Some were wondering how Obama would spin the surge in violence between police and minorities into yet another push for gun control.
We didn't have long to wait.
Speaking in a news conference in Poland, the US president made the claim that contrary to all evidence, "racial relations have improved during his presidency", to wit:
Now, when it comes to crime, generally, I think it's just important to keep in mind that our crime rate today is substantially lower than it was five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. Over the last four or five years, during the course of my presidency, violent crime in the United States is the lowest it's been since probably the 1960s, maybe before the early 1960s. There’s been an incredible drop in violent crime.
So that doesn’t lessen, I think, people’s understandable fears if they see a video clip of somebody getting killed. But it is important to keep in perspective that in places like New York, or Los Angeles, or Dallas, you’ve seen huge drops in the murder rates. And that's a testimony to smarter policing, and there are a range of other factors that have contributed to that.
Reading from a teleprompter, Obama said he's tried to get all Americans to listen to each other on matters of race, and added that he believes his voice has "been true in speaking about these issues." Oddly enough it would appear that all Americans have not listened. What he didn't say is that under his divisive, race/class/ethnicity-baiting presidency, whether due to his social politics or his disastrous economic agenda which has let the Fed's market boosting, monetary policy as the only game in town, and led to record wealth redistribution that has transferred trillions from the future to the richest 0.01% now (one look at a chart of the $19.3 trillion in US debt should be sufficient evidence) gun sales under Obama have been absolutely unprecedented, as even the NYT has shown:
As we reported two weeks ago, under Obama, background checks for guns reached 141.4 million through the end of May, amounting to sales of about 52,600 a day, according to the FBI... And 2016 is on pace to surpass last year’s record.
But ignore all that. Instead, Obama pledged on Saturday to seek ways to calm racial tensions and reduce divisions between police and minorities during his final months in office, but he warned that easy access to guns nationwide exacerbated the problem. "The proliferation of guns among the U.S. citizenry contributes to lethal encounters between minorities and police, heightening the danger law enforcement officers face in even routine interactions with the public," Obama said.
Odd: no comments about "Obama's city", Chicago, where "only" 10 people being shot on any given weekend is considered a victory. The same Chicago which has ultra strict gun laws, that is.
Just like Hillary Clinton, Obama also blamed YouTube clips:
"with respect to, finally, the issue of police shootings, there’s no doubt that the visual records that we're seeing have elevated people’s consciousness about this. And the fact that we're aware of it may increase some anxiety right now, and hurt and anger. But it's been said, sunshine is the best disinfectant. By seeing it, by people feeling a sense of urgency about it, by the larger American community realizing that, gosh, maybe this is a problem -- and we've seen even some very conservative commentators begin to acknowledge this is something maybe we need to work on -- that promises the possibility of actually getting it done. So, it hurts, but if we don’t diagnose this we can’t fix it. "
It hurts even more if the president makes a disastrously wrong diagnosis of what is causing it - a diagnosis that conveiently ignores Obama's own contribution to this soaring social violence.
As Reuters adds, Obama spoke at the end of a week in which five policemen were killed by a sniper in Dallas and two black men were killed by police in Minnesota and Louisiana. He said he would bring together civil rights and law enforcement leaders for talks at the White House next week after returning from a trip to Europe.
Continuing his push to pivot from last week's events to another push for more gun control, Obama said that “part of what’s creating tensions between communities and the police is the fact that our police have a really difficult time in communities where they know guns are everywhere,” Obama said adding that “If you care about the safety of our police officers, then you can’t set aside the gun issue and pretend that’s irrelevant."
Like in Obama's native and very strictly gun-controlled Chicago, for example?
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Ok fine, lots of guns, we get it. But is that the disease or the symptom of something far more rotten inside US society?
Not according to the president, who said that the violence isn’t a sign of deeper divisions in the U.S. “America is not as divided as some have suggested.”
So there you have it: guns kill people, not tens of millions of desperate, unemployed people who increasingly have nothing to live for
Obama's comments came one day after Donald Trump said that “racial divisions have gotten worse, not better” during Obama’s eight years in office. “Too many headlines flash across our screens every day about the rising crime and rising death tolls in our cities,” Trump said in a video message.
Sticking to his only strong suit, rhetoric written by others, Obama preached unity in the face of rising anger sparked by the killings of black men at the hands of police in Louisiana and Minnesota, and a massacre of five law enforcement officers in Dallas one day later: a combustible escalation from which there is no way out, and certainly which empty words will do nothing to resolve.
“Americans of all races and all backgrounds are rightly outraged by the inexcusable attacks on police, whether it’s in Dallas or anyplace else,” Obama said. “We cannot let the actions of a few define all of us,” he said, calling the shooter in Dallas a “demented individual” without using his name.
Obama said that it was “very hard to untangle the motives” of Dallas shooter Micah Johnson, a 25-year-old military veteran who told a police negotiator he was upset by police killings of black men, including those in the past week.
Actually no, Johnson's motives were quite clear - he told police he wanted to kill white people and especially white police officers, even though the police officer who killed Philando Castile, Jeronimo Yanez, was hispanic. Johnson was then quickly killed by a bomb delivered by drone.
Obama noted that protests against the police in many cities over the killings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota have been “almost uniformly peaceful” and that “you’ve seen, uniformly, police handling those protests with professionalism.”
Indeed, if one sticks their head in the sand and ignores the numerous and rapidly rising incidents across the country where either cops of blacks were shot in just the past 24 hours, then Obama is correct.
Perhaps the most troubling part of Obama's message was the following: “You’re not seeing riots and you’re not seeing police go after” peaceful protesters, he said, drawing a contrast with civil unrest of the 1960s. All else equal, we would expect the number of riots to surge.
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After delivering this speech, Obama cut his foreign trip short and elected to return to Washington on Sunday night after visiting Spain. He will visit Dallas early next week, with the goal of bridging divisions between police and minority communities, the White House said.
Obama's full press conference below, and the full transcript can be found here: