June 23, 2004

in pick up bars the country stars play Japanese guitars

* Krugman on Ashcroft:

"Even in the fight against foreign terrorists, Mr. Ashcroft's political leanings have distorted policy. Mr. Ashcroft is very close to the gun lobby — and these ties evidently trump public protection. After 9/11, he ordered that all government lists — including voter registration, immigration and driver's license lists — be checked for links to terrorists. All government lists, that is, except one: he specifically prohibited the F.B.I. from examining background checks on gun purchasers.

"Mr. Ashcroft told Congress that the law prohibits the use of those background checks for other purposes — but he didn't tell Congress that his own staff had concluded that no such prohibition exists. Mr. Ashcroft issued a directive, later put into law, requiring that records of background checks on gun buyers be destroyed after only one business day.

"And we needn't imagine that Mr. Ashcroft was deeply concerned about protecting the public's privacy. After all, a few months ago he took the unprecedented step of subpoenaing the hospital records of women who have had late-term abortions.

"After my last piece on Mr. Ashcroft, some readers questioned whether he is really the worst attorney general ever. It's true that he has some stiff competition from the likes of John Mitchell, who served under Richard Nixon. But once the full record of his misdeeds in office is revealed, I think Mr. Ashcroft will stand head and shoulders below the rest."

* Judge calls federal drug sentencing laws unconstitutional. excerpt:

"In a scathing criticism of the system used to punish federal crimes, a judge on Monday called the government's sentencing guidelines unconstitutional, saying they unfairly limit the authority of judges.

"In a series of drug cases, U.S. District Judge William Young said the guidelines put too much power in the hands of prosecutors and give judges too little discretion in sentencing.

"Young's criticisms mirror those of many judges and defense attorneys who have complained for years about the sentencing guidelines, which became effective in 1987."
"'What judges have perhaps most strongly detested has been exactly what Judge Young says here, and that is that the Department of Justice acts, in a manner of speaking, as both prosecutor and executioner,' David Yas, editor of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly said."

* Pictures of David Bowie being hit in the eye by a lollipop thrown onstage during a June 18 show in Norway. [via royalmagazine]


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