Wednesday, 28 February 2007

THE CASE FOR RUDY GIULIANI

Ken Berwitz

Today's Wall Street Journal has a superb article on Rudy Giuliani, written by Steven Malanga.  Its theme is that cultural conservatives should look beyond the personal and political issues they might find objectionable about Giuliani, and support his presidential candidacy.

It can be found, in its entirety, at http://opinionjournal.com/federation/feature/?id=110009721.

Mr. Malanga's article is very long, much too long to repost here.  But I would like to excerpt several passages from it because they are so important for voters of ANY political persuasion to read: 

Already, Mr. Giuliani's popularity has set off a "stop Rudy" movement among cultural conservatives, who object to his three marriages and his support for abortion rights, gay unions and curbs on gun ownership. Some social conservatives even dismiss his achievement in reviving New York before 9/11. An August story on the Web site Right Wing News, for instance, claims that Mr. Giuliani governed Gotham from "left of center." Similarly, conservatives have been feeding the press a misleading collection of quotations by and about Mr. Giuliani, on tax policy and school choice issues, assembled to make him look like a liberal.

But in a GOP presidential field in which cultural and religious conservatives may find something to object to in every candidate who could really get nominated (and, more important, elected), Mr. Giuliani may be the most conservative candidate on a wide range of issues. Far from being a liberal, he ran New York with a conservative's priorities. Government exists above all to keep people safe in their homes and in the streets, he said, not to redistribute income, run a welfare state, or perform social engineering. The private economy, not government, creates opportunity, he argued; government should just deliver basic services well and then get out of the private sector's way. He denied that cities and their citizens were victims of vast forces outside their control, and he urged New Yorkers to take personal responsibility for their lives.

The entrenched political culture that Mr. Giuliani faced when he became mayor was the pure embodiment of American liberalism, stretching back to the New Deal, whose public works projects had turned Gotham into a massive government-jobs program.  Even during the post-World War II economic boom, New York politicians kept the New Deal's big-government philosophy alive, with huge municipal tax increases that financed a growing public sector but drove away the private-sector jobs.

Later, in the mid-1960s, flamboyant mayor John Lindsay set out to make New York a poster child for the Johnson administration's War on Poverty, vastly expanding welfare rolls, giving power over the school system to black-power activists, and directing hundreds of millions of government dollars into useless and often fraudulent community-based antipoverty programs. To pay for all this, Lindsay taxed with abandon. The result: sharply increasing crime, a rising underclass inclined to languish on welfare rather than strive to uplift itself, a failing school system that emphasized racial grievance and separateness, and near-bankruptcy.

By the time Mr. Giuliani ran against Mr. Dinkins for a second time, in 1993 (his first try had failed), the former prosecutor had fashioned a philosophy of local government based on two core conservative principles vastly at odds with New York's political culture:  that government should be accountable for delivering basic services well, and that ordinary citizens should be personally responsible for their actions and their destiny and not expect government to take care of them.  Mr. Giuliani spoke of the need to reestabish a "civil society," where citizens adhered to a "social contract."  "If you have a right," he observed, "there is a duty that goes along with that right."  Later, when he became mayor, Mr. Giuliani would preach about the duties of citizenship, quoting the ancient Athenian Oath of Fealty:  "We will revere and obey the city's laws....  We will strive unceasingly to quicken the public sense of civic duty.  Thus in all these ways we will transmit this city not only not less, but far greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us."

In New York, where generations of liberal policy had produced a city in which 1 in 7 citizens lived off government benefits, in which lawbreakers whose actions diminished everyone else's quality of life were routinely ignored or excused, in which the rights of those who broke the law were often defended vigorously over the rights of those who adhered to it, Mr. Giuliani's prescriptions for an urban revival based on shared civic values seemed unrealistic to some and dangerous to others. The head of the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter described Mr. Giuliani's ideas on respect for authority and the law as "frightening" and "scary." But New Yorkers who had watched their city deteriorate were more frightened of life under an outdated and ineffective liberal agenda. Mr. Giuliani rode to victory in 1993 with heavy support from the same white ethnic Democratic voters who, a decade earlier, had crossed party lines even in liberal New York to vote for Ronald Reagan.

For Mr. Giuliani, the revival of New York started with securing public safety, because all other agendas were useless if citizens didn't feel protected.  "The most fundamental of civil rights is the guarantee that government can give you a reasonable degree of safety,", Mr. Giuliani said.  He aimed to do so by reinstituting respect for the law.  As a federal prosecutor in New Y ork in the 1980's, he had vigorously hunted low-level drug dealers--whom other law enforcement agencies ignored--because he thought that the brazen selling of drugs on street corners cultivated disrespect for the law and encouraged criminality.  "You have to...dispel cynicism about law enforcement by showing we treat everyone alike, whether you are a major criminal or a low-level drug pusher," Mr. Giuliani explained.

As mayor, he instituted a "zero tolerance" approach that cracked down on quality-of-life offenses like panhandling and public urination (in a city where some streets reeked of urine), in order to restore a sense of civic order that he believed would discourage larger crimes. "Murder and graffiti are two vastly different crimes," he explained. "But they are part of the same continuum, and a climate that tolerates one is more likely to tolerate the other." He linked the Dinkins era's permissive climate, which tolerated the squeegee men (street-corner windshield cleaners who coerced drivers into giving them money at the entrances to Manhattan), to the rise of more serious crime. "The police started ignoring all kinds of offenses," Mr. Giuliani later recounted of the Dinkins years. They "became," he deadpanned, "highly skilled observers of crime."

Mr. Giuliani changed the primary mission of the police department to preventing crime from happening rather than merely responding to it once it had occurred. His police chief, William Bratton, reorganized the NYPD, emphasizing a street-crimes unit that moved around the city, flooding high-crime areas and getting guns off the street. Mr. Bratton also changed the department's scheduling. Crime was open for business 24 hours a day, but most detectives, including narcotics cops, had previously gone off duty at 5 p.m., just as criminals were coming on "duty." No more.

The department brought modern management techniques to its new mission. It began compiling a computerized database to track the city's crime patterns and the effectiveness of the NYPD's responses to them. That database, known as Compstat, helped police target their manpower where it was needed, and in due course it became a national model. The department drove authority down to its precinct captains and emphasized that it expected results from these top managers. Mr. Bratton replaced a third of the city's 76 precinct commanders within a few months. "If you were to manage a bank with 76 branches every day, you would get a profit-and-loss statement from the bank," explained Mr. Giuliani. "After a week or so, you would see branches that were going in the wrong direction, and then you would take management action to try to reverse the trend. That is precisely what is happening in the police department."

The policing innovations led to a historic drop in crime far beyond what anyone could have imagined, with total crime down by some 64% during the Giuliani years, and murder (the most reliable crime statistic) down 67%, from 1,960 in Mr. Dinkins's last year to 640 in Mr. Giuliani's last year. The number of cars stolen in New York City every year plummeted by an astounding 78,000.

Criminologists tried to dismiss this achievement by arguing that the police have little influence on crime. The crime drop, they contended, was merely the fruit of an improving national economy, though the decline preceded the city's economic rebound by several years. Others argued that New York was just riding a demographic trend, as the population of teenagers prone to break the law declined. One criminologist even suggested that Mr. Giuliani's New York would soon see another upsurge, as a new cohort of children reached the teen years. "I don't need a crystal ball," the criminologist confidently predicted. Instead, crime declined relentlessly over Mr. Giuliani's eight years, even when it rose nationally.

Critics, especially those on the left, have tried to minimize Mr. Giuliani's accomplishment by claiming that he lowered crime by letting cops oppress black and Latino New Yorkers with brute force. As evidence, they point to unfortunate incidents such as the shootings of unarmed black immigrants Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond. But the data tell a far different story: Mr. Giuliani's NYPD managed to drive down crime while showing admirable restraint. From 1995 to 2000, civilian complaints of excessive force by the NYPD declined from one complaint per ten officers to one per 19 officers. Meanwhile, shootings by cops declined by 50% and were far lower under Mr. Giuliani than under Mr. Dinkins--lower in fact than in cities like San Diego and Houston, hailed for practicing community policing.

Moreover, Mr. Giuliani's policing success was a boon to minority neighborhoods. For instance, in the city's 34th Precinct, covering the largely Hispanic Washington Heights section of Manhattan, murders dropped from 76 in 1993, Mr. Dinkins's last year, to only seven by Mr. Giuliani's last year, a decline of more than 90%. Far from being the racist that activists claimed, Mr. Giuliani had delivered to the city's minority neighborhoods a true form of equal protection under the law.

As I said, this is a long piece.  These are just excerpts from it.  But if you want to know just how principled, courageous and effective Mr. Giuliani was as Mayor of New York and, by inference, just how principled, courageeous and effective he is likely to be as President of the United States, it is a must-read. 

I hope you go to the link I provided and read every word.


CONSERVATION: REAL AND IMAGINED

Ken Berwitz

I've already shown you the imagined conservation of Al Gore, who seems determined to become the undisputed enviro-fraud heavyweight champion of the world.

Now here's an example of real environmental conservation, from someone who quietly walks the walk.  He'll never get an oscar, I assure you, but maybe you'll appreciate his efforts. 

Please notice the date of the article.

Chicago Tribune
Bush loves ecology --at home
April 29, 2001
By Rob Sullivan. Rob Sullivan is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles

The 4,000-square-foot house is a model of environmental rectitude.
Geothermal heat pumps located in a central closet circulate water through pipes buried 300 feet deep in the ground where the temperature is a constant 67 degrees; the water heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. Systems such as the one in this "eco-friendly" dwelling use about 25% of the electricity that traditional heating and cooling systems utilize.

A 25,000-gallon underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof runs; wastewater from sinks, toilets and showers goes into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is used to irrigate the landscaping surrounding the four-bedroom home. Plants and flowers native to the high prairie area blend the structure into the surrounding ecosystem.

No, this is not the home of some eccentrically wealthy eco-freak trying to shame his fellow citizens into following the pristineness of his self-righteous example. And no, it is not the wilderness retreat of the Sierra Club or the Natural Resources Defense Council, a haven where tree-huggers plot political strategy.

This is President George W. Bush's "Texas White House" outside the small town of Crawford

blogger Now I understand how your sister gives advice to her clients. Your take on Bush as an environmentalist is completely ridiculous. Wake up and listen to Gore and try to leave something of the earth to our children and grandchildren. Bush is all about the big corporations and doesn't give a damn about the polluting, etc. Who cares if he uses energy saving light bulbs at home if he doesn't see the forest through the trees. (03/01/07)

(Anon) Er, it isn't my sister's take or mine.  It is from a six year old article in the Chicago Tribune. But since you (didn't) ask, I will tell you that I believe very strongly in environmental conservation. I don't believe very much in Al Gore. (03/01/07)


THE KEITH OLBERMANN-FREDERICA WILSON CONNECTION

Ken Berwitz

You may know keith olbermann as a hard-left, perpetually angry and bitter propagandist who hosts an MSNBC show called "Countdown". 

On Countdown there are virtually never any guests who disagree with olbermann and his hard-left views.  That's not to say there are fewer of them, that's to say they aren't on the show.

By contrast, Bill O'Reilly, who shares a time slot with olbermann, offers advocates for both sides of the issues he features as a matter of course.

This may be why, after almost four years on the air, olbermann generates less than one-third the audience of O'Reilly.  And, realistically, who would watch olbermann other than hard-leftists who want the red meat he gives them every day, along with a smattering of people who are curious and/or fascinated to see a show this blatantly one-sided every now and then? 

People who want a genuine discussion of issues wouldn't touch Countdown with a ten foot pole.

This brings me to Frederica Wilson.  Ms. Wilson is a member of the Florida state legislator and represents a district in Miami with a great many Carribean immigrants, presumably including some number of both legal residents and illegal aliens. 

Wilson has come up with a very interesting solution to the probability that there are illegal aliens in her district.  The solution?  Ban the term.  Make it illegal to say "llegal aliens" on any state document.

No, I'm not on drugs and no, I haven't just gulped down a fifth of Jack Daniels.  I'm stone cold sober.  This is for real.  Here, let me show you:

-

Bill would mandate nicer term for illegals
By Bill Cotterell
news-press.com Tallahassee bureau

Originally posted on February 27, 2007

TALLAHASSEE -- A state legislator whose district is home to thousands of Caribbean immigrants wants to ban the term "illegal alien" from the state's official documents.

"I personally find the word 'alien' offensive when applied to individuals, especially to children," said Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami. "An alien to me is someone from out of space."

She has introduced a bill providing that: "A state agency or official may not use the term 'illegal alien' in an official document of the state." There would be no penalty for using the words.

In Miami-Dade County, Wilson said, "we don't say 'alien,' we say 'immigrant.'"

She said she encountered the situation when trying to pass a bill allowing children of foreigners to get in-state tuition at colleges and universities. Wilson, who directs a dropout prevention and education program in Miami, said she politely asks witnesses at public hearings on such issues not to use the term.

"There are students in our schools whose parents are trying to become citizens and we shouldn't label them," she said. "They are immigrants, through no fault of their own, not aliens."

Wilson said the first word isn't as bad as the second.

"'Illegal,' I can live with, but I like 'undocumented' better," she said.

Asked if her bill (SB 2154) might run afoul of Gov. Charlie Crist's "plain speaking" mandate for government agencies, Wilson said, "I think getting rid of 'alien' would be plain speaking"

-

I know you may be snickering.  But, in fairness, this could be a GREAT idea.  If you don't like terminology, just ban it.  Then it goes away.  What a terrific way of, for example, winning the war on terrorism.  We could just ban the use of the word "terrorism".  If people aren't allowed to say "terrorism" it won't be a problem anymore.  Honest.

On the other hand, maybe it isn't such a great idea.  Maybe Ms. Wilson should find something more productive to do than telling the state it can't call illegal aliens illegal aliens.  Maybe her personal dislike of the word "aliens" isn't quite significant enough for Florida to censor its usage of the term.

Of course if Wilson is adamant about this, she can always quit the state legislature.  Then she wouldn't have to see "illegal aliens" on any official documents at all.  Hey, with an attitude like that she could apply for a co-hosting job on Countdown;  olbermann would probably hire her on the spot. 

And then, who knows?  The sky's the limit. 

Why, if you combined olbermann and Wilson, not only would you have the same mindset (i.e. just get rid of the parts you don't like), but maybe in another four years, the show could really take off and they could rise to.... half of O'Reilly's viewership!!! 

Wow, pop those champagne corks.


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