Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cruising the Web

So now President Obama is hinting that he would resume diplomatic relations with Iran and open an embassy there. Why not? He doesn't seem to need any actual movement from an opponent in order to grant them a PR victory. I wonder how eager Americans would be to serve in an an embassy in Tehran. Things didn't go so well last time we had an embassy there.

And in that same interview Obama made the sort of ignorant error that would have made national news for weeks if President Bush or Rick Perry had said it.
But in the same breath Obama said 'Tehran is a large, sophisticated country.'
But then we don't expect a man who thought that the people of Austria speak Austrian to be completely fluent in geography.

All those people warning how North Carolina was suppressing black turnout by legislation that eliminated same-day registration and reducing the number of days of early voting if not the number of hours, plus instituting a voter-ID law to take effect in 2016 will now have to face the reality that no such suppression occurred.
Turnout data for the 2014 election, posted Dec. 10 on the state’s Board of Elections website, tell a different story. Black turnout and registration for the November 2014 election increased by every relevant measure compared with November 2010, the last non-presidential general election....

Two sets of plaintiffs, led by the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, sued in federal court on Aug. 12, 2013. They were followed a few weeks later by the Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder asserted that the state’s new laws would restrict “access and ease of voter participation” and “would shrink, rather than expand, access to the franchise.”

All three suits alleged that the reforms will inflict “burdens” on North Carolina voters—and in particular, on minority voters. These allegations were backed by reams of expert reports submitted by social scientists predicting that these burdens would depress voter registration and turnout.

One expert in the Justice Department lawsuit claimed that more than 200,000 black voters, along with 700,000 white voters, would be “burdened” in an off-year election. Another expert concluded that particular provisions “will lower turnout overall” and “will have a disparate impact on African-American voters.”

Those predictions were not borne out. The 2014 elections were the first test of the impact of North Carolina’s new laws, including a “soft rollout” of its voter-ID requirement—under which poll workers asked voters if they had ID and if not, to acknowledge the new requirement in writing. Board of Elections data showed that the percentage of age-eligible, non-Hispanic black residents who turned out to vote in North Carolina rose to 41.1% in November 2014 from 38.5% in November 2010.

The percentage of black registrants voting increased to 42.2% from 40.3% in the same period, and the black share of votes cast increased to 21.4% from 20.1%. The absolute number of black voters increased 16%, to 628,004 from 539,646.
But when do facts ever get in the way of the preferred narrative that such laws inhibit minorities from voting?

President Obama wishes that Democrats had run on his "great record" this year. So do the Republicans; so do the Republicans.

David Catron predicts a year of peril for Obamacare.

David Shribman asks an interesting political question: "Should presidents put parties or people first?"

NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton and George L. Kelling explain why we need "broken-windows policing. They explain the difference between broken-windows policing and the more controversial Stop, question, and frisk tactics.
Unlike SQF, Broken Windows policing is not a tactical response based on reasonable suspicion of possible criminality. Rather, it is a more broadly based policy mandating that police will address disorderly illegal behavior, such as public drinking and drug use, fights, public urination, and other acts considered to be minor offenses, with responses ranging from warning and referral to summons and arrest. Most often in these cases, police have witnessed the crime in question and are acting on probable cause, the constitutional grounds for summons and arrest—a far greater level of police intervention than a Terry stop.

Our experience suggests that, whatever the critics might say, the majority of New Yorkers, including minorities, approve of such police order-maintenance activities. After all, most of these activities come in response to residents’ demands, which are made to patrolling officers directly, to precinct operators by telephone, to precinct commanders at community meetings, and via the 311 and 911 call centers. Contrary to conventional wisdom, citizens almost invariably are more concerned about disorderly behavior than about major crimes, which they experience far less frequently. We have attended countless meetings with citizen groups in high-crime areas, and, almost without exception, disorderly behavior and conditions are the central concerns. As recently mapped by the NYPD, 311 and 911 complaints about quality-of-life conditions and lesser crimes correlated almost exactly with neighborhoods in northern Brooklyn and the central Bronx, where many Broken Windows arrests are made. Conversely, some large minority communities in southern Queens and the eastern Bronx make far fewer complaints—and the police make far fewer arrests for Broken Windows offenses in those areas.
They go on to trace the impact that Broken=Windows policing had when it was adopted in 1994. It didn't bring crime down by itself, but as part of a combination of tactics. They also refute the argument that Broken Windows leads to over-incarceration. Unfortunately, Mayor de Blasio doesn't understand this. The New York Post reports that the NYPD is starting to let minor crimes slide because they're worried about sparking confrontations.
With cops on edge following the assassination of two patrol officers on a Brooklyn street, many officers have started turning a blind eye to some minor crimes, sources told The Post, while a union mandate that two patrol cars respond to all police calls has led to slower response times to non-emergencies.

“I’m not writing any summonses. Do you think I’m going to stand there so someone can shoot me or hit me in the head with an ax?” One cop said Sunday, referring to the Dec. 20 slayings and another recent attack on the NYPD.

“I’m concerned about my safety,” the cop added. “I want to go to home to my wife and kids.”

An NYPD supervisor noted, “My guys are writing almost no summonses, and probably only making arrests when they have to — like when a store catches a shoplifter.”

And the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association directive for cops to respond with at least two patrol cars has resulted in a manpower shortage that’s delaying response times to non-emergencies — such as burglaries or car crashes without injuries — to as much as four hours, sources said.
It has been two decades since Rudy Giuliani was elected and began Broken Windows policing. Many in the city today don't remember what the crime environment was like before that. And they don't connect the imposition of order in the streets with economic gains. Perhaps he could sit down with his police commissioner, Mr. Bratton, and learn a little history of the city in his charge.

Shop Amazon Books - Gifts for Young Readers
cass Sunsteitn pays tribute to the silence of George W. Bush.
Public figures are ordinarily rewarded for what they say, not for what they don’t. Grace is an underrated virtue; gracelessness is an insufficiently acknowledged vice. For his understated remarks about the CIA and his continued silence about his successor, a salute to George W. Bush — along with hope that, when he leaves office, Obama will follow the example.
Yeah. As if that will happen.

Robert Tracinski explains why 2014 saw the resumption of the Democratic Party death watch. I don't believe that either of the parties is facing death. American politics is cyclical. The Democrats will be back, but they'll have to make some adjustments.
By making race-baiting the centerpiece of their electoral strategy, the Democrats hope to keep their death grip on the minority vote—yet this is offset by an accelerating exodus of blue-collar whites to the Republicans. Similarly, by doubling down on contempt for the South and for traditional American values, Democrats accelerate the exodus of their old blue-collar base in the cities....

So far, though, the Democrats seem to be heedless of the costs of betting everything on the far-left base while driving away their own blue-collar and middle class constituents. This is a big story to look for in the next year, and especially in 2016.

Michael Barone compares the two most Republican Houses in 70 years. The GOP representatives who will be sworn in next week is quite different from the GOP House of 1947.

Conventional Wisdom got a lot wrong in 2014. Remember how the year began with predictions that Republicans had committed political suicide by forcing a short shutdown of the national government?

I bet journalists would love to have Jeb Bush in office just so they could correspond with him by e-mail. That would certainly be a change from previous presidents and their relationship with the press. Of course, he might decide that digital discretion is the better part of valor.