Jeff Sessions Sucks (And So Can You)

There hasn’t been a person named by president-elect Donald Trump to any position who hasn’t been lambasted by the New York Times as the worst, most dangerous, choice for that position ever.  That goes for the Attorney General pick, Jeff Sessions.

It would be nice to report that Mr. Sessions, who is now 69, has conscientiously worked to dispel the shadows that cost him the judgeship. Instead, the years since his last confirmation hearing reveal a pattern of dogged animus to civil rights and the progress of black Americans and immigrants.

Based on his record, we can form a fairly clear picture of what his Justice Department would look like:

For starters, forget about aggressive protection of civil rights, and of voting rights in particular. Mr. Sessions has called the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a “piece of intrusive legislation.” Under him, the department would most likely focus less on prosecutions of minority voter suppression and more on rooting out voter fraud, that hallowed conservative myth. As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Sessions brought voter-fraud charges against three civil rights workers trying to register black voters in rural Alabama. The prosecution turned up 14 allegedly doctored ballots out of 1.7 million cast, and the jury voted to acquit.

What’s surprising about this, beyond arguing about “the years since” and relying upon the years before, is that they couldn’t find far worse stuff to say about Sessions. He’s a senator. He’s written tons of op-eds, spoken at a great many hearings, and that’s it? 

But that’s not it. Not by a long shot. What this reflects isn’t the scope of Sessions’ nastiness, but the attack on Sessions as a racist.  This reflects the focus on AG as keeper of civil rights under the Equal Protection Clause, and the concern is that Sessions will go full Ashcroft on America.

A harder look at Sessions comes from Alice Speri at The Intercept:

There is no other way to describe Jeff Sessions but as a career racist.

Well, that’s clear enough.

At that time, Sen. Ted Kennedy called Sessions “a throwback to a disgraceful era” and his nomination “a disgrace for the Justice Department.”

But that was 30 years ago, and it appears the earlier, disgraceful era Kennedy was referring to is what Trump has in mind when he speaks of making America great “again.”

The unfortunate circularity of impugning Sessions by attributing racism to Trump is rhetorical indulgence, but there’s more substance to follow:

Among other positions, Sessions opposed the Violence Against Women Act, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the expansion of anti-hate legislation to include sexual orientation.

So Sessions isn’t progressive? Check.

He fought the removal of the Confederate flag from public buildings, immigration reform, and criminal justice reform.

So Sessions isn’t progressive? Check.

Decades later, in 2013, he praised the Supreme Court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act, denying its impact on black voters, even as the immediate impact in his own state was that officials tried to close 31 DMV offices, in majority black counties, just as the state passed more restrictive voter ID requirements.

So Sessions agreed with a Supreme Court opinion? Check.

In February, Sessions was the first sitting senator to endorse Trump. And following Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” remark, the future top prosecutor in the country said, “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault.”

So Sessions is creepy, as is the person elected president? Check. Or as so many Americans want to know, why didn’t Trump choose Lady Gaga to be Attorney General? How is it possible Lena Dunham didn’t make the short list?

But the adorable New York Times makes a point it likely didn’t intend to make:

Forget, also, any federal criminal-justice reform, which was on the cusp of passage in Congress before Mr. Trump’s “law and order” campaign.

While saying reform was “on the cusp” may be wild hyperbole, given that the reforms were tepid, to be generous, and President Obama had eight years to do something and never got around to it, likely because was too busy pondering whether to issue his first pardon or making sure all those illegals got deported. Or playing golf.

No, this is neither to support Jeff Sessions, nor excuse his excesses. He will likely be an awful attorney general in every respect. But the disconnect between what America voted for* and progressive complaints is what makes this remarkable. It’s not as if these concerns weren’t on the table. They failed to prevail.

You can scream about racism and sexism all you want, calling Trump voters deplorable and unfriending them on Facebook, if your preference is to assume that this is all about your values not being the only thing everyone else cares about, or that there can be no non-hateful reason why anyone didn’t vote like you did. After all, that worked so well before the election, shaming anyone who didn’t enthusiastically share like your twits racist and sexist.

But what of the current Attorney General, remembered as a paragon of reform as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and dedicated to the protection of constitutional rights when she assumed office? She’s already on the lecture circuit, extolling her virtues.

“There is nothing foreordained about our march toward a more just and peaceful future,” Ms. Lynch said Monday, speaking to an interfaith group at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in northern Virginia. “Our centuries-long project of creating a more perfect union was not the product of fate or destiny. It was the result of countless individuals making the choice to stand up, to demand recognition, to refuse to rest until they knew that their children were inheriting a nation that was more tolerant, more inclusive and more equal.”

Inclusive, like the Metropolitan Detention Center? Tolerant like the 100:1 crack to cocaine ratio or the mandatory minimums charged at every possible opportunity? There are issues, voting rights is huge, and there are issues, transgender bathrooms, that aren’t nearly as clear, and Loretta Lynch’s legacy may suffer in the hands of Jeff Sessions. But how much?

It is sobering to hear a departing attorney general implicitly telling vulnerable Americans that the federal government may fail to protect their rights and that they will have to do this work themselves. But any other message would whitewash the painful truth.

As long as we’re not going to “whitewash the painful truth,” the question is whether it’s a big deal that the Obama Department of Justice would only execute you once, while the Trump Department of Justice would execute you, then kick you in the head a few times for good measure. Either way, you still end up dead. America elected both Obama and Trump president. If you don’t like Attorneys General who suck, then you should have thought of that when you were voting rather than complain about it afterward.

*And it appears unfortunately necessary to note that Clinton’s winning the popular vote is both irrelevant and comes with a critical caveat that, but for California, Trump won the popular vote.

22 thoughts on “Jeff Sessions Sucks (And So Can You)

  1. Billy Bob

    Jeff Sessions as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee undermined/sabotaged the nomination of Article III federal judge R.N. Chatigny (pronounced SHOT-knee)–at our suggestion we might add. (Yes, we contacted his office with our own tragi-counter with this disreputable judge who could not follow federal rules of procedure.) Chatigny was nominated to take Sonia Sotomayor’s place on the 2nd Circuit by Bush #43. It was a humiliating defeat for Chatigny and his patron saint, Sen. Chris “Dodo Bird” Dodd of the un-Constituitional State of CONnecticut.

    Brilliant, Mr. Sessions. That one act alone qualifies you as the best candidate for the highest judicial office in the land.
    Thank you Mr. Trump! We further learn from this interesting essay that Mr. Sessions is younger than we are. We did not know that!?! Under 0’Bomba’s reign, we learned first-hand that the Justice Dept. would not entertain “reverse-discrimination” cases. This we suspect is about to change. The next four years are going to be very interesting, indeed.

    Fast forward, our fears that Justice Sotomayor would disappoint on the high court have been allayed. She’s doing all right, while Chatigny is nursing his wounds. Who woulda thunk Jeff Sessions.? This is wild, and the N.Y. Times is going nuts over his appointment. We’re luving every minute of this high drama.

    1. SHG Post author

      When you substitute self-interest for others without recognizing it, it is not irony, but wrinkly. Age takes its toll.

      1. Billy Bob

        Say what? This is the most incomprehensible sentence you’ve ever written. We’re not even going to try.

        [Ed. Note: Balance deleted. If you’re (we’re, if I include the voices you hear) “not even going to try,” don’t try.]

  2. John Barleycorn

    Sessions is an interesting guy and a very active editor of his wikipedia page where it states he opposed  implementing the  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Strange thing is he voted for the passage of that bill. So he ought to fit right in at the helm of the DOJ.

    P.S. My sources say that if he had to do it all over again he wishes he would have moved to a more progressive state, like Grorgia, and become a cop instead of going into politics. He says he still dreams about it to this day.

  3. Dwight Mann f/k/a "dm"

    So, if we don’t count almost 9 million votes for Clinton then Trump won the popular vote? I think I got it: if the person who won the popular vote hadn’t won the popular vote then the person who didn’t win the popular vote would have won the popular vote! Would it also be true that if the person who won the Electoral College hadn’t won the Electoral College then the person who didn’t win the Electoral College would have won the Electoral College?

    1. SHG Post author

      See? You’re not nearly as thick as you lead people to believe. The numbers can be manipulated in all sorts of ways, most of which are utterly irrelevant to the outcome, and yet seized upon by the most pathetic and desperate of society to support whatever outcome makes them feel less so.

      Since the only numbers that matter are the electoral college, and since campaign strategy is focused on winning those numbers, all the people who harp on the popular vote, as you’ve so adeptly shown, are pathetic and desperately deluded. Very tricky of you do so, but very mean and hurtful to Clinton supporters who need something to pretend their candidate didn’t actually lose when she obviously and most assuredly did.

      1. Dwight Mann f/k/a "dm"

        “You’re not nearly as thick as you lead people to believe” I think reading SJ is helping me become smarterer. Probably not, but maybe.

          1. Dwight Mann f/k/a "dm"

            “I just have my work cut out for me.” Don’t sell yourself short SHG, it shouldn’t take much effort at all for a guy with the wit to figure out that if you don’t count votes for one candidate that candidate’s opponent does better.

            1. SHG Post author

              Next thing to teach you is to not behave like a passive-aggressive 12-year-old who can’t bear not to have the last word.

            2. davep

              “…figure out that if you don’t count votes for one candidate that candidate’s opponent does better.”

              The distribution of the “uncounted” votes is as skewed as the electoral votes are (and people are ignoring the first while completing about the seconds).

              The game has rules and those rules say it’s electoral votes that matter. People put effort into playing by the rules in place. If “popular votes” was the rules, people would have played the game differently. Who knows if Clinton would have had the popular vote in a different game.

              The results are too close to an even split anyway.

              (Of course, it’s silly for the winner to claim a mandate or a landslide.)

        1. Billy Bob

          Smarterer and smarterer makes Johnny a dull boy. There’s a reason why Mensis members drive buses down Fifth Avenue and tend bars in lower Manhattan! Unless of course, your name is Einstein, or Roy Cohn. Those two just popped into my head, for no particular reason. The world is ruled by thugs, thieves, crooks, liars cheaters, stewpid people and idiots. The sooner you get that thru your fat little head, the better off (and smarterer) you will become. Good Luck. You’re going to need it. Nobody ever said it was a rose garden.

          The real problem is that some of those crooks and thieves work for the government; state, local and federal. That is where TrumpMaster comes in, hopefully. The odds in Vegas and London are that he will fail. But you, and only you, could get lucky!

          1. SHG Post author

            I’m feeling particularly magnanimous today, BB, so I posted this comment despite its reference to Roy Cohn a mere one word away from Einstein. But it’s not likely to happen again.

            1. Billy Bob

              That’s because Roy Cohn is/was a *lawyer*, and you luv lawyers. While Einstein was merely a “scientist”. Ha. This is a law blawg after all; we had to throw somebody under the bus.

              For the record, there are pictures out there showing the young President-elect hobnobbing with the one and only Roy Cohn (from N.Y.C.) Unbelievable, but true! To further complicate matters, R.C. and Bobby Kennedy were buddies way back when HUAC was up and running [amok]. Once again, unbelievable but true. Our conclusion is that Mr. Roy was a genius, if not a Nobel Prize winner.

              Fact is stranger than fiction. That is why we no longer read fiction!?!

      2. NickM

        Campaign strategy is supposed to be focused on winning the electoral college. Hillary Clinton’s wasn’t always. Politico related the story of how Donna Brazile directed a lot of late spending to efforts in Chicago and other cities in states that were not going to vote for Trump to run up Clinton’s popular vote totals because the Clinton campaign feared that Clinton’s legitimacy would be hurt if Trump might win the popular vote while Clinton won the electoral vote.

        This is the second campaign where Hillary Clinton received more votes than her opponent and lost. The first was the 2008 Democratic delegate selection process. She got more votes; Obama got more delegates.

    1. JimEd

      Nvm. I read your post again and you are just doing your “meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” shtick.

      1. SHG Post author

        Nah. I think the new boss will be worse, probably much worse, than the old boss. But that doesn’t make the old boss any better.

  4. SamT

    “And it appears unfortunately necessary to note that Clinton’s winning the popular vote is both irrelevant and comes with a critical caveat that, but for California, Trump won the popular vote.”

    And it appears unfortunately necessary to note that Trump’s winning of the electoral vote is indeed relevant, but comes with the critical caveat that, but for Texas*, Clinton won the electoral vote.

    This being the case, the fact of a lack of a political mandate for Trump can’t be so easily dismissed by mere hypothetical.

    *Yes, I realize that could not have *actually* happened. If you substitute for Texas two states that conceivably *could* have gone for Clinton, say Pennsylvania and Ohio, then my point is more realistic, less hypothetical.

  5. Pingback: Leave Jeff Sessions Alone! 

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