The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gonzales v Swank

Even as Gonzales catches a lucky break-- since you'd have to be actively pursuing information about the senate hearings amid the sensationalism surrounding the Va. Tech tragedy-- Salon has published another facet of the politicization of the Department of Justice (link above):

Two of the fired U.S. attorneys, Dan Bogden of Nevada and Paul Charlton of Arizona, were pressured by a top Justice Department official last fall to commit resources to adult obscenity cases, even though both of their offices faced serious shortages of manpower. Each of them warned top officials that pursuing the obscenity cases would force them to pull prosecutors away from other significant criminal investigations. In Nevada, ongoing cases included gang violence and racketeering, corporate healthcare fraud, and the prosecution of a Republican official on corruption charges [!].

Stories about the DOJs Bush-era focus on pursuing vanilla pornography have been around since Ashcroft. And so have kiddie-porn afficianados who are working for the Bush administration. This piece takes a long, hard look at just how much a tool the DOJ has become under the one-party rule of the GOP, and has also gotten plenty of well-deserved attention on the blogs today:

In late 2001, Ashcroft also hired three Republican political operatives to work in a secretive new unit in the division's Voting Rights Section. Rich said the unit, headed by unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate Mark Metcalf of Kentucky, bird-dogged the progress of the administration's Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and reviewed voting legislation in the states.

You know what that means-- another BushCo maxim. "The name of legislation is the opposite is its goal." And while I no longer hesitate to point out the fascistic, Soviet-era activities of the Republican party, I'm glad to see John Chait do the same. Even in its sadly necessary, half-assed sort of way.

AS ATTY. GEN. Alberto R. Gonzales takes to Capitol Hill to testify today, it's worth keeping in mind what this whole imbroglio is really about. It's not about whether Gonzales and his minions lied to Congress and the public. (They did, repeatedly.) It's not even about whether the Justice Department improperly fired federal prosecutors. (It did, of course.) It's about whether the Bush administration sought to subvert democracy by turning the federal judicial system into a weapon of the ruling party.

Many people think of democracy as free elections, some other basic rights (like free speech) and not much more. But really, that's only the beginning. There are plenty of countries that have free and fair elections and yet are clearly not democratic because their ruling parties have a permanent, immovable hammerlock on power.

One key thing that separates strong democracies (such as the United States) from weak democracies (such as Russia) is that the latter use the police power of the state as a tool of the ruling party.

The thing is, with all the polls showing that Americans are aware of the story, and onto the fact that Gonzales et al. are lying through their teeth, I think the MSM's insistence on making it yet another all-sides-are-equally-valid travesty. Or worse, showing outright contempt for the very idea that anyone could take it seriously. All three articles are pretty much must-reads.