What Would He Think Of His City?

Twenty years ago today, Harold Washington became Mayor of the Great City of Chicago. He forever changed the politics of Chicago by fighting and winning against the Machine. An imperfect, but gifted man, Washington set the stage for Chicago’s resurgence. He broke the iron grip of the machine and even with Daley’s operation, it will never be able to silence voices as it once did. To be sure, Daley’s operation sweeps too many problems under the rug and has too much power, but the sheer futility of fighting the Machine before Washington is no comparison.

Strangely, an unknown Republican gadfly running a racist campaign against Washington was Washington’s best commercial. Epton’s campaign theme was "Before it is too late." That campaign slogan sent the message home to black and latino voters that there was hope and Chicago was electric with anticipation.

John Kass recently asked what Washington would think of Chicago today?


Black politics is controlled, the clergy appeased, given vacant lots for a dollar and other development deals. Hispanics are hammered into line with City Hall’s Hispanic Democratic Organization. Whites seek admission for their children into special magnet schools in a two-tiered school system. Business owners are terrified of angering City Hall.

Yes, it is efficient. Yes, it is neat.

It is expensive. It is silent.

I wonder what Harold would say.

First, he’d smile and he’d tell the truth. Then he’d tell the Jacksons to kiss his ass.

Exactly 14 years after Washington’s inauguration Mike Royko passed away. Before Washington ever took office, Royko wrote the best summary of Washington’s tenure as Mayor:

Give Washington a break

Chicago Sun-Times, Feb. 24,1983

So I told Uncle Chester: Don’t worry, Harold Washington doesn’t want to marry your sister.

That might seem like a strange thing to have to tell somebody about the man who will be the next mayor of Chicago. I never had to tell Uncle Chester that Mayor Daley or Mayor Bilandic wouldn’t marry his sister.

On the other hand, no other mayor, in the long and wild-eyed history of Chicago, has had one attribute of Washington.

He’s black. It appears to be a waste of space to bother pointing that out, since every Chicagoan knows it.

But you can’t write about Harold Washington’s victory without taking note of his skin color.

Yes, he is black. And that fact is going to create a deep psychological depression in many of the white, ethnic, neighborhood people who read this paper in the morning.

Eeek! The next mayor of Chicago is going to be a black man!

Let’s all quiver and quake.

Oh, come on. Let’s all act like sensible, adult human beings.

Let us take note of a few facts about Harold Washington.

First, Washington was born in an era when they still lynched people in some parts of the United States. By “lynched,” I mean they took a black man out of his home, put a rope around his neck and murdered him by hanging. Then they went home to bed knowing they were untouchable because the sheriff helped pull the rope.

Washington suffered through it. God knows how he did that. I think that most of us–white, privileged, the success road wide open to us–might have turned into haters.

Washington didn’t turn into a hater. Instead, he developed a capacity for living with his tormenters and understanding that in the flow of history there are deep valleys and heady peaks.

He fought in World War II. Yes, blacks did that, although you don’t see them in many John Wayne movies. He went to college and got a degree. Then he went to Northwestern University’s law school, at a time when blacks were as common as alligators there.

Had Washington been white, he would have tied in with a good law firm, sat behind his desk, made a good buck and today would be playing golf at a private country club.

But for a black man, even one as bright as Washington, an NU law degree meant that he was just about smart enough to handle divorce cases for impoverished blacks.

Being no dummy, he gravitated toward politics. And the Democratic Party. It may have been pseudo-liberal, but the Democratic Party did offer a black lawyer a chance, meager and piddling as it might be.

And he went somewhere. Come on, admit that, at least, even while you brood about a black man becoming your next mayor.

He became a state legislator. Then a United States congressman.

I’m still enough of an idealist to think that most people who become members of Congress are at least a cut or two above the rest of us.

And even his critics say that as a state legislator and as a U.S. congressman, he was pretty good.

So I ask you: If Jane Byrne is qualified to be mayor of Chicago after holding no higher office than city consumer affairs commissioner, what is the rap on Harold Washington?

And I also ask you: If Richard M. Daley is qualified to be mayor after being a state legislator and state’s attorney of Cook County, what is so unthinkable about a man holding the mayor’s office after being a state legislator and a U.S. congressman?

The fact is, Washington’s credentials for this office exceed those of Byrne, Bilandic, Richard J. Daley, Martin Kennelly, Ed Kelly, Anton Cermak and most of those who have held the office of mayor of Chicago.

Byrne was a minor bureaucrat. Bilandic’s highest office was alderman. Richard J. Daley was the county clerk. Kennelly was a moving company executive. Kelly was a Sanitary District payroller. Cermak was a barely literate but street-smart, hustler.

All became mayor. And nobody was horrified.

But this morning, the majority of Chicagoans–since this city’s majority is white–are gape-jawed at the prospect of Representative Washington becoming mayor.

Relax, please. At least for the moment. There is time to become tense and angry when he fouls up as mayor–as anybody in that miserable job inevitably will do.

Until he fouls up, though, give him a chance. The man is a United States citizen, with roots deeper than most of us have in this country. He is a 60-year-old Chicagoan who has been in politics and government most of his life.

He is a smart, witty, politically savvy old pro. He is far more understanding of the fears and fantasies of Chicago whites than we are of the frustrations of Chicago blacks.

The city isn’t going to slide into the river. The sun will come up today and tomorrow, and your real estate values won’t collapse. History shows that real estate values in a town like Chicago go up and up, over the long haul, no matter who is mayor.

He’ll fire a police superintendent, hire a new one, and the earth won’t shake under us.

He might hire some jerks. I haven’t seen a mayor who hasn’t. They don’t learn. Two days before Lady Jane was first elected, I wrote: “How she does will depend on the kind of people she surrounds herself with.”

She surrounded herself with Charlie Swibel and other bums and got what she deserved.

If Washington is smart, which I think he is, he’ll surround himself with the very best talents and minds available. And they’re available. If not, we’ll survive and we’ll throw him out.

Meanwhile, don’t get hysterical. As I wrote four years ago, if we survived Bilandic, we can survive Jane Byrne.

And if we survived Jane, we easily can survive Harold Washington.

Who knows, we might even wind up liking him.

Santorum Hasn’t Denied the Quote Has He?

An interesting tidbit from Agape Press:

Meanwhile, Fox News reports that some Republican sources are raising concerns about the Associated Press reporter who first quoted Santorum and continues to report on the conflict. Her name is Lara Jakes Jordan. Her husband is Jim Jordan, a former official with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee who now heads Democratic Senator John Kerry’s campaign for president.

I haven’t heard any denials of the quotes–did I miss something or is Fox News trying to smear the reporter? It is especially interesting given the reporters comments during the interview:

AP: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about "man on dog" with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.

To me, the reporter stopped him before he went too far. Often, reporters talk about the urge to get a public official to shut up when they venture into stupid land. My sense is the reporter did exactly that above and redirected Santorum away from a huge gaffe so attacking her would be strange to say the least.

Lotta Correcting

I’m thinking we should nickname Tim Lambert ‘Tenacious T’ for his work exposing the multitude of issues surrounding John Lott and gun stats. (a modification of Ted Barlow’s joke)

Tim Lambert notes in comments below a couple issues:


First, the mission statement has not changed. Kopel and Reynolds just misrepresented it in their original article.

Groan…I try and give Reynolds the benefit of the doubt, but apparently even simple issues are too tough to get right.


Second, the committee is supposed to evaluate the existing research, so it is better if Kleck is not on the committee so that the committee can objectively examine Kleck’s work. (It is hard to be objective about your own work.) They have actually had Kleck talk to them twice.

This is a good point and really it fits well with the idea of what I wrote earlier. Given they are speaking to Kleck (twice), I think that may be the best strategy. Kleck, like most social scientists, tends to view his work in the best light.

Third, I agree that Civiletti should not be on the panel. He actually resigned from the panel without ever it would seem attending a meeting.

ROTFL–well there goes the boogeyman.

One should be skeptical of boards and the such, but the cynical view that Reynolds and Kopel are promoting fundamentally misunderstands how research should be done. I’m not naive enough to believe that the ideal always happens, but ideological balance is a silly mantra in this case. It may well be that the Board does a poor job, but there are many explanations why that might or might not happen–only one of which is ideology.

Check out today’s update over at Tim’s. He comments on Reynolds’ update concerning a gentleman who claims Lott would never be invited. Reynolds should be feeling foolish today given that Lott presented to the panel on January 16th of 2002.

The hint that this guy was a prankster or kook should have come from this comment:

(I should state that the study director was a typical liberal type – goatee, whiny voice, upset at the stolen election – much like most of the people I encountered there (except the goatee…)

And of course, everyone is still waiting for evidence that Steven Levitt is anti-gun–or that everyone besides James Q. Wilson is ‘entirely anti-gun’.

Lotta Weighting

And that isn’t a good thing. Instead of trying to explain what has already been done relatively well, check out Tim Lambert’s posts on the problems with Lott’s weighting.

The essence is regardless of how Lott did this, Lott screwed it up. At some point Lott is just chasing his own tail.

Where is the Movement on the Burge Case?

The Special Prosecutor in the John Burge case has not made any visible progress and some are starting to ask questions about it. Burge is a former Chicago Police Commander who allegedly tortured a number of suspects:


Burge’s investigative methods were said to be brutal and sadistic. During the late 1970s and the 1980s dozens of African-Americans detained at Area 2 reported that they were suffocated with plastic bags, forced to engage in "games" of Russian roulette, had electric shocks applied to their ears or their testicles and were held against heated radiators and burned.

While the Burge case is a tough one due to physical evidence being largely non-existent and the passage to time the authors bring up important points:


But what has the special prosecutor accomplished in the year since his appointment? And, in particular, why has that prosecutor (from all appearances) failed to use his grand jury subpoena power to force police witnesses–including Burge and his underlings–to tell what they know about whether Area 2 police officers tortured citizens in their custody and whether they have lied and covered up the torture?

If the special prosecutor would aggressively use his grand jury subpoena power, he might succeed in unraveling the questions surrounding Burge. We have no doubt that there are many good police officers who deplore those crimes. With assurance that an aggressive, no-nonsense investigation is underway, some of them may be willing to breach the police "code of silence" and reveal new information about Burge, his alleged practices and how secrets were kept. This investigation will be a failure if Egan does no more than methodically collect documents and ask victims to repeat their accounts of being tortured. The point here is to prosecute the torturers. If that does not happen, Egan will have muffed an important, historic opportunity to do justice.

Organized Crime won’t miss Peter Fitzgerald

As Carol Marin points out, Patrick Fitzgerald, Peter’s handpicked US Attorney, has targeted a series of mob related deaths.


One of the little-known facts about Sen. Fitzgerald is that he is a walking, talking encyclopedia on the Chicago Outfit. He has not only read, but can quote from Ovid Demaris’ 1969 book "Captive City" even though it has been out of print for years, "Captive City" is a bible of sorts for FBI agents and federal prosecutors who work the mob squads. It is a chronicle of how organized crime insinuated itself into every Chicago institution from government to the courts to the labor unions since Al Capone.

The blind eye that has too often existed in Chicago hurts union members the worst and this is no exception:


Joey Lombardo Jr. also has the feds’ attention. As an official of the Laborers Union, he is charged in a civil federal racketeering case with allowing organized crime’s influence into his union, a charge he denies. The union, as the result of a consent decree, is working with federal monitors to throw Lombardo Jr. out. As a civil matter, it has no formal connection to the criminal investigation of his father and yet, in a unique agreement, federal grand jury material can be shared between the U.S. attorney’s office and union monitors.

Fitzgerald had all sorts of annoying traits, but one annoying trait should be celebrated: Absolute unswerving stubborness on corruption.

Evolution Week Here

And Joe Conason adds to the fray by mentioning the other fruity ideas that Santorum espouses such as creationism

If the Education Board of Ohio does not include intelligent design in the new teaching standards, many students will be denied a first-rate science education. Many will be left behind.

Nice left behind reference, huh?

ID isn’t science, it is creationism wrapped in a new stinky package. Ken Miller also points out, Santorum and others lied about what was in the bill during the debates over ID in Ohio.

Lying for Jesus is quite typical for creationists and quite offensive to those of us who take our faith seriously. In that debate Ken Miller has been one of the good guys. Outside of Talk Origins he has one of the best evolution resource pages

Lotta Whining

Reynolds continues to insist people don’t understand his point that the panel is stacked with anti-gun advocates.

He and Kopel had three good points in their article. The first is that the original mission statement concerned only the detrimental effects of gun availability. As Reynolds points out, this was changed.

Second, no one on the panel has done significant research into the benefits of gun ownership is included. Gary Kleck seems like a natural for this panel. Kleck isn’t perfect, but he is one of the few researchers with such a background and generally is serious about research design and quantitative analysis. While his work isn’t perfect, no one’s is. For critiques of his work, see Tim Lambert’s archive of Gun Control Postings.

Third, Benjamin Civiletti appears to have no expertise in the social science aspect of understanding crime. He should not be on the panel.

The rest of their complaints rather telling of how they view social science as a enterprise of confirming one’s biases instead of actual research. First, despite the amount of information out there debunking Lott’s statistical findings, they say:

Nor is there any agenda for "strategies" to improve public safety by fostering gun ownership and carrying by law-abiding people ? even though social-science data from John Lott and others overwhelmingly show that this strategy really does reduce crime.

As frequent readers here have been subjected to my rants on this subject, Lott’s work does nothing of the sort. Reynolds has in the past always allowed himself an out that he can’t speak for the statistics. Here is news for Reynolds–he does in the paragraph above. If he doesn’t have the expertise than he either needs to get that expertise or stop schilling for Lott.

Kopel and Reynolds are poor journalists as well. Describing Levitt as ‘rabidly anti-gun’ was silly from an anonymous quote. It added little to the story and a better way in which to demonstrate bias would be to demonstrate where he has expressed anti-gun ideas. Kopel tries to in the Corner by providing the text of a letter to Levitt written soon after the original article.


I’m not arguing (at least not in this post), that Levitt’s statements are incorrect, and they are certainly not "rabid." But if a person selecting panelists for the NAS study were looking for panelists who might be expected to see benefits from reducing "easy availability of guns," it would have been reasonable to pick Levitt. There is nothing logically inconsistent with a scholar favoring gun control to address the very large problem of criminal homicide with guns, while also recognizing that the magnitude of the problem of fatal gun accidents involving children is not nearly as large as the media imply.

What Kopel misses is that a conclusion based on evidence isn’t necessarily anti-gun even if it points out the negative impacts a gun may have. If the researcher is good and a bit lucky, they have established a relationship that theoretically represents the relationship in the real world. While I’m not naive enough to believe all social science research is done that way all of the time, one can hope–and Steve Levitt’s reputation, as Brad DeLong points out, is quite strong. Believe it or not, some researchers actually test hypotheses to determine if they fit the evidence.

But the continue the inuendo against the other members as well:

Most of them have reputations as being antigun.

What does that mean? If one wants to argue their work is inaccurate, that would be one thing. But if the work is strong and their conclusions demonstrate negative impacts of guns, that is not ‘anti-gun’–it is pro-empirical evidence. Asking people around here, both Rick Rosenfeld and Linda Cottler have excellent reputations as good scientists.

Perhaps it is their background as law professors that is the problem. While law journals serve their purpose, I’m a bit mystified by this almost post modern view of social science Kopel and Reynolds seem to be promoting. A fair panel is one that examines the issue from a social scientific view–not just a balance of pro and con. I understand the funding throws up flags, but attacking the professional credibility of social scientists without any evidence other than anonymous sources and simple assertion:

The closest that anyone on the panel gets to not being entirely antigun is James Q. Wilson

Kopel and Reynolds don’t seem to grasp that there claim of bias in the context they are using it is a claim of professional incompetence and an attack on every members’, except Wilson’s, character. The level of cynicism reaches the silly level here. They assume everyone is a hack and so the point of a panel like this is that hacks from both sides should be included. Fortunately, everyone is not a hack and this isn’t a post-modern universe. Hacks should be excluded from such a panel–including Civiletti and Lott. When Reynolds complains that DeLong does not understand Reynolds’ argument, it is Reynolds who is confused. Reynolds thinks this panel is similar to the Kass Panel on Bioethics. A panel studying ethics is far different than a panel studying methodology. It isn’t the point to ideologically or philosophically balance the panel, but to methodologically balance the panel.

The essential problem that Kopel and Reynolds identify is that most serious researchers haven’t found a lot of evidence that easy gun access has a positive influence on society. Some of this is due to asking the wrong questions. Kleck is one of the few researchers to serious tackle the question of defensive gun use. Most of the interesting questions around gun availability and use revolve around the impact on crime–and thus the picture is of negative impacts. The bias isn’t political as it is question based. The interesting questions promote study of issues that promote negative findings because they study negative phenomenon such a crime. The best people to think about that problem are those who understand the complex research design issues of crime and pathology–exactly the kind of people on the panel. Looking at the panel membership, I’m certain they understand the problem far better than people like Lott who seem to be primarily interested in schilling their findings to make a buck.

And this brings the question back to who else they would like to see on the panel. Given Lott’s incompetence, only Gary Kleck seems like a natural. Who else works in the area, is competent and has found positive impacts?

I’m willing to give Reynolds a free pass on the anonymous quote (though not on using it in the first place)—it would appear he got used. If that is the case, John Lott should start to consider how burning such bridges with his most ardent supporters will affect his future support. Then again, it may not matter to Lott, if I’m correct. I believe his work is motivated to provide him a cushy lifestyle supported by those who want his findings to be correct. He wouldn’t be the first person in academia or related enterprises to do so, but he sure seems to have an especially strong knack for it.

Andrew Sullivan’s Beer Goggles

Cleared this morning as he realized a significant portion of Republican Party thinks sex lives need to be regulated.

To be fair, Sullivan’s writings on this are exceptionally clear, coherent and correct. However, given the Christian Coalition has been trying to bring the Republican Party to the right for the last 25 years and has been moderately successful, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. While no party is free of homophobes, the Republican Party is the primary destination these days. Many Republicans aren’t homophobes–including Jim Edgar as someone who I’ve been talking a lot about. However, being surprised that Santorum or a number of other Republicans believe in regulation of people’s sex lives is terribly naive.