Volume 7, Issue 29: July 18, 2005
- Police Protection Is Not a Right, Supreme Court Rules
- Roving Ethical Problems at the White House
- California Budget Grows Despite State Fiscal Woes
1) Police Protection Is Not a Right, Supreme Court Rules
The U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on eminent domain and medical marijuana are not its only recent rulings worthy of public concern. Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy, editor of LIBERTY FOR WOMEN, weighs in on a recent case pertaining to domestic violence and police-department accountability.
"On June 27th, in Castle Rock v. Gonzales, the Supreme Court found that Jessica Gonzales did not have a constitutional right to police protection from a private individual even in the presence of a restraining order," writes McElroy in a new op-ed. "By a vote of 7-to-2, Gonzales has no right to sue her local police department for failing to protect her from her estranged and, ultimately, lethal husband."
If the police are not legally required to protect life and property, then responsible adults must be allowed to defend themselves and their families -- with lethal force if necessary, McElroy argues. Unfortunately, women's groups and groups opposed to domestic violence (DV) often express hostility toward gun ownership.
"A responsible individual holding a gun in self-defense does not fit their vision of society," McElroy writes. "In the final analysis, such advocates do not trust the women they claim to be defending. They do not believe that Jessica Gonzales' three children would have been safer with a mother who was armed and educated in gun use."
In the wake of the Gonzales decision, McElroy calls on opponents of domestic violence to encourage responsible adults, especially women, to acquire the tools and skills necessary to protect themselves. "The true meaning of being anti-DV is to help victims out of their victimhood and into a position of power."
See "Domestic Violence Victims Need Self-Defense," by Wendy McElroy (7/6/05)
"La Violencia Doméstica Precisa de la Defensa Propia"
To purchase LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in Twenty-first Century America, edited by Wendy McElroy, see
To purchase TO SERVE AND PROTECTION: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice, by Bruce Benson, see
2) Roving Ethical Problems at the White House
Did President Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff and chief political adviser Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby violate federal law by exposing covert CIA officer Valerie Plame to TIME Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper?
Cooper said on CNN's "Reliable Sources" that although Rove and Libby said Plame worked for the CIA, neither official had revealed her name or covert status to him. (Plame, of course, is the maiden name of the wife of former diplomat Joseph Wilson, whom the CIA dispatched to Niger to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from that country. Many have charged that White House officials exposed Plame as revenge for her husband's conclusion that the Niger uranium story had no factual basis.)
But even if Rove and company failed to violate the letter of the law -- the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 -- their discussion about Plame with the press was an ethical lapse that should get them fired, according to Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute.
"The law is written narrowly and requires a high threshold of criminality: a government official who has disclosed an operative's identity must have known that the agent had active covert status (which Plame did)," writes Eland in a new op-ed. "But those legal technicalities should not keep Rove out of hot water."
Although exposing her CIA status most likely did not jeopardize Plame's life, it may have jeopardized the lives of her informants (not to mention their value as intelligence assets) in autocratic nations attempting to obtain weapons of mass destruction. Thus, Rove's and others' disclosures were potentially injurious to U.S. national security.
"If a reporter asked Rove about Plame working for the CIA, the proper response was 'no comment,' not 'I heard that, too,'" Eland writes.
"This administration implicitly and unfairly accused opponents of the Iraq War of being 'unpatriotic,' but now is the time for the president to keep his promise and fire his top political aide for engaging in real unpatriotic activities," Eland concludes.
See "A Roving Ethical Problem," by Ivan Eland (7/18/05)
"Un Errante Problema Etico"
To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see
To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see
"The Way Out of Iraq: Decentralizing the Iraqi Government," by Ivan Eland
Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)
3) California Budget Grows Despite State Fiscal Woes
When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed California's $117 billion budget last week, he said he thought that the state's fiscal woes could be solved by using the same bipartisanship that had enabled the new budget to be the first in five years to be signed so early in the fiscal year. What the governor didn't say, however, is that the new budget increases state spending by 10 percent, making it fiscally unsustainable and bad for California's overall economic health, according to Research Fellow Benjamin Powell.
"This is a dramatic increase, but many state lawmakers don't sound worried," writes Powell in a new op-ed. "But if the legislature continues to pass budgets with 10 percent spending increases, the size of the California government will double approximately every seven years!"
Powell notes that although Republicans have credited Schwarzenegger for his spending "restraint," his line-item veto of $190 million from the budget proposed by the legislature is insignificant in the larger scheme of things: "In a $117 billion budget, those vetoes amount to 0.1 percent," writes Powell. "That's one-tenth of one percent. He cut essentially nothing."
Gov. Schwarzenegger's fights with public employee unions have made headlines and his public approval numbers have dropped in recent months. But this doesn't mean that the governor could have cut spending sufficiently if his own party had greater control in the state legislature, Powell argues, citing President George W. Bush's 33 percent spending increase during his first term, when the Republic Party had greater representation in Congress.
For the Golden State to become fiscally healthy, Californians should look at the example of Ireland, Powell argues. After a severe fiscal crisis troubled that country in the 1980s, lawmakers slashed spending dramatically, deregulated their economy, and cut taxes, leading Ireland to become one of the world's fastest growing economies of the 1990s.
California, Powell argues, needs tax and regulatory reform to raise its second-to-last rating of states in the Economic Freedom Index. "But to move in the right direction, first and foremost we need real, across-the-board spending cuts, not the superficial rhetoric Schwarzenegger has given us to accompany his bloated budget," Powell concludes.
See "California Can't Afford the State's New Budget," by Benjamin Powell (7/18/05)
"California No Puede Afrontar el Nuevo Presupuesto Estadual"
Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation (Benjamin Powell, director)