What’s Wrong with the World

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Tangled Up in Blue

With apologies to Bob Dylan, this blog post has nothing to do with a book of poems written in the thirteenth century by an Italian poet! Instead, I wanted to talk for a bit about the nasty war of words being waged by two Democrats in my very blue home state of Illinois. A Democratic candidate for Governor started the nastiness (and really, he’s the only one keeping this blue on blue war of words going) by accusing the current Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel, of being a racist:

Democratic governor candidate Chris Kennedy on Wednesday accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel of leading a “strategic gentrification plan” aimed at forcing African-Americans and other minorities out of Chicago to make the city “whiter” and wealthier.

“I believe that black people are being pushed out of Chicago intentionally by a strategy that involves disinvestment in communities being implemented by the city administration, and I believe Rahm Emanuel is the head of the city administration and therefore needs to be held responsible for those outcomes,” Kennedy said during a news conference about gun violence in North Lawndale.

“This is involuntary. That we’re cutting off funding for schools, cutting off funding for police, allowing people to be forced to live in food deserts, closing hospitals, closing access to mental health facilities. What choice do people have but to move, to leave?” Kennedy added. “And I think that’s part of a strategic gentrification plan being implemented by the city of Chicago to push people of color out of the city. The city is becoming smaller, and as it becomes smaller, it’s become whiter.”

Not surprisingly, the Mayor denied the accusation levied against him by candidate Kennedy (Senator Robert Kennedy’s son) and most political commenters simply chalked up Kennedy’s statement as a desperate attempt to gain some poll numbers in the black community (his campaign has been lackluster so far.) Thinking that this little contretemps had blown over, it was surprising to see Kennedy double down not too long ago in another interview:

I believe he's responsible," Kennedy says, listing a series of city policies that he contends have an unfair racial impact. "There are sins of commission, and sins of omission."

Kennedy specifically mentioned the city's high crime rate—"80 percent of the (violent) crime is in 8 percent of the city"— as well as food deserts and pharmaceutical deserts, neighborhoods where some residents are not able to easily purchase necessities. He also railed against closed public schools in mostly minority neighborhoods, a cutback in city health clinics and a county property tax system that benefits the city treasury—and which, in his view, hits minority homeowners harder than big businesses allied with Emanuel.

"No, I don't think the mayor is a racist," Kennedy replies. However, he immediately continues, referring to the above list, "Do I think all of that is true....Can anybody argue with the facts? No, I don't think they can."

Now I’m the first to admit that the schadenfreude I get from watching one liberal blow-hard go after another (i.e. my mayor) is a lot of fun – but is there any truth to Kennedy’s claims? To answer Kennedy's question -- yes, there is someone who can argue with the "facts", because his "facts" are nonsense, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and like most liberals doesn’t have the first clue about what would make for a good urban policy. Go back to his first quote – he complains that the mayor is “cutting off funding for schools” and then later complains that public schools were closed “mostly in minority neighborhoods.” But dear reader can you guess why the mayor (and his hand-picked schools chief) made the decision to close those schools? They were half-empty – indeed a report produced by a blue-ribbon commission at the time identified 140 schools that were less than half-full (in the end only 50 schools were closed.) So Kennedy has his causal arrow exactly backwards – minorities had already left the city (for various reasons, a big one having to do with lots of public housing getting shut down in the 90s and early ought’s) and the school system needed to be reorganized. Simple as that.

How about some of Kennedy’s other wild claims? Cutting off funding for police? Wrong – just go to the City’s website and look at their budgets: in 2011 the Chicago Police had a budget of $1,403,611,788, and then last year the budget for the police budget came in at $1,490,129,777. Therefore, a very modest increase over the past seven years but hardly the stuff of drastic budget cuts.

I’m the first to admit that Mayor Emmanuel is no conservative and has many flaws – but like a certain President of the United States, he has been blessed by even worse political opponents. I guess I should conclude this post by letting our readers know that Kennedy really is unscrupulous candidate and so it doesn’t surprise me that he is using bad urban racial politics to somehow try and enhance his political standing in the Governor’s race. Just recently he was part of a candidates’ forum that included the Republican running against our incumbent Republican Governor (she is a real conservative candidate who I will be voting for in the primary this Spring.) Here is what happened at that forum as told by the wonderful Illinois Family Institute:

Perhaps you heard about the petulant, self-righteous, and downright rude behavior of Illinois gubernatorial hopeful Chris Kennedy directed at fellow gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ivesat a governor’s forum on Monday. When Jeanne Ives made the commonsense claim that a solution to gun violence is “fathers in the home,” she was greeted by not only boos from the audience but this withering and ignorant response from Kennedy:

“Well, I wish I could agree with you. I didn’t have a father in my life. [applause] Somebody shot him…. when I hear such ignorance and stupidity aired out by someone who knows so little about so much, I don’t think there’s an appropriate place for them to be on a podium on a dais with other people who have given these issues thought and have the emotional capacity to be empathetic at the same time.”

After this, Kennedy stormed off the dais, to the baffling applause of an equally ignorant crowd.
So, because Ives thinks fatherlessness is connected to violence, she’s ignorant, stupid, knows little about anything and shouldn’t be on a dais with others? Wow. In just a few words, Kennedy revealed that he is not only self-righteous, petulant, and rude but also foolish and presumptuous.

You can ready more about this craziness here.

Chris Kennedy – wrong about the City of Chicago, wrong about gun violence, and willing to use race and his own father’s death to further his political career. Just when you think the Democrats in Illinois can’t stoop any lower, they manage to find a candidate that exceeds your expectations!

Comments (15)

"Mayor Emmanuel is no conservative"

Agreed, he's just a horrible person but he is also an artifact of the shift to the right in Anglo-sphere politics that began in the 1970s (sixties in Ca as we are always a bit ahead). Without getting into the weeds, I would just point out that politicos like Emmanuel and Daley are much reviled on the left and justly so. Emmanuel and Geithner were two of Obama's three worst decisions.

Well, I wish I could agree with you. I didn’t have a father in my life. [applause] Somebody shot him

Somebody correct me if I am wrong here...the "logic" (if one can play so fast and loose with the term as to use it here) is that having fathers in the home is NOT the solution, because someone might shoot them there?

Can we at least hope that the applause was NOT from an approval of his father being shot, but of...well, what? There isn't anything with any CONTENT for them to have applauded. That Chris Kennedy was not also shot? No. That he didn't have a father in his life? No, we are not that degenerate yet. If one examines it, all one can find is approval for Chris to have patently milked victimhood status in Chicago for a shooting 50 years ago in LA.

Well said Tony!

Kennedy is just shameless...and certain voters lap it up!!

That's the state of Chicago politics for you -- it is tough being a conservative in this town.

he is also an artifact of the shift to the right in Anglo-sphere politics that began in the 1970s (sixties in Ca as we are always a bit ahead)

I blame Jerry Garcia.

"I had a nightmare last night; I dreamed I owned a laundromat in Berkeley." -- Reagan, sometime in the 60s.

"I had a nightmare last night; I dreamed I owned a laundromat in Berkeley."

I believe it was one of his standard lines. Of course if he actually owned the property and kept it his heirs would be very happy today.

his heirs would be very happy today.

Yeah, man, I wish I had a laundromat in Berkeley. Preferably, though, one without tie-dyed machines, if it's all the same to you. I wonder though: if the area went through gentrification, would it be filled with gentrified people who used to be hippies, or gentry hippies (which is possibly even worse, except for more showers)?

Great analysis, Jeff. I'm always a sucker for facts. Real facts, that is, not made-up ones. Kennedy sounds like a loser in more senses than one. I'm still trying to figure out the *logic* or even *pretended logic* about that comment about his father's being shot. Here's a shot (pun intended): Chris Kennedy thinks Robert Kennedy wouldn't have been shot by Sirhan Sirhan if we had had proper gun control laws. Therefore, a conservative (who he surmises is opposed to the draconian gun laws he favors, which are already in place in Illinois anyway) has no moral authority to speak about the causes of gun violence.

Okay, very lame.

Let's try again: Chris Kennedy's father's death by "gun violence" was *not* caused by fatherlessness in the home. Therefore, it counts as a data point against Ives's generalization. Therefore, Ives is ignorant and has no right to speak and make such generalizations.

Hmmm. Slightly better. At least it has a whiff of an argument about it. But one data point? Also very lame. How much other data supports Ives's theory as a generalization, not as a claim to cover every case?

How am I doing?

Then again, one never knows. According to La Wik, it's not like Sirhan Sirhan had a loving father in the home for much of his life. So...maybe the data point goes the other way.

it's not like Sirhan Sirhan had a loving father in the home for much of his life.

That's just what I was going to ask.

Oh, wait, I thought of another one: Chris Kennedy has never shot anyone, despite growing up fatherless. Therefore, fatherlessness is not a cause of gun violence.


Plus it's mean to imply that fatherlessness is a cause of gun violence, because it insults fatherless people like Kennedy who don't shoot people and are sad because they are fatherless.

Tony: Owning Bay Area property purchased at pre-1960s prices would be a good thing. Depending on location and size, I would expect at least a 100% gross annual return. As for gentrification, well, a friend of mine bought a commercial property in Venice for $900k twenty years ago that would go for 9 or 10m today (the seller, whose name you would likely recognize, had a good business manager and probably paid somewhere in the mid to high fives when she bought it). Houses on canals that could be had for somewhere in the teens in the 1960s are in the low sevens today.

"When Jeanne Ives made the commonsense claim that a solution to gun violence is “fathers in the home,” she was greeted by not only boos from the audience..."

I watched the clip so I'll assume the boos were because it was totally lame response - (inside her thought bubble) - gun violence, hummm, got to get past the primary so I can't tick off the NRA and the Second Amendment crazies and I sure can't assert a role for the government so...oh yeah, let's do a dog whistle". Instead, let's fire on single mothers working two or three marginal jobs and barely making it.

She's running for governor not matchmaker. She needs to up her game.

Kennedy got pitched a no brainer and managed to screw it up. What a dummy. It's not fathers per se, it's a strong family with someone - father, uncle, teacher, coach, neighbor - who engages with the kid. Kennedy had that and so did Obama. Lots of studies on this. An abusive father is likely worse then none (Sirhan).

Any politician with half a brain could have riffed on how the failed drug war has drastically reduced the number of marriageable and employable men in urban communities, disparate enforcement standards depending on race, the proximity to Indiana, school to prison policies, lead abatement, jobs, etc. A governor can commute and pardon.

Regardless of who wins, I suppose its a step up if they don't wind up doing time.

(Sirhan is one of the most significant figures in our history. Kennedy likely would have won the nomination and the election - no Nixon, no Watergate, no Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Ted keeps it together. Oh, and no Trump.)


Ignoring your wild speculations about alternative history, your liberal policy bromides are as tired as Kennedy's. There are mountains of research suggesting more guns = less crime and that crime is indeed impacted by demographics and law enforcement. And what you call "disparate enforcement standards depending on race" I call common-sense policing that chases bad guys:


[I recommend reading anything by Heather MacDonald to get up to speed, but Scott digs into the primary scholarly literature for you just in case you think Heather is biased.]

Finally, you are wrong about families -- again, the social science literature is clear that having a mother and father at home raising their own children confers all sorts of benefits on kids. Yes, there are outliers, but there always are -- but the overwhelming evidence suggests two parents are better than one (even one heroic, struggling single mother working two jobs...hooray for heroic single mothers!)

Well said, Jeff. The scholarly literature establishes beyond much doubt (so far as social science can do so) that biological mother and father raising their own children is absolutely the gold standard, which nothing else can touch. It also establishes, intriguingly, that parenting "style" accounts for pretty much nothing: there is no discernible effect on outcomes based on it. So indulgent hippie biological parents who raise free range kids who first heard a Grateful Dead song in the womb, produce in general the same outcomes as religiously strict traditionalist biological parents whose kids have never even heard of the Dead. Kids in each of those situations have statistically significant superiority in outcomes, over against kids from broken homes of any kind. In both cases the sundering of the biological family unit is immeasurably more destructive than any comparison in style. In other words: it's the presence of the biological parents that really matters, not what they say or do. (The major caveat to what I've just said is abuse, of course.)

"Ignoring your wild speculations about alternative history..."

It was Whittaker Chambers, I believe, who once speculated how one would know we were headed into a dark age. Vietnam and the Civil Rights laws formed an inflection point. Nixon was a confirmation; Kennedy would have been something else. Speculation, of course; wild, not so much.


Way to miss the point. Ives pitched Kennedy a slow ball and he blew it. I was merely pointing out some possibilities. You are not his audience.

You again miss the point with TWOD, race, and enforcement as does Scott. (BTW, you once sent me to the Heartland folks - a Koch subsidiary. You need to read more widely.)

For example he writes: "Likewise, whites are more likely to use low-penalty drugs like hallucinogens, and blacks are more likely to use high-penalty drugs like crack cocaine." This begs the question (he begs a lot in his post).

Elected folks make law and policy. Governors are elected. Was it reasonable to legislate disparate penalties for different drugs based on amounts in the manner in which it was done? A candidate for governor could point this out or choke and throw out a bromide.

Stop and frisk policing affected minorities to no good effect. Recall the dire predictions that accompanied di Blasio's ending it in NY. None of them happened. All S & F did was increase the chances that someone would get caught up in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses.

That gets us to the lame "fathers in the home" comment.

Paul, your "gold standard" comment is obvious and problematic - adoption seems to work out well for parents and children. It's also besides the point.

Despite all the preaching and moralizing the reality is that a certain number of women will conceive outside of a committed relationship with a good man. If the cohort of desirable partners is decreased that number likely increases. Incarceration and a criminal record decreases that cohort. Laws and policies can have an effect here.

Now these women do have choices:

They can get an abortion or carry the pregnancy to term.

If they chose to carry the pregnancy to term they can relinquish their parental rights and walk away or they can chose to raise the child. Either of those choices creates the likelihood of significant public expenditures.

The liberal or social democratic position is that we can come up with policies that can create better outcomes for all families including single mothers. You all don't agree, fine.

The audience booed because they disagreed with Ives, fine too. Kennedy still blew it.

"There are mountains of research suggesting more guns = less crime..."

More like molehills. Drum over at Mother Jones had a post on another Lott atrocity and that reminded me of your comment. I wondered if there is anything new and lo and behold:

"Our paper highlights some important questions to consider when using panel data methods to resolve questions of law and policy effectiveness. Although we agree with the NRC’s cautious conclusion regarding the effects of RTC laws, we buttress this conclusion by showing how sensitive the estimated impact of RTC laws is to different data periods, the use of state versus county data, particular specifications, and the decision to control for state trends. Overall, the most consistent, albeit not uniform, finding to emerge from both the state and county panel data models conducted over the entire 1977-2006 period with and without state trends and using three different specifications is that aggravated assault rises when RTC laws are adopted. For every other crime category, there is little or no indication of any consistent RTC impact on crime. It will be worth exploring whether other methodological approaches and/or additional years of data will confirm the results of this panel-data analysis."


Also on race and crime, it seems that California, after cannabis legalization is going back years and expunging prior convictions for sale and possession. This will disproportionately benefit racial minorities for reasons Scott mentioned. Always happy to help.

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