JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE PARANOID DOESN'T MEAN THEY'RE NOT OUT TO GET YOU. A truly chilling story on the front of today's New York Times. Eric Lichtblau reports that the FBI has been visiting dissidents across the country - and in some cases even issuing subpoenas - in an attempt to stop illegal activity before it starts at the Republican National Convention.
And that's the best interpretation of it. The tactics really seem aimed at scaring would-be protesters into staying away from New York.
But don't worry. It's all legal! The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel says so. Lichtblau explains:
In an internal complaint, an F.B.I. employee charged that the bulletins improperly blurred the line between lawfully protected speech and illegal activity. But the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, in a five-page internal analysis obtained by The New York Times, disagreed.
The office, which also made headlines in June in an opinion - since disavowed - that authorized the use of torture against terrorism suspects in some circumstances, said any First Amendment impact posed by the F.B.I.'s monitoring of the political protests was negligible and constitutional.
By the way, here is the "Denver antiwar group" that Lichtblau refers to near the top of his article - the American Friends Service Committee. According to the Times, 21-year-old intern Sarah Bardwell was visited by six agents. John Ashcroft knows that you just can't be too careful with those Quakers.
BUSH, SLIDING. Josh Marshall notes that Washington Post columnist David Broder, the ultimate establishmentarian, has embraced the slowly emerging consensus that George W. Bush is heading toward a decisive loss this November.
But Yale economist Ray C. Fair - a John Kerry supporter - tells the New York Times Magazine that his econometric model shows Bush coasting with nearly 58 percent of the vote.
Media Log's prediction: the event or events that will determine the outcome have yet to occur.