And the safe sidewalks of New York.Mar 4, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 24 • By HEATHER MAC DONALD
President Barack Obama recently went to Chicago to promote his poverty and gun violence initiatives and actually spoke a good deal of truth. “There’s no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families, which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood,” he said. Reiterating a line from his State of the Union speech, he observed: “What makes you a man is not the ability to make a child; it’s the courage to raise one.” And though he paid the obligatory tribute to single mothers, he added with remarkable candor: “I wish I had had a father who was around and involved.”
What Obama didn’t say also came as a relief. In the worst of all possible worlds, he could have trotted out hackneyed poverty and racism themes from the academy—that biased law enforcement and an “epidemic” of incarceration, for example, are harming what would otherwise be law-abiding inner-city communities. Unfortunately, the president’s deputies are pursuing policies informed by such ideas behind the scenes, but at least Obama is not putting the power of the presidential bully pulpit behind them.
Had Obama left it at that, he would have made an important contribution to public discourse. But though he rightly recognized the distinction between civil society and government (“When a child opens fire on another child, there is a hole in that child’s heart that government can’t fill”), he came to Chicago bristling with big government programs that threaten to cancel out his personal responsibility theme. The administration is promoting an initiative called “Promise Zones,” based on a concept that has been endlessly flogged by liberal foundations: that if we can just form “collaboratives” to coordinate the existing morass of taxpayer-funded social service agencies and programs, we will achieve a breakthrough in the self-defeating behaviors that cause poverty today. The Ford Foundation’s Grey Areas program in New Haven in the 1960s was a progenitor of this idea (and the seedbed for the War on Poverty); more recently the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s New Futures collaborative bombed spectacularly.
Paradoxically, streamlining social service delivery requires adding yet more agencies to the existing mix: The Promise Zones project will involve, inter alia, the U.S. Departments of Justice, Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, explained the Promise Zones idea to the New York Times: “The premise behind this is that the federal government has to be a positive actor in all of this effort—but as an actor who’s a partner.” Got that? A “partner,” not just an “actor.”
Actually, Promise Zones are not even new to the Obama administration. Since 2010, the Department of Education has doled out nearly $100 million to “Promise Neighborhoods” (almost the same thing as Promise Zones) in over 50 cities. Not surprisingly, the administration is mum about the results.
The Promise Zones will also give out tax and regulatory breaks to encourage businesses to locate in distressed areas. While it is always gratifying to see liberals acknowledge, however fleetingly, that lower taxes and less onerous regulations are good for economic activity, lower taxes alone do not overcome the disincentive to locate a business in a crime-plagued area.
Obama’s other announced antipoverty initiatives—such as raising the minimum wage and providing universal preschool education—are progressive evergreens whose efficacy is deeply contested, to say the least. But the biggest disappointment in the president’s agenda is his unwillingness to move the debate on gun violence beyond the stale polarities of gun control and gun rights. The fact that he chose Chicago as the site for his speech was a tip-off that he would be breaking no new ground.
And the safe sidewalks of New York.Mar 4, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 24 • By HEATHER MAC DONALD
President Barack Obama recently went to Chicago to promote his poverty and gun violence initiatives and actually spoke a good deal of truth. “There’s no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families, which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood,” he said.
After "forcibly remov[ing] beard and head hair from practitioners of the Amish faith with whom they had ongoing religious disputes."4:18 PM, Feb 8, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Justice Department announced that 16 folks would be sent to prison for hate crimes against Amish folks. The defendants, who range in age from 23 to 67 and all lived in Ohio, were found guilty of "forcibly remov[ing] beard and head hair from practitioners of the Amish faith with whom they had ongoing religious disputes."
8:58 AM, Aug 13, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
In campaign remarks yesterday at the Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago, Illinois, President Barack Obama praised his adopted city, where he lived before becoming president of the United States. "Chicago is an example of what makes this country great," Obama said. His audience applauded.
Ali G does it again. 3:00 PM, May 7, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi "Ali G" Giannoulias was senior loan officer at his family bank, Broadway Bank, which authorized loans to convicted organized crime leaders like Michael “Jaws” Giorango (a pimp and bookmaker), Demitri Stavropoulos (an illegal gambling operator), and for convicted felon Tony Rezko, as chronicled here.
Broadway Bank, owned and operated by the Giannoulias family, was closed by the feds just two weeks ago, which led the spokesman of his political opponent Mark Kirk to give this statement to the New York Times: “While years of risky lending schemes, hot money investments and loans to organized crime led to today’s failure, it’s a sad day for Broadway Bank employees who may lose their jobs due to Mr. Giannoulias’s reckless business practices.”
In brief: Dorothy Rabinowitz's "No Crueler Tyrannies" and the "Touchstone Reader."Apr 21, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 31 • By
Books in Brief
No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times by Dorothy Rabinowitz (Free Press, 256 pp., $25). The term "witch hunt" has been used so often--and so inaccurately--that one automatically mistrusts it these days. Yet one recent set of events does bear a striking resemblance to the Salem trials: the hysteria over sexual abuse of children in day-care centers that frenzied the nation in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1865, a military tribunal convicted Dr. Samuel A. Mudd in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Was he guilty?Dec 30, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 16 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
ONE FRIDAY THIS PAST NOVEMBER, without much to-do, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed the case of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd. The court's reasoning, what I could make of it, seemed highly technical. "Appellant's insurmountable problem is that his claim is not arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute in question," the judges wrote. The ruling was rendered unanimously, and bloodlessly--though bloodlessness, in my opinion, is an odd tone to adopt in a case so heartfelt and long-lived as Dr. Mudd's.
Crime fiction for Christmas.Dec 23, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 15 • By JON L. BREEN
A Crossworder's Holiday
by Nero Blanc
Prime Crime, 224 pp., $22.95
A Puzzle in a Pear Tree
by Parnell Hall
Bantam, 308 pp., $23.95
The Christmas Garden Affair
by Ann Ripley
Kensington, 293 pp., $22
THE TRADITION of telling ghost stories at Christmas has a venerable lineage, reaching back well into the Middle Ages. Christmas detective stories have a shorter history.
Michael Connelly's mysterious Los Angeles.Dec 16, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 14 • By DAVID KLINGHOFFER
"Chasing the Dime"
by Michael Connelly
Little, Brown, 400 pp., $25.95
WILLIAM J. BRATTON, having won his crime-fighting laurels in the first Giuliani administration, was recently inducted as the new chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. There was something discordant about the erstwhile top cop of New York City taking over in Los Angeles. The two cities are just so different.
It's not a question of statistics, though in L.A. violent crime is rising at an alarming rate, murders having vaulted upward by 27 percent since 2000.
It's past time to tackle the prison rape problem.Oct 21, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 06 • By ELI LEHRER
THANKS TO A COALITION of evangelicals, left-wing prison reformers, and human rights activists, Congress is on the verge of tackling America's most ignored crime problem, prison rape. A measure that would apply various types of pressure to shape up lax prison systems is now working its way towards approval, though not as quickly as its advocates had hoped.
The bill, officially the Prison Rape Reduction Act of 2002, has drawn together a group of ideological opposites.
The British crime invasion.Apr 22, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 31 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
THINKING OF VISITING London? Great idea. Airfares are low, the weather is fine, the chance of contracting mad cow disease has fallen from infinitesimal to zero, and the talented British actors tread the boards of the West End and National theaters with their usual skill and verve.
But leave your Rolex at home. At least once each day someone here is mugged for his or her Rolex, and typically badly mauled in the process. And if you hire a car and driver to show you around, make sure the driver is reasonably expert in evasive tactics.
. . . and how it harms the war on terrorism.Dec 31, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 16 • By HEATHER MAC DONALD
I'VE BEEN AMUSING myself recently with the following experiment: I call up the most strident anti-police activists of recent years, people like Georgetown law professor David Cole, who argues that every aspect of the criminal justice system is racist. I ask these police critics the following question: Suppose that in the wake of September 11, the FBI decides to check out recent graduates of American flight schools to see who else may be plotting to use airplanes as weapons. Which students, I ask, should the FBI investigate--all of the would-be pilots, or a subset of them?