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