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The militarization of the US Capitol is a disgrace — it needs to end

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The militarization of the US Capitol is a disgrace — it needs to end

Washington, DC, isn’t, counter to what you might think, a war zone. 

The city isn’t divided down the middle between the forces of the United States government, on the one hand, and secessionist rebels, on the other. Insurgent forces aren’t mortaring Reagan National Airport. Neither Virginia nor Maryland is about to declare war on the district. 

And yet thousands of National Guard troops are still in the city, and security measures undertaken in the immediate aftermath of the riot at the US Capitol remain in place. 

This is bad policy and bad symbolism. It is too much, too late. It is a classic bureaucratic overreaction to a failure that can’t be undone by theatrical measures after the fact. 

If a fraction of the current National Guard troops had been present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, the mayhem and national trauma might have been avoided. According to press reports, various officials didn’t like the “optics” of having the National Guard on call prior to the protest or rapidly deploying it during the violence — and so, instead, we got the optics of a rabble breaking into the Capitol and, now, the optics of ongoing security overkill. 

The situation in Washington follows a classic American pattern, which is to botch something out of the gate, then throw massive resources at the problem to recover in overwhelming fashion. 

But the Capitol riot wasn’t, say, Pearl Harbor, and we aren’t now in World War II. Policy makers shouldn’t act as if every day is another potential Jan. 6, and they need to be mindful of the impression created by transforming the heart of Washington, DC, into a militarized zone. 

At the height of the deployment, there were about 25,000 National Guard troops in Washington, some of them famously sleeping on the floor of the Capitol. Now there are about 5,000 troops slated to stay until at least mid-March, although an internal Department of Defense e-mail obtained by the local Fox 5 news station contemplates them remaining much longer. 

In the e-mail, a Pentagon official says it’s necessary to ascertain how many National Guard troops “we can sustain for an extended period — at least through Fall 2021 — and understand additional options for providing [Department of Defense] support, to include use of reserve personnel, as well as active component.” 

It isn’t clear why the National Guard can’t — having patrolled DC during President Biden’s inauguration and former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment without incident — declare victory and go home. 

Then there is the 7-foot razor-wire fence erected around the US Capitol that lends a Berlin Wall touch to a building that stands for self-government and heretofore has been amazingly open. 

The fence is ugly in all senses. It inevitably brings to mind war zones and dictatorships. It speaks of a profound distrust between the government and the governed. It disrupts a charming neighborhood. In short, it sits very uneasily in a democratic republic, or it should. 

The Capitol is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Completed in fits and starts over the decades — including the notable setback of getting burned by the British in 1814 — it isn’t technically an architectural wonder. The building’s grandeur ultimately derives from what happens there, from the fact that, throughout our history, the people’s representatives have met in its chambers to debate the nation’s affairs in what is a still an awe-inspiring exercise in democratic accountability and openness. 

By all means, take extraordinary lengths to protect the Capitol when threats are high. But to cut off this, of all buildings, from the broader public behind a fence that belongs outside a US Embassy or at the southern border would be tone-deaf, high-handed and unreasonable.  

The rioters on Jan. 6 trashed the Capitol and disrupted a time-honored electoral ritual. There is no reason to compound the offense by blighting forevermore the symbolic center of our democracy. 

Twitter: @RichLowry

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Opinion

Shootings will keep rising until the politicians admit their disastrous mistakes

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Shootings will keep rising until the politicians admit their disastrous mistakes

Despite the wintry chill last month, the anti-police policies of recent years kept things pretty hot on the streets of Brooklyn, The Bronx and other crime-ridden parts of the city that continue to experience an epidemic of gun violence.

NYPD figures for February show a 26.5 percent drop in overall crime but a 75 percent jump in shootings for February 2021 over the same month last year. The NYPD made 400 gun arrests last month, up 63.9 percent from February 2020.

Since Commissioner Dermot Shea last summer pulled the plug on the plainclothes anti-crime units that had been central to the NYPD’s anti-gun efforts, the increase in gun busts suggests there’s a lot more guns on the street now.

Yes, the NYPD added 200 cameras and 12 square miles of shot-spotter coverage over the last year to help reduce police response time for shootings. But that’s about catching up after the fact. It plainly isn’t keeping perps from carrying and using their guns.

While the pandemic has ebbed and flowed, the surge in gun violence has been steady — with both the virus and the violence hitting the same communities hardest. Yet New York’s leaders are silent on the “racial inequity” resulting from higher crime.

Don’t expect this grim trend to reverse until lawmakers and prosecutors accept the folly of everything they’ve done to embolden career criminals.

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Opinion

Is Andrew Cuomo too weakened to stop the left from destroying NY?

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Is Andrew Cuomo too weakened to stop the left from destroying NY?

With state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins now calling for his resignation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s position just got even more untenable. He can claim it’s “all politics” and vow to keep governing, but he may well be unable to do his job without selling out the people who elected him.

Over the weekend, fourth and fifth accusers came forward to finger him for off-color behavior in the workplace. New questions also arose about why his staff ignored the procedures for investigating such charges, as did claims that he sent a ringer to his mandatory training on harassment.

And the bleeding will continue. More women may speak out, or more shoes may drop on his coverup of nursing-home fatalities in the wake of his March 25 order that sent COVID-contagious patients into care homes, leading to hundreds of needless deaths. 

The woman in charge of the harassment probe, state Attorney General Tish James, surely has ambitions for his job. And the Legislature may feel compelled to finally open a true independent probe of the care-home horrors.

Meanwhile, Cuomo is now negotiating a new budget with a state Senate and Assembly that have shifted far to the left in recent years. Even though a generous federal bailout will solve New York’s immediate budget problems, they still want higher taxes and other burdens on business — likely triggering a rush to the Empire State’s exits now that the lockdowns have proved that it’s easy to work thousands of miles from Wall Street.

Ominously, the governor’s pretending the cash bath from Washington isn’t enough, and already saying tax hikes are on the table.

It’s no coincidence that the loudest voices in his own party condemning the governor have been the lefties: Because he’s resisted their pernicious policies in the past, they want him sidelined.

 Cuomo may well make catastrophic concessions to buy them off. 

As Stewart-Cousins herself said: “New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction.”

Ominously, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a longtime Cuomo ally, echoed her concern, albeit without flat-out calling on Cuomo to quit. The “deeply disturbing” allegations “have no place whatsoever in government, the workplace or anywhere else,” said Heastie, adding he shares the Senate leader’s “sentiment” about the gov’s “ability to continue to lead this state.”

Moderate New Yorkers who once bought Cuomo’s argument that he’s their best hope for staving off left-wing lunacy must now consider whether a new governor, unhindered by scandal and with a fresh reservoir of public support, can do better.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — March 8, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — March 8, 2021

The Issue: Calls for Gov. Cuomo to step down in the wake of nursing-home deaths and harassment claims.

Two of the defining characteristics of today’s liberals is their fawning self-adulation and undeniable hypocrisy (“Cuomo’s Corrupt Lies,” Editorial, March 6).

Gov. Cuomo was lauded a year ago for his leadership in the early stages of COVID. Only now it turns out that he flat-out lied about the number of COVID-related deaths in nursing homes.

On top of that, he has been accused by several women, including former staffers, of sexual misconduct. Except for a few state lawmakers, the left is silent — notably Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose failed presidential run was based on women’s rights.

Cuomo, who demanded that Judge Brett Kavanaugh take a lie-detector test, refuses to do so himself. The sham is laid bare for all to see.

John Bliss

Newburgh

When is this all going to finally end with Cuomo?

First it was the nursing-home deaths that his staff did not report. Then it was him allegedly putting his hands on younger women and making sexual advances, including propositioning one of his 25-year-old aides.

This governor is out of line and should not be sitting in Albany. Either he resigns or should be impeached.

Cuomo, you’re a big disappointment to New York. It’s time for you to be replaced.

Rob Johann

Queens

I can only feel continued anger and dismay regarding our illustrious governor.

This man knew full well that his former aide Charlotte Bennett had experienced sexual trauma in her young life, and yet he continued on with sexual advances and innuendos. How low can a person go? He, a father of daughters, should all the more be ashamed of himself.

I agree with using the appropriate process, however I believe what Bennett has said, and I applaud her for her strength.

Judy Anastasio

Staten Island

The polls show Cuomo disintegrating daily.

Now that everyone knows he’s a pervert, the Emperor of New York needs to held responsible for covering up thousands of deaths from his deadly mandate.

This ruthless, pompous dog of a leader needs to be indicted and impeached. Cuomo lies as the walls are closing in on him hard and fast. Good riddance.

Vincent Conti

Staten Island

The hits just keep on coming when comes to Cuomo.

It’s bad enough that information about the sexual harassment allegations is coming to light, and it’s even worse than we first thought.

There’s also the nursing-home scandal involving the deaths of elderly people in the thousands.

Cumo’s top aides hid the extent of this fact. Of course they are guilty, but they didn’t do this by themselves.

If the attorney general has all involved parties give statements under oath, I am quite sure no one would want to take the fall for Cuomo and commit perjury as well.

Many families rightfully want a full explanation for why this was allowed to happen in the first place.

Cuomo could also be looking at a class-action lawsuit as more of the sad truth comes out.

Joseph Comperchio

Brooklyn

This is what happens when there are no term limits for a politician. They think they can get away with it because they have so many people in their back pockets.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer stepped down for less. Why not Cuomo? Who cares if he’s single? He still acted inappropriately.

Theresa Rohr

Hamburg, NJ

The worst of Cuomo’s crimes is not his abuse of women, which is bad enough.It’s the thousands of nursing-home deaths he’s responsible for.

Before that, it was making New York the highest taxed state in America, causing residents to flee to friendlier climates. He has been a colossal failure during his tenure as governor.

He should open the city, open the schools, open the restaurants, then go away.

And note to liberals: Start voting with your head, not your bleeding heart.

JR Cummings

Manhattan

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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