Monthly Archives: April 2007

Three Police Officers Indicted In Kathryn Johnston Case

Three Atlanta police officers have been indicted in connection with the no-knock drug raid in November that resulted in the death of a an 88 year-old woman:

ATLANTA April 26 — A Fulton County grand jury has indicted three current and former police officers who were involved in botched drug raid that led to the death of an elderly Atlanta woman in November.

Officer Jason R. Smith, who is on administrative leave from the Atlanta Police Department and Gregg Junnier, who retired from the force in January, face the most serious charges.

Mr. Smith is charged with four counts of murder, two counts of making false statements, two counts of burglary, violation of oath by a public officer, criminal solicitation, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment under color of legal process and perjury.

Mr. Junnier is charged with three counts of murder, two counts of burglary, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, violation of oath by a public officer, criminal solicitation and making false statements.

Officer Arthur Tesler, who is also on administrative leave, is charged with violation of oath by a public officer, making false statements and false imprisonment under color of legal process.

William McKenney, a lawyer defending Mr. Tesler, said today that his client will not plead guilty to any charges and planned to take his case to trial.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Junnier are expected to enter guilty pleas this afternoon in exchange for their cooperation in a continuing federal and state investigation.

Although the tentative agreements must still be accepted by a judge, the prosecutors will drop state murder charges against Mr. Smith, though he will still serve more than 12 years in prison for his role in the raid. Mr. Junnier faces at least 10 years behind bars.

While it won’t bring Mrs. Johnston back, it is nonetheless good to see that the men responsible for her death will face at least some small degree of justice.

More Guns Equals Less Crime

Robert Levy, a Cato Institute Senior Fellow who is co-lead counsel in Parker v. District of Columbia has a great piece in The American Spectator on the relationship between the availability of guns to law-abiding citizens and crime:

Here are the numbers, as summarized by legal scholar Don B. Kates: Over the 30-year period from 1974 to 2003, guns in circulation doubled, but murder rates declined by a third. On a state-by-state basis, a 1 percent increase in gun ownership correlates with a 4.1 percent lower rate of violent crime. Each year, approximately 460,000 gun crimes are committed in the United States. But guns are also used to ward off gun criminals. Estimates of defensive gun use range from 1.3 million to 2.5 million times per year — and usually the weapons are merely brandished, not fired. That means defensive uses occur about 3-to-5 times as often as violent gun crimes. Just as important, armed victims who resist gun criminals get injured less frequently than unarmed victims who submit. In more than 8 out of 10 cases where the victim pulls a gun, the criminal turns and flees, even if he’s armed. “So much for the quasi-religious faith that more guns mean more murder.”

Finally, two federal government agencies recently examined gun control laws and found no statistically significant evidence to support their effectiveness. In 2004, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed 253 journal articles, 99 books, and 43 government publications evaluating 80 gun-control measures. The researchers could not identify a single gun-control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide, or accidents. A year earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on an independent evaluation of firearms and ammunition bans, restrictions on acquisition, waiting periods, registration, licensing, child access prevention laws, and zero tolerance laws. Conclusion: none of the laws had a meaningful impact on gun violence.

An armed citizenry does not make for a more dangerous world, it makes for a safer one. It’s been used as a slogan for so long that it sounds trite, but it’s true……when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.

What do you think would happen to the crime rate then ?

Were the Federalists Really Lying?

Lew Rockwell has an interesting essay in the American Conservative:

Maybe the authors of the Federalist Papers were liars. Maybe they were just engaged in political propaganda in order to shove through the Constitution. In secret, perhaps, they were plotting a Leviathan state with a president who can do all that the Bush administration claims he can, which pretty much amounts to whatever Bush wants to do.

If that was the case, they knew better than to advertise it. The Constitution would never have passed. Fear of a powerful president was one of the main reasons that people were fearful of abandoning the Articles of Confederation, which had no executive to speak of.

In any case, this book by Yoo dismisses the whole of what Hamilton says in Federalist 69 as “rhetorical excess.” And an article in the Boston Globe quotes him as saying that “Fed 69 should not be read for more than what it is worth.” Why? Because all presidents since FDR have used the imaginary war power to do their dirty tricks.

This is an interesting argument. It says that because some tyrants have violated the Constitution, all presidents should presume the right to be tyrants in the manner in which the Constitution’s framers tried to guard against. Now if some intellectuals set out to say that the Constitution is really just a myth, that our past doesn’t matter, that the founders’ intentions are irrelevant, that the rule of law is and should be a dead letter, that would be one thing. We would be back to the fundamental debate of liberty versus despotism.

what if the authors of the Federalist Papers were liars? This is not as crazy a theory as it might sound. Patrick Henry believed that they were, which is why he opposed the Constitution to begin with. It was too much of a risk, he said, to create any sort of president: “If your American chief be a man of ambition and abilities, how easy is it for him to render himself absolute!”

Patrick Henry lost the debate because enough people believed that Hamilton was sincere in his promises and that the president would be restrained. So let us be clear about what the advocates of executive rule are really saying. They are saying things that if they had been said to that founding generation of Americans would have prevented the Constitution from ever being passed. But it did pass. So until we can restore the Articles, let’s live up to the Constitution, and stop the dissembling, especially in the name of “conservatism.”

Worth reading in its entirety.

This matter goes to the heart of a fundamental debate that I really wish would become the centerpiece of the next election cycle. The Bush administration’s doctrine seems to be based on the old Roman model of the Dictator. In times of crisis, the senate would appoint a dictator who would run the state until the crisis was passed. he could seize goods, order armies about, issue or suspend laws, etc. The dictator was expected to relinquish power once the crisis was past, and his term was initially limited to a mere 6 months.

Practically speaking, this system did not work out so well. As the Roman Republic politically disintegrated the office was increasingly abused. After repeatedly appointing Julius Caesar as dictator, eventually the Senate appointed him dictator for life. This marked the last breath of the Roman Republic, and the birth of the Roman Empire.

It is tempting in times of crisis to embrace a strongman, a man who will have the vision and power to right wrongs and defend the community for internal or external attack. Given the power to violently expropriate goods with impunity, to force the members of the community to labor according to his will, only the strong-man’s conscience and wisdom restrain him from harming those in his power. If he is both wise and has a strong aversion to hurting people, the community can survive such a man. If, on the other hand he is unwise, or bloodthirsty, or simply uncaring he can destroy not only the society but kill thousands or millions of people.

Today, the dominant political arguments seem focused on what decrees a strong leader should make to solve the crises of the world. All to often the necessary debates to whether a strong leader is even necessary are so muted, that most people are not even aware of their existence.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Rudy Giuliani On The Consequences Of A Democratic Victory

Here’s what Republican Presidential candidate had to say about the consequences of a Democratic victory in 2008:

MANCHESTER, N.H., April 25 — Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani issued a stark warning Tuesday evening that Democrats would put the country on defense in the campaign against terrorism and needlessly prolong a conflict that he said America can and must win.

Giuliani appeared at the Rockingham County, New Hampshire GOP Lincoln Day dinner and spoke at length about the differences he sees between the Republican and Democratic parties on everything from fixing public schools and health care to combating the threat of global terrorism.

But he was most animated and direct when he focused on his prospective Democratic rivals and national security.

“If one of them gets elected, it sounds to me like we’re going on the defense,” he said. “We’ve got a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. We’re going to wave the white flag there. We’re going to try to cut back on the Patriot Act. We’re going to cut back on electronic surveillance. We’re going to cut back on interrogation. We’re going to cut back, cut back, cut back, and we’ll be back in our pre-September 11 mentality of being on defense.”

First, I will observe that we haven’t seen Giuliani on the offensive before, clearly it’s a reflection of the fact that he is now the Republican frontrunner and thus feels more comfortable striking out on his own.

Second, though, let’s take a look at that list of Rudy’s:

1.    Withdrawal from Iraq ? Well, I said back in December that it was time for us to go

While there are some commentators who insist on characterizing the Iraq War as part of the War on Terror, in the beginning, it was sold to the American public, and the world, as a necessary action to remove from power a man who was hiding weapons of mass destruction. That intelligence turned out to be dead wrong; but the biggest failure of the Iraq War wasn’t the war itself (which was a stunning success) but the occupation, which has been a disaster from the beginning. It became evident from the day the Baathist regime fell that the United States really didn’t have a plan in place to govern and administer an occupied country the size of Iraq, nor did there seem to be a plan that took into account Iraq’s ethnic divisions.

Instead of a smooth transition to a free Iraq, or at least a free-er Iraq than existed under Saddam, we have instead created a nation in chaos where car bombs kill civilians every day and the central government seems incapable of protecting its own citizens. Rather than hanging on with hundreds of thousands of troops hoping for a victory that will never come, it’s time to give the Iraqis the tools they need to govern and protect themselves and then leave.

2.    Repealing the PATRIOT Act ? Sounds like a good idea to me

3.     An end to warrantless wiretaps and the erosion of the Fourth Amendment ? Again, seems like a smart move here.

4.     An end to torture and intimidation as a means to obtain information ? It’s about damn time.

Let me put it this way.

I definitely won’t be voting for any of the Democrats running for President, but if Rudy’s going to run as the candidate supporting a failed war policy, erosion of the Fourth Amendment, and torture, then I sure as heck won’t be voting for him either.

Is McCain-Feingold In Trouble ?

Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases out of Wisconsin which pose a direct challenge to some of the most egregious parts of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. Specifically, the cases challenge those provisions in the law which prohibit third parties from running advertisements within 60 days of a general election which specifically mention a candidate.

Based on initial reports of the argument, it seems as though there is a possibility that McCain-Feingold, which the Supreme Court upheld only three years ago, could be in serious jeopardy:

WASHINGTON — A majority of the Supreme Court appears to be skeptical of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance law’s restrictions on pre-election issue ads that mention a candidate by name.

The law prohibits interest groups from running corporate-funded radio and TV ads that mention a candidate’s name within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election.

In arguments defending the law Wednesday, attorney Seth Waxman said that advocacy groups could still run the ads as long as they are financed with funds from political groups that comply with federal limits and disclosure requirements.

“What do you make of the fact that so many advocacy groups say that’s impractical?” asked Justice Samuel Alito, whose vote could be pivotal because he took the place of Sandra Day O’Connor. She was one of five justices to uphold large portions of the campaign finance law in 2003.

Waxman responded by pointing out that one of those groups, the ACLU, never mentions a specific candidate by name and therefore hasn’t been affected by the restriction.

But Chief Justice John Roberts, who has also joined the court since the 2003 ruling, wasn’t moved by that.

“Just because the ACLU doesn’t do that doesn’t seem particularly pertinent to me,” he said.

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog attended the argument and makes these observations:

With Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justice Antonin Scalia leading an aggressive assault on a key provision of federal campaign finance law, Congress’ latest attempt to reduce the flow of corporate and union money into federal politics appeared to be in trouble in the Supreme Court on Wednesday. While that attempt had an energetic defense from Justices Stephen G. Breyer and David H. Souter, it seemed apparent at the end of an hour of argument that the “blackout” period for “electioneering” ads on radio and TV — if it survived at all — would have far less effect in restraining such ads.

(….)

The main thrust of the Roberts-Scalia assault during the arguments on FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (06-969) and Sen. John McCain, et al., v. Wisconsin Right to Life (06-970) was that the “electioneering communications” restrictions adopted by Congress in 2002 do not appear to leave enough room for an advocacy group to put up broadcast ads during election season that seek to raise questions about the policy stance of candidates without directly urging voters to vote for or against such candidates. Just last Term, the Court had ruled, in a post-McConnell decision in this same Wisconsin Right to Life dispute, that “as-applied” challenges could still be made to the “blackout” clauses in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

A more lengthy pre-argument analysis of the case and the issue behind it can be found here.

The internal politics of the Court are murky, and it’s unclear if there are enough votes to completely reverse the Supreme Court’s 2004 decision upholding the law, but it seems clear that one of the more blatantly unconstitutional aspects of McCain-Feingold is in serious jeopardy of being significantly restricted in it’s application at the very least.

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