I Was Going to Consider Pete Buttigieg for President, But He Flat Out Lies About Crime
The Washington Post & Major Media Again Covers Up for the False Narrative that the Criminal Justice System is Racist, Even When Politicians Exaggerate by Four Times
When a candidate for president praised for his intelligence says one population is 400% more likely to be incarcerated for the same crime than another, and the reality is the difference is shown as negligible in peer-reviewed reports and studies, then we may have a “truth” problem. Factually, black-white sentencing disparities range from 5% to 20%, and even 0% in a U.S. Justice Department survey of felony cases in the country’s 75 largest urban counties. Additionally, black people are not more likely to be arrested, and even less likely for crimes like assault and robbery which they commit at levels five to eight times higher than the white population.
But haven’t we always had trouble with hard truths in politics? Especially when the politics of grievance and identity are concerned?
This year I’ve tried to ignore the presidential race, but it’s increasingly difficult not to. Even while I was in Japan ostensibly on vacation from politics, Democratic debate headlines showed up in the Japan Times and on my phone’s news feed. Even President Trump was at the G20 Summit in Osaka the same day I was there. Trump’s image also showed up at my capsule hotel in Hiroshima a day later in a spectacular Japanese news cast that felt more like a game show or weather briefing (an image popped up showing what looked to be a Trump/Xi monsoon hitting North Korea). The 2020 campaign for the White House is especially hard to ignore when the race for the Democratic nomination increasingly involves being the most “woke” candidate.
As reported in the Washington Post, which essentially isn’t hiring fact-checkers despite all that Jeff Bezos Amazon money pouring in, they wrote about a campaign-stop controversy July 5 that made milk shoot out of my nose — and eyes. I wasn’t even drinking milk, and it wasn’t prompted by the crass statements of the old white man questioning the presidential candidate on issues of crime and race. It was from the blatantly false statements of South Bend mayor and youthful upstart Pete Buttigieg. Here’s what the Post wrote:
Speaking at a Democrats Fourth of July barbecue in Carroll, Iowa, Buttigieg told the man that the issues his town is facing do have to do with race.
“The fact that a black person is four times [400% per capita] as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime [!] is evidence of systematic racism,” Buttigieg said. “With all due respect, sir, racism makes it harder for good police officers to do their job, too. It’s a smear on law enforcement.”
The video cut off with some in the crowd chanting, “USA, USA, USA.”
The questioner has been identified as Dave Begley, who contributes to Powerline, a website with a “conservative perspective.” This year, Begley has been writing dispatches from Democratic presidential campaign events in Iowa where he aims to ask the candidates’ provocative questions.
OK. I know not everyone’s going to notice this. Fewer will want to hear it.
Black Americans are around four times more likely to be incarcerated than white Americans, according to Pew Research Center. That’s true. So the only way Buttigieg’s retort could be true is if they’re committing crime at the same levels.
Which is utterly insane. They don’t. And saying the facts that contextualizes racially disproportionate police shootings — an issue that cropped up in South Bend last month when a white officer shot a man armed with a knife, and where Buttigieg also capitulated to the social justice mob — is not racist.
Again, this is what Buttigieg said: “The fact that a black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime is evidence of systematic racism.”
This is also basic math which shouldn’t be that difficult to explain, but seemingly is. What Buttigieg’s exact words would mean, if true, is that on average a white person gets 2 years in prison while black man gets 8 years in prison for committing the same crime. Or Buttigieg is saying that in the violent crime category, which are nearly half of all incarcerated offenders, our reality would look like the following:
- 100 black individuals commit any act of violence and are arrested. The result in Buttigieg’s world: 20 are imprisoned.
- 100 white individuals commit any act of violence and are arrested. The result in Buttigieg’s world: 5 are imprisoned.
There’s not a single study showing that to be true, or a court that is imposing such radically different sentences. There’s not one police department locking up black people four times more often for doing “the exact same crime.”
The only category he could be talking about with a “four times” (400%) black-white disparity is for marijuana possession — much of that has to do with dealing and smoking in public spaces as opposed to in their own private homes. The celebrated crime drama The Wire highlighted the “paper bag” solution in their “Hamsterdam” episode. And state and local decriminalization laws have significantly reduced pot busts.
Drug conviction racial disparities are often a go-to argument for social justice critics and politicians, but drug arrests, especially for possession of marijuana, are not driving mass incarceration. In fact, less than 1% of the prison population consists of persons charged with marijuana possession. While one of the larger categories of arrests — marijuana possession constitutes only 5% of total arrests — felony prison sentences don’t often result. The Washington Post reported that anywhere from .1% to 1.5% of all state prison sentences are for marijuana possession and said, “Only 92 people in 2017 were sentenced for marijuana possession in the federal system out of a total of nearly 20,000 drug convictions, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.” There are 2.5 times more prisoners serving time for violence than for all drug offenses, and only one-quarter of drug convictions can be considered “unambiguously low-level drug offenders.” The rest I presume are unambigously high-level and often violent persons who pleaded to a drug sentence.
So what Buttigieg is doing is taking one anomalous example and making it emblematic of the whole system. That’s dishonesty.
In terms of actual sentencing disparities, an argument could be made that a black man may get 11 months compared to a white man getting 10 months for the exact same crime. But Buttigieg’s own words are wildly off.
If Buttigieg would have stuck with saying, “The fact that a black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated,” and left it at that, he would have been on point. He could then say we can work on black-white crime disparities through enhancing educational and work opportunities — or whatever policy he wants to lay out to get to the root of incarceration disparities. Instead he ran with a likely ACLU-inspired talking point and blamed cops and judges. Which can be frustrating as cops are deployed to high-crime areas by their higher ups, who are politically led by, you guessed it, the mayors of our great cities.
The reason Buttigieg can get away with saying that is because people actually believe that to be true. If this isn’t one of the more glaring examples in America showcasing indoctrination coming from the left, I don’t know what is. This is cognitive dissonance at its worst — because lives affected by violent crime are literally on the line. The U.S. reduced homicides by almost 10,000 total in 2014 compared to 1994. But murders rose the past few years. Today they’re just 7,000 less.
As reported at the height of Black Lives Matter protests in 2014, the U.K’s Channel 4 offered a rare fact-based analysis on crime and stated racism is clearly not driving large black-white disparities: “But academics have noted that the proportion of black suspects arrested by the police tends to match closely the proportion of offenders identified as black by victims in the National Crime Victimization Survey.”
There are few articles that admit such truths. As I’ve written the only time other outlets like the BBC mention crime stats is when they ask “Is the Gun Control Movement Too White?” and only then draw attention to black kids being disproportionately shot by each other. Otherwise, there’s a media blackout on the topic.
It’s simply not the case blacks in the U.S. are being over-arrested or over-incarcerated at significant levels, even if the American people are being purposely misled to believe so. One of the reasons I believe is a massive politically correct push-back against any facts that could be stigmatizing to minority populations. This emanates from the sorrow and guilt of our tragic history.
All of this data and more with primary sourcing I offer at the bottom of this post below a Google Doc I’m working on, a working paper on how the narratives of “The 13th” and “The New Jim Crow” — and even Elizabeth Warren — are also a lie. And yet — through collective guilt or some other error in the vetting process — the former is a documentary widely seen on Netflix and Oscar-nominated, and the latter is one of the most celebrated books in criminal justice of the past decade. Is saying they “lie” too strong? They offer some insights. But when 8% of our prisoners are held in private prisons and 1 out of 5 people in prison are there for drug crimes — 5–6% as low-level nonviolent offenders, according to criminal justice expert John Pfaff — and both these landmark media entities omit those facts, then we’re dealing with at the very least lies of omission. And that’s brainwashing in my book.
Thus, what Buttigieg said is nothing short of a flat-out misleading fib. When Trump pushed false crime stats as a candidate from racist right-wing sources saying blacks killed 81% of white homicide victims, he was rightfully vilified including by myself. If he said this statistic out loud, and not merely re-Tweet it and soon delete it, it would obviously be a far worse statement than Buttigieg’s. However, he was right to call the nearly 60% surge in killings in Chicago in 2016 “carnage.” What else could more than 4000 people shot and 800 killed in a single city in a single year possibly be called?
Unsurprisingly, I’ve yet to find in several news stories about this Buttigieg incident, nor in commentaries heaping praise on the South Bend mayor, any fact-checking around his statement. Business Insider’s and USA Today’s original cached headlines flatly said Begley asked a “racist question,” and I can only presume wiser heads — and surely an outpouring of conservative complaints to editors — led to the headlines being switched out. But the very fact the words “racist question” were in the first headlines editors wrote is truly telling how the ideology of social justice has merged with media.
I’ll admit it’s controversial and un-PC for Begley to say the following: “I have a solution for you, and I’d like you to make a comment on my proposal. Just tell the black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs.” According to prison records and The Sentencing Project, 66% of black men and 94% of black women have never been incarcerated for crime. So maybe he didn’t need to speak so broadly. Then again, 94% of white men and more than 99% of white women haven’t been incarcerated. But saying, as Mayor Pete did, that “a black person is four times [400%] as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime” is not true when the latest damning evidence shows around a 20% sentencing disparity — an increase as overall sentencing fell lower for both races because of the elimination of restrictive guidelines built for “truth in sentencing.” But would criminal justice reformers prefer to go back 15 years where the gap was 5% and both blacks and whites served longer sentences?
Oh, and there’s also that 2016 Criminal Justice Review article that was almost entirely unreported about saying there’s 0% race disparities in arrests based on the commission of crime. Actually, scratch that. It actually said, “Race does have an indirect effect on police contact, but it is white individuals who are more likely to be questioned and arrested.”
And people still wonder why Trump won in 2016. Look no further than this Mayor Buttigieg example of dealing with crime and policing in South Bend. Or when journalist Andy Ngo got beat up by Antifa last week and few major media figures other than CNN’s Jake Tapper stuck their heads out to say that’s a sign of a deeper problem in our political discourse.
While it’s patently untrue that there are no black-white disparities in committing crimes, more and more Americans believe that’s the case and it’s merely racist police and a racist justice system that causes disparities. This is wholly from the push against “mass incarceration” where all mention of crime commission is erased in the pursuit of “social justice.” I can report that in numerous exchanges in person, online, and through comment sections that educated people with PhDs and Masters degrees fully do not believe blacks and whites commit crime at different rates. Or they believe through some magic formula that a small amount of systemic racial bias — which I’ll admit, does occur along certain vectors — dictates the majority of disparities rather than citizen behavior.
Obviously, they’re not aware of the nightly murders and violence affecting black communities daily from Memphis to St. Louis, and from Oakland to Baltimore. Or within my beloved city of Chicago.
One supposes the annual FBI reports of murder and robbery arrests being close to 55% black — a rate 8 times higher than the white population — are wholly occurring because of over-policing. That’s some fairly selective police work! Yet then one would also have to contend with the fact that homicide clearance rates are reaching record lows in cities with large black communities and the highest murder victim rates. South Bend’s murder rate is around four times higher than the national rate at 16 per 100,000, and in the top 30 most violent cities and about the same rate as Chicago’s in 2015. Their black population also is twice the national rate. Perhaps this is what the tactless “racist” was getting at. Or maybe we can simply take Dave Begley at his word, as Politico reported. They’re one of the few outlets I saw report the full statements of the proclaimed Power Line blog reporter:
“I just urged him in order to resolve the racial controversy in South Bend, is to urge the blacks in South Bend to obey the law so they’re not going to have confrontations with the police, and he dismissed me as a racist which I resented and he knows he’s wrong,” Begley said. “Because in Chicago 20 black people are probably going to get shot this weekend. I don’t think 20 black people should get shot.”
I agree with him. And I’m a liberal. I actually think it’s racist not to police black communities, because they need those resources the most. This “ACLU Effect” and “Ferguson Effect,” I believe, has cost hundreds of black lives in Chicago and thousands nationwide since 2014. They’re also backed by studies using rigorous statistical regressive analysis and methodologies. But do we always have to look at the “fancy math” of research that gets ignored anyways? One only has to look, as I have, at the 3000-person increase in homicides we’ve maintained the past three years 2016–18 to see the obvious. The ACLU denies this, of course, and many in the media follow suit. Most put their heads in the sand. You see very little reporting on this new blood-soaked reality, especially compared to disparities in the criminal justice system or hate crime.
At least the USA today reports that the Fraternal Order of Police is upset about Buttigieg’s actions being used for political gain due to the openly gay mayor’s poor standing with black voters.
Buttigieg has recently been on the defensive in the aftermath of the police shooting. The South Bend Fraternal Order of Police has been critical of the mayor, accusing him of “driving a wedge between law enforcement officers and the community they took an oath to serve.”
In fact, the FOP president in South Bend said regarding other statements by Buttigieg during the Democratic Primary debates, “He has basically called all police officers racist and that is blatantly untrue.” It’s really too bad we live in a time where no one can argue evidence that if the U.S. remained at 1990–1994 levels of homicidal violence where 24,000 murders annually took place on average, around 165,000 more lives would be gone over the course of 25 years, half of them black lives. The bulk sum of of those lives simply have to matter more than the 18 unarmed black people (along with 23 unarmed white people) shot and killed by police in 2018, according to The Washington Post Fatal Force database.
Unfortunately, murders spiked from slightly more than 14,000 to 17,250 in 2016, and starting immediately after protests in Ferguson. Again, some researchers have proven a connection to this “Ferguson Effect” phenomenon, even begrudgingly as University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist Richard Rosenfeld has in public and in his research. (You can almost see him trying to “paint within the lines” or risk career suicide in an increasingly ideologically dogmatic field.) I think the massive murder spikes in Baltimore, St. Louis and Chicago immediately after high-profile police shootings are obvious. If #BLM is about saving black lives, they’re not doing an especially good job at it.
Even the Innocence Project, a heavily funded organization attempting to exonerate those wrongfully convicted, say on their website that 1% of convicted felons are innocent. Thus, one could argue using their data that up to 99% of prisoners are NOT innocent of their crime convictions. This is yet another rebuke of Buttigieg’s claims.
Democrats wanting to win the 2020 nomination are feeling the pressure to signify they’re the chosen one to carry the “progressive” mantle — and doing so means inventing fictitious realities. One of them you’ll hear more and more, just like in 2016 when “super-predator” accusations at Hillary Clinton stumbled her out of the block, is the 1994 crime bill was wholly racist and policing is bad for black people. In fact, I read about it on my plane ride from Chicago to LAX and on to Tokyo, though in a rebuttal. Clarence Page, a celebrated columnist for the Chicago Tribune who just happens to be a politically moderate black writer and has first-hand knowledge of the past four decades of politics, eloquently wrote that candidates like Joe Biden should celebrate their role in the crime bill. He points out that the Congressional Black Caucus and Bernie Sanders supported it, and it was one of the factors in the drop in crime. Page also wrote wearily: “That debate goes on. As one source, PolitiFact, put it this past week, ‘Over the decades, no credible analyst has cast the 1994 crime bill as the trigger for mass incarceration.’”
How refreshing to hear the truth be said for once.
I know where these formulations come from, usually from acronyms that raise funds in the hundreds of millions by stoking outrage in the age of Trump, like the ADL or SPLC. Is Buttigieg talking about the ACLU’s oft-repeated hyperbole about the War on Drugs, where they trot out the stat that “Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana”? While that is likely the #1 highest black-white disparity crime category — African-Americans are only 23% more likely to use marijuana compared to being around 800% more likely to commit robbery — what’s rarely shown in conjunction with that fact is that of people in state prison, less than three-tenths of 1% are there for simple possession of marijuana, according to Politifact. This was argued when they gave Bernie Sanders a “mostly false” score for misleading Americans in 2016 by saying, “We are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana.”
Not really, Bernie. But good luck in the primaries. Sorry I won’t be supporting you either, unlike your last go in 2016.
If politicians continue to pander to the social justice crowd and elites who distort the available evidence at every turn, then Trump wins in 2020. The 1994 crime bill is already being used politically to take down front-runner Joe Biden, who’s yet to capitulate and apologize for it. He shouldn’t. Again, it did not significantly expand “mass incarceration,” which even Vox admits. 9 in 10 black Americans polled as recently as 2015 say they want the same number or more police in their communities, a statistic that absolutely does not jibe with Black Lives Matter narratives.
They say the “truth shall set you free.” Let’s see now if facts do.
I’m currently working on a long-form working paper (or article) that I’m OPEN FOR COMMENT & FEEDBACK before I put into the world beyond a Google Doc. But I’ve heavily edited it, so if you have feedback, please place in the comments. Everything below is taken from here:
4 REASONS INDICATING NEGLIGIBLE SYSTEMIC RACISM IN U.S. CRIMINAL JUSTICE & POLICING
From from link above, I focus on #1 and #3 in this post:
1. Arrests are NOT proven to be racially biased, according to several studies.
2. Police do not largely “racially profile” and surveys show negligible difference in police contact between blacks and whites.
3. In prison, up to 99% are not innocent, and sentencing has 0–20% racial disparity gap.
4. Eight (8) studies published since 2016 showing blacks are NOT likely to be injured or shot more often than whites or other racial groups by police when benchmarking for real criminal activity, i.e. racial bias for use of force is nil or negligible.
FACTS REFUTING MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG’S STATEMENT — AND THE “WOKE” COMMUNITY THAT DOES NOT QUESTION IT— USING PEER-REVIEWED OR GOVERNMENT SOURCES
3. In prison, up to 99% are not innocent, and sentencing has 0–20% racial disparity gap.
1% of people in prison are falsely convicted according to the Innocence Project, the activist group that seeks to exonerate prisoners (thus, 99% may not be innocent of their crimes).
Bureau of Justice Statistics: Federal Sentencing Disparity, 2005–2012:
“In the 8-year period between 2005 and 2012, black men received roughly 5% to 10% longer prison sentences than white men for similar crimes, after accounting for the facts surrounding the case.”
A University of Michigan Law School study in 2014 showing 10% longer sentences for blacks compared to whites at the federal level is the main citation in Wikipedia (i.e. not hard to find).
0% racial gap in sentencing according to the paper “No Racism in the Justice System,” published in The Public Interest way back in 1994 (and referenced by conservative Larry Elder):
“Many studies have been conducted that show no bias in the arrest, prosecution, adjudication, and sentencing of blacks. At the same time, many other studies show possible evidence of bias. The consensus among criminologists is that available evidence of bias is not strong. Compared to legitimate factors affecting sentencing decisions, such as the defendant’s prior record and offense seriousness, race appears to be only weakly related to whether a defendant is arrested, convicted, prosecuted, or sentenced severely. … The survey provided no evidence that, in places where blacks had most of their contacts with the criminal justice system, the system treated them more harshly than whites.”
2017 U.S. Sentencing Commission Report shows around a 20% difference, and long story short:
- The report says some variables that “cannot be measured” could make up a portion of the difference.
- Report even stated explicitly it “should not be taken to suggest discrimination on the part of judges.”
- The black-white gap may widen or remain persistent due to the elimination of rigid sentencing guidelines (mandatory minimums), thus sentences are lower for BOTH blacks and whites compared to decades past.
And what about over-arrests? Well, that can be answered, too, in my working document showcasing the 4 Steps Showing How Criminal Justice System Isn’t (Very) Racially Biased.
But put another way: If the black population — through a history of subjugation and racism — commits murder at rates that would place them in the top 20 worst countries for murder in the world, then maybe that’s an issue worth tackling rather than blaming the criminal justice system. That used to be mainstream opinion in the U.S. Now you’re at risk of being branded racist for even bringing it up, even if murder disproportionately snuffs the lives of around 9,000 black Americans, up from 7,500 not more than three years ago.
1. Arrests are NOT proven to be racially biased, according to several studies.
“Results indicate that race does have an indirect effect on police contact, but it is White individuals who are more likely to be questioned and arrested.” SOURCE (2016, Criminal Justice Review): http://cjr.sagepub.com/content/41/3/294.full.pdf+html
“Multivariate logistic regression results show that the odds of arrest for white offenders is approximately 22% higher for robbery, 13% higher for aggravated assault, and 9% higher for simple assault than they are for black offenders. These findings suggest that the disproportionately high arrest rate for black citizens is most likely attributable to differential involvement in reported crime rather than to racially biased law enforcement practices.” SOURCE (2003, Social Forces, Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill): http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/81/4/1381
“To date, the research that has been conducted cannot confirm or refute whether officers discriminate against members of racial minority groups.”
SOURCE (2004, NCJRS, U.S. Department of Justice): https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/213004.pdf
Channel 4 in the U.K. wrote one of the more honest articles on crime by the media, pointing to a key reason we can trust the arrest numbers is because they match survey data:
“But academics have noted that the proportion of black suspects arrested by the police tends to match closely the proportion of offenders identified as black by victims in the National Crime Victimization Survey. This doesn’t support the idea that the police are unfairly discriminating against the black population when they make arrests.”
STORY SOURCE: Race and Racism in the United States: An Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic
In conclusion, this last source I screenshot and highlighted below.
Thank you for reading.