walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Feed
Features
Reviews
Podcast
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles this month. A quality publication is not cheap to produce.
Subscribe today and support The American Interest—only $2.99/month!
Already a subscriber? Log in to make this banner go away.
Published on: May 5, 2012
Rogue Democrats Loot Detroit As Nation Sleeps

Few readers will be surprised to learn that decades of incompetence and entrenched corruption in Detroit’s government have not only helped wreck the city; firms linked to former Democratic mayor Kwame Kilpatrick also looted the pension fund. The latest scandal, which leaves even hardened observers of the abysmal Democratic machine that has run the city […]

Few readers will be surprised to learn that decades of incompetence and entrenched corruption in Detroit’s government have not only helped wreck the city; firms linked to former Democratic mayor Kwame Kilpatrick also looted the pension fund.

The latest scandal, which leaves even hardened observers of the abysmal Democratic machine that has run the city into the ground bemused, involves a real estate firm which gave the felonious mayor massages, golf outings, trips in chartered jets and other perks as this enemy of the people went about his hypocritical business of pretending to care about the poor while robbing them blind. The firm, apparently run by a sleazy low class crook named by the reprehensible Kilpatrick to be the Treasurer of what was left of Detroit’s finances, used Detroit pension funds to buy a couple of California strip malls. Title to the properties was never transferred to the pension funds, and they seem to be out $3.1 million.

Kilpatrick’s partner in slime is his ex-college frat brother Jeffrey Beasley, who is accused of taking bribes and kickbacks as he made bad investments that cost pension funds $84 million.  Overall, a Detroit Free Press investigation estimates that corrupt and incompetent trustees appointed by Democratic officials over many years in Detroit are responsible for almost half a billion dollars in investments gone wrong.

I honestly don’t know why there is so little national outrage about this despicable crew and the terrible damage they have done. The ultimate victims of the crime are Detroit’s poor and the middle class and lower middle class, mostly African-American municipal workers who may face serious financial losses in old age.

The 41 year old Kwame Kilpatrick may well be the worst and most destructive American of his generation; his two terms as Mayor of Detroit are among the most sordid and stomach churning episodes in the storied history of American municipal corruption. Now under federal indictment for, essentially, running Detroit City Hall as a criminal enterprise, Kilpatrick reportedly turned down a plea bargain that included a 15 year prison term. Insiders say that since the maximum time for the charges he faces was 18 years, the offer from the prosecutors indicates strong confidence in their case. Indicted with him was his father; it’s nice to think that father and son will have some quality time in the can.

We must all hope for mercy in this world and the next and VM doesn’t exactly wish the worst on these people, but if between the civil penalties, fines and lawsuits from those they have wronged Kilpatrick and company are picked so clean that they have to depend on their prison earnings for snack money in jail, helping them out won’t be at the top of our charitable giving list. And one thing Michigan legislators should check is whether the state has a nice harsh pension forfeiture law.

These judgments are always subjective, but it seems to me that there is not nearly enough national publicity about and outrage over the crimes of Kwame Kilpatrick. If a white or Asian Republican pol had looted fire and police pension funds, blighted the lives of a generation of minority kids and helped do more damage to a great American city than Hurricane Katrina, I don’t think this would be primarily a local news story. I would expect that the scandal would grip the nation, and there would be wall to wall national media coverage.

As there should be.

As it is, an eerie silence envelopes the subject. Outside the Michigan area, only the most dedicated news hounds and political junkies follow this story.

Three factors seem to be at work. One is quite simply financial; falling newsroom budgets in the MSM mean that it is harder for national papers and legacy networks to cover the country.

The second factor is more disturbing: there is a pervasive national sense of ennui and despair about urban areas in which African Americans are the majority. ‘We’ expect decline, decay and corruption in these places, so the Kilpatrick story strikes many editors and journalists as just another ‘dog bites man’ story: not news. Cory Booker is news; Kwame Kilpatrick isn’t.

That ennui and despair intensify when the subject is Detroit. Frankly, while the genteel world hates the thought of being racist, in reality there is a widespread belief in even the most liberal and well educated portions of the white upper middle class that nothing much better can happen in Detroit. I don’t believe that, and this is one of the reasons the city’s decline makes me angry as well as sad. Lax law enforcement and oversight from federal and state authorities allowed a climate of unrestrained corruption to grow up in Detroit over many years.

Putting a lot more people in jail much earlier in their careers, and instilling a healthy fear of the law in Detroit’s political class would have slowed the decline at least, and might well have created openings for better politicians to emerge. The failure of Detroit’s political class must also be seen as a dramatic failure of national and state law enforcement. The horses had been out of this stable for a long time before the authorities showed up with padlocks in hand. One hopes that the Department of Justice will move aggressively to target big city machines for investigation before more Detroits pop up. Similarly, state governors might want to suggest to their attorneys general that corruption bears watching. Michigan taxpayers are going to be stuck with huge bills as the state struggles to cope with the consequences of misrule in Detroit; smart governors might not want to wait until their cities collapse.

Finally, there is a disconnect between important local news and our national news culture today. The New York Times does a lousy job covering New York city and New York State; in the rarefied world of Times readers, local news is dull. Many of our national news editors and writers see themselves as cosmopolitan citizens of the world, interested in much more exciting and important things than the grubby realities of local and municipal life.

In this, the journalists faithfully reflect the thinking of many members of the genteel upper middle class; it is a kind of weird Platonic vision of reality in which the ‘lower’, grubby levels of politics and national life count for less than the ‘higher’, ‘nobler’ levels. Call it the gentrification of news; before Ivy Leaguers filled the newsrooms, American papers focused on the nuts and bolts of life. Now, they are much too highfalutin and hoity-toity for crime and city hall reporters to be the cocks of the walk.

Thus, even as interest in and reporting on the economic and social meltdown of so many once prosperous American cities and states ebbs, the ‘aristocracy’ of the press corps intensifies its endless and endlessly overdone coverage of the national election cycle. Very little that is said or done in either the Romney or Obama campaigns right now has much to do with what voters will be thinking about and voting on six months from now. But that doesn’t stop the legacy press from obsessing about it while ignoring far more consequential developments taking place on every side.

Detroit doesn’t matter all that much to the New York Times and many of its readers for the same reasons that Albany, Queens, Buffalo and Schenectady don’t matter. The new American elite wants to live and think as if it has transcended all that dreary provincial mess and lives on high in a world of Big Ideas and Global Issues. Mrs. Jellyby is much more interested in visionary programs to uplift the inhabitants of Borrio-Boola-Gha than on making sure her own children are well dressed and well cared for.

(At the American Interest we are trying to change this pattern. Go here to read a review of some recent books on Detroit by John G. Rodwan that appears in our May/June print issue.)

There is something profoundly wrong with an American political culture that accepts chronic misgovernment in major cities as OK. It is not OK; the people who do these things may call themselves liberal Democrats and wear the mantle of defenders of the poor, but over and over their actions place them among the most cold blooded enemies and oppressors of the weak.

American cities have been festering pits of graft and bad governance since at least the early 19th century, but there is a difference between the “honest graft” of Tammany Hall and the nihilistic destruction practiced by some of today’s urban machines. Today’s situation, in which some city machines are so dysfunctional that the parasite is literally killing the host (and not just in Detroit), is new and, again, the most vulnerable in our society suffer the worst consequences. Minority children are the greatest ultimate victims of this loathsome corruption: they attend horrible schools and grow up in decaying, unsafe urban landscapes where there is no growth, no jobs and no opportunity for the young.

How is it anything but racist not to care about that — and not to burn with the desire to put the scabrous thugs who misgovern our cities and waste our social funds in prison where they belong?

 

show comments
  • Jetzer Tigue

    For Detroit to recover the city has to swallow a very bitter medicine and have the patience to endure it. That’s how economic recovery goes. If they can’t they will continue to wallow in misery and will have only themselves to blame.

  • PBC

    The current occupant of the White House, Mr. Hope & Change himself, called Kilpatrick a “great mayor” during the 2008 campaign. This was AFTER the mayor’s scandals were well known and even the Urban League boycotted him. Do you want to know why Detroit, and cities like Detroit are dying? Corrupt machine politics that extends well beyond the boundaries of Detroit to the media and all the way to the White House. Obama is a machine candidate. Nothing more. He needed Kilpatrick to get out the vote.

  • eon

    Your observations of the phenomenon are spot on. However, the motivations of the behaviors aren’t nearly as benign as you assume.

    The MSM’s lack of interest in Kilpatrick’s thuggery is less due to his race than due to the (D) next to his name. The MSM has adopted a code of silence re Democratic criminality that makes the Omerta-sworn made men of the Profaci Family look like babbling local gossips.

    The only way they will even mention it is if it becomes so blatant that they have to back water hastily to cover their tracks. they only became interested in Blagojevich in Chicago when he tried to auction off The One’s Senate seat; Kilpatrick doesn’t have anything comparable as a salable asset or bargaining chip.

    Second, the “ruling class” has no fear of the law; in their minds, the law is whatever they say it is, the President and the U.S. Attorney General being cases in point. If confronted with the fact that they have broken the law, they simply ignore it. Unless, of course they decide to punish whoever had the effrontery to speak up for their act of lese’ majeste’.

    Finally, rest assured that the enlightened elite’ are not wrapped up in concern about raising the standard of living anywhere in the Third World. Rather, they are obsessed with reducing both the rest of the world, and us, to Stone Age savagery. To them, humans are a blight on Holy Mother Gaia, and so must be controlled and punished, assuming they cannot simply be dispensed with altogether. Other than their own perfect selves, of course.

    Our ruling elitists are not just wrapped up in themselves. They deeply resent the rest of us. To them, we are what keeps them from achieving perfection, and their tempers are getting short where we are concerned.

    With that in mind, their lack of interest in Kilpatrick is understandable. To them, he simply isn’t smart enough to know how to exploit the peasantry effectively.

    And they certainly don’t want the peasants to think they have a say in anything.

    clear ether

    eon

  • Steve0

    The African American culture does not support limited government: they are all about electing charismatic despots that share a skin tint with them, in the belief that somehow the plunder will trickle down to them.

    This is not externally fixable, I fear.

  • Kenny

    “I honestly don’t know why there is so little national outrage about this despicable crew and the terrible damage they have done. ”

    It’s becasue the media does not report it and that’s because the criminals involved are 1)black and 2) Democrats

  • Anthony

    “For some time to come black politicians are going to have an easy time snaring typical black voters; they are borrowing a leaf from exhorters and exploiters past and present: They are going to talk tough about the white man. They are not, however, going to overcome the white man. They are going to make deals with him, for their personal benefit. Their black constituents meanwhile are going to continue to get the dirty end of the stick like many of their white fellow democrats.”

    The above quote is not to highlight invidiously racial comparisons but to cite corrupt, venal, mediocre, and self serving behavior too commonplace among American PUBPOLS generally sans party label. Kwame Kilpatrick et al reflect what most people more or less get by voting along ethnic, religious, and racial lines generally (the dirty end of the stick).

    Now WRM, racial partisan indignation not withstanding (if white or Asian Republican pol…) the Detroit/Kilpatrick debacle ought to be highlighted nationally because of its indictment on corrupt politics as engaged in at the expense of both taxpayers and dubious voters; such national highlighting may allow Kwame Kilpatrick and Detroit’s citizen majority to be focal point of derision and satisfaction for some but that’s the price of the ticket we in America still pay as we sidestep the historical American white/black nationality question. In sum, the American identity problem remains unsolved. (“race is the original sin of American history and to deny its influence on our society is as futile as it is illogical.”)

  • Robert S

    Chicago is the next big city to go. The corruption of the Machine here is so pervasive that we can’t even set up a bike sharing program without it being overrun by corruption and political pay-backs. It’s so accepted here that the ones getting caught still get re-elected.

  • Ranger Rick

    No charges for Carolyn Kilpatrick? The former US Representative from Detroit was Kwame’s mother, and the Kilpatrick clan’s “inside woman” in Washington. How do the Federal investigators think they were kept in the dark for so long? How much of the national treasury was routed to Detroit’s “blighted districts” at the height of the boom last decade when they should’ve been rebuilding (making the local economy grow even faster than the rest of ours did), and ultimately were spent on the Kilpatricks’ schemes?

  • Kolya

    American cities tend to be governed by Democrats. One would think that a party that claims to look after the little guy would be more interested in effective governance in practice.

  • Tom Scharf

    Who is going to stick their neck out to drain the swamp in Detroit? Certainly not the Republicans, they are fine with this being a showcase for progressive politics gone to their ultimate conclusion in their view. The Democrats just want to pretend it doesn’t exist, and are OK to keep a low profile because it has potential national implications if the outrage gets to where it ought to be. And you wonder why there was white flight out of Detroit?

    Not to mention the fact that anyone brave enough to try to drain this swamp, if they aren’t black, Democrat, and local, will get vilified by the race card in a nanosecond, and everyone knows it. Where’s the payoff? There needs to be some light at the end of tunnel for somebody brave enough to do this.

    However the race card will be a pretty weak argument from almost everyone’s point of view in this case. Remember when the US was ultra-sensitive about attacking mosques in the Gulf region? Even if people were shooting at them from a mosque, the fear of a public backlash prevented them from engaging the attackers. However over time it became so clear to all that the “evil-doers” had zero respect for their own mosques themselves, and were even using them to store munitions, and suicide bombing their own houses of worship.

    Nowadays there is no fear of a backlash, and the same will happen for places like Detroit. The “government”, and I use that term loosely, is so busy performing financial suicide bombing on their own city, that there will soon be no fear left for the swamp clearers, and then progress can possibly occur.

  • James Walker

    The title is this piece is misleading; in no way are the current Democrats rogue. I live in Chicago, which is bad enough with Mag Mile rioting during the day, but Detroit has been dealing with this ever since the 1967 nightly riots. Then Gov. George Romney in 1967 actually called in Saul Alinsky to deal with black rioters because he knew as a law-abiding executive and Mormon he would have nothing to say. The result was white flight and by 1974 Coleman Young was mayor after the city went majority black. It has been awful ever since. These are not “rogue” Democrats–they are the standard and have been for 40+ years.

  • La Marque

    How can one tell if a Democrat went rogue?

  • gracepmc

    I would agree that the media dismissal of Detroit is largely because of the big D and secondarily that the powers that be were black. Or perhaps equal partners. Consider the coverage of Scott Walker in Wisconsin in comparison. What I find disquieting also is the lack of coverage (save Drudge) on Chicago and the upcoming NATO meetings. Increasing use of drones over US cities also not encouraging. Kudos to you for highlighting the sad exploitation of Detroit and the equally sad lack of media coverage.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    It’s like Haiti I’m afraid. There’s a lack of human capital (including social capital) and no one wants to admit it because they have no idea how to fix it.

    Where is the Justice Department on this? Can’t they move in before these disfunctional communities have to be placed in receivership. Or maybe receivership is the answer.

  • Estragon

    “Chicago is the next big city to go. The corruption of the Machine here”

    The Chicago Machine has always been corrupt. Yet somehow the city goes on “working,” more or less.

  • Pete Dellas

    Why the people keep voting in the same breed of hooligans, hucksters and half-wits just demonstrates why a basic civics competency test ought to be administered before people can vote. Maybe the founders’ idea about property owners having suffrage wasn’t such a bad idea.

    I have to wonder if the definition of insanity that says “Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results” doesn’t apply here.

  • JKB

    I think it is quaint that you think Eric Holder won’t sandbag this prosecution of hone of “his people.” Although, the driving fellowship is Democrat. I have a close friend who went from city police officer to the state bureau of investigation. Despite personal knowledge of misallocation of funds by the city’s top police officials, he couldn’t open an investigation because such investigations had to be requested by the district attorney, who, in this case, was a political crony of the police chief. Guess their political party affiliation?

  • Why so surprised?

    Democrats have used government to reward their friends and have looted it for personal gain EVERY time. It’s easily available information: Feinstein who should be in prison for directing contracts to her husband’s defense firm, the congressman found with $50K in his freezer, and we can go on and on.

    Bottom line: Detroit is a good example of what happens when unqualifed thug, Democrat, affirmative action incompetence is let loose on a city. For a national equivalent, see Barack Obama.

  • http://thepencilofnature.net Lorenz Gude

    I heard Ann Coulter make an interesting distinction – she referred to the MSM as the NFM or Non Fox Media. I love Ann because she is a Dowd Class partisan and provocateur, but her jibe raises an interesting question about the Detroit story. So I did a little rough and ready research. A search of Fox News for Kwame Kilpatrick got 936 results. Using the New York Times as a surrogate for the NFM I searched and got 584 results. On a roll, I tried MSNBC and got 511 results, and was surprised when a search of CNN only turned up 85 results probably demonstrating that my methodology is flawed. Pursuing the methodology angle I found that both the WaPo and the WSJ sites produced zero results for a search on Kwame Kilpatrick. Still it is delicious to think that the two places where mention of Kwame Kilpatrick is absolutely taboo are Washington and Wall St.

  • Henry Miller

    “There is something profoundly wrong with an American political culture that accepts chronic misgovernment…”

    It’s not a matter of acceptance, it’s a matter of helplessness.

    No matter how we vote, little changes. Governments keep getting bigger and bigger and, with greater size, come greater corruption and greater indifference to what we the taxpayers want.

    The Republicans waste trillions on unnecessary wars and ever greater entitlements. The Democrats waste trillions on rewarding their friends with “bailouts” and yet more entitlements. Neither Party cares in the slightest what the effects on ordinary people are of their cynical megalomania.

    We are Greece. We’re bigger, so it will take us longer to collapse, but collapse is not only inevitable, it’s the only chance–and a slim one at that–We the People are going to get to take this country back from those who would do to rather than for us.

  • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

    …But Clint Eastwood told us Detroit was back!

    The press failure to report official criminal activity I think has more to do with the press being of the same class as the politicians.

    As Robert points out, Illinois is being destroyed by corrupt mostly-white Chicago criminals (all democrat) and that doesn’t raise a press eyebrow either.

    Kolya zooms in on the key factor: Our cities are being destroyed by corrupt liberals. There’s the donkey in the room…

  • Boritz

    ***Three factors seem to be at work. One is quite simply financial; falling newsroom budgets in the MSM mean that it is harder for national papers and legacy networks to cover the country.***

    Well, they had the resources to send plenty of reporters to Wasilla looking to dig up dirt. That’s likely where the travel budget was spent. Wasilla was of national importance at the time and Detroit isn’t.

    The Justice Dept.
    Yes indeed. Let’s turn this whole thing over to Eric Holder. I’m sure he’ll prosecute relentlessly and to the full extent of the law, but if he does go after Kilpatrick look for Kilpatrick to join the NBPP to avoid federal prosecution.

  • Jasmine

    The people of Detroit elected Kilpatrick TWICE. That in itself says a lot.

  • Retail Lawyer

    Thanks for this wonderful post. I have followed this story, perhaps just because it was so visually wonderful, with courthouse pictures of Kwame and his posse of thugs in their sartorial spendor. The “hip-hop mayor”, I think he was called. Its also a wonderful follow-up to the story of the racist Monica Conyers, convicted of bribery while on the city council of Detroit. She is, of course, the wife of Black Congressional Caucus and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers. And this suggests the answer to your final question. While is may be racist to ignore these stories, it is certainly more racist to pursue them. It muddies up the whole social justice, hope and change thing. See Obama’s firing of Gerald Walpin who was investigating Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. I honestly feel like a racist just for responding to your post.

  • Paul

    A sense of entitlement is at the core of this discussion. A tangled web of political corruption, ignorance of the electorate, and a culture that does not think for itself explains this example of decline in America. Add in the complicity of the MSM and resistance to efforts to hold politicians accountable. Hey, didn’t Kuame play for the Pistons?

  • Howard

    I would rather that people focus on the still alive Chicago where the same things are happening under the long time regime of the Crook County Democratic machine.

    The latest is a trumpted up public/private ‘partnership’ set up to loot and sell off public assets to the highest bidder.

  • jd

    “I honestly don’t know why there is so little national outrage about this despicable crew and the terrible damage they have done. The ultimate victims of the crime are Detroit’s poor and the middle class and lower middle class, mostly African-American municipal workers who may face serious financial losses in old age.”

    Let me be of some help.
    It Was Done By Democrats!

    If a tree falls in the forest, and CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NyT, WaPo and the LAT don’t report it, does it make a sound?

  • ITYS

    Just another despicable example of the reality of the destructive LEFTISTS command and control policies of manipulation! Everywhere they govern the results are the same…….so when are people going to start connecting the dots??

  • La Marque

    How can one know when a Democrat has gone rogue?

  • Larsky

    It should be noted that Mr. Kilpatrick is going to jail, so in that sense the corruption has been identified and dealt with. Unfortunately not until he was re-elected by citizens who apparently thought he was one fine chap looking out for their interests. Now that is sad and what makes all of this possible.

    Side Note: The City of Detroit is fighting the state to prevent them from interjecting an interim manager to unravel the rats nest that started before Coleman Young and has persisted for decades. It is very hard to correct a problem in the prison/war zone hell of Detroit when it is being run by the inmates and they refuse to give up the keys.

  • Mary Berg

    Sad straights for Detroit, but not unpredicted. This liberal [nonsense] has been going on in major cities for decades; when someone tries to call out this sort of greed & corruption, well, we get called all kinds of names—top of the list: RACIST! Lib’s have gotten their way with so much,they think they’ll never be called out & made accountable. Only when the stinky sink-hole is drained do we start to see the immeasurable destruction from decades of liberalism. Sad story from one end of the country to the other.

  • http://www.worldcpa.com alan

    It isn’t just the corruption and the nepotism, it’s that no one has the “Vision” thing. Just imagine if a leader decided to turn Detroit into the black culture capital of the world and focused on starting up small businesses to bring culture to the city and compete with New Orleans. Instead of trying to live off welfare, live off the state, or live off the city, people would have a goal, an ideal to strive for. What a difference a positive goal would make.

  • http://RealClearPolitics PeggyLee

    Where is Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson? The corruption that ishappening in our inner cities is a bigger threat to minorities than the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

  • HTuttle

    Good riddance. Detroit was a racist […]hole when I lived there in 1972 and has only gone downhill since.

  • Daniel Weir

    Walter Russell Mead sounds like Pat Buchanan or even David Duke.
    Why the **** does he completely leave out the dramatic drop in crime — concentrated in big American cities — since 1991?
    What is wrong with Walter Russell Mead?

  • Skep41

    The only care any of us should have about this is that when the final moment of truth arrives we dont spend one single penny bailing the people who voted for this in election after election out of the consequences of their bad choices. You know 100% of Detroit city workers voted for, campaigned for and donated money to Kilpatrick and the crooks who preceded him, happy to have their nice padded seats of the gravy train. These ‘public servants’ were happy to ignore the decline of their city as they collected their pay, nothing to do with them, but now they’re expecting the rest of us to just pick up the tab without noticing that their fellow Democrats all over the country have brought this nation to the edge of bankruptcy. I live in California, also run by Democrats so incompetent and crooked it would make anyone weep, and I cant wait for the day when the state pension checks bounce. Karma.

  • gringojay

    Voteing “Present” turns out to be a scam! Our betters will be shocked to see the movie & denounce it as racist if not done in Technicolor.

  • Dr. Albert Gortenbull

    Great article! Here in Scotland we have experienced the same type of depravity in the barrios. The only way to cleanse Detroit is to illuminate the scoundrels who caused the problem. Albert

  • Abram

    While I agree that the Detroit political machine has caused serious problems within the city (nor just Kwame Kilpatrick but the entire Coleman Young wing of the Democratic machine there). I pose one question to the Author; Have you ever been to Detroit? Did you know that thousands of people of moving into downtown to work and live? Your racist assumptions that Black Folks get all of the praise and non of the blame when you said “if white or Asian Republican pol…” shows a lack of objective perspective on your part. You’re a white male who thinks that Black Politicians get away with everything, but if you ask a Black male who thinks like you, he would think White people get away with everything. A corrupt government is a corrupt government no matter which demographic that it reigns over. Everyone loses.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Abram: I think you misread the racial politics of the piece, but have a nice day anyway!

  • Vito Danelli

    One reason why there aren’t any news stories about political corruption by Blacks is due to the influence of groups like the National Association of Black Journalists. This group, along with other like-minded ones like the one for Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, etc (you get the idea). As I understand it, these groups can kill any sort of story that reflects adversely on their “people”.

  • Frank St. Clair

    You did say two terms. If true, the denizens of Detroit got what they had coming.

  • fatman

    The author forgot to mention the fact that kwami was the biggest drug dealer in the city, or talk about his gang-member personal protection detail. I was once in Eastern Market when Kwami and his posse pulled in to do a meet and greet with the commoners of Detroit, I stood in line to shake his hand, just out of courtesy, and he walked right past me as if I wasn’t even there, I asked his chief of staff why he wouldn’t shake my hand and she told me that the mayor did not shake hands or converse with white people unless they are willing to contribute to his campaign. That is the overt kind of racism one finds throughout Detroit. As far as I am concerned Detroit should be bulldozed and sprinked with lime so nothing can ever grow there again.

  • REV Wright

    Detroit: Obama’s vision of America

    [see Gary, Oakland, Chicago, Newark……Harare, Zimbabwe’s all]

    Four more years will destroy the USA

  • MRob

    There is not national outrage because these people that committed these crimes were fairly elected by the people to represent them. The nation is not responsible for this the localities are. What is the nation supposed to do about the stupidity of the electorate electing corrupt democrats over and over again.

  • Stexas

    My son will be an intern outside of Detroit this summer. Next year he will have to decide where to go permanently for work. If the situation in Detroit is fixed by raising taxes then that will have to be factored in to his decision. I hate to see him pay taxes in Michigan to bail out Detroit. It does affect the work force that they are able to attract. He can move back to Texas and pay less in taxes.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    Maybe the mainstream media don’t cover stories like Detroit for the same reason they don’t cover a wave of serious black-on-white hate crimes around the country — yet go overboard on one highly questionable and in any case isolated alleged case of white-on-black crime.

    Instead of bending over backwards intitutions like NYT should stand straight and tell it like it is. With integrity. Without fear or favor.

    It’s time to stop treating the American people like children and instead treat them like full-grown adults, the overwhelming majority of whom are responsible citizens who need to be informed. To do less is yellow journalism in a double sense.

  • fatman

    @Daniel Weir
    Mr. Wier, you ask the question:
    “Why the **** does he completely leave out the dramatic drop in crime — concentrated in big American cities — since 1991?”

    Maybe because as with most statistics put out by the government they are false, 1991 was the year that the FBI and crime statistisions change the way they counted crime. Previous to 1991 each crime was considered a seperate crime when figuring crime stats, since then, if for example 10 crimes are commited by the same criminal those crimes are considered a single crime for statistical purposes. For example the killings by Ted Bundy (approx 40 murders) would today be counted as one crime when figuring crime statistics. Another example of the government “massaging” statistics s the way the unemployment rate is figured to wit, one would think that it is an easy calculation to divide the number of unemployed by the number of job available, correct? Unfortunately the way the government calculates the unemployment rat is to divide the number of of people recieving unemployment benefits by the nmber of jobs available and thereby not counting those who have run out of unemployment benefits, who are still unemployed, thus lowering the number of unemployed by not counting all of them.
    Mr. Wier, you really must start getting more of your info from sources other than MSNBC or any of the other administration stenographers masquerading as journalists and/or news outlets.

  • MisterH

    Great insights by WRM. I agree strongly with his explanation about what lies behind the lack of coverage of KK’s abuses. Thomas Sowell summed it up nicely with the phrase “…soft bigotry of low expectations.”

  • Drew

    I would like to comment to Larsky is that the level of corruption is just starting to be peeled back like the layers of an onion.

    In addition, the current Wayne County executive Robert Ficano (white) is currently under investigation by the FBI. It keeps going on and on. I suspect that the only way Detroit can escape its economic and financial woes is to declare war on the United States and sue for terms to be rebuilt.

  • http://Lucianne.com Randy

    I lived in Detroit during the Coleman A. Young years.

    I have no sympathy for the blacks of Detroit, neither for the white guilty liberals. You get what you get when you lay down with dogs! Fleas and disease.

    They are ultimately responsible! So go cry to someone else about how the lower and middle income blacks will suffer! They need to suffer for their foolishness in continuing democRAT leadership of what was a once proud and fine city.

  • dsb

    Come on Walter
    The elephant’s in the room
    The real reasons that this horrible graft were accepted:
    a. The cities were led by Democrats
    b. No one wanted to be accused of being racist

  • Harold Seneker

    Walter, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

    Seriously, a passionate and articulate piece, revealing one more, if particularly egregious, example of the disconnect between the political and cultural “elite” and the rest of the country.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Sad to say, the problem is not these Democrat politicians but the people who elect and reelect them again and again, on the basis of empty promises and tribal identities.

  • Kevin Carlson

    Mr. Mead, it’s not just big cities that have corruption problems. Any time the city clerk of a town of 500 or 50,000 or 500,000 charges a personal expense to a city account, it’s the first step of a culture of corruption that can easily end up like Detroit. And it’s so darn easy to prevent it from happening, too.

  • ReConUSMC

    This is what ‘Real Journalism ” use to be about ..None Bias .. deep hours of Research , Facts , Who , When , Where and How much ,

    Not mentioned in this great article is The Govt. Spends $ 19.270 per Student with a 53.7 % drop out rate in Detroit .

    The highest Funds given per student in the Nation .

    Those that Graduate HS cannot pass Minimal 8 Grade top Five Subjects even given a 65 bottom Curve .

    77.8 % off babies born in Detroit were without Dad’s last year while Detroit leads the Nation per child tax payer paid for aborted babies .

    From 1964 until 2011 , 47 years . Detroit has received between 17-19 Trillion in Welfare and entitlement funding only to get worse each year .

    With the 2nd Highest Murder rate per capita in America .
    There are sadly 37 other Major Cities with similar numbers according to Dr.Thomas Sowell .
    Who wrote the best seller .

    White Liberals and Black Red Necks . As well as Shelby Steele’s best seller White Guilt and how it has ruined Black America .

    Obama and the far left’s answer ? 0f course double and triple the spending to our 38 worse cities …

    I say Fix the Family ……. The Problem is Fixed . The answer ?

    Look at Asian families coming to America and see how they not only melt end but lead in all educational Scholarships , few crimes , Jobless and family categories .

    Two Words ***** Self Discipline ***** That is taught by the father and family ! That cannot be purchased by Obama The [Darn] Govt. and leftist Politicians .

  • bob smith

    “If a white or Asian Republican pol had looted fire and police pension funds, blighted the lives of a generation of minority kids and helped do more damage to a great American city than Hurricane Katrina, I don’t think this would be primarily a local news story. I would expect that the scandal would grip the nation, and there would be wall to wall national media coverage.”
    This is exactly what has happened to our country through the manipulation of laws and regulations which allowed corporations, banks and other financial institutions to gut the wealth of this country through the housing bubble and liar loans, the speculation on commodities by the investment houses and the offshoring of jobs and profits. All facilitated by primarily white republicans, yet there is obfuscation and disinformation by the corporate owned main stream media. The banks have stolen trillions from the tax paying American people, primarily working class which is becoming smaller and smaller in this country.

    The pension funds all over the country bought so called mortgage backed securities which were blocks of “sub-prime”, read liar loans, which will end up with many people finding out too late that their pension funds are insolvent due to the ponzi scheme facilitated by our bought off government and the bankers.

    Kwames biggest mistake was not realizing that he should have had laws passed which would have allowed him to steal legally. That is what the white republicans do.

    Where is the wall to wall coverage of how the rich white republicans have declared a class war on the working class in this country and have manipulated the regulatory and legal systems in this country to their advantage at the expense of the great majority/

  • Jack Rail

    Nothing will happen about all this because liberals don’t care if Democrats are crooks and Republicans are too yellow to go after the crooks themselves.

    The fundamental problem is less machine politics than racial politics, because of which no one can identify blacks as crooks without being branded racist. Illegal behavior no longer carries the penalty it should, especially in terms of social oppobrium. The bad guys aren’t the wrong doers, but those who point out the wrong doing and name the wrong doers. Even in his excellent article above, Mr Mead dares not say that the problem is racial politics.

    We have to turn this around, this business of the Left deciding who can say what. It will only happen when newspeople such as Mr Mead begin calling things by their right names, regularly and fearlessly. If we don’t hold Obama, Holder and Co. accountable for their racist, racialist politics, the problem will only get worse.

    The aim of such politics, seems to me, is to ignite race war in America, following which Obama can declare martial law. Once that happens we can forget about elections, much less free and fair elections.

  • Geezer117

    As long as the residents of these dysfunctional cities remain loyal to the Democrats, this will continue.

  • Dustin

    We get the politicians we deserve.

  • NDanielson

    If only Barry the organizer had cleaned up any part of Chicago before he went on to clean up America. But, alas, I have heard of none of the success stories of little Barry’s escapades in Chicago, and if his organizing of America is any indication, he left Chicago worse than when he found it…To quote, Barry: Can I get an Amen?

  • Angel Martin

    Dr Mead, this was a wonderful essay, I’m glad RealClear Politics picked it up.

    Everyone should read the wikipedia entry about Kilpatrick and his massive list of scandals. It’s so long it’s actually funny…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwame_Kilpatrick#Manoogian_Mansion_party

  • Darby

    This is tragic. But the most perplexing thing to me is the citizens of Detroit will still vote for the people who have destroyed their city, ruined their future and condemned them to a life of poverty. In theory, people should vote their self interest, but this is not happening. In California a similar thing is occurring. The Democrats have ruined the state and yet there is little concern they will be voted out of office. Until that happens, nothing will change. It is not clear what it would take to get people to vote these people out. Apparently having your future looted and destroyed is not enough.

  • Harold

    They looted it 70-80 years ago, Mr. Mead.

    When they started urban renewal and all the progressive nonsense, and started rearranging people and residences and demographics and business and commerce to suit shiny-eyed intellectual fancy, and attempted to turn Detroit into a progressive shining city on a hill, they set the table for today’s looting. A fractured, wounded city is unable to robustly govern itself. And what the progressives did fractured and wounded Detroit.

    Yes, there are other factors, race and industrial carnage chief among them, but a healthy city could have battled those, as others have. But Detroit’s defenses were cleaved open, and it started 70-80 years ago.

  • http://jocon307.wordpress.com jocon307

    Come on Mr. Mead you know the answer, you even admit you know it.

    It’s not news room budgets or the uselessness of the NY Times. It seems to me the Detroit Free Press fights the good fight, but it’s to no avail. It’s not because elites see themselves as detached from ordinary Americans. These things may all be very true, but they have just about nothing to do with how Kwame Kilpatrick has been given a pass for so long.

    It’s because the corrupt Pols in Detroit are Democrats and African-Americans.

    The press won’t criticize Dems and we all know it is racist to criticize blacks, any black, anywhere, for any thing.

    If we want things to change for the better the Democrats must be driven from power.

    However, since the tea partiers are ready to rend the Republican party into shreds (and I AM a tea partier, keep that in mind) the Dems will probably be able to hold on and keep destroying this country a job they’ve been earnestly working at for hundreds of years.

    As for the African-American angle, blacks are going to have to confront their own intra-group problems head on. Until that happens, nothing will improve for them.

  • Midwestlady

    Those of us actually living in Michigan have written Detroit off as a lost cause for years. Many, many children from other parts of the state have never been to Detroit because a) there’s not really much to see in Detroit anymore except destruction, and b) it’s not safe to take children to Detroit. Baghdad would probably be safer.

    Driving through Detroit, one does not get off on exit ramps to look at the destroyed cars with no wheel assemblies, fenders, windshields or seats. One just drives by. Quickly.

  • Ken Puck

    Hell will freeze over before the Obama administration goes after graft and corruption in America’s cities. The “people of color” who run these cities — and have their hands in the till up to their armpits — are given free rein to continue their plunder unimpeded. Any effort to intervene in this dynamic will immediately trigger stentorian cries of “racism.”

    Meantime, as Charles Murray points out, the bien-pensant, who live in gated communities far from all this and imagine themselves insulated from such unseemly goings-on, leave such matters to the Democratic Party apparatus to deal with. They simply assuage their self-imposed white guilt with platitudes and donations.

    The kicker is that, as African-American “communities” (I use the word advisedly) become progressively less well educated (by design), inner-city residents become ever more content to vote for Democrats — as long as their check is in the mail.

    The whole paradigm is a corrupt bargain of brodingnagian proportions, and it’s not going to change untill the well runs dry.

  • Glen

    Most Americans implicitly understand that federalism works — and so they respond to localized government dysfunction by voting with their feet.

    And as long as other governments allow federalism to work (e.g., no federal bailouts of Detroit, Chicago or California), the free movement of rational individuals will force change. It happened in the South; it can happen in the Midwest (and West), too.

  • Corlyss

    “I honestly don’t know why there is so little national outrage about this despicable crew.”

    @WRM
    Didn’t spend a lot of time reading about Washington DC under Marion Barry’s kleptocracy, did you? Survivors of same have come to expect that sort of thing when the old civil rights warriors (or their children in Detroit’s case) are elected to mayoralties. Their idea of running the show is to do what they think mayors in the first part of the 20th century did. The latter may have done the same things, but at least they knew how to deliver the services required by cities, at least for the most part. The Barrys and the Kilpatricks got the stealing part down; they just didn’t know how to master the service delivery part.

    “Where’s the outrage?” you ask? “Where’s the media coverage,” I ask. You and I both know the media ain’t gonna cover this – it wrecks their frames. I’m reminded of something actor and director Robert Hooks said back in the 70s, that blacks would never be truly equal until they were allowed to fail. The media and the federal government collectively don’t get the wisdom of that insight.

  • Craig Purcell

    Aren’t the Romney’s from Detroit?

  • PTSARGENT

    The myriad pathologies of Detroit are what we get when we have too much government and too much pathetic, knee-jerk whacko thinking like #57’s. Come to think of it, we get too much government because of the likes of #57’s thinking.

  • Corlyss

    @ Craig

    No, they’re from Mexico. LOLOL

    Seriously, tho’, the Detroit of the last 30 years isn’t the Detroit of the 1930s-60s when Romney Sr. was an auto exec.

  • Corlyss

    “The second factor is more disturbing: there is a pervasive national sense of ennui and despair about urban areas in which African Americans are the majority. ‘We’ expect decline, decay and corruption in these places, so the Kilpatrick story strikes many editors and journalists as just another ‘dog bites man’ story: not news. Cory Booker is news; Kwame Kilpatrick isn’t.”

    Facts is facts. What angers me is when people attribute noticing facts to racism. The facts about black leadership of large, predominantly black cities like Washington DC and Detroit are not pretty. Before I left the DC area, a reporter analyzed the shabby Barry tenure and his refusal to disappear quietly. The report attributed it to Barry’s long apprenticeship in the civil rights movement. Both he and his ex-wife were movers and shakers in the movement, esp. locally. Their world view was that only the government could make blacks equal and economically viable. Okay. I give ‘em that excuse. But when the facts changed, they didn’t. And it doesn’t explain their making sure that #1 got rich into the bargain. Suddenly, 3rd world dictatorships became the model, at least as far as skimming from the top, kick-backs, padding the payrolls with relatives and friend, all the unsavory practices one associates with democratically unsophisticated nations. Why did this happen? Why wasn’t more it more widely reported by the media? David Brinkley’s Washington Goest To War contains ample evidence that even under the 3 commissioners that ran DC before 1967, the place was pretty screwed up in the 30s when it was still a sleepy little southern town. And as I recall from having lived there during the mayoralty of Walter Washington, the first elected DC mayor in 100 years and a black, the government was reasonably effective and not a collection of conscienceless crooks. What happened to send DC down the crapper so fast once Barry was elected?

  • Captian Farmer

    Joncon307 has it right. Because Whites are called bigots anytime they are critical of Black criminality, Black leaders are patronized and given a free pass. to engage in anti-social behavior. Frankly it’s a miracle Mr. Kilpatrick is headed to prison, I had him picked for a position in Obama’s Justice Department.

    Ironically, Detroit once the greatest industrial city in the world, is returning to discontiguous community gardens. It is only a matter of time before on before my brethren show up with eight wheel drive John Deeres’, combines with 52 foot picking heads and quarter section irrigation circles to do it up right. There will be no evidence left, manufacturing ever existed in Detroit.

  • http://n/a DONAL

    I resent being called racist when I would love to show my interest in the fate of Detroit by telling the innercity residents to stay in school, stop having kids out of wedlock, stop excusing your kids crime, stop being anti-authority, stop embracing the thug culture, do something about your drug taking and illiteracy, marry your baby mommas, stop living off the state, stop feeling ‘victimized’ and whipping up grievances, and stop voting in corrupt black Democrats as your leaders.

    However, if I said all that, I’d be called racist after every single piece of that advice. If I don’t think about Detroit I only get called racist once.

  • Patriot1742

    And like all the other liberal democrat states they keep re-electing the same politicians and keep getting the same result. Now who is to blame?

  • TexEd

    Why do you people refuse to print the whole story? Kwamme’s mommie is Congressman Kilpatrick, a long, long time member of Congress and former head of the No-Whites-Allowed Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Kwamme’s former colleague on the Detroit City Council (and now serving time at a club fed) is Congressman Conyers wife.
    It isn’t that Kwamme is a rogue criminal. He is part of a broad criminal activity that no will mention because they are all/mostly blacks.
    The whole CBC (there may be a few exceptions) is crooked. They are protected by the government and the media. If they were Republicans, we’d know about them. You have not helped a whole lot.

  • SeymourB

    Reading this comment trail pretty much tells me who viewpoint this comes from. Easy to complain about ‘libruls’ and blacks from your corner of classy ruralism. Have you ever been to Detroit? I see it every day. A town that was once proud in it’s day of industrialism. People moved away, companies did too. What’s left is a wasteland of empty buildings. There are collections of art and culture but they are islands now. The population is draining daily. Who’s going to help these people? No one. Righties laugh as it’s not their problem. Easier to watch the Dems try to fix a sinking ship with no funds to do it. The revenue is gone.
    Yeah, keep laughing. It’s easier to do that then to care.

  • Corlyss

    Maybe a more pertinent question would be “Why don’t blacks demand better out of governments they control?” Do they think it’s better to be screwed by people they know than people they don’t? Is competency considered “acting white?”

    In point of fact, most big city governments are ethical cesspools of corruption and don’t improve until the citizens rise up to demand reforms. Corey Booker is the beneficiary of citizen revolts and reform movements that took place in Philly after the 70s. He inherits apparatus that is already purged of the more egregious corrupt practices. All he has to do is not let it backslide. That is a lot easier than reforming a system, but it is still important.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    “I honestly don’t know why there is so little national outrage about this despicable crew and the terrible damage they have done.”

    Ask yourself if Republicans had done this, would the MSM have ignored it?

    I have see reports of Detroit in the Right wing blogosphere, I even saw a video on PJTV showing the decay of Detroit run by the Democrats. But the MSM has ignored this mess because it’s the Democrat’s mess, and would reflect badly on the Democrat’s claim to good government and sympathy for the poor.

  • AzA

    “Rogue” Democrats?

  • Ed Takacs

    Wow, Eric Holder must be in a quandary on this one. The City of Detroit follows and has followed the union/Democrat line of how to run things for decades. Most, if not all, of the scumbags taking money and participating in the graft destruction of the city are African American. Mr Holder refuses to prosecute African Americans (Black Panther voter intimidation case, for one other example), or Democratic operatives (John Corzine for another)because as he puts it, they are “his people”. What is the crooked top law enforcement person in this country to do?

  • john lynch

    Detroit’s story is like something from the Late Roman Empire. Most of the city is abandoned, and if there were any Goths they’d surely have moved into the ruins by now.

    It really is disturbing that America’s second city has completely collapsed in only a few decades.

  • Phantomorphan

    I share your righteous indignation, professor, but the grim reality is that to fight city hall politics you have to become a politician. Most people are decent and wouldn’t dream of becoming politicians. Hence politics is an incredible cesspool, as in, for instance, Albany NY. The vast majority of the corruption that goes on there isn’t even illegal. Rather than pollute ourselves by getting down in the gutter with these poltroons, most of us pick the easier solution — move. Increasingly, though, the question in the U.S. is: will there be a better place to move to?

  • Dave Minnich

    “Hardcore Pawn” is the correct choice for a reality show set in Detroit.

  • ekim yhaclum

    It’s instructive to note the following facts: President Johnson’s war on poverty cost over one TRILLION dollars of taxpayer money. Detroit was the largest beneficiary of that Trillion. Look at what we got for our tax dollars. I guess we need to raise more taxes and try it again.

  • Glen

    I’m used to analysing the politics of places like PNG and other failing states, so politicans ripping off a pension fund isn’t new to me. The only difference is they didn’t take the whole lot and they are getting punished for it.

    This post is dripping with moral outrage, and quite rightly so. But many of the posts on this site drip with moral outrage, so i have to apply a bit of a filter. I don’t read this site as much any more because the langauge isn’t calibrated, so i often have to second guess what you’re saying.

    The other point is that while detroit lost half a billion in bad investments, most pension funds lost a bunch of money in the past few years. I don’t doubt that a bunch of incompetent friends were appointed and did a bad job. But i would like a ball park figure or a caveat of the difference between losses from a normal operation and those of detroit. I haven’t read the sources you’re drawing upon, so apologies if that is included in the original figure, but i doubt it.

  • pollyanna

    I am crying while reading this. I am naive enough to think that I could move to Detroit now that our kids have grown, to make it my own and be proud to be from Detroit (born in Detroit in the early 60’s-we left as the riots and Coleman Young took over). We just had this conversation last night with my in-laws. My husband would bring his business to Detroit except for the fact that all of his equipment would be stolen the first day. I’d love to be part of a movement to bring real change to this city, but, alas, it seems too overwhelming to even begin to try.

    On another note, and again-I am naive- I was raised to believe that people are people, not the color of their skin. Why are we all black, white, asian, latino, etc?
    “Content of their character?” Why does being a liberal democrat mean you are a person of color? Why does being a conservative republican mean you are caucasion? MLK’s idealism is making him dizzy with all the rolling over in his grave he’s doing!

    …but corruption is corruption….

  • Steve W from Ford

    “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
    Ben Franklin

    Any question about where we are on the spectrum of virtue?

  • Atilla-BO

    The D’s and minority politicians have pillaged cites at will for a long time in ALMOST complete silence because the MSMedia refuses to say anything bad about them. Think Detroit, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and the following states who are in in terrible financial shape and only know how to raise taxes such as California, Illinois and New York.
    The MSMedia routinely cover up and make excuses for them on a daily basis.
    Meanwhile R pols get the JIHAD treatment at every opportunity.
    When R’s are Prez news conferences were battle fields where there were no RULES at all. Now the news conferences are bastions of cover up, soft ball questions and “special one on one interviews” to Obama’s friends in press like George Stephanopoulos who used to mislead the press for Clinton.
    Press coverage of D’s today is a joke.

  • William

    While I feel for the these people and certainly the children that will pay for this the rest of their lives, I can’t feel too sorry. After all, it is these same victims that continue to vote these same criminals into office. they turn their back on other options because they have an “R” after their name, or because the criminal they ultimately vote for promises them more then they could possibly deliver. the victims vote in the criminal and then are surprised that the criminal steals?????? I think places like Detroit, Chicago & Baltimore are getting EXACTLY WHAT THEY ASKED FOR. This Mayors scummy behavior was known before he was elected the first time, certainly before he was re-elected. and if he ran again against God himself (and if God had an R after his name) this same dirt bag mayor would be re-elected. you know what,,,,,I just realized I don’t feel sorry for them at all.

  • JackieT

    Democrat Party = Hiding Den For Lying Crooks It took Kcryme Killhatrick for the FBI to take action, the Feds knew these crooks were stealing for a LONG time.

    I like how ‘libruls’ blame ‘Whitey’ for leaving the D for a better opportunity.
    Even blacks have been leaving en masse the Crooked Socialist breeding ground for greener pastures.

    You DO NOT need Da Guvment to help yourself. In fact Da Guvment IS THE PROBLEM of people reaching their potential

  • Ratt

    There is no saving Detroit let it die so the people of America can see what happens when Democrats remain in control.

  • elisa

    when will we concede that the voters of Detroit choose this? The observers protest, and are outraged, but the residents choose it again and again. If the residents of Detroit wanted to have a tea party type group, they could do that.

    Observers may think this all should be changed, and certainly state and federal law enforcement may be brought to bear, but real change of behavior is chosen. It is voluntary.

    But they are trapped, you say? Are they? hundreds of thousands have voted with their feet. When will the volitional elements of this situation be acknowledged and assessed with more discernment rather than knee-jerk opinionating and outrage?

  • victoria wilson – mn

    I don’t think the most interesting angle on the decline of Detroit is about race, any more than the Bernie Madoff story is about race. What I find interesting is that an individual or small group of individuals can influence a larger group of individuals to look the other way as they perform acts that are clearly counter to main stream acceptability. The lack of action on the part of people that would otherwise object and react to illegal acts serves as an endorsement to the wrong-doers. It not only allows them to expand their activity but undoubtedly gives them an assurance that in some way what they are doing is legitimate.

    Sure the media helps expose criminals and corruption, which in turn prompts action against them. But most events are diverted by everyday people and never get to the level of a news story. There can be a cost to a whistle blower; they can be shunned, lose their job, or be excluded in many ways from societal events. Still in the natural process of protecting our system of rules and regulations there are people that take on the role of regulator and pursue wrong doers.

    There must be a trade-off of some sort in play for the majority citizens of a municipality to not only look the other way but even vote back in a corrupt mayor. The trade in the Bernie Madoff case is perhaps easier to accept. Workers are employed by a corporation in exchange for a salary. The large circle of employees who most probably suspected a scheme of some sort in Madoff’s investment plan could simply tell themselves that they were not getting paid to police their boss. As long as hard facts didn’t cross their computer screens they could justify to themselves that the ability to support their families and their lifestyles with their salaries somehow out-weighed the natural inclination to stop the theft of millions from investment accounts.

    So to understand the perspective of the citizens of Detroit, one must understand their needs, and I suspect they are of the most basic nature. If a politician is adept at increasing the federal support for an impoverished electorate, than he is fulfilling his obligation of prioritizing their demands. Hence, in the same way a battered wife returns to an abusive husband in order to shelter and feed her children, a constituency could be persuaded to support a corrupt politician.

  • elisa

    Btw to bob smith at #57, can I interest you in the purchase of the Ambassador bridge over the Detroit river?

  • Tough Love

    Corruption or not, the question remains as to who (if anyone) will make up for the unfunded liability. The workers want the taxpayers to pay, with all the routine justifications … mostly summarized as “we were promised”.

    Well, before taxpayers even think of paying, we need to ask whether it’s “fair” that (with “cash pay” no less in the PUBLIC sector than in the Private Sector) that Public sector workers also get greater pensions and better benefits.

    As BOTH of these lead UNFAIRLY to greater “Total Compensation” (cash pay + pensions + benefits), clearly the answer is NO, and clearly these excessive pensions and benefits resulted from the fraudulent relationship between the Public Sector Unions and our elected representatives.

    So step one is to renege on any pensions (and retiree healthcare promises) greater (as a percent of pay) than Private Sector workers get from their employers.

  • EvilBuzzard

    So Kwame done stole the pensions. Why not? What other aspect of Detroit is worth robbing? They have industrial base that’s reduced to Gubbermint Motors and a rich cultural pa tois that has been reduced to Eminem. Burning the place would generate insurance money. Just let Devil’s Night get a wee bit off the chain.

    Is it just me, or does Kwame remind others here just a wee tad of Madelaine Murray-O’Hare. It’s not like either one of them believed in anything, and they both wound up looting the hand that fed them.

  • elisa

    The public sector unions thought they were colluding with politicians to rip off taxpayers. Turns out they themselves were also marks.

    Rank and file trust their union leadership to score them a great deal at the expense of, depending on type of union, businesses, stockholders, taxpayers. Time and again rank and file finds they hold an empty bag full of expired promises. They don’t mind screwing the other guy, but they demand justice when it happens to them.

    They feel sorry for themselves, not sorry for what they did to others. harrumph.

  • http://knownofold.blogspot.com J R Yankovic

    “Maybe the mainstream media don’t cover stories like Detroit for the same reason they don’t cover a wave of serious black-on-white hate crimes around the country — yet go overboard on one highly questionable and in any case isolated alleged case of white-on-black crime.”

    Really, Mr Lea, you surprise me sometimes. Am I to understand you’re presuming to question one of America’s all-time favorite methods of racial reconciliation – that of Unending and Limitless Collective Atonement? Or, as black prison inmates have been known to put it: “This time it’s the rabbit who’s got the gun”?

    Besides, isn’t it obvious how “polite silence” in these matters has also redounded to the real and permanent advancement of the great majority of blacks in the business, professional, scientific and technical arenas?

    That’s right, Americans of every color: Keep on avoiding real and glaring issues – even as the prospects of those whom that silence is ostensibly designed to benefit continue to plummet. Now that’s what I call EFFECTIVE racism.

    And folks wonder why I consider the present Age (1975 – ?) to be madder than Alice’s tea party.

  • Jim.

    Can anyone now seriously argue that all cultures are created equal?

    Kwame was simply imitating the culture of his ancestral Africa.

    If he had instead chosen to adopt the culture of his Ulsterman surname — and this choice is open to everyone, regardless of color — Detroit might actually be in good financial shape these days.

  • http://knownofold.blogspot.com J R Yankovic

    My apologies for any hurt, confusion or misunderstanding I may have caused in my last comment. And in particular for my 2nd paragraph, which was done, I fear, with my usual excess of sarcasm. My point was that the habit of “polite silence,” so far from facilitating the real advancement of blacks in the abovementioned arenas, was actually hindering it. And that that same silence, far from enhancing blacks’ prospects for success, was actually helping them to “plummet.” Again my apologies to all, and not least to Mr Lea.

  • fthoma

    The Bell Curve.

  • Dax Baxter

    “I honestly don’t know why there is so little national outrage about this despicable crew and the terrible damage they have done.”

    Because the majority of damage was done by Black democrats and God forbid risk being called a racist by the NAACP.

  • LaInfidel

    This is what happens when you repeatedly vote for the affirmative action candidate. History shows us the horrible results. Most of these people do this because they feel it’s owed to them. The entire United States is headed in the same direction with the so called educated elite in leadership now. And I’m not going to apologize for anything I stated.

  • Bill Lukatch

    Detroit is the shining example of the result of LBJ’s “Great Society”. Detroit with it’s last white Mayor, Jerry Cavanaugh, was the prototype city for the “Great Society” experiment. Now the population is reduced by almost 60%, unemployment is around 25%, and half the residents are illiterate. If you fly over the city there are vast areas that look like farmland. By the way that’s what they’re proposing to help rescue the city, turn vast parcels into “Urban” farming plots. Why would business’s want to locate in the city with that type of potential workforce? I mean what are they qualified to do? Other large urban areas are next because they all want entitlements which will bankrupt them the same way.

  • V

    Funny… all these politically savvy people and no one once mentioned the name Mayor Coleman Young. He is the architect of Detroit’s final nose-dive, and Kilpatrick was just carrying on the “family tradition”. I spent a chunk of my childhood up near Detroit. It is heart breaking to see that old city go.

    Also, the so-called “White Flight” wasn’t what killed Detroit. What killed Detroit is that the black middle classes fled, too.
    Detroit could have thrived, even without her white people.

    “If your neighbor is just going to take what you worked hard for… why bother working?”
    Detroit was also strapped by insane laws favoring the Big Three to the detriment of all other industry. Between that and the ‘race’ riots the center could not hold. Another uncomfortable truth: those riots were targeting mostly middle class black businesses. My father was a National Guardsman in that time and place, and he said that pot shots were taken more at the black national guardsmen than at the white. Go figure that one out!

    I only hope they are able to sell off all that great old architecture to people who can actually afford to use and maintain it. Perhaps that section of Michigan would be better managed if we sold it back to the Natives.

    I now live near Chicago. Obama is a Chicago-machine reject. We all know this because he was doing downstate politics. Likely, after his stint at the presidency, the only job he’ll be able to get is as an Illinois state rep. Maybe he will finally have the experience to do a job he’s being paid for. We can hope that one day he will join the former Governor in prison.

    I argue that there *were/are* African cultures that had a more successful outcome. Mozambique was, at one time, a very prosperous place. The problem is, there were so many other cultures who were less successful and had no qualms about acting out their envy and squandering her riches. We shouldn’t blame all of Africa and Africans for all this process. Africa IS starting to take care of herself, and is doing an impressive job of it, to be honest. Now that we aren’t force feeding it money, things have come to a balancing point. Charities now know that incentives for starting businesses makes for a more prosperous Africa, than giving the gangs a cash incentive to rob and starve his neighbor.

    I agree that the problem is a cultural phenomenon. I’m not calling anyone racist, but getting into hangups about people’s backgrounds will only convince those not acquainted with fine distinctions that your argument has no merit. BTW, I am not offended, I just want the correct offenders to be targeted. :P

    The immediate problem (here in the USA) is, the “easy way out” is financed by our “liberal” left consciousness. Their “charity” short-circuits most healthy incentives. So, those who would otherwise build up society in modest ways are encouraged to get paid to vote democrat and watch TV all day. Whereas the ambitious can over-turn the poisonous system by joining gangs and selling street drugs.

    This is not a black phenomenon. We invented the system with the faulty incentives in place because we did not know what we were doing. We thought that we could reform human nature and create Heaven on Earth. Instead, we just created our own Hell for those without the wit or education to see the pit trap that was there and waiting.

    The same Christian consciousness that killed slavery (with considerable help from the Industrial Revolution) poured charity from fountains in the street, and erected the Liberal Left monstrosity we have today, as well as financed the rampant poverty of spirit we see every day.

    However, the son has rejected the father without a nod to the values the father started with. This means that the whole edifice is spinning out of control. The net result is that you are either a nice, law abiding welfare recipient, or you are a crook.

    If you go to England, you will find that what Americans are used to thinking of as “Black Culture” is being driven by four generations of white Englishmen/women. The same Labour Party nonsense has created the same results on an accelerated time table.

    This pity party politics is western in origin, and folks like Kilpatrick only do these things because they have been told that the only way that they can get the treatment they deserve is to take it. And the ambitious and amoral will do that, even from their own people. Who else turns up to do business in politics? What better way to spend money that isn’t yours? His problem was that his pie wasn’t big enough for his eyes. Considering Detroit’s finances for the past 40 years, no one is surprised. Most of the country just thinks the place is cursed, and that nothing can be done.

    The Left has convinced everyone that there is nothing that can be done, except by the experts. And if the experts appear to have feet of clay, these events never happened. They have conditioned everyone around them, even those who aren’t aware of being in on the conspiracy. They would rather live in ignorance than despair.

    Frankly, I think our “charity” has done more damage than Kilpatrick’s avarice. The path to Hell is indeed paved with good intentions.

  • Westie

    Put Atlanta at the top of the list of failed Black Run cities.

  • http://none Don

    Thank you for your article and your readers for the many excellent responses. You are absolutely correct – I live in the Pacific NW and the Detroit problem has had only a brief paragraph in the financial section of the paper. One former Detroit resident who now lives in my area but regularly communicates with friends in Detroit tells me to read an inner city activist website called “Voice of Detroit” to understand the mentality of the residents. Every ill in the city has been caused by the white rich 1% who wish to forcibly take over their city with the financial agreement, and control their destiny. None of their city governmental agency deficiencies are caused by their own actions, but are all caused by others. If you hadn’t read the many opinions and comments on this site, you wouldn’t actually belive it.

    Don

    Don

  • http://none Don G.

    Don (above) – I live near Detroit and you couldn’t be more wrong. The city, the county and the school system are being pilfered by those running the same. The ONLY reason that the City of Detroit has ANYTHING to offer is because there are businessmen refurbishing certain areas of town where people can still go. It’s easy to point the blame at others, but the “Voice of Detroit” is protecting the gravy train that feeds money into the city and is constsntly being stolen by the thieves who have been running the city, the biggest thief being Kwame. The unions also have the city by the [sexual reference removed] and are squeezing hard.

  • Toni

    “I honestly don’t know why there is so little national outrage about this despicable crew and the terrible damage they have done.”

    Because Detroit voters did this to themselves, and it’s not the responsibility of the rest of us, nor within our power, to rescue Detroit from itself.

    “…there is a pervasive national sense of ennui and despair about urban areas in which African Americans are the majority. ‘We’ expect decline, decay and corruption in these places, so the Kilpatrick story strikes many editors and journalists as…not news.”

    I think rather it’s the reluctance of the national media to report on Blacks Behaving Badly, to protect the image of African Americans as virtuous and victimized. Black-on-black crime doesn’t get the attention it deserves either.

    Also, Detroit is a slow-moving train wreck. It’s been in the process of imploding for years. The number of stories outsiders wish to read about it — we who have neither the ability nor the responsibility to save it — is limited.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2014 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service