Friday, March 09, 2007

First, Take Away The Guns...

Violent Crime in Cities Shows Sharp Surge - New York Times:
“There are pockets of crime in this country that are astounding,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which is releasing the report on Friday. “It’s gone under the radar screen, but it’s not if you’re living on the north side of Minneapolis or the south side of Los Angeles or in Dorchester, Mass.”

Local police departments blame several factors: the spread of methamphetamine use in some Midwestern and Western cities, gangs, high poverty and a record number of people being released from prison. But the biggest theme, they say, is easy access to guns and a willingness, even an eagerness, to settle disputes with them, particularly among young people.
...and then do something about poverty, you know, like raising wages, fixing the schools, improving housing, etc., etc.

If They Can Abuse, They Will

U.S. Report to Fault F.B.I. on Subpoenas - New York Times:
WASHINGTON, March 8 — The Justice Department’s inspector general has prepared a scathing report criticizing how the F.B.I. uses a form of administrative subpoena to obtain thousands of telephone, business and financial records without prior judicial approval.

The report, expected to be issued on Friday, says that the bureau lacks sufficient controls to make sure the subpoenas, which do not require a judge’s prior approval, are properly issued and that it does not follow even some of the rules it does have.

Under the USA Patriot Act, the bureau each year has issued more than 20,000 of the national security letters, as the demands for information are known. The report is said to conclude that the program lacks effective management, monitoring and reporting procedures, officials who have been briefed on its contents said.
For the same reason corporations can't be trusted to "do the right thing" when it comes to their customers, and why manufacturers can't be trusted not to pollute, the government cannot be trusted to uphold the Constitution without being closely watched by impartial or even adversarial parties. The Constitution was put in place to protect the citizenry from its own government, and all this nonsense about requiring no judicial oversight or approval for ANYTHING the government might do in the name of security is utterly absurd. We are coming within a hair's breadth of a police state, something the terrorists wanted to happen, and we are falling right into their sociological trap.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Michael Tomasky At American Prospect Takes Dems To Task

American Prospect Online - After Scooter:
Whenever I hear a Democrat in Congress say something like, 'We're not interested in the past; we're focused on the future,' I shoot the nearest television. What this usually means is: 'Our pollsters tell us that voters don't remember what happened last week, let alone three or four years ago, and that we just open ourselves up to attack for 'dwelling in the past.''

This is exactly the kind of politics that lost them the last two very winnable presidential elections. Follow your polls, stay on safe ground, concede the other side's arguments before they've even made them; and for God's sakes, don't ever try to move public opinion, just try to meet it and placate it.

If they don't know by now how much this posture has cost them politically in the last seven years -- and how much it's cost the country in countless ways -- then majority status will be fundamentally wasted on them.

I suspect there's still a lot that we don't know about pre-war intelligence misuse. For starters, there's the famous disappearing Phase II report on the subject, promised but never delivered by the Senate Intelligence Committee when Republican Pat Roberts was the chairman. Democrat Jay Rockefeller, not known for having carved a swashbuckling profile when he was the committee's ranking minority member, is now the chairman. He needs to be pushing hard now.
No matter how narrow their majority, the Dems need to show that they are actually doing their best to get at the truth and to bring the guilty to justice. A Bush appointee nailed Scooter for hindering a federal investigation. Now it's up to Congress to investigate why, and what he was hiding. Subpoena the VP, and get down to brass tacks. The time is now.

Or forget about keeping your precious majority.

Hunter At DK Puts The Screws To Congress

Daily Kos: Weeks, Not Months

And I wholeheartedly concur. The sooner we get out of Iraq, the more soldiers' lives we save. Do it now, Congress, do it now!

"The Gonzales Eight" Is Now The Official Name For Purgegate

The Gonzales Eight - New York Times:
"Congress must keep demanding answers. It must find out who decided to fire these prosecutors and why, and who may have authorized putting pressure on Mr. Cummins. And it must look into whether Senator Domenici and Representatives Wilson and Hastings violated ethics rules that forbid this sort of interference. We hope the House committee will not be deterred by the fact that Mr. Hastings is its ranking Republican. The Justice Department also needs to open its own investigation. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s claim that these prosecutors were fired for poor performance was always difficult to believe. Now it’s impossible."

There was a big debate over this at The Monthly. Looks like one of the suggestions held, although I think they were calling it The Gonzalez Seven, forgetting that one other judge was fired in the same month, though not on the same day and not necessarily for the same reason, though definitely still for political reasons. So this is it, folks, the one scandal that has the best chance to be the straw that broke this administration's collective backs. Let's hope so!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Oh, Yes, We Will Study Him

For Cheney, Political Toll May Follow Libby Verdict - New York Times:
“I think there is a view in the public that Libby was the fall guy,” Mr. Schumer said, “and I do think we will look at how the case shows the misuse of intelligence both before and after the war in Iraq.”

Such issues are already of intense interest to scholars, who say the Libby case will invariably shape Mr. Cheney’s legacy.

Historians typically pay scant attention to vice presidents, unless they become president. Mr. Cheney, though, is an exception. The historian Robert Dallek, who has written about presidents including Lyndon B. Johnson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, predicts scholars will “be racing for vice-presidential records in a way that we’ve never seen before” to answer questions raised by the Libby trial.

“It will deepen the impressions of someone who was a tremendous manipulator and was very defensive about mistakes,” Mr. Dallek said, “and I think it will greatly deepen the impression of a political operator who knew the ins and outs of Washington hardball politics. He’s going to be, I think, the most interesting vice president in history to study.”
Start the excavation!


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