With regard to the Baltimore riots, Hillary Clinton followed her usual pattern, staying safely out of sight while calculating her political advantage, and then weighing in. She wrote a little-noted article for the Brennan Center on Monday, which consisted mostly of the platitudes for which she gets paid something like $5,000 a minute (“What would Robert Kennedy think if he could see us today?”). But a few additional observations are in order:
But what would Robert Kennedy say about the fact that still today more than 14 million children live in poverty in the richest nation on Earth? What would he say about the fact that such a large portion of economic gains have gone to such a small portion of our population?
Um, Hillary…that would be you. If you were seriously opposed to “such a large portion of economic gains” going to “such a small portion of our population”–like those whose husbands are ex-presidents, that is a really small portion of our population!–couldn’t you have just charged, say, $200,000 for a 60-minute speech?
Of course, these are not new concerns, as I learned firsthand as a young attorney just out of law school. … As director of the University of Arkansas School of Law’s legal aid clinic, I advocated for prison inmates and poor families. I saw how our criminal justice system can be stacked against those who have the least power and are the most vulnerable.
In addition to “prison inmates and poor families,” Hillary advocated for criminal defendants like the child rapist whom she got off, even though years later she laughingly indicated that he was obviously guilty. That’s the thing about the criminal justice system: the overwhelming majority of defendants are guilty. Letting more of them go free doesn’t constitute reform. The “least powerful” and “most vulnerable” are not criminals, they are the victims of criminals.
Today Hillary gave a speech at Columbia University in which she discussed the “hard truths about race and justice.” Somehow, I doubt that.
Ticking off the the names of African Americans who have been killed by police in the past year, Clinton said the “patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable.”
That is a ridiculous claim. Five or six incidents that have been publicized by the media, in a country of 320 million, do not constitute an “unmistakable and undeniable pattern.”
And citing statistics illuminating the disproportionate policing burden borne by black men, she said something is “profoundly wrong” with our criminal justice system.
I am not sure that this is a direct quote from Hillary’s speech, but what a wonderful locution–“The disproportionate policing burden borne by black men!” One could more accurately say, the disproportionate burden of criminality inflicted on the rest of the population by black men. All data confirm the fact that black men commit an extraordinary number of crimes; hence, they are arrested, prosecuted, convicted and jailed in disproportionate numbers. Our police departments are not conducting random sweeps and, with rare exceptions, our juries and judges are not throwing innocent men into prison. If black men are jailed, it is, with rare exceptions, because they have committed crimes. If they stopped committing crimes, they wouldn’t go to prison. It really is that simple.
The former secretary of state added that there are far too many Americans of all races behind bars today, noting that while the country has just 5% of the world’s population, it has almost 25% of the plant’s prison population.
“It’s time to change our approach. It’s time to end the era of mass incarceration,” she said. “We don’t want to create another incarceration generation.”
The problem, of course, is that “mass incarceration” has coincided with a steep decline in the violent crime rate, approximately 50% since her husband’s presidency. As the linked article notes, Bill Clinton supported law and order measures because he had to. Crime was out of control. Hillary and her allies could make sentencing of criminals more lenient, but if the result is a doubling of violence, like the violence we have seen in Baltimore, one suspects that she would beat a speedy retreat.
There are, no doubt, improvements that could be made to police practices and the criminal justice system. Charles and David Koch are among the leaders in seeking such improvements. But Hillary’s rote invocation of racial disparities is nothing but a throwback to the discredited policies that caused her own husband to support a crackdown on out-of-control crime.