The most important news is often the stuff we never hear about. This is especially true in the era of Donald Trump’s twitter feed. With this video, I attempt to uncover one of the more important aspects of Trump’s presidency, the career of Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice. As Attorney General, Sessions is attempting to roll back a solid decade of progress in the arena of criminal justice, from civil forfeiture to marijuana legalization.
It’s frustrating to watch Sessions efforts be ignored. When Trump goes after him he even comes close to “resistance hero” status, or at least garners some sympathy. Jeff Sessions does not deserve our sympathy.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. Most of our media has turned into the Trump Show, and that’s a real problem. Fox News and company are about loving on Trump 24/7, and CNN & company are about hating on Trump 24/7. Ted Turner would be pleased. In cooperation with the president, our news channels have finally figured out how to fill the 24 hour news cycle. It may be good for their bottom line, but it hurts democracy. There is so much more we should pay attention to.
The actual work of government is being done by a pack of lead addled baby boomer billionaires and millionaires that we almost never hear about. We do hear a lot about Betsy DeVos, Who is in charge of the essentially powerless Department of Education. I wonder why we hear so much about her specifically. Actually I don’t wonder. It’s super depressing that in the era of Me Too and feminist solidarity against Trump our media is still most interested in tearing down women. I mean sure, she sounds dumb sometimes but does she really sound any dumber than Wilbur Ross, our Commerce Secretary?
Hmmm. I’m hunting Mexican Factories to bwing back our Jobs. World Twade Is our enemy.
This stuff is irritating, but with some weird exceptions like Wilbur Ross, it’s pretty much what we could have expected from most Republican presidents. If we wanted to avoid climate skeptics and enemies of the social safety net then maybe the Democrats should have run a candidate people actually liked. There are two appointments that I think are legitimately disastrous however, and need a lot more attention. We’ve already covered Rex Tillerson’s time at the Department of State. But he’s not the worst.
The worst of the worst is Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice. As Attorney general he is the country’s top lawyer, and he also oversees the FBI. It’s the DOJ that sets the tone for law enforcement in this country, and also influences about a million other things. It’s easily the most powerful domestic cabinet position. As long time viewers will know, I take criminal justice very seriously. Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs are the problems that launched this channel. I haven’t been saying much about them lately, because I honestly thought things were moving in the right direction. Marijuana legalization is accelerating. Most importantly, criminal justice reform has become a bipartisan priority. Even most Republicans, as of November 2016, were beginning to acknowledge that we imprison too many people in this country.
Jeff Sessions is trying to end all that. The problem with Sessions isn’t that he is a Republican, it’s that his views on race and criminal justice go back to the 1980’s, if not the 1950’s. Last week he rescinded an Obama era memo that allowed individual states to go their own way in marijuana policy. Because of pressure from Congress and from the individual states, he can’t crack down on marijuana in the places it has been legalized yet, but he clearly wants to. He has changed the guidance for government prosecutors, encouraging them to go for the longest sentences possible in drug crimes. Perhaps most importantly Sessions has started pulling back from civil rights investigations of local police departments. It’s one of the only tools we have against police brutality, and Sessions wants less of it. Jeff Sessions is quietly undoing years of progress on these issues and many more.
A quarter century ago the Reagan and Clinton administrations, and states and localities across the country introduced a series of draconian laws that created the Mass Incarceration problem. This was a tragedy, but it could be explained by the fact that crime back then really was going nuts. It’s not going nuts now. It’s lower than it has been for decades. What is nuts is that people like Jeff Sessions are let anywhere near government, let alone put in charge of the Department of Justice. It’s time to look for real solutions to the crime that’s left, not jump back to the frightened policies of thirty years ago.
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