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The Democrats Cannot Be Trusted With Big Government

An explosive report by the Guardian alleges that the Chicago police department has run an off-the-books interrogation facility for more than a decade, where the accused are “unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.” More:

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

The most compelling case against big government can be found in cases like these, at the heart of cities that long have been controlled by the big government-loving Democratic Party. Chicago is the political home of President Obama, now run by his former Chief of Staff. Democrats have ruled the city for decades, including such liberal icons as Harold Washington. The police doing all this unconstitutional treatment were protected from charges of malfeasance by the public sector union movement that Democrats robustly support. Their supervisors were appointed by Democratic elected officials, many of whom built their careers on attacking the GOP for its alleged indifference to the problems of poor urban dwellers. We suspect that those held and mistreated at this facility are disproportionately members of minority groups; this is standard operating procedure in blue model cities long under Democratic rule.

The Homan Square scandal should remind us that governments don’t work very well, and that big city governments under long term Democratic rule generally work less well than others. This wasn’t happening in Alabama; this wasn’t the KKK targeting minorities. This isn’t uncaring white suburbanites mistreating urban minorities. It happened in the most liberal city in one of the most liberal states in the country.

But we shouldn’t be surprised that a Democratic urban machine failed its prisoners. Look at what happens in Chicago schools. And Chicago, whatever its problems, is nowhere near the bottom tier of American cities when it comes to incompetent government.

Blue model “progressives” are always sure that big and complicated government programs can and will fix complicated and difficult social problems. They are always sure that the people who are skeptical about these programs are evil racists who hate the poor. And they are always surprised when the inevitable happens, the programs don’t work, and the institutions go wrong.



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  • iconoclast

    “…indifference to the problems of poor urban dwellers.”

    Solving those problems is too important to be limited by details like the Bill of Rights or SCOTUS precedent, right?

  • jeburke

    I reserve judgement, and I’m surprised that TAI would embrace this story uncritically. (1) It’s from the Guardian, which lets you know right away that it’s a leftist hit job on someone. (2) The Guardian’s principal source, the “NATO 3” guy is obviously a radical activist and troublemaker whose accusations about anything should be treated with skepticism. (3) The notion that this facility is anything like “CIA blacksites” is transparent nonsense, even if every one of the meager actul facts in this report turn out to be true. (4) It seems likely that the other side of this story will turn out to be that the facility exists to keep word of gang- and drug-related arrests from spreading immediately, as they doubtess do when arrestees are brought into the regular precinct houses. There is nothing wrong with using a separate venue. These Guardian charges will amount to something only if and when some defendants are found to have been denied due process rights.

    TAI should be more careful.

    • Andrew Allison

      Did you actually read the Guardian article? Although I’m no fan of the newspaper’s political bias (no worse than, I should hastily add, than that of the US MSM), but it seemed to me to provide quite concrete evidence of denial of due process and worse. We will, of course, have to await the results of an investigation into an issue which the domestic media appear to have overlooked (ignored?) to determine how serious or overblown the issue is.

      • jeburke

        One thing I really hate on these comment boards is someone implying that I didn’t read the material. Of course I read it. You need to read more closely and critically. There is not shred of “quite concrete evidencr of denial of due process” in the Guardian piece. There are only accusations by a left-wing activist and a couple of “civil rights lawyers.” These are the sort of accusations made every day by defendants’ lawyers in cities across the country: “My client was held too long without charge. I couldn’t find him. He didn’t understand his rights. He was interviewed unlawfully. He was abused.” These are dressed up with some added spice by the Guardian that sound awful because of a cleverly turned phrase, such as “shackling for prolonged periods,” without noting that in Chicago and nearly every other place in the US prisoners are kept handcuffed at all times when they are not behind bars, so nothing unusual there. In its statement, the Chicago PD denied all these charges. Its statement also indicates strongly that what I suggested is the case, namely, that this facility is used to detain, interview and book people on gang and drug charges and is “secret” only in the sense that it is not one of the Chicago PD’s regular precincts. It’s easy to see why amidst daily bloody gang warfare, the police might not want witnesses and undercover cops parading in and out of police buildings in the center of the affected neighbirhoods. In any case, it bears no relation to CIA blacksites, a Guardian bugaboo.

        We’ll see if anyone making these charges can substantiate any in front of a judge. Meanwhile, I reiterate that TAI – and you – should be more careful and less gullible.

  • Anthony

    The late political scientist James Q. Wilson used to caution that its not enough to have political opinions. You also need facts.

    To that end, Alabama, KKK references are over the top as well as “governments don’t work very well” ( they deliver roads, clean water, military pensions, public safety, regulated air travel, etc.). What specially are Chicago’s police practices vis-a-vis “Homan Square” is not a blue model governance issue as much as a function of what true policing practices are in a democracy composed of diverse groups.

    • Andrew Allison

      You’re becoming as careless with logic and reason as FG. The references to Alabama and the KKK were clearly metaphoric; city governments don’t regulate military pensions or air travel, etc.; and the activities of the Chicago police are absolutely a blue model governance issue, namely how in the name of goodness could this be permitted in one of the Bluest cities in the Nation.

      • Anthony

        Time has past you by and get a life; I stand by my comment.

        • Andrew Allison

          You also share with him the inability to actually address the issues raised.

          • Anthony

            As I’ve informed you before, you and I have “nothing” to address (inability or not). And if you want to reference your opinion vis-a-vis another poster, find someone other.

          • Andrew Allison

            Would you be so kind as to rephrase your utterly incomprehensible reply?

          • Anthony

            What part of “nothing” don’t you comprehend ( the “no” or the “thing”)? And what part of subordinate clause and main clause dangles your construction? Finally, what about referencing another TAI commenter someplace other than here reads awkwardly? (don’t bother to respond, I’m using opportunity to have some fun on a slow evening – believe it or not life exist beyond TAI responses). Cheers my man.

  • Pete

    ‘The Democrats Cannot Be Trusted With Big Government. ‘

    Actually, Democrats can’t be trusted with any size of government.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Just the first five words (“The Democrats Cannot Be Trusted”) really sums it all up…

      • Andrew Allison

        Come now. Surely when not actually in power the Democratic Party (not to be confused with actual democrats) provides the sort of checks and balances which the Founding Fathers thought necessary? The sad truth is that the GOP is no more trustworthy than the Democratic Party. We find ourselves in the unfortunate situation succinctly described by the current head of the European Commission: our elected reprehensatives (on both sides) know what needs to be done but don’t know how to do it and get reelected. The solution (pardon the repetition) is to eliminate the prospect of being reelected by means of term limits. There’s a very good reason why Presidents are limited to two terms; the same logic applies to the Senate and to the House, but in fairness the latter should be permitted four or five, rather than two, terms. I’ve come to believe that the problem is elective office as a career which, naturally, results in keeping the job becoming more important than doing it.

        • slovokia

          California has term limits for the senate and assembly. It is hardly a model of effective governance. Some might say it is the heart of blue model dysfunction or the death star of progressivism. But at least our tuna fish is dolphin safe 🙂

          • Corlyss

            The thing that screws up Ca. is the referendum system, which has gotten completely out of control, it’s unrestricted immigration policy and the accommodation there to, and the single party dominance for the last 35 years. Eventually, it will end up like Chicago, if it is not already there.

          • Analsphincter

            I used to build homes in Cali and it took 5 to 6 months and tens of thousands of dollars to get a permit to build 1 home.
            Here in Texas it is done over the counter in about 1/2 hour and costs $150.
            Dem government vs GOP government….

            I think Cali should process and can the dolphins and sell them to market too, along with the whales.

            What good are they if their just swimming around in the ocean taking up space….

        • f1b0nacc1

          Actually we don’t disagree. I don’t object (and in fact welcome) opposition parties, though I should point out to you that the Founders loathed the idea of political parties (see the Federalist Papers for an excellent discussion of this). I certainly agree with you that we need term limits for congress, and would prefer to see them for the courts as well. The real problem is that we have a permanent political class, i.e. an entire segment of the population whose sole occupation is politics and government. THIS represents the real threat…
          Two points however. While I don’t object to opposition parties, the Democrats are rapidly demonstrating themselves to be untrustworthy on even the most basic and essential level. This doesn’t make the GOP much better….but clearly they are better. Note that this doesn’t make me an enthusiastic supporter of the GOP, rather I see them as the lesser of two evils.
          My second point is that the real danger is too much government in the first place. The more powerful you make government, the more likely it is to accrete these ideological barnacles. When government is less powerful, i.e. the limited government that the Founders had in mind, there is less danger inherent in this. Yes, you still get a permanent political class, but they have less power and influence, and quite frankly, fewer talented sociopaths find it a worthwhile venture….

  • Gawain de Leeuw

    Meh – The author knows little about the internal dynamics of the Democratic party within Chicago. Certainly Chicago does represent a model of corruption that is remarkable, but Chicago Democratic Party – pretty much historically an Irish-American bastion of power – was not exactly uniform, having good government wings that were usually confined. Add that aldermen had kinds of power that other cities don’t give their representatives.

    The author is confused when talking about Obama and Harold Washington’s relationship to the machine. Neither had been part of the wing that controlled Democratic politics in the city – after all, Washington tried to reform the patronage system and the machine actually encouraged people to vote Republican after he won the primary. Daley barely knew who Obama was until 2004. It was pretty much dominated by white ethnics, who still control the police and fire departments.

    Further, even cursory research into the history of the Chicago Police Department reveals a long history of abuse. Does it represent that a blue model of government doesn’t work? Not really. It does say something about when one ethnic group dominates political power for more than a generation.

    The corruption, of course, is exemplified by Daley’s famous privatization of parking, which created all sorts of irresponsible mischief. Not sure how that’s a “blue” model. It’s going to cost the city billions. And anyone who parks.

    That the police are particularly brutal in Chicago should not be a surprise. That said, given the violence in the city, and that the police aren’t exactly trained to be social workers, it’s to be expected.

    • Boritz

      “…it’s to be expected.”

      So are the uninsured and those who rent because they can’t afford a mortgage, to cite two examples, but that doesn’t stop the Democrats from meddling with disastrous results. To-be-expected is actually refreshing.

  • rheddles

    We suspect that those held and mistreated at this facility are disproportionately members of minority group

    Is that based on the fact that the three prisoners shown were white and whites make up 32% of the population while blacks and Hispanics make up 52%?

    And the headline should have been Big Government cannot be trusted. It really doesn’t matter too much who’s in charge, the bureaucracy does what it needs to to metastasize.

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