Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Political Oxygen and are the FBI Losing Oxygen?

On the show Law and Disorder this morning, Paul Buhle, talking about the current political times, said:
"We have entered a new era, the nation has acquired more political oxygen than it has in a long time."
I recently talked about how "out-there radicals" stretch the political agenda in my post on Milk. There's been "political oxygen" for the Right since the Reagan election. And since that time 'center' has moved steadily rightward, so much so that many of Richard Nixon's policies would be considered far left today, and they've been doing their best to repeal them - Affirmative Action, Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, for instance.

But it looks like the Bush administration's violations have been so outrageous, and the political, social, and economic consequences so extreme, that people are beginning to stand up and say, "No more."

I like the phrase "political oxygen." (But I hope that its use is limited, that it doesn't become a cliche used by everyone until it has no meaning anymore.) I take it to mean that the people who make up this democracy are waking up from their political oxygen deprivation and now will become politically active to demand accountability from their elected officials and the public administrators who carry out the functions of government. But it is clear, we're talking about political oxygen for the left now. This means not simply rooting out the relatively few problems, but also giving support to the honest, competent politicians and administrators who often get trashed or marginalized when they speak truth to power.

This theme of holding politicians accountable was discussed on this morning's Law and Disorder too. The show was aired in Anchorage on KWMD - 104.5 or 87.7 FM. They discussed the necessity of , as well as the obstacles to, prosecuting members of the Bush administration who committed crimes. Without holding the current administration accountable, they argue, there is no deterrent to prevent future administrations from pursuing similar paths. The likelihood that Bush will sign broad pardons to protect both the low level and high level criminals in his administration was a key concern however.

Related to all this, but in ways I haven't digested yet are ADN's lead story today by Richard Mauer about the FBI informant's report alleging misconduct in the FBI investigation on Alaska corruption, particularly as it affected the Ted Stevens trial. I'll try to discuss this when I've read the report, or at least those parts that aren't redacted. The ADN website has a link labeled Court Whistle-Blower Document. I thought it would be the whistle-blower's actual document, but it links to Judge Sullivan's decision to release the document.

My initial reaction is that the rules for dealing with undercover informants is pretty loosey-goosey. Last December I mused on the ethics and rules of surveillance and touched the topic of working with undercover informants who are also players in the criminal activity. If you watch any tv cop shows - I think The Wire is probably one of the best for this - the cops have to play a lot by ear. They have to gain the trust of the informant, they have to be careful not to inadvertently out' the informant, and they have to make sure the informant isn't gaming them. So to claim that the agents broke the 'rules' as this whistle-blower apparently does, well, I'd have to ask, "What are the rules?" Perhaps they're in the document.


  1. I like the phrase "political oxygen" too.
    And I think that maybe China need more political oxygen than the America.
    But,clearly,we still have long way to go.



Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.