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Microsoft just took sides

InstapunditMicrosoft on Friday announced that it would be making cash donations to the Democratic convention but not the Republican one... Microsoft just took sides. They need to be reminded that there are costs to that.

I've been angry at Microsoft for literally decades; this is just one more reason they suck.

2016-05-04 12:46:29.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Government is not to be trusted

View From North Central IdahoWhat the government did to Randy Weaver and his family and what they did at Waco are a why I purchased my first gun, why I’m involved in the gun rights movement and why there is Boomershoot.

Waco was also what got me into the gun-rights movement and cemented my generally libertarian attitudes. Joe is reminded of his feelings by David Hardy's series of posts on Waco and the investigation afterwards. Follow the link above and read them (I've only linked one before, but they are all worth reading if you didn't know... and even if you did).

2016-05-04 11:46:29.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Government official makes weak arguments for Constitutional protections

TechDirtOn Tuesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released some redacted versions of three previously secret FISA Court rulings. There are a few interesting things in them, but one notable point, found in a ruling from last November regarding the NSA's 702 PRISM program, is that the FISC took advantage of the provision in the USA Freedom Act to appoint a public advocate to argue on behalf of the public. One of the big complaints in the past, is that the FISA Court is no court at all. Only one side -- the government -- gets to present its case, and then the judges decide.

The USA Freedom Act, however, added the ability of the FISC to appoint a public advocate. Many have been quite reasonably skeptical about this -- in terms of how often it would be used, who would be appointed and how seriously the FISC would take the public advocate. In this case, we see that the public advocate did, in fact, argue that parts of the PRISM program were unconstitutional... and the FISC then rejected that. In this case, the court appointed Amy Jeffress, a former federal prosecutor and DOJ official -- which might make some skeptical of her willingness to actually advocate for the public -- however, this ruling shows that she did, in fact argue that the program was unconstitutional (her actual arguments have not been released).

Is anyone surprised that a "privacy advocate" that comes from the government and whose resume includes the words federal prosecutor would fail to convince the FISA court to take privacy seriously? This privacy advocate has been so effective that the FISA court has approved every surveillance request in 2015. Every single one.

2016-05-04 10:46:29.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

California AG finally slapped down for privacy invasions

American ThinkerJudge Manuel Real's order was blunt, noting that "the amount of careless mistakes by the Attorney General's registry is shocking," and "[t]he pervasive, recurring pattern of uncontained Schedule B disclosures [is] irreconcilable with the Attorney General's assurances and contentions as to the confidentiality of Schedule Bs collected by the Registry."

In other words, California's lawlessness is compounded by its efforts to mislead the court, which raises serious questions about the ethics and professionalism under which Ms. Harris's office operates.

Believing that the concerted efforts by the California AG, various Wisconsin prosecutors, and the IRS in Washington are simple "careless mistakes" is a stretch, to say the least. But I think the courts are starting to catch on.

2016-05-04 09:46:29.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Indiana Primary is today..

You still have a few hours to vote for Ted Cruz.

UPDATE: Looks like Trump won Indiana, and Cruz is stepping out of the race. That leaves Kasich, who as far as I can tell is basically hoping that the party elites will change the rules at the convention to let him win despite Trump's overwhelming delegate lead. Cruz had a chance at the convention if he could keep Trump from 1237; Kasich probably can't even force a convention fight. Unless Kasich knows something we don't about what the rules committee is going to do to stop Trump, he can't win. And if the rules committee does stop Trump in favor of Kasich, that result would be so stunningly elitist and anti-democratic that I don't see how anyone could possibly support it.

Cruz can go back to trying to fight the good fight in the Senate, where he may be able to do some good.

God only knows what's going to happen in the general election. We have three insider candidates, one of them a liar, one of them completely corrupt, and the third completely insane. The hard part will be figuring out which is which!

I don't know what I'm going to do as far as my own vote. I can't be an enthusiastic Trump supporter. I may vote for him on the theory that he's the better lizard, but the problem with that is that I'm really not sure he's the better lizard and I don't want to reward nominating lizards. I may vote for Gary Johnson or whomever the Libertarians nominate. (I've been a card-carrying member of the Libertarian party in the past, and switched to Republican only when the Tea Party primary battles started to look like they might have some influence on the party).

It's all going to depend on what happens between now and the first Tuesday in November. The only thing I am sure of is that I am completely disgusted with the Republican party for taking a large slate of candidates, some of whom were pretty good, and giving us Trump instead.

2016-05-03 15:06:02.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

When law enforcement has to lie in court...

TechDirtThe EFF and ACLU -- along with the assistance of a very fortuitous public records request by Stingray-tracker extraordinaire Mike Katz-Lacabe -- have uncovered more hidden use of IMSI catchers by law enforcement. A criminal prosecution relying on real-time tracking of a suspect's cell phone has finally led to the admission by Wisconsin police that they used a Stingray to locate defendant Damian Patrick.

The information wasn't handed over to the court until the EFF, ACLU, and Katz-Lacabe's FOIAed documents forced the government to admit it used the device. Up until that point, testimony given by officers gave the impression that tracking Patrick down only involved the use of records from his service provider. They also claimed the information pinpointing Patrick's location in a parked vehicle was just a tip from an "anonymous source."

... the result is a mockery of justice.

2016-05-03 12:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Supreme Court approves FBI authority to search any computer anywhere

TechDirtThe DOJ is one step closer to being allowed to remotely access computers anywhere in the world using a normal search warrant issued by a magistrate judge. The proposed amendments to Rule 41 remove jurisdiction limitations, which would allow the FBI to obtain a search warrant in, say, Virginia, and use it to "search" computers across the nation using Network Investigative Techniques (NITs).

"Network Investigative Techniques" basically means hacking into your computer remotely and searching it in secret. Note, though, that "searching" here doesn't just mean they are looking around; it also entails the power modify the contents of your computer, ie, to plant evidence.

Law enforcement should not get to be the bad guy, and should not be allowed to operate in secret, even if that means they catch more criminals.

2016-05-03 11:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Solving the wrong problem

TaxProf quoting Wall Street JournalThe latest effort, led by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), would change a requirement that nonprofits list all donors who give at least $5,000. That information is supposed to be redacted from the publicly available versions of the groups’ tax forms, but the IRS has inadvertently released donor information about the National Organization for Marriage and a group tied to the Republican Governors Association.

To Mr. Roskam and other Republicans, those failures are a reason to keep clamping down on the agency. “The IRS has demonstrated inability to hold confidential information close, and if it’s not necessary for tax administration, then let’s mitigate this problem and not require organizations to submit it,” he said. The House Ways and Means Committee approved his measure Thursday on a 23-15 party-line vote. ...

I approve of the idea... but it doesn't really address the real problem. People should have the ability to donate money to causes they support anonymously, but mostly, they shouldn't have to feel the pressure to give anonymously. That is, unless a cause is truly evil, giving money to support that cause shouldn't result in death threats and ostracism from business relationships and polite society. That making a donation to a relatively non-controversial cause like supporting traditional marriage can result in threats, intimidation, and even losing an important job is contrary to the principles of free speech and open debate.

While addressing the issue by withholding that information from the IRS is a good start, the real problem is with the segments of society that abuse that information and the culture that supports their misbehavior. Until we fix that, we're going to have a continuing problem.

2016-05-03 10:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

20K criminal illegal aliens released into the US

Washington ExaminerThe U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in 2015 decided not to deport but release 19,723 criminal illegal immigrants, including 208 convicted of murder, over 900 convicted of sex crimes and 12,307 of drunk driving, according to new government numbers.

Overall, those released into virtually every state and territory of America had a total of 64,197 convictions among them, for an average of 3.25 convictions each, according to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies. ICE also said that the group were convicted of 8,234 violent crimes.

You would think that these would be the people you would most want to keep locked up and, when their sentences are served, release as far away from the country they aren't supposed to be living in as possible.

2016-05-03 09:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Campus Carry rules at Texas A&M finalized

TrailBlazerCome August, the licensed concealed carrying of handguns will be allowed in all classes, nearly all dorms and likely most all faculty offices at Texas A&M and other schools. Guns will remain barred at sporting events, patient care facilities and some other areas.

The rules look reasonably decent, allowing most students to conduct their normal activities armed if they feel the need. I doubt such students will cause any problems. (Their professors might object, of course). The exception for sporting events seems odd. What on earth is the problem scenario there?

2016-04-30 12:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama now trying to push smart gun technology

PoliticoPresident Barack Obama is opening a new front in the gun control debate, readying a big push for so-called smart gun technology — an initiative that the gun lobby and law enforcement rank and file is already mobilizing against.

Honestly, I'm not too worried about this, because functional smart gun technology doesn't exist. There are "smart guns" that don't work in a variety of different ways, but there are none that could possibly pass a fair evaluation. I don't think lame-duck Obama could force through a major firearms purchase for any law enforcement or military buyer without raising a tremendous stink when the firearms being evaluated failed to fire repeatedly. The most he can realistically do is throw some otherwise unallocated money at the problem, and hope Hillary wins with enough Congressional coattails to approve whatever comes out of the process (for the military) or that local politicians override common sense advice from their officers to stay away from guns that are designed not to fire.

That said, if you're a police officer or serving in the military, you should know that Obama thinks you are of more use to him as a dead guinea pig in his social experiments than as a living, breathing person doing your job.

Hat tip to SaysUncle

2016-04-30 11:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Trump has all the wrong friends

I've said before that Ted Cruz has all the right enemies, including John Boehner, ex-Speaker of the House.

Legal Insurrection“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

Those are very strong terms for a Senator from your own political party running for President, but they don't surprise me: Boehner is an exemplar of everything that is wrong with the Republican establishment party. And as it turns out, Boehner is not just an enemy of Ted Cruz, he's a friend of Donald Trump.

Legal InsurrectionBoehner described other Republican candidates as friends. In particular, the former speaker said he has played golf with Donald Trump for years and that they were “texting buddies.”

So if you want to elect an establishment candidate who golfs with the ex-Speaker of the House who was ousted by his own party for uncontrollable spending, conspiring to pass amnesty legislation, and refusing to push pretty much any priorities that matter to actual voters, then you should vote for Trump. If you want to vote for the candidate who scares that man to death, vote Ted Cruz.

2016-04-30 10:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Importing more terrorists

Washington Examiner"Refugees and government officials are expecting this crisis to last 10 or 15 years. It's time that we no longer work as business as usual ... UNHCR next month is convening a meeting to look at what are being called 'alternative safe pathways' for Syrian refugees. Maybe it's hard for the U.S. to go from 2,000 to 200,000 refugees resettled in a year, but maybe there are ways we can ask our universities to offer scholarships to Syrian students. Maybe we can tweak some of our immigration policies to enable Syrian-Americans who have lived here to bring not only their kids and spouses but their uncles and their grandmothers. There may be ways that we could encourage Syrians to come to the U.S. without going through this laborious, time-consuming process of refugee resettlement."

Free tuition for hundreds of thousands of people we can't possibly vet housed on our military bases while the people who actually work for a living pay for it all with their taxes. It's truly infuriating.

And remember, these refugees will be here "legally". They will be allowed to work (assuming collecting welfare isn't enough to satisfy them), and (eventually) become citizens and vote.

2016-04-30 09:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS to start notifying victims of social security fraud

The HillThe Internal Revenue Service will start notifying victims of employment-related identity theft in a shift of policy following criticism from Congress.

"We’re still working out the details of the policy change to advise people of possible misuse of their Social Security number, and we will have more details to share in the near future," the IRS said in a statement.

Note that what they don't say is even more important than what they do say.

The problem is that people in the country illegally use illegally-obtained social security numbers to (fraudulently) prove their work authorization, and then file their taxes using Taxpayer Identification Numbers.

The IRS is making this announcement most likely because existing federal law requires disclosure of identity theft incidents; other organizations and agencies routinely disclose such incidents and usually offer identity protection services for a period of time after the incident. This is what the IRS is saying they will start doing. It's an improvement.

What they are not doing, and should be, is notifying the employers that the social security number used to obtain the job was fraudulent.

2016-04-29 12:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Cruz names Fiorina as VP pick

I was never a big fan of Cruz's just-announced VP pick, but as a VP at least some of my concerns are ameliorated. I see the motivations here as being twofold: to change the subject from Tuesday's election results, and to attract California voters who Cruz desperately needs. (California being where Fiorina ran for Senate and won the Republican primary). Neither motive really impresses me much. Fiorina lost the general election for Senate and doesn't bring much else to the ticket aside from generally compatible policies.

That said, I don't have any real objections. Rand Paul is probably more useful in the Senate. Rubio or Kasich would be too establishment. Carson already endorsed Trump. Scott Walker might have been a good choice, but can't bring California delegates in the primary when Cruz needs them. Of such compromises are presidents sometimes made and legacies sometimes lost.

2016-04-29 11:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

House passes email privacy act

TechDirtThe push to reform ECPA -- the Electronic Communications Privacy Act -- have been going on basically as long as this site has been in existence (i.e. nearly 20 years). There are lots of problems with ECPA, but the big one that everyone points to is that it considers any communication that's on a server more than 180 days to be "abandoned" and accessible without a warrant. That perhaps made some amount of sense back in 1986 when the law was written, because everything was client-server and you downloaded your email off the server. But in an age of cloud computing and webmail it makes no sense at all. Still, the IRS and the SEC really, really liked the ability to use ECPA to snoop on people's emails.

In the past few years, Congress has kept supporting reform, but it always dies when some part of the administration complains and tries to block it. And yet, each time it enters Congress, it gets more and more sponsors. And, finally, the full House has voted to pass the Email Privacy Act.

Apparently, the vote was unanimous (with 14 abstentions).

This likely means that some sort of deal has already been struck in the Senate. Before you celebrate, though, that "deal" could very well be that the Senate will gut the bill, or just drop it on the floor, or even that Obama will pocket-veto it on his way out the door. When both parties in Congress are unanimous, it means that we, the people, are the mark.

2016-04-29 10:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Bill Nye the Fascist Guy advocates for throwing climate deniers in jail

Throwing your political opponents in jail has long been a favorite tactic of the left. Ask yourself if you really want to be associated with people who believe in jailing their political opponents.

And that position is actually a step down from blowing them up.

2016-04-29 09:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

What about Cruz on the Supreme Court?

PJMediaCruz could be of vastly more service to his country on the high court, where his influence could be felt for decades, instead of running for White House, where his limitations as a candidate are hindering him from successfully challenging the frontrunner. If Trump offers him a Supreme Court nomination in lieu of Cruz's dropping out, should he take it? Would he?

I think Cruz would do an excellent job in Scalia's seat, but I'm skeptical about whether Trump would keep a promise to nominate him and even more skeptical that the Senate would be willing to confirm him, given the (frankly undeserved) antipathy even members of Cruz's own party have demonstrated.

I don't think Cruz should drop out in return for this promise, but if Trump made the promise absent any quid pro quo it would go a long ways towards making me feel better about Trump as a candidate.

2016-04-28 12:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Remind me which party has the majority in the Senate again?

Washington TimesHot air still rules on Capitol Hill, where senators voted Tuesday to restore millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for windmills, in a signal that Congress is still eager to pick winners in the emerging renewable-energy sector.

A sizable number of Republicans joined most Democrats in backing the subsidy for research on wind energy which, while small in terms of dollars, is considered a major symbolic test of Congress’s commitment to having alternative energy sources be part of the mix, even if they aren’t economically viable on their own yet.

Because at times like this, I really can't remember.

Washington Times“This program is indispensable to the success of wind energy in the United States,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, the Oregon Democrat who led the push to restore $15.4 million in funding for 2017, boosting the total wind energy subsidy in the energy spending bill to $95.4 million. “This is an evolving industry with great potential to assist us with clean energy, and moreover a program that can affect the economy of rural America.”

The fact is, if you have to subsidize something, it isn't a success. Windmills are not reliable producers of energy -- both because the wind doesn't always blow and because the windmills break down. That means you need much more backup capacity to ensure a steady supply of energy. And it means the windmills are not cost effective. Not even close.

2016-04-28 11:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Waco update: Carlos Ghigliotti's report

I believe I've seen the details of this report in some of the later documentaries about the Waco massacre, but David Hardy brings a personal anecdote about the reaction of the Congressional staffers to his report.

If I was a conspiracy minded man, I'd wonder about that heart attack.

2016-04-28 10:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Colorado Democrats block repeal of standard capacity magazine ban

No LawyersThe House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted on the bill last night. The first vote was on a motion to send the bill to the House floor for consideration by the full House. This was defeated on a party line 4-5 vote. Then the committee voted 5-4 to postpone consideration of the bill indefinitely. This means the bill is dead for all practical purposes.

Coloradans can thank Committee Chair and House Majority Whip Su Ryden (D-Arapahoe), Rep. Mike Foote (D-Boulder), Rep. Dianne Primavera (D-Boulder/Broomfield), Rep. Max Tyler (D-Jefferson), and Rep. Susan Lontine (D-Denver) for this bill's defeat. These five were good little minions for Mike Bloomberg and did as they were told. I'm sure the criminal element, especially home invasion specialists, were pleased with this result. As to your average, law-abiding, tax-paying Colorado gun owner, that is another story.

It's always easier to block something from passing than it is to repeal it once passed. That's one reason among many that we tell our legislators not to "compromise", with the only major exception that turned out well for us being the assault weapons ban sunset date.

2016-04-28 09:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

California wants your guns

Shall Not Be Questioned quoting the Firearms Policy CoalitionAuthored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the bill massively expands a controversial law that has only been in place for 4 months. At present, current law permits family members and peace officers to petition a court, in secret, in order to restrain an individual from possessing firearms. AB 2607 compounds this measure by adding, to the list of qualified petitioners, employers, coworkers, mental health workers, and employees of a secondary or postsecondary school.

Secret courts denying fundamental constitutional rights without any semblance of due process. This isn't just a 2nd Amendment issue; this legislation impacts the 4th and 5th amendments directly and chills the 1st.

2016-04-27 12:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

CONFIRMED: ISIS has terror cells in major European nations

Washington Free BeaconU.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned Tuesday that the Islamic State terrorist group has jihadist cells in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy.

CNN reported that Clapper confirmed to reporters during a media breakfast that ISIS has underground cells similar to those used by militants who carried out the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels.

Let unstated by Clapper is that the FBI has active investigations into ISIS cells in all 50 states in the US and at least one cell positioned in Mexico close to the US border to smuggle in operatives.

2016-04-27 11:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Clinton server admin cooperates with DOJ but declines to testify to Congress

Washington Free BeaconPagliano declined to testify before the committees even after he was granted immunity by the Justice Department and has been cooperating with the FBI in its investigation into Clinton’s email setup.

This is becoming a trend. Lerner did it, and now Clinton's IT guy. The legality is questionable -- normally if you accept an immunity deal you can be compelled to testify -- but a bigger question is why these individuals would consider the FBI a friendlier audience than Congress.

2016-04-27 10:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Texas Governor explains the immigration lawsuit

Free BeaconAbbott, formerly the state’s longest-serving attorney general, told reporters Thursday morning that the lawsuit brought against the president by Texas and 25 other states is “framed under” the issue of immigration but in reality challenges Obama’s use of executive power to “unilaterally” rewrite laws.

“The lawsuit is about the fact that the president completely abandoned the Constitution to assume power he does not have and wrote law that he himself, as a constitutional lawyer, said he did not have the power to do,” Abbott said during a roundtable discussion at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

“The lawsuit is about the fact that, if the president wins this lawsuit, the Constitution as we know it has been completely rewritten and Congress no longer has any authority.”

The rule of law in this country is hanging on a likely 4-4 vote in the Supreme Court and the next justice.

2016-04-27 09:48:49.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]
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