What’s I’d Do as NYC Mayor

            New Yorkers go to the polls June 22nd to choose their next mayor. They’re primaries, but whoever wins the Democratic nomination will almost certainly move into Gracie Mansion.             Media coverage has focused on the fading fortunes of former presidential candidate and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, the dearth of progressives in a wide field and the new, confusing ranked-choice voting scheme. (I have a lot of doubts about ranked-choice voting, which I will enumerate in this space at another time.)             A New Yorker by choice most of my life and, unlike Yang, a guy who moved back to the city during the COVID-19 pandemic while others were running for the exurbs, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the next mayor should prioritize and what I would do if I were in charge of the city. Most of my readers don’t live in New York. But most do live in urban areas. Many who live in rural regions…
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What You Do after Work Shouldn’t Cost You Your Job

            The Central Park Karen is suing her former employer for firing her. I hope she wins. Karening is gross. But it’s not your boss’ business.             Amy Cooper became the object of an Internet two-minutes hate last year when she called 911 on a Black birdwatcher who asked her to leash her dog per the rules and told the police he was threatening her and her dog. Unfortunately for her, the guy’s cellphone video showed no such thing.             The viral video was viewed more than 45 million times. Cooper was internationally shamed as an emblematic wielder of white privilege used to oppress people of color. The shelter from which she adopted her Cocker Spaniel two years earlier took the animal away. She was charged with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor. She eventually got her dog back and the charges were later dropped after she completed racial-sensitivity training. The birder, Christian Cooper (no relation), declined to cooperate…
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Liberals’ Bizarre Fear of an Unmasked Nation

            During last year’s campaign Joe Biden promised to “listen to the scientists.” He repeatedly said his coronavirus-response policy would be “informed by science and by experts.” On issues from the environment to teaching evolution in public schools to the public health response to the COVID pandemic, liberals often accuse conservatives of putting emotions ahead of facts. While recognizing that the scientific process of acquiring knowledge and putting hypotheses to an empirical test can and often does lead to shifts in consensus, we on the left claim to trust scientists like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease specialist and unlikely media icon.             After Dr. Fauci and other authorities like the Centers for Disease Control told us to wear masks, Blue America listened. As of late June 2020, 86% of Democrats wore a facemask whenever they left home, compared to 48% of Republicans. Now scientific consensus has changed. But lefties are choosing to ignore the new reality—not that it’s new.…
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Your Opinion Doesn’t Matter. Protests Matter.

           Your opinion doesn’t matter—not by itself. No matter how heartfelt or important to you personally, your thoughts about Gaza or legal weed or the war on skinny jeans don’t mean anything merely because they reside inside your brain. Your opinion matters only if you express it. Expression of an opinion doesn’t change anything unless it’s done effectively. Opinions expressed en masse, alongside others who share your views, are more likely to effect change—but that’s not enough to move the needle. What changes policy, what improves lives for the foreseeable future, what makes history on a radical scale, is a sustained mass movement that expresses an opinion so aggressively that the ruling classes are forced to change course or risk losing their power and privilege to revolutionary overthrow.             American liberals and leftists have strong opinions on a variety of issues. But they express them on the couch or online rather than in the streets, where it matters. On the…
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No More False Equivalence: Israel Chooses War Over Peace

            No one is blameless in the ongoing violent conflict between Israel and stateless Palestinians. Both sides target and kill civilian noncombatants. But let’s put an end to false equivalence. “A pox on both houses” is not a morally or politically appropriate response to the one-sided war between Israel and Hamas.             Israel wants war. If it wanted peace, it would have it. Any attempt to assign all or most of the blame to one side in a long-running drama like the crisis in the Middle East is inherently pointless. No matter what arbitrary date or event in history you begin with in order to argue that it all started with this or that atrocity, someone can point to an earlier episode to which said act was a justifiable retaliation. Then there’s reality. Practicality and geography dictate that Israeli Jews and Palestinians (who are not all Arabs) have to live in the same country or (future) pair of countries are…
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End Military Aid to Israel

            Riding in the back of a truck into Afghanistan during the 2001 U.S. invasion, a journalist colleague from Russia who served in the Red Army during the 1980s asseverated that he was happy to be back in country. “Because this time,” he said, swinging his hands to indicate the swarms of refugees, bombed-out villages and nearby artillery fire, “all this shit belongs to you.” He pointed at me, the American. I looked around and immediately drew the obvious conclusion: we should get the hell out of Afghanistan. That was 20 years ago. We were just getting in. But us being us—trying to win hearts and minds with corrupt proxies—and the Afghans being the Afghans—only able to agree on one thing, their intolerance of foreign domination—humiliating defeat and withdrawal were inevitable from the start.             It would be impossible to overstate the advantages of not doing something, of not playing any role, of standing aside and allowing a situation to…
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Burning a Police Station Led to Justice hi hi

            As people of good will celebrate or merely breathe a sigh of relief in response to the conviction of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the videotaped torture and murder of George Floyd, it is worth noting that this victory would likely not have occurred had it not been for a spectacular act of property destruction.             Yes, there was that damning video. True, the police chief testified for the prosecution. Those factors caused Chauvin’s rare conviction. But you can’t convict unless you indict first—and there was no move to indict Chauvin before city officials were scared into filing charges.             Floyd was killed May 25, 2020. Three days later, demonstrators burned down the Minneapolis Third Precinct police headquarters, which had been abandoned by fleeing cops. On May 29, the next day after the conflagration, prosecutors announced charges against Chauvin.             In October 2020 a right-wing “bugaloo boi” was charged with setting the building ablaze. But no one knew…
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Biden’s Left Feint

            If you don’t dig deep Joe Biden appears to be governing as the most liberal president since LBJ. But conservatives needn’t worry. Biden is no progressive in centrist’s clothing. True, the president’s legislative agenda­—after the coronavirus relief bill, which was undeniably progressive—would expand the social safety net, increase direct aid to citizens in trouble and pay for this expansion of the federal government with tax hikes the way we leftists like them, on corporations and rich individuals—if passed. Which it won’t. No one, Biden least of all, expects Congress to approve his big infrastructure or education packages. Recalcitrant Republicans and reluctant red-state Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia will probably water the proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill down to virtual under-$1-trillion insignificance. The $1.8 trillion education proposal, which would be funded by a capital-gains tax increase the GOP hates, is an even more desperate Hail Mary pass. These bills aren’t serious attempts to legislate. Bidenism is a…
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Afghanistan Under the Taliban: It Won’t Be Like Last Time

We’ve been in Afghanistan 20 years, Joe Biden’s generals told him. All we need is a little more time. The president overruled them, ordering a complete withdrawal of American troops by September 11th. Madiha Afzal and Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution articulate the opposition to Biden’s decision to call it quits. Remove the U.S. occupation forces that have maintained stability, they worry, and civil war will soon follow, culminating in the overthrow of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul and the return of the Taliban. They think it will be the late 1990s all over again: women back under burqas, stonings, 14th century Islam providing a safe haven for anti-Western terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. “The most likely outcome of any quick troop exit this year is very ugly, including ethnic cleansing, mass slaughter, and the ultimate dismemberment of the country,” Ms. Afzal and Mr. O’Hanlon write in USA Today. “No one can see the future, of course, but this type of outcome…
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Destroy the Police in Order to Rebuild It

            The killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop is the latest in a long line of high-profile shootings to have sparked widespread protests. As often occurs after these terrible incidents, politicians and editorial boards are floating ways to turn Robocop into Officer Friendly.             The trouble with mainstream proposals is that they would nip at the edges of a systemic problem, assuming that the cabal of powerful police unions were to allow their implementation. Nothing short of completely destroying existing police departments and their methods will fix policing that is authoritarian, predatory and violent to its core. We must radically reinvent the purpose, personnel and posture of police officers if Americans seriously want to free people of color (and everyone else) of the abject terror they feel each time flashing lights appear in their rearview mirror.             Many recent killings of Blacks by police followed stops or detentions over trivial matters. Brooklyn…
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