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Did the NSA give the IRS tea party intel?

“For example,” Binney said in response to a question on how the NSA can use data and metadata to identify potential threats, “if you started to communicate with people involved in the tea party … and [the NSA] saw you were talking to somebody who was involved in setting up 501(c)3s, then they could alert the IRS to target you if you came in with a request.”

“Do you think the NSA actually did that?” Klein asked his guest. “Do you think the IRS partnered with the NSA potentially, to target the tea party?”

“I already know they have access to it,” Binney responded. “One of the answers that came from some of the testimony in Congress by people who are being asked those questions kind of implied that that’s exactly what they were doing.”

I don't know whether I believe this or not.

2014-07-22 16:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Freedom of the Photograph

We have freedom of the press, but our founders neglected to mention the freedom to photograph -- and that's making it easy for "security" to shut down photographers, even when they have obtained permission in advance that they don't actually need to take pictures of public buildings.

2014-07-22 15:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

TSA doubles fee on plane travel

Sure, slightly more than doubling a fee of $2.50 to $5.60 isn't that big of a hit, especially on plane tickets costing a hundred bucks minimum and significantly more than that on average. But in the aggregate, it will bring in over a billion dollars -- and not all of the money will be going to the TSA. Apparently it will be shuffled to other areas in need of funding.

It's just a shell game to bring in more revenue while claiming to hold the line on no new taxes. And it's disgusting.

2014-07-22 14:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Missouri gun rights amendment will be on the ballot

The ballot is August 5th and will be a positive step forward for gun rights in Missouri.

2014-07-22 13:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Did you think the Obama administration was surprised by the flood of illegals?

The Obama administration, in July 2013, quietly introduced a new regulation that critics say will dramatically increase Washington’s power over local zoning laws in every city and town that accepts federal block grants through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. And it’s the federal grants that could be used as a hook in the nose of these cities, forcing them to house illegal immigrants against their will.

You would be wrong. They planned for it a year in advance. They are funneling the money being spent on feeding, housing, and caring for the health problems of the illegal aliens to their cronies.

2014-07-22 12:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

DC Court of Appeals strikes down federal Obamacare subsidies

This is not a Supreme Court ruling, but it is a victory. The next step is the DC Appeals Court en banc, likely followed by the Supreme Court.

In practical terms, this decision means that anyone who signed up for Obamacare in a state that has an exchange run by the federal government -- roughly half of the US -- will not receive the federal subsidies they were promised. The price of their insurance plan will likely increase dramatically. I expect a huge number of people to be unable to pay the new, unsubsidized price, and drop their plan as a result, which will make the Obamacare plans even more economically unsustainable.

There is enough disruption there that an appeal is almost certain. I would not be surprised if there is a stay pending appeal, so we should not expect massive disruption of the health care industry... yet.

What this decision does do is set the stage for a Supreme Court ruling along similar lines. If the Supreme Court eventually so rules, it's going to throw a mighty big wrench into Obamacare's economics. It might encourage states to set up exchanges (so their citizens can get the subsidies); it might bring the whole thing crashing down (economically, if not legally). The only thing I feel comfortable predicting as a result is chaos.

And the chaos has already begun: The White House has announced that it will ignore the court's ruling.

Note well: they did not say they will appeal and seek a stay of the ruling while the appeal proceeds. They said they will ignore the ruling outright.

2014-07-22 12:19:32.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

My God, The New York Times is filled with fawning sycophants

They actually wrote and published an article about the good impressions being made by the security detail of Atty Gen Holder and Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Because those two can't manage to make a good impression on their own, I suppose, and they aren't paid enough to live in walled compounds like they deserve.

And commenting on the article elsewhere:

So…just how dumb do you have to be to try to steal a car right next to a bunch of Secret Service agents and their idling war-mobiles?

I think the average Democrat fits the bill.

2014-07-22 11:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Issa considers another contempt vote

This one is for David Simas, who heads the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach:

“You can never predict what’s appropriate until you reviewed it but I can give you the historical element. In the case of Harriet Miers, the Judiciary Committee held her in contempt and the House held her in contempt. That would be my answer,” he said. “We’ve been faced…with the assertion that the president employees are above the law and above congressional review. We’re in the process of working with House Counsel and others to see what our response will be.”

It's amazing how the media can do the research to discover past positions contradicting the present position of Republican politicians, but allows the statements of Democrat politicians to go without challenge... even when it's the same people on the same issue.

How this actually works: Democrats went after Miers and created a precedent that Issa is now using against them. Once the precedent is there, both sides can use it.

2014-07-22 10:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

BOMBSHELL: IRS may still have backup tapes with Lerner emails

When the House Oversight Committee finally went below Koskinen to people actually doing work, they got different answers. Including some that may blow the case wide open:

Investigator: You stated at the time that document was produced to Congress, the document, the white paper in Exhibit 3, that it was accurate to the best of your knowledge. Is it still accurate?

Kane: There is an issue as to whether or not there is a -- that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the 6-month retention schedule.

Investigator:- So some of those backup tapes may still exist?

Kane: I don’t know whether they are or they aren’t, but it’s an issue that’s being looked at.

So what Koskinen told us was confirmed destruction of the backup tapes is now an open issue again. In the rest of the witness' testimony, he tiptoes within an inch of contradicting what his boss told Congress. This is the same individual who reported that more IRS officials related to the case had been having computer trouble, characterizing the total as "less than 20" (which is still substantially more than the previously acknowledged 7).

In an incredibly embarrassing timing quick, the IRS recently put out a request for bid on a contractor... to securely destroy thousands of hard drives and backup tapes.

2014-07-22 09:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An IRS love song

2014-07-21 18:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

De-Facto ban on playing with toy guns

The Burlington Iowa City Council is moving to pass an ordinance that would require you to get their WRITTEN permission before your kids can play with toy guns, replica guns, BB guns, etc!

This isn't about criminals with guns committing crimes, it's about making guns taboo for children and parents.

2014-07-21 17:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS reports new computer crashes

According to an IRS official, a total of "less than 20 people" have now lost emails in a variety of computer problems, including:

The new round of computer crash victims includes David Fish, who routinely corresponded with Lois Lerner, as well as Lerner subordinate Andy Megosh, Lerner’s technical adviser Justin Lowe, and Cincinnati-based agent Kimberly Kitchens.

This is a good time to refer back to my previous list of people who lost emails.

In another interestingly-timed action, three IRS IT asset managers were reassigned roughly contemporaneously with the Inspector General's report.

At what point do we stop taking this excuse at face value and start calling it obstruction of justice?

2014-07-21 16:50:00.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Operation Choke Point is starting to look like political targeting too

“Operation Choke Point is one of the most dangerous programs I have experienced in my 45 years of service as a bank regulator, bank attorney and consultant, and bank board member. Operating without legal authority and guided by a political agenda, unelected officials at the DOJ are discouraging banks from providing basic banking services…to lawful businesses simply because they don’t like them,” said William M. Isaac, former chairman of the FDIC.

We knew that, of course, but now Congress is looking into it. And, apparently, introducing legislation to stop it:

Missouri Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer brought forward the End Operation Choke Point Act Tuesday to curb the DOJ’s activities in this area. The act would provide financial institutions with safe harbor to serve customers engaged in legal activities, so as to cut out politically motivated attacks on businesses deemed undesirable by the Justice Department.

Asking your representative to get behind that legislation might be a good way to provide political cover for firearms companies under pressure from this administration.

2014-07-21 16:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS admits to deliberately destroying Lerner's hard drive

In its most extensive comments yet on Lerner’s hard drive, the agency said in court filings Friday that the hard drive was destroyed in 2011 to protect confidential taxpayer information.

Before that, the IRS said, the hard drive underwent a process designed to permanently erase stored data. That process occurred after a series of IRS technical officers examined Lerner’s hard drive, and found that it couldn’t be restored after a crash.

As we evaluate this admission by the Internal Revenue Service, It's important to keep some perspective. As an official in an agency dealing with a great deal of confidential taxpayer information, Lerner and her IT staff have obligations to both maintain privacy and retain data. These obligations will occasional come into conflict.

It is standard practice in the IT industry to wipe data off of hard drives before discarding them, when it is possible to do so. This is usually done with a software-based process that writes different data to each sector on the drive repeatedly. It is not always possible to do so, particularly with a drive that is malfunctioning; in those cases magnets can be used to do the job with brute force.

The IT staff in this situation were most likely following standard procedures for disposing of hard drives that had malfunctioned. They would probably have no reason to suspect anything, and if it were not for Lerner's apparent guilty conscience and an arguable litigation hold the IT staff would have no reason to know about, they would be doing nothing wrong or suspicious in destroying the data on the drive.

There are, however, a few points of interest.

(Read More...)

2014-07-21 15:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Taking the fight to the enemy

You needn’t approve of the parents’ actions in any of these cases to understand that dumping them into the criminal justice system is a terribly counterproductive way of addressing their mistakes. (And I’m not at all convinced that three of the four stories were even mistakes.) The mere fact that state officials were essentially micromanaging these parents’ decisions is creepy enough. That the consequences for the “wrong” decision are criminal is downright scary.

That's Radley Balko, libertarian and anti-militarization-of-police activist, writing in the Washington Post.

Maybe seeing this sort of thing inside the liberal bubble occasionally will get the point across.

2014-07-21 14:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Tea Party lawsuit moves forward

A case involving ten Tea Party groups has mostly survived a motion to dismiss and will go to trial. Surviving claims include retaliation and harassment in violation of the First Amendment; the claim of violations of individual privacy was ruled to be something that must be brought by the individuals themselves. Nothing bars those individuals from filing a new lawsuit based on those claims.

2014-07-21 13:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

It takes a superhero

2014-07-21 12:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

CCRKBA files lawsuit challenging restrictions on interstate handgun sales

Given that rifles can be purchased across state lines under some circumstances, why not handguns, given that state laws are followed and background checks are conducted? The Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is asking the courts to rule on the issue.

I'm not going to try to read the tea leaves on this one.

2014-07-21 11:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

It's not about race

You are the first attorney general in the history of the United States to be held in contempt of Congress. This had nothing to do with your skin color, and everything to do with your failure to explain how the United States government provided guns to Mexican drug cartels that were eventually used to kill Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010. This story may have disappeared from the headlines, but many of your fellow citizens are still upset our federal government would ever give guns to foreign criminals. Compounding this tragic error, neither you nor anyone else in the administration has explained what happened the night Terry lost his life. All we really know is that he was at the wrong end of a gun you approved handing over to drug dealers.

Read the whole thing.

2014-07-21 10:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Texas has a reputation for hands-off government, but is it deserved?

The Texas Department of Public Safety has been taking partial fingerprints from drivers for some time, but only recently began taking a full set of fingerprints from new applicants and in-person renewals. They have also been using facial recognition technology on driver's license photographs since 2010. The fingerprints collected are being run through the state criminal database, which to my mind makes their collection an illegal search.

The program was launched this year without any public announcement.

Whistleblower Barrett says, “I’m sure it probably would stop a little fraud or some crime, but that doesn’t mean it is morally right or in line with the concept of citizens’ privacy or cost effective. You could search every house in a city when a crime is committed and justify it with that statement and yes, the police would probably find some crime or wrongdoing. But again, that doesn’t mean it’s morally right.”

He's right. You can solve crimes by searching everyone all the time. But we have a term for that kind of government: we call it a police state, and it's generally understood to be a bad thing.

The head of a new organization called North Texas Civil Rights Project, Donald W. Jackson, a TCU political science professor, says that if someone were to challenge the new fingerprinting system in court, his organization would offer support.

So, does anyone want to volunteer?

2014-07-21 09:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The next link in the chain

Here's what we know so far. Lois Lerner was frantically trying to suppress conservative tax-exempt organizations at the IRS. We know that Lerner assembled a list of 1.1 million conservative tax-exempt organizations and provided that list to the FBI's Richard Pilger, including some confidential taxpayer information. Until recently we had been left with the assumption that Lerner had initiated that conversation. However, recently released emails indicated that the conversation was actually initiated by Pilger ("I have been asked to run something by you.")

So. Who asked Pilger to run the question by Lerner?

Whoever it was would need to know that Lerner was working on the issue already.

2014-07-19 13:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

When will DoJ convene a grand jury on Lerner contempt charge?

Jordan said he also wanted to ask Justice Department attorney Ron Machen when he would "convene a grand jury, like the statute says he's supposed to do," based on a bipartisan contempt resolution the House filed against Lerner.

"When is he going to do that? Take this to a grand jury? And more importantly, get this resolution in front of a judge, where maybe the judge will compel Lois Lerner to come answer our questions and tell the American people the truth," Jordan said.

After the election, of course. Probably the 2016 election.

2014-07-19 12:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Armed Services Committee approves NSA request for Lerner emails

The panel approved a resolution Wednesday authored by Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, that directs the Secretary of Defense to send the House of Representatives "copies of any electronic communication in the possession of the Secretary, the Director of the National Security Agency, or any office that reports to the Secretary or the Director that was transmitted to or from any electronic mail account(s) used by former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner at any time between January 1, 2009, and April 30, 2011."

It's a long shot, and probably couldn't be used in court. But asking the NSA for Lerner's emails is certainly worth a try, and it makes a political point.

2014-07-19 11:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why does this excuse seem familiar?

Deputy Atty General Cole, whose boss has already been held in contempt of Congress, has been dragged before Congress to answer questions about the IRS scandal and his agency's investigation:

A top Justice Department official on Thursday said he wants the Internal Revenue Service to explain why it waited two months to tell investigators about Lois Lerner’s missing e-mails, testifying that his agency learned about the matter through media reports long after the IRS claims to have discovered the problem.

Oh, that's why.

Cole also testified that the FBI made virtually no use of a massive trove of information about tax-exempt groups that the IRS gave to the agency in 2010, around the same time the IRS was targeting groups for extra scrutiny based on their names and policy positions.

Then why did the FBI ask for the list?

Questions then rose about the manner in which the investigations were proceeding. Congressman Trey Gowdy questioned Cole over the witnesses of the case. “Have witnesses been brought in front of a grand jury? Subpoenas been issued? How many?” To which Cole admitted he did not know how many had been interviewed or appeared in front of a grand jury.

If the investigation was real, they would have interviewed victims by now. Instead, the only person we know they have interviewed was Lerner herself -- who apparently agreed to be interviewed by the FBI despite pleading the 5th before Congress, despite Congress lacking the power to charge her with crimes (other than contempt) and despite the FBI investigators possessing precisely that power.

Why do I get the impression that the FBI was asking Lerner how they could help her cover up her activities?

2014-07-19 10:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An irrational defense

Democrats on the committee denied that conservative groups were targeted, observing that the IRS also scrutinized tax exemption requests from liberal organizations. They accused Republicans of trying to manufacture a scandal for political purposes.

So if this is a made-up scandal, how did Republicans convince Lois Lerner to plant a question at a press conference?

2014-07-19 09:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

USDA preparing to dictate rules for grocery shopping

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is suggesting major changes to grocery stores to “nudge” Americans to purchase healthier foods when they shop. The group released an 80-page report this month presenting their ideas, which include talking shopping carts and a marketing strategy for grocery chains that would feature better store lighting for healthier items.

Everything inside the state. Nothing outside the state.

2014-07-18 18:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lawsuit filed over police raid on strip club, provocative photos

The strippers were "nearly nude" when their pictures were taken while officers made "arrogant and demeaning remarks" and intimidated the strippers to keep them from leaving, the lawsuit alleges.

If San Diego was ruled by a band of armed thugs with no responsibility to the public, how would they be behaving differently?

Working in a politically-disfavored industry doesn't negate your rights or make you fair game for police harassment, even if you happen to be pretty.

2014-07-18 17:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Sacramento sheriffs using warrantless surveillance devices

Sacramento sheriff's deputies have been playing NSA. They tool around town with suitcase-sized StingRay surveillance devices in their squad cars, scooping up cellphone data from whomever happens to be within a one-mile radius.

Using stingrays in targeted investigations is one thing, though many police agencies have been using them without warrants. Just leaving them turned on to collect data indiscriminately is another thing entirely.

2014-07-18 16:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Automated enforcement violates due process

Thousands of Chicago drivers have been tagged with $100 red light fines they did not deserve, targeted by robotic cameras during a series of sudden spikes in tickets that city officials say they cannot explain, a Tribune investigation has found.

The Tribune's analysis of more than 4 million tickets issued since 2007 and a deeper probe of individual cases revealed clear evidence that the deviations in Chicago's network of 380 cameras were caused by faulty equipment, human tinkering or both.

Normal traffic enforcement is basically revenue generation already, but it is at least limited by the fact that a human is involved. When you start issuing tickets based on automated cameras and nothing else, the human factor is completely removed -- which means people are being fined for bugs in the system, in numbers far greater than human enforcement could manage, often for arbitrary violations that involved no safety issues.

2014-07-18 15:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Cleveland mayor proposes major gun control legislation

The proposed legislation includes a limit on gun purchases to one every three months (because criminals will obey these limits? and because enforcement will require a registration system), a requirement to report loss or theft to police (punishing the victim if they don't know to do this), allowing access to anyone under 18 (what about teaching your children how to shoot?), and a publically available name-and-shame "gun offender registry" that would allow for social ostracism of anyone who makes an honest mistake like not immediately reporting a stolen gun.

The legislation also includes various other silly provisions, banning things like martial arts equipment, slingshots, brass knuckles, replica firearms, and pocketknives.

The Democrats appear to be doubling-down on gun control for the midterm elections. I'm guessing they figure Obama has already pissed off everyone on the right and in the middle, so they have to goose turnout among their base to have any chance at all.

2014-07-18 15:02:18.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A note on my personal evil overlord list

Why is it, in Hollywood, the time bombs that some poor shlub has to defuse (am I using that word right? How about diffuse? If you don't defuse the bomb it will diffuse you all over the landscape) always comes down to "cut the blue, or cut the red wire." And choosing wrong ALWAYS leads to bomb detonation.

Any timed detonation devices constructed as part of my Evil Plan to Rule the World (or any subsidiary Evil Plans intended to assist in achieving that ultimate goal) will have a large, prominent, red LED timer counting down towards zero... at least 20 feet and a locked door away from the actual device.

The detonation will take place approximately 5 minutes before the timer expires, or immediately upon launch of my personal escape pod.

2014-07-18 14:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Premeditated Pet Murder

"The only thing I'm gonna do is shoot it anyway. I do not like dogs." Subsequent dash camera audio recording revealed an officer stating, "I don't do snares, I don't do dogs . . . I'll shoot the fucking thing."

How exactly does this police officer's actions differ from the behavior of a murderous thug?

2014-07-18 13:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Deputy Atty General denies IRS conspiracy

[Deputy Attorney General] Mr. Cole also assured Congress that his department didn’t conspire with the IRS to try to target tea party groups, challenging Republican assertions, and he said the FBI didn’t even know it had been given private taxpayer information by the tax agency until years afterward.

No one believes you, Mr. Cole. You will note that you have been called before Congress because your boss, Attorney General Holder, has been found in contempt of Congress. You're headed to the same place.

For their part, Democrats questioned the House GOP’s continued focus on the issue, and said there has been no evidence to connect Mr. Obama and his top political aides to the IRS’s behavior.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence -- especially when 8 of the principal targets of the investigation allegedly suffered various computer failures that admittedly destroyed evidence!

2014-07-18 12:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Concealed-carry licensee arrested in NJ for being honest

Briefly, she was armed while driving through New Jersey when she was pulled over. She told the police officer she was armed and showed him her license, but New Jersey doesn't have reciprocity with her state -- so she was arrested and charged. The gun laws in New Jersey suck, and most gunnies know to check before they travel out of state armed. Not doing that shouldn't result in committing a felony because you drove through a state that doesn't respect your 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

John Lott sums it up nicely:

The penalty for this mother of two children is out of all proportion to any possible harm that she did. The point of these laws in New Jersey is to make people so afraid of violating the laws that they are worried about owning guns.

The whole point of the New Jersey gun laws -- and many of the others, both state and federal -- is to create a chilling effect that deters people from owning guns. The courts need to start treating this the same way they do chilling effects on First Amendment rights.

2014-07-18 11:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Democrat legislation introduced to ban marketing of firearms to children

... which means in practice banning things like child-sized t-shirts or hats with the NRA logo. Looking at the way gun control activists think and act, you realize that a significant portion of humanity never evolved away from the belief in symbolic magic.

2014-07-18 10:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why feminists support rape

I've been in many discussions with feminists concerning the issue of rape, mostly not by my choice but because they won't shut up about it. My argument is pretty simple. Most rapes can be stopped by women taking a sensible attitude towards risk -- say, not getting blackout-drunk in public or walking alone down dark alleys -- and carrying a concealed firearm. The combination works because you are able to refuse consent and have the means to enforce it.

It's not a panacea, mind you. Even someone armed and behaving responsibly can be raped. But those simple precautions cover most of the rape cases out there, so why would feminists freak out when I suggested they should carry a gun and shoot anyone who tried to rape them?

Answer: they are defining rape differently.

But a recent study showed that in over 90% of the reported sexual assault events which were serious enough to cause insurance losses, the accuser was under the influence of alcohol, and "more than 60 percent of accusers were so intoxicated that they had no clear memory of the assault."

So a woman goes to a party, gets blackout drunk, remembers a few fragments of what took place in the morning, and decides she was raped. Was she forced? Who knows? Not even the "victim" knows whether she consented or not.

I wouldn't feel comfortable shooting someone under those circumstances either. But that's because what happens in a case like that isn't so much rape as it is two people making decisions under the influence of alcohol that they may well regret later.

The antidote to such events is not indoctrination. It's taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions, even the ones you regret in the morning. And when your inability to do that causes you to discourage other women from taking real, actual, effective steps to prevent real, force-or-threat-of-force rape, it pretty much boils down to supporting rape. In outcome, if not intent.

2014-07-18 09:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Halbrook writes about gun control in the Third Reich and today

Under the pretense of searching for weapons, Jewish homes were vandalized, businesses ransacked and synagogues burned. Jews were terrorized, beaten and killed. Orders were sent to shoot anyone who resisted. Under SS head Heinrich Himmler's decree, an estimated 20,000 Jews were thrown into concentration camps for violating gun laws or just for being Jewish.

There are some chilling parallels.

2014-07-17 16:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama bans Saiga firearms from import

Saiga is a Russian company, which manufactures the AK-47 (semiauto version for import, of course), and the import ban is purportedly about sanctions for the Ukraine situation. It's not really about that, of course. Obama is more than eager to take anti-gun actions like this any time he can find a way to do it. The timing is either because he just now figured out he could do this with his pen and his phone, or he was saving it up to get people excited before the midterms.

2014-07-17 15:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Credit where due

Detroit Police Chief James Craig is crediting the many incidents of high-profile shootings of criminals by law-abiding citizens over the past year for playing a role in the dramatic reduction of crime in Motor City over the past year.

I suspect that gun ownership in Detroit did not change all that much over just a year. On the other hand, the police chief openly and publicly recommending residents obtain firearms and defend themselves? That could make a big difference.

2014-07-17 14:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Should college-level classes on the Constitution be mandatory?

The Daily Gamecock doesn't think so (and yes, it really is called that):

The editorial board argues that “[s]tudents who are pursuing a field outside political science or journalism won’t necessarily need to know about [the Constitution, Declaration, and Federalist Papers] to the extent that the class would be aiming to teach them” and that the class “could hurt a students [sic] GPA when it isn’t even that central to their degree.”

Knowing the Constitution may not be central to most degrees, law students excepted, but it is central to being a good citizen.

They also want more state funding:

This year specifically the more core cause for the increase is an unfunded mandate from the state of South Carolina. Essentially this is something that the state has said USC must do but without any help in funding it. This year’s mandate: paying for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for select faculty and staff members.

Perhaps if they understood that Constitution a little better, they might understand that Obamacare is a Federal mandate, not a state one. They might also understand that while the tuition they are paying comes from their own pocket (or their parents', more likely), the state funding for their school comes from the pockets of everyone in the state who works for a living. They at least have a choice about whether to incur the costs. Having a vote is not the same as having a choice.

2014-07-17 13:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

McDaniel Campaign press conference



I think the big takeaway from this is that the McDaniel campaign doesn't have the numbers (in invalid/illegal votes) to beat Cochran yet. If they had the numbers, even credible but not yet certain numbers, they would have announced them, or at least announced that they had them. I think they expected to have them. Instead, they are still looking.

Given the problems they have faced getting access to material, that's not surprising. The results will play out over time. I did get the impression the campaign was pretty sure they would be filing a challenge, just that they did not have the numbers yet and that they intended to make sure they did before actually saying it.

In related news, some conservative groups are calling for Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to censure the get-out-the-vote tactics used in the runoff campaign to solicit Democrat votes (and the people who used them). Given how vile the tactics were, that would be a good call for Reince, but he may be reluctant to criticize.

2014-07-17 12:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Off the record

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is highlighting a fundraising phone call former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis made to a department employee as evidence that the Obama administration has a history of illegal fundraising activities.

“Hi, this is Hilda Solis calling, um, just calling you off the record here. Wanted to ask you if you could, um, help us get folks organized to come to a fundraiser that we’re doing for Organizing for America for Obama campaign on Friday at La Fonda at 6 p.m.,” she says on the recording.

This administration certainly does have a pattern of illegal fund raising efforts using political appointees and pressuring government employees. But the part I find interesting is that she says "off the record", indicating consciousness of guilt, and the fact that the message was delivered via a phone call. Emails are more convenient, but easier to track.

2014-07-17 11:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

House votes to defund gun control in DC

“Criminals by definition don’t care about laws. They will get guns any way they can,” said Rep. Massie. “Strict gun control laws do nothing but prevent good people from being able to protect themselves and their families in the event of a robbery, home invasion, or other crime. Studies indicate that murder rates rise following bans on firearms.”

The Senate probably won't like this amendment very much, but there are a lot of political controversies teed up for negotiation already. It's possible these changes might slip through.

2014-07-17 10:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

White House witness refuses to comply with Issa subpoena

White House counsel W. Neil Eggleston says Issa has no power to compel Simas to testify at a hearing Wednesday morning about whether the office he runs has been engaged in improper political activity in violation of the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from such activities as campaign fundraising and explicit political support. Eggleston cited a new opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that cited precedents going back to Presidents Harry Truman and Richard Nixon of executive privilege being asserted against testimony by White House aides.

The witness heads an office charged with coordinating political activity. Issa accuses the office of violating the Hatch Act which bars political activity by federal employees while on the clock at their jobs.

There is apparently a previous, similar office that got shut down for violating the Hatch Act, so it's not like Issa is just guessing that maybe there's a problem here.

Obama really does think he is above the law.

2014-07-17 09:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama's foreign policy appears to be arming terrorists

Because Obama pulled our troops out without bringing their equipment with them, ISIL terrorists now have about 50 field artillery pieces costing around $25 million.

2014-07-16 14:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

VA attempted to bug investigators to monitor their activities

The committee investigators were directed to a workspace at the regional office which was outfitted with cameras and microphones. Upon discovering they were being monitored, the aides requested to be moved.

The corruption is absolutely blatant.

2014-07-16 13:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Shotspotter a failure

When this device originally made news, I was mildly concerned about the privacy implications of distributing microphones broadly enough to give it coverage, but assuming the privacy aspect could be dealt with, it didn't seem a bad idea; within a densely-populated city, being able to automatically identify and locate gunshots to trigger an immediate police response seems beneficial to public safety and unlikely to do much actual harm.

But experience with the device appears to demonstrate that it just doesn't work. The wasted money, which runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, is definitely harmful. So are the huge numbers of false positives generated by the system.

2014-07-16 12:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Bloomberg buying Republican incumbents

He's made donations to Thad Cochran and Lindsey Graham that we know of for sure. What this tells me is that we can't trust them on gun control votes.

We had better do some careful vote-counting as the elections get closer. If Bloomberg can put enough "moderate" Republicans in his back pocket, even just for a cloture vote, he may be able to give us a nasty surprise.

Sebastian is pointing out that Bloomberg has been working to build a Gun Control 2.0 to counter our Gun Culture 2.0. He's right to be concerned. Bloomberg has the cash that the gun control activists were lacking, and he's willing to spend it. He is spending it, right now, on Republicans. And judging by the way he's pushing this issue, when he calls that favor due, it's going to be an easy sell: "Just vote for this one gun control bill. Just this one. Vote with your party on everything else, but just this once, on this one issue."

For someone who's already pissed because they faced a primary challenger, it'll be an easy sell.

2014-07-16 11:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The reality of the IRS scandal

Bruce Bialosky sums up the controversy so far. Worth reading if you need a refresher on the big picture.

2014-07-16 10:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Same bullshit, different bull

The IRS’ nonprofit division, grappling with a decimated staff and limited resources, effectively lost whatever nerve it had left. Notably, it came to a near standstill on deciding whether it should grant "social welfare" nonprofit status to Crossroads GPS and other conservative groups. It likewise balked at denying or revoking nonprofit status for a growing constellation of politically driven, big-spending liberal nonprofits such as Patriot Majority USA and Priorities USA.

The problem with this argument is that "not saying no" also means "not saying yes"; and if the IRS is paralyzed trying to figure out how to say no to conservative organizations, it seems to have little problem approving liberal ones.

That the IRS is having trouble regulating political speech is a positive thing in my mind.

2014-07-16 09:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]
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