"Which law-abiding industry will be the next target of greedy politicians?" asked Steve Dasbach, Libertarian Party national director. "Will they force Budweiser and Heineken to pay for the crimes of drunken, violent criminals? Will they extort money from McDonald's and Burger King to pay for heart bypass surgery, and compel Chrysler and Honda to pay the medical bills of car-crash victims?"
Dasbach's questions came in response to the lawsuit, now moving through the court system, which seeks to hold 15 major gun companies financially liable for the medical and police costs related to gun violence.
Morial is also actively encouraging other politicians across the country to follow his lead, and so far the mayors of Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Miami are weighing similar suits.
Vowing that "guns must now become the next tobacco," Morial has made it clear that the attack on gun companies will be modeled on the anti-tobacco lawsuits filed by 41 state attorneys general.
"If you thought politicians would be satisfied after extorting more than $40 billion from tobacco companies, think again," Dasbach said. "That only whet their appetite. Now the only question is, which industry will be next?"
Some possible targets:
Barbecue grills: "It's absolutely clear that charcoal broiling is carcinogenic," says Michael Horowitz of the Hudson Institute, who predicts that the manufacturers of barbecue grills may soon be a litigation target.
Wine and beer: "Every year, tens of thousands of Americans are killed in auto accidents, half of which are alcohol-related," Dasbach said. "If politicians can blame Smith & Wesson for murder in the streets, why can't they blame Busch & Budweiser for carnage on the highways?"
Fatty foods: Yale University researcher Kelly Brownell warns that the country is plagued by an "out-of-control epidemic of obesity" that is causing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Her solutions including slapping a "fat tax" on certain foods and funneling the money into nutrition and public exercise programs, and restricting junk-food advertisements.
Milk: Last year a Seattle man who describes himself as a "milk-a-holic" sued Washington state dairy farmers for contributing to his clogged arteries and a stroke.
"Many Americans never dreamed that the War on Tobacco could lead to a war on alcohol, fatty foods, barbecue grills, or even milk," Dasbach said. "But once the government has the power to sue companies in the name of public health, it's only a matter of time until the product that you like becomes their next target.
"Yes, violent crime is a serious problem -- but what's really frightening is politicians using their political power to bankrupt businesses that make products they don't like, and in the process, destroying your freedom to use them."
The attack strategy against gun companies also demonstrates another important fact, Dasbach said. "Filing this lawsuit was a glaring admission by Mayor Morial that he has failed to perform the most basic function of government: Protecting people from violent crime.
"But instead of protecting public safety, he's committing a crime of his own: Extorting money from honest companies in order to pay for the crimes of street thugs."
WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration is facing the most massive leak of classified foreign policy documents since the publication of the Pentagon papers more than two decades ago during the Vietnam war, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
"The impeachment proceedings are going to have seemed like a picnic, before we get though with this," said one White House official.
The papers, totaling more than 20,000 pages, according to sources who have read them, include a history of the secret negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea, describing the failed policy of trying to buy off North Korea to forego its nuclear weapons policy. They describe in great detail the intelligence and policy failures that led to the detonations of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan this year.
Most embarrassing, the papers appear to corroborate, according to sources who have read them, allegations by a former U.N. arms inspector that the Clinton administration concealed from Congress and the public details regarding Saddam Hussein's ambitious program to develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
The papers also reveal new details on the Clinton policy towards China in which the White House allowed ballistic missile technology exports to China at the behest of wealthy Democratic campaign contributors.
News of the massive leak of classified foreign policy documents caught senior White House officials by surprise on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Two Washington newspaper editors have reviewed the papers, which have been obtained by left-wing reporter Murray Waas.
Waas has been holding the documents close, according to one media insider. Some in Washington speculate that Waas does not want to write a major expose about the Clinton administration in the midst of the impeachment hearings, fueling the flames for conservatives.
The new leaks appear to be indicative of deep dissatisfaction within the foreign policy establishment regarding Clinton policies.
There have been other unprecedented leaks as well: most notably, a James Risen story in the NEW YORK TIMES earlier this week about the disregarding of a CIA assessment of Russian corruption by Vice President Al Gore. Some see an organized attempt by dissidents to discredit the Clinton foreign policy.
Ironically, the Clinton White House might have a hard time attacking one of their favorite reporters: During the 1992 presidential campaign, both Clinton and Gore often praised Waas exclusives exposing the Bush administration's Iraq policy, which involved the leaks of thousands of pages of classified papers regarding the Gulf war.
When the man who lived there locked himself inside his bedroom, the officers kicked in the door and began firing.
Thirty-three bullets later, 23-year-old Pedro Oregon Navarro was dead, shot a dozen times, including nine times in the back.
But the investigation in the wake of the fatal shooting shows the officers had no warrant, the informant was not registered with the police as required by department rules covering drug informants, police found no drugs in Mr. Oregon's apartment and a gun officers said Mr. Oregon had pointed at them never was fired.
"They went knowingly and consciously in search of their own heroics and forgot to abide by the rules," says Tony Cantu, a Hispanic activist in Houston. "I'm a Republican and I believe in no government intrusion. If the police department coming into your apartment without a warrant is not intrusive, what is?"
The case has mobilized many Houston Hispanics, prompting calls for rallies and strategy sessions to pressure authorities to prosecute and punish the officers.
"It's frightening that officers would illegally enter a residence and shoot a man in the back," said Paul Nugent, an attorney Mr. Oregon's family hired.
"Evidence seems to indicate he was shot in the back while he was on the floor.
We think he dove to the floor for cover when the police kicked in the door.
"We hope there's a vigorous investigation. The family is afraid there will be a whitewash and the officers' actions will somehow be justified."
Six officers who took part in the raid, including a sergeant, are suspended with pay pending the outcome of investigations. At least two are under way, one by the department's internal affairs division and another by homicide detectives and the district attorney's office, which is to present its case to a grand jury the week of Aug. 17.
The Mexican government has expressed its concern because Mr. Oregon, the father of two, was from Michoacan, Mexico. And the new national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens,
Houston attorney Rick Dovalina, wants the Justice Department to look into the case.
"The bottom line is they shot an innocent young man in the back after an illegal entry," Mr. Dovalina said.
The Justice Department, while monitoring the case, is not involved actively, spokeswoman Karen Guerriero said.
The case also has put a spotlight on the department, which has been hit in recent weeks by instances of bicycle patrol officers filing false time sheets and the suspension of an officer accused of raping several women.
Police Chief Clarence Bradford, who won't talk about the Oregon case while it is under investigation, denied accusations his department has a discipline problem.
"I see some officers who probably in fact need to revisit what they're going to do as Houston police officers and remember the oath that we all took when we pin on our badge about servicing the citizens of Houston," he said.
The Houston Chronicle quoted an unidentified police source as saying that one of the officers who burst into Mr. Oregon's bedroom around 1:30 a.m. July 12 shouted that Mr. Oregon had a gun. About the same time, an officer's gun went off, with the bullet hitting another officer and knocking him to the floor. The other officers, thinking Mr. Oregon had shot their colleague, opened fire. The wounded officer wore a protective vest and was not hurt seriously.
Harris County District Attorney John B. Holmes Jr. says it's possible the officers could not be indicted for the shooting because under the law, a person may not resist an arrest, even if it is illegal. And he says if Mr. Oregon threatened them, it would be proper for them to use deadly force against him.
"I don't know what happened out there," Mr. Holmes said. "What I truly feel in my heart of hearts is these guys had no idea what they were doing."
Mr. Oregon had been in the United States about eight years, according to his mother, Claudia Navarro, who still carries two uncashed checks he earned from his job as a landscaper.
"We are looking for justice," she said in Spanish, appearing this week at a demonstration outside the district attorney's office. "That's what this case is all about - justice."
"We want the police officers to be prosecuted and be given life sentences," Susana Oregon, the victim's sister, added.
"He had no criminal record," attorney Nugent said. "He was hard-working, had a steady employment history, was a soccer player and soccer coach. He didn't use drugs and certainly didn't sell drugs. The police made a mistake. They killed the wrong man."
It may have been a holiday week, but there were still a number of interesting things happening in Washington. Most interesting was the action taken by Judicial Watch. http://www.judicialwatch.org/
Larry Klayman filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of two shareholders of Loral Space and Communications Ltd. Generally speaking, the lawsuit focuses on the improper transfer of U.S. technology to China. However, it also alleges that seats on U.S. trade missions were awarded in exchange for campaign contributions.
This means, of course, that Judicial Watch will get to depose a number of people from the White House, Loral, the Department of Commerce and the Democratic National Committee. This is work that the Justice Department should have completed a year ago, but did not. Now, the information will be made public, and it should prove to be extremely interesting.
The White House press staff was busy, too. Apparently Hillary did not want to be outdone by one of Bill's favorite squeezes: Monica Lewinsky. So, Hillary had her press agent get her a spread in Vogue Magazine. Except... well... how do we put this nicely... Let's just give our compliments to the artist for a job well done. Airbrush work is a fine art and Vogue obviously used an expert.
Another of Bill's playthings also did well last week. Susan McDougal won her criminal trial in California. Just in time, too. She has another date with a court in Arkansas coming up shortly. It's doubtful if she will win the next trial, though.
And, while we're thinking about rabid Democrats, that old partisan Sam Dash put himself in the news again, too. Sam can't make up his mind. Back in the Watergate days, he wanted to crucify Nixon for lying. Last year, Dash collected a couple hundred thousand dollars working as ethics advisor for Independent Counsel Ken Starr. Then Dash stiffed Starr. It seems that "ethics" is not actually one of Dash's long suits. Apparently, he was discussing the case with -- and getting at least some of his marching orders from -- the White House while working for Starr. Typical Washington deceit.
Over on Capitol Hill, the Speaker apparent of the House, Rep. Bob Livingston, made a little news, too. Apparently he thinks our representatives are working too hard. They need a pay raise, Livingston mentioned within earshot of a couple reporters. For the 106th Congress to get a raise, the bill must be passed by the 105th. That could happen, but it's doubtful.
Why is it that Democrat lawyers usually seem to be involved in something shady and unethical? Eighteen foreign Democrat contributors and/or fund-raisers (out of the 90-some people involved) have fled the United States rather than be questioned by the investigators of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. We're starting to wonder if there wasn't some inappropriate inside information leaking from committee attorneys there, too.
For instance, Mark Jimenez, a Florida businessman, is now considered a fugitive, a Justice Department spokesman said. In 1996, Jimenez was Florida's largest donor to the Democratic Party. Accordingly, Jimenez was indicted in September on 17 counts of money laundering. Among other things, he made about $40,000 in illegal contributions to Democrat campaigns in 1994 and 1996.
Well, as it turns out, Abbe Lowell, a Washington attorney, represents the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee in the Clinton impeachment matter. Interestingly enough, Lowell is also the attorney of record for Jimenez in the contributions case.
Is that a hint as to whose side the Democrat committee members are working on, or what? The illegal side, apparently.
There really is no justice in the federal government. Rear Admiral John T. Scudi was charged with two counts of adultery, giving false official statements, obstruction of justice and ethics violations. Do any of these things sound familiar? Scudi was actually relieved of duty. Yet, Congress allows Scudi's Commander-in-Chief to run the whole of the military. Maybe only people who make that stuff a lifestyle get a free pass in Washington.
Among the many reasons to elect a Republican president in 2000: Ken Starr announced that he will stick around for two more years, presumably to prosecute the Clintons after they leave office. Our job, therefore, is to elect someone who will not pardon them.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Raymond Hogler (10/04/98) misinterpreted these words as authorizing comprehensive gun control. He wrote, "Far from being a constraint on regulation, the Second Amendment conditions gun ownership on the state's ability to maintain a militia." I'm afriad he has a disagreement with those who created the Bill of Rights.
As the states debated whether to ratify the Constitution, they drafted amendments to protect fundamental freedoms. Many were later included in the Bill of Rights, and their language clarifies its meaning.
Virginia's Declaration of Rights was a model for the Bill of Rights. It stated: "That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided..."
Thus, a "militia" is not the U.S. armed forces or the National Guard. In fact, it serves as a safeguard against these "standing armies". Tench Coxe, an influential Federalist, wrote: "Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."
Richard Henry Lee, the man responsible for the Tenth Amendment, wrote, "... to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms..." Noah Webster said, "The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed..." In short, "the whole body of the people" is the militia. Since the militia is not created by the state, Hogler's reference to "the state's ability to maintain a militia" is meaningless.
The New York ratifying convention affirmed "That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; That a well-regulated militia, including the body of the people capable of bearing arms; is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free state..." Here, as in the Virginia Declaration, gun rights clearly are independent of the need for a militia. The "right to keep and bear arms" is for self-defense, too.
George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, believed that "A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined..."
"Disciplined" is interchangeable with "well-regulated", meaning properly trained in the use and purpose of firearms. Washington did not intend to give a future tyrant permission to control the ultimate means of opposing tyranny.
On June 8, 1789, James Madison, the "father of the Constitution", proposed a list of amendments to the new Constitution that became our Bill of Rights. They were based on the amendments proposed by the states. He said of them, "They relate first to private rights..." Senator William Grayson later wrote to Patrick Henry to inform him that "Last Monday a string of amendments were presented to the lower House; these altogether respected personal liberty..."
The men who set forth our Constitutional rights would laugh at Mr. Hogler's claim that "the protection conferred by the (second) amendment is one determined by the needs of the government itself." They believed our gun rights are determined by the need of individuals to be free. Legalistic redefinition of terms can obscure that fact, but cannot change it.
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