Monday, May 03, 2010
Ann Althouse notices that a t-shirt street vendor spotted the van bomb on Times Square and ties it back to Jane Jacobs, for my money the smartest person, or at least the person who has said the smartest things, about cities. I read a couple of her books about 25 years ago, and they have comprehensively shaped my opinions on a surprising number of subjects. The Economy of Cities is a great place to start (even if it is now 40 years old), although I confess I have not read "Death and Life," the book Professor Althouse quotes.
CWCID: Glenn Reynolds.
Pound-for-pound ... dollar-for-dollar ... the NYPD (and FDNY) kick ass over our bloated federal defense establishment. It's no contest ...
There was a book published within the last year about how the NYPD successfully expanded its intelligence capabilities post 9/11. One aspect of this was to leverage the ethnicity of people already in the NYPD force. Pick almost any language -- say Farsi -- and the NYPD will have over a hundred native speakers. Many of these native speakers -- and their networks of contacts -- have already been put to use.
Importantly, the NYPD has worked its friendly contacts with foreign police departments and governments to success. The book goes on ... Etc, etc, etc ...
As a result, the NYPD has actually interdicted a few real terrorist threats in recent years, without the need to impose on citizens the indignities the feds require for us to board a commercial domestic flight.
Meanwhile the feds can't even secure our southern border, while they have two wars of foreign adventure going ...
[Sidebar: the State Dept spent a year teaching my wife's brother Farsi, and then posted him to Athens. Some years ago, a NYPD relative of mine was literally the guy who bounced Arafat, on Rudy's orders]
The Times Square incident smacks of a loner -- likely no cell -- still dangerous ... but almost impossible to foretell. Dangerous as they are, loners do only limited damage.
Meanwhile, all the feds have to their credit in recent years are a few silly entrapment cases. They might as well be soliciting pederasts on network TV.
This has broader implications if you think it through. I'm not anti-government. But I am anti-federal government. It's too big, too self-serving, and nearly useless.
What am I missing?
Yes, but... The bomber appears to be a foreigner, not that familiar with US/NYC culture. We were just very lucky here. Even these street people can be fooled by bad guys who look like they belong.
Remember the old trick of carrying a clip board; almost no one would dare interrupt you.