Davy Crockett, Statistics & Galina
Just when you think there are still somethings that you can
count on, here comes Davy Crocker,
King of the Wild Frontier. In a recently-released diary by a
Mexican Army officer that apparently is as authentic as it gets,
Crockett's execution is described in believable detail, after
the battle of the Alamo in 1836. "Though tortured before
they were killed, these unfortunates died without complaining
and without humiliating themselves before their torturers."
Legend has it that Davy died fighting off the Mexican attackers.
With his ammunition gone, he went to his famous Bowie knife and
fought on, killing courageously, until finally shot in the back
by the dastardly bad guys. He fell into the dust of American
mythology, lying there beside Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan
until the diary was made public. John Wayne is turning in his
grave. Who's next? Santa Claus, er, well he's sort of gone already.
Well, then who? Thomas Jefferson, er, well... JFK, er... Einstein?,
er... his treatment of his wife was ... well, wait, wait, wait...
There he is: Jimmy Carter. He still stands tall. (He only lusted
in his heart.) But look out, here comes another diary... DUCK!
Oh, wait, it was just Monica's new book ($3.5 million) on another
view of the American Presidency. Whew! That was close. Gees,
leave Mount Rushmore alone!
On Saturday, the residents of St. Petersburg (old Leningrad) gathered by the hundreds of thousands, to say goodbye to to Galina V. Starovoitova, a very popular contender to succeed Boris Yelsten and people's champion of democracy. She was stepping out of her apartment in St. Petersburg, when an attractive young couple stepped up and opened fire with two handguns. Galina was killed and her companion, Rusian Linkos, 27, is said to be recovering from extensive wounds. Galina was a founder of the Russian Democracy movement and a consistent friend of progressive government. Previously she had received death threats three times but never stopped her activities or changed her schedule. She is the first woman to be assassinated in blood-soaked Russian politics. Imagine what it might have been like to have her running Russia: intelligent, honest, healthy, loved throughout her country, respected worldwide, and a true humanitarian devoted to democracy and the free market. But, hey, now she's dead. Just another gunning in the former Soviet Union. You know that old saying, "All it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing"? Sometimes, even when good people do something evil seems to prosper. But don't be so sure. Witness the people assembled on a cold winter Russian morning: hundreds of thousands remembering her, honoring her. Somewhere in the crowd a little nine-year-old girl hears the words, "A great woman. A great leader." Something sparks in the back of her mind, "Maybe I could be like her..." Also in the crowd, an attractive young woman who can remember, remember, remember the crack of the gunshot and the look on Galina's face. As she turns to the young attractive man beside her, his hand feels cold and they embrace, but the warmth doesn't come.
In the strangest and most mysterious ways we move along. Have faith in the future.
And finally we come to the crime statistics. We are nearing an all-time low, for the past 30 years, if you can believe the statistics. You remember the saying? "There are lies. There are goddamn lies. And then, there are statistics," right? But with more than 17,000 police departments reporting, murder went down another 2%. The greatest drop was in the Northeast and in cities. But in the suburbs it rose slightly for the fifth year in a row. So, now instead of 4,923 crimes per 100,000 residents it's 98.46 crimes less per the same number of people. I feel safer, don't you? Except out here in the suburbs, its up by more than it's down in the cities. What's going on? Things going a little dry downtown? Of the 2% (now pay attention), 4% represented a drop in violent crime. What would 4% of 2% be, anyway? 8 one hundredths of a percent. Whew... we dodged a bullet there. (No pun intended). And, here comes the really, really good news: Only 18,209 people were murdered in 1997. That does not take into account those who were still being treated for their wounds or slowly recovering to levels that will still leave them with totally devastated lives. And, listen to what statistician James Alan Fox says about these "greatly reassuring numbers" (Rudy Gulliani's acceptance speech). "The homicide figures are misleading because not every group in the population is at a 30-low. What does that mean? Adult murders are down, but teenage murders are still up from 10 years ago, and the teen population is rising."
So if you live in a city, it's better. But if you're young and live in suburbs, the statistics are coming your way. By the way... the courts are years behind schedule, the prisons are full to twice the planned capacity, police manning is generally back to the 1960's levels, and fewer and fewer successful, educated, parents (and women) are running for office. More and more, it's professional politicians who are assuming local and state offices. Now, that's a scary statistic.