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August 07, 2003

NICE TO SEE that the Justice Department has plenty of resources for the terror war and can even spare the time and money for, ahem, lower-priority cases like this one:

Federal prosecutors said today they have charged a North Hollywood wholesaler of adult films with violating federal obscenity laws as the government steps up a campaign against the major distributors of adult entertainment.

The U.S. Justice Department said that its 10-count indictment against Extreme Associates and the husband-and-wife team that owns it is part of a renewed enforcement of federal obscenity laws after more than a decade in which they were rarely imposed.

Obviously, there's no need for a budget increase this year. Coming soon: a crackdown on interstate parking-ticket scofflaws, and a multi-agent, years-long investigation into New Orleans bordellos. Oh, wait. . . .

UPDATE: David Bernstein says that the Ashcroft Justice Department is turning into a "disaster:"

Let's see: little respect for state sovereignty (medical marijuana, same sex marriage, etc.), attempts to deny American citizens charged with terrorism-related offenses and arrested on U.S. soil access to federal courts, use and abuse of antiterrorism statutes for unrelated law enforcement purposes, and, as Instapundit reports, a nascent crackdown on that ever-present threat to American society, the pornography industry, in the middle of what is supposed to be a war on terrorism. Geez.

Geez, indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more disappointment with Ashcroft, from a conservative lawblogger:

When Democrats lambasted Ashcroft in the process of his confirmation, I largely disregarded their criticism because it was so often over-the-top and poorly reasoned. It had that President-as-Fuhrer quality to it that criticism of Bush so often takes on. For that matter, Ashcroft is still subject to some truly ridiculous and reflexive (i.e., knee-jerk) attacks. However, since becoming Attorney General, Ashcroft has established a genuinely unflattering record. I have come to believe that Ashcroft is unfit for the position that he occupies.

Ouch.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Glen Jones emails:

The worst thing about this, to me, is that Ashcroft is making it all-that-much-harder for us conservatives to have a defensible position. Yeah, the leftists throw out that "Bush=hitler" and "Ashcroft=satan" or whatever signs and slogans of the week they have, and I think only about 3-5% of Americans really give that any serious thought - they know it's over-the-top drivel. But with Ashcroft going off the deep end, they will start wondering. "Hmmm, Ashcroft is getting more and more hitler-like, so maybe Bush is ..."

Anyway, final point, I'm really starting to think that the conservatives should start calling LOUDLY for Ashcroft to resign so that we can disavow him.

Ashcroft is becoming a liability. I doubt he'll survive past this term. Look for him to be replaced by a William French Smith type who won't be a magnet for controversy. At least, that's been my feeling all along, but I could certainly be wrong here. So far -- and this just makes it easier for opponents to tie Ashcroft to Bush -- there's been no sign of dissatisfaction from the White House.

STILL MORE: Ashcroft has his defenders, though. Reader Mike Steele writes:

I am mightily distressed that Ashcroft's record appears to be so dismal. I mean there has to be some obscure religious sect HE can set fire to, or some poor wanna be immigrant kid he can send back to a Stalinist hellhole. And then there's all the abortion clinics he's closed, all the camps he's opened, all the....

Now there's a slogan to fire up the electorate: "John Ashcroft -- better than Janet Reno!" Reno was a liability, and should have been let go, but Clinton wasn't in a position to do so. It hurt him.

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