In a speech that addressed youth violence in Chicago, First Lady Michelle Obama compared herself to Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl murdered soon after attending President Obama’s Second Inauguration. “Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her,” said the first lady.
“Thousands of children in this city live in neighborhoods where a funeral for a teenager is considered unfortunate, but not unusual; where wandering onto the wrong block or even just standing on your own front porch can mean putting yourself at risk,” Michelle Obama told the Chicago crowd, according to a transcript provided by the White House.
“Those are the odds that so many young people are facing in this city young people like Hadiya Pendleton, whose funeral I attended back in February. And we all know Hadiya’s story. She was 15 years old, an honor student at King College Prep. And she came from a good family two devoted parents, plenty of cousins, solid godparents and grandparents, an adoring little brother. The Pendletons are hardworking people. They’re churchgoing folks. And Hadiya’s mother did everything she could for her daughter. She enrolled her in every activity you could imagine cheerleading, majorettes, the praise dance ministry anything to keep her off the streets and keep her busy.
“And as I visited with the Pendleton family at Hadiya’s funeral, I couldn’t get over how familiar they felt to me. Because what I realized was Hadiya’s family was just like my family. Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her. But I got to grow up, and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School, and have a career and a family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine.
“And Hadiya? Oh, we know that story. Just a week after she performed at my husband’s inauguration, she went to a park with some friends and got shot in the back because some kid thought she was in a gang. Hadiya’s family did everything right, but she still didn’t have a chance. And that story the story of Hadiya’s life and death we read that story day after day, month after month, year after year in this city and around this country.”
Former Obama Czar Goes After Glenn Beck in New Book; Compares Attacks to Orwell’s ‘Two Minutes Hate’
President Barack Obama’s former “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein is going after one of his harshest critics, Glenn Beck, in a new book titled, “Simpler: The Future of Government.” In it, he claims Beck became obsessed with him and compares his attacks on his record and views to “Two Minutes Hate” found in George Orwell’s “1984.”
For anyone who hasn’t read Orwell’s classic, “Two Minutes Hate” is a daily activity during which Party members in Oceania must watch video depicting the Party’s enemies as they mindlessly express their hatred for them. See the video below:
Sunstein, a former law professor at Harvard and University of Chicago, claims that Beck “developed what appeared to be a kind of obsession with me.” The so called “obsession” began when he was nominated to take over the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in 2009. He earned the titled of “the most dangerous man in America” from Beck.
Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy provides an excerpt from Sunstein’s yet to be released book, in which he claims Beck’s attacks resulted in death threats against him:
In Orwell’s 1984, there is a brilliant, powerful, and frightening scene of the “Two Minutes Hate,” in which party members must watch a film depicting national enemies. As it happens, the leading enemy is named Goldstein. At times, Beck’s attacks on me, featuring my smiling face, were not entirely unlike those scenes. A new website was created, stopsunstein.com, filled with inflammatory quotations, some taken out of context to suggest that I endorsed views that I rejected and was merely describing.
I began to receive a lot of hate mail, including death threats, at my unlisted home address. One of them stated, “If I were you I would resign immediately. A well paid individual, who is armed, knows where you live.”
In the end, Sunstein made it through the confirmation process and got the go ahead from the Senate with a 57-40 vote. However, he ended up resigning in August of last year to become Harvard’s Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law and Director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy.
As Chicago leaders push for a statewide mandatory minimum prison sentence of three and a half years for illegal firearm possession in Illinois, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy made the case for urgency Monday by telling the story of an arrest this week in which police checked on a convicted felon and discovered he had a stolen and loaded Cat 9 9mm handgun.
McCarthy went through other tales of SWAT teams and cops bursting in on convicted felons to find .38 caliber Smith and Wessons, .45 caliber Glocks, .357s, and 38 specials. The guns typically are loaded, impossible to register and illegal both in how they are purchased and that they are in the possession of habitual, violent criminals.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, McCarthy and District Attorney Anita Alvarez are calling for legislation to toughen the penalty for illegal firearm possession, as well as so called truth in sentencing laws, intended to prevent convicts from being released after serving just a fraction of their time and returning to their violent lifestyle.
“By increasing penalties and requiring criminals to serve their punishment, we not only protect our children, our families and our communities but we also prevent the impulsive retaliatory killings that plague our neighborhoods,” McCarthy said.
The catch is that such laws need to be passed by the state Legislature in Springfield, where the success of Emanuel’s agenda will depend on his powers of persuasion.
“When you commit a serious gun offense, you should serve the time. The victims deserve it. The public demands it, and the criminal justice system should deliver it,” Emanuel said.
Emanuel may not be accustomed to the reception his push may get from downstate lawmakers.
Illinois prisons are so badly overcrowded that six of them have inmates bunking together in the gym. On top of that, the governor of the cash strapped state announced the closure of two prisons. AFSCME union members are protesting because the understaffed guards are at risk. Their protest is punctuated by news that guards were attacked at Menard Correctional Center and the Pinckneyville Correctional Center.
Stiffer sentences will mean more prisoners staying longer, and downstate Illinois will help foot the bill for Chicago’s problem.
“It’s an unfunded mandate, and you know the state of Illinois has a budget problem of course. We’re trying to cut corners and do everything we can to balance the budget,” Democratic State Sen. Gary Forby said.
The bill containing the increased penalties desired by Chicago’s leaders has been drawn up. It is in Springfield waiting to be assigned to a committee.
CHICAGO – Eight former Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs say the federal government needs to act now or it might lose the chance to nullify Colorado and Washington's laws legalizing recreational marijuana use.
The onetime DEA heads are issuing joint statements Tuesday saying the Obama administration has reacted too slowly and should immediately sue to force the states to rescind the legislation.
The Associated Press received an advance copy of the statement Monday.
One of the former DEA administrators, Peter Bensinger, told the AP that the more time goes by, the harder it'll be to stop the two states. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.
Bensinger, who lives in the Chicago area, said not acting forthrightly to sue the states might create "a domino effect" in which other states follow suit.
"My fear is that the Justice Department will do what they are doing now: do nothing and say nothing," said Bensinger. "If they don't act now, these laws will be fully implemented in a matter of months."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a meeting of state attorneys general last week that he is still reviewing the laws but that his review is winding down. Asked Monday for a comment on the criticism from the former DEA administrators, Holder spokeswoman Allison Price would only say, "The Department of Justice is in the process of reviewing those initiatives."
The department's review has been under way since shortly after last fall's elections. It could sue to block the states from issuing licenses to marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, on the grounds that doing so conflicts with federal drug law. Alternatively, Holder could decide not to mount a court challenge.
The ex-DEA heads are issuing the statements though the Florida-based Save Our Society from Drugs, a national group lobbying against legalization. One of the group's spokesmen is based in Chicago.
The former DEA administrators are Bensinger, John Bartels, Robert Bonner, Thomas Constantine, Asa Hutchinson, John Lawn, Donnie Marshall and Francis Mullen. They served for both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Holder is scheduled to appear Wednesday before a U.S. Senate judiciary committee hearing. The former DEA chiefs want senators to question Holder on the legalization issue.
Advocates of legalization have welcomed Colorado and Washington's new laws, arguing that criminalizing drugs creates serious though unintended social problems. The ex-DEA heads say they disagree with that view.
After votes last fall, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana's recreational use putting federal authorities in a quandary over how, or whether, to respond.
Washington state officials responsible for creating a regulated marijuana system have said they are moving forward with a timetable of issuing producer licenses by August.
Bensinger who served as DEA administrator under Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan said the supremacy of federal law over state law when it comes to drug laws isn't in doubt.
"This is a no brainer," he said. "It is outrageous that a lawsuit hasn't been filed in federal court yet."
See Video of the Wild Chicago Mall Brawl That Led to 19 Arrests: ‘Anything They Found They Started Throwing’
Nineteen teenagers have been arrested following a frightening disturbance that shut down a Chicago shopping mall and left two people with minor injuries. [Read more...]
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
President Obama embracing Jesse L. Jackson Jr. at a Ford auto plant in Chicago in 2010.
When Barack and Michelle Obama were married in Chicago two decades ago, Santita Jackson, a daughter of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, sang at their wedding. When Mr. Obama ran for his first national office, he made sure he was not stepping on the ambitions of her brother, Jesse L. Jackson Jr., who later became a co-chairman of his 2008 presidential campaign.
A 55-year-old woman who works as a researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago was jailed this week for bringing a pistol licensed, unloaded and in a case to her office.
The woman, who also holds an “Illinois firearm owners registration card,” told Chicago police that she had brought the handgun, recently purchased for home defense, to her workplace because she did not want to leave it at her residence while a work crew was there doing a renovation project.
But Chicago has perhaps the toughest gun laws in the nation and carrying the weapon, even without ammunition, is a serious offense.
A co-worker spotted the pistol case and called police who came and snatched up the information specialist from her workplace. The Chicago Tribune reports that the woman was held on $25,000 bond pending trial and placed on leave by the university.
Not too far away on the city’s West Side, Chicago Police were having less luck in dealing with another crime that day than they did with the case of the pistol packing information specialist.
An unidentified male was found stabbed to death in an alleyway, marking the 50th murder in the city so far this year. The victim was later identified as a 22-year-old from across town in Calumet City, but given the low rate at which the city’s 535 murders last year were solved, it looks unlikely that police will soon be identifying the one who did the stabbing.
President Obama is back in his hometown today to make another pitch for his “cradle to career” educational initiatives. But while he’s in town, the president will surely have to address the murder epidemic that has gripped the city.
It’s not that Chicago rivals murder wastelands like New Orleans or Detroit, but what’s happening is very alarming for locals. While murder rates in the nation continue to decline, Chicago has seen sharp increases. While murder rates in New York dropped to an all time low last year, Chicago was approaching numbers not seen since the crack wars of the early 1990s.
So why is Chicago unraveling while New York is stabilizing? It’s hard to say exactly, but the city’s mayor, a former congressman, a former chief of staff to Obama and a potential future presidential contender, believes he knows. Rahm Emanuel has gone to war on guns.
Emanuel is doing everything he can to get the guns out of his city, taking up the cause with new vigor following the mass shooting in Connecticut last year.
But as the jailed University of Illinois at Chicago researcher can attest, the gun laws are already pretty darn stiff. Remember, it’s not as if the police discovered the mix up and told her to take her gun home, they took her to jail for having a licensed, registered weapon that without ammunition was only about as deadly as a desktop stapler.
And one could hardly blame her for her recent purchase of the weapon given the deteriorating security situation in her neighborhood and the city at large. It’s not just murders. Shootings, robberies and other crimes are all up in the city, with shopkeepers and homeowners demanding protection.
As for her ignorance of the city’s gun laws, well, one supposes she understands now.
Emanuel urgently needs to stem the crime wave in his city. His political future and the city’s economic fate depend on erasing the growing perception of Chicago returning to its most lawless days, the era of Cabrini-Green and the crack wars. And at the very least he needs to demonstrate that it is gun makers who are more to blame than he, whose mayoralty has coincided with the crime wave.
The question for the president is whether he can make the case that a national gun ban would be effective in reducing murder rates given the results in Chicago.
Joe Walsh Michelle Obama Funeral Flap: Tea Partier Rips FLOTUS For Going To Hadiya Pendleton Service
(Tea Party favorite, Former Congressman Joe Walsh blasted First Lady Michelle Obama for attending funeral of slain inaugural performer 15 year old Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago. AP/Alamy)
Making good on his threat promise that he’s not going away, ex-Congressman Joe Walsh reared his head Friday morning to blast the first lady for traveling to her hometown of Chicago to attend slain 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton’s funeral.