Category Archives: Law and Order

A Step Toward Sensibility

Wow. I’ve been beaten to the punch. This will teach me to hold back my comments in the wake of a tragedy. But we now have voices from as far left as Atrios in a brilliant post, to Klein to Virginia Governir Tim Kaine to Sullivan’s interns cautioning against using the VT tragedy to advance ideas about security.

The consensus, at least it some circles, is that you can’t really do much to stop a madman. There’s not much you can learn from an extreme random event. These events are, thankfully, stochastic in our society. So locking down campi, grabbing guns, distributing guns or putting anti-depressants in the water isn’t going to do much good. And there are greater ills to heal with the effort being spent.

Of course, if Barrack Obama just said what Ben Smith says he said (hat tip, Lee), it’s his first major gaffe. Using the VT tragedy to segue into hurtful language and outsourcing is . . . words fail me. Somewhere, Hillary is grinning.


A nice little piece at the New York Post points out that the lesson to learn from the Duke case is that DNA labs need to be independent. Not a lot of people realize this, but DNA labs serve the prosecution. And in the Duke case, the lab offered to bury the exonerating evidence. Because they serve the prosecution.

Radley Balko has been on fire lately at The Agitator, pointing out how many innocent people, especially black ones, have been put in prison on cases as flimsy as the Duke one. Perhaps now is the time for both Right and Left to reaffirm their commitment to justice rather than convictions.

Boortz on VT

Boortz comes out full bore on the Virginia Tech tragedy.

I’m refraining from comment until we know more. We’re hearing a lot of speculation and stories. We can wait a while until we have all the facts. It turned out that most of what people were saying about Columbine in the immediate aftermath was garbage. Let’s take some time to separate the fantasy from the reality.

There is one thing I’d like to say. I hope people will spare just tiny amount of prayer for the family of . . . the shooter.


Listen. Somewhere in America, some family is about to find out that their brother or son did this horrible horrible thing. If there’s anything worse than finding out your child has been killed, it’s finding out he was a monster. And they will unquestionably get a lot of the blame — perhaps some deserved. Since the shooter is dead, the blame game will be played out in full — VT Administration, cops, student cliques, the family, whatever you want. Some will deserve that blame. All will get it.


I’ve been to Blacksburg a number of times. It’s hard to believe this sort of thing could happen.

Update: I’d written more earlier on this subject but have decided to pull it and wait until more facts come out. For now, all we can do and all we should do is pray.

Why Attorneys Matter

It’s hard to break the meme-lock of the Right on the attorneys scandal. They don’t or can’t admit that firing eight of your own appointees in your second term because they aren’t prosecuting your political opponents is different than the normal changeover of USA’s that starts any Presidential term. But maybe they can’t get worked up over what one of the new appointeesis doing.

What was done to Ed Rosenthal is a travesty — one, by the way, that started under the Clinton Administration.

Balko has been on fire lately. The Agitator is quickly becoming one of the best blogs on the internets.


Absolute brilliance from Radly Balko:

Yes, Nifong was rotten to the core. Yes, the liberals who convicted the lacrosse team in the press rushed to judgment, and were dead wrong. But listening to the right wing over the several months, you’d think this kind of thing only happens to white people, and only liberal, bleeding-heart prosecutors like Nifong are capable of unjust, overtly political, race-fueled witch hunts. The unique thing about this case is that everything happened in reverse. So it tested the principles and allegiances of everybody. The real credit I think goes to the handful of liberal who stood by the lacrosse team, bucking the civil rights groups and feminist groups on the other side.

The right-wingers who left their law-and-order perch to hustle to these players’ defense were no less politically motivated than the left-wingers who left their rights-of-the-accused perch to condemn them.

The right-wingers just happened to be right this time.

Read the whole thing

And Lee at Right Thinking has the proper take on the “War Czar”.


So now that the three Duke Lacrosse players have been vindicated, where do they go to get their reputations back?

Of course, expect crows of triumph from Coulter and the rest who smelled a rat from the start. But just because they were right doesn’t mean they were right. There’s a huge difference being right about something because you’re smart and perceptive and being right about something out of sheer dumb luck. If you opine enough and throw out enough opinions, you will occasionally be right about something — as sportscasters demonstrate every day. They were basing their defense of these men more on reflex (and the background of the accuser) than fact. It was a snap judgement — it just happened to be right.

The same, of course, goes for those who instantly pronounced these men guilty based on their gender, class, race and geography. They immediately bought that priveleged white men in the south would do such a dispicable thing — facts be damned.

No one in the political circles really cared about the facts of the case or the wheels of justice (or the woman, for that matter). They were far more interested in their partisan political take on it. Fortunately, someone in the DA’s office was being more concientious that either group of political cretins.

Berger and the RWE

While debating the US attorneys scandal over at Boortz, I was hit with the “What about Sandy Berger!” line and discoverd this, which was not reported by the Right Wing Echosphere.

We’ve never been considered soft on the Clinton Administration or its leading personalities. So we hope we’ll have some credibility, especially with our friends on the right, when we say that the misdemeanor plea bargain struck by the Justice Department last week with former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger looks to be a reasonable outcome.

Accorrding to the RWE, he’s never been convicted. But it goes on:

After a long investigation, however, Justice says the picture that emerged is of a man who knowingly and recklessly violated the law in handling classified documents, but who was not trying to hide any evidence. Prosecutors believe Mr. Berger genuinely wanted to prepare for his testimony before the 9/11 Commission but felt he was somehow above having to spend numerous hours in the Archives as the rules required, and that he didn’t exactly know how to return the documents once he’d taken them out.
More than a few conservatives have been crying foul, or whitewash, in part because Mr. Berger’s plea means he’ll likely avoid jail and lose his security clearance for only three years. So we called Justice Department Public Integrity chief prosecutor Noel Hillman, who assured us that Mr. Berger did not deny any documents to history. “There is no evidence that he intended to destroy originals,” said Mr. Hillman. “There is no evidence that he did destroy originals. We have objectively and affirmatively confirmed that the contents of all the five documents at issue exist today and were made available to the 9/11 Commission.”

He was eventually fined $50,000.

By the way, that’s the notoriously left-wing Wall Street Journal. The recent tendency of the right to circulate “facts” which aren’t and the half of stories that support their point of view; the tendency of these “facts” and half-truths to echo from Hannity to Boortz to Limbaugh to Colter; the tendency for them to quote each other as though they were news sources has created a new term for this blog — the Echosphere. There’s also a left-wing Echosphere of pundits that quote each other on how the second ammendment authorized militias and such. But I’m growing sick of it, especially on the Right. Conservatives used to be rugged individualists who came up with their own arguments. Now they’re just a bunch of parrots.

“Who’s a great President!” “Bushie want a cracker!” “Valerie Plame wasn’t undercover!” “Awwk! Awwk!”


Political Appointees?

Just to deal with one of the meme’s circulating in the Right:

“This US Attorneys scandal is garbage! These are political appointees!”

They seem to be missing a critical point here. The appointments are political but the office is not. Just as the Hatch Act prevents the political appointees who head the Departments of Defense or Labor or Health from using the office to advance political interests; just as it prevents the Drug Czar from his office for political interests (not that this stops him); the President is not supposed to use the US Attorneys for political means.

What we are talking about here is not the firing of eight lawyers but the use of the Department of Justice to advance the political agenda of the Republican party. I’m sorry, Neal Boortz. I’m sorry, Anne Couter. I’m sorry, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. This is not the Soviet Union. We do not have a poltiical office. We do not confound the business of government with the business of politics. And we now have ample evidence that the US Attorneys were being pressured to lay off Republicans and prosecute Democrats.

Suppose the Drug Czar were only prosecuting drug cases against Democrats and letting Republicans go free. Would that be OK? He’s a political appointee after all.

Two Stories

It’s not enought that we’re putting non-violent drug users into prison to be beaten and raped. Now we’re doing it with minors. Wonderful.

On another note, the poor have more free time than the rich. Slate asks why? Um, isn’t it obvious? It’s the public choice theory. People are willing to trade income for leisure time (I myself being a prime example). If you work harder and have less free time, you’ll be less poor!

Breaking the Silence

I haven’t commented much on the US Attorney scandal because I haven’t been quite sure what to make of it. I’m rather annoyed at Boortz and his ilk dismissing this as a “non-scandal”. But the longer this goes, on, the more disturbing it gets.

First, I’m sick to death of hearing that the US Attorneys serve at the “pleasure” of the President. It’s a buzzword that’s driving up the fricking wall. He’s not a monarch, much as he has his supporters — his few remaining supporters — think that he is.

Second, I don’t think anything illegal was done here. But that doesn’t make it right. Lots of things are prefectly legal that ain’t right — American Idol, for example. I think it once again demonstrates the raw political machinations of this loathsome administration.

Third, we’ve found out that the Patriot Act gave the President the authority to appoint USA’s without congressional approval. This needs to be unpassed fast. And the fuck was that for, anyway? Is Al-Quaeda going to strike because Bush couldn’t get his partisan attorneys appointed?

Fourth, we’re getting a nasty nasty look into the Bush justice department at it ain’t pretty. Read the whole thing. One of the fired attorneys was gotten rid of despite an exemplary record because he wouldn’t prosecute pornographers, was saving his ammo in the War on Drugs for big dealers and was concerned about FBI interrogation techniques.

Some interrogation techniques “may be unsettling” for jurors in video or audio form, wrote the BATF, and therefore shouldn’t be recorded. Perfectly “acceptable” techniques may not “come across to lay persons as a proper means of obtaining information,” wrote the FBI, and recording those techniques could sway a jury—to which an unknown official added the handwritten annotation: “So we want to hide the truth? Don’t [sic] want jury to reach its own judgment?”

Apparently not. The Justice Department ultimately sided with the law enforcement agencies, noting that it’s best to hide “unsettling” interrogation techniques from juries, even when it was those techniques that extracted the confession.

As Greenwald explains, this is particularly disturbing, because interrogation techniques would only come up in those cases in which a defendant’s confession was in dispute. And in those cases, the agents would almost certainly already be asked about their techniques at trial. The very purpose of a video, then, would be to determine who’s telling the truth.

You know what? Now that I’ve typed out all my thoughts, I am angry. And I think that if the American people become familiar with this — if our lazy worthless media does their fucking job — Americans will get angry about it. (And despite Boortz’s bitching, 72% of Americans think this should be investigated, according to a poll I can’t find at the moment).

It’s just another example of the incompetence, political viciousness, authoritarianism and deception that has increasingly defined this Administration.

Crime Spike

Oops. You know his dad had a crime spike under his watch. I thought Republicans were supposed to be tough on crime.

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.

A lot of this is crap. It’s been shown that gun access and poverty have nothing to do with crime. I suspect the Meth problem is more closely related to this – just as the crack boom created a crime wave in the early 90’s. But the bigger issue is violent criminals being turned loose from prison . . . so that we can make room for drug addicts.