Am I wearing out my welcome with all my little lists? Maybe, but it occurred to me yesterday that we needed a record of the never-ending flow of leaks from the White House (and elsewhere) that are seemingly designed to show what an idiot Donald Trump is. Leaks, of course, are common, but leaks designed to embarrass the president aren't. Especially in the first month of a new administration.

So here it is. It might not be exhaustive, but I tried to include everything that Google and I could remember. Additions welcome.

Donald Trump keeps saying that the murder rate is the highest it's been in 45 years. This is wildly untrue, but other people are joining the bandwagon anyway. Jeff Sessions says the current rise in crime is a "dangerous permanent trend." Talk show hosts agree. America is a dark and dangerous place, and it's getting more dangerous all the time.

Aside from outright lies, a lot of this is based on cherry-picked statistics. The murder rate in Chicago has skyrocketed over the past three years. Los Angeles has seen a substantial rise in its violent crime rate. Etc. But if you're interested in the whole picture, I have it for you below, complete and un-cherry-picked.

You're all used to seeing long-term crime charts from me because I'm usually illustrating the effect of lead on crime over the past 50 or 60 years. Those charts show national crime rates plummeting in the 90s and early aughts. This time, though, the chatter is all about recent increases in murder and violent crime in big cities. For starters, then, here are the basic numbers for the past decade on violent crime in large cities from the National Crime Victimization Survey:1

The data goes through 2015,2 and shows that big-city violent crime did tick upward slightly in 2015. More generally, though, violent crime has displayed a noisy but steadily downward trend over the past decade. In 2015, violent crime in big cities was nearly a third lower than it was in 2007.

Next up is violent crime from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports. This is based on reports from police departments, and includes detailed data at the city level. Here are violent crime rates in America's ten biggest cities3 through the first half of 2016:4

Some big cities have indeed shown worrying upward trends: Chicago, San Antonio, and Los Angeles are all up over the past two or three years. At the same time, Philadelphia, New York City, and San Diego are all down. More generally, except for San Antonio every single one of these cities has a lower violent crime rate than in 2006, ranging from 4 percent down (San Jose) to 40 percent down (Dallas and Philadelphia). The overall violent crime rate for all big cities is up over the past two years, but still lower than it was in 2006.

Finally, here are the murder rates in our ten biggest cities:

Chicago, obviously, is a big outlier, with a high and rising murder rate (up 53 percent over the past two years). The three biggest cities in Texas have also seen big recent increases. Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York City are down compared to 2015.

You can draw different conclusions from this data depending on what you look at.5 However, this is the best data we have. This is reality. Whatever you decide to say about violent crime, it needs to be based on this.


1The NCVS data on violent crime doesn't include homicide because, obviously, you can't call up people and ask if they've been murdered in the past year. Generally speaking, however, violent crime as a category includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

2Unlike the other charts in this post, this one starts in 2007 because the Bureau of Justice Statistics warns that a change in methodology in 2006 makes it difficult to compare 2006 to other years.

3Because of a dispute over methodology, Chicago has no official numbers for forcible rape before 2015. Because of this, it also has no official numbers for violent crime. However, it's pretty easy to create a close estimate of the rape rate and then use that to recreate the violent crime rate. That's what I've done here.

4I've annualized the rates for the first half of 2016 so they're comparable to the other years.

5It's worth mentioning that property crime is also down over the past decade. Ditto for crime in smaller cities and towns. I haven't shown any of that here because big-city violent crime seems to be the topic of the moment. However, you might be interested in a little-known bit of crime trivia that will surprise most people: violent crime in big cities has fallen so much that it's actually lower than anyplace else. The safest places in America are the biggest and smallest cities. It's the medium-sized cities that now have the biggest violent crime problems.

Donald Trump's implicit appeal during the presidential campaign was his status as a complete outsider, a proverbial bull in a china shop who didn't care if pearl clutching elites took to their fainting couches while he turned their Ivy League world upside down. Was he ignorant? Sure, maybe, but that's what the country needed: someone with common sense who would just go ahead and do the right thing and not worry about smashing the crockery along the way.

But just as Theresa May and her fellow Brexiteers are learning that the real world is more complicated than they thought, Trump is learning that just because he doesn't know something doesn't mean it's not important:

President Trump, who presented himself as a staunch supporter of Israel during last year’s campaign, took a harder line on settlements in an interview published on Friday and indicated that he was rethinking his promise to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem....Mr. Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, have been exploring an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative that would enlist Arab allies, and a host of Arab leaders have told the new president that provocative pro-Israel positions would not help.

....“They don’t help the process,” Mr. Trump said of settlements in the Israel Hayom interview. “I can say that. There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left.” He added: “I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”

Imagine that. Trump and Kushner have talked to Arab leaders—for the first time ever, I imagine—and discovered that they have big issues with things like settlements and Jerusalem. It wasn't just a bunch of milksop lefty nonsense after all. It was reality.

But this lesson still hasn't filtered down to his UN ambassador:

This is all very Trumpish: Obama coddled the Palestinians, therefore we don't like them and oppose their appointment to anything. As it turns out, a moment's worth of consultation would have informed Haley that Salam Fayyad is widely respected, including within Israel. He's long been a moderate, anti-Hamas, anti-corruption voice in the Palestinian Authority, and he was appointed to the Libya mission by a newly installed UN chief who is notably more sympathetic to Israel than his predecessors. The "signal" his appointment sent was a very pro-Western one.

But once again, bumper stickers won the day.

As if National Security Advisor Michael Flynn doesn't already have enough bad news on his plate, today he got some more:

On Friday, one of Flynn’s closest deputies on the National Security Council, senior director for Africa Robin Townley, was informed that the Central Intelligence Agency had rejected his request for an elite security clearance required for service on the NSC, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

That forced Townley, a former Marine intelligence officer who had long maintained a top secret-level security clearance, out of his NSC post, explained the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive personnel matters. One of the sources said that the rejection was approved by Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo and that it infuriated Flynn and his allies.

Flynn has been sharply critical of the CIA, and apparently he's regarded by some in the White House as waging "a jihad against the intelligence community." So was this a little chin music by the CIA to warn Flynn to back off? Or was there really some kind of problem with Townley? Maybe someday we'll find out.

According to a new PPP poll released today, here are some of the views of people who voted for Donald Trump:

Now, before you all get too bent out of shape, I'd like to point out that there's some good news here: only 14 percent of Trump's supporters want to invade Mexico. Not so bad, eh?

I'd also like to point out that a week ago I predicted that lots of Trump supporters would hear about the Bowling Green massacre but only a few would hear that it didn't actually happen. Well, I was right. Belief in the BGM outscored disbelief 51-23 percent. And isn't that what's really important? That I was right?

Hopper loves to putter around on the roof, and the other day she saw me in the bedroom while she was up there. She knows perfectly well how to get down (jump on tree, jump on fence, then jump to ground), but as soon as she saw me she immediately demanded to be let in through the window. This was never going to happen, since I know that if I did it once she would force me into screen-removing slavery for the rest of my life. However, it did provide an opportunity for catblogging fodder. At some point, Hilbert somehow got wind of what was going on, so he came up to see what the fuss was about. Hopper appears to be sharing a secret of some kind with him here, but what? No human will ever know.

Why were Democrats so hellbent on stopping the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education? Jonathan Chait reviews the possibilities today and points out that the federal government has a fairly small impact on education. This is true:

So if the Department of Education doesn't have that much klout, why worry so much about DeVos? Here is Chait's conclusion:

Her candidacy struck an authentic note of fear in the Democratic grassroots....DeVos frightened middle-class Democrats because she seemed to pose a threat to their children and their schools (a threat she is unlikely to carry out). Meanwhile, Price will be trying to snatch health insurance away from millions of Americans too poor or sick to buy it, Puzder will be grinding labor rights into dust, Sessions will be attacking voting rights and protections from police abuse for minorities, and Pruitt will be turning the EPA into a vassal of oil and coal interests.

Meanwhile, over on the right, it's an article of faith that Democrats are puppets of the teachers unions, and that's why they spent a lot of political capital opposing DeVos rather than other, far more dangerous characters.

I think this is all wrong. On a policy level, opposition to DeVos mostly centered on her devotion to vouchers and charter schools. But if DeVos had been defeated, Trump would simply have sent up another pro-voucher-pro-charter nominee. Defeating DeVos wouldn't have changed anything.

The real reason Democrats spent so much energy on DeVos is pretty simple: she badly fluffed her Senate testimony, and came out looking like an idiot. Because of this, there was a realistic chance of finding three Republicans to join in opposing her, and thus defeating her nomination. In the end, only two Republicans stepped up, but for a while it looked like Democrats had a real chance at claiming a scalp.

This hasn't been true of any of the others. There were never any Republicans who might have voted against Sessions or Pruitt or Price, and it's hard to get the masses psyched up for battle when there's really no chance of winning. That's why, relatively speaking, Democrats haven't mounted as big a campaign against any of Trump's other nominees.

Depending on how Nannygate and a few other things turn out, it's possible that Andy Puzder might also look vulnerable when his hearings start. If so, I expect that we'll see a full-court press similar to what we saw with DeVos. The key variable here is not badness—Trump's nominees are all bad from a liberal perspective—nor demonstrating loyalty to teachers unions—that's just gravy—but the realistic possibility of defeating one of Trump's nominees. That's where most people want to spend their energy.

For a brief moment, let's turn our attention away from Donald Trump and focus on another country's woes. The folks over at National Review are no fans of the EU and have generally been pretty happy about the passage of Brexit. Today, however, Andrew Stuttaford—relying on Brexit expert Christopher Booker—is pretty scathing about prime minister Theresa May's handling of the whole thing. First, here's Booker explaining what he's learned over the past 25 years about exiting the EU:

As I came to appreciate just how enmeshed we were becoming with that system of government, was that extricating ourselves from it would be far more fiendishly complicated than most people realised...[Also,] as I listened and talked to politicians, was how astonishingly little they seemed really to know about how it worked. Having outsourced ever more of our lawmaking and policy to a higher power, it was as if our political class had switched off from ever really trying to understand it.

That sounds sort of familiar, doesn't it? Continuing:

On leaving the EU [the UK] becomes what [the EU] terms a “third country”, faced with all the labyrinth of technical barriers to trade behind which the EU has shut itself off from the outside world. Last week I read a series of expert papers explaining some of the mindbending regulatory hurdles we would then have to overcome in trying to maintain access to what is still by far our largest single overseas market.

Take, for instance, our chemicals and pharmaceutical industries, which currently account for a quarter of all our exports to the EU, which currently account for a quarter of all our £230 billion a year exports to the EU. By dropping out of the EU, these would lose all the “authorisations” which give them what Mrs May calls “frictionless” entry to its market, and the process of negotiating replacements for them would be so complex that it could take years.

And now Stuttaford:

Booker observes that these aspects of Britain’s divorce from the EU “could have been achieved infinitely more easily if Mrs May had not slammed the door on our continued membership of the EEA [the European Economic Area], which would guarantee us much the same “frictionless” access we enjoy now”.

That would be the ‘Norway option’ that you may have read about a few times in this very Corner, an option rejected by May for reasons so unclear that I cannot keep thinking the (doubtless unfair) thought that she has very little idea of what it actually is.

And then, Booker frets, there is May’s “terrifying” threat “that, if she is not given what she wants, she will simply “walk away”.” He’s right to worry. May has said that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain”, an elegant but false dichotomy: “No deal” for Britain would be a “bad deal”, a very bad deal indeed.

This has all the signs of becoming an unbelievable cockup. By a slim 52-48 vote, Britain has doomed itself to many, many tortuous years of negotiating dozens or hundreds of separate agreements with the EU. Switzerland has done the same, and it's taken them the better part of 20 years.

If there were any real advantage to this, it might be worth it. But just to keep Polish immigrants out? This might be one of the dumbest things any country has ever voluntarily subjected itself to.

A couple of weeks ago I said we'd need to wait a couple of weeks to see how President Trump's immigration order affected his favorability rating. Well, those couple of weeks are up. Here's how he's doing:

Trump was already on a post-inauguration upward swing, and his immigration order seems to have kept it going. He's gained more than three points of favorability since he announced it—and that's despite the chaos surrounding the rollout and the near-daily revelations of other incompetence on his part. Buckle up.

Andrew Sullivan returns to semi-regular writing about politics today. His first topic is Donald Trump's apparently uncontrollable lying, and what it means about his mental stability:

I know we’re not supposed to bring this up — but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? If you showed up at a neighbor’s, say, and your host showed you his newly painted living room, which was a deep blue, and then insisted repeatedly — manically — that it was a lovely shade of scarlet, what would your reaction be? If he then dragged out a member of his family and insisted she repeat this obvious untruth in front of you, how would you respond?

If the next time you dropped by, he was still raving about his gorgeous new red walls, what would you think? Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance.

I think this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious, and near panic these past few months. It is not so much this president’s agenda. That always changes from administration to administration. It is that when the lynchpin of an entire country is literally delusional, clinically deceptive, and responds to any attempt to correct the record with rage and vengeance, everyone is always on edge.

This is true, but here's the thing: as near as anyone can tell, Trump has been like this for decades. The difference, of course, is that before this year he was mainly in the entertainment industry, where his delusions were more or less harmless. They also made for great TV, so no one ever pushed back very seriously. This was something Trump could handle.

The Oval Office is different. There's a lot of pushback, and not of the giggling Billy Bush variety. The press is on him 24/7, people die when he screws up, and his policies end up as disasters thanks to his ADD and unwillingness to think beyond bumper stickers. We don't know how Trump's fragile psyche will respond to continuous rolling disasters and front pages like the one in the previous post. That's why everyone is on edge.