A Premature Elegy for an Aborted Reign of Terror
For six months, it seemed that American law enforcement would at long last be restored from ignominy. Our boys in blue could no longer bear the cruel weight of Obama-era oversight of a profession that confers armed temporal authority on almost anyone with a high school diploma. Democrats, the blacks, and even some Republicans had started to question our tried-and-true lethal force honor system, and this anti-police hysteria had threatened such essential democratic institutions as cash bail and pre-trial detention, the selling of human bondage as a commodity, and the funding of law enforcement through legal banditry. Jeff Sessions rode in on an extremely white horse, looked at this depravity and the depraved broad-based popular movement behind it, and said “No more.”
No more consent decrees, and no more Civil Rights Division worthy of the name. No more questioning the inherent virtue of the cops, let alone suggesting that the very nature of the police profession makes it a magnet for psychopaths, or that every police commander in America is well-aware of that fact, or that poorly-paid state employees who spend their time around massive amounts of black-market cash could ever lose their ethical bearings for any reason. Just as he believes the inerrant word of God is inspired through the authors of the Bible, Jeff Sessions knows that any stray bullets that find their way into stray black people are inspired by the divine will of the law, through the service weapons of our racially anodyne cops. The lord works in mysterious ways, even if he tends to be significantly less mysterious with Caucasians. It is not ours to question it.
Sadly, my fellow Americans, the beautiful dream he represented may be no more. The cross that has burned so bright on the lawn of the Justice Department these past six months will burn no longer, its glorious flames extinguished by tawdry politics. The era of Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Rommel Sessions is coming to an early, tragic end.
There was recently a horrifying post on this site imploring John McCain to “just die already” that got some press, and I’m wary of the whole “fuck this guy” genre of web writing. These pieces coarsen the national dialog, they trade thoughtful citizenship for cheap emotional satisfaction, and cruelty and antagonism generally hurt the cruel antagonist more than anyone else. There’s a reason that “fuck this guy” pieces only appear in outlets where they don’t have to survive an editor. Also, this format drove some asshole to pray for the death of an American hero in a public forum, so any association with that travesty concerns me.
That said: fuck Jeff Sessions. His downfall is a glorious development.
Slavery and black-white racism are far from this country’s only sins, but they are its original sin, and its most serious and pernicious. If I had to pick a human being who best represented a living incarnation of those sins, I’d be hard-pressed to do better than Jeff. I mean, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions? I suppose they had to go with that because “Adolf” was horribly out of fashion in 1947? I’m offended every time I hear that name, and I am actually the first cousin seven-times-removed of the very General P.G.T. Beauregard who is Mr. Sessions’ Confederate-ass middle namesake.
Then again, I wasn’t raised in the South, so my mind wasn’t poisoned with lies to make excuses for motherless, rapist traitors to the Republic. With my apologies to certain residents of Asheville, Austin, Charlotte, New Orleans, Miami, Chatanooga (I could be remembering that wrong), and Charleston: White Southerners do not believe in democracy, they never have, and at this rate, they never will. The Southern political establishment has always put just as much effort on controlling and limiting the voting power of cracker-ass white voters, as it has been with stopping black folks from voting at all. Even without taking his enthusiastic participation in voter suppression efforts into account, which you totally should, Jeff Sessions is the embodiment of that culture.
He was born in a hellish, godforsaken swamp which would have remained sparsely inhabited by humans were it not for slavery, at least until air conditioning was invented. This is the reason that racism was the entire foundation of their culture and society, more than in the rest of the South, but that’s also the reason I can’t totally hold it against them. Alabama and Mississippi never had a chance, unlike sunny, coastal South Carolina, whose citizens should have been disenfranchised long ago for their crazy-ass, reactionary disloyalty, and consistently being a liability to the Republic from day one. That said, though I bear Alabamians no ill will on their own turf, I can’t abide the infection of federal judicial policy with the culture of The Dead Possum State.
A.G. Sessions cut his teeth slithering through a notoriously corrupt statehouse that was the literal capital of racism for the entirety of the civil rights movement, and every available statistic suggests the effort to keep as many black people as possible in chains or tatters is still alive and well. He served governors who stepped gingerly where George Wallace had trod heavily, but they were walking in his footsteps nonetheless — apart from directly ordering state troopers to murder Negroes, which is a pretty important distinction.
Session’s DOJ-vacated senate seat was recently filled with Birmingham good ol’ boy Luther Strange by one Governor Robert Bentley, who you may remember being forced from office in a recent sex scandal. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was thrown off the bench last year for trying to spark a federal nullification crisis. Jeff was a political ally of both of these people, and it shows.
He is also a political ally of Vladimir Putin, an association which may predate his association with Tits á l’Orange. He was instrumental in defeating comprehensive immigration reform, in service of his hatred of Mexicans, an outgrowth of his Alabamian disdain for all things brown. This led him, like Steve Bannon and others whose shadowy connections shall soon be revealed, into the ethno-national quasi-fascist orbit around Putin.
The difference with our boy — unlike Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, and Geert Wilders — was that Jeff Sessions and his Bannonite ilk weren’t allowed to receive direct financial support from the Kremlin. Making America Great Again couldn’t legally be as active or open as the Russians’ sister campaign to destroy the European Union, but as we’ve all since learned, they found a way around that. The exact nature of Sessions’ involvement in our great betrayal is unknown as of yet, but as racism drove Southerners to betray America once, it appears it has done so again.
The thing I really can’t stand about Jeff Sessions, though? If I’m being honest? I hate how good he is at what he does. There was broad-based support for both comprehensive immigration bills, but a senator from a state whose name may as well just be “Backwater Shithole” managed to kill them both. Since arriving at the justice department, he seems to be the only cabinet official in this administration (apart from Mephistopheles’s wife at DOT) who can claim every one of the following:
A: Before he started, he knew what his department is.
B: Before he started, he knew what his department does.
C: He currently understands why his department does those things, and how it does them.
D: He is using this knowledge to set departmental priorities and achieve the policy goals of the administration.
E: He has done so in a way that hasn’t invited the president to actively undercut everything he does for no reason.
The closest anyone else gets is maybe Tillerson with three, and that’s only if you don’t consider C a prerequisite for D. Sessions stands alone on the above counts, and he even knows what laws are. He’s the one guy actually filling jobs in his department, even as he brings back mandatory minimums, civil forfeiture, private prisons, coerced confessions, the phonebook trick, and I’m just gonna assume he’s bringing back firing squads.
He’s damn good at his job, and truly effective at unmaking the American social fabric in a misguided attempt to repair our largely-intact legal fabric. The South was rising again, and rising fast, because they had an effective champion at their back, who has the additional support of the Vast Right-Wing Legal Conspiracy… and it’s that very effectiveness that is putting his position with the administration in doubt, because Option E is coming down on J. Sesh like the petulant wrath of a developmentally disabled God.
Jeff Sessions had the good sense to respect the rule of law and recuse himself because he got caught lying about the whole possible-treason thing, and his basic competence is the reason Donald Trump is trying to smoke him out right now. After all, el Presidente knows he’s doomed because he totally did all of it, and Donald has no one to blame but himself for what has transpired, so he’s attacking the legal mechanisms of this country for working. He’s attacking Sessions for lack of a better target, if it isn’t just his frustration with a lack of backbone from a co-conspirator.
The fact that this legal mechanism is operated by his oldest, closest, and most effective ally doesn’t matter to this mental child. Everything is about his interests, and only his interests, and if the normal workings of the DOJ call his interests into question, then they are by definition unjust, even when they follow the letter of the law and departmental policy. He attacks whomever is in the general direction of the problem because he doesn’t like what’s happening and wants it to stop.
Perhaps Jeff Sessions will sweat out this little interpersonal crisis and remain in office, at the behest of the Nazi faction in the West Wing. Bannon and co. desperately need his savvy with the banality of evil to remain relevant and enact their agenda. But maybe the damage is done, and all of Republican Washington is finally facing that there is no terra firma with this President. None. No one, no matter how loyal, can do their jobs properly and hope to avoid his fits of pique and active public scorn. They couldn’t even maintain his trust enough to do their jobs properly in the first place, and it’s not getting easier now that he’s in his last days in the bunker, raving at his generals for their failings.
However, his stupidity is ever a gift horse for the cause of justice, and I can’t look that gift horse in the mouth right now. Jeff Sessions was a nightmare from the moment I heard his name submitted in nomination, a crime against any meaningful concept of justice itself, and the commission of that crime was as swift and terrible as it seems to be mercifully short. Until you stand trial or cut an immunity deal, Mr. Attorney General, kindly get your elfin ass back to the land of cotton and shut up. The 21st Century doesn’t need you.