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IRS agents training with AR-15 rifles, more likely to fire their weapons accidentally than intentionally

It's a chilling combination: more accidental discharges than intentional ones in 2009-2011, and agents training with deadly bullet hoses.

Truth is, I don't really care about this one.  The absolute number of weapons discharges by the IRS is low -- 20 total, and just two more accidents than intentional.  The supposed need for IRS agents to have assault weapons that the Obama administration would like to deny the ordinary citizen is an embarrassing internal contradiction, but it's not like the IRS is the first government agency to discover a vital need for its own SWAT team recently.  

I'm noting this news item primarily because, at some future date, some gun control idiot is going to claim that AR-15 rifles have no use beyond murdering children and poodles, and I'll point them to this post and say "So why is the IRS murdering children and poodles?" 

(And then I'll point out that it's surely a job for the local police...)

A more serious IRS problem is the political targeting.  A good first step in responding to those problems would be to stop paying bonuses.
Categories

2013-06-28 05:39:46.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Gun control legislation passes in Maine

Two Democrats initially voted against, but then switched their votes.  The bill provides civil penalties for selling a firearm to a prohibited person, with a background check as a defense from prosecution.

The governor will likely veto the bill, and support is thin enough to make overriding the veto difficult.

UPDATE: Veto upheld.
Categories

2013-06-28 05:39:14.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

If this pans out, it's huge

I can't vouch for the source, but then, who can for this sort of thing?
They went after -- and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things -- they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the -- and judicial. But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. All kinds of -- heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House -- their own people.
This is exactly the reason we don't -- or didn't, until recently -- allow government to collect data without a warrant: it is inevitable that it will be abused.  The source hints at data collection on Obama (from the Bush years), at least one Supreme Court justice (which raises all sorts of interesting questions about the Roberts vote switch on Obamacare), and god knows what else.

One of the problems with a system like this, that is designed to collect everything and then only reveal limited amounts when a particular number or data point becomes "interesting", is that everything you've done in the past becomes fair game when your number becomes "interesting". 

Hat tip to Joe Huffman.
Categories

2013-06-28 04:10:54.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Kevin Baker has a new post up

... at his blog The Smallest Minority.  It's been a while since you've had an uberpost, Kevin.  Welcome back.

2013-06-28 04:00:58.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Something doesn't add up...

They charged this guy with six counts of possessing an assault weapon, plus some miscellaneous stuff related to drugs and carrying a concealed firearm and generally being an idiot.  But the article claims they found "five fully automatic high-powered rifles".  Fully automatic rifles are not "assault weapons" by the federal definition.  If they were really fully-automatic, shouldn't we expect to see federal charges?

I suspect they are standard semi-automatic rifles, possibly (but not necessarily) assault weapons under the California definition.

Anyways, it's good to see how effective California's gun control laws are.

That is, "not very."
Categories

2013-06-27 05:42:45.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Second IRS employee pleads the 5th

This time it's not about hassling the Tea Party, it's about $500 million in ordinary corruption.  Who knew you could get that much government money by making friends with the right IRS agent and faking disability?

The more important question, though, is this: can we have a special prosecutor yet?
Categories

2013-06-27 05:42:29.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

NSA policies allow information acquisition AND use without warrants

  1. Keep data that could potentially contain details of US persons for up to five years;
  2. Retain and make use of "inadvertently acquired" domestic communications if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity;
  3. Preserve "foreign intelligence information" contained within attorney-client communications;
  4. Access the content of communications gathered from "U.S. based machine[s]" or phone numbers in order to establish if targets are located in the US, for the purposes of ceasing further surveillance.
Take a close look at the first two points.  If the NSA hoovers your data -- and they will, if you use a cell phone or the internet , because they collect everything -- then they can keep it for five years.  If they have some reason to look at your data during that time -- for which they do not need a warrant if they don't already know you are a US person, which they carefully avoid knowing -- then anything they find in their 5 years of data that indicates criminal activity, threat of harm, encrypted data for any reason, or anything remotely related to cybersecurity, can be retained and used against you.

Without a warrant.
Categories

2013-06-27 03:36:09.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

IRS explains that it harassed taxpayers because it isn't funded well enough

On the face of it, the Taxpayer Advocate Service is supposed to be one of the good guys.  They are, after all, supposed to represent taxpayers, and right on cue they are speaking up about the problems at the agency and how the IRS needs to make it up to taxpayers.
[Taxpayer Advocate Service] found that inadequate guidance, inadequate training, inadequate systems, inadequate metrics, insufficient transparency, and management failures all contributed to the problems, along with EO's failure to vet its guidance with TAS and EO leadership's failure to acknowledge TAS's statutory authority ...
So what are they asking for, specifically?  What would it take to rectify these severe image problems at the USA's least favorite federal agency?

More money for guidance.

More money for training.

More money for systems.

More money for metrics.

More money for transparency.

More money for management.

More money to bribe taxpayers.

More power for the taxpayer advocates.

Sorry, no.  I believe bad behavior should be punished, not rewarded.  And making "apology payments" to taxpayers with money collected from taxpayers is just insulting.

That doesn't mean punitive action is inappropriate.  It means that punitive action in this case should involve the IRS employees  involved losing their jobs, paying fines, and going to jail.
Categories

2013-06-27 01:38:50.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Big Brother: only 30 years behind schedule

For the past two years, a secretive unit in the Metropolitan Police has been developing the tools for blanket surveillance of the public's social media conversations. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a staff of 17 officers in the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU) has been scanning the public's tweets, YouTube videos, Facebook profiles, and anything else UK citizens post in the public online sphere.

"Sentiment analysis" that can determine your mood, "horizon scanning" that tries to pre-empt disorder and crime, facial recognition software that can track down individuals, geo-location that is able to pinpoint your whereabouts, and profiling that can map who you are and what circles you move in. All innovative techniques used in the private sector, and all adapted for law enforcement and surveillance.

Remember when two terrorists attacked a soldier leaving his barracks by ramming him with their car and dismembering his body in public while people watched?

Remember when the government started charging people with hate speech for posting angry tweets about the incident?

They aren't watching the terrorists.  The terrorists know how to hide and have the motivation to maintain communications discipline.  They are watching you.
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2013-06-27 01:12:25.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Why the inclusion of "progressive" groups is misleading

The National Review explains why claims that including "progressive" and "occupy" on the list of names to be on the lookout for does not mean that left and right groups were treated equally.

Part of the answer is that "progressive" groups applying for 501(c)3 status (which allows for no political activity) were told that the designation might not be appropriate, and, presumably, informed that 501(c)4 groups ("social welfare" with some political activity) might be better.  Front-line agents were still empowered to make immediate determinations.  On the other hand, "tea party" groups applying for 501(c)4 status were referred to a group of legal specialists in Washington, DC for special processing and intrusive questioning that delayed applications for years.
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2013-06-26 01:02:50.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Were it not for voter fraud...

... Barack Obama might not have been on the ballot in his Indiana primary against Hillary Clinton:
The plot successfully faked names and signatures on both the Obama and Clinton presidential petitions that were used to place the candidates on the ballot. So many names were forged -- an estimated 200 or more -- that prosecutor Stanley Levco said that had the fraud been caught during the primary, "the worst that would have happened, is maybe Barack Obama wouldn't have been on the ballot for the primary."
Would such a small change in election results have changed history?  I don't know -- I'd have to go back to the 2008 primary campaign to see if Indiana had a pivotal role in that race.  But it illustrates how what looks like a relatively small problem -- forged signatures on ballot eligibility petitions -- could potentially change the course of the nation. 
Categories

2013-06-26 00:54:46.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Impossible

German police say they have arrested a 57-year-old trucker whom they accuse of carrying out 762 shootings on European highways over the past five years.
They must be imagining things.  That can't have happened.  They have gun control there.
"We found the famous needle in a hay stack," said Joerg Ziercke, chief commissioner of the German Federal Criminal Police. "A dangerous criminal who on several thousands of kilometers of highway in Germany, France, Belgium and Austria would reach for a gun whenever, wherever to shoot at other vehicles and endanger people's lives. It's unprecedented in Germany criminal history."
Not unprecedented anymore.
He told reporters at a news conference Tuesday in Wiesbaden, Germany, that guns and ammunition matching the caliber of those used in many of the shootings were confiscated at the suspect's home in North Rhine Westphalia. The trucker had no gun permit, Ziercke added.
Impossible!  No gun permit?  How did he commit all those shootings then?
Police say the highway attacks became more dangerous a year ago when the culprit began firing larger caliber ammunition.
MORE THAN ONE gun without a gun permit?  Gosh!  How could that happen?

[Hat tip to Irons in the Fire]
Categories

2013-06-26 00:46:51.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Bugs scurry away when you shine the light on them

Turns out Bloomberg had New York City employees registered as paid lobbyists in Nevada, working on gun control, in addition to hosting the Mayors Against Illegal Guns website on New York City infrastructure.  This shouldn't surprise anyone.
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2013-06-26 00:39:09.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Not aimed at terrorists

Americans tend to be less concerned about civil liberties violations when those violations are pointed at someone else.  With that in mind, it's good to occasionally remind each other that surveillance is not aimed at catching terrorists.  Terrorists have far more incentive to avoid being caught than ordinary people do, and are thus far more motivated to use high-effort, high-effectiveness means to avoid surveillance.  Ordinary people aren't willing to put out the effort in their lives to hide things that may still be embarrassing, awkward, useful for blackmail, or mildly criminal.

The only way to ensure that everyone has privacy is to make privacy the default assumption, and on the internet, that's more of a technical problem than a user one.
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2013-06-26 00:23:19.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Obama to meet with civil liberties board... for the first time

"I've set up a privacy and civil liberties oversight board, made up of independent citizens including some fierce civil libertarians," Obama told Charlie Rose in an interview that aired Monday. "I'll be meeting with them. And what I want to do is to set up and structure a national conversation, not only about these two programs, but also the general problem of data, big data sets, because this is not going to be restricted to government entities."
Sounds good if this is the only soundbite you hear.
The board, however, was funded eight years ago, and has remained largely powerless since then.
Eight years ago, and Obama is only now meeting with the oversight board?  It doesn't sound like it's a priority for him.  It sounds like he wants political cover for the NSA scandal after the fact.
The panel operated without offices or staff for years, and the fifth and final member -- Chairman David Medine -- was only confirmed last month, by a narrow 53-45 party-line vote.
Well, gosh, I'm so glad that Obama finally took the time to set up this panel after he got caught out spying on millions of innocent Americans.  It doesn't sound like a cynical attempt to polish his reputation at all, does it?  After all, Obama set up this advisory board to... wait, why are you laughing?
The board, however, was funded eight years ago, and has remained largely powerless since then.

The panel was first suggested in the 2004 report by the 9/11 Commission, and was first launched that year. In 2007, the group was granted independent powers, but both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama resisted nominating members for years.

Oh.  So it wasn't Obama's idea after all.  It was launched in 2004, under a Republican congress and a Republican president.  It was funded in 2005, still under Republicans.  Now, President Bush certainly deserves some blame for not nominating members, but Obama is into his second term now and he only just nominated the last member?  How hard can this be?

Clearly, it hasn't been a priority for either party.
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2013-06-25 05:18:08.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Bad Attitude

Radley Balko explores what we can learn from police t-shirts. It's not pretty.
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2013-06-25 04:31:19.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Domestic Drones

Robert Mueller, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, confirmed to lawmakers that the FBI owns several unmanned aerial vehicles, but has not adopted any strict policies or guidelines yet to govern the use of the controversial aircraft.

"Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on US soil?" Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Mr Mueller during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Yes," Mueller responded bluntly, adding that the FBI's operation of drones is "very seldom."
I wouldn't object to FBI use of drones in specific cases -- hostage situations, kidnappings, counterespionage.  I do object to their use for general surveillance.  And without guidelines, they will inevitably be abused.
Categories

2013-06-25 03:29:37.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Second Colorado recall effort certified

Just being able to get the recall petitions certified is a big success.  It shows that politicians will face consequences if they vote for gun control.  Even if they retain their seat in the recall election, they have to spend time and money contesting that election.  And winning is not at all a foregone conclusion when you have pissed off enough voters to generate a recall, since the recall effort itself points to a core of organized voters in opposition.

Gun control has consequences.

Hat tip to Sebastian.
Categories

2013-06-24 23:47:03.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Firearms manufacturer to leave Connecticut

PTR Industries, a company that builds high-end semi-automatic rifles at a factory in Bristol, Conn., is relocating to Aynor, South Carolina for its more-friendly gun rights laws, according to vice president of sales John McNamara. Meanwhile, a new Quinnipiac University poll released this week shows 57% of Connecticut residents are in favor of the state's new gun law.
Gun control costs your state jobs.  It's high time the gun industry relocated to states that will welcome them.

Oh, and about those layers of editors and fact-checkers...
The company first announced plans to leave Connecticut in April, when [name of legislation] {sic} was passed, outlawing guns like the ones manufactured by PTR Industries. The legislation was written in reaction to the heart-breaking Sandy Hook school shootings that claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 adults.
I'm sure they'll silently fix that when they notice.
Categories

2013-06-24 10:46:31.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

A simple surveillance solution

"What are the prospects for changing the program such that rather than the government acquiring the vast amounts of metadata, the telecommunications companies retain the metadata and then only on those 300 or so occasions where it needs to be queried, you're querying the telecommunications providers for whether they have those business records related to a reasonable articulable suspicion of foreign terrorist connection?" Schiff asked NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the agency's surveillance programs. 
If the telecommunications providers did not retain any data at all, they would not have any data to provide to the government.
Categories

2013-06-20 02:37:10.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Reasonable surveillance

More of what the government does is classified than ever before. If you do not know what the government is doing then, obviously, you have no say over its activities. This flies in the face of the Declaration of Independence, which states that governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed." 

How can you consent to something you know nothing of?
You can't, of course.  But that's not the point. 

You can't object to something if you don't know it's happening.
Categories

2013-06-20 01:55:33.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Missing the point

Cole made the revelation while defending the National Security Agency against revelations that it collected and stored the phone records of innocent Americans. The use of such records are supposed to be limited to foreigners being targeted by an approved investigation, but sometimes, Cole says, "A wrong phone number is hit or a person who shouldn't have been targeted gets targeted because there's a mistake in the phone record."
The problem is not that the NSA makes the occasional mistake by looking at metadata information on the wrong people.  The problem is that the NSA is collecting that information on everyone within its own database in the first place.

An occasional mistake is understandable.

An indiscriminate collection program is unforgivable.
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2013-06-20 01:54:00.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Terrorist Bomber named as victim of gun violence

At a June 18 gun control rally in New Hampshire sponsored by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns group, the name of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was read aloud as a recent victim of gun violence.
What gun control supporters don't want to acknowledge is that some people need to be killed.  Usually, they self-identify by attacking innocent people.

That's why the perpetual talking point "guns are designed only to kill" is so persistent.  To someone who supports gun control, it is inherently obvious that every death is a tragic loss that would not have happened without guns.  To a rational person, there is a cost benefit analysis.

The "cost" of shooting Tamerlan Tsarnaev is obviously far outweighed by the benefit of shooting him.  He's not unique in that.

UPDATE: Dorner also listed, along with other violent criminals.
Categories

2013-06-20 01:50:41.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

The IRS lies through its teeth

Holly Paz testifies:
"What were these employees' explanations for using the term 'tea party'?"

"Just sort of a shorthand reference," she said. "You know, I think they may have reference, you know, it's like calling soda 'Coke' or, you know, tissue 'Kleenex.' They knew what they meant, and the issue was campaign intervention."
Because of all these liberal tea party groups.  Right. 

Note that this doesn't even agree with earlier testimony.  If you're persecuting tea party groups based on those groups having "tea party" in their name, it doesn't matter if you think "tea party" is internal shorthand for a politically neutral term.  To borrow her analogy, it doesn't matter if you are referring to generic soda as "Coke" internally if you send an intern out to buy "Coke" and the intern comes back with "Coke".

This also doesn't explain why liberal groups sailed through with no scrutiny while conservative groups were delayed and denied.
"Do you have any sense of how it is that they could have not noticed that there was a problem with using 'tea party' to refer to political advocacy cases?" asked another Democratic counsel for the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"My impressions, based on, you know, this instance and other instances is that because they are so apolitical, they are not as sensitive as we would like them to be as to how things might appear," Paz responded.
IRS employees are so apolitical that 75% of their campaign donations go to Democrats (over the past three elections), and every single traceable donation in 2012 from the Cincinatti office at issue here went to Obama or liberal Democrat Sherrod Brown.

If the Democrats want to play monopoly with the instrumentalities of the federal leviathan, than Paz and her colleagues who participated in this abuse of power deserve to go directly to jail.  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect $200.

Instead, she's gone on "administrative leave", which we outside of Washington, DC would call a paid vacation.
Categories

2013-06-19 09:28:25.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Reasoned Discourse

So, I left a comment on the article I was discussing in this post:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Heidi,

Gun safety is a personal responsibility, not a government one. No matter what the legal requirements in your state happen to be, you have a personal responsibility to learn to handle that firearm safely. Guns are not safe, and they are not toys. You should not be putting yourself and those around you at risk by carrying a firearm you have no idea how to use or handle safely.

If, god forbid, you should make a mistake and hurt yourself or someone else, it will not be the fault of your state's firearms laws. It will be your fault, because you behaved in a childish and irresponsible manner around a dangerous tool. Not the fault of America's millions of responsible gun owners; not the fault of your state's gun laws; not the fault of a coffee shop's policy to follow state laws and stay out of a political issue; your fault. And you will be legally responsible for the consequences of your ignorance.

You've published your article and made your point, asinine as that point may be. Another time I'd be happy to discuss the merits of the issue with you. Responsible gun owners take gun safety very seriously. However, making your point was clearly more important to you than behaving in a safe and responsible manner. That makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution. Go take a gun safety class. Not because you have to, but because it's the right thing to do.
See that bit at the top about how the comment is awaiting moderation?  It's not dated, but several comments after mine have been approved.

Yeah, reasoned discourse is in full effect.

Other gunbloggers have noted the same thing, but Bryan Preston did some research and tried to figure out what state the author lives in by analyzing the requirements she described in her article.  He concludes that her story doesn't match the firearms laws of any state.  The most likely candidate is Washington State, but that state has a 5-day waiting period for firearms purchases -- with an exemption for concealed-carry permit holders.  The background check for obtaining the permit can legally take up to 30 days, and in practice takes up to 2 months, unless you happen to know which county to apply in and show up really early.

The other possibility is Idaho, but that state requires a gun safety course for concealed carry licensees.
Categories

2013-06-18 12:41:39.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments
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