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August 20, 2003
The usual potpourri

Molly Ivins seems to feel a touch bitter about the blackout.

I thought the most significant thing said in the column (although it's all good) came here:

U.S. officials quickly blamed a Canadian plant for touching off the mess. Mel Lastman, the clearly sleepless and exhausted mayor of Toronto, replied bitterly: "Tell me, have you ever heard the United States take blame for anything? This is no different."


On the same northern front, it's good to know we're keeping ourselves safe from terrorism. There's no doubt that keeping those Canadian newlyweds out of the country is going to make the world a better place for all of us.

The thing I think Ashcroft doesn't 'get' about opposition to the so-called Patriot Act is that people's distrust stems as much from their distrust of him and the Administration as it does from the provisions. For the record, there are parts of the Act that I think are necessary tools for law enforcement. There are other parts that, while they might provide a benefit to law enforcement, are just too close to the line. I don't see almost any law enforcement agency being able to resist the urge to step over that line in a burst of...let's call it enthusiasm...during an investigation that's not going well.

(I'm so proud. I didn't even mention the way DeLay has already abused his position and the department's mission by asking the Orwellian "Homeland Security" people to track down his political opponents! Such restraint on my part! Impressive, I think.)

For those who haven't read it, Helen Thomas also took on Ashcroft over his already-infamous requirement that judges who don't sentence strictly enough be reported to him.

Department lawyers say the new rules are in the interest of uniformity.

Now it may very well be that Ashcroft has also demanded reports on judges who sentence higher than the average, at or near the max allowable, but if so, we haven't heard about it. So it appears that "uniformity" only means a sort of basement requirement for sentencing. We have enough, more than enough people in prison, okay?

For those who aren't sure, let me say that you do not want 'uniformity' in sentencing. Not like this. Not in some way that fails to take the facts of each individual case into account. The judge in the courtroom, if competent, is the one who has the overview of the specific case details, not some bean-counter in Washington. If a state, or the feds, feel that a change needs to be made in the minimum punishment for a crime, then let's get that issue out in public for debate, but let's not let Ashcroft impose a de facto increase all by himself.

And again I fault, not the soldiers, but their bosses for failing to adequately educate, prepare, and supervise the troops in Iraq.

And, for what it's worth, I think Bosbach is right, too. "Tourists who "frivolously get into danger just for the thrill of it, should be prepared to pay a part of the costs involved in their release..." Absolutely.

It's just a personal opinion, but blogging isn't like regular journalism, or even writing a column for a publication. A blog is something just a little different. It remains to be seen whether or not "professional bloggers" who aim to amuse and educate manage to make the cut. I'll watch with interest to see if Breaking Views makes the grade. So far, so good.

Reviews like this are usually what make me want to read a book. Or a report.

And let's close for the moment on a round of applause for McCain, who is currently going after appropriations pork.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:50 AM