Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Twisted Line from Broken Windows to a Broken Republic

Years ago I was writing about blacks and Democrats and looked at the impact Rudy Giuliani made in New York City.  Over the course of his tenure from 1994 – 2002 there were 3,440 fewer black murder victims in the city than there might have been had New York simply experienced the average nationwide crime decline between 1994 & 2002.  “That’s 3,440 families that did not lose a son, a father, a breadwinner, or a role model. 3,440 black men still alive to take care of and support their families…

Saving 3,400 black lives and keeping 3,400 families intact didn’t happen in a vacuum. Those lives were saved by better policing, or more accurately, actual policing, via a program “Broken Windows”.  The Broken Windows policing approach was developed by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in 1982.  Broken windows theory states that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes.”

And in the early 90’s the visible signs of crime in New York City were everywhere. Subways were covered with graffiti; Times Square was nothing but peep shows, liquor stores and vacant storefronts.  But there weren’t only signs of crime, there was actual crime, and a lot of it, with violent crime and murder rampant.  In 1993 there were 2,420 murders in NYC for a rate of 13.3 per 100,000, almost 50% above the national average of 9.51. 

With the advent of Broken Windows, the city started cleaning up graffiti, arresting the squeegee thugs who intimidated drivers stopped at red lights and started targeting petty criminals.  Giuliani knew what he was doing.  Before his election he said that “he cared about statistics, but the real measure would be whether people actually felt safer. That, he said, was the ultimate test of policing and political leadership.” By the time he left office in 2002 he had delivered both the statistics and a feeling of safety – at 960 the murder rate had plummeted by 64% or 4.75 per 100,000, 15% below the national average. As the crime rate plummeted the city and its citizens thrived.  Times Square transformed from a seedy denizen of hookers and pickpockets and drug dealers into a shining tourist Mecca filled with glistening theaters and hotels and restaurants.  SoHo and Chelsea and Greenwich Village transformed into vibrant, inviting places. New Yorkers and tourists alike felt like New York was once again a place they could enjoy without feeling like they were in a war zone…

The point of all of this is, small things matter.  Subways covered in graffiti, people urinating in the streets, homeless camping out on sidewalks and kids stealing beers and Nyquil from CVS… none of these things by themselves send a society into the abyss.  But when they’re tolerated they tell the perpetrators that laws don’t matter, and soon shoplifting turns to burglary turns to robbery which turns to assault and sometimes murder. And, as criminals and crime proliferate and violence becomes more common, those law abiding citizens who can, flee for safer pastures, and all that remain in cities are criminals and their next victims who don’t have the resources to escape or can afford their own personal protection militia.  That’s when dystopia goes from being the fiction of Hollywood blockbusters to reality.

None of this is particularly insightful requiring an above average IQ to see.  But just because something is common sense doesn’t mean it’s common.  The idiocy of the anti Broken Windows theory, if one might call it that, was demonstrated by the clearly low IQ mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in 2015 in the wake of the death of Freddy Gray in police custody.  The mayor stated that “while we try to make sure that they (protestors) were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well”. So the chief law enforcement officer of the city of a major American city decided to give “protesters” space to destroy said city. What was important was not the right of private property owners to retain their property, not the desires of citizens to be safe in their communities, not the expectations of taxpayers that their leaders would enforce the law… no it was the wishes of those intent on destruction. 

Small things lead to big things and the results were predictable, although protesters destroying property are not exactly small things.  In 2014 there were 211 murders in Baltimore for a rate of 33.84 per 100,000 citizens. Already high compared to the national average of 4.44, things got a lot worse afterwards and every year since 2015 the city has had over 300 murders with 2021 coming in at 337 and a murder rate of 58.27 per 100,000.

And of course the thing about murder is that it is the most extreme crime possible.  It’s at the top of the crime pyramid if you will – as an example, out of a given set of criminals, 80% might be willing to commit robbery, 40% assault and perhaps 2% murder. We therefore can assume that if the tip of that crime pyramid is getting bigger, the lower part is growing in tandem, if not more.  And indeed it has. Additionally, murder is relatively easy to measure as you usually have a body to count.  With most other crimes it’s harder to know a crime has been committed as typically someone needs to report it, and increasingly people are simply not bothering as they feel like nothing is going to be done, particularly as it can take literally hours for just to get a response from a 911 call in the first place.

Although George Soros’ DAs are a BIG part of the problem, out on the streets the problem is clearly less policing, both in terms of actual police numbers and what laws are being enforced.  As such, the solution would seem obvious:  More police and more enforcement.  But there’s the rub. As woke cities and states reduced the enforcement of and penalties for crimes in the name of “equity” they simultaneously eviscerated their police forces.  Not only are cops retiring and “quitting in droves”, but across the country cities are finding it increasingly challenging to recruit new officers to fill the vacancies.  So now they find themselves in a situation where they have more crime and fewer officers to enforce the law. 

That’s a vicious societal death spiral that’s extraordinarily difficult to pull out of.  The increase in crime chases more taxpayers and tax generating employers out of the cities and states just at the time when those bodies have to spend more trying to recruit new officers.  Eventually other services suffer and more people decide to leave, further eroding the tax base and the community.  We see that taking place in real time as citizens are escaping crime ridden cesspools in droves. 

But the thing is, that vicious cycle doesn’t start out that way. It starts with words like “empathy” and “tolerance” and “equity” being used to turn a blind eye to those aforementioned small things.  While empathy and tolerance might be laudable as personal characteristics, they, along with the fiction of “equity”, are cancers as governing characteristics. Democrats leverage voters’ sympathies to push for policies that sound humane but in reality create needle and crime ridden homeless encampments, eviscerate the criminal justice system and make life worse for virtually every citizen in the country. 

Can America pull out of this societal death spiral?  That’s a good question.  It will take voters deciding that reality trumps emotion and that an imperfect Republican Party trumps a soulless Democrat Party.  We’ll see on November 9 whether Americans 0f 2022 have the courage New Yorkers exhibited in 1993. 

Sunday, October 2, 2022

81 Million Neville Chamberlains... Nuclear War, Maybe, But At Least No Mean Tweets

Vladimir Putin is a bad guy.  Vladimir Putin is a megalomaniac.  Vladimir Putin is a criminal.  All of those things are true.  Similarly, Adolph Hitler was a bad guy, a megalomaniac and a criminal. But Vladimir Putin is not Adolph Hitler and Russia in 2022 is not Germany in 1938/39.  But in both cases, the future of the world hung on / hangs in the balance.  But maybe not in the way you think…

Much of the world was already engaged in war in 1941 when the United States joined the fight.  Most of Europe and much of North Africa were under the boot of the Nazis while most of the Far East was controlled by the Japanese.  German U Boats were prowling the seas sinking ships around the world from belligerents and non belligerents alike.  There was a world war going on, we just weren’t active, frontline participants prior to Pearl Harbor. However one looks at that period, the world as we know it was under fierce attack and eventually would have enveloped the rest of the world, including the United States. 

In February 2022 none of that was true.  Sure, Russia invaded Ukraine after invading Georgia in 2008 (then leaving after six months) and annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.  And sure, Vladimir Putin has been saber rattling about reconstituting the lost parts of the USSR.  But the world in 2022 was not the world in 1938/39…

NATO didn’t exist then. The UN didn’t exist then.  More importantly, the economic integration of European nations to one another and the rest of the west didn’t exist to the extent it does today.  And finally, in the late 1930s the Nazis had the most powerful military on the planet, while today Russia’s troops are rightly seen as inferior to most they would face in the West.

All of that to say when Russia invaded Ukraine in February of this year, the world was not on the brink of anything resembling a world war.  

If you took a time machine and went back to February of 2022 and asked the American people would they be willing to spend in excess of $50 billion and send the world into an economic tailspin if Russia invaded Ukraine, my guess is they would have said no.  They might have talked about bulking up NATO forces, they might have talked about sanctions, but I doubt they would have supported propping up a corrupt regime in a notoriously corrupt nation with tens of billions of dollars that would have to paid for by taxpayers already struggling under the weight of inflation and economic malaise.  Nor would they have wanted to bring America and the world to the brink of a nuclear cataclysm. 

But here we are, six months later, exactly there, with Vladimir Putin opaquely threatening to use nuclear weapons and the leader of Ukraine goading the United States to strike first with its nuclear weapons.

What is most sad about all of this is that none of it had to happen. A new piece in Foreign Affairs states “in April 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement: Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbas region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.”  So essentially, in April, less than two months after the beginning of the war, the parties involved were close to agreement with returning to the status quo of what existed the day before Russia invaded.  But the agreement collapsed.  Why? Joe Biden…

As soon as the Ukrainian negotiators and Abramovich/Medinsky, following the outcome of Istanbul, had agreed on the structure of a future possible agreement in general terms, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared in Kyiv almost without warning.

"Johnson brought two simple messages to Kyiv. The first is that Putin is a war criminal; he should be pressured, not negotiated with. And the second is that even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they are not. We can sign [an agreement] with you [Ukraine], but not with him. Anyway, he will screw everyone over” is how one of Zelenskyy's close associates summed up the essence of Johnson's visit.

Now that’s Pravda, a Russian mouthpiece, but its assertion dovetails with statements Johnson made publically two weeks later:  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said any peace talks over Ukraine are likely to fail, as he compared holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiating with a crocodile. Johnson said dealing with Putin was like "a crocodile when it's got your leg in its jaws" and said it was vital that the West continues arming Ukraine.” And “Johnson said world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, agreed on a call this week that they would continue to supply Ukraine with weapons, including artillery, as Russia intensified its attacks on Ukraine's East.

So, essentially, the combatants had come to a resolution to their conflict when the west shows up and decides they’d rather have more war. The “they” in Johnson’s statement about not being on board with a peace settlement is telling.  Johnson was no doubt acting on behalf of the man who “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades”, Joe Biden.  There’s simply no way to believe that the UK was going to put the kibosh on what could be a peaceful settlement to a potential powder keg without Washington’s approval or encouragement.

At the very moment when a fragile peace could have been worked out and negotiators begun to solve the differences between Russia and the Ukraine, Joe Biden steps in and does what he does best, mess things up.  The timeline here is interesting… Despite the fact that on March 10th the US promised Ukraine $13 billion and on March 26th Biden told the world that Putin "cannot remain in power," the Russian and Ukrainian negotiators were still able to come to an agreement on a peace deal.  And staggeringly, Joe Biden scuttled it.

Here we are, in September and the much of the world is in recession, prices for everything are up dramatically, the US has provided Ukraine with upwards of $60 billion in aid and Europe is facing energy shortages and skyrocketing prices just as winter approaches.  And now nuclear war is in the air.

All of this because Joe Biden wants revenge on Russia for something they didn’t even do…

Most certainly Russia tried to influence the 2016 elections in the US, but many countries do so.  It’s called statecraft and most certainly the United States does an enormous amount of it.  Nonetheless, even the Washington Post, the Democrat mouthpiece, states that the Russian’s “efforts were small in scope, relative to homegrown media efforts,” instead blaming “Fox News and the insular right-wing media ecosystem it anchors.”

And there we have it. The world of 2022 is looking a bit more like Europe of the late 1930’s and on the brink of war because of Joe Biden’s Trump Derangement Syndrome. But rather than being some troll on Twitter reposting Democrat memes from his Mom’s basement, Joe Biden is the leader of the free world and is expressing his TDS by sending billions of taxpayer dollars to Ukraine, sending the world into a global recession and threatening Russia to the point where its leader threatens to use nuclear weapons. 

On literally every single issue of consequence today Joe Biden is wrong.  On the single biggest issue of today Joe Biden has not only been wrong, but catastrophically so.  At the moment the world should be finding ways to pick itself up from the economic body blow of the Covid lunacy, the world is watching Putin hover his shaky finger over the nuclear button and wondering how many Europeans will freeze to death this winter because they don’t have enough energy to heat their homes.

In 2022 if the world finds itself in a nuclear conflict, Vladimir Putin will bear some of the blame, but he will share that with the feckless Joe Biden.  Putin’s a thug and Biden’s a dunce and everyone knows it. Most of the blame however will sit squarely on the shoulders of the purported “81 million” Americans who were so angered by “mean tweets” that they put into the most powerful office in the world someone demonstrably not capable of running a lemonade stand.  But at least, like Neville Chamberlain they had good intentions.