Category Archives: Law and Order


Volokh makes a great point:

Why Didn’t FItzgerald Close Up Shop After Learning That Armitage Was the Leaker?: A popular argument for why Scooter Libby should never have been prosecuted is that Patrick Fitzgerald knew early on in the investigation that Richard Armitage at the State Department was the leaker. If Fitzgerald knew Armitage was the leaker, why didn’t he stop the investigation right away? Why did he continue? For some people, Fitzgerald’s decision not to close up shop after learning Armitage was the leaker proves that he was an overzealous prosecutor run amok. He must have had some irrational desire to go after Libby, the argument runs, making the entire Libby prosecution unfair from the get-go.

I don’t find this argument persuasive. To see why, imagine yourself in Fitzgerald’s shoes. Here are the relevant facts as you know them (reconstructed as best I can — please let me know if these facts are misleading or wrong and I’ll correct them). You’ve been appointed a special prosecutor to investigate intentional leaks to the media of the covert identity of a CIA agent. Early on in the investigation, you learn that one high-level political official has admitted that he leaked Plame’s identity to one reporter; he claims that it was an accident, as he didn’t realize the agent’s status was covert. You also know that a lot of other reporters were leaked the same information, but you don’t know who was behind those other leaks. The reporters won’t talk: They insist on going to jail rather than revealing their sources.

If you were Fitzgerald, would you close up shop at that point? Would you conclude without even speaking to other potential witnesses that the one high-level official was in fact responsible for all the leaks, and that he acted accidentally and entirely on his own? Or would you at least want to dig deeper to see if the story checks out?

You would close up shop, of course! Just like Ken Starr did after he convicted the McDougals! Once you have an official story from the Bushies, you just accept it and let it go! You would never ever question the President’s adherence to the rule of law. The judge and prosecutor just wanted to get Libby, they were Democrats who wanted to…


I find this argument seriously bizarre. As I understand it, Bush political appointee James Comey named Bush political appointee and career prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the Plame leak. Bush political appointee and career prosecutor Fitzgerald filed an indictment and went to trial before Bush political appointee Reggie Walton. A jury convicted Libby, and Bush political appointee Walton sentenced him. At sentencing, Bush political appointee Judge Walton described the evidence against Libby as “overwhelming” and concluded that a 30-month sentence was appropriate. And yet the claim, as I understand it, is that the Libby prosecution was the work of political enemies who were just trying to hurt the Bush Administration.

Of course. Because anyone who oppose the Dear Leader — McCain, George Will, Bill Buckley, Andrew Sullivan, Dick Lugar — is a RINO, an evil traitor who wants the terrorists to win.

Jesus, don’t you guys get it? Everything Bush does is good. He define conservatism by his acts, just like Jesus defined Christianity by his (Although my New Testament is apparently missing the sections where he stones gays, gets into politics and becomes obssessed with money. I think that’s in Hypocrites II.)

If Bush decides that conservatism supports massive spending, socialized medicine and incompetently fought wars, then that’s what conservatism is. Conservatism == platform of the GOP. And anyone who opposes Bush is just a bed-wetting liberal Democrat. It’s so simple. You don’t need to think for yourself, you poor deluded simpletons. All you need to do is fine out what Bush thinks and repeat it!

I’m sick to death of this. I’m sick of an Administration that has utter total contempt for Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, conservatism, the intelligence of the American public, the rule of law and the Constitution. I’m utterly totally sick of a “conservative” media machine at NRO, WSJ, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Neal Boortz that mindlessly repeats every meme that emerges from the West Wing no matter how bizarre it is (the VP is not in the executive) or how much it rapes every conservative principle out there (perjury isn’t a crime unless another crime was committed) or how much it flies in the face of the facts (Valerie Plame wasn’t undercover).

You can call this many things — power worship; mindless partisanship; obsequious obedience. But you’re not allowed to call it conservatism any more. We’re taking that title back.

Friday Linkorama

More sleep-deprived laziness:

Ron Paul is being excluded from a candidate forum because, apparently, he is more of a fringe candidate than the men he is both out-polling and out-contribution-getting. What is it about Libertarians that makes the media ignore them? Every general election, they spend more time on third-party candidates who get out-polled by the Libertarians.

Read about how Google has gotten sucked into politics. Why do big corportations spend so much money buying politicians? Because of the awful consequences that result if they don’t play the Washington game.

Dick Cheney — above the law. Seriously, what’s wrong with these people? Let’s see Rush Limbaugh defend this! (You know he will).

PBS funds religious propaganda. The worst thing is that now PBS can claim they are “objective” and “fair” since they’ve balanced their usual plethora of left-wing commentary with a nutball fringe right-wing group. Why are we funding this nonsense again?

Oh, that liberal media. But . . . but . . . but Fox News!!! (Anyone notice that, like Rush Limbaugh, about 90% of the people who hate Fox News have never watched it?)

The $67 Million Travelling Pants Suit

Walter Olson has the best take:

This sort of mechanical damage-multiplication has been a key engine in shakedown scandals in California (where roving complainants have mass-mailed demand letters to small businesses over technical infractions); in “junk-fax” litigation demanding billions from hapless merchants in Texas, Illinois and elsewhere; and in important sectors of litigation aimed at bigger businesses, including claims against credit-card providers and purveyors of “light” cigarettes. Whole dockets’-worth of opportunistic litigation would dry up if we revised these laws so as to require a showing of actual injury. Doing so would require overcoming epic resistance from the litigation lobby.

It’s nice to see that even the organized plaintiffs bar piously deplores Mr. Pearson’s abuse of the law. It would be even nicer if they agreed to stop opposing reforms that would give the Chungs of the world a fighting chance the next time around.

If you don’t read Olson’s overlawyered blog, do so.

Good Riddance

Mike Nifong has been disbarred. I just hope that the people who were so zealous on behalf of the lacrosse players will find time to advocate for the hundreds or thousands of men – mostly poor and black – who are behind bars right now under similar circumstances.

Keep in mind, he’s not the only showboat prosecutor out there. There are many out there, including one who indirectly caused the death of a friend of my mother’s. And the reason they showboat for political gain is because it works. After all, one of them is a leading candidate for President.

Friday Linkorama

North Carolina has a shortage of illegal immigrants:

“Americans today don’t want to sweat and get their hands dirty,” said Doug Torn, who owns a wholesale nursery in Guilford County. “We have a choice. Do we want to import our food or do we want to import our labor?”

No, we don’t need tort reform. It should be perfectly fine to sue someone for $54 million because he lost your pants. I know this story has gotten a lot of ink. But I hadn’t heard about it and every sentence of the article enrages me.

The Democrats have a plan to raise taxes past 100%. Al Gore had a similar plan. But it’s overtaxing the “rich”, so that’s OK


The story of the two “wronged” border patrol agents is still circulating in conservative circles. Read the statement from the US Attorney who prosecuted them (warning: PDF). It deals with a lot of shibboleths being spread by the Right.

One thing I will comment on: reading between the lines, I think Johnny Sutton thinks the 10+ year sentences were excessive as well. But a Clinton-era law puts in a mandatory 10-year sentence for using a firearm to commit a felony. So he had no choice.

I hate mandatory sentences in general and this business of tacking on extra years because a gun was used violates the right of due process. These men were given an extra ten years for a crime the jury never convicted of. And we have seen this guideline abused over and over again — in Texas, against the Branch Davidians, for example.

Perhaps if conservatives focused their energy away from the prosecutor and onto the unconstitutional insanity of 10-year sentence mandates, we’d make more progress.

The Courts Come Through

The US Circuit Court restores habeas and a Georgia Court brings sanity to an out-of-control prosecution.

I am sure both will be bashed by “conservatives” as judicial activism. But, dammit, we need some judicial activism when the President is determined to shit all over the Constitution, the law and our treaty obligations. That’s what they are there for. If they are just going to jump every time the President says “frog”, what’s the point in having a judiciiary.

It’s called checks and balances, you totalitarian twerps. Read up on it.

One other point to make regarding habeas: it shouldn’t have gotten to this point. Too often we think that the constitutionality of a law can only be decided by the courts. But the Congress and the President take an oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter

Both the President and the Congress are obligated to oppose any law or statute which they believes violates the Constitution. But the attitude of both became obvious early on — when they supported a McCain-Feingold law they knew restrained free speech because it was popular. That was an early warning sign that the GOP saw the Constitution as an impediment, not a pact.

We should rarely have to fall back on the courts to defend liberty. And shame on this Administration that we had to on such a fundamental liberty.


What does a baby-driven sleep-deprived blogger do? He links!

Reason has more on the students punished for excessive celebration. It makes some good points, but I am still sympathetic to the students. Stopping “Students crossing the stage were dancing and flashing hand signs; friends in the audience were jumping up, whooping and raising a racket with air horns.” does not mean you stop all cheering.

Cato fisks Romney on health care. I swear. This election is looking like a choice between the little socialists and the big socialists.

I suspect the rise in violent crime has little to do with Bush. Social factors are critical here – especially the rise of Meth. Yeah, the libs will go on about poverty and race and Katrina or something. But our economy is healthy. No, I don’t think this is Bush’s fault.

But you KNOW that if violent crime had gone up under Clinton, the Right would have blamed him in a heartbeat.

This is why things like TABOR, which set strict spending limits and refund tax excess to the taxpayers, are critical.

The typical Fairfax homeowner is paying $4830 a year in property taxes. The FCTA points out that “if during the past seven years the Supervisors had held real estate tax increases to the rate of inflation, which averaged three percent per year, the typical homeowner would be paying $3,079.” … The supervisors–in Fairfax County and everywhere else–respond, “Would you have us close fire stations or fire teachers or throw widows out in the snow?” Somehow they never discuss, as another item in the FCTA newsletter does, the fact that salaries and benefits have increased far more than population growth or any other measure over the past seven years.

If you give government money, it will spend it. Part of the reason for our massive federal deficits now is because Congress responded to the budget surplus with an orgy of spending rather than a tax cut. And when revenues dropped to normal growth, deficits returns — as every Libertarian predicted.

Even thought I somewhat support the death penalty, I have to disagree with SCOTUS on death penalty juries. Jurors judge the case and the law and a prosecutor’s fucking job is to persuade them that the defendent deserved to be killed. Banning jurors who even question the death penalty is rigging the deck and very likely to produce “hang ’em high” juries that have very high false conviction rates.

Michael Moore. As pig ignorant as ever.

Another sex crime outrage.

This is fricking hilarious.

More Good News

The United States Constitution is one of the crown jewels of our civilization. Two hundred years have passed and we’ve barely needed to ammend it. It was radical for its time and is still radical today in its vision of basic human liberty. I think Reagan put it best when he said that most countries’ constitutions give the people rights and priveleges from their benign government. Ours, on the other hand, says that we the people will allow the government to do the following things.

I supported the GOP for a long time because of their devotion to Constitutional law. They were the only ones out there who stood for states’ rights and the second ammendment, property rights and the takings clause. But the seeds of destruction were there. They had already countenanced the erosion of civil liberties in our insane War on Drugs. And now it has come to full flower in the War on Terror.

How pathetic is it that the Democrats are now the defenders of liberty. They are trying to restore habeas corpus and that moonbat Pelosi is threatening to sue Bush over signing statements. I would love to see SCOTUS put the rule of law down on the signing statements, although I suspect the present court will unfortunately defer to the executive and enshrine this upending of the balance of powers in precedent.

Still, how sad has the GOP gotten when the Democrats are more protective of our liberty.

Lee at Right-Thinking said it best: Bush had made true everything Democrats have ever said about Republicans.


IRS Worship

Cato takes apart an NYT piece on the IRS.

I have never understood the Left’s worship of the IRS. I remember in ’95 when the GOP was having hearings on IRS abuses, the derision among Lefties, the cartoon that said, “What’s next? Hearing on bad service in restaurants? Ho ho ho!” Maybe it’s because they hate they rich. Maybe it’s because they worship government power.

But we have here an agency that is incredibly abusive of its power; that has the (unconstitutional, no matter what SCOTUS says) power to seize your property without charging you with a crime; an agency that used to post “Catch Seizure Fever!” posters on its walls and evaluated its agents by how much property they’d seized; an agency that didn’t want to discipline agents who went poking around the finances of their neighbors and celebrities. I have personally experiencde the abuse of this agency and, if my blog were read by more than two people, I’d hesitate to post on this for fear of reprisal. James Bovard once estimated that this agency, at is worst under the Dems, took more money away from Americans falsley and by intimidation than all forms of property theft combined.

And, to kick the Lefties again, the IRS is known to target the middle class quite heavily, since they have enough money to be worth seizing but not enough to fight them in court.

Yeah, I get emotional about it. People who’ve seen the nasty side of the IRS tend to. My accountant, a sweet southern lady; my grandfather, a kindly man so respected hundreds turned up at his short-notice funeral; my former Congressman John Linder, as mild-mannered a man as you’ll meet — all these people could or can be brought to rage by the mere mention of the IRS.

Yet all the NYT can do is repeat fictional claims about the amount of money we’re losing to offshore tax “havens”. And the Dems are going to have a hearing where the IRS will get to bitch and moan without restraint. Nowhere in the puff piece, and I expect nowhere in the hearing, is there mention of why people are moving money offshore: because of our insanely high corporate tax rate, rising marginal tax rates and an insanely complex tax system that the IRS itself does not understand but can get you jailed if you break it.

End rant.