And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine...
Scrap the Constitution
Sunday's New York Times saw an op-ed called "Let's Give Up on the Constitution."
The article was written by Louis Michael Seidman -- get this -- a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University.
The piece opens up -- quote -- "As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit -- our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions."
He sets up a scenario in which a government official reaches a considered judgment for the good of the country.
Quote -- "Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information -- a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?"
Conservatives blasted the piece, of course.
One Newsbusters author wrote -- quote -- "I'll be impressed with Seidman's convictions when he resigns from his con law perch at Georgetown, and not a moment sooner. Otherwise, the prof stands as a world-class hypocrite."
Watching the Watchers
President Obama signed a five-year extension of the U.S. government's authority to monitor the overseas activity of suspected foreign spies and terrorists.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the government to monitor overseas calls and e-mails without obtaining a court order. The law does not apply to Americans.
Civil rights campaigners are dismayed. They say the law violates the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. They sound a bit more like President Obama before he took office.
In 2005, Senator Obama said of warrantless wiretapping during the Bush administration -- quote -- "Once we have more information we'll know to what degree our laws were circumvented. But regardless, I am certain that we can do the intelligence gathering we need to do without eroding the civil liberties our founding fathers intended."
Armed and Dangerous
Finally, last week we told you that a New York newspaper released the names and addresses of gun permit holders in two counties.
While the negative backlash was so fierce. So much so that the newspaper hired armed guards.
The Rockland County Times reports that the protection was in response to a flood of phone calls and e-mails.
The police said there were no actual threats.