August 3, 2007

Notes on the Scene: What a Way to Start a Week

By: J.P. Freire

Not a Lazy Sunday for Bush

President Bush signed legislation Sunday that would allow the executive branch greater power to conduct wiretaps on international calls. Such wiretaps would not have to be approved by a special intelligence court, which would instead review and approve the procedures in the surveillance after it has been conducted.

This is obviously going to be a big point of contention among liberals who even had a problem with the court-approved process to begin with.

Meanwhile, an FBI raid on a “veteran federal prosecutor” who left the Department of Justice last year looks to be a politically motivated, at least according to the drift of Newsweek‘s Michael Isikoff. But, as The American Thinker points out in its blog, Tommy Tamm’s objections were likely no less politically motivated as well.

The discussion will undoubtedly focus on how the administration punishes dissidents and how the White House runs roughshod over civil liberties. Too bad that evidence showing these programs to be effective is largely classified. It’s very easy to argue that Bush is a power-hungry fascist, but surprisingly difficult to evaluate whether we’re actually better off with these programs in place.

Sunni Party Rocks the Bloc

A major bloc of Sunnis pulled out of the Iraqi government shortly after an op-ed in The New York Times sung the praises of General Petraeus’s efforts with the surge. The disagreement appeared to be over a list of demands by the Sunnis including the release of detainees not charged with specific crimes and the disbanding of all private militias.

The prime minister has refused the resignations, which is an interesting twist, as media outlets are saying he’s keeping the door open for their return.

Interestingly, Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite we know from being an interim prime minister before 2005, has expressed skepticism about the national unity government, calling it a myth.

He said this while on vacation in Jordan. At least The International Herald Tribune noted his vested interest in seeing al-Maliki fail.

Talking heads will undoubtedly use this as evidence that the political situation is falling apart in Iraq, even if the military successes are growing. But the fact that politicians are having difficulties in their opening moments of governance is hardly news. Instead, these criticism need to be looked at for what they are — a more cutthroat version of what we see in our own government. After all, didn’t 100 Republicans storm out of Congress just last week?

French on Film

Finally, Nicolas Sarkozy challenges American prejudices on the French when he throws a hissy fit for being photographed while out in public on vacation in New Hampshire. He actually confronted the photographers, who subsequently agreed to take the rest of the day off, a testament to the converting power of French culture.

Puns about Paris aside, it’s nice to see a someone complaining about paparazzi that isn’t heading into rehab.

J.P. Freire is editor of Brainwash.