Right Direction or Wrong Track?
67% Say U.S. Heading Down the Wrong Track.
26% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction.
Monday, June 20, 2016
Following the terrorist massacre at an Orlando nightclub, only 26% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending June 16.
Still, that’s down just one point from the past two weeks. Thirty percent (30%) or more said the country is heading the right way for five out of the first seven weeks this year after tracking in the mid-20s nearly every week during the second half of last year. But the weekly finding has
now been back in the 20s since mid-February.
Guns, Democrats and Terror
When the NYPD successfully took on guns and terror, liberals howled.
That didn’t take long. Right after Orlando, President Obama promised he would “spare no effort to determine what—if any—inspiration or association” had sent Omar Mateen on his murderous spree.
Now, just one week later, his attorney general, Loretta Lynch, tried to have the Islamist “inspirations” and “associations” Mateen invoked scrubbed from the transcripts of the 911 calls released to the public—before being forced to back down on Monday. No one should be surprised. The impulse to edit out anything that confirms acts of terror are acts of war is fully consistent with standard operating procedure these past eight years.
And if Hillary Clinton is elected in November, it will be the same for the next four.
Like the president, Mrs. Clinton has used Orlando to relaunch the liberal offensive on the “gun lobby.” She promises “to do everything” to take “weapons of war off our streets.” She further calls for an “intelligence surge.”
Tough stuff, right? Unfortunately, the moment any of these efforts run up against political correctness, they will almost certainly collapse under liberal pressure. How do we know? There is no better example than the post-9/11 experience of New York under Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Mr. Kelly began his second stint as New York’s top cop on Jan. 1, 2002, when the city was still clearing debris from the Twin Towers. His charge looked impossible: Prevent another terror attack, and maintain the progress against gun violence begun under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Over the next 12 years the finest police force in America did just that. In so doing, Mr. Kelly pulled off what President Obama and Hillary Clinton now claim are their post-Orlando priorities—a full-fledged assault on gun violence, and “smarter” policies to identify terrorists before they strike.
Here’s the rub. The secret to New York’s success wasn’t just Mr. Kelly. It was also Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mr. Bloomberg was a liberal rarity, a pol who would not throw his cops under the bus when successful policies produced politically inconvenient results.
Start with guns. Under Mr. Kelly, police expanded a tactic known as stop-and-frisk. Here’s a better way to think about it: gun control for bad guys.
Cops would be proactive. When they spotted someone behaving suspiciously, he would be stopped, questioned and sometimes frisked. Often police found an illegal weapon.
The gun control was not limited to the thousands of guns taken off the streets this way. Because the bad guys knew they might be frisked, they started leaving their guns at home. New York became America’s safest big city.
How was this success greeted? The cops found themselves denounced as racists, because the stops of black men were disproportionate to their percentage of the general population (but not disproportionate to suspect descriptions). The activists sued; an anti-cop federal judge egged them on; and Bill de Blasio made “racial profiling” by police a key campaign point in his successful run for mayor in 2013.
Never mind that as a result of the NYPD’s approach, thousands of young black and Hispanic lives were saved.
Alas, it’s the same sad story for the cause of better intelligence. Under Mr. Kelly, police set up a demographics unit. The Associated Press would win a Pulitzer for a sensationalist series of stories falsely implying it was about blanket spying on Muslims. In fact, the unit was about getting smart—learning where, for example, terrorists such as the Tsarnaev brothers might look for shelter had they made it to New York (as they’d planned) after bombing the Boston marathon.
Or what about the 2007 NYPD report called “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat”? Here’s a sentence from the first paragraph of the executive summary: “Rather than being directed from al-Qaeda abroad, these plots have been conceptualized and planned by ‘unremarkable’ local residents/citizens who sought to attack their country of residence, utilizing al-Qaeda as their inspiration and ideological reference point.”
Substitute “ISIS” for “al-Qaeda” and these words today look prophetic.
So how did the liberal world react to this effort to smarten up? In January, the de Blasio administration agreed to pull the report from the NYPD website as part of a settlement with Muslim groups who had sued. Two years earlier the NYPD had disbanded the demographics unit, also after much litigation and pressure.
Remember: All this came in a New York that, under Mr. Kelly, had suffered no terror attack after 9/11 and had seen its shootings and murders driven down to historic lows.
The larger point of New York’s record here is that it’s not enough to have smart and effective policies if the goal is to bring down gun violence and stop terrorists. The other critical factor is a leader like Mr. Bloomberg, willing to buck political correctness and back his law enforcement team.
Worth thinking about in light of a Democratic attorney general who tried to censor pledges of fealty by an Islamist mass murderer and a Democratic presidential nominee who claims she would be tough on guns and terror.
Write to McGurn@wsj.com.
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