Category Archives: Culture

Culture for the cultured and uncultured alike.

Animal’s Daily Bigotry Unseen News

Recently in Toronto, a group of Muslim kids were filmed stomping on a bunch of Gay Pride flags, and the legacy media is between a rock and a hard place.  The Washington Free Beacon  has the story:

What happened: A group of adorable Muslim children stomped all over the LGBTQQIP2SAA+ Pride Flag on Friday at an “education over indoctrination” protest in Ottawa, Canada.

• “Leave our kids alone!” shouted a woman wearing a traditional headscarf who appeared to be the mother of one of the children.

Why it matters: Posting a video of Muslim children stomping all over the American flag would be considered “Islamophobic,” but Muslim kids stomping on a Pride Flag is more challenging because it involves two “oppressed” minorities.

My first reaction to that was to chortle in glee.  My second was to wonder – briefly – how the legacy media would have been reacted if these were kids from Christian families.  Full disclosure:  As I’m neither a Christian nor a Muslim, I really don’t have a dog in this fight, but that doesn’t make me unaware of the blatant hypocrisy in the media’s handling of this sort of thing with kid gloves, if they acknowledge it at all.

But there’s more to it than the legacy media.  Canada has pretty much eliminated any pretense at free speech.  Canada guarantees its citizens subjects free speech “within limits,” meaning you can say what you like as long as the government agrees with you; that’s why, in Toronto, these kids and their parents would have been in hot water were they Christians and not Muslims.  But there’s a “diversity” box checked, you see, so the outcome is necessarily different.

Equal treatment under the law is not only dead in the United States, you see, but also in our neighbor to the north – and has been for some time.

Animal’s Daily Technology News

Before we get into it, check out the next installment of my Setting Suns series at Glibertarians!

Now then:  Over at The Mises Institute, Lipton Matthews has some interesting thoughts on technology and entrepreneurship:

The fear is that unbridled innovation must be curbed due to its potential to disrupt society, but disruption is what makes innovation unique. Technology has displaced jobs and has also created jobs that we would never have predicted. In the 1980s people did not envision platforms like YouTube and TikTok minting millionaires.

Interestingly, neither platform was built by the government; rather, they emerged due to the ingenuity of creative minds. Considering the trial-and-error process of innovation and the numerous characters involved, it is impossible for the state to plan or drive this dynamic process. Further, empirical evidence opines that there is a positive link between business expenditure on R and D, but the association between government R and D and innovation is negative.

History should teach the state that innovation is more likely when government technocrats are not involved in the process. The best option for the US government to promote innovation is for it to stay out of the picture.

Here’s what Mr. Matthews may not appreciate:  We can’t just hope that government will stay out of the innovation picture.  The (US) government should be, and actually is – if you’re literate and read the Constitution, especially the Tenth Amendment – rigorously proscribed from being in the innovation picture.

“But Animal,” some might say, “this very internet that we’re using right now started out as a government project.”  Yes, it did, under DARPA, a DoD function, and therefore within the government’s legitimate scope as a defense COMSEC measure.  But if it had remained government controlled, it would never have been anything but that – no Amazon, no YouTube, no Twitter, no WordPress, no Animal Magnetism.

Billions of dollars in wealth would never have been created.  The marketplace of goods and ideas would still be at the 1985 level.  We’d still be getting our news from three networks and a few cable channels, not to mention printed newspapers.  If you wanted a new coffee mug, sweatshirt or fishing pole, you’d have to go to a brick-and-mortar store to get one.  Things weren’t really all that bad back then but they’re much more convenient now, in the post-Internet world; I can even get most goods online and have them delivered to my home, out here in the Alaskan woods.

Entrepreneurship is vital.  And government is poison to entrepreneurship.  That won’t change.

Rule Five Urban Meltdown News

A San Francisco store owner and immigrant from Afghanistan – Afghanistan – is aghast at what is happening in his adopted home.  Fox News says:

A San Francisco store owner who immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan says he is at his wits end with crime in the city after a gang of thieves stole over $100,000 in merchandise from his tobacco shop.

“The politicians need to get a grip on this because It’s worse than Afghanistan or Iraq,” Zaid, co-owner of Cigarettes R Cheaper in San Francisco’s Richmond District, told Fox News Digital. He was referring to crime in the city following a robbery Tuesday night, when a half dozen thieves smashed his windows and made off with about $80,000 in merchandise and $20,000 in cash.

“At least in Afghanistan the Taliban will cut your hand off and people are afraid to commit such a crime,” Zaid said, adding that he sees people stealing from nearby stores every day. 

“They know the police won’t do anything,” Zaid explained, adding that the thieves were in his store for 18 to 20 minutes and had plenty of time to “ransack” the place. Zaid added that police have told him that they are short-handed. 

Now let’s make one thing plain:  I’m adamantly against cutting off the hands of thieves.  If that’s not cruel and unusual punishment, then the term has no meaning.

But San Francisco has gone in precisely the opposite direction.  The police force is short-handed, yes, because the cuffs that were once put on criminals have instead been placed, metaphorically at least, on the police.  There has to be a balance, yes; Frisco is not there.  Not even close.

Zaid also told Fox:

Zaid, who immigrated to the United States in 1987 and opened his store in 2003, said things are worse in San Francisco than they have ever been.

“The city has gone downhill, especially the last 2 years since COVID, I’ve never seen it worse,” Zaid told Fox News Digital. “People are afraid to come shopping here because they are either going to get robbed or someone will break into their car.”

If things do not change quickly, Zaid said he will have to close his business. 

What a massive Charlie Foxtrot.  San Francisco has become such a shithole that an immigrant from Afghanistan is shocked at the disorder.  And I’d add that Mr. Zaid is precisely the kind of immigrant we should be encouraging:  He came here for the opportunity, he opened a business serving his community with products and services they want; to Mr. Said I’d say, frankly, if you want to come to Alaska, I’d welcome you.  And the problems you are experiencing in San Francisco sure as hell won’t be an issue here.

I’ve been worried for years now about the decay of our major cities.  Maybe San Francisco is leading the way, but cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore and Detroit are close behind.  Our major cities are destroying themselves, and some of they may well be past the point of no return.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Well, this is close to home.  This is the bit that concerns me:

In a September interview with the Pentagon’s news agency last fall, Iris Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Arctic and Global Resiliences said Chinese leaders have “been trying to insert themselves into the Arctic.”

“So, we’re being very mindful about their activity and in wanting to ensure that our interests are protected in the region,” Ferguson said.

China seems to be very interested in what goes on here in the Great Land, although they have nowhere near the sea-lift capacity to land troops here, and so won’t find out one thing that aren’t betting on, that being a few hundred thousand heavily armed Alaskan civilians – but they sure as hell seem to want to know what assets we have up here.  That’s disconcerting as hell.


On To the Links!

Nothing left to cut.

Trump steps on his dick again.  It’s like he’s trying to lose.

Four times.  A day.

Why is Biden so unpopular, even among Democrats?  Well, probably because he’s stupid, senile and incompetent.

The FBI is running cover for the Bidens.

Oh, the irony.


It’s aliens.

I take it you’re planning to lose the next war you’re in.

This is known as belaboring the obvious.


Who is John Galt?

Rum, sodomy and the lash.

Well, that’s a horrifying thought.

I’m not even sure at this point if the US is seeking primacy within its own borders.

Companies must do no such thing.  Mind your own damn business.

The next big crash?

Mike Pence files to run for President.  Well, the world’s got no shortage of windmills to tilt at.

Not sure why an American news network is covering these inbred mutants.

He’s going nowhere.

This Week’s Idiots:

The Bulwark’s Jill Lawrence is an idiot.

The Guardian’s Arwa Mahdawi is an idiot.

The Hill’s Niall Stanage is an idiot.  The only place Chris Christie could be a wild card is at a buffet table.

Idiots gonna idiot.

Alexandria Occasional Cortex persists in idiocy.

The Guardian’s Mark Weisbrot is an idiot.  (Also, his name literally means ‘white bread.’  Too funny.)

MSNBC’s James Downie is an idiot.

The Guardian’s Will Hutton is an idiot.  I’m starting to see another pattern.

Paul Krugman (Repeat Offender Alert) remains a cheap partisan hack, and an idiot.

James Comey is a corrupt asshole, and an idiot.

MSNBC’s Charlie Dent is an idiot.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

I was never big on the Carpenters, but they sure sold a lot of records back in the day.  Karen Carpenter’s sad 1983 death from anorexia nervosa received a lot of publicity, and for a few years instances of anorexia, especially among teenage girls, spiked.  Some call this a ‘social contagion,’ when a few highly-publicized events, usually among celebrities, lead to a spike in instances of an emotional/mental disorder.

Sound familiar?

Back to the music, though.  Karen and Richard Carpenter did have a light, easy style that was relaxing and thoughtful.  While I was more of a head-banger – back in these days I was much more into Led Zeppelin, Foghat, Van Halen and the like – I’ve developed more of an appreciation of gentler music as I’ve gotten older.  I do kind of like their song Rainy Days and Mondays, from their 1971 album, Carpenters.  Here’s the official video, which presents kind of a touching photographic tribute to Karen to go along with her rich, butter-smooth voice.  Enjoy.

Rule Five Civil War Friday

I’ve spilled some pixels on the topic of a second civil war in the United States before.  While I still think (hope) the prospect is unlikely, I recently stumbled across a post from one Matthew Bracken, author of Enemies Foreign And Domestic, Domestic Enemies – The Reconquista, and Foreign Enemies And Traitors, about the CW2 “Cube,” which although written in 2010, still makes some very good points.  Note:  In this post I won’t talk about the likelihood of a civil war, but instead, as in the point of Mr. Bracken’s analysis, how the factions would likely split up.  He points out:

Before we move on to the cube, let’s begin with the CW2 Square. The cube is best tackled in another step. Draw the square and label one axis Poorer to Richer. Label the other axis Darker to Lighter. Darker, for brevity, includes African-Americans, Hispanics and so on. Lighter refers to those of European ancestry. The two opposed meta-groups are the poorer and darker versus the richer and lighter, or whiter if you wish to be blunt. The richer/whiter have the power of their wealth, but counterbalancing that advantage is the fact that the poorer/darker have succeeded in wresting control of much of government power. This is so, even if most of their elected leaders are anything but poor or dark.

Note that these are really, really broad categories.  In 1980 I may have been more optimistic that the racial angle would be far less significant than the wealth angle, but after a few decades of ever-more-strident race-baiting by the Left, I’m no longer so sanguine.  But let’s move on to the cube, which is the part I really find interesting:

Now, let’s add the third dimension and shoot another axis out from the square to form the CW2 Cube. Label the third axis Urban versus Rural, or City versus Country if you prefer. This axis gives a geographical dimension to the meta-terrain, but there will be no convenient dividing line between the opposed sides as there was during the first civil war. It has frequently been observed that today’s red-blue political map is better understood at the county than at the state level. Even blue states like Illinois, California and New York are rural-red outside of their blue urban cores. Obviously, these urban cores are heavily populated but geographically small, with all that means to the electoral process today and to a possible civil war later.

So the opposing corners of the CW2 Cube can be seen as the poorer, darker cities versus the richer, whiter rural areas. Again, don’t quibble about outliers. Yes, there are a few rich, conservative African-Americans living in Wyoming, many poor white liberal Democrats in rural West Virginia, some rich conservatives in San Francisco and every other exceptional case imaginable.

Here’s the cube (click to embiggen):

Now look at how that falls out.  Wealth, sure, color, sure, but also – and I think that now, in 2023, the bigger divide – is urban/rural.  Too many in the big cities have started viewing us crazy rednecks who own lots of guns and live out in the woods as a threat, and too many of us crazy rednecks are increasingly distrustful of the big cities and their denizens – not to mention resentful when they wag their fingers at us and try to tell us how to live.  Mr. Bracken continues:

Most of us live in the mushy, mongrel middle, far from the tips of the two opposite corners. But the centers of gravity of Civil War Two shall be as I have described: the relatively richer, whiter and more rural against the poorer, darker and urban. One can also propose many more axes of conflict than can fit on a cube, such as the religious versus the non-believers, socialists versus capitalists, statists versus individualists and so on. However, after you reflect upon the CW2 Cube, I think you will find that most of these extra axes can be overlaid parallel to one of the three already posited.

Bear in mind that this was written in 2010.  Almost every aggravating factor that Mr. Bracken describes has gotten worse, not better, since then.  The corners of the cubes have mostly drawn farther away from each other.  The people in those segments are increasingly polarized against each other.

We always say “it can’t happen here.”  I’m still thinking a hot civil war unlikely, although I’m thinking the odds of such a thing are increasing.  But people in Bosnia in the Nineties thought the same thing:

After the fact, a common sentiment heard from urbane, secular Bosnians living in the Olympic City of Sarajevo expressed complete disbelief that a brutal, bloody civil war could have come to their modern European city and tear their lives apart.

But it did.

A parting suggestion to students of modern civil war is to read “Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia’s War” by the British journalist Ed Vulliamy. It’s currently collecting dust at your local public library, waiting only to be read.

Forewarned is forearmed.

It is indeed.

Mrs. Animal and I are indeed fortunate to have our rural home in the great Alaskan Susitna Valley.  We know all our neighbors well.  Almost all of them are hunters.  Almost all of them are armed.  We’re far enough away from any major city – even Anchorage – that the “troubles” won’t impinge us directly.  But they will hit us indirectly, as we are dependent on the Forty-Eight for so many things, from manufactured goods to fresh fruit.  Not to mention that our children and grandchildren are all down there, although not in major cities.

A second civil war would be catastrophic.  It would be fought not on distant fields, not by massive armies maneuvering against each other in open country.  It will be fought in the streets, in the towns, amongst us in ways no other war has touched us since the Revolution, and if similar conflicts are any indication – see not only Bosnia but also the Spanish Civil War – it will result in hatreds that will last generations.  A second civil war would be the end of the United States as we know it, and it’s unlikely anything that arises out of the ashes will have any respect for individual rights and liberties.

I’d like to say the more we know, the better able we are to avoid all this.  Problem is, too many folks either don’t want to know – or don’t care.  As Yeats said:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

I’d rather not see that happen here.  But I am aware of the possibility that my druthers may not be taken into account.

Animal’s Daily Cultural Arrogance News

I love Japan.

Before we start, check out my latest contribution over at the American Free News Network!

Now then:  Over in Japan, a place I love to visit and hang out, Rahm Emanual is continuing to make an ass of himself.  Jason Morgan, associate professor at Reitaku University, has some thoughts:

Over a series of tweets in late April, Ambassador Emanuel shared photos of himself and the American Embassy staff heading out—in full rainbow regalia, the new red, white, and blue—to join the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade. The usual celebration of civilizational collapse? All in a day’s work for our man in Tokyo. 

But it was this tweet that started the firestorm: “Now is the time, now is the moment for Japan to be all that Japan can be. You could feel the energy in the air at @Tokyo_R_Pride. Today was a parade with purpose.”

Many in Japan were appalled. Not just at the sentiment, of course, or at the tone-deafness of a man who speaks zero Japanese inserting himself into a national debate he knows nothing about. After all, we know that liberal Americans consider themselves culturally superior to the Japanese. That was the entire premise behind dismantling the Japanese constitution and imposing a new one. Never mind that Japan has been a democratic country since the 19th century. 

The linked article goes on from there in documenting the many ways Emanual is making a horse’s ass of himself.  But then, that’s something Rahm Emanual has lots of experience doing.

Look, an ambassador is there to be his country’s representative, and to deal with issues between the two nations; in this case, the United States and Japan.  Especially in this case, he is not there to engage in moral preening over that nation’s internal affairs.  Japan is a fully modern nation, a functioning democracy and our best ally in the Pacific save perhaps Australia, and we have no business lecturing them on internal matters.

Should we expect Japan, an old culture with long-established traditions, to automatically hew to what we feel should be the right way to do things?  No.  Much as I love visiting Japan – I’ve done a lot of work there, spent months at a time in the Land of the Rising Sun, and I love the food, the people, the culture and how beautiful the country is in general  – I could never live there.  I’m culturally a red-state American, and I will live out my life in a place that reflects my values.  And I would not presume to lecture my Japanese friends on their nation’s values, even though I disagree with some of them.

It’s well past time Rahm Emanual learned a new skill that would serve him well:  Knowing when to keep his damn mouth shut.

Animal’s Daily Absurdities News

Before we begin:  Check out the finale of Fire and Ice over at Glibertarians, and my Ninth Annual Commencement Speech has appeared again at the American Free News Network.

Now then:  National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson weighs in again, this time on the well-named Absurdities of Our Age; in a section on California’s fiscal stupidity he states:

How could a dysfunctional state like California even contemplate $800 billion in reparations?

The state currently faces a $31 billion annual deficit—and it’s climbing. The state’s $100 billion high-speed rail project is inert, a veritable Stonehenge of concrete monoliths without a foot of track laid down.

California’s income tax rates are already the highest in the nation. Its sales taxes, electricity rates, and gas taxes and prices are among the steepest in the country. And for what?

Crime, homelessness, and medieval decay characterize the once great downtowns of San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is now not safe to walk alone in any major California city after dark.

Shoplifting and smash-and-grab theft are no longer treated as real crimes. The result is the mass flight of brand stores from our downtowns and inner cities, with all the accustomed cries of “racism,” even as racist public prosecutors pick and choose whether to indict the arrested on the basis of race.

California infrastructure, once the best in the county, is now among the worst. Decaying and crowded freeways, inadequate water storage, and pot-holed streets are the new norm. Once robust gas, oil, mining, and timber industries are nearly inert.

The state’s public schools are dysfunctional. Once premier public universities are spiraling headlong into decline—junking scholastic tests for admissions, using illegal racial quotas to warp admissions, and institutionalizing racialized dorms and graduation ceremonies.

Read it all, obviously.

California, as I am wont to repeat endlessly, serves as an object lesson in the evils of one-party government (such examples are legion, but this is a relevant one at the moment) and every day they seem to descend farther and farther into lunacy.  Oh, and the Democrats are fond of pushing California Governor Gavin “Hair Gel” Newsom as a Presidential candidate, in case you were wondering how the occupants of the Imperial Mansion could go from bad to worse.

But Dr. Hanson has much more to discuss than California.  And he’s right in his assessment; the Imperial City is only a long step (maybe not that long) behind California in fiscal stupidity.  We have mortgaged our great-grandchildren’s futures, and history will rightly damn us for it.  Equal treatment under the law is a dead letter.  Congress has been using the Constitution for ass-wipe since about 1860.  The nation is “led” by a senile incompetent, and that faltering heartbeat is the only thing protecting us from having a cackling imbecile running the Executive Branch.

We could escape all this by returning government to within its Constitutionally defined limits.  But nobody – nobody – in either major party is putting this on the table, and granted, it would involve unpacking a hundred and fifty years of unconstitutional malfeasance.

So, where do we go from here?  Dr. Hanson doesn’t seem to  have an answer.  Neither do I.  We live in interesting times, True Believers.  Interesting times indeed.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, The Daley Gator, Pirate’s Cove, Whores and Ale, Flappr and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  As always, if I’ve missed your link, let me know in the comments and I’ll get you added to the FMJRA lineup.

Now then:  It looks like half a million people have decamped from New York City in the last few years.  Fox Business has the numbers:

A report by the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday estimated more than 468,200 residents left New York City between April 2020 and July 2022, accounting for a 5.3% decrease in the city’s population. The largest loss came between 2020 and 2021 when the population declined by just over 281,000.

Only three other U.S. cities saw worse percentages during the same time period, with San Francisco, California losing 7.5% of its residents, Louisiana’s Lake Charles losing 6.9% and Revere, Massachusetts losing 5.9%

Despite the loss of hundreds of thousands of residents, NYC remains America’s largest city by a long shot as more than 8.3 million people call it home.

And why is this happening?  Well, look at where these folks are fleeing to:

The report also revealed that most of the people leaving the metropolitan areas are hunkering down in the Southern states. Nine of the country’s 15 fastest-growing cities are below the Mason-Dixon line, and six of them are in Texas.

Georgetown, Texas had the largest population boom in 2022, with an estimated 14.4% increase.

So, they are going from states where the government (especially in the recent COVID nonsense) is more restrictive and tax rates are higher, to states where the government is less restrictive and tax rates are lower.

This, honestly, should come as a surprise to no one.  The concern, of course, is that these migrants will bring their voting habits with them, and in so doing plunge their new homes into the same kind of chaos they left in their former states.  While there certainly will be some of that – my own former home of Colorado has gone completely off the rails in large part because of just this – there are also a fair number of people who left seeking political environments that are more friendly to what they already believe.  It remains to be seen how much of each will land in these refuge states.

Back to New York:  This is what high taxes, ineffective policing and constant racial pandering will bring to a major city.  It’s no wonder people are fleeing.  What I’m curious about is if the remaining people in the Big Apple will ever wise up.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

You can tell it’s spring at last here in the Great Land when the sound of snow machine motors is replaced by ATV motors.

Our ATVs.

We don’t yet have a snow machine (in the 48 you call them snowmobiles) but we have two ATVs, a big six-seat Polaris Ranger for taking guests on tours, and a neat, agile little Polaris Sportsman that I mostly use for getting out in the woods after grouse or just indulging in one of my favorite activities – woods-bumming.  If you like the outdoors and live up here, one or both of these machines is a hell of a handy thing to have.

Now then…

On To the Links!

No shit, Sherlock.

Florida Man rides again.

And in the end, we’ll go further and further into debt.

And nothing will come of this.

Sanctuary city, my ass.

Another one leaving Chicago.

Impossible.  IEDs are against the law.  And I’m pretty sure this is a no-IED zone.

Because they are ruled by morons.

Atlas is shrugging.

Just when you think you couldn’t get any more disgusted.

Senator Murphy:  Come on out here to the Susitna Valley and try to take our guns.  Let us know how that works out for you.

OK, is there anybody in this group who isn’t a Fed?

This isn’t a good sign.

“Missing?”  One wonders if cement overshoes are involved.

The red-pilling of Elon Musk continues apace.

Haw haw haw!

I’ll take my chances.

This Week’s Idiots:

Salon’s Heather Parton is an idiot.

Whoever thought this was a good idea is an idiot.

Minnesota is run by idiots.

An actual photo of Brian Stelter.

Brian Stelter is an idiot.  And a potato.

New York Magazine’s Ed Kilgore is an idiot.

MSNBC’s Hayes Brown (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

Policies designed by morons result in epic cluster-fuck.  Film at eleven.

Slate’s Michael J. Socolow is an idiot.

How can you tell when Joe Biden is saying something stupid?  His lips are moving.  And again.

MSNBC’s Steve Benen is an idiot.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

I love Japan.

This is Masayuki Suzuki, who does a lot of soundtracks for Japanese television and so forth, in addition to pure musical work.  I’m not sure what genre he falls under, but these two songs are from the soundtrack of an anime called Kaguya-sama:  Love is War, they’re kind of fun, and a little different than our usual servings.  Enjoy.

Rule Five Understanding Crime Friday

Check out my latest column over at the American Free News Network!  If you aren’t visiting that site daily, you should be.

Now then:  I recently stumbled across a very interesting piece by Francis Menton over at the Manhattan Contrarian on understanding urban crime.  It’s accepted that violent crime is a serious urban problem, but what’s not apparent, or at least not intuitive, is how concentrated most high-crime areas are.  Read it all, but here are some highlights.  As Mr. Menton points out:

What rural and suburban readers may be missing is an understanding of the extent to which serious and violent crime is concentrated in a handful of quite small areas. It is understandable that many people fail to appreciate this phenomenon, because it is difficult to find good information on the subject. The press almost completely misses the issue, when not intentionally burying it. The mainstream sources will not report on the concentration of violent crime in a few areas because they think (correctly) that accurate reporting on this subject will reflect badly on minority communities; and the conservative sources are afraid to appear racist, and are mostly happy to report city-wide crime statistics as sufficiently demonstrating the disaster of governance by progressive Democrats.

This much is, of course, accurate.  While I live in a rural setting now (you don’t get much more rural than the Susitna Valley) and grew up in a rural setting (you also don’t get much more rural than Allamakee County, Iowa) I did live in the suburbs of Denver for many years, and have done business in a wide range of urban settings, from Boston to Shanghai.  I don’t trust cities and never will, and while I understand part of that is sheer bias on my part, not all of it is – but what many of us don’t get is how much violent crime happens in a few small areas.

Mr. Menton adds:

Here are some more data on crime concentration by geographic location, this time from Chicago:

[I]n 2019, the United States had a homicide rate collectively of about five per 100,000. Chicago that year . . . was close to about 18 per 100,000. If you look at just the 10 most dangerous neighborhoods in that city, it was over 60 per 100,000. If you look at the most dangerous neighborhood in that city, which was West Garfield Park in 2019, their homicide rate was 131 per 100,000. If you compare that to the 28 safest neighborhoods in the city of Chicago that year, their collective homicide rate was less than two per 100,000 for some of those neighborhoods or for a good chunk of those neighborhoods, the homicide rate was zero per 100,000.

Chicago had 630 homicides in 2022, for a rate of about 24 per 100,000. I think you can be sure that most to all of the neighborhoods that had zero murders in 2019 still had zero murders on 2022. Meanwhile, if West Garfield Park had an overall murder rate of 131 per 100,000, and almost all of the victims were from the one-eighth of the population that are young adult men, then the murder rate among young adult men would be over 1000 per 100,000 — more than 1% per year. Over a ten year period, that would give a young man in that neighborhood around a 10% chance of getting murdered.

That’s horrifying.

What Mr. Fenton doesn’t get into is root causes.  In fact I haven’t seen anyone do what I would consider to be a robust root cause analysis for this phenomenon.  Remember, root cause is always at the point where a person or group of people made a decision (or several decisions) and Mr. Fenton concludes with some bad ones:

However, I should note that Bessette’s piece in the Claremont Review also includes a review of another book titled “What’s Prison For? Punishment and Rehabilitation in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” by Bill Keller. Keller is the former executive editor-in-chief of the New York Times, and now working at something called the Marshall Project. On his examination of the current state of our criminal justice system, Keller reaches more or less the opposite conclusions from myself and Mangual. A few quoted by Bessette:

“Decriminalize such minor crimes as ‘low-level drug offenses’; divert some criminals to ‘mental health and addiction programs, or probation or community service’; . . . ‘raise the age at which accused youngsters are subject to adult punishment’ . . . .”

I guess that Keller has been reading the crime coverage of his old newspaper, which makes a point of hiding from the readers everything important about what is happening.

So, were I to conduct a cause analysis here, one of the first cause/effect chains I’d look hard at is the ‘urban policy’ path.  We’ve seen these results time and again, in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, St. Louis and many other places.  But I’d also (and Mr. Fenton doesn’t mention this) look hard at the educational pathway.  Our big-city schools are failing, horribly, with some of them cranking out only single-digit percentages of graduates that are proficient in math and written English.  That can’t help.

Add in the inexplicable growth of a toxic, brutal, misogynistic urban “thug” culture, and you have a recipe for trouble.

One thing supporting the ‘urban policy’ pathway, of course, is easy to find:  New York under Giuliani.  In the 90s New York was one of the safest major cities in the world, and that happened when Rudy Giuliani set the policy of vigorously pursuing career criminals and showing no tolerance towards petty acts of vandalism, theft and hooliganism that can lead to more serious acts.

Our major cities are melting down.  I’m not sanguine about things turning around any time soon; Chicago just suffered four years of incompetent leftist leadership by an incompetent mayor, and reacted by kicking her out of office and electing an even more incompetent leftist, on the theory that if ‘progressive’ policies don’t work, then one just needs to ‘progressive’ harder.

A combination of Giuliani-like policies and education reform (and by reform I mean privatize, and if that means kicking the teacher’s unions to the curb, all the better) might save our major cities.  But I don’t see any of that happening.  America’s great cities are destroying themselves, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.