“Shots rang out across the city Saturday night and Sunday morning—from the Far North Side to the Far South Side—with preliminary reports of nearly two dozen people shot. The overnight tally—which is unofficial—included two shootings on the same corner, a fatal shooting near the Taste of Chicago and several on the West Side, where detectives were swamped. ‘We’re just spinning up here,’ one detective said.” The headline of the article that includes the above quotation reads, “Nearly 24 people shot in less than 12 hours.”[1] This is not a report of what happened in Iraq over the weekend. Crime reporter Annie Sweeney was describing what took place in Chicago, in the good old USA.

Senator Edward Kennedy, (D-Mass.), scolded Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, claiming that the war in Iraq has become a “seeming intractable quagmire.” He recited a long list of what he called “gross errors and mistakes” in the U.S. military campaign and concluded with a renewed appeal for Rumsfeld to step down. “In baseball, it’s three strikes, you’re out,” Kennedy said before a standing-room-only session of the Armed Services Committee. “What is it for the secretary of defense? Isn’t it time for you to resign?”

Check any newspaper, and you will find numerous stories detailing criminal acts. Here are a few examples from Kennedy’s home state of Massachusetts. In the June 27, 2005, issue of the Bostom Globe,  there’s a story about a pregnant woman who was shot and killed while lying on a couch and another story about a man killing a pregnant gas station clerk. The Boston Herald carried a story about two men who were indicted on murder charges in a brawl death of a suburban Chicago man. In the same issue, a 16-year old boy was knifed to death. These are Americans who are being killed.

The adjacent states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have some of the least stringent gun control laws in the United States, yet the first two have lower murder rates than Massachusetts, and the murder rates in Vermont are comparable to those in Massachusetts. Murder rates in Boston increased 50% in 2004 over the previous year, while murder rates in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, and many other major cites saw murder rates decline.[2] There were more than 6000 violent crimes in 2004, including 58 murders, in the city of Boston alone. Senator Kennedy should be as worked up about crime and mayhem in Massachusetts as he is about Iraq.

The streets of America are not safe. In fact, there were 445 homicides in Chicago in 2004. The murder rate in New York City was 565. This is better than the 2,245 homicides recorded in 1990.[3] Los Angeles had 518 killings in 2004. Homicides totaled 193 in Washington, D.C. In Detroit, there were 384 murders. The murder rate in Baltimore was 278, one of the highest rates per capita—42.7 per 100,000.[4] It seems to me, to follow Kennedy’s “three strikes and you’re out” standard, a lot of police chiefs, mayors, and judges should have resigned a long time ago.

I wonder why Senator Kennedy did not resign his Senate seat after the Mary Jo Kopechne incident, what we know today simply as “Chappaquiddick.” There were obvious “gross errors and mistakes” the night of July 18, 1969 when Kennedy’s car took a dive off a narrow bridge and plunged into the water. He left Mary Jo for dead inside his car, left the scene of the accident, and did not report the accident to police until the next morning. If this had happened to anyone else—Donald Rumsfeld included—there would be no question about his political future.


[1] http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-bloody27.html
[3] http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-01-02-city-murders_x.htm
[4] http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t7758.html