Quote of the Day:

For too long, the U.S. has only paid attention to poverty in its cities “when a CVS burns,” [President] Obama said at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.


For most normal people, of course, the smoldering CVS does not say deserving poor. It says vandalism and thuggery. If the destroyed CVS says anything about poverty, it says this: because of the lawlessness of the riots, low-income people in the West Baltimore neighborhood that has gone up in flames in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, 25, in police custody, and was home to the CVS may now find it harder to get their prescriptions filled.  

Former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich, visibly frustrated, also commented on the burned-out CVS. Ehrlich recalled how difficult it had been to convince CVS to invest in the West Baltimore community in the first place. It will be interesting to see if the CVS returns to the neighborhood.  Executives who make these decisions may remember the dramatic footage of a rioter puncturing the hose of a a fire fighter who was trying to put out the fire. 

Irony was not the strong suit of the Baltimore political leader who, standing amid the looted burned-out stores and residences, said that what the neighborhood needs is more financial investment from outsiders. Just how safe are investments in this neighborhood? It should be noted that a number of leaders, including Rep. Elijah Cummings, were on the scene and urging people to go home instead of engaging in violence in Baltimore last night.

To his credit (on second thought not to his credit—it is so damned, tragically obvious even he can't avoid it), President Obama did mention some of the problems, including fatherlessness, that render neighborhoods such as this one in West Baltimore so dangerous. But he quickly moved on to themes he prefers, such as how Republicans are thwarting his noble policies.

President Obama has called for soul searching in the wake of the Baltimore riots. I’m game, but the president and his allies need to do this called-for soul searching, too. It is time for the president to confront the real meaning of the destroyed CVS.

A good place to begin is a piece at NRO on “The Left’s Burning Cities,” by David French. French begins:

In Baltimore, as the National Guard steps in, curfews are imposed, and business owners pick up the pieces from their burned-out, looted stores, let’s not forget why one more American city has been torn apart by racial violence. Blue America has failed at social justice. It has failed at equality. It has failed at accountability. Its competing constituencies are engaged in street battles, and any exploration of “root causes” must necessarily include decades of failed policies — all imposed by steadfastly Democratic mayors and city leaders.

Are the riots caused by the Baltimore Police Department’s “documented history” of abuse? Which party has run Baltimore and allowed its police officers to allegedly run amok? Going deeper, which American political movement lionizes public-employee unions, fiercely protecting them from even the most basic reform? Public-employee unions render employee discipline difficult and often impossible. Jobs are functionally guaranteed for life, and rogue officers can count on the best representation money can buy — courtesy of Blue America.

Are the riots caused by inequality? Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos’s son, John, made waves on the left with his “tweetstorm” stating that his “greater source of personal concern, outrage, and sympathy” was not with “one night’s property damage” but with a litany of economic outrages that he claims have “plunged tens of millions of hard-working Americans into economic devastation.” Mother Jones summed up his message by declaring, “At the end of the day, it comes down to social and economic inequality.”

French examines “inequality” and finds that the bluer a city is, the more inequality is supports. The bluer the city’s policies are, the more unaffordable its housing market is, for example. The left’s ever increasing laws and regulations ensure that citizens have more and more interaction with law enforcement (remember Eric Garner, who attracted the notice of law officers because he was selling loose cigarettes).

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal says something similar:

You’re not supposed to say this in polite company, but what went up in flames in Baltimore Monday night was not merely a senior center, small businesses and police cars. Burning down was also the blue-city model of urban governance.

Nothing excuses the violence of rampaging students or the failure of city officials to stop it before Maryland’s Governor called in the National Guard. But as order starts to return to the streets, and the usual political suspects lament the lack of economic prospects for the young men who rioted, let’s not forget who has run Baltimore and Maryland for nearly all of the last 40 years.

The men and women in charge have been Democrats, and their governing ideas are “progressive.” This model, with its reliance on government and public unions, has dominated urban America as once-vibrant cities such as Baltimore became shells of their former selves. In 1960 Baltimore was America’s sixth largest city with 940,000 people. It has since shed nearly a third of its population and today isn’t in the top 25.

The dysfunctions of the blue-city model are many, but the main failures are three: high crime, low economic growth and failing public schools that serve primarily as jobs programs for teachers and administrators rather than places of learning.

Yes, Mr. President, it is a time for soul searching.