What Judge Samuel Alito Can Expect

Jeff Rosen did a short survey last November of the potential Bush Supreme Court picks. He listed Scalito in the activist camp, and he wrote the following::

Samuel Alito Jr., 54. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Known as "Scalito," or little Scalia, he is considered less blustering than the big guy, but liberals will undoubtedly balk at his abortion record. In 1991, he dissented from a decision to strike down Pennsylvania's spousal notification provision--a decision the Supreme Court later upheld in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the decision that reaffirmed Roe v. Wade. What should be far more troubling to Senate Democrats, however, is Alito's 1996 dissent from a decision upholding the constitutionality of a federal law prohibiting the possession of machine guns. Applying the logic of the Constitution in Exile for all it's worth, Alito insisted that the private possession of machine guns was not an economic activity, and there was no empirical evidence that private gun possession increased violent crime in a way that substantially affected commerce--therefore, Congress has no right to regulate it. Alito's colleagues criticized him for requiring "Congress or the Executive to play Show and Tell with the federal courts at the peril of invalidation of a Congressional statute." His lack of deference to Congress is unsettling.

Update: Given my reference to Rosen's discussion about machine guns, I knew that these types of press releases from gun control groups would follow. Before one looks at it though, let me point out the obvious. Alito's 1996 decision occurred shortly after the Lopez decision in 1995 and all Alito seems to be asking is that legislation provide a mechanism to show that interstate trade is involved. Note that the Safe School Zone Act was re-enacted in virtually its original form once a boiler plate paragraph was inserted requiring that the courts find that the gun or its parts were in some way involved in interstate trade. This is a trivial requirement, and personally I think that this makes a mockery of the original intent of the constitution. The Lopez decision was a trivial decision, but to attack Alito as being extremist for upholding such a tiny requirement that a finding be made that interstate trade is involve seems bizarre to me.

'Machine Gun Sammy,' a Perfect Halloween Pick, Says Brady Campaign
10/31/2005 11:15:00 AM

To: National Desk, Supreme Court Reporter
Contact: Peter Hamm of Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 202-898-0792
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following was released today by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court:

How could it have gone in any other direction, from a White House that just gave blanket immunity to the gun industry, which refuses to bar terrorists from buying guns, that broke a campaign promise and put Uzis and AK-47s back on America's city streets, and insisted that records of gun purchases be destroyed before the sun sets on them twice?

It had to be a Supreme Court pick that favors legal machine guns.
In 1996, Judge Samuel Alito was the sole judge who dissented from his Third Circuit Court of Appeals colleagues when they upheld the authority of Congress to ban fully automatic machine guns.

"Earth to Sammy -- who needs legal machine guns?" asked Jim Brady, chair of the Brady Campaign. "The Chicago mobsters of the 1930s would be giddy. But the man I worked for, who gave us Sandra Day O'Connor and signed the 1986 machine gun ban, would be shaking his head."

"Judge Alito's ludicrous machine gun decision is bad enough. But it also indicates that a Justice Alito would attempt to prevent Congress from passing other laws to protect Americans from gun violence," said Michael D. Barnes, president of the Brady Campaign. "If Judge Alito had his way, the federal machine gun ban would have been struck down as unconstitutional, and the private possession of these weapons would have become legal."

Congressional Quarterly: "For Gun Control Advocates, a Losing  Streak in Congress"

Advocates, a Losing Streak in Congress

     By Daphne Retter, Congressional Quarterly Staff
     CQ Today
     October 19, 2005

     Congress may decide in conference to ease District of
Columbia gun restrictions (H.R. 3058).  The House will
vote Wednesday on shielding gunmakers from liability suits
(S. 397).  And last year, Congress let the assault weapons
ban (P.L. 103-322) expire.

     It's enough to make a gun-control advocate quit.

     "It's not an easy job to get up every day and duke it out
with the gun lobby," Michael Barnes, president and CEO of
the Brady Campaign and Brady Center to Prevent Gun
Violence, said Tuesday, "but it's very important."

     Barnes resigned this week.

     He conceded that his side of the gun debate is faring
poorly on Capitol Hill, but said that's not the whole lobbying
picture.  "In many states throughout the country, things are
moving in our direction," he said.

I would like to thank Jack Anderson very much for sending
this to me.

North Carolina's 10 Year Anniversary of RTC

In a little more than a month - Dec. 1, to be exact - North Carolina's concealed handgun law will be 10 years old. Both gun control advocates and gun rights supporters say that the law, which allows law-abiding citizens to obtain a permit to carry concealed handguns under certain circumstances, has been a success.

However, they give different reasons for saying the law has worked well.

Lisa Price, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, said that is because her organization and other gun control advocates fought to make sure that certain restrictions and training requirements were included in the law.

Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, a gun-rights organization, said that many of the restrictions placed in the state's concealed handgun law actually hinder its effectiveness.

"We think it's worked exactly as it was intended," he said. "We now have tens of thousands of permit holders and very few cases of demonstrated abuse." . . .

Of course, the evidence doesn't support that training lowers the crime rate even more, in fact, the opposite is true.


Judge Samuel Alito predicted to be Supreme Court Nominee

Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday said that Judge Samuel Alito will be nominated by Bush to be on the Supreme Court. Alito has sometimes been viewed as a clone of Scalia, and is viewed as being quite conservative. It should be an interesting battle.

ABC News writes:

Judge Samuel Alito Jr., a former federal prosecutor, has strong enough credentials to satisfy and reunite Bush's conservative base, which fractured over the Miers nomination. Alito has earned the nickname "Scalito" for his philosophical similarities to conservative Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

Alito also has the type of lengthy record that should please many conservatives — including being the sole dissenter in a case that was attempting to strike down a law requiring married women to consult their husbands before getting an abortion.

From scotusblog.com:

Judge Alito currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to his nomination to the Third Circuit by President George H.W. Bush, he served as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey (1987-1990), Deputy Assistant Attorney General (1985-1987), and Assistant to the Solicitor General (1981-1985).

Judge Alito was born in 1950 in Trenton NJ. He attended Princeton University and Yale Law School. He clerked for Judge Leonard I. Garth on the Third Circuit.

Dumb Criminals: Robbing a gun store without a gun

Clayton Cramer has a link to October 20, 2005 Odessa [Texas] American story that is pretty amusing.

Alito and Luttig for Supreme Court, two great possibilities


Perjury by Scooter Libby?: Fitzgerald has at least some charges that don't make any sense

I haven't gone through the entire Libby Indictment carefully, but I do have a quick reaction. There are a few real gems in this indictment. The most amazing "crime" that Libby is accused of involves the false statements to the FBI and the grand jury about his conversations with Tim Russert of NBC News (pp. 9, 10, 12, and 16). Bottom line:

1) Libby says that he spoke to Russert about whether Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Libby claims that Russert asked him if he knew that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and Libby said that he was surprised to learn that fact.

2) Russert says that he did not talk to Libby at all about Wilson's wife.

3) The prosecutor claims that Libby should have known about this fact earlier.

Here is the obvious question: What could be the possible reason for Libby to lie about having this conversation with Russert? What could Libby gain from saying this? I can't think of any. Why be so specific when you know that the prosecutor will call in Russert and ask him what was discussed?

As to Judith Miller, Libby said that he did not discuss Wilson's wife with Miller. While it is not clear from the indictment, my general understanding is that Miller herself told the grandjury that she is not sure where she got the information, but that the prosecutor is basing this charge on a written note that Miller made.

OK, so Libby says that he talked to one reporter that the prosecutor says that he didn't talk to about Wilson's wife and Libby says that he did not talk to a reporter whom the prosecutor says that he did. If Libby had merely changed who he said he had and hadn't talked to, he wouldn't be charged with perjury and as far as I can tell nothing substantive would have been changed. He is not denying that he never talked to reporters about this only who.

What is the point of all this? Of course, with all the reporters that Libby must talk to over a couple of years and all the people that the VP's chief of staff must deal with, it is not surprising that he could get these things mixed up.

Besides which reporters he talked to, there is the question of whether the reporters told him this fact or he told them. I assume that for this to be believable the prosector must have some story for why Libby would want to lie about this if only to make it believable that he lied (as opposed to making a mistake). He has notes that were turned over to the prosector that says he talked to Cheney about this. I don't see what he could thing that he could gain from lying.


Australian Gun Laws not reducing crime

Well, it would be nice if they considered that the 25% increase in gun ownership over the last few years was associated with the drop in armed robberies and abductions.

Gun ownership is rising and there is no definitive evidence that a decade of restrictive firearms laws has done anything to reduce weapon-related crime, according to NSW's top criminal statistician.

The latest figures show a renaissance in firearm ownership in the state - a 25 per cent increase in three years. And the head of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn, said falls in armed robberies and abductions in NSW in the past few years had more to do with the heroin drought and good policing than firearms legislation.

Even falls in the homicide rate, which have been steady, began long before the gun law debate provoked by the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

Nationwide, the proportion of robberies involving weapons is the same as it was in 1996, while the proportion of abductions involving weapons is higher, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics fiures reveal. They show a mixed result in firearms-related offences since the mid-1990s. There has been a fall in firearms murders (from 32 to 13 per cent) but a rise (19 to 23 per cent) in attempted murders involving guns. . . .

The Police Commissioner, Ken Moroney, supports the laws irrespective of the statistics. "I don't think the laws have been designed to eliminate every firearm off the face of the Earth … but it has achieved proper registration, storage and more effective licensing. These measures have all been successful and John Tingle's role should be acknowledged … he is a man of objectivity and fairness. He hasn't been an advocate for advocacy sake."

From the Sidney Morning Herald, October 29, 2005. I would like to thank Jason Morin for sending me this link.

More on Canada making up crime numbers

I have a new op-ed in Canada's National Post today on Prime Minister Paul Martin's claim that Canada's crime problems are do to gun smuggling from the US: Don't blame American guns. I only wish that I had been able to include the admission yesterday that Martin had made up the numbers that he used in his meeting with Condi Rice.

UPDATE: G. Gordon Liddy had me on his national radio show today to discuss this article and guns generally. Here is a discussion today at Free Republic about this op-ed.

Environmentalists sue to stop wind power

Environmentalist sue to shutdown windfarms. Yes, you read that correctly. Environmentalist seem to oppose every time of power source. Even nuclear power, which is extremely clean, is opposed, though I don't quite understand the reason. Actually, I take that back. My guess is that the environmentalists just oppose development and thus oppose all energy because it supports that development.

Sun setting the Assault Weapons Ban: Hint, I was right

With the new data out from the FBI it is clear that everything that I wrote earlier this year and previously about the Assault Weapon Ban going away has occurred: Hype and Reality.

UPDATE: G. Gordon Liddy read this article on his radio show today. Here is a discussion today at Free Republic about this op-ed.


Canadian Prime Minister Makes Up Numbers on Guns

Great piece on Hollywood and Celebrity views on guns

The New York Post

October 26, 2005 Wednesday

SECTION: All Editions; Pg. 10



PISTOL-packing Joe Mantegna is blasting a chink in the politically
correct armor of some Hollywood heavyweights - he says they love
to own and shoot guns.
The "Joan of Arcadia" star says that such left-leaning showbiz types
as Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and playwright David Mamet
are all avid shooters.
"Lots of guys in Hollywood love to shoot, " Mantegna, a longtime gun
sportsman, tells Fade In magazine. "But they ain't gonna talk to you."
"Apocalypse Now" screenwriter John Milius agrees. "It's fascinating
that Hollywood is so hypocritical," he says. "Many people own [guns],
but consistently vote against them and never talk about them. I used to
shoot with Spielberg and [Robert] Zemeckis and Robert Stack. But no
one else would admit they had any."
Producer/manager Jay Bernstein, who shepherded Farrah Fawcett
and Linda Evans to fame, carries a gun in public and is prone to
flashing it at Hollywood parties. But even he won't confirm that he has
a Carry Concealed Weapons permit.
"It's one of the most uncomfortable subjects," Bernstein says, "because
'anti-gun' is more popular than 'gun' in Los Angeles."
As if to illustrate Bernstein's point, well-known gun enthusiasts Ben
Affleck, Charlie Sheen, Tom Selleck and Steven Seagal wanted nothing
to do with Fade In's story.
Even gung-ho action director Richard Donner ("Lethal Weapon"), who
has a concealed weapon permit, was reluctant to talk. "I am anything
but a gun enthusiast," he said in a terse statement. "The only reason I
would ever own a gun is for the protection of my home, my
environment or my family under the circumstances in which I am
forced to live."
Fade In says Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, music mogul Tommy Mottola
and billionaire Kirk Kerkorian are among a mere 500 people licensed to
carry a gun in public in Los Angeles County (pop. 9.8 million).
Meanwhile, those who can legally pack heat in New York include
Donald Trump, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Seagram owner Edgar
Bronfman, Howard Stern, Don Imus, State Senate Majority Leader Joe
Bruno, Bronx Supreme court judge Richard L. Price and defense lawyer
Barry Slotnick. . . .

Donner's statement reminds me a lot of Rosie O'Donnell's justification
for her body guards getting guns. It was OK for her to use guns for
protection, but there are lots of people who feel at risk and can't afford
body guards. The "Lethal Weapon" movies were quite anti-gun, but
Donner understands when he needs protection. By the way, am I the
only one who thinks that the statement "my environment" seems quite
broad? Finally, his statement that "which I am forced to live" is silly.
What about poor people who live in high crime urban neighborhoods?
It would be nice if we lived in a world without crime, but we have to
have laws that deal with reality the way it is.

If I can get the direct link to New York Post piece on the web, I will put
it up.

John Fund had a huge impact on Miers withdrawing

One person who probably had the biggest single impact on this nomination was John Fund. Some of his writings were devastating. Here are some of his pieces that had a real impact: here, here and here.

Tom Sowell on Rosa Parks and why she was necessary

Why was there racially segregated seating on public transportation in the first place? "Racism" some will say -- and there was certainly plenty of racism in the South, going back for centuries. But racially segregated seating on streetcars and buses in the South did not go back for centuries.

Far from existing from time immemorial, as many have assumed, racially segregated seating in public transportation began in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Those who see government as the solution to social problems may be surprised to learn that it was government which created this problem. Many, if not most, municipal transit systems were privately owned in the 19th century and the private owners of these systems had no incentive to segregate the races.

These owners may have been racists themselves but they were in business to make a profit -- and you don't make a profit by alienating a lot of your customers. There was not enough market demand for Jim Crow seating on municipal transit to bring it about. . . .


Wal-Mart Critics: Do as I say, not as I do

This is pretty funny:

Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Howard Dean and others on the national stage have badmouthed Wal-Mart over its wages, benefits or impact on American communities.

Yet, their aides have bought office and campaign supplies there -- and presumably saved their bosses money with the low-price shopping.

Records reviewed by The Plain Dealer show that political organizations headed by these politicians -- as well as John Kerry, Wesley Clark, the liberal activist group America Coming Together and the pro-feminist group Emily's List -- have spent money at Wal-Mart over the last 2½ years.

Leaders and advisers of these groups have either criticized Wal-Mart or are lobbying to stop Wal-Mart's spread in cities including Cleveland.

They say Wal-Mart symbolizes the human cost of relentlessly pursuing lower retail prices: low pay and insufficient benefits for the chain's employees, and the financial destruction of small merchants.

Why, then, have their aides been cruising Wal-Mart aisles with their bosses' money?

Liberal MP from Toronto talking about seizing guns


One not frequently noted penalty from committing crime

I suppose that we are accounting for this with the length of prison sentences in our empirical work, but it is one possible reason to believe that the penalty from imprisonment is changing over time.

When it comes to reading or arithmetic, Marvin Calvin is delighted to help his two children. He missed out on many of the duties of parenthood during a 10-year stretch in prison for armed robbery.

But when it comes to MP3 players, video game consoles, computers or the Internet, he is just baffled.

"I won't even sit down with them and play that little game thing because I don't even know how to operate it," said the 48-year-old Calvin, who was freed in July.

He is a technological Rip Van Winkle.

Because of the rapid pace of technological change, thousands of inmates like Calvin leave prison every year to find a world very different from the one they knew when they went in.

Democrats and Republicans Going After Oil Companies

I really feel like writing another op-ed.

House Republicans, worried about political fallout from the high-profit figures that oil companies are expected to release later this week, will demand that companies pour those profits into refining more oil for the U.S. market in order to lower prices.
At a press conference today, Republicans led by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert will tell the companies to explain why they are making so much money and what they will do to bring down the cost of gasoline. . . .
Democrats already have gone further than Republicans. Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, has introduced a windfall profits tax that would take 50 percent of profits from every barrel of oil sold for more than $40.

A useful comparison is an op-ed in today's LA Times by a good friend of mine, Ben Zycher, who explains how the government's desire to squeeze out profits from drug companies when a problem arises eliminates their incentive to solve those potential problems in advance.

. . . . Consider the recent White House meeting among President Bush, top administration officials and the major vaccine producers. The purpose was to speed preparations for a possible — but unlikely — flu pandemic caused by a potential breakout of avian flu among human populations.

A similar 1918 outbreak killed 30 million to 50 million people worldwide. So why are those greedy pharmaceutical producers not moving mountains in anticipation of this huge potential need, with all of the dollars that would follow?

Well, let us begin with the saga of Cipro, an antibiotic effective against airborne anthrax. When the potential terrorist use of anthrax became a serious concern in 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked Bayer Pharmaceutical (the producer of Cipro) to obtain Food and Drug Administration approval to label the drug for treatment of anthrax. Bayer did so at its expense, and then donated 4 million doses to the federal government.

The feds then demanded another 1 million doses at a discounted price. When Bayer balked, the government threatened to suspend the patent on Cipro and thus forced Bayer to sell the additional doses at one-quarter of the market price. Other major purchasers of Cipro then demanded that same price. Moreover, Bayer enjoyed no liability protection against potential lawsuits stemming from any side effects of Cipro. Inside the Beltway, it is no mere cliché that no good deed goes unpunished.

This government theft, by the way, was orchestrated by those pro-business, pro-free enterprise, pro-capitalism Republicans.

The federal government also purchases almost two-thirds of the childhood vaccines used in the U.S., at a mandated discount of 50%. The National Academy of Sciences has concluded, not surprisingly, that the result is "declining financial incentives to develop and produce vaccines." Combined with the liability problem, the effect has been a fall in the number of vaccine producers from 25 in the mid-1970s to five today.

Vaccine producers must attract capital from investors far more interested in doing well than doing good, but interest-group politics has created a game of "heads I win, tails you lose." If they make the enormous investments needed to develop, produce and stockpile the requisite vaccines and no major outbreak occurs, they will be stuck with the costs. Fair enough: That's life under capitalism. But if the outbreak does occur, the short-term incentives of bureaucrats and politicians to reduce budget costs and to transfer wealth to their constituents, combined with inevitable accusations of profiteering, will prevent the producers from earning high returns on these risky investments. . . . .

The Krauthammer Option Picks up Steam

Charles Krauthammer's notion that Miers nomination can be stopped simply by Republican Senators demanding information while she worked in the White House appears to be picking up steam. As John Fund notes: "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter told reporters he wants a list of the subject areas that Mr. Miers worked on in her capacity as White House counsel. That's because a Justice Miers would be expected to disqualify herself from at least some cases involving Mr. Bush or the federal government." With requests in from Brownback and Graham, we may have three Republicans just on the Senate Judiciary Committee. A couple of more and it is doubtful that Miers could pick up enough Democratic votes on the Committee to offset this loss.

New James Bond Hates Guns

Get ready for more campaign finance regulations and less freedom of speech

A circuit court decision means that the FEC is going to have to revisit and strengthen some of the campaign regulations that it had alread put forward:

The agency will also have to revisit regulations governing solicitation, electioneering communications and Internet activity.

The courts have ruled that the agency's definition for solicitation was too narrow. Currently, lawmakers must specifically ask donors to make unlimited donations to third-party groups in order to be found in violation of the law's ban on soft-money fundraising by federal lawmakers.

So the FEC must now wrestle with what types of suggestions should be considered illegal solicitations by lawmakers. For example, should lawmakers be allowed to speak at a Sierra Club or a National Right to Life Committee event if the backdrop for their speech is a banner urging support for the organization?

"The question is: How do you deal with statements that praise organizations?" he said.

Internet activity may also become more regulated. Commissioners will debate whether political bloggers such as the authors of DailyKos.com or RedState.org should be regulated if they speak with members of Congress or party strategists, not an unusual activity for online journalists.

Another rule that will be revisited is the so-called electioneering-communication rule, which exempts charities organized under section 501(c)3 of the tax code. These organizations could become subject to regulations governing overtly political groups.


"Gun Possession Now OK at FEMA Housing"

Pressure on Redskins to stop charity shooting match

This article is from yesterday's Washington Post. If you read the whole article, you will see the Post amazingly makes this charity event sound as if it is a major challenge to the District's gun control laws. I don't know whether it is just the desire of the press to create a controversy or whether it is just the horror shown by a reporter that someone would want to use a charity event such as this to raise money.

To the folks at Redskins Park, the idea was simple enough: Send a few players to a shooting range and charge football fans to spend the afternoon with them blasting clay pigeons. Proceeds would benefit children. It would be like a celebrity golf tournament, except with shotguns.

But the sponsor for the first Redskins Sporting Clays Challenge is NRA Sports, a division of the National Rifle Association, which recently started pushing Congress to repeal the District's gun laws.

Five gun-control groups and anti-violence organizations are calling on Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder to cancel the competition, which is scheduled for Tuesday at a skeet range in Prince George's County. The groups say it is irresponsible for the Redskins to partner with an organization that is lobbying to legalize handguns and semiautomatic rifles in the nation's capital, where four people were shot to death in a 4 1/2 -hour period one recent weekend.

Snyder has not responded to the requests. Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said the team does not support repealing the District's gun laws, is not involved in the NRA's political activities and considers the competition a simple fundraiser.

"We think it's a valuable event, and we intend to go forward with it," he said. The antigun groups said they will press their point. . . . .


Big Defeat for Gun Ban in Brazil


Brazilians to Defeat Gun Ban?

Before the referendum, support for the ban was running as high as 80 percent. But in the weeks before the referendum, both sides were granted free time to present their cases on prime-time TV, and the pro-gun lobby began to grow.

In a survey released Wednesday by Toledo & Associates, 52 percent of those questioned said they would vote against the ban, while 34 percent would support it. The poll questioned 1,947 people in 11 Brazilian state capitals on October 8-15, and had a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

"Most of the media supported the ban, so before the television spots, nobody gave it much thought, but when the pro-gun lobby got equal time the opinion really shifted," said Jessica Galeria, who researches gun violence for the Viva Rio think tank. "They were smart, using images of Nelson Mandela, Tiananmen Square and the Berlin Wall to link owning a gun with freedom." . . . .

Quote of the day?

It appears as if the gun control groups are really losing it. You have gun control groups this week going out and making claims about the "unregulated" gun industry. Michael Barnes announced that he was stepping down from the Brady Campaign. Now we have the over the top statement from the Brady Campaign's Dennis Henigan:

As Dennis Henigan, [Brady Legal Action Project]'s Director said,
"Congress can pass it. The President can sign it. But this shameful law will not stand.

We will challenge the constitutionality of this special interest extravaganza in every court where the rights of gun violence victims are being threatened."

Council on Foreign Relations Interview Regarding Sunday's Vote in Brazil on Banning Guns

Eben Kaplan from the Council on Foreign Relations did an interview with me today. I think that my views on Brazil came through a lot more clearly than they did in the BBC interviews. A copy of the interview can be found here.

Miers pullout planned by White House?

The Washington Times reports that:

The White House has begun making contingency plans for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers as President Bush's choice to fill a seat on the Supreme Court, conservative sources said yesterday.

"White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people, saying, 'We're not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?' " a conservative Republican with ties to the White House told The Washington Times yesterday.

The White House denied making such calls. "Absolutely not true," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said.

But a conservative political consultant with ties to the White House said that he had received such a query from Sara Taylor, director of the Office of White House Political Affairs.

Miss Taylor denied making any such calls. A second Republican, who is the leader of a conservative interest group and has ties to the White House, confirmed that the White House is making calls to a select group of conservative activists who are not employed by the government.

"The political people in the White House are very worried about how she will do in the hearings," the second conservative leader said. "I think they have finally awakened.


BBC coverage of Brazil vote to ban guns

Here are rough translations of a couple of interviews that I did this week with the BBC on Brazil's gun ban referendum.

The economist John Lott Jr, author of some books defending the use of weapons for the civil population, finds that, if the sunday countersignature to approve the prohibition of venda of weapons and the ammunition in Brazil, the situation goes to move little.
"In the practical one already a virtual prohibition exists, because it is very difficult to obtain authorization to have a weapon. I do not find that it goes to make a great difference ", affirms, remembering that only 3.5% of the population have firearms. . . .

Lott says that, beyond the biggest policing and of more rigid penalties, the possibility of the proper person if to also protect helps withholds the crime.

"When you proíbe set, it is basically taking off the weapons of the people who are inside of the law and not of the criminals. Instead of increasing the security, he is increasing the crime, because the criminals do not need to be worried very when they go to attack the people ", says it.

The economist John Lott Jr, book author defending the armament as self-defense against the crime, has different opinion.

He agrees that the increase of the investments in the policy and the increase of the size of the sentences contributed for the reduction in crime, but says that one of the factors is that some States had approved laws allowing that the citizens walked armed.

Thanks to Jason Morin for pointing me to a better translation program.

Robbery stopped at loan office in Mesa, Arizona (10/20/05)

One man was shot dead and a woman accomplice was wounded at noon today in an attempted robbery of a Payday Loans office just east of Dobson Road in Mesa. . . .

Both the man and woman where shot inside the loan office, 1940 W. Baseline Road, but it was not clear if the shooter was a customer or employee. The woman, who was hit multiple times, was taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn.

Rhonda Wright, an employee at the store who showed up for work at 1 p.m. said she knew the store's owner, Scott Tracy, kept a gun in the store for situations like this. Because of liability issues, Tracy had removed the gun from the store and kept it with him in recent weeks, she said. Wright, 36, suspected Tracy used the gun to foil the robbery attempt.

"He picked the wrong person to mess with," Wright said of the slain suspect.

Editorial on Using the Courts to Get Gun Regulations Adopted

The House's vote yesterday to approve the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is a victory for proponents of sensible crime policy. The bill, which the president is expected to sign, bars civil actions against gun manufacturers and sellers who obey the laws governing their trade. The gun-control lobby was apoplectic, and with good reason. The measure cuts off their last avenue for imposing gun control and threatens to refocus attention on the awkward question of whether gun control actually works.

The latter point is a particular problem, because there is no evidence that any type of gun control reduces crime, as one economist, John Lott, author of "The Bias Against Guns," told us the other day. Some studies even suggest that gun control is counterproductive, although this proposition is currently the subject of vigorous debate among academics. . . .


Congress passes lawsuit limits against gun makers 283-144

1) Congress passes lawsuit limits against gun makers 283-144, Bill goes to President for his signature.

2) Presumably ones statements have to be at least a little close to the true to be believable. Besides making predictions that never seem to be borne out, how can anyone believe that the gun industry is "unregulated"?

"This legislation will make the unregulated gun industry the most pampered industry in America," said Kristen Rand, director of the Violence Policy Center.

3) Obviously it isn't a scientific survey, but what interests me is the question that AOL is asking about gun regulations

Overall, what do you think of the nation's gun laws?
Too loose 38%
Too restrictive 35%
Just right 27%
Total Votes: 90,232

What is surprising is that the survey actually allows people to say that the rules are too restrictive. Things have begun to chnage a little, but for the decade and a half that I studied in my book, The Bias Against Guns, I could not find any questions that allowed people to say that there were benefits from owning guns. This question does exactly fit into that issue, but the way it is asked and the fact that virtually identical numbers of people say that we have laws that are "too loose" and "too restrictive" is interesting.

New Op-ed on vote today to limit suits against gun makers

The National Review Online has my piece with Jack Soltysik entitled: Suiting Down: Congress guns for fairness?

Almost all products have illegitimate uses and undesirable consequences. In 2002, 45,380 people died in car accidents, 838 children drowned, 474 children died in house fires, and 130 children died in bicycle accidents. Luckily, local governments haven't started recouping medical costs or police salaries by suing car manufacturers, pool builders, makers of home heaters, or bike companies.

Many items, including cars and computers, are also used in the commission of crimes. But again, no one seriously proposes that these companies be held liable.

People understand that what makes a car useful for getting to work also makes it useful for escaping a crime. They also understand that the penalty should be on the person who uses the product for ill.

This logic is ignored when cities sue gun makers for costs incurred from improper firearm use, and the House of Representatives looks poised to end the practice today. Multibillionaire George Soros, via the Brady Campaign, has funded most of these suits. Last year the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," to rein in these suits, was defeated when Democrats added amendments to extend the so-called assault-weapons ban. . . .


Miers' nomination may be in real trouble

It appears to me that someone really messed up the vetting process on Miers. She was supposed to be the stealth candidate on abortion, but it comes out that she supported a constitutional amendment in 1989 to ban abortion. Did not anyone know about that? Beyond the vetting issue, the White House has been giving all sorts of signals on her personal views that she opposes abortion. The Democrats might want to let her on the court, but their constituents might not let them given what appears to be her strong views on abortion. Her backtracking on her recent statements on Griswold v. Connecticut is another mess.

John Fund notes in today's "Political Diary":

A number of Republican Senators are sending desperate political semaphore signals to the White House that the Harriet Miers nomination is in deep trouble. Last week, Senator Rick Santorum, the most vulnerable GOP incumbent up for re-election next year, criticized the argument that Senators should blindly trust the president. "I am concerned President Bush nominated someone who is a blank slate. I'm disappointed that he wanted to nominate someone like that instead of someone with a record," he said. "It is what I term the president's second faith-based initiative, which is 'trust me.' I think, candidly, we deserve better than that."

Louisiana Republican David Vitter joined in yesterday when he issued the following statement: "In terms of her background and experience, I'm hearing it described as very 'practical.' I just want to make sure she's not practical like a lot of political people are -- with no consistent philosophy and without the will to stand up against popular attitudes when they're not grounded in the Constitution." Ouch.

Late yesterday afternoon, Nevada Republican John Ensign expressed open skepticism when he told a reporter: "I think this is too big of a vote just to trust the president or anybody else." If Ms. Miers' meetings with individual Senators continue to go as badly as I am hearing they are, expect more Senators to step forward and suggest the White House consider a Plan B.

Finally, if you have any questions left about the nomination, you might want to look at Robert Bork's piece today in the WSJ.

Lorne Gunter's Canadian Blog, some recent posts on guns

Lorne has an interesting blog site that is well worth looking at. Here are a couple links to his recent comments on guns. If you think it is difficult sometime in the American debate, you should see what Lorne has to deal with.

Lorne Gunter's thoughts on murder rates across countries.
On Canada's Liberals selective hearing regard advice from police.

John Stossel on Gun Control Myths

Guns are dangerous. But myths are dangerous, too. Myths about guns are very dangerous, because they lead to bad laws. And bad laws kill people.

"Don't tell me this bill will not make a difference," said President Clinton, who signed the Brady Bill into law.

Sorry. Even the federal government can't say it has made a difference. The Centers for Disease Control did an extensive review of various types of gun control: waiting periods, registration and licensing, and bans on certain firearms. It found that the idea that gun control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth.

I wanted to know why the laws weren't working, so I asked the experts. "I'm not going in the store to buy no gun," said one maximum-security inmate in New Jersey. "So, I could care less if they had a background check or not."

"There's guns everywhere," said another inmate. "If you got money, you can get a gun."

Talking to prisoners about guns emphasizes a few key lessons. First, criminals don't obey the law. (That's why we call them "criminals.") Second, no law can repeal the law of supply and demand. If there's money to be made selling something, someone will sell it.

A study funded by the Department of Justice confirmed what the prisoners said. Criminals buy their guns illegally and easily. The study found that what felons fear most is not the police or the prison system, but their fellow citizens, who might be armed. One inmate told me, "When you gonna rob somebody you don't know, it makes it harder because you don't know what to expect out of them."

What if it were legal in America for adults to carry concealed weapons? I put that question to gun-control advocate Rev. Al Sharpton. His eyes opened wide, and he said, "We'd be living in a state of terror!"

In fact, it was a trick question. Most states now have "right to carry" laws. And their people are not living in a state of terror. Not one of those states reported an upsurge in crime.

Why? Because guns are used more than twice as often defensively as criminally. When armed men broke into Susan Gonzalez' house and shot her, she grabbed her husband's gun and started firing. "I figured if I could shoot one of them, even if we both died, someone would know who had been in my home." She killed one of the intruders. She lived. Studies on defensive use of guns find this kind of thing happens at least 700,000 times a year. . . . .


SF Police Officers Ass'n Opposes San Francisco's Gun Ban Initiative

On the Nobel Prize in Economics going for Game Theory Again

If economics isn't testible, you don't have a science. Having a certain richness is nice, but there are simply too many game theory models that end up making similar predictions. When you can't even differentiate monopoly behavior from perfect competition in predation what good is it? Indeed the goal frequently seems to be how many different models can be generated. I also agree that Game theory creates a bias towards thinking about everything in terms of monopoly. What is interesting in Game Theory disappears when you assume that firms are behaving competitively. For whatever it is worth, I wrote a book on all this entitled: "Are Predatory Commitments Credible?" Take a simple example in Predation to show how sensitive the results are. All the models basically look at the information held by the predatory firm. But what if the victim firm can sell short the stock of the predator? Given that the costs to the predator from actually engaging in predation are so large, indeed much greater than the losses imposed on the victim, victim firms that sell short the stock of the predatory might not only hope that the predator enters the industry but the victim firm might now want to stay in the industry just so that they can benefit from the predator's losses. Of course, the very possibility of short selling can make it unnecessary. The whole thing is a mess.

A Devastating Article on Supreme Court Nominee Miers

One should read the entire op-ed by David Brooks about Miers. My own research predicts that she will be easily confirmed precisely because she is so weak. Democrats should be thrilled and not enogh Republicans will buck the President. Even if she were to surprise me and turn out to be an economic conservative, if Democrats have to put a Republican on the court, this is the type of Republican they want. Someone who will not have much impact.

Of all the words written about Harriet Miers, none are more disturbing than the ones she wrote herself. In the early '90s, while she was president of the Texas bar association, Miers wrote a column called "President's Opinion" for The Texas Bar Journal. It is the largest body of public writing we have from her, and sad to say, the quality of thought and writing doesn't even rise to the level of pedestrian.

Nothing excuses sentences like this: "More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems."

Or this: "We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism."

Or this: "When consensus of diverse leadership can be achieved on issues of importance, the greatest impact can be achieved."

Or passages like this: "An organization must also implement programs to fulfill strategies established through its goals and mission. Methods for evaluation of these strategies are a necessity. With the framework of mission, goals, strategies, programs, and methods for evaluation in place, a meaningful budgeting process can begin."

I don't know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers' prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. It's not that Miers didn't attempt to tackle interesting subjects. She wrote about unequal access to the justice system, about the underrepresentation of minorities in the law and about whether pro bono work should be mandatory. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things. . . .


The Brady Campaign's Michael Barnes backs out of a Debate at George Washington University with less than a week to go

Oh, well. Note that I got from student who set up the debate at George Washington University:

We regret to inform you that Mr. Michael Barnes has backed out of the debate that we had scheduled between you and him for next Wednesday, October 19th.  We are trying to find a replacement that could argue from his position, but we are not too optimistic that we will find a person of such caliber at this late date.

I later received this message:

We expressed to him [Barnes] that whatever disagreements he had with your views, we believed that an open debate would be the best opportunity to present a well-reasoned refutation of your position. . . .

We are disappointed that we will be unable to host the debate as we had planned, but we are pleased that you are still willing to address our chapter.

"Senate Reasoning" on Steroids

Senator Bunning's statement puts it this way: "I remember when players didn't get better as they got older. They got worse. When I played with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and Ted Williams, they didn't put on forty pounds of bulk in their careers, and they didn't hit more homers in their late thirties than they did in their late twenties...I'm willing to trust baseball, but players and owners have a special responsibility to protect the game. And they owe it to all of us to prove that they are fixing this terrible problem. If not we will have to do it for them.''

He doesn't define the "terrible problem" but presumably it is the pace at which new records in home runs were set over the 1999 to 2001 period. It turns out that he is wrong on even the simple factual assertions he managed to make, aside from the leap to a conclusion and the speculation he states in other parts of his testimony. Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth did not go into a steep decline; they sustained a high level of home run hitting far beyond modern hitters like Maris, McGwire, Sosa, and perhaps even Bonds, though we have yet to see how his career goes. Nobody, so far as I can discover, put on forty pounds, except players of the past many of whom drank rather than trained as modern players do. . . .

People might find the whole post from Art DeVany's website interesting. As usual, a few numbers go a long way in correcting some myths, in this case about steroids and home runs.



California's Public School Teachers Have Incredible Job Security

Under state law, administrators must compile up to 150 pages documenting problems in addition to a poor-performance evaluation before they can dismiss a teacher. . . .

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, only one or two permanent teachers are dismissed each year, of around 40,000 in the district, said employee relations director Robert Fisher.

In the San Francisco Unified School District, just one teacher out of 4,000 in the district was fired for poor performance during the last three years, said Lorna Ho, special assistant to the superintendent. . . .

Where can I sign up? Of cource, they have to work for a whole year before they earn this level of job security! And people wonder why California's public schools are so bad. What can possibly be so special about public school employees that isn't true for doctors or lawyers or car assembly plants?


Vicious confirmation process caused People to turn down chance to be on the Supreme Court

I actually have a book manuscript written on this:

"Sometimes along the way people express that they would prefer not to be considered," McClellan said. "And there were a couple of individuals in this instance that asked that they not be considered, and that was when the list was longer. The list was in the double digits at that point in time."

McClellan -- who refused to give names -- was responding to comments made by Focus on the Family's James Dobson, who said on his radio broadcast earlier in the day that White House aide Karl Rove had told him some nominees had withdrawn from the process, wishing to avoid a tough nomination fight.

"[W]hat Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered, because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter that they didn’t want to subject themselves or the members of their families to it," Dobson said. . . .


Firefighter stops robbers with gun

John Fund on Miers

John Fund's write up on Opinion Journal.com's Political Diary reiterates some points that I posted earlier this week after conversations with some people who I promised not to name:

He calls Ms. Miers is a "very good moral person," but says her real skills at the firm were networking and climbing the rungs of the local and state bar association hierarchy. She rarely tried cases and most of her work for corporations was to serve as the local counsel for out-of-state companies that needed someone familiar with local Dallas judges.

As for her political views, Mr. Packard said Ms. Miers rarely tipped her hand. "It's fair to say that Harriet finds abortion truly abhorrent, but on all other gender issues such as affirmative action you would find her socially very liberal,"


My comment on Harriet Miers' Confirmation

Forbes Magazine has a somewhat edited version of this piece:

Harriet Miers was one of the safest choices President Bush could've made for Supreme Court justice. She's likely to be confirmed quickly, and without much fuss. I'm not referring here to her politics. According to a study of judicial nominations I recently completed, the less distinguished the nominee-the less intellectually accomplished, the less prolific, the less impressive her record-the more likely it is that she will be confirmed. It also helps to be old, white and female.

Both Republicans and Democrats like to carp about the trouble their nominees must endure in the congressional confirmation process. I wondered how much the process had deteriorated, and why. So I assembled data on the 1,576 federal judges confirmed from the beginning of Jimmy Carter's administration in 1977 through the end of George W. Bush's first term. I also looked at 59 Supreme Court confirmations going back a century. To account for changing factors like whether the same party controlled the White House and the Senate, and whether the nomination was made in an election year, I used regression analysis when I compiled my findings.

It is indeed taking longer to get judges confirmed these days, but more interesting is which nominees sail through without a hitch, and which stop dead. My conclusion: The smarter the candidate, the more bruising the confirmation battle and the more likely the nominee will be defeated. . . .

Strong Warning on Miers' Nomination

I have never met Miers, but lawyers who I have talked to who have some inside information claim that Miers is not good news. They say that she was a very good administrator and politician, but not a good lawyer. She was a diversity hire at her law firm in Dallas and that she was moved into an administrative position. Her advancement in the ABA shows more about her political skills than it says anything about her ability as a lawyer. Miers is socially conservative, but there are strong doubts that she is economically conservative or any thing like a small government type.


Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers carried a gun for self protection


Robert Bork: Miers nomination is a mistake

Conservative criticisms of Miers' Nomination a conspiracy?

Republican Senators get an earful on Miers

Telephone lines to Republican senators sizzled last week with calls protesting the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. That followed reluctance of the senators to heed the call by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the White House to go to the Senate floor to boost Miers.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas associate of Miers and her friend for 15 years, was the only speaker praising her during Tuesday's "morning business," though the leadership had hoped to fill that period with Miers boosters.

A footnote: President Bush had advised senators that his probable choice for the Supreme Court was federal Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan of California. Bush touted Callahan's diversity as a Hispanic woman, but she is liberal enough to be recommended for the high court by Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer. . . .


Gun Crimes Committed with Unregistered Guns In Canada

Most murder guns in Canada are never registered with the Canadian Firearms Centre, according to a new Statistics Canada report.

The new Juristat study - a version of which reported over the summer that Canada's murder rate jumped 12% in 2004 after a three-decade slide - says that registration information on murder guns was "unknown" to police in more than half of homicides reported between 1997 and 2004 where the gun was recovered.

Gun registry opponents say that proves the registry - two years and more than a billion tax dollars later - is a failure.

"First, 65% of firearms homicides involve handguns. We've had a handgun registry for decades, so obviously it didn't work either," said Dennis Young, a researcher in the office of Conservative MP and registry critic Garry Breitkreuz.

"But look at who's actually committing murders. Two-thirds of murderers - and half of their adult victims - already had criminal histories. The federal government decided with the registry to go after law-abiding gun owners, when the people doing the killing are overwhelmingly criminals who'd never think to register their guns. What a waste." . . .


Brady Campaign tries to scare tourists in Florida

The leaflets begin with the words "An Important Notice to Florida Visitors" in bold red type by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"Do not argue unnecessarily with local people," it says. "If someone appears to be angry with you, maintain to the best of your ability a positive attitude, and do not shout or make threatening gestures."

Florida's "stand your ground" law, which took effect Saturday, means that people no longer must attempt to retreat or defuse a threatening situation before using violence in order to later claim they were acting in self-defence. People already had that right in their homes, but the law now allows them to meet "force with force" in any place they have a legal right to be. . . .

Governor Jeb Bush has repeatedly pointed to a 34-year low in state crime statistics to demonstrate that Florida is not a haven for violence.

"It's pure, unadulterated politics," Mr. Bush said last week of the Brady Campaign's tactics. "Shame on them."

The Florida tourism industry, however, is taking the campaign seriously, with Visit Florida — the state's official tourism-marketing arm — issuing a statement calling Florida "a very safe and secure destination that excels in caring for its visitors."


Talk tomorrow at the University of Tennessee

I will be talking at the University of Tennessee Law School in Knoxville at noon. The talk will be on the judicial confirmation process.

The talk today at Vanderbilt was a lot of fun. About 80 people showed up and there was a nice discussion after the talk.

"The good guy finally wins for a change" 82-year-old protects himself with gun

L.G. Von Zehner, 82, was washing his Cadillac late Monday night in a commercial corridor when an armed thug interrupted the task and demanded money.

The encounter between the would-be robber and retired businessman was brief. It ended with the gunman dead in the back seat of Zehner's car and Zehner himself -- bloodied and wounded from a shootout -- walking into the roadway and desperately waving a gun in the hopes that a sympathetic motorist would stop to help. . . .

Some people working near where the incident occurred were impressed with the way Von Zehner handled himself in a life-and-death situation.

"The old man killed 'em," Stephenson said, as if surprised by Von Zehner's response under pressure.

"The good guy finally wins for a change," said Shanna, a colleague of Stephenson's at the 7-Eleven store who didn't want to give her last name.

Thanks very much to L.J. O'Neale for sending this to me.

The Perfect Storm for Judicial Confirmations

George WIll on Miers

While driving from Memphis to Nashville yesterday, I had a chance to listen to talk radio and it confirmed for me how upset conservatives were with the Miers pick. George Will's column makes a similar point to what Ann Coulter was making on Sean Hannity's show yesterday.

It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks. The president's ``argument'' for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their prepresidential careers, and this president, particularly, is not disposed to such reflections.

     Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers' nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers' name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists. . . .

Supreme Court Refuses To Block Lawsuit Against Gun Manufacturers


Why does FEMA have against armed police officers?

Talk at noon tomorrow at Vanderbilt

I will be giving a talk on the judicial confirmation process at noon on Wednesday at the Vanderbilt University Law School.

Talk at noon today

I will be giving a talk on gun control from noon to 1:15 today at the University of Memphis Law School.


Have Steroids Changed Baseball?

Survey on guns in the workplace

David Frum on Harriet Miers

I worked with Harriet Miers. She's a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated ... I could pile on the praise all morning. But nobody would describe her as one of the outstanding lawyers in the United States. And there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or - and more importantly - that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left.

I am not saying that she is not a legal conservative. I am not saying that she is not steely. I am saying only that there is no good reason to believe either of these things. Not even her closest associates on the job have no good reason to believe either of these things. In other words, we are being asked by this president to take this appointment purely on trust, without any independent reason to support it. And that is not a request conservatives can safely grant. . . .

But here is what we do know: the pressures on a Supreme Court justice to shift leftward are intense. There is the negative pressure of the vicious, hostile press that legal conservatives must endure. And there are the sweet little inducements - the flattery, the invitations to conferences in Austria and Italy, the lectureships at Yale and Harvard - that come to judges who soften and crumble. Harriet Miers is a taut, nervous, anxious personality. It is impossible to me to imagine that she can endure the anger and abuse - or resist the blandishments - that transformed, say, Anthony Kennedy into the judge he is today. . . .

What is a low poll rating for a politician?


Rob Texans at your own risk

Corpus Christi, Texas
Stabbed by a burglar in his own garage, a Texas homeowner fought back, shooting the suspect three times. . . .

Thanks very much to Gus Cotey for sending this to me.

Brady Campaign Attacking Florida over new gun law


Three academic papers have just come out during the last half of the year

What was Tom Delay's Crime?

Other than conspiracy, the indictment against Representative Tom Delay does not specify the exact crime that he committed. David Frum's excellent column yesterday discusses a very fundamental objection to the case raised by E. J. Dionne.

[E.J.] Dionne this morning puts his finger on the central and hopeless flaw in the case against DeLay: "The corporations that forked over the cash to DeLay's PAC did so not because their hearts were filled with affection for those particular Texas legislative candidates but because they recognized DeLay's power over federal legislation." (Italics addes.)

Texas law forbids corporations to give money to state candidates. The case against DeLay charges that he conspired with corporations to help them circumvent this law by routing the money through political action committees he controlled. But as Dionne acknowledges, the corporations in question did not care about Texas politics. They wanted to give to DeLay's political action committees, which was perfectly legal. It was DeLay who wanted to support the Texas candidates - which was also perfectly legal. The only way you can link these two legal transactions into one illegal transaction is by claiming that the corporations wanted to break the law. Dionne - his reporter's instincts trumping his partisan zeal - admits that of course the corporations had no such desire, and so there was no crime.

To put this into simpler terms. Suppose a corporation hired Dionne to give a speech at their next annual meeting. Dionne then turns around and gives his fee to Democratic candidates for the Texas legislature. Has any law been broken? Obviously not. The corporation does not intend to help Texas candidates: It does so only inadvertently and indirectly, as a consequence of Dionne's decisions.. . . .

A copy of the indictment against Tom Delay can be found her

A copy of the indictment against Tom Delay can be found here. There are problems with Delay (for example, his claim that there is no fat in the federal budget) as well as other Republican leaders, but after reading this indictment, I don't think that most people will think that there is much of substance here. I am not sure that Delay is any better or worse than most other Republican leaders, but that aside, this looks like a very weak case.