, they now barely make citizens. CEOs are consumed with short-term thinking, stock prices, quarterly profits. They don’t really believe that they have to be involved with “America” now; they see their job as thinking globally and meeting shareholder expectations.
In Silicon Valley the idea of “the national interest” is not much discussed. They adhere to higher, more abstract, more global values. They’re not about America, they’re about . . . well, I suppose they’d say the future.
In Hollywood the wealthy protect their own children from cultural decay, from the sick images they create for all the screens, but they don’t mind if poor, unparented children from broken-up families get those messages and, in the way of things, act on them down the road.
From what I’ve seen of those in power throughout business and politics now, the people of your country are not your countrymen, they’re aliens whose bizarre emotions you must attempt occasionally to anticipate and manage.
In Manhattan, my little island off the continent, I see the children of the global business elite marry each other and settle in London or New York or Mumbai. They send their children to the same schools and are alert to all class markers. And those elites, of Mumbai and Manhattan, do not often identify with, or see a connection to or an obligation toward, the rough, struggling people who live at the bottom in their countries. In fact, they fear them, and often devise ways, when home, of not having their wealth and worldly success fully noticed.
Affluence detaches, power adds distance to experience. I don’t have it fully right in my mind but something big is happening here with this division between the leaders and the led. It is very much a feature of our age. But it is odd that our elites have abandoned or are abandoning the idea that they belong to a country, that they have ties that bring responsibilities, that they should feel loyalty to their people or, at the very least, a grounded respect.
I close with a story that I haven’t seen in the mainstream press. This week the Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson reported that recent Syrian refugees being resettled in Virginia, were sent to the state’s poorest communities. Data from the State Department showed that almost all Virginia’s refugees since October “have been placed in towns with lower incomes and higher poverty rates, hours away from the wealthy suburbs outside of Washington, D.C.” Of 121 refugees, 112 were placed in communities at least 100 miles from the nation’s capital. The suburban counties of Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington—among the wealthiest in the nation, and home to high concentrations of those who create, and populate, government and the media—have received only nine refugees.
Some of the detachment isn’t unconscious. Some of it is sheer and clever self-protection. At least on some level they can take care of their own.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Obama, Clinton and the power of mendacity

August 9, 2016

HOW MUCH more money from the ‘Great Satan’ for Iran? ‘Since the Iranians received their payment, the

HOW MUCH more money from the ‘Great Satan’ for Iran? ‘Since the Iranians received their payment, they have taken three more American citizens hostage, as well as several other Westerners,’ notes the author.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Over the weekend the Iranian regime unexpectedly announced it executed its former nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri. As reports of Amiri’s demise make clear, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton may very well be partially to blame for his death. Amiri spent several months in the US between 2009 and 2010, when he returned to Iran. Then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton claimed at the time that Amiri came to the US willingly.

US government sources told the media that Amiri, who worked on Iran’s nuclear program, was a longstanding US intelligence agent. Amiri, they said, received $5 million for his information. He left the funds in the US when he returned to Iran.

For his part, Amiri claimed he was kidnapped by US officials during a religious pilgrimage to Medina and brought to the US against his will. Amiri alleged that he was tortured during his time in the US, but that he refused to betray his country.

During his time in the US, the regime reportedly threatened to harm Amiri’s young son, who remained behind in Iran with Amiri’s wife. In July 2010, Amiri went to the Iranian interest section of the Pakistani embassy in Washington and asked to be repatriated. Amiri received a hero’s welcome upon arriving in Iran. He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for traveling to the US.

He had served five years of his sentence when he was charged in a secret trial for espionage, found guilty and hanged.

It is impossible to know what caused the Iranians to suddenly execute Amiri.

But if the Iranians had harbored doubts regarding whether Amiri or Clinton were telling the truth about his arrival in the US, those doubts were dispelled last summer with the publication of Clinton’s emails.

Two of those emails outed Amiri as a US agent. In one, sent to Clinton nine days before Amiri turned himself over to Iranian authorities, Richard Morningstar, a former State Department special envoy informed Clinton, “We have a diplomatic, ‘psychological’ issue, not a legal one. Our friend has to be given a way out. Our person won’t be able to do anything anyway. If he has to leave so be it.”

The second email was sent to Clinton by Jake Sullivan, her deputy chief of staff. Sullivan warned her that Amiri’s decision to turn himself in would embarrass the US. He wrote, “The gentleman… has apparently gone to his country’s interests section because he is unhappy with how much time it has taken to facilitate his departure. This could lead to problematic news stories in the next 24 hours.”

Had Clinton been using a government server, both those communications would have been classified and secured.

According to the FBI, Clinton’s private server was less secure than a Gmail account. According to intelligence experts, there is every reason to believe that Clinton’s email server was hacked by hostile foreign intelligence services.

The best excuse that Clinton was able to come up with to defend her reckless behavior was that she did it for the sake of convenience. In a 2010 email to her senior staff, Clinton explained that the true purpose of the server was to prevent her correspondence from becoming public.

Although deeply significant, Amiri’s execution was “the other Iran story” this week. The main story was Wall Street Journal’s revelation that on January 17, the day the US’s nuclear deal with Iran came into force, the US sent an unmarked cargo plane to Tehran loaded with $400 million in cash.

Five US citizens held hostage by Iran were released that day.

In a press conference last Thursday, Obama dismissed the clear implication that the cash payment was ransom. But his statements were exposed as a lie by former hostage Pastor Saeed Abedini.

Abedini told the media that the hostages waited for hours at the airport before being permitted to board their flight to freedom while the Iranians were waiting for another plane to land.

US law prohibits the payment of ransom for hostages because it is widely acknowledged that paying ransom merely encourages America’s foes to take still more Americans hostage. Since the Iranians received their payment, they have taken three more American citizens hostage, as well as several other Westerners.

Obama’s lies and the plight of the hostages is an additional reminder that critics of his Iran policy were correct to criticize him. A year after Obama agreed to the nuclear deal with the Iranian regime, and six months after it formally entered into force despite the fact that the Iranians never formally accepted its provisions, Iran is more dangerous than it was before.

The hundreds of billions of dollars it has received from sanctions relief have enabled it to vastly expand its support for terrorist organizations and fund and direct insurgencies against US allies. Iran sponsored the overthrow of the Yemini regime. It is the engine behind the war in Syria. It controls the Lebanese government and the Iraqi regime.

Its terrorists are on the ground in Europe. The terrorist who committed the massacre last month in Munich was trained in Iran.

As for the deal’s purported limitations on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, over the past year we learned that Obama lied when he promised the nuclear deal would stem Iran’s nuclear advance. The unprecedented inspections regime he promised was a lie. The one-year nuclear breakout time was a lie. Even the limitations on centrifuge development were a lie.

In defending his miserable agreement with the mullahs last Thursday, Obama continued to lie.

He went so far as to say that Israel now supports the deal. This of course, is also a lie, as both the Defense Ministry and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were quick to note.

Obama and Clinton choose lying as a strategy because it works for them. The influential media outlets barely cover their lies. Indeed, they often go out of their way to cover up their misdeeds.

The New York Times for instance, sufficed with a wire story to report that Israel rejected Obama’s claim that it now supports his nuclear deal with Iran.

The Washington Post insisted that Clinton’s email couldn’t possibly have influenced Amiri’s fate because six years ago Clinton had already announced that he was a US agent. As for Clinton’s email server, the New York Times failed to report that Clinton lied last Sunday when she told Fox News the FBI concluded that she had spoken truthfully about its use. She then repeated the lie twice and the New York Times continued to ignore her dissimulation.

The media cover for Clinton and Obama because they care more about advancing the Left’s policy goals than about reporting the dire, dangerous consequences of those policies. That is, they are propagandists rather than journalists.

Over the years, many commentators and observers have argued that Clinton is less dangerous than Obama. Obama they say is an ideologue whereas Clinton is driven by a simple lust for power and, of course, her own convenience. Consequently, she causes damage in little ways – like endangering the lives of US agents – while Obama clears a path for Iran to rise as a regional hegemon and nuclear state.

The problem with this assessment is that it ignores their symbiotic relationship. Clinton has decided that her interests lie with acting like a loyal Democrat and implementing Obama’s policies.

Like Obama, she doesn’t need to worry about the consequences of those policies for the US and the world. Because like Obama, she is sheltered from criticism by a loyal media.

Amiri is dead. Iran is building nuclear plants with Russia. But as the New York Times explained on Monday, “Nobody knows better than President Obama how easy it would be for Donald J. Trump to reverse the policies of the past eight years if he defeats Hillary Clinton this fall.”

Nobody, that is, other than the New York Times, and the Washington Post and CNN and Clinton.

And so they will continue to work together with Obama, to ensure that the public is kept in the dark about the nature of those policies and their horrible consequences for the US and the rest of the world.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Real Reason the Mainstream Media Hates Trump

August 9, 2016

In a much talked about August 7 piece—“Trump Is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism”—New York Times "mediator" Jim Rutenberg takes the mainstream media out of the closet and publicly declares them in the tank for Trump.

As front page news this is not exactly man bites dog, but he goes further actually to excuse this bias because, after all, Trump is Trump:
If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?
How're you supposed to cover a woman whose family foundation helped Putin corner the uranium market? Oh, never mind. Rutenberg's point is that the barbarian Trump has put those Fourth Estate idealists in a quandary as never before. The poor dears always try to be neutral, but The Donald is just too many bridges too far. They just can't be even-handed anymore. (Please stay clear of your computer screen if you start to sputter.)

But the truth is that—although he can be a loudmouthed blowhard with poor impulse control—Trump is not remotely  what they say he is: a racist, sexist demagogue. In fact, if you bother to look it up, he was more than a decade ahead of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on one of the most "sainted" of all liberal issues—gay marriage.  But don't expect to see that covered by Gutenberg, et al.

The real reason the MSM disdains, even loathes, Trump is that he threatens what I call The Big Wink, which means he threatens them.

Qu'est-ce que c'est The Big Wink?

We saw it writ large during the (media pronounced) highly successful Democratic National Convention—the key topic of which, beside the excoriation of Donald Trump, was the rescue of the middle class, a middle class, no one admitted, that has done surpassingly poorly during the Obama administration. Improving the situation of minorities was also, as always, invoked, even though minorities, particularly blacks, have done even more wretchedly over the last eight years.

Unspoken, not surprisingly, was a truly uncomfortable truth—the people who have done best under the Obama administration are the rich. No one said or did anything for eight years as the labor participation rate declined to new lows and stocks rose to new highs. The rich profited at the expense of the poor (somewhat) and the middle class (a lot). The Democrats have become the secret—or not so secret—party of the rich.

The media are, for the most part, those rich people, the most successful of them ensconced well up into the higher reaches of the one percent. They also are people who like to think good of themselves, that they are "doing good." For the older ones, now in control, this comes from their "fight the power" college days, only now they are the power. How do you resolve such a contradiction? By making morally narcissistic pronouncements  on behalf of the disadvantaged while privately hoping for, even working for, the status quo.

No more perfect candidate of the status quo has ever come along than Hillary Clinton. She personifies the status quo. Nothing will change under Hillary—for the country or the media. It's all downhill from here.

Her lifetime reputation as a serial liar and crony capitalist only amplifies this. It's hard to believe she really means it when she makes such outrageous proposals as her confiscatory capital gains plan that could cause a Depression. Wink, wink, she's a Wall Street girl—and everybody, especially the media, knows it. She won't do anything the slightest bit extreme. 
And they like it that way, even if they don't admit it to themselves. Better for the old 401K and property values in the Meatpacking District. No one really believes Hillary will follow through with those dopey leftwing proposals—not that she has anything else to offer, but that doesn't matter. Nor will she put more than a slight delay in the TPP trade agreement. It's all a Big Wink, designed to fool the Sanders supporters and, of course, the always handy minorities. Power and money are everything.

Donald Trump is a wholly different matter. No one, especially the media, knows what he really intends to do.  The media doesn't like this because if there's one thing they don't like, no matter what they profess, it is change. Or loss of control.

No wonder they don't like Donald and seize on his every miscue or aside as if he were the second coming of Attila bent on overrunning our nation and quite possibly the world. (Compare that to how they shrug their shoulders at Hillary's actual misdeeds.) What they hate most of all is the temerity of the vulgar Queens billionaire in exposing the haute bourgeois lifestyle of the Upper West Side for what it is—fake and self-serving.  The way things look now, they won't let him survive it.

Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.  His book—I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn't Already—is just published by Encounter.  You can read an excerpt here. You can see a brief interview about the book with the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal here. You can hear an interview about the book with Mark Levin here. You can order the book here.

The Romanovs: fascinating, odd and odious

Greg King’s books include “The Fate of the Romanovs,” “The Court of the Last Tsar,” and the forthcoming “Mayerling.”
In the months before the Russian revolution, the notorious Grigori Rasputin haunted Petrograd’s exclusive Hotel Astoria, clapping along with gypsy bands and dancing wildly. “Like a beast,” he demolished the cook Spiridon’s carefully prepared dishes, grabbing food with “talon-like fingers” as all watched in horror. Rasputin exemplified the imperial regime at its worst: the “mad monk,” a favorite of Czar Nicholas II and his unbalanced wife, Alexandra, corrupted by power and acting his malevolent role in a fatal ménage à trois.
“It was hard to be a tsar,” writes British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore in his erudite and entertaining “The Romanovs: 1613-1918.” Drawing on a wide array of Russian sources, Sebag Montefiore paints an unforgettable portrait of characters fascinating and charismatic, odd and odious. Magnificent palaces, elaborate balls, and a culture that produced Pushkin, Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy existed alongside pogroms, torture and murder (of the last dozen Romanov sovereigns, half were assassinated). Romanovs both capable and insane struggled with what the author calls “the distorting effect of absolute power.” Monarchs over one-sixth of the globe, they played at Western niceties while clinging to Byzantine notions of absolute rule.
An undercurrent of violence and sexual depravity runs through the vibrant narrative, but the poignant stories of two teenage boys open this chronicle. One, Michael, reluctantly takes the chaotic Russian throne in 1613 and founds the dynasty amid dangerous power struggles; the other, Alexei, frail with hemophilia, enters a Siberian cellar in 1918, where Bolshevik bullets will bring the dynasty to its bloody end. Tackling the 20 reigns between these bookends, Sebag Montefiore arranges chapters as connected scenes in a larger drama. Beyond the three sovereigns who have become household names — Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Nicholas II — are vivid portraits of other Romanovs. The cruel Empress Anna, who dressed courtiers as chickens, clapped as dwarves fought the maimed and presided over hair-pulling contests between her ladies-in-waiting, stands in contrast to Abraham Lincoln’s contemporary Alexander II, who not only ended serfdom and instituted judicial reforms but also carried on a blush-worthy correspondence with mistress Ekaterina Dolgorukaya. He wanted her “four times” a day, “on every piece of furniture” and in “every room.” He married her a month after his wife’s death, only to perish himself nine months later, victim of a nihilist’s bomb.
The dynasty, Sebag Montefiore concedes, produced only two “political geniuses,” Peter the Great and the famous Catherine. Rebelling against the intrigues and backward ideas characterizing Muscovite rule, Peter turned Russia to the West, visiting Europe and building his new capital, St. Petersburg. Western clothing and manners were forced on a reluctant court as Peter dragged Russia into the 18th century. Modernization marked his tumultuous reign, yet Peter couldn’t escape the grotesque: Dwarves and giants paraded through his court; he drunkenly — and lewdly — mocked the Orthodox Church; and he had his own son tortured to death for opposing his reforms. Anatomy fascinated him: He once had a former mistress decapitated, then held up her severed head, kissing the lips before lecturing stunned onlookers about the function of her windpipe.
Catherine the Great had little taste for violence. The former German princess came to Russia and wed Empress Elizabeth’s demented nephew Peter. Her husband played with tin soldiers; Catherine cultivated the real thing, taking lovers from elite regiments. Peter despised Russia; Catherine became conspicuously Russian in all things. Ascending the throne as Peter III, he had so alienated the court and military that most readily supported the coup d’état that left him strangled and crowned his wife. “My glory is spoilt!” Catherine lamented. “Posterity will never forgive me.” But it did, and she went on to enlarge her empire while wrapping it in a veneer of enlightened autocracy. Catherine read Diderot, corresponded with Voltaire and engaged in myriad romances, including a long, volatile relationship with Prince Grigori Potemkin. Through it all, she understood the essential dichotomy of her rule: “One must do things,” Catherine explained, “in such a way that people think they themselves want it to be done.”
The Romanovs who followed successfully repelled Napoleon and exulted in the splendor of their court — until 1894, when Nicholas II came to the throne with his wife, Alexandra. It’s hard to imagine two people more unsuited to their roles. Sentimental nostalgia surrounds them with an uncritical legend focused entirely on their love affair and domestic lives. Yet Sebag Montefiore treats them “as both intimate and political figures . . . without the burden of pungent romance, Soviet disgust or liberal contempt.”
Nicholas II emerges as “the least capable and most narrow-minded” of Romanov sovereigns. Having inherited his father’s virulent anti-Semitism, he witnessed horrific pogroms during his reign, and violence was common: With “careless arrogance,” the czar foolishly propelled Russia into wars and revolutions. Not that Alexandra escapes unscathed. “Obsessive piety [and] sanctimonious prudery,” combined with a belief in her own superiority, drove her to isolate her husband and tie him to a world of petty domestic concerns. Her only son’s hemophilia, inherited through her grandmother Queen Victoria, left the empress ripe for the ministrations of a stunning succession of holy fools, ending with Rasputin.
“It is unlikely,” Sebag Montefiore concludes, “that even Peter or Catherine could have solved the predicaments of revolution and world war faced by Nicholas II.” Perhaps — but they possessed will and vision, two qualities Nicholas II lacked. The storm that swept Russia in 1917 carried away millions in its wake: Only the cagey managed to survive, among them Spiridon, the poor cook who had watched Rasputin dip into his exquisite dishes with dirty fingers. Abandoning the old regime, Spiridon went on to work for Lenin and then Stalin. It’s tempting to ponder the warnings against weakness and the lessons of ruthless power he passed to his grandson Vladimir Putin, who seems intent on restoring Russia’s prestige, resurrecting the lost empire and enshrining himself as a modern czar, every bit as autocratic and ruthless as the fallen Romanovs.
THE ROMANOVS, 1613-1918
By Simon Sebag Montefiore
Knopf. 744 pp. $35