The Justice League: Well, your Ashcroft post has many points, some I will readily agree with, others not so fast. The best point you make is that Ashcroft is hardly doing all of this alone. Our Congress can, if it wants, control him. The point is no one (okay, one woman from California) was going to dare vote down a law that was called "The Patriot Act"; how very unpatriotic. But, to say that Ashcroft can't greatly influence the direction the DOJ takes would be misleading - not that you're quite saying that. The point is that the AG, although he would never admit it, interprets laws, just like the Supreme Court. He, and he alone, can tell his troops what is bad, and what is good. Now, here's an example (and I'll agree the source material is slanted, but hey - this is the internet). Ashcroft is against physician-assisted suicide (as are millions of other people). But the fact is, he takes an anti-drug law, and interprets it in such a way that the A.D.A.s are now prosecuting doctors under the guise of this law.
Another example is Ashcroft, almost immediately after taking office, reverses direction on United States v. Miller, a case which interpreted the 2nd Amendment to cover only "collective rights" to firearm ownership (we're talking 29 years of precedent). Ashcroft took an oath to enforce laws, not re-write them. Some, this being America, are suing.
That said, as you also correctly point out, Reno was a disaster of a different sort, if not degree. The take-away, therefore, is not to get angry when this happens, but to act with your vote. If you replace the President, you replace the AG. Otherwise, short of him taking a roll in the hay with a young intern (unlikely given that the man dances without moving his hips), you have another year of bitching to look forward to.