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Sheldon Whitehouse doubles down

Washington, DC and the right wing outrage machine are all abuzz that the IRS allegedly targeted groups based on their presumed political affiliation. Obviously, that was wrong to do, but let's not forget that there are two IRS scandals. The other is allowing big shadowy forces to meddle in elections anonymously through front groups that file false IRS statements.

... says the Democrat Senator who inspired the FBI to seek an excuse to charge his political opponents with crimes.

Americans have a First Amendment right to anonymous speech. Including donating money to help fund someone else speak, even about politics... especially about politics.

2014-04-22 18:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Sebelius was not the only official pushing for donations

It was a shakedown, pure and simple, to wring more money and assistance out of industry players in order to bypass Congress on funding operations within the executive branch. That should prompt Congress to demand more answers, and perhaps to cut off even more funding to HHS until they get them.

Read the whole thing. This sort of practice does matter, because the power of the purse belongs to Congress, and doing an end-run around that will undo one of the major checks and balances of our Republic.

2014-04-22 17:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

More suppression of dissent

Sharyl Attkisson talks about why she left CBS:

Sharyl Attkisson on the hacking of her phone and computer:

2014-04-22 16:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NAGR appears to have data security issues

Read the whole thing if you have had any dealings with that organization.

It sounds to me like their "Contact us" webpage generates an email -- something that isn't necessarily insecure but is not adequate for protecting personal information -- and a human is then forwarding those emails to an incorrect address. I would guess that perhaps the public NAGR mailing (spam? I don't recall signing up for it, but I get their mailings occasionally) list is being used as a Reply-to or From address on the message generated by the contact-us page. Thus, the human reading the contact-us page emails hits reply or reply-all and one of the addresses replied to is the public mailing list.

Depending on what the user submitting the contact request included, that could result in exposure of personal info. It should really be corrected.

2014-04-22 15:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Another report of ATF agents copying gun purchase records

Chabot's attorney, Penny Dean, said her client believes the agent was acting improperly because he appeared to be scanning a copy of every page. Chabot has not been notified of any alleged violations, she said.

The real question here is whether the ATF is attempting to collect an electronic copy of all records from all stores, which would be an improper attempt to create an illegal gun registry, or whether they are simply collecting from stores under actual investigation for criminal activity.

2014-04-22 14:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An invitation to an enemies list

Krauthammer now supports anonymity in political donations, a position I have long supported myself. Political donations should not make you a target. A publicly traded corporation might be a different story, but individuals should not have to give up their anonymity to participate in debate.

2014-04-22 13:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Wide-Area Surveillance

The system, known as wide-area surveillance, is something of a time machine -- the entire city is filmed and recorded in real time. Imagine Google Earth with a rewind button and the ability to play back the movement of cars and people as they scurry about the city.

"We literally watched all of Compton during the time that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people," McNutt said. "Our goal was to basically jump to where reported crimes occurred and see what information we could generate that would help investigators solve the crimes."

No warrants, and it tracks everyone. Sure, individuals are not immediately identifiable -- but if you can follow them back in time to see what house they came from, then you're most of the way there. And if the police get it wrong -- track the wrong person back to your house -- how can you prove the error?

McNutt, who holds a doctorate in rapid product development, helped build wide-area surveillance to hunt down bombing suspects in Iraq and Afghanistan. He decided that clusters of high-powered surveillance cameras attached to the belly of small civilian aircraft could be a game-changer in U.S. law enforcement.

So it's military technology. What is appropriate to fight a terrorist insurgency is not necessarily appropriate for civilian law enforcement.

"Our whole system costs less than the price of a single police helicopter and costs less for an hour to operate than a police helicopter," McNutt said. "But at the same time, it watches 10,000 times the area that a police helicopter could watch."

In other words, there's no financial limitation on how many people you can track this way.

In the case of a Compton necklace snatching, the suspects eventually drove out of camera range without being identified, said L.A. County sheriff’s Sgt. Doug Iketani, who supervised the project. He added that McNutt’s system can’t provide the kind of detailed, close-up images that would survive in court. But Iketani said the technology did give police useful leads.

And it doesn't even manage to catch criminals.

Plus, a bonus: We knew the public wouldn't like it, so we kept it a secret. Buddy, you work for the public.

2014-04-22 12:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Computer seized, house searched, over Twitter parody account

Illinois police seized computers and mobile phones while raiding a house whose owner was suspected of parodying the town mayor on Twitter. In all, five people following the Tuesday evening raid were taken to the Peoria Police Department station for questioning, local media report.

This is classic intimidation of political opponents.

2014-04-22 11:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Who cares if they consent to be studied?

Ethics is not risk management:

In each of these cases, the board's obsession with risk led to an unreasonable decision. This is the inevitable result of boards' unbalanced belief systems. Contemporary risk managers in other fields, in contrast, strive for balance.

Here are some of the cases they describe as wrongly decided:

Canadian ethics boards imposed consent requirements that made an important study of stroke care impossible to conduct as originally planned.1 Common sense suggests that most stroke patients would want researchers to be able to access their medical records in order to monitor and improve the quality of their care.

Common sense suggests we should not study people who do not wish to be studied, and respect their medical privacy if that is what they wish, even if it is inconvenient for medical researchers. If consenting to give up your medical privacy to support research is such a common sense decision, surely it will be easy to obtain consent?

Scientists in Sweden wanted to study thousands of medical records to see if giving hormones to adolescent girls increases the risk of adult breast cancer. The ethics board ruled that they must obtain written consent from each woman or abandon their plan. 3 Common sense suggests that the women would be eager to have the research conducted, and would not want consent to be required if it made the study impossible.

Common sense suggests we should not study people who do not wish to be studied. If people do not wish to be studied, and the consequence of that is that the research cannot be conducted, than the research should not be conducted and perhaps the next set of researchers will be more willing to spend appropriate amounts of effort obtaining consent.

The idea that the needs of the many outweigh the rights of the individual is a road to hell on earth, as demonstrated by every Communist regime in history.

2014-04-22 10:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Living in fantasyland

Liberals seem to live in their own reality. Unfortunately for them, they are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts:

They can't possibly know why she is pleading the fifth; the most logical reason is that given the DOJ opening a criminal investigation into the matter, her attorney advised her to shut it.

If that assumption was actually true, Lerner would be refusing to speak with the Department of Justice... except that she has admitted to speaking with the Department of Justice about this matter, and the indications are that the Department of Justice isn't considering criminal charges.

Lerner is actually pleading the 5th because emails already released publicly by the House investigation strongly suggest criminal acts. Under those circumstances, yes, her lawyer would probably advise her to shut it.

But if she has any political persuasion, it would seem to be Republican, based on her appointment by the Bush administration (infamous for politicizing government).

Is someone seriously suggesting that the Obama administration has a better record than the Bush administration for politicizing government? Oh, please.

Lerner has a long history of opposing conservatives at the FEC as well as the IRS. Yes, it was probably stupid for Bush to appoint her. I suspect he did so under the impression she was a career civil servant, someone who was capable of doing her job in a nonpartisan manner. To assume that appointment is proof of her politics is absurd given the direct evidence to the contrary.

The facts are that the IRS (and possibly other agencies within the Obama administration) engaged in political targeting. How far up into the administration the plot went is, as yet, unknown. There is evidence suggesting that the plot involved elected Democrats in both the House and the Senate, appointed and supposedly nonpartisan employees at the IRS, at least two groups of DoJ employees (one for the original plot, one for the cover-up "investigation"), and plausible points of contact between the IRS and the White House on this topic.

That is only a bare-bones summary. There's a lot more where this came from. Liberals should face facts.

2014-04-22 09:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

United States of SWAT

Dozens of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to further an expanding definition of their missions. It's not controversial that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them. But what about the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? All of these have their own SWAT units and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies -- not to mention local police forces.

Local and federal police are arming and training for a war against the people they claim to serve. This cannot end well.

2014-04-21 15:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A new, more sinister IRS scandal

Yesterday was a significant day in the IRS abuse scandal. The scandal evolved from being about pesky delays in IRS exemption applications to a government conniving with outside interests to put political opponents in prison.

Emails obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act reveal Lois Lerner cooking up plans with Justice Department officials to talk about ways to criminally charge conservative groups that are insufficiently quiet.

Read the whole thing, and then read the emails themselves. Notice that we are still getting a coverup:

My only other comment is that the emails are heavily redacted. Almost all of the redactions cite exemption b5, which is very general; it covers any document or portion of a document that would not have to be produced in a civil action. Actually, if documents fall within the scope of a Rule 34 request, the circumstances under which they do not need to be produced are quite narrow. While it is impossible to judge the appropriateness of a redaction without knowing what has been blacked out, there are a number of instances where it is hard to believe that any normally recognized privilege would apply.

The Administration's only hope is to push these revelations past the election, and then pray that they will be left alone as a lame duck rather than prosecuted.

2014-04-21 14:04:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Can the DoJ be trusted to investigate itself?

Now that the Department of Justice has been implicated in the ongoing IRS political targeting scandal, can we trust the DoJ's investigation? Obviously not -- not that we could have trusted it before the revelations either, but this should be the final nail in the coffin of DoJ's credibility in this investigation.

“Now I see why the IRS is scared to give up the rest of Lois Lerner’s emails,” said Oversight Economic Growth subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, according to The Daily Caller. “Not only do these e-mails further prove the coordination among the IRS, the Federal Election Commission, the Justice Department and committee Democrats to target conservatives, they also show that had our committee not requested the Inspector General’s investigation when we did, Eric Holder’s politicized Justice Department would likely have been leveling trumped up criminal charges against Tea Party groups to intimidate them from exercising their Constitutional rights.”

Holder's DoJ is ethically bankrupt. It cannot be trusted. Democratic members of both the House and the Senate are implicated. EJ Cummings appears to be obstructing justice and lying about his involvement. Senator Whitehouse, a Democrat, has demanded criminal prosecution of conservative 501c4s for "lying" on their tax returns.

They chose to target True the Vote, a non-profit group training volunteers to fight voter fraud. Why them? Because the left depends on voter fraud to remain competitive.

2014-04-18 14:48:33.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Bill Whittle on Taxes

2014-04-18 12:55:58.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Data-mining the mail

As if many Americans needed another reason to dislike the post office, word now comes that it wants to begin mining and selling private data gathered from the personal mail of Americans.

Surely there are federal laws against, say, opening someone else's mailbox and reading their mail. I don't see how this is different.

2014-04-18 12:48:33.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why do police resist wearing cameras on duty?

The answer may actually lie in how those Chicago cops got caught. The ubiquity of citizen-shot video, along with the onset of mandatory dashboard camera and lapel camera videos, is making it increasingly difficult for cops to get away with lying. Interestingly, Younger hinted at this 47 years ago.

Because the cameras catch them lying.

2014-04-18 11:55:58.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

While Reid attacks the Koch brothers for injecting money into politics...

A wealthy hotel executive and Democratic fundraiser who supported Hilary Clinton for president pleaded guilty Thursday to charges he secretly funneled more than $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions to three unnamed candidates and coached someone to lie about it. An informant caught Sant Singh Chatwal on tape in 2010 explaining that he believed his illegal fundraising bought him access to people in power.

... Democrat fundraisers plead guilty to evading contribution limits and buying access to candidates.

2014-04-18 11:48:33.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Jews in Eastern Ukraine being asked to register

I don't read Russian -- the language I assume the paper is written in -- but if the reports are true that Jews leaving a synagogue in one of the regions Putin appears to want to annex were asked to register their religion and their property, it does not bode well at all for anyone's future.

2014-04-18 10:55:58.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The enforcement arm of the Democratic Party

Mitchell continues: "None of those people are subject to any kind of political repercussions they are all protected civil service employees. Tell me why they didn't exercise that protection and say ˜We are not the enforcement arm of the Democratic Party" but they didn't do that they did exactly what the politicians, the Democrat politicians wanted them to do and they lied to the Republicans when asked about it."

The only question here is whether this behavior is really anything new, or if it has been going on all along and it's just now we are finding out about it?

I think it's fair to suggest that this has been a significant escalation, but I suspect the bureaucratic bias towards Democrats has been used in past administrations. There have been reports of similar IRS audit activity under Clinton, for example. Under Bush, of course, the political administration would be out of sync with the bureaucratic administration.

2014-04-18 10:48:33.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

American College of Physicians comes out as anti-gun

Declaring that a majority of its members "favor mandatory background checks, mandatory registration of all firearms, and bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and armor-piercing bullets," the ACP basically regurgitated the administration's gun control wish list. Putting yet another spin on the ever-expanding universe of "assault weapons," the group called for "banning the sale and manufacture for civilian use of firearms that have features designed to increase their rapid killing capacity (often called "assault weapons" or semi-automatic weapons) and large capacity ammunition (sic) and retaining the current ban on automatic weapons for civilian use."

Not that this is a surprise to anyone, but the Left seems to have a fetish for the imaginary authority of white coats when pushing their petty tyrannies.

Notable here is that these people, who wish to present themselves to the public as gun safety experts, say things like "large capacity ammunition", believe that automatic weapons are banned for civilian use (they are restricted, but not banned), and want to ban all semi-automatic weapons (basically, everything that isn't a hunting rifle; and they'll be back for those as soon as they can call them "sniper rifles").

2014-04-18 09:55:58.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Another explosion at an ammunition plant

One person is dead and three others injured after an explosion at an ammunition plant west of Nashville Wednesday afternoon. The incident happened at 3:45 a.m. at Rio Ammunition on Highway 230 in McEwen, about 55 miles west of Nashville in Humphreys County.

There have been other explosions at ammunition manufacturing facilities recently, enough so that I'm beginning to be concerned about enemy action. So far as I know there's no actual evidence to suggest that in this case, and given the ammunition markets lately I wouldn't be surprised if the constant demand is putting a strain on the workers and equipment, but caution and awareness seems warranted.

2014-04-17 12:48:33.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The plot to destroy America

The implications of today’s email disclosure are stunning and terrifying.

Lois Lerner intended to use her position atop the IRS’ tax exempt approval office to coordinate the prosecution of political speech. The Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder had at least tentatively bought into that. The Federal Elections Commission was being roped in as well. Lerner’s emails prove that beyond doubt.

Democrats in Congress were involved. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) appears to have led the anti-constitutional attack on free speech in the House. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led it from the Senate.

Read the whole thing.

I have, occasionally, held off on saying that the emails, both from Lerner and others, released so far constitute proof of illegal acts. That is a legal point; I am hardly an expert on tax laws or IRS investigations. I do not know that anything Lerner appears to have done in the emails released so far constitutes a technical violation of IRS regulations for which she can be held accountable in court. There are a number of actions which appear questionable, and much action that is implied by the emails released but for which we have no direct evidence.

The moral question is much easier. If what Lerner has done is not already illegal under existing IRS regulations, she should be charged under Section 242 of Title 18.

Once charges are filed, she will have an incentive to tell us who was coordinating the efforts outside the IRS.

2014-04-17 10:48:33.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The first Connecticut militia rifle confiscation from a non-criminal

After shooting a squirrel...

[An ordinary citizen] was charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm, cruelty to an animal, first-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree breach of peace, failure to register an assault rifle and three counts of possessing large-capacity magazines, according to a police press release...

Police said they also found an unregistered assault rifle, as well as three large-capacity magazines, in Toigo’s home. Both the firearms and the magazines were taken, the release said.

Nielsen said the assault riffle [sic] was not the gun Toigo shot the squirrel with.

So, a guy shot a squirrel in his yard. Not necessarily a great decision, from a safety perspective, but not necessarily a bad one either -- it all depends on the local conditions. It not like squirrels are game animals; in my area they are probably classified as nuisance wildlife. Police then charged him with a whole book of charges for that single act, which is absurd in itself, and then searched his house to obtain his unregistered militia rifle and magazines.

How did they know to search his house? Did they use a secret registration list? The background check database? Did they get a warrant? Because "search incident to arrest" doesn't cover a search of someone's house if they aren't in the house.

This stinks to high heaven.

2014-04-17 09:55:58.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Bloomberg to fund another gun control group

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will spend $50 million this year to build a nationwide grassroots network on gun control in a direct challenge to the National Rifle Association, The New York Times reported.

The new lobbying group, called Everytown for Gun Safety, will encompass other gun control groups funded by Bloomberg, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the report said.

$50 million is a lot of money. But so far, the Bloomberg efforts have failed to deliver actual votes.

Also, isn't it funny how the Democrats don't seem to mind his spending, even while they rail against the libertarianish Koch brothers?

2014-04-16 15:48:33.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A good idea

A Republican congressman from Texas has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would stop the government from paying Attorney General Eric Holder's salary. Rep. Blake Farenthold's "Contempt Act" would prohibit any federal employee who has been found in contempt of Congress from getting a taxpayer-funded paycheck.

It could also effect Lerner, if her pension counts. But the Senate will never pass it.

2014-04-16 14:55:58.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]
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