Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Daily Dose

Knut, the Berlin Zoo's popular polar bear cub

Kurt Vonnegut has died.

With 38-million members, the AARP knows how to lobby grassroots-style. Last week, the group staged a "national call to action day" that instigated 10,000 telephone calls to senators from around the country, held media events in the states of a dozen senators whose votes are up for grabs, and ran radio and print ads in 10 states urging voters to contact their senators.

Noting that "75 percent of Republicans still support Bush on the war," John Dickerson observes that not only does McCain's new strategy deliberately and wholly hitch his presidential hopes to Iraq, but the senator is now also questioning the patriotism of his critics. I know of no better rebuttal to this obscene charge than Chuck Hagel's televised takedown of Joe Lieberman.

What do the Duke rape case fiasco and the U.S. attorney scandal have in common? They both reveal the enormous discretion of the prosecutor. Dahlia Lithwick explains: "In Durham, the politics that drove Mike Nifong were complicated: Race and class and his need to pander to voters in an election year may have motivated him, in the words of Attorney General Cooper, to 'push forward unchecked.' But if these subtle pressures can twist a district attorney in Durham, imagine the damage to justice when a U.S. attorney is pressed by the White House, or his congressman, to haul in more death penalties, at whatever cost, or to hand down an indictment by November."