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But, But, But….Clinton!

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"Jack" over at the Ace of Spaces and the commenters over at Lucianne.com take aim at my recent FoxNews.com 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.

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  1. But Clinton isn’t doing it now, is he?

    An interesting thing about Clinton’s current activities: when he was interviewed on the Daily Show a while ago, he came really close to saying that he is able to work more effectively on Africa’s problems by coordinating voluntary efforts rather than working through the Federal government.

  2. This guy wasn’t even worthy of a mention/rebuttal.

  3. 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 predecessors in the Bush administration have been any better.

    Um. “Predecessors?” Which Bush administration are you talking about?

    WWP? (Writing While Pissed?)

  4. Great – another internet pissing match.

    “? 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. ”

    Right Randy, Hit & Run is never snarky – but is always an example of intellectual public discourse.

  5. Excuse me Radley not “Randy”

  6. Right Randy, Hit & Run is never snarky

    Yeah, and Clinton was snarky, too. Why aren’t we talking about that?

  7. I think you’ve taken Ace of Spades far more seriously then he ever did.

    For god’s sake, they workship paul anaka over there.

  8. the clinton reference is useful because he broke so much ground for the abuses that go on today. bush has certainly taken the banner and run with it, but it’s useful to know who painted it to avoid the tempting notion that thing wudda been different if bush2 hadn’t won the election and that if we vote democrat, things will be better.

    in fact, given the current congressional situation, i’d vote for a yellow dog for president if he were republican- gridlock and useless partisan bickering are our best hopes.

  9. “things” not “thing.” sheesh, i hate this damn keyboard. shift don’t work too good neither.

  10. Radley,

    Unless you had access to some really dynamite grass, you’ve got to try it more than once. First timers lack in technique and are probably(although I have no medical background to say) a little overrevved on adrenaline from the illegality of it all to get a good buzz.

    You list many good reasons for opposing the WOD – the occasional legal Marlboro “green” would also have value in and of itself (you just have to try a little harder).

    Prohibition – same as it ever was.

  11. Wow! THE Ace? This must be better than winning any election!

  12. You list many good reasons for opposing the WOD – the occasional legal Marlboro “green” would also have value in and of itself (you just have to try a little harder).

    I don’t have a problem with individuals using drugs generally. That said, I always find it interesting how they have to try to convince others to instead of just letting someone be with “Not my thing.”

  13. I paraphrase myself from an earlier comment (to Sam, i think it was….)

    One doesn’t have to aver that Clinton is a dick to say that Bush is a dick if Bush is, in fact, a dick.

    (Which is NOT to say that Clinton ISN’T a dick….)

  14. Um. “Predecessors?” Which Bush administration are you talking about?

    Well, judging from the “In the Bush Administration” qualifier, I’d guess he was talking about Attorney General John Ashcroft, who held the post prior to Gonzales.

    English comprehension, it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.

  15. I find it ironic that an article as critical of libertarians as it is is posted on a blog with an H.L. Mencken quote displayed prominently at the top of the page. Surely I’m not the only one…

  16. No, Brandon, you aren’t.

    God, the intellectual level of the commenters over there is really pretty shameful.

    You’d think that they’d be a little bit more erudite than all of us pot-smokin’ utopian losertarians.

  17. Matt,

    To each his own.

    With that said, what I find interesting is how “they” have to convince others not to based on zero experience and often uninformed opinions.

  18. You are right about one thing, Mary Beth Buchananon is an ignorant fantatic who is unfit to prosecute traffic tickets. The fact that Bush promoted her is indefensible.

    I disagree, however, that making the U.S. Attornies more political is a bad thing. The next President is now free to fire hacks like Buchanan and replace them, granted with a few hacks of their own no doubt. But, it at least creates the possiblity for change. If you totally depoliticize the position and make it verbotten for a President to remove a U.S. Attorney, then hacks like Buchanan get to stay in their jobs forever. I frankly don’t see a problem with the President replacing U.S. attornies. Get the old bastards out of there once in a while.

  19. John,
    I don’t think he’s arguing to make the posts less political as that is the nature of the beast, but that the PATRIOT Act’s removal of the Senate confirmation was a bit foolhardy. It removed the only real oversight that the President had standing in his way of appointing lapdogs to the posts. The President was free to fire them in the first place, it was just harder to hire replacements.

  20. This is cool! I read both Ace (too much Bush-fellating) and H&R (too much “progressive” “nuance”) on a regular basis, and I’ve read Jack’s response to Balko’s article. So far, Jack is winning, outside of his stupid “you’re a pot-smoker!” argument.

    Balko, you got some splainin’ to do.

    I appreciate Jesse Walker standing up for himself at Ace. More, more, more!

  21. Just so everybody knows, U.S. Attorneys routinely resign when a new party takes over the White house. There’s nothing unusual about Clinton replacing Bush I U.S. Attorneys. I doubt there are many U.S. Attorneys serving under Bush II that were appointed by Clinton. U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasur eof the administration. What is unusual is that Bush I is seeking the resignation of his own U.S. Attorneys, for reasons not relating to general political ideology (e.e., “tough on crime,” more liekly to seek death penalty, etc., but for reasons relating to political advantage (i.e., prosecuting the wrong people).

  22. Shem, et al.

    those would be successors, not predecessors

    reading comprehension, you know

  23. Radley

    Ace of Spades & Lucianne are People Unworthy of Your Time. [Hereinafter called PUYT.] I could not see a single substantive point in the blogs.

    Ignore the PUYT and keep up the good work.

  24. 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.

    I was so lost in admiration of every work Radley has written, I was making plans to have a shine to him consecrated. Right up to the above words that is. I can’t even begin to say how much respect I have lost now.

    Oh well, I guess that gives him cred with his advisories.

  25. “”I disagree, however, that making the U.S. Attornies more political is a bad thing. “”

    I thought the judicary is supposed to be independent from the executive?

    The last thing we need is Judges being hired or fired because the President doesn’t like them and wants his/hers henchmen installed. It removes the concept of a independent judical system.

    What’s wrong John, giving up on our Constitution already?

    The government has the interim replacement thing all wrong anyway. It’s meant for when someone vacates during the Congressional break and allows the Prez to put one in while Congress in not in session so their is little gap in coverage. It was not intended as a “get around” Congress measure. Once Congress is back in session, the Prez is not supposed to make these types of replacements. Congress was expected to do it’s job and confirm one.

    If you gave me a dollar for every Congressman that knew that, I’d be broke.

  26. English comprehension, it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.

    Ha ha ha ha! Oh Shem did you step in it. If Balko really is talking about “her two predecessors in the Bush administration” they would have to be Richard L. Thornburgh and William Barr.

    BTW Radley. It’s bad form to correct a post without using the strike-through to show it’s been altered.

  27. TrickyVic,

    We’re talking about U.S. Attoreneys, not judges. Federal judges cannot be removed unilaterally by the executive branch.

  28. Clinton replaced DAs in 1993, within months of taking office, as is usual among new presidents. Bush is doing it in 2007, six years into his presidency.

    Isn’t this defense of Bush like saying that no one could criticize the unique mid-decade redistricting in Texas, because Democratic legislatures typically redistrict when the Census comes out?

  29. Matt,

    “I don’t have a problem with individuals using drugs generally. That said, I always find it interesting how they have to try to convince others to instead of just letting someone be with “Not my thing.””

    I think part of the problem is that people put illegal drugs into some sort of mystical, magical category. Do they drink alcohol, coffee, smoke, take prescrition painkillers, etc? If so they’re manipulating their consciousness to feel differently. No different then smoking pot or doing a line.

    To me the seemingly prideful statment “Not my thing” seems bizarre.

  30. Warren-Yeah, but at least pedants still suck.

  31. the clinton reference is useful because he broke so much ground for the abuses that go on today. bush has certainly taken the banner and run with it, but it’s useful to know who painted it to avoid the tempting notion that thing wudda been different if bush2 hadn’t won the election and that if we vote democrat, things will be better.

    Bingo. What’s even better about this changing of the guard is that many of the same Republicans who attacked Clinton for his civil-rights-abusing DoJ are now cheering for Bush — for taking those policies to an even greater extreme.

    Yeah, 9/11 changed everything, whatever… I’ve heard it before. I’m not convinced. Deal with it.

  32. Wow, I guess you weren’t too bothered by the criticism.

  33. I read that shit and it was a big waste of my time. I think it is a big waste of reason’s and Radley’s time to even bother responding to these idiots.

    These idiots just have no comprehension of well..anything. Apparently, any libertarian who does not fellate Bush is apparently a “pot smoking, left-wing anarchist progressive who supports very high taxes, rapes babies,etc”

    When people say shit like that, it just makes me say “What the Fuck” or laugh at the stupidity.

    It is not worth actually responding.

  34. radley, I have to add my voice to the chorus of ‘please just ignore the ace of spades and his ilk in the future.’ you’re too good for them, and I mean that quite seriously.

    marginally OT, I think some libertarian tosh sucessor should pen a rousing reggae song entitled ‘decriminalize it’.

  35. i like the ace of spades slogan. i often slit throats by staring a blog.

  36. You just don’t get it, Radley: in the world of partisan politics, two wrongs make a right…

    (sic)

  37. “the clinton reference is useful because he broke so much ground for the abuses that go on today. bush has certainly taken the banner and run with it, but it’s useful to know who painted it to avoid the tempting notion that thing wudda been different if bush2 hadn’t won the election and that if we vote democrat, things will be better.”

    Bingo. What’s even better about this changing of the guard is that many of the same Republicans who attacked Clinton for his civil-rights-abusing DoJ are now cheering for Bush — for taking those policies to an even greater extreme.

    And likewise, many of Bush’s critics cheered Clinton’s abuses.

    Saying “but Clinton did it too” doesn’t excuse Bush. But it does point out the hypocrisy and call to question the motives of many Bush critics. And for that, it does serve a purpose.

    We can’t love our country and hate our government.

  38. Isn’t this defense of Bush like saying that no one could criticize the unique mid-decade redistricting in Texas, because Democratic legislatures typically redistrict when the Census comes out?

    The Texas Legislature only meets for 140 days early in odd-numbered years. This year the last day to file regular legislation is March 9. The next opportunity will be January of 2009.

    The census was taken in 2000 and compiled in 2001. As a result the Legislature did not have an opportunity to redistrict in 2001 or 2002. So it redistricted during the session of 2003.

    It’s a feature, not a problem.

  39. “””TrickyVic,

    We’re talking about U.S. Attoreneys, not judges. Federal judges cannot be removed unilaterally by the executive branch.”””

    Ah, my bad!!!!

  40. “””You just don’t get it, Radley: in the world of partisan politics, two wrongs make a right…””

    I don’t know about that, but three rights make a left.

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