Glenn Kessler, the “Fact Checker” at the Washington Post who awarded The President “Four Pinocchios” for his “You can keep your doctor” line two years ago just – wrongly – gave the President “Three Pinocchios” for the following incoherent ramble.
Kessler does a pretty good job of deconstructing that ramble and pointing out Obama’s “exaggerations” – and it’s worth reading the whole article – but on one critical point Kessler is 100% off the mark. Here’s that point.
‘Our homicide rates are so much higher…by like a mile’
When we first saw this quote, we thought the president said the United States had the highest homicide rate among industrialized nations. So did our reader. After all, the president even used the phrase “by like a mile.”
We got some push-back from the administration on this interpretation so just to be sure, we surveyed six colleagues and asked them what they thought the quote meant. The result was unanimous: the president was telling students the United States had the highest homicide rate among the industrialized world.
That is factually incorrect.
The best proxy for “industrialized countries” is the membership of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. There are currently 34 countries in the OECD, but the agency also includes Brazil and Russia in its statistical data. (The two countries have been negotiating for membership but talks have been suspended with Russia because of the Crimea crisis.)
The OECD says the average homicide rate among the 36 countries is 4.1 per 100,000 people.
According to the 2014 data, at the top of the list is Brazil, with a homicide rate 25.5, or six times the average. Next on the list is Mexico, with a homicide rate of 23.4, followed by Russia at 12.8.
Then comes a tie for fourth place—Chile and the United States both have a homicide rate of 5.2. Estonia follows close behind with a homicide rate of 4.7.
So the United States certainly has a rate that is above average—and indeed, countries such as Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom all have homicide rates that are well below 1 per 100,000. But the president said that U.S. rate was higher “by a mile” when in fact the rate is five times lower than Brazil and four times lower than Mexico.
Kessler’s bottom line is that our homicide rate is 5.2 so Obama was exaggerating when, in fact, the President is lying through his teeth.
If we look at FBI homicide statistics from 2008, and they won’t be much different today, we see a shockingly different picture. Well, if you’re shocked easily.
In fact, the homicide rate for blacks was 24.7, right up there with Mexico and Brazil. For whites it was 3.2, well below the OCED averages.
So, the problem, Mr. President, is NOT guns. The problem isn’t that it may be easier to buy a gun in “certain neighborhoods” than a book or a vegetable. We know why the President didn’t go into more detail about “those” neighborhoods. Frankly, in “those” neighborhoods it’s not likely many people would know what to do with a book or would eat a vegetable.
Let’s have a candid conversation, Sir. The problem isn’t guns. The problem is what we refer to as “blacks.”
Stop denying the truth. You can add Four Curmudgeons to Kessler’s “Three Pinocchios.”
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