Sunday, December 18, 2016

Trump's Cabinet nominees: Jeff Sessions, Attorney General

Donald Trump has nominated Jeff Sessions, Republican United States Senator, for the office of Attorney General.  

To find out what sort of role he will play and find out what influence he will have, I went to the Organization, Functions, and Missions Manual for the office.

The responsibilities of the Attorney General are as follows:


I'm pretty sure not many people realize just how many offices are under the Department of Justice, and how much influence over the application of the law the Attorney General has.  If you want the whole picture, please take a look at the agencies under this department.

This article is not meant to be comprehensive.  I want to give people an overview of Jeff Sessions' views, and how these views might affect the office he will run.

Civil Rights
As the head of the DOJ, Jeff Sessions would be in charge of the Civil Rights Division, the Criminal Division, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the DEA, the Office of Tribal Justice, and the Office on Violence Against Women, among other offices that will have effects on civil rights and inequality in the justice system.

Jeff Sessions received the following scores from civil rights groups:

  • NAACP: 7% rating, indicating an anti-affirmative action stance
  • ACLU: 20% rating on civil rights issues
  • Human Rights Commission: 0% on LGBT issues

Senator Sessions has called groups like the NAACP and the ACLU un-American.

He voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act.

He voted against renewing special funding for businesses for minorities and women.

He has supported a constitutional ban on flag burning.

He has supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

A head of the Department of Justice who has such a poor record on civil rights will likely neglect these offices under his supervision, at best.  At worst, he will use their budgets and power to harm civil rights.

Drug Law Enforcement
As head of the DEA, Sessions will have the power to take the DEA in whatever direction fits his views.  He has used anti-legalization rhetoric  in Senate hearings, and he would be able to use his power--unless Trump stops him--to put a stop to state systems, at least temporarily.

Since he is also the head of the Bureau of Prisons, expect more enforcement of drug laws, since he is for the private prison industry.  The easiest way to fill prisons with nonviolent offenders--the offenders private prisons want to handle--is to enforce drug possessions laws.

The Republican Senator has been said to have a history of stringent opposition to immigration.  His opposition of Syrian refugees includes allegations of an increase of terrorism on the part of refugees. He has suggested using a religious test to ban Muslims from entering the US.

Domestic surveillance
Senator Sessions has supported lifting restrictions on warrantless wiretapping.  As head of the FBI, the BATF, the DEA, and the US Marshals, deregulation would give him power to use warrantless wiretapping to a much greater degree on the domestic front.

Jeff Sessions is 100% anti-choice, receiving a 0% rating from NARAL.  As the person who represents the United States in the Supreme Court (although it could be someone from his office), he is most likely itching to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Environmental regulation
As the head of the DOJ, Sessions also heads up the office of the Environment and Natural Resources.  Sessions has said that the views of climate scientists offend him.  Sessions is a vocal climate change denier, reflecting the views of Senator James Inhofe--and these men were on the Environment and Public Works committee.

As someone who has been strongly against environmental regulation, Sessions is unlikely to enforce them.

This is a short list of the issues Jeff Sessions could affect as the US Attorney General.  I invite you to look at the list of agencies that would be under his supervision, then compare them with his views to understand just how much impact he can have.

I will leave you with this: when Ronald Reagan nominated Jeff Sessions for a position as a federal judge, it came out during the hearing that the nominee had, as Alabama's attorney general, joked that he thought the KKK was all right until he found out they smoked marijuana.  That was one of the many troubling accusations of racism that killed his appointment--but not his career, unfortunately.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Hillary's Excuses: Why You Should Not Believe Them

When someone calls Hillary Clinton out on a past mistake, she makes excuses that sound reasonable on the surface.  She is counting on voters refraining from doing in-depth analysis.

I have said many times--mostly on Facebook--that the main reason I didn't support Clinton in 2008 was her vote to give Bush the ability to use force in Iraq.  There were other reasons, but I saw the 2008 primary as a race between a centrist and someone who was a little right of center.  The deal-breaker for me with Clinton was her support of Bush's war.

The current excuse she's giving for that vote involves her plea to George W. Bush to help her get money to clean up and rebuild in New York after 9/11.  She says that because he kept his word to her on his promise to help her get the money, so she thought he'd keep his promise to refrain from attacking until the UN weapons inspectors did their jobs.

Well, either Hillary Clinton is the most naive politician on the planet, or she's skewing the truth to make herself look like she was wronged by Bush, like he wronged the rest of us.

Do not believe it.

Many of the members of the Bush administration were also members of the Project for the New American Century, a neo-conservative think tank, whose goals involved invading Iraq, turning it into a democracy, then using it as a base to turn the rest of the Middle East into a conglomeration of US-friendly democracies.  The idea was to control the oil flow from that region to Russia and China.  This was all on their now-defunct website, which they took down in 2006.  Fortunately, the Library of Congress has archived it.

Members of PNAC lobbied President Bill Clinton to invade Iraq.  There is no way that Hillary Clinton was unaware of PNAC and its members; many were Washington insiders since the Reagan administration, including Donald Rumsfeld and Dan Quayle.

Hillary Clinton had to be aware of PNAC, had to be aware of their intentions, had to know that members of PNAC were all over the Bush administration.  She knew these things, and she trusted Bush not to follow through with the policy positions of people who tried to lobby her husband to invade in 1998.  Does anyone believe that she was so naive that she didn't know these things?

I assert that Hillary Clinton is not naive and never has been.  She voted to approve Bush's use of force in Iraq with the full knowledge that members of PNAC were in the Bush administration, and that they fully intended on following through on their strategy, outlined on their website.  Her knowledge of who was in the Bush administration and their clear intentions makes her vote--and the vote of every person who supported the use of force in Iraq--all the more egregious.

I don't believe her excuses regarding her use of the term, "super predators," either, because it was well-known in political circles that racial inequality existed in the justice system in the 1990s as much as now, and that escalation of the war on drugs and calling for stricter sentencing would disproportionately affect black people.

I don't buy her excuse for not releasing her speeches to Wall Street banks: there is no double standard here.  Bernie Sanders has not been paid to speak to Wall Street investors.  Hillary Clinton has.  If there's nothing in those speeches she has to hide from voters, then she should release the transcripts.  She is not releasing them because she knows what she said will hurt her politically.

The list goes on, as Hillary Clinton has a long history of being wrong before coming over to the right side.  She is now, suddenly, for the $15/hour minimum wage; she wasn't supporting it at the beginning of the campaign.  She is now for LGBT rights, something she began supporting in 2013; she said in 2008 that marriage should be between one man and one woman.  Not long ago ,she was open to the idea of a private component to Social Security; now, she's for expanding it and taxing the wealthy to fund it.  She's vehemently anti-gun now; she was so pro-gun in 2008, Obama called her "Annie Oakley" on the debate stage.

There are no right-wing smears here.  These are all valid critiques of her policy positions and how she's changed them.  You won't hear me talking about Benghazi, which I think was a witch hunt.  You won't hear me talking about Whitewater, because I don't really know a lot about.  You won't hear me talking about the Clinton murders, which are pure right-wing fiction.  You won't hear me talking about Bill Clinton's affairs or sexual harassment, because I don't think these are relevant to Clinton's campaign.

No, I'm sticking to the real issues, her real positions.  I don't care about the right-wing fiction.  What I do care about is that when we cut out the fairy tales, we're still left with someone who is untrustworthy, hawkish, and beholden to large donors.