Wednesday, February 17, 2010

AFGHAN HOPE

It has been so long since I have posted anything on this blog that I can barely remember how to do it. I blame the cold, or the snow, or the autumn, or the summer. Something. But there is nothing like a good, well intentioned, and totally misguided blog entry to make a writer respond.

My fellow blogger, Jonathan Fluck, placed a long and well thought out piece on Afghanistan on this blog JUST TODAY! Already, I am at the computer responding in kind. My good friend's article is filled with small truths. Yes, there are many reasons not to be involved in Afghanistan. The government is corrupt. We have killed too many civilians with airstrikes. The good will we created in 2001 has lessened greatly. All true. So good leftist that he is, my colleague hints that we should remove ourselves from this God-foresaken place. It would be the morally right thing to do. It would be the practical thing to do. It would be the peaceable thing to do. What he doesn't say that is would be the most disastrous thing to do, not only for us, but for the Afghan people.

My friend's entry is predicated on the notion that the good will of the Afghan people toward America and American troops has been lost, and that good will is necessary in order to win the war. Well, good will is hard to quantify. Certainly, if an army, any army, just happens by and kills a member of your family, either by accident or on purpose, you are not going to be sympathetic to that nation and its forces. But the actual fact is that good will does not win wars. It never has won a war (see wars- Civil, W.W. I, and W.W. II), and will not be the deciding factor in the Afghan war. Certainly, it would be very helpful if the Afghan populace were supportive of American efforts against the Taliban. But Afghanistan is a complex place. If you have any doubts about this, there are some retired Russian generals you might want to contact. Afghanistan is a multi-tribal nation dominated by Pashtuns, but also made up of Uzbeks, Tajiks, and other smaller groups. The Taliban has always derived its support from the Pashtuns. The Taliban forces did not win the Afghan civil war with good will. They won it by terrorizing and murdering their opponents. They had and still have little support among non-Pashtuns, who remember their murderous ways during their time in power. While they have been able to gain traction among the Pashtuns by highlighting accidental killings by American forces, most Pashtuns are right now on the fence, and will go with whichever side is winning, mostly because they don't want to sentence themselves to death if the Taliban returns to run the country. The non-Pashtuns will never feel good will toward the Taliban, and will not support them, just as they did not support them during the Taliban's time in power. And we must not forget how awful the Taliban period was for the Afghan people. If you have any doubts, check out some of the journalism of that period, count up the bodies of the men whose beards did not meet standards, or were caught smoking, or drinking, or selling alcohol, or the body count of the women who were caught out of their homes without male accompaniment, or were seen not covered from head to toe in burkhas. Where is the good will here? There isn't any. The Taliban regime was predicated on violence, and if it does return it will return at the end of a gun, not because the Afghan people, even the Pashtuns, want the Taliban back.

The arguments my good friend makes to support a pull out from Afghanistan are the arguments of the defeat lobby. Look where they are coming from. The speaker in my friend's entry was speaking to a meeting of Brooklyn for Peace and the Green Party. Sorry, but guilt by association works here. Does anyone truly believe that Brooklyn for Peace and the Green Party ever supported military action in Afghanistan (except, possibly by the Soviet Union in 1979)? And look at my friend's language. The young man who found his mother's severed head turned into a "resistance fighter." Resistance to what, you may ask? Well, the American military, of course. And also freedom, openness, and tolerance, to mention a few good things. Follow the directions of the speaker my good friend quotes, or the groups my good friend visited, and you will follow a disastrous path that leads to theocracy and repression in Afghanistan, and terrorism for any state opposing the Taliban and their acolytes. And if that happens, all the good will available won't make a bit of difference.

John Attanas

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Afghanistan story

Anand Gopal spoke at a forum co-sponsored by the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Green Party, Brooklyn For Peace, and a number of other organizations. Gopal is an American journalist who is either from Afghanistan or from close by--he is actually a fluent Pashtun speaker. His analysis of why we have lost the war, and why Americans have gone from being heroes to being the enemy focused on three major points:

1. Air strikes and collateral damage. Gopal told the story of one would-be suicide bomber (now in prison, which is where Gopal met and interviewed him), who was only 12 or 13 years old when a U.S. airstrike hit his house and 16 members of his immediate family were killed. He was at school at the time and was the only member of his immediate family who wasn’t killed. When he returned to the house and made his way through the crowd of people trying to clear the rubble to find any survivors, he came across his mother’s severed head, which he held in his arms for a long time and refused to relinquish. When he did, he joined the resistance and volunteered to be a suicide bomber.
Conservative estimates put the ratio of people in the Resistance who have been directly impacted by U.S. airstrikes at 1 out of every 4 fighters. Every airstrike creates untold numbers of volunteers for the Resistance. Gopal pointed out, however, that the Resistance also causes civilian casualties and wanted to know why the same phenomena isn’t at play on the other side. He described a village that had not seen any violence, although it’s in the midst of disputed territory, until U.S. forces came into the area. The Resistance took up positions on one hillside (the village is in the valley between two mountain ranges), while the Americans were on the opposing hillside. In the shooting that followed between the two sides, four villager non-combatants were killed. Gopal returned to the village a few weeks later to talk to the villagers, and everyone blamed the Americans for the deaths, because they believed there was no reason for them to provoke the Resistance by coming into the area.

2. A corrupt and institutionally compromised government. By corrupt Gopal was not only referring to bribery that is heavily in play, which is true of many governments, but the fact that bribery is actually needed to get anything accomplished.
In more than half the country during the last elections, voting booths were said to be open, but in fact they were not because the government could not secure the area. Observers could not be there, and the ballot boxes were simply stuffed to show a government victory.
To illustrate the institutionally compromised state of the government, he told a poignant story demonstrating how the Taliban has made such a comeback. In a northwest region, where loyalties were severely divided during the civil war, the downfall of the Taliban with the American invasion meant that power was handed over to the Northern Alliance mujahedeen. The Pashtuns of the area were not part of the Northern Alliance but maintain the tribal network and power structure that most of Afghanistan still functions under: tribal elders run the villages.
Unfortunately for the Pashtuns, the Northern Alliance leaders used this opportunity to settle scores. The Pashtun villages had their leaders murdered and their women raped time and time again, so the elders went to the Governor, appointed by the Karzi government and the U.S., for redress. Well, the Governor was in league with the Northern Alliance, so there was no redress there.
Next the Pashtun villages sent a delegation to Kabul to plead with Hamed Karzi himself to stop the slaughter, which he promptly promised to do. But Karzi’s authority effectively stops at Kabul’s borders, so the killing and raping continued.
Then, the villages went to the U.S. military to plead their case. The military commander listened sympathetically and went to the Governor to discuss the matter. The Governor told the commander that those people were all terrorists and there was no truth to the allegations.
Shortly after, the U.S. decided that poppy production, which skyrocketed after the demise of the Taliban, was getting out of hand and told the Governor that the poppy production in the area must be cut in half in a year. The Governor and all the Northern Alliance militias grow poppy as a cash crop, as did the Pashtun villages. The Governor then sent the militias to eradicate the poppies in the Pashtun villages but not, of course, their own.
Finally, the Pashtun villages opened a dialogue with the one organization with an infrastructure and military that could protect them: the Taliban. This northwest area is now completely under Taliban control, and no government representative dares set foot in it.

3. Inadequate and wrongly directed reconstruction aid. Though millions and millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been earmarked for reconstruction work there is very little to show for it, because the U.S. government almost always awards the contracts to U.S. companies, the majority of which do not have the infrastructure on the ground in Afghanistan to fulfill the contract. That means they must subcontract out the work, and the subcontracting of the work usually goes to three or four levels, with each subcontractor taking a profit margin, so that when the work finally does get to a subcontractor who can actually do the work, the money, originally more than adequate to do an excellent job, is no longer adequate. That is why the Kabul to Kandahar highway has become impassible in parts after just three years—design, materials, and construction were so poor that the road is disintegrating in some areas.
Another problem is the type of reconstruction taking place. For example, in one village a model pomegranate processing plant was constructed. Literally state of the art, it was even constructed with local laborers. Unfortunately, pomegranates do not grow in the region, and the plant sits unused. Also, being ‘state of the art,’ it requires electricity to run, and the village does not have electricity. There apparently are plenty of example of such misguided reconstruction efforts.



And we wonder why the tide of good-will has turned against us?



Jonathan Fluck

Friday, November 20, 2009

9th campaign completed

Now that I have a moment to breath (even though we are still in re-canvassing hell) I want to break my long silence and give an outline of my campaign activities here in the 39th New York City Council district that encompasses parts of 6 neighborhoods, none of them in their entirety!

NYC actually has a generous matching funds program for local campaigns that reach threshold, and even the threshold is not unreasonable: a total of $5,000 raised from donations within NYC with 75 contributions of $10 or more from within the Council district itself with the maximum matchable donation $175. Once that threshold is reached anything that qualifies is matched six to one! For once in my campaign career I was working with more than an shoe-string budget!

But what I found is that the money didn't really make a difference in improving our numbers! Counter-intuitive, I know, but undeniable with our outcome. Even after fighting through re-canvassing for every vote that was cast for my candidate (David Pechefsky), we only received 9% or just over 2,000 votes.

What was wonderful from the git-go was that David was included in almost everything. Because of his experience and knowlege of the Council (he was part of the Central Staff of the Council for 10 years) and because of strong runs by a Green candidate in the last two Council races in this district, David was invited to all debates and forums--even ones set up during the primary season specifically for the Democratic primary candidates. That was very different for me. I am used to systematically being EXcluded, not INcluded! And this was happening even though the Greens in New York State do not have major party status.

Additionally, David loved to talk to people and loved campaigning. He grew weary sometimes, but was never short-tempered or visibly irritable. And, as one of the other candidates put it, David seems to have a P.T. Barnum gene: he has a sense about events that will garner press. We had lots of fun events: croquet match, chess in the park, rickshaw rides to the polls, prirate ship in the Halloween Parade, puppet shows ourside of schools; he just kept coming up with the event ideas.

David was more knowledeable than any of the candidates on Council reform, on how the Council operates, on how to move things through the Council, and we didn't hesitate to emphasize this knowledge with each outing and press release. And the other candidates acknowledged that experitise and sometimes even deferred to him. WOW, I thought, we're really going to do well! And we have money for ads, for canvassers, for lit, for poll watchers, for everything in moderation. I was excited.

But then the numbers came in election night, and as our poll watchers either called in or brought in the numbers I just couldn't believe what I was seeing! All that positive stuff during the campaign itself and still only 2,000 votes. Only 9%. I was devastated. Even with a great candidate and actual budget I couldn't bring in a respectable showing (for me that would be 30%).

Evaluation. The hardest thing to do honestly in this situation. We can point to many institutional givens that made our task so much harder: the primary is the focus for 6 months and the actual election for only 6 weeks; that matching money is not release until October 1 no matter when you qualify; this year in NYC there was even a run-off AFTER the primary so the voters were distracted for another two weeks; and believe me, we could go on and on with the institutional impediments to third party candidates.

But the truth is the basic work in the community is not something that can be done in a 6 week campaign. It can't even be done in a 6 month campaign. The Park Slope Green Party, our base of operations, has a liaison to the War Resisters League, but not to Community Board 6; they have a liaison to the NYACLU, but not to the Park Slope Neighborhood Association; they have a liaison to Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (an anti mega-development organization) but not to the Windsor Terrace Alliance; get my drift? Greens tend to be activistis and so forge contacts with organizations that advance an activist/progressive agenda, not that air community concerns on a broad range of issues.

So forget the money. NO, I TAKE THAT BACK--it was REALLY nice having a budget! But it cannot take the place of constant, day-to-day work in the community, with your neighbors, developing relationships, so when you have a candidate you can present her or him proudly and with confidence to the people you've cultivated in these community groups. And your community group can hold a debate; or sponsor a forum; or votunteer on election day, etc. etc.

But even with much stronger community ties, we still have the problem of 'zombie voters:' people who don't follow the campaign, who are driven to the polls and automatically vote the straight party line. Even though we were included in all those debates and forums, only a hand-full of people showed up for each one. 22,000 people voted in Council district 39 (about 30% of the electorate) but if you add up all the people attending the debates and forums, it comes to less than 5% of that number.

Electoral infrastructure. Now here's something we really lack as Greens. That's partly because we're still very young as a party. But it is also because of ideological choices we've made (this is going to be a bit controversial). We don't take corporate money; we don't take large contributions from individuals. Solid ideological decisions to maintain our independence from the corroding influence of money. Price? Now that this individual campaign is over, there is no on-going staff to clean and update the data-base with the invaluable information that every campaign generates. There is no systematic evaluation of the unique particulars (like which election districts we did well in, just for one) that will be useful information for the next election. There is no staff to maintain and expand the contacts to community organizations, press people who actually treated us fairly, and community leaders we cultivated. Greens need to find a way to develop this on-going electoral infrastructure. We will get nowhere without doing so.

Since the election, David & I have been going back and forth with the Board of Elections on their mis-count of the votes that were cast for David. On election night we had poll watchers in 18 of the 29 polling sites, and as the numbers came back from our people, our total was about 1,750. Then we saw repported on NY 1 that David's total (for all 29 sites) was 1,550. How could that be? So, a week later, at an appoiinted time, we were permitted to go to the warehouse to check the numbers on the machines. What I found was that our poll watchers' numbers were correct. So started the 're-canvassing' odyssey. It was up to us to figure out exactly where the discrepancy lay.

The problem became apparent as soon as I could see the sheet the BOE employees were working with. On the ballot, David's name appeared dead last, with the Libertarian candidate to his left; on the canvassing sheet, the Libertarian candidate appeared dead last, with David's name to his left. On the BOE sheet, David's and the Libertarian's numbers were consistently switched (we had the foresight to collect both on election night). After working the polls for 16 hours--that's how long the day is for election day poll workers in NYC--ANYONE could make this error. My question is why was the canvassing sheet set-up differently than the ballot, and who authorized it to be so? That decision set-up the poll workers to mis-report David's numbers. And later, the BOE workers don't check through every candidate's numbers; they flag problems by anomalies in each machine's vote totals. Just as I don't think the positioning of candidates was random in the butterfly ballots of Florida in 2000 (Canadian studies have shown that the ballot was confusing to certain populations), so I think that a deliberate attempt was made here to reduce the reported number of votes for this Green Party candidate because of his recognized potential for doing well.

Another campaign concluded. Many lessons learned. And I'll report more as it comes to me.

Jonathan Fluck

Sunday, August 30, 2009

JUST TELL ME HOW TO VOTE

Everyone in New York is up in arms. The state legislature is recognized as one of the least competent and most corrupt in the nation! Polls in our daily newspapers state that voters want to vote the bums out in 2010, and bring in new blood that won't be beholden to unions, lobbyists, or just individual greed for power and money. So reformers like me must be truly happy that in just one year the party hacks will be sent packing, and New York State will start anew. Bunk! It's never going to happen.

My friend and co-blogger Jonathan Fluck is working on a campaign for the New York City Council. Jonathan is a Green Party activist, and his candidate (who I have never met) seems very well qualified on paper, and, thankfully, is NOT a Democrat. Jonathan is very excited about this campaign and insists that his candidate will reach out to the defeated candidates in the Democratic primary (barely two weeks away), and thus have a shot at winning the seat. Sadly, my good friend is dreaming. New York voters are amazingly parochial, and even in the trendier sections of Brooklyn (where this campaign is taking place), most voters pull the Democratic leaver no matter how good a game they talk about governmental reform. If I were to make a prediction right now, I would say that Jonathan's candidate will be lucky to reach then ten percent mark when the votes are tallied in November.

Take what's going on in my less-than-trendy party of Queens. My incumbent councilwoman is running for New York City Comptroller, leaving her seat up for grabs. (In truth, I considered running for the Republican nomination, but then decided that sleeping late and rewriting a novel would be a better use of my summer vacation.) At least six Democratic hopefuls have made it to the primary ballot, including a former Councilmember from the 1990s, and a former Assemblymember from the early 2000s. What is common to most of the candidates is that they say little about issues of the day save for wanting safer streets and better schools (who doesn't?); instead they trumpet their various endorsements from unions and community groups. Why? Because New York voters need to be told who to vote for in important elections such as Democratic primaries. The endorsements range from the mildly sensible to the ridiculous, with candidates listing endorsements from groups such as the Steamfitters union and the Laborers union. Now, my area is not Sutton Place, but I doubt that there are many steamfitters and laborers calling Forest Hills and its adjacent neighborhoods home. The endorsements are there simply to convince primary voters who is the best Democrat; who is the Democrat worthy of your vote. You, the voter, do not need to look into where the candidate stands on any issue, or what educational background or employment record the candidate has. If the Steamfitters union says he/she is okay, that's all you need. And, sadly, it often is. That is why the New York City Council is a joke, and the New York State Senate and Assembly are embarrassments. Voters are few, and the ones who show up often vote for the candidates they are told to vote for.

What New York needs is an independent party with a centrist ideology that will not cross endorse candidates of the major parties. The Conservative Party is an occassional thorn in the side of the Republicans, but said party does not exist in many areas of the city. The Working Families party is hard left (do we need another hard left group in his city?), but is really a scam party that cross endorses Democrats whenever possible. My friend Jonathan supports the Greens, and I salute him for it. But in most neighborhoods the Greens would probably seem too elite and effete. Still, I am with him in this Brooklyn race. Unfortunately, in New York labels matter more than nearly anything else. And without that Democratic imprimature (and the requite union endorsements), his candidate does not stand a chance. This is a pity, because anyone who is not running as a Democrat, and is not endorsed by the major unions probably deserves to be elected. He couldn't make the Council any worse than it is.

John Attanas

Friday, August 21, 2009

Now, let me make this perfectly clear....

Working on this Brooklyn Green Party City Council campaign, we gathered all the signatures to get the candidate on the ballot and filed them along with the cover letter and the 'Acceptance Certificate'. The next day we get this letter in the mail and I'll quote it verbatum, but it's below because you might not make it all the way through before throwing up your arms in disbelief and I want to comment on it!

First, I just didn't understand what it was trying to tell us. The statute quoted is totally convoluted and makes no sense by itself. But I couldn't figure out if they were quoting the statute because we were deficient in our filing or for some other purpose. We had filed the 'Acceptance Certificate' (notorized by the candidate) when we filed the signatures, so they HAD to know he accepted the nomination, right? Apparently not!

It turns out that the letter is simply to inform the candidate that he's on the ballot and that he can decline the nomination if he so desires. Wouldn't it be easier to just say that?

Let me know what you think of the letter/statute! (By the way, there is an approval process, so don't be discouraged if your comment doesn't show up immediately--it will be approved shortly!)

Dear Candidate David J Pechefsky:

You are hereby notified that a petition has been filed with this agency designating you as a candidate of the Green Party, for the Office of Member of the City Council 39th Council District, in the City of New York to be voted for at the General Election 2009 - 11/03/2009.

Subdivision 1 of section 6-146 of the Election Law reads as follows:
"Acceptance or delination of designation of nomination. A person designated as a candidate for nomination or for party position, or nominted for an office otherwise than at a primary election, may, in a certificate signed and acknowledged by him, and filed as provided in this article, decline the designation or nomination; provided, however, that, if desgnated or nominated for public office other than a judicial office by a party of which he is not a duly enrolled member, or if a (sic) designated or nominated for a public office other than a judicial office by more than one party or independent body or by an indepndent body alone, such person shall, in a certificate signed and acknowledged by him, and filed as provided in this article accept the designation or nomination as a candidate of each such party or independent body other than that of the party in which he is an enrolled member, otherwise such designation or nomination shall be null and void."

The last day to file such acceptance or declination, pursuant to Section 6-158 of the NYS Election Law is Friday, August 21, 2009.

Very truly yours,

(signature)

Now isn't that just a perfect example of an incomprehensible statute?

Jonathan Fluck

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Party Primaries at Taxpayer Expense?!?

I'm working on a Green Party City Council campaign in Brooklyn and we're in the signature gathering phase. 'More fun than humans are allowed to have', as my ex-wife was fond of saying of odious tasks. But while we are gathering signatures to be on the ballot for the general election, the Democrates have been gathering signatures to be on the ballot for their primary, which preceeds the general election by almost two months. Now I find it odd that the number of signatures they are required to obtain FOR THEIR PRIMARY is set by law. Why is it a function of governmental legistation how a political party chooses it's nominee to be on the ballot? And why is there a discrepancy between the number of signatures we have to collect and that they have to collect (we need three times the number they do)? The government should set a standard, applicable to all, to be on the ballot for the general election. Period.


In fact, why do we, the general public, PAY for their primary? And yes, we DO pay for their primary. The voting machines are re-set, (programed now) delivered, off-loaded, set up, and 'personed' at tax-payer expense--and that comes to MILLIONS of dollars here in NYC. Plus, in NYC, the locations are almost all public buildings--used free of charge by the political parties for their primaries.


Now, I don't have a problem with the idea of a primary, or even with the public's equipment and locations being used for a primary. But why are WE paying for it, rather than the Democratic Party? (The Republicans are in such a minority here that they have a hard time getting people to run and so don't generally have primaries in NYC.) There are a number of ways to choose your candidate, the primary being one--and perhaps the most 'democratic'--but why is the general public called on to PAY for the way in which the Democrats choose the candidates they're going to run in the general election?


There are other models. Think of the Iowa caucuses. That doesn't cost the taxpayer a dime. There are a HECK of a lot of us that are not registered in either of the major political parties, and yet, when it comes to the parties choosing the candidates they're gonna run in the general election, WE have to pay for it.


If the major parties want to use public facilities and equipment to hold their primaries, then they should be charged market rate for the use of that equipment and those locations. It certainly shouldn't come from the public coffers.


Jonathan Fluck

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CRIME IS GOOD

It has been many a moon since I have posted anything on this blog (which I co-founded). Why? Well, it's not because there is little to emote about. Simply, it is because the life of a teacher, writer, and married man can be a complex and time consuming one. But in my few free moments, I have been watching the passing political parade. While there are many fascinating things going on for a slightly right-of-center soul such as yours truly to examine, what has grabbed my attention has been the recent activity in the northeast (most notably in the People's Republic of New York) to turn back the clock on anti-crime measures and welcome criminals back into our neighborhoods. Sadly, many of our politicians really, truly do not see danger coming from the barrels of guns. From gun manufacturers, yes. But from those who illegally own and use those guns (and knives too), no way.

A month or so ago the New York State Legislature (controlled completely by the Democratic Party) voted to repeal the famous (or infamous) Rockefeller Drugs Laws. These laws had always been controversial. Passed in the early 1970s, when it seemed little could stem the tide of drug crime, these laws took power away from judges and gave it to district attorneys. The laws were tough. But the early 1970s were tough times. Crime was rising in New York City before the laws were passed,and continued to rise for many years onward. Thus, it has been said by some fairminded observers that the Rockefeller Laws had only a moderate impact on the drug trade. Nevertheless, over time many drug dealers were put away, and for ever growing sentences. For the left, however, these laws represented all that was bad in the criminal justice world. This was because the laws were predicated on the notion that drug crime was, in fact, crime. Drug use was not simply an illness that was to be treated by detox and counseling. It was illegal and it should be punished. Some of the harsher aspects of the laws were changed a few years ago, but after November 2006, when the Democrats took over the State Senate (the legislative body that protected the bulk of the Rockefeller laws), it was only a matter of time before the laws were ripped from the books. Once the repeal was passed, Governor David Patterson signed the bill, over the objection of most New York State D.A.s, and some of the press. Although The New York Times couldn't wait for the repeal, the Daily News returned from the dead and recommended the repeal be called "the drug dealer protection act."

The same movement can be seen in Connecticut, the Nutmeg State, where both house of the state legislature repealed capital punishment. Now, Connecticut hasn't executed anyone in...well, I truly can't say. But the Democrats who run both house of the legislature decided that even the threat of execution for, say, multiple rape-murderers, child killers, or cop killers, was just too much for them. Thankfully, Connecticut has a moderate Republican governor, Jodi Rell, who was quoted as saying she would veto the repeal as soon as it hit her desk.

Over the last twenty years crime rates have fallen throughout our nation, especially in the northeast and midwest, areas that were thought unsalvagable in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Crime rates went down for many reasons, but one major reason was stronger anti-crime laws, stonger prison sentences, and the presence of greater and greater numbers of smarter, younger, and highly motivated police officers on our streets. The far left has never liked this reality. Oh, the left is against crime. Left wing politicians and activists simply don't want to do anything serious to stop crime. That is because, even after all the bad years, and twenty or so good years, they still see criminals as victims of society. Sounds trite, but it's true. That's not to say that left-leaning office holders have not come up with positive anti-crime measures. Bill Clinton's cime bill of the mid-1990s put more cops on the streets. And David Dinkins second police commissioner, Ray Kelly, (who has been Michael Bloomberg's first and only police commissioner) was instrumental in beefing up police tactics last in the Dinkins Adminstration. But, as New York Magazine journalist Chris Smith writes in the current issue, Dinkins and his crowd never warmed to these aggressive tactics. No surprise there. It took Rudy Giuliani to change things, and Michael Bloomberg to keep the changes in place, and even improve upon them.

With the Republican Party is disarray, with the followers of Dick Cheney writing Colin Powell and his moderate followers out of the party, (and Powell standing up to them and promising to fight for control of the G.O.P.), Republican activists might rally round the anti-crime cause as one that can bring both wings of the party together. It was moderate Republicans like Giuliani, Bloomberg, George Pataki, Tom Kean, William Weld, and, yes, Nelson Rockefeller, who did their best to stand up to the leftist ethos, and were quite successful in turning the tide against crime. Their successes, which allowed the voting public to turn away from the crime issue, have made it possible for the Democrats to rout the G.O.P. in the northeast on issues such as the economy, abortion, and stem cell research. I don't want a new crime wave to be the harbinger of a Republican revival, but I fear that if we are not careful, and new crime wave is what we will get because of the mindset and the resulting legislative actions of Democrats in the northeast. If that occurs then all of us, Republican and Democrat, will be in trouble.

John Attanas