Science & Technology

But, But, But….Clinton!


"Jack" over at the Ace of Spaces and the commenters over at take aim at my recent column because I've never criticized Bill Clinton for firing U.S. attorneys back when he took office in 1993.

Hmm. A few responses to that:

• I didn't write about it at the time because in 1993, I was all of 18 years old. So I didn't have a blog. There wasn't much Internets to speak of. And I didn't write for a magazine. I suppose I could have written about it for my high school newspaper. In fact, for all I know I may have. I was rather anti-Clinton at the time.

• As for why I didn't include it in the article, well, it was't pertinent. Does every criticism of the Bush administration really need to come with a disclaimer denoting whether or not Clinton did it too? In most cases, Clinton probably did do the same thing. So a pox on both their houses.

But Clinton isn't doing it now, is he? Bush is. It makes sense to criticize Bush for abuses of power that are going on right now instead of Clinton's abuses of power in the 1990s because, um, the 1990s were somewhere between eight and sixteen years ago.

You know what? I haven't yet written a scathing op-ed exposing the injustice of the Alien and Sedition Acts, either. I suppose that too is because of my partisan hack love of John Adams and my deranged hatred of President Bush.

For the record, I believe Janet Reno was a horrendous attorney general, who had little regard for the Constitution. And no, this isn't the first time I've expressed that sentiment. That said, I don't think her two successors in the Bush administration have been any better.

• All of this misses the point. I don't dispute that the position of U.S. attorney is a political one (though I wish that it weren't). The article was a criticism of the Justice Department's priorities. Which is why I wrote as much in the concluding sentence.

• The one criticism I did have of the Bush firings is that they were done in conjunction with a new provision to the PATRIOT Act that allows the new appointments to serve indefinitely without Senate confirmation. Clinton's new appointments had to be confirmed.

As for the longer Ace of Spades post, a few separate comments:

• The Ace of Spades post attempts to "Fisk" the rest of the column—poorly, I think. He dismissively writes of libertarians:

…their visions are a little smokier and a little hazier, and are accompanied by a pretty severe case of the munchies. Yep, they pretty much see the world through the transparent, green filter of a homemade Mountain Dew bottle bong.

How original. Drug war critics with "the munchies." That's some first-class analyzin'.

Not that it's any of his business, but I don't do illicit drugs. I've smoked pot once in my life. Didn't do much for me. My opposition to the drug war stems not from my desire to go to the corner store for a pack of Marlboro Greens (which I could just about do anyway), but from the drug war's wastefulness, its evisceration of the Constitution, its expansion of government, its incompatibility with federalism, its militarization of the police, and the fact that, um, it sometimes kills innocent people . There was a time when conservatives cared about these types of issues. Principled conservatives like William Buckley, George Schultz, Gary Johnson, and a few others still do.

• As for the Ace of Spades' suggestion that I selectively chose just a few Mary Beth Buchanan cases for criticism, here are the press releases put out by Buchanan's office. Judge for yourself if the cases she thinks are worthy of touting to the media are a sound use of federal law enforcement resources.

• He concedes he knows nothing about the Rottschaefer case, but nonetheless feels compelled to ridicule me for mentioning it. Apparently the fact that Dr. Rottschaefer was convicted is all he needs to know. Because innocent people are never convicted. He ought to do a bit of reading about the politicization of pain treatment before he's so comfortable sending a 63-year-old man with no prior criminal record away to a maximum security prison.

• I have no comment on the other cheap shots Ace of Spades takes at reason, at reason staffers, and at libertarians. Except that they're pretty cheap.