Back to the Future in New York The City Council embraces drinking and urinating in public. (!!!!????)

New Yorkers under a certain age may not recall when racing home from the subway at night was normal, but maybe they’ll get the opportunity. They can thank the progressive city council, which this week repudiated the “broken windows” policing that has contributed so much to making Gotham safe.

On Wednesday the councillors decriminalized so-called quality-of-life offenses such as littering, drinking or urinating in public and loitering in parks after dark. The package of new laws downgrades such misdemeanor citations to civil summonses so scofflaws will no longer have to appear in court or pay hefty fines.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito claims the laws will reduce arrests and incarcerations of minorities. Quality-of-life offenses make up about half of criminal summonses. However, only one in five individuals who are summoned to criminal court are actually found guilty, and fewer than 10% of those arrested for misdemeanors are sentenced to jail.
Relaxing law enforcement will almost certainly promote disorder instead, as James Q. Wilson and George Kelling surmised in their classic 1982 article “Broken Windows.” Their theory, which has been borne out in real life, is that tolerating widespread disorderly behavior encourages greater lawlessness, and minor infractions often lead to major crimes. CONTINUE AT SITE

The Jews of the American Revolution A ritual for Memorial Day at a cemetery in downtown Manhattan. By Meir Y. Soloveichik

New Yorkers strolling through Chinatown in downtown Manhattan last Sunday might have noticed an unusual flurry of activity: Jewish men and women, a rabbi in a clerical gown, and a color guard gathering in graveyard tucked away behind a wrought-iron fence. Members of the New York synagogue Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, were visiting their historic cemetery at Chatham Square.

In an annual ritual ahead of Memorial Day, they were there for a ceremony that few other synagogues in America could perform: honoring the members of their congregation who had fought in the Revolutionary War.

For Shearith Israel, where I am the rabbi, what is most striking is not that its history stretches back to the Colonial period, but rather that so many of its congregants sided with George Washington against England. New York was known as a Tory stronghold: When English forces expelled Washington’s troops from the city, King George III’s soldiers were greeted with a “Declaration of Dependence” signed by hundreds of New Yorkers, declaring their allegiance to Great Britain.

The Jews of New York, by contrast, were largely of the patriot persuasion, in part because Shearith Israel’s spiritual leader, Gershom Mendes Seixas, was known for his vocal support for the Colonists’ cause. Like many members of the Continental Congress, even Seixas had hoped for reconciliation with England. As late as May 1776, Seixas gathered his flock in the synagogue, located then on what is now South William Street, to pray that the English would “turn away their fierce Wrath from against North America.”

Trump Rakes the Clinton Muck The Clintons have never run into a foe willing to go where this one goes—gleefully.By Kimberley A. Strassel

If the political class had a theme song, it would be that old Toby Keith tune, “I Wanna Talk About Me.” Donald Trump knows the feeling, though of late he has been focusing on others. He wants to talk about Bill. He wants to talk about Hillary. He wants to talk about the 1990s, and Vince Foster, and Juanita Broaddrick.

He wants to talk about things that could help him win an election.

That Hillary Clinton today has a shot at the White House comes down to one reality: People forget. This is a politician utterly defined by scandal, and with more baggage than the carousels at Dulles International. She ought to be disqualified. And yet the Clintons thrive, the beneficiaries of forgetfulness. They’ve spent decades bulling through their messes, blaming their woes on right-wing plots, and depending on a fickle press and a busy nation to lose interest in their wretchedness. It works every time.

Yet Mr. Trump has a way of disrupting the status quo. He does this in part by behaving in ways most politicians wouldn’t or couldn’t. Unlike Republicans who may be wary of resurrecting the Clinton past, for instance, Mr. Trump is not afraid of being labeled “obsessive.” But there is usually a method to his madness. And his current let’s-campaign-like-it’s-1999 strategy has purpose—it’s part offense, part defense.

On offensive, Mr. Trump’s goal is to play off the soaring distrust Americans have in Mrs. Clinton by tying the past to the present. He wants voters to realize that the Whitewater land deal and Paula Jones aren’t dusty, closed chapters in the Clintons’ history. They are, rather, markers on a long continuum, one that begins with young Bill’s draft-dodging and continues today with mature Hillary’s private-email-server deletions and Clinton Foundation money-grubbing. And those scandals would accompany the Clintons back to the White House and define the next eight years, a prospect that Mr. Trump hopes will depress the entire nation.

“[W]hether it’s Whitewater or whether it’s Vince or whether it’s Benghazi. It’s always a mess with Hillary,” said Mr. Trump in a recent interview. CONTINUE AT SITE

The print edition of Exegesis, the 18th Cyrus Skeen novel, is now available, as well as the Kindle edition.

It is late June, 1929. Cyrus Skeen has concluded his case in Stolen Words, in which he exonerated a prominent novelist of the charge of murder, even though the author had plagiarized other authors with the cooperation of the now defunct publisher. Skeen’s artist wife, Dilys, has returned from a visit to relatives back East in Massachusetts, and was preparing to work on her first painting. Skeen’s new secretary, Lucy Wentz, is quick on the uptake, and is working out fine. But now a new nemesis has confronted Skeen, an unknown person who is killing people who have committed horrendous crimes. He writes Skeen and expresses his appreciation for Skeen’s crime-fighting acumen and skills, but wants Skeen to join him in a crusade to terminate all killers. Skeen has not killed any criminal gratuitously – he has killed in self-defense only when someone has threatened to kill him or someone who is a value to him – and wonders why his admirer thinks he would be open to the idea. Then the district attorney for San Francisco demands an explanation for why Skeen’s revolver was found next to a murdered mass killer. More criminals are found dead. The unknown vigilante pins a note to each body, signed “Exegesis.” In another unusual case tackled by Cyrus Skeen, the intrepid and unflappable detective delves into the mystery with his usual panache and certitude.

Lessening Air Travel and Refugees’ Risks: Rachel Ehrenfeld

Hiring more TSA agents may shorten the lines of passengers waiting to go through airport security, but this will do little to ensure they safely arrive at their destination. And shortcutting Syrian refugees vetting procedures from 12 or 18 months to a few days, increases the risk of bringing jihadists and their sympathizers into the country.

While it is necessary to screen passengers and their luggage for explosives and weapons. And while there is an added deterrence factor in doing so publically, such screenings are not enough to better secure airports and airplanes waiting to take off.

Rushing through proper vetting of TSA agents to cut down on long lines of passengers, or drastically reducing the screening of Syrian refugees, many are undocumented and unknown numbers using false passports, could pose a serious threat to the United States. But even if done properly, such screening tells nothing about their tendencies.

Moreover, political correctness enforced by the U.S. and European governments and potential legal harassment from Islamic organizations have conditioned many to turn a blind eye to potential security risks.

How many among the growing numbers of supporters of radical Muslim groups are posing as refugees? How many are working at airports? How many are looking for ways to exploit security gaps? How can they be identified before they carry out an attack?

Workers allowed to airports restricted areas and on planes are supposed to go through security checks each and every time. However, as of last month, according to TSA Administrator Robert Neffenger, only Atlanta, Miami, and Orlando airports required “employees to go through a security check before entering “secured” areas of the airport.”

Erdogan Critic Unfazed by Threats of Prosecution, Violence by Abigail R. Esman

For 17 days this month, Dutch columnist Ebru Umar was held against her will in Turkey, legallybarred from leavingthe country. Her alleged crime: insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But after extended negotiations between the two governments, the controversial, outspoken Umar finally returned home to Amsterdam on May 11.

But she is hardly free, and certainly not home safe: threats against her life mean she cannot return to her apartment. She stays in safe-houses in “undisclosed” locations. She must notify police of her whereabouts at all times. Officials have offered bodyguards, though she refuses.

Yet while she still faces prosecution – and a potential four-year jail sentence – in Turkey, it is neither Erdogan nor his government that poses the real danger. It’s the Dutch.

Or rather, it is Dutch-born men and women of Turkish ancestry, who continue to issue threats against her life.

In fact, it was Dutch Twitter users who reported Umar, herself of Turkish heritage, to the Turkish police for her obscenity-laced, anti-Erdogan postings on her Twitter feed, sent out from her vacation home in Kusadasi. And it is Dutch youth, mostly appearing to be in their 20s, who have since posted things like, “The Mosque has collected funding to rent a crane to hang you when you arrive at Schiphol.” Another stopped her in the street in Turkey and snarled, “I know where to find you in Holland. You know what happens after death?”


There are certain things those who “know and understand the world” purport to know and understand. These things are the seeds for most opinion journalism and “news” reporting in the current era.

The perils of climate change are certainly near the top for the informed commentariat, despite the fact that most people, certainly most Americans, rate this a virtual nonissue, not even among their top 10 issues of concern. The planet may have experienced an average temperature increase of one degree centigrade or less over the last 165 years since the start of the industrial revolution. But supposedly, according to the media, catastrophe is at hand.

The need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is another one of those “big” stories that are never far from the news lead, on which the groupthink consensus is never challenged. This week, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman managed in one column to repeat pretty much every accepted wisdom about Israel today that counts as opinion journalism among the “well informed.” This is no particular achievement for Friedman, who has been recycling his columns on Israel for decades, always with the same sage advice for Israel, a country he is trying to save from itself.

According to Friedman, the government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is destroying Israel by building settlements in the West Bank and by including ministers who happen to represent segments of the population that agree with Netanyahu on security issues. Netanyahu has shifted Israel hard to the right and is thereby closing off chances for peace with the Palestinians, Friedman claims. In time, he adds, the window to achieve a two-state solution will close (as it has presumably closed after every prior unsuccessful peace processing period, until it reopened with the next one).


One of the highlights of the annual report released on Tuesday by Israeli State Comptroller Judge Yosef Shapira is the government’s failure to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and other attempts at delegitimizing the Jewish state.

According to Shapira, no significant victories have been won in this battle, because the two ministries charged with waging it — Foreign Affairs and Strategic Affairs — have been too busy bickering with each other over purviews and powers to join forces in what should be a common war with a shared goal.

One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry about such a critique.

Though it’s healthy to have an independent body monitoring government activities, certain phenomena are so inherent, self-evident and redundant that they’re not worth wasting paper to expose. Two of these can’t be stressed enough.

The first is that democratic governments by their nature are bureaucracies whose biggest claim to fame is inefficiency. This is true in general and of countries like Israel in particular. Though headed by a highly savvy, free-market maven, it continues to operate like a socialist apparatus. And though its citizens have ample evidence at their disposal to grasp that private endeavors always get things done better and more cheaply, they still can’t get it through their simultaneously innovative and thick skulls that the government is a necessary pill to swallow, not some doctor capable of curing all ills. This is an irrefutable truth.

Another is that no amount of quality “hasbara” — an untranslatable Hebrew word for public diplomacy, the field of Israel’s making a case for itself in the international arena — can prevent or eliminate anti-Semitism.

Crushing Climate-Change Dissent for Profit State attorneys general hire trial lawyers to stifle climate-science debate. By Hans A. von Spakovsky & Tiger Joyce

‘Progressive” government officials have launched an Orwellian effort to outlaw research that dares question the soundness of computer-predicted climate catastrophes or costly policy proposals aimed at mitigating climate change.

Much has been written about how this attempt to criminalize inquiry and debate threatens fundamental First Amendment and due process rights. But how they are going about it is equally troubling.

Some state attorneys general are hiring profit-seeking, private-sector personal-injury lawyers to do their legal dirty work. Moreover, any contingency fees collected by these lawyers through settlements arising from these cases could be used, in part, to fund the campaigns of allied politicians who embrace the “one, true belief” of man-made global warming.

This is more than an attempt to suppress political and scientific dissent. Deputizing self-interested personal-injury lawyers with the awesome power of the state subverts the public interest.

We have seen this unseemly dynamic in action before. Two years ago, a Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times series focused on the business model of the class-action specialists at Cohen Milstein, a law firm that seeks to create “big paydays by coaxing attorneys general to sue” large, sometimes politically unpopular corporations or industries. The firm brags about being the “most effective law firm in the United States for lawsuits with a strong social and political component.”

By e-mail, a Cohen Milstein spokeswoman said the firm did not participate in a then-secret but now widely reported Manhattan meeting of climate-change activists and political operatives in January. But it certainly appears as though the class-action bar’s interests were well represented during the discussions.

A draft agenda for the meeting obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, shows a determination to use their powers to push a political agenda. Among their goals: “To establish in public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos,” and “To drive Exxon and climate into center of 2016 election cycle.” But money is a big motivator as well.

The Lessons of Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later By Victor Davis Hanson

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the December 7, 1941, Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that killed more than 2,400 Americans.

President Obama is visiting Hiroshima this week, the site of the August 6, 1945, dropping of the atomic bomb that helped end World War II in the Pacific Theater. But strangely, he has so far announced no plans to visit Pearl Harbor on the anniversary of the attack. The president, who spent much of his childhood in Hawaii, should do so — given that many Americans have forgotten why the Japanese attacked the United States and why they falsely assumed that they could defeat the world’s largest economic power.

Imperial Japan was not, as often claimed, forced into a corner by a U.S. oil embargo, which came only after years of horrific Japanese atrocities in China and Southeast Asia. Instead, an opportunistic and aggressive fascist Japan gambled that the geostrategy of late 1941 had made America uniquely vulnerable to a surprise attack.

By December 1, 1941, Nazi Germany, Japan’s Axis partner, had reached the suburbs of Moscow. Japan believed that the German army would soon knock the Soviet Union out of the war.

Japan had also hedged its bets by signing a nonaggression pact with the Soviets. Japanese leaders assumed that even if communist Russia survived, Japan could avoid a costly land war on its rear flank. The U.S., not Japan, would likely have a two-front war.

By 1941, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium had all been defeated and occupied by the Third Reich. Only the British remained of the original European anti-Axis allies, and London had been under constant aerial assault by the German Luftwaffe during the Blitz. Japan figured that Germany and Italy might soon win the war and wished to pile on before it ended.

Japan had calculated that all of Europe’s resource-rich Pacific and Asian colonies were now orphaned and up for grabs. By starting a Pacific war and knocking out the U.S., Japan could get its hands on the resources necessary to fuel its war machine.

British-held Singapore and the American bases in the Philippines were isolated and poorly defended. And they would be completely cut off once the U.S. Seventh Fleet and air arm were neutralized at Pearl Harbor.

Starting a war in the Pacific meant the Japanese would have easy access to huge supplies of oil, rubber, rice, and strategic metals for their newfound mercantile empire, the Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

The U.S. also had lost military deterrence. The Japanese had watched carefully as America did little to help its two closest allies: France and Great Britain. The former was easily overrun by the Nazis, the latter bombed unmercifully.