Over Coretta Scott King’s objections, and what seem like the objections of half the world, Jeff Sessions was sworn in as attorney general today.
Never one to let an opportunity to unleash his inner P.T. Barnum pass him by, Donald Trump used the occasion to sign three new executive orders.
“We have a crime problem,” Sessions said, “I wish the rise that we’re seeing in crime in America today was some sort of aberration or blip.” He went on to say that it was no such thing, but rather a “dangerous permanent trend.”
Or rather, it would dangerously permanent, except for Trump declaring as he signed the orders, “A new era of justice begins and it begins right now.”
The three executive orders, according to CNBC, focus on “gang members, drug dealers, drug cartels & crimes against law enforcement officers.”
Speaking about the order that commands Sessions to come up with a plan to stop violence against police officers, Trump said, “It’s a shame what has been happening to our great, our truly great law enforcement officers.” He had no comment on what has been happening to our great, our truly great black Americans. But he also did not say, "Blue lives matter," so let’s thank God for small miracles.
Adam Serwer, The Atlantic’s senior editor, was quick to point out that police officer deaths, though up in 2016 to 135 from 123 in 2015, have actually fallen drastically in the last 20 years. In 2001, for instance, 241 police officers were killed in the line of duty.
Similarly, experts had issues with Trump’s claims about crime. This week Trump said that the murder rate is the highest it has been in “45 to 47 years.” Louis Jacobson of Politifact helpfully corrected the president, reminding him that murders actually spiked in the early 1990s, and that “the number of murders declined 42 percent between 1993 and 2014, even as the U.S. population rose by 25 percent over the same period.”
The executive order meant to combat this phantom rise in murder calls for the creation of an ambiguous task force.
The final executive order, which opens a new front on the War on Drugs, will, according to Trump, “break the back of the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and are destroying the blood of our youth.”
How's that for a three-ring circus?