Thursday, April 05, 2007

You Add It Up It Brings You Down

So the News-Press received its latest installment from the satellite inhabited by Dr. (of Physiology) Laura today, out in its orbit pulled by the gravitational forces of Wendy McCaw, George W. Bush, and all the hypocritical moral scourges that have come before her. The first part of her column attacks the Santa Barbara Newsroom, but what else could it do, for the Newsroom is the home for all the fired former News-Press journalists. This rant, which belittles all unions (each worker, of course, should just stand up and take responsibility for him or herself--that's the way to fight unscrupulous owners who have all the power!) is boring--what else would a News-Press lackey like Laura Schlessinger say? It must be something to write and never surprise oneself with where one ends up.

No, I'd rather look at the second part of her column with the subhead "Cure for Gangs." In her typically authoritarian manner, her answer to the problem is simple--police, and lots of them (gee, does she know they have a union?). The kicker, of course, is this claim:

When he was mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani used the police force wisely and made the crime rate in New York City (a bit bigger and more complicated than Santa Barbara) plummet. He managed to do this without creating more fun and games for gangster types in hopes of distracting them. Just good old law presence and enforcement.

Yep, good ole (ok, she didn't spell it that way, which takes the Pusser out of it, but you know what I mean) law presence and enforcement. Just ask Amadou Diallo about that. So, beyond turning New York City into a police state that could be as scary for people of color as today's Baghdad is for everyone but John McCain, what else did Rudy Giuliani accomplish as mayor? The 2006 film Giuliani Time, widely praised, offers some suggestions. Here's some of Kenneth Turan's review in the Los Angeles Times:

"He was a one-trick magician, and that was crime," says Ruth Messinger, one of his unsuccessful opponents. Yet for all the talk that he was a mayor who "brought joy, safety and greatness back to New York City," Giuliani Time claims the mythology doesn't always stand up to scrutiny.

For one thing, statistics indicate crime in the city began to decline before Giuliani's election. For another, the policemen who made that decline possible were hired when [his predecessor David] Dinkins was mayor. Finally, there is no consensus that the celebrated "broken windows" school of policing that emphasized dealing with minor infractions such as vandalism really was a factor in suppressing major crime rates.

Andrew O'Hehir in Salon took a deeper look as to what motivated Giuliani, paragon of goodness for the dear "Dr.":

He [Giuliani] seemed incapable of grasping that many black New Yorkers felt that he had given police free rein to harass them, beat them and even kill them if it brought the crime rate down another few points. Giuliani may or may not be a racist, but he was raised in an all-white Long Island suburb and plays to primal, almost atavistic big-city fears. The fact that he could be elected not once but twice while totally antagonizing the black population and essentially telling the rest of us that those people were the problem is, as [journalist Wayne] Barrett notes, almost unbelievable.

For my money, the most important political argument in Giuliani Time is that Giuliani's cosmetic reforms had little to do with crime reduction, and a lot to do with making rich and middle-class white people in Manhattan and the brownstone neighborhoods of Brooklyn feel better about the city. Under the previous mayor, David Dinkins, crime had dropped sharply for three years before Giuliani took office in 1994. But Dinkins is a black liberal Democrat, so to this day, many people cling to the superstitious belief (argued vociferously by Giuliani during their '93 campaign) that he hated cops and coddled criminals. In fact, Dinkins had hired thousands of new police and introduced a street-level anti-crime campaign. (Some social scientists will tell you that crime rates are more a function of economic and demographic curves than anything mayors ever do, but that's another story.)

Ah, so it's a race thing. That should play well in Santa Barbara, where it's easy to say gangs are those people's fault, and we sure don't mean the ladies who lunch at the Little Town Club.

And leaving Schlessinger behind, let's not forget how Giuliani's pre-9/11 New York is the post-9/11 U.S. Bush now leads. We are constantly reminded of our primal, almost atavistic fears--if we aren't careful, they will follow us home. They will kill us here.

We have nothing to fear, however, but fear-mongers themselves.

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Blogger Mike said...

Good stuff, George. As someone who lived in NYC before, during, and after Giuliani's reign, it never ceased to amaze me how people worshipped him, based on all manner of hype, myth, lies, and of course his notable bullying.

And I'm talking about fellow NYers who I knew before Rudy was elected. Fellow NYers who weren't exactly victims of crime under Dinkins' watch (except the friend who was burglarized after Giuliani was in office, yet continued to yap it up about Rudy's crime-fighting prowess even after that).

I never understood it. Never.

And this says nothing of Giuliani's real crime as mayor: turning my favorite city into a fucking commercial haven for every damned corporation-franchise on earth, as well as the world's most-popular tourist destination.

We've yet to undo that damage, and with Bloomberg's continuation, it's too late. Manhattan (and much of Brooklyn) is now overpriced & sterile. Rudy accomplished exactly what he wanted, and the very people who supported him can't afford to live where they did 15 years ago.

Nicely-done, idiots.

4:19 AM  
Blogger Trekking Left said...

The thing that really irks me about Giuliani is the hypocrisy. This is the man who "thanked God" that W. was president on 9/11. And yet, when bush cut funding for policemen and firefighters, he didn't say anything. Part of the reason NY is safer is due to Clinton's COPS program, and Rudy isn't upset that bush cut its funding!?

10:39 AM  
Anonymous zz said...

Great read! Schessinger pretends to care for kids above religion and politics. Above all she wants women to get rid of the bums like Giuliani. He brought his "unpaid ho/slut" to "shack up" in marital home, WHILE THE CHILDREN WERE THERE. His children haven't forgiven him. Where's Schessinger's righteous indignation? She doesn't care for children. It's inexcuseable she defies her own so-called fake morals and ethics to elect the bum.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Coop said...

I agree 100% with what Mike said. All Giuliani was good for was being a racist pig under the guise of "cleaning up New York." And the people who want to vote for him are again the uneducated "I'm an American, f'ing foreigners." Who voted our fearless leader in for two terms. Who believe that Giuliani actually had to singlehandedly deal with the terrorists himself.

Meanwhile back at camp, if he could have been in a position to handle a natural disaster such as the breaching of the levees in NO with the same class he did with 9-11 (which we can't deny, he was the world's mayor after that), I might have more respect for him. One tragedy a president does not create. or some shit.

8:31 PM  

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