The Real Obama Legacy, Part 4: Chicago as a case study of liberal failure in American cities

Link to Part 1: Foreign Policy
Link to Part 2: The Economy
Link to Part 3: Race Relations

We have chosen Obama’s adopted hometown of Chicago and the actions taken by his friend and former Chief of Staff Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel as a case study to illustrate how liberal ideologically driven interventions actually exacerbate a problem without solving it. The unsolved problem is the skyrocketing number of murders in Chicago, the highest in almost 20 years. In 2016 Chicago had more murders than Los Angeles and New York combined.

A staggering total of 762 people were murdered in Chicago in 2016, more than 2 murders every day on average. This represents a 57% increase over the 468 murders reported in 2015, which was a 12.5% increase from 2014.

During Obama’s eight years in office 3,930 people have been killed in homicides across Chicago. The vast majority were young Black males killed by other young Black males. To put this in perspective, this is nearly as high as the 4,229 service members killed during the Iraq War under President George W. Bush.

Residents are fleeing the city and Illinois at a record pace. Illinois lost 37,508 residents in 2016, bringing the state population to the lowest level since 2009. Homicides in Chicago in 2016 skyrocketed passed previous figures, rising from 496 in 2015 to 762 in 2016.

The numbers out of Chicago clearly show a reversal in the decades-long downward trend in murder rates in American cities. And it is certainly not unique to Chicago. In the most populous American cities, murder rates generally increased in 2015 over 2014 ( e.g. Baltimore, 63% increase, Washington, D.C., 54%, Milwaukee, 65%, etc.)

Non-fatal shootings are perhaps an even better barometer of the level of violence in a community, at least partly because better medical procedures saving lives. On that front, Chicago’s numbers are also record-setting. The city recorded 3,550 shooting incidents and 4,331 shooting victims in 2016, compared with 2,900 shootings in 2015. Again, 2015 was 13% more than 2014. So the data we seek to explain is the accelerating rise in both murders and non-fatal shootings over this two-year span.

Chicago keeps detailed annual statistics on major crimes. Until 2011, it published the race of offenders, but shortly after Obama’s election, Mayor Emanuel, ordered the police department to stop releasing that information to the public. The most recent racial data, the 2011 report (p. 53) shows that, like most US cities, there are stark racial differences. Murder offenders were 70.5% Black, 24.3% Hispanic, and 3.5% White.

The first action Mayor Emanuel took upon taking office took is quite illuminating. He chose to eliminate any potential discussion of Black violent crime in the city by simply erasing that information from the public record. In traditional Orwellian doublespeak, this is referred to by the extreme left as “transparency”, or sometimes as “openness”.  While the MSM does not like such facts to be generally known, Black murder rates are consistently 7 to 10 times higher than White murder rates in US cities, including Chicago, and the overwhelming majority of Black homicide victims (93 percent from 1980 to 2008) are killed by blacks.

The Ferguson Effect

To solve the problem of the alleged racism among the city’s police force, Mayor Emanuel appointed a black police officer, Eddie Johnson, as his new superintendent after quickly rejecting all three recommendations sent to him by the Chicago Police Board. Emanuel indicated that he favored Johnson — who never applied — to fill the post permanently. At the press conference announcing the Mayor’s pick, Johnson stood among the command staff, including two senior colleagues who were passed over for the job.

Johnson was then charged with leading a department that was understandably very low on morale. He replaced John Escalante, who took over the department in December of 2015 after Emanuel fired Superintendent Garry McCarthy. McCarthy was ousted in the aftermath of the court-ordered release of dashcam video that showed a White police officer fatally shooting a Black teen 16 times on a city street. The video of Laquan McDonald’s death spurred weeks of protests in the city. Conveniently for Major Emmanuel, the release of the video was delayed for months until after his hotly contested re-election.

Another policy change approved by the Major that went into effect Jan 1, 1916 just before the spike in Chicago’s violent crime, was an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union to record contact cards for all street stops after the organization criticized the city’s police for disproportionately targeting minorities for questioning and searches. Police complained that the new 2-page forms for every stop were too time-consuming to fill out. Not surprisingly over the same time period the police department reported a decrease in investigative stops by cops on the streets.

Now one year later, after a spectacular rise in violent crime since his appointment, the overwhelmed Johnson said in a news conference that anger at police over the shootings of African-American men has “emboldened” criminals to commit violent crimes.

As Heather MacDonald explains in her book The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe, the “Ferguson effect”—defined as “officers backing off of proactive policing in inner city neighborhoods and, as a result, criminals becoming emboldened”—is very real and costs some civilians and law enforcement officers their lives.

Since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014, the narrative that American policing is lethally racist has dominated political discourse on the left from the White House on down. In fact, this sentiment appears to be what fueled the slaying of five officers by a Black gunman in Dallas. In response to this feeling, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing — and criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum.

In Chicago, stops by police of suspicious persons declined in the wake of the onerous new policy of 2-page write-ups, from 49,257 in August 2015 to only 8,859 in August 2016. Over this time, the arrest rate dropped by one third.

“So what’s happening, and this is ironic, is that a movement with the goal of saving black lives at this point is getting black lives taken, because 80 percent of our murder victims here in Chicago are male blacks,” former Chicago Police superintendent Garry McCarthy said Jan. 1, referring to the Black Lives Matter movement. “Less than half of one percent of all the shootings in this city involve police officers shooting civilians.”

Current superintendent Johnson adds “In many instances, the individuals who chose to pull the trigger and wreak havoc in some of our communities were repeat offenders emboldened by the national climate toward law enforcement and willing to test the limits of our criminal justice system,” Johnson said.  In fact, 80 percent of the murder victims had past arrests or gang associations.

“These emboldened criminals were responsible for destroying families and communities,” said Johnson. Johnson said the police would be unrolling a series of initiatives centered around addressing “flaws in sentencing guidelines for repeat gun offenders,” targeted “data-driven enforcement,” and renewed community partnership programs. He said attacks on police are also up, ABC News reported.

Offenders quickly back on the streets

Obama has led the way in reducing sentences for drug offenders. With his strong support, the Justice Department has directed prosecutors to rein in the use of mandatory minimums and expanded the criteria for inmates applying for clemency.

In his last few months in office Obama has obliterated all previous records for commuting prison sentences of drug offenders. At last count 1,023 inmates have been granted clemency by Obama, more than the previous 11 presidents combined. More than 90% of these were granted in his final year in office with the pace escalating as he leaves. His DOJ officials are moving quickly to rule on thousands more clemency applications before the end of his term.  So another aspect of Obama’s legacy will be a predictable spike in drug related crime in Trump’s first year.

“Throughout the remainder of his time in office, the president is committed to continuing to issue more grants of clemency as well as to strengthening rehabilitation programs,” said Neil Eggleston, the White House counsel, in a blog post.

A Chicago Hate Crime Involving Domestic Terrorism

News broke nationally Jan 4, 2016 after a Facebook Live video showed a mentally challenged White victim beaten, slashed, held at knifepoint, and more in a Chicago apartment while four Black assailants are heard saying “fuck white people” and “fuck Trump.” Hate crime and aggravated battery charges were filed against the four Blacks shown in the video who tortured and assaulted their victim man for as long as 48 hours while streaming part of the racially charged attack on Facebook Live.

Investigators claimed the group kidnapped the man, keeping him tied up for hours with his mouth taped shut in an apartment on the city’s west side. The video showed him cowering in a corner, held at knifepoint and told to curse the president-elect. The video also showed the man being kicked and hit repeatedly, while his scalp was cut. The group forced him to drink water from a toilet.

Media Response

“The fact that this was a vulnerable person that was probably duped into going along with them. It appears it is someone who is mentally disabled, I think makes it even more sickening,” Matt Lewis said on CNN. “But at the end of the day, you just try to wrap your head around evil. That’s what this is, it’s evil. It’s brutality. It’s man’s inhumanity to man.”

“I don’t think it’s evil,” CNN’s Don Lemon replied. “I don’t think it’s evil. I think these are young people and I think they have bad home training” — implying that bad home training would exonerate them of any moral blame. During the same discussion, Democrat strategist and former press secretary for Bernie Sanders said the attack was “not a hate crime” if the suspects were motivated by “hate of Donald Trump” while celebrities call for a ‘Month of Resistance’ to fight ‘fascist’ Trump.

The New York Times account was almost invisible. Highlighted instead was the regularly featured “This Week in Hate”, depicting hate crimes and harassment around the country since the election of Donald Trump, often supplied by that notoriously fair and apolitical Southern Poverty Law Center. When the incident made into the “This Week in Hate” compilation, it read, “Four people have been charged with a hate crime, among other charges, in the beating in Chicago of a teenager with mental disabilities, which was broadcast on Facebook Live on January 3. The video shows one of the suspects shouting about Donald Trump and ‘white people.'” As Steve Sailor noted, “Obviously, a bunch of white nationalist Trump supporters beat a “teenager” with mental disabilities, right?”

Other news outlets that investigate the reports further have consistently found that a shocking number of these alleged hate crimes are actually “fake news” with so-called victims intentionally fabricating the stories in order to delegitimize the president-elect, summarized by Daniel Greenfield at Frontpage. By some weird coincidence all of the post-election attacks on Muslim women are by white men wearing Trump hats and shirts.

“The stories follow a similar pattern. A burst of media coverage, a campus rally by activists from the local Muslim Students Association, followed by a fearful condemnation from the university president. But then the stories die down and fade away. There is no big climax. Just dead air.

The women at the center of these stories are college freshmen and sophomores getting their first taste of campus life. They are away from their families, perhaps for the first time in their lives, in a different environment and tempted to relax their religiosity. And then the hijab-haters strike allowing them to show off their religiosity, to impress their families, and their victimhood, to wow their progressive peers. They often tell their stories on social media and urge their friends to pass their tales along.”

“Trump America is real and I witnessed it first hand last night!” Yasmin Seweid, the woman at the center of the latest hijab hoax, posted on Facebook. “I want to show people this is real,” the University of Mexico Muslim claimed.  There are loud assertions of Muslim patriotism and condemnations of White-American hate.


Problems like the Chicago violence, and the enduring problems that have plagued nearly all American urban centers for decades could be resolved if we had a government for the people held accountable to the people by a free press.  But these problems continue to fester because we have neither. Instead we have witnessed a progressive climate change on race relations and the police fanned into flames by Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder. As noted by a commenter on Fox News:

I think that when the President of the United States and former Attorney General repeatedly accused police officers (who were merely doing their jobs) of racial prejudice and when he failed to strongly condemn riots in Baltimore and elsewhere he set the stage for acts of perceived retribution by violent minority individuals.

No President of the United States in recent history has ever shown more of an inclination to look the other way when cities burn, police officers are killed or, for that matter, when terrorists commit crimes against our nation (and are then set free by him from Guantanamo Bay).  Because no President in recent history seems to have been gripped by such deep conviction that America—and, particularly, white America has so much about which to be ashamed and so much payback coming.”

In the wake of the racially charged Chicago torture Facebook post, when asked by Chicago’s ABC7 correspondent Judy Hsu if race relations have gotten better or worse during his tenure, Obama said

“You know I think that in some ways, like everything else (italics ours) it’s gotten better and in some ways we have surfaced tensions that were already there but are getting more attention… I promise you, for the most part, race relations have gotten better.”

So the official line is for Obama (and the mainstream media) is that his presidency was an unmitigated success. America became stronger on the world stage, ISIS was contained, the economy was “indisputably” better and “for the most part, race relations have gotten better”.

Across the board it’s been a great eight years.

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