ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Pulling the Trigger

This Washington Post's editorial on the recent ruling on a case involving the 2nd Amendment shows how idiotic and hysterical the thinking is regarding gun control laws:

Dangerous Ruling
An appeals court ruling would put handguns back in D.C. homes.

Saturday, March 10, 2007; Page A18

IN OVERTURNING the District of Columbia's long-standing ban on handguns yesterday, a federal appeals court turned its back on nearly 70 years of Supreme Court precedent to give a new and dangerous meaning to the Second Amendment. If allowed to stand, this radical ruling will inevitably mean more people killed and wounded as keeping guns out of the city becomes harder. Moreover, if the legal principles used in the decision are applied nationally, every gun control law on the books would be imperiled.

Yes, D.C. certainly is known as a city with an extremely low number of gun-related homicides. Good to know that the current law is so effective!
The 2 to 1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down sections of a 1976 law that bans city residents from having handguns in their homes. The court also overturned the law's requirement that shotguns and rifles be stored disassembled or with trigger locks. The court grounded its unprecedented ruling in the finding that the Second Amendment right to bear arms extends beyond militias to individuals. The activities the Second Amendment protects, the judges wrote, "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or continued intermittent enrollment in the militia."

Never before has a law been struck down on that basis. The Supreme Court, in its landmark 1939 decision United States v. Miller, stated that the Second Amendment was adopted "with obvious purpose" of protecting the ability of states to organize militias and "must be interpreted and applied with that end in view." Nearly every other federal court of appeals has concurred in that finding. The dissenting judge in yesterday's opinion, Karen LeCraft Henderson, a Republican appointee like the other two judges on the panel, rightly lambasted the majority for its willful disregard of Supreme Court precedent.

While the ruling caught observers off guard, it was not completely unexpected, given the unconscionable campaign, led by the National Rife Association and abetted by the Bush administration, to broadly reinterpret the Constitution so as to give individuals Second Amendment rights. Indeed, the D.C. lawsuit, by six residents assisted by the Cato Institute, was filed in 2003, just months after then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said gun bans are unconstitutional.

The NRA predictably welcomed yesterday's ruling. According to its myth, only criminals have had guns in the city and now law-abiding citizens will be able to arm themselves for protection. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) counters that argument with the sad record of what results from a proliferation of guns. As he points out, more guns mean only more violence, and the city already has too much of both. It is important to note that the ban on handguns will stay in effect while the city considers whether to appeal.

That is likely, Mr. Fenty announced. The risk here is that an appeal could lead to an unfavorable Supreme Court ruling, and a legal principle that now applies only to the residents of the nation's capital would extend to the entire nation. Yet doing nothing wouldn't serve the best interests of the city and its public safety. Nor, for that matter, would it serve the nation's interest to leave this dangerous ruling unchallenged.

The fact that in DC today only criminals have handguns is not a myth - it's a fact. If it is illegal to possess a handgun in your home and you do so, then you are a criminal. If you use that handgun to defend yourself, while you might protect your physical well-being, you are putting your liberty at jeopardy since you could be prosecuted for the handgun offense.

Of course, the current ban just means that it's "open season" for criminals as they are given the government's assurance that their targets for criminal acts are unarmed and unable to pose any danger to them.

The false assertion that Mayor Fenty makes regarding whether "more guns means more violence" is ridiculous. Here in Missouri, similar claims were made regarding a concealed carry law - that St Louis would be turned into the wild west and people would be shooting each other over trivial disagreements. That has not come to pass.

It's interesting to note that the Left is concerned about appealing this decision - out of fear that it may endanger their tenuous position on the 2nd Amendment throughout the country.

Inevitably, this will become a 2008 campaign issue in both the primaries and the general election. Unfortunately for Rudy, he's on the wrong side of this issue and adding this issue to the debate will not help.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Scooter Libby - Time for the Resident Lawyer to Chime In

The verdict yesterday was probably correct but the process totally wrong.

I like many of my conservative ilk was saddened by a man like Scooter Libby being found guilty of four felonies. Libby appears to be a good man. It seems he screwed up and/or was poorly advised as he went through the investigation and grand jury process. His dodging during that process clearly was not artful and arguably ascended to the level of perjury.

It is axiomatic that perjury "strikes at the heart of the judicial system." Once the threshold has been crossed, the prosecutors have no choice but to proceed with criminal proceedings a la Martha Stewart. That is what happened in this case.

Having said that, how did they get to that point?

If, as it seems to me, the prosecutor knew who leaked Plame's name before the grand jury began its investigation and that it was not the VP or Libby, why on earth were they being investigated in the first place? It looks a lot like Libby was hauled in front of the grand jury in the hopes that he would screw up and for no other purpose.

If that is the case, then this was a travesty of justice and the special prosecutor should be ashamed of himself.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

France to Citizens: Please do not look behind the curtain

As a citizen journalist, I have to object to these steps in France:

France bans citizen journalists from reporting violence
By Peter Sayer, IDG News Service

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.

The council chose an unfortunate anniversary to publish its decision approving the law, which came exactly 16 years after Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday on the night of March 3, 1991. The officers’ acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.

If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (US$98,537), potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.

Senators and members of the National Assembly had asked the council to rule on the constitutionality of six articles of the Law relating to the prevention of delinquency. The articles dealt with information sharing by social workers, and reduced sentences for minors. The council recommended one minor change, to reconcile conflicting amendments voted in parliament. The law, proposed by Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, is intended to clamp down on a wide range of public order offenses. During parliamentary debate of the law, government representatives said the offense of filming or distributing films of acts of violence targets the practice of “happy slapping,” in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker’s friends.

The broad drafting of the law so as to criminalize the activities of citizen journalists unrelated to the perpetrators of violent acts is no accident, but rather a deliberate decision by the authorities, said Cohet. He is concerned that the law, and others still being debated, will lead to the creation of a parallel judicial system controlling the publication of information on the Internet.

The government has also proposed a certification system for Web sites, blog hosters, mobile-phone operators and Internet service providers, identifying them as government-approved sources of information if they adhere to certain rules. The journalists’ organization Reporters Without Borders, which campaigns for a free press, has warned that such a system could lead to excessive self censorship as organizations worried about losing their certification suppress certain stories
Of course, this is just typical of the French. No doubt the expanded coverage from "citizen journalists" of "youth" violence last year undermined the official French position that the outbreaks were local and of no significance. It would be interesting for the French to test this law...

One wonders whether they'll concede this basic liberty. Fortunately, information has a desire to be free as demonstrated in the laughable Gomery publication ban in Canada back in 2005.

However, it first takes courage from individuals to test these idiotic laws intended to protect the government and interested parties. Will the French be heard?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Elliot Ness Fitzgerald gets his man

The left is excited today, they found they got a Scooter underneath their Fitzmas tree. The next step will be to dream of presents to come.

Will Cheney be impeached?
Will the President be impeached?
Where is Sealed v. Sealed? Who else has been secretly indicted?

Unfortunately, for the left, they will find all they got is their Scooter. As Fitzgerald said in his news conference, this investigation is over.

I still predict that Scooter will not spend a day in jail. He will be left free to his appeals which will consume the time till January of 2009 when Bush will pardon him.

David Schuster, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann will have their day (weeks). I expect the spittle to fly tonight, especially. Speaking of tonight, expect that Joe Wilson will make the rounds tonight and over the following week. One word of warning to Joe Wilson. The blogosphere will be watching, and I expect that any mistatements made my him will be fact checked. [by this blog? -ed. Let's not get out of hand, I am lazy after all]

Finally, what are the lessons of the Patrick Fitzgerald trial?

For administration staffers:

  • The standard has been set, future Democratic administrations will be expected to issue similar ground rules that Bush issued. Waive your fifth amendment rights or be fired.
  • Special Prosecutors have no budget and exercise no discretion. Follow the Clinton model, attack the special prosecutor and do not cooperate.
  • If you are questioned by the FBI, have your lawyer present. Have it video taped. Your 302 form may end up looking nothing like the conversation you remember having.
For the media:
  • Give up the idea of a reporters privilege. All that first amendment stuff is just so much BS when one of the highest paid heads of a news division spills everything about a conversation to the FBI, then tries to hide behind a reporters privilege while hiding behind the "stifling" of sources.
  • Expect more prosecutors to follow the Fitzgerald model in questioning reporters. The leak investigations in regards to the secret prisons story and the NSA wiretapping program especially can be fruitful with this approach.
  • Tim Russert, David Gregory, and Andrea Mitchel are now complicit in potentially sending a man to prison. The dichotomy of Russert/Gregory knowing the story will be dug into. Plenty of competition would like to know the real role Russert played in this case. Especially with the jurors stating how taken in they were by the Russert testimony. Fleischer testified he told Gregory, Russert testified that if Gregory would have known he would have told Russert. So either Fleischer lied, or Gregory is a crappy journalist, or Russert lied.
And finally for the political landscape:
  • Colin Powell's career in politics is done. Any further attempted run at higher office will be confronted with a what did you know and when did you know it about the real leaker, his deputy, Richard Armitage.
Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Coulter

Sorry for the lack of posting - I'm out of the country and it's difficult to find time given the work schedule. Of course, this is a team blog, so readers shouldn't really notice a difference, right?

Wanted to throw my two cents on the Ann Coulter story.

Ann Coulter is a bomb-thrower. Sure, she's no Amanda Marcotte or some deranged DUer, but she has a habit of saying really stupid things. I recall when Ann was brought on to the NRO staff and the trainwreck that that turned out to be.

Ann can be entertaining - when she's making a serious point and not trying to get laughs. But too often she is abrasive and over the top and fails to make a point. I don't know what her point was with the comment about Edwards - he certainly isn't gay and, even if he was, how is that relevant?

From OliverWillis:

I'm eternally pessimistic but it looks like the line is being drawn in the sand.
At least three major companies want their ads pulled from Ann Coulter's Web site, following customer complaints about the right-wing commentator referring to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards as a "faggot.

Of course, this just means that Ann will be the next Grammy award winner for her soon to be released album, Shut Up & Write. I am surprised that Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins aren't protesting the move of these three companies and calling attention to the "chill wind" that is blowing across America.

I hope that Ann isn't invited to speak at any more events in which GOP presidential candidates are present.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler