Trump administration talks tough on crime, unless

Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions like to talk about getting tough on crime (while lying about the actual crime statistics), so let’s look at a big crime:

After two years of painstaking investigation, David Schiller and the rest of the Drug Enforcement Administration team he supervised were ready to move on the biggest opioid distribution case in US history.

The team, based at the DEA’s Denver field division, had been examining the operations of the nation’s largest drug company, McKesson Corp. By 2014, investigators said they could show that the company had failed to report suspicious orders involving millions of highly addictive painkillers sent to drugstores from Sacramento, Calif., to Lakeland, Fla.

and what happened?

Instead, top attorneys at the DEA and the Justice Department struck a deal earlier this year with the corporation and its powerful lawyers, an agreement that was far more lenient than the field division wanted, according to interviews and internal government documents.

Although the agents and investigators said they had plenty of evidence and wanted criminal charges, they were unable to convince the US attorney in Denver that they had enough to bring a case.

Discussions about charges never became part of the negotiations between the government lawyers in Washington and the company.

And this is the way of things: there’s the law for the rich and powerful and the law for the rest of us. The actions of McKesson Corp. might have lead to thousands of deaths but no one will go to jail. Try that if you’re not rich or powerful.

MS-13 is horrible. Ok, it’s not too bad.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Trump have gone on and on about how horrible the Central American gang MS-13 is. Unless that is they’re talking about shipping immigrants back there:

More than 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians living in the United States under a form of temporary permission no longer need to be shielded from deportation, the State Department told Homeland Security officials this week.
The statement was issued a few days ahead of a highly anticipated DHS announcement about whether to renew that protection.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke to inform her that conditions in Central America and Haiti that had been used to justify the protection no longer necessitate a reprieve for the migrants.

As an aside, MS-13 formed in the LA area by Salvadorans displaced by the civil wars fomented by the US and it took root in El Salvador after the US deported many of them back to El Salvador. Reagan’s actions have come back to bite us.

Republicans care

Let’s look at how Republicans care about the people.

First, they’ve so busy trying to take medical insurance from tens of millions of people they let medical insurance for children lapse:

Congress has allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provided low-cost health insurance to 9 million children, to expire.

If action is not taken soon to restore the funding, the effects will become obvious in schools across the country, with many of the children in the program unable to see a doctor for routine checkups, immunizations, visits when sick, and other services.

Second, they will probably get rid of a program that made it so students scammed by fake universities didn’t have to repay their loans:

Relief seemed to be on the way last year after she learned the Obama administration would forgive her Department of Education loans if she could prove she was defrauded by the for-profit college. But President Trump has brought the worries back.

Trump has thrust Cabrera Garcia and more than 65,000 other student borrowers across the country, including about 1,500 in New England, into a new state of financial limbo by suspending applications under Obama’s program of loan forgiveness.

I wonder why? Oh:

DeVos has investment ties to the for-profit education sector. She also has installed former executives and other officials from the for-profit education industry in her department.

Among them: Julian Schmoke Jr., as the Education Department’s top cop looking for schools that are cheating taxpayers and students of federal aid dollars. Schmoke is a former dean at DeVry University, a for-profit school that, along with its parent company, last year agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $100 million to settle allegations it lured students with false job and salary information. Critics also say he has little to no experience running investigations.

It’s obvious that DeVos just doesn’t care about public education.

Fuck violence

A Congressman along with three others was shot today:

A rifle-wielding attacker opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice Wednesday, wounding House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others as congressmen and aides dove for cover. The assailant, prepared with ‘‘a lot of ammo,’’ fought a gun battle with police before he, too, was shot and later died.

The only type of thing this type of violence is good for is creating more violence. Violence can come from any political faction and in all cases is both unacceptable and stupid.

And there’s much too much of it:

A UPS employee opened fire at a San Francisco package delivery facility on Wednesday, killing three employees and then himself as officers closed in, police said.

Trump is going under

Here’s Donald Trump a-tweeting:

The Democrats have said some of the worst things about James Comey, including the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad!

James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI.

Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!

Hey, look at that, Trump might be right–we might be thanking him for firing James Comey. That’s because it’s so outrageous that it might convince some Republicans that there really does have to be a Special Prosecutor to investigate the connections between the Russians and the Trump administration.

The police are never wrong

This would seem cut and dried to me:

Here is my best distillation (based on detailed findings made by the district judge after a five-day bench trial):

In October 2010, officers were searching for a “parolee-at-large” who allegedly had been spotted bicycling in front of a suspected drug-trafficking house in suburban Los Angeles. Officers, who had no warrant to search or arrest, went to the house, announced themselves to the owner, and gained entry by threatening to force their way in. (The parolee was not there.)

Meanwhile, officers Christopher Conley and Jennifer Pederson went to “clear the backyard.” After entering the yard and checking some small metal storage boxes, the two officers came to a dilapidated wooden “shack” that (as the district court found) they could not “reasonably” have believed to be unoccupied. The shack had various signs of occupancy, and a lead officer testified that he had advised the deputies that a man named Angel lived in a shed in the yard with his pregnant girlfriend. (The district judge found that both deputies had heard this advisement, and that if they had not then they had “unreasonably failed to pay attention.”) With his gun drawn, Conley pulled open the door of the shack.

The Mendezes were resting on a futon; Angel kept a BB gun next to his bed to shoot pests. When he heard the deputies’ entry, he picked up the BB gun to move it so he could get up. (Whether the gun was “pointed at” the deputies remains disputed, but the trial judge found Mendez was moving it innocently, merely “to help him sit up.”) Conley shouted “gun,” and the deputies fired 15 bullets at the two occupants. Mendez, severely injured, exclaimed, “I didn’t know it was you guys. It was a BB gun….”

No criminal case was filed against the officers, but the courts did award the Mendezes $4 million in damages in a civil suit. The case is now at the Supreme Court to review that award. I wonder what would have happened if Angel had had a real gun and killed one of the officers?

Crime in New York City

The crime rate in New York City is lower than it’s been in generations:

New York City finished 2016 tied for its second lowest number of homicides in the modern era of record keeping, driving the city’s rate for each 100,000 residents to the lowest level among major U.S. cities except San Diego.

NYPD figures show 335 killings last year, down from 352 in 2015. The fewest killings were in 2014, with 333; 2013 also recorded 335 homicides. The 2016 number is preliminary and might be adjusted upward if certain cases are reclassified as homicides.

Total shootings, defined as discharge of a gun in which someone is injured, totaled 998, down from more than 1,100 in the prior year.

Since hitting a record high of 2,245 homicides in 1989, New York City killings have declined markedly and are comparable to what the city experienced in the 1960s, when record keeping differed from the CompStat method initiated in 1994 by then-commissioner William Bratton.

And it could be even lower if other states had stronger gun laws:

A gun-trafficking ring in Virginia brought more than 200 legally purchased guns up the I-95 corridor to New York, where they unwittingly sold them to an undercover detective, according to an indictment unsealed on Wednesday.

The indictment of 627 counts charged 24 people, some of whom have violent criminal records and ties to the Bloods street gang, with conspiracy and illegal weapons sale and possession. In all, the authorities recovered 217 guns, including 41 assault weapons like AK-47s, AR-15s and a Thompson submachine gun.

In a phone call in September, Antwan Walker, of Highland Springs, Va., said it was to buy guns in Virginia.

“There is no limits to how many guns I can go buy from the store, you know what I mean?” he said.

But we have to allow such people to buy an almost unlimited number of guns because FREEDOM.

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