I've been ambivalent about Fix-NICS. Background checks are a flawed premise, particularly as implemented. But they are what we've got and having something in place is a lot more effective at holding off worse gun control measures than not having anything at all.
Doing it this way -- attaching it to must-pass legislation without significant public debate on the merits -- is a classic smoke-filled back room political move. I don't like that much even when it's supposedly our guys doing it, and I don't like giving the gun control crowd anything for free.
I'm not sure whether I should be opposing this or not, but I do think it needs to be known so the gun community can decide whether to be angry about it.
BREAKING: McCabe was running a criminal investigation on Sessions?
In other words, McCabe was running a criminal investigation on his own boss, the Attorney General, without his boss's knowledge (and presumably without the knowledge of anyone higher up the chain). Supposedly, McCabe informed Congress of the investigation, and may have informed Rosenstein (who took over matters related to the Russian collusion investigation after Sessions recused himself).
McCabe and the left will claim that McCabe was obviously fired to stymie the investigation into both Trump and Sessions. It's hard to give credence to the latter if Sessions didn't know he was under criminal investigation, and the Russian collusion investigation with respect to the Trump campaign has been and continues to be extensively discussed.
It's my opinion that, to date, we have seen precisely zero evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign (including Sessions) to swing the election, and rather a lot of collusion between the Russians and the Clinton campaign to swing the election.
That makes McCabe's investigation of Sessions effectively a coup attempt within the DOJ, to match the larger coup attempt on Trump's White House.
The people leaking this probably expect it will taint Sessions with the obstruction of justice brush. In my opinion, it taints McCabe with the coup brush much, much more.
I might be willing to believe they were receiving a lot of angry messages from people claiming to be NRA members, but not threatening messages, and not from authorized NRA spokesmen, and the weasel word basically suggests these are not actually threats. As does, you know, the bit about not showing the messages.
But the truth is, it's not the government program that's the real problem. It doesn't help, of course. The real problem is the mindset that the universe owes you something just for existing, and if you just lie back and relax, the government will keep you fed and clothed and happy. Add in the occasional hurricane or riot where you can score a nice big flatscreen TV and video game console, plus government subsidies for your Obamaphone and your internet and your cable TV... well, why work?
FBI stonewalling Judicial Watch over McCabe text messages
It would be one thing to deny access to the text messages on the grounds that they were evidence in a criminal investigation into McCabe's actions during the 2016 election. I imagine Judicial Watch can tell the difference between that and being stonewalled.
It appears he killed himself with one of his own devices after police located him through pictures from the FedEx store he used to mail his packages. The pictures released by police show a white individual, probably male, with blonde hair (unusually long for a male) and some sort of t-shirt and baseball cap. No word yet on identity or motive.
This is only marginally better than the reflexive Obama denial of any connection to terrorism ever. That said, I can understand the reluctance to make the connection. Unless the police have more than they are saying (likely, but I doubt they have a LOT more) this is going to hard to pin down. Methods are suggestive of terrorism (apparent random victims, bombs, similar to IEDs placed on roadside), but motives are probably unknown -- unless it was racial based on neighborhood, which is a stretch. If you don't know who is doing it or even have any suspects, you can't check their communication and internet history. Unlike, say, the Fort Hood terrorist, we don't have a long history of warning signs or contacts. So far, no messages, no clues that have been reported. We don't even have a name to guess at national origin or religion.
Terrorism is loosely defined as the use of violence against civilians in pursuit of political aims. Thus, the "nexus to terrorism" language is a misnomer. It doesn't have to be connected to Islam or ISIS or Al Qaeda to be terrorism. It just has to be "in pursuit of political aims". (Islam, being a religion that essentially mandates theocracy, counts as a political aim).
I'm pretty comfortable calling this terrorism even if there's no discernable political motive, simply because random bombings cause panic and fear, and that's an inherently political motive. Unless some of the targets turn out to be personal or financial somehow, I suppose.
But the truth is we honestly don't know even that much yet.
I don't care who the President may or may not have slept with while he was not President. That's between him and his wife and ex-wives and other mistresses. So long as they are consenting, above legal age, don't work for him, and he doesn't commit perjury to get out of a sexual harassment lawsuit concerning them. I don't even care if they were Russian hookers urinating on a hotel bed in Moscow, frankly. I knew I wasn't getting a moral compass.
But the actual facts of the matter appear to be a bit disturbing on another level that isn't being talked about. We have a porn star who, apparently, attempted to blackmail the President (while he was a candidate), maybe got paid by someone (who may or may not be Trump), and now, after the election, wants to renege on the deal and claim her 15 minutes of fame and possibly huge cash rewards?
IRS documents 1.3 million identity theft cases, refers none to prosecutors
On the one hand, tax filings are generally not supposed to be a starting point for a non-tax criminal investigation. Police aren't supposed to just troll through tax records to find people to charge with something. But that's when honest citizens are filing honest taxes in their own names and making, occasionally, honest mistakes. It seems like illegal aliens committing identify theft are a bit different.
PJMedia has the story about a student who was threatened and then attacked physically for defending the NRA verbally, then suspended from school for defending himself from the attack. The student had plans to go into the military and might need to apply for a security clearance -- and the incident will remain on his record and possibly cause problems for him. And this while the people who actually need to be locked up to prevent mass murder slip through the cracks in the system.
This event was obviously intended as a propaganda whitewash of Islam, not a real discussion. The speaker's rather flustered reaction to being challenged is understandable, especially if she herself was ignorant and unprepared, as seems to be the case. However, that does not excuse the use of police to intimidate people asking honest questions and expecting honest discussion. This is a textbook chilling effect, even if no action was actually taken by the campus police.
Warrants requesting cell location data for anyone close to a crime
The only reason they can get away with this is because the warrant is applied against Google, for "records", rather than trying to get probable cause against the people whose location they really want. We're probably going to need some Supreme Court cases to fix this.
Note that this inherently confines the suspect list to people who have cell phones and brought those cell phones to the scene of the crime. What does a smart criminal do with his cell phone? He leaves it at home when planning on committing a crime, so he can't be convicted based on the location information, and can use it as an alibi ("I was at home taking a nap! Check my phone!").
Actually, Republicans are facing the prospect of a historic repudiation this November in part because many die-hard Republican officeholders don't reliably vote Republican and many more don't support Trump and the agenda that carried Trump to victory. The difference here is that Obama's party united behind him and passed sweeping, polarizing changes -- most notably, Obamacase -- while Trump's party has failed to unite behind him and failed to pass significant policy changes into law, with the exception of a tax cut. Trump and Obama may be partisan mirrors of each other, but their respective Congresses are not, and it's Congress that is up for election in 2018.
It remains to be seen which is the better strategy.
Obama campaign director admits Facebook helped them
Well, if it wasn't for the way courts have treated political campaigns and spam laws, that would count as illegal spam. Surely there are some legal approaches that can be effectively used to prevent companies like Facebook sharing the personal information of their customers directly with political campaigns without permission.
This one was in a package at a FedEx facility in San Antonio, believed to be bound for Austin. It may represent a departure -- the bomber leaving the Austin area, attempting to set off one last bomb to confuse when he left -- or possibly a mistake about how the earlier bombs were delivered. Or just changing methods to confuse the issue.
Abusing the intelligence agencies to try to influence an election is a constitutional crisis. Abusing the special counsel statute to investigate a president on the basis of zero real evidence is a constitutional crisis. Congress attempting to usurp the Constitutional role of the President would be a constitutional crisis. The only thing here that wouldn't be a constitutional crisis would be President Trump firing a man who, legally, works for him.
That doesn't mean it would be wise to fire Mueller, but it's increasingly looking like Mueller will keep escalating until he is fired -- and he will then use the firing to claim obstruction of justice.