Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Simplistic Jeff Sessions

With a straight face, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is attibuting the drop in crime in the first half of 2017 to President Donald J. Trump. It's amazing how rapidly crime can decline in the first few months of a presidency.  (Spoiler alert: it can't.) Politico reports

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is embracing newly-released FBI statistics as evidence that America has turned the tide in its battle against violent crime — a shift he credits in large part to the policies of President Donald Trump.

The FBI numbers, covering the first six months of 2017, show overall violent crime declined by 0.8 percent, with rape and robbery each declining by more than 2 percent compared with the same period in 2016.

However, murder increased by 1.5 percent during in the first half of 2017, according to the report released Tuesday.

A statement posted on the FBI's website referred to the reduction in crime as "slight."

However, Sessions said in an op-ed piece published Tuesday in USA Today that the report is evidence that Trump is delivering on the vow he made in his jarring inaugural speech last year to put an end to what he termed "American carnage."

"It is a promise that he has kept," Sessions declared. "Ensuring every neighborhood in America is safe again will take time, but we are already starting to see results."

If the Attorney General ignorantly believes a President can have such an impact on crime, perhaps we are already starting to see results.

"Researchers and gun control advocates," The New York Times notes, "say that since 2013, they have logged school shootings at a rate of about one a week."  However, the record of late has been significantly worse and the shooting incident in Benton, Kentucky on Tuesday "was one of at least 11 shootings on school property recorded since Jan. 1, and roughly the 50th of the academic year."

"We're restoring respect for law enforcement," Sessions claims. There is less evidence for that, however, than that potential murderers are being excused by the President. Also from the Times, from last November:

“I think that mental health is your problem here,” Mr. Trump told reporters at a news conference in Japan, the first stop on his 12-day overseas trip. Based on preliminary reports, the gunman in Sutherland Springs, Tex., was a “very deranged individual,” he said. “We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries.”

“But this isn’t a guns situation,” Mr. Trump added. “I mean, we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. But fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it would have been — as bad it was — it would have been much worse. But this is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event.”

With statement(s) irresponsibly attributing these crimes to mential illness, the President has excused individuals involved in mass murder.  He has given such murderes license, and they have taken it.

Of course, crime levels respond to far more than whatever comments a President in Washington, D.C. makes about either law enforcement or mental health.  No one reason (not even abortion) is primarily responsible for the quarter century drop in violent crime in the USA. Responding to Sessions' ludicrous and irresponsible claim, Inimai Chettiar of the Brennan Center for Justice points out "politics implemented only a few months ago can't bring down crime. Crime is a very complex issue."

And so it is. However, any drop in violent or non-violent crime during any period will be touted (however dishonestly) by this Administration as it continues to promote the myth of a terrible country turned around and made "great again" by Donald J. Trump. Democrats must promote a counter-narrative, whether arguing  that crime is a complex issue or that the President is responsible for any spike.  But it cannot leave the field to the GOP, which has become a gang of toadies for the Authoritarian-in-Chief.

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