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Officer Friendly Or Else

"If you don't want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground," warns Officer Sunil Dutta of the Los Angeles Police Department, "just do what I tell you."

Reason explains the police attitude problem.

2014-08-19 18:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Another Illegal Mayor

This time, the charges appear to be bribery, "endangering the public health" (whatever that means), and intimidating a witness. It's getting to the point where this stuff just isn't news anymore.

2014-08-19 17:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Deval Patrick signs gun control bill in Massachusetts

The law makes all firearms purchases, including rifles and shotguns, subject to the discretion of police rather than objective criteria. In other words, if the police don't like you you can't have a gun.

That's not how we treat fundamental rights in this country, and I suspect the Supreme Court will so rule eventually. A state like Massachusetts might be able to get away with discretion for carrying a firearm outside the home, but the Heller case should have nixed discretion for ownership.

2014-08-19 16:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

American Bar Association doesn't like Stand Your Ground

"Stand your ground" laws hinder law enforcement, are applied inconsistently and disproportionately affect minorities.

That's the conclusion of a report issued by the ABA at their annual meeting. It is, of course, quite incorrect:

The ABA contends that Stand Your Ground laws increase homicides, but the four studies it cites for that theory suffer serious limitations. The Tampa Bay Tribune, which conducted one of the studies, admitted that it reviewed only a small number of cases, thus its findings couldn’t be considered conclusive. Two of the remaining three studies used data which exclude a significant percentage of defensive homicides and which, even with respect to those that are included, don’t indicate whether a Stand Your Ground law was invoked. The fourth study used data that don’t distinguish between criminal homicides, to which such laws are irrelevant, and defensive homicides, let alone distinguish between defensive homicides in which such laws were and weren’t invoked.

It's easy to lie with statistics when your audience isn't willing to check your facts.

2014-08-19 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS, ObamaCare officials got large bonuses despite failure

Judicial Watch is reporting on bonuses paid to Obamacare officials despite that effort remaining a colossal failure. We have also seen IRS officials collecting huge bonuses and promotions despite being implicated in that agencies tax-exempt organizations targeting scandal. Not to mention the VA officials who also got the big bonuses for letting their patients die on off-the-books wait lists.

It makes me wonder if they were being paid off.

2014-08-19 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

David Gregory is leaving NBC...

... which makes me wonder. What is the statute of limitations on possession of a standard-capacity magazine in Washington, DC?

David Gregory displays a 30-round magazine in DC studio

2014-08-19 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Democrat lawmaker working on police de-militarization legislation

If you want to understand why such legislation is necessary, consider starting here.

Subject to the usual caveats about seeing the actual legislation before endorsing it, if both the House and Senate cannot pass such legislation in the run up to the election, they are incompetent idiots. Obama might even sign it if it gets near his desk. The opportunity to actually pass something useful should not be missed.

It's a shame no one had any legislation already written and ready to introduce, isn't it? I guess that only works for legislation that disarms the people, right Ms Feinstein?

2014-08-18 12:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Libertarian likely to be on the ballot in Kentucky Senate race

If you can't stomach either McConnel or Grimes, you may have a third option.

2014-08-18 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Feds backing off operation choke point?

They are saying their list of high-risk industries was causing "confusion", so they are removing the list.

I don't think it's the list that was the problem. I think the list came with pressure by regulators.

2014-08-18 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Struggle for Stupidity

2014-08-16 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

HHS official Marilyn Tavenner requests recipient delete email

The request to delete the email shows consciousness of guilt and the desire to hide evidence of wrongdoing. The email itself shows an exchange between the White House and the key officials involved in the Obamacare rollout. One of the White House recipients has also been linked to IRS officials involved in the targeting scandal.

UPDATE: Actual email behind the "Read More" button. It seems to be a case of "delete because politically embarrassing" rather than "delete because criminal". But the deletion itself is criminal.

UPDATE2: Inquiry letter from Congress.

(Read More...)

2014-08-15 19:55:55.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Rick Perry indicted by Austin DA in political feud

More details from the local paper:

A Travis County grand jury Friday indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two charges related to his effort last year to force District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her drunken driving arrest.

Grand jurors charged Perry, 63, with abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony. The first charge carries a punishment of 5-99 years. The second charge is punishable by 2-10 years.

The indictment stems from Perry’s threat last summer to withhold $7.2 million in state money from Lehmberg’s office unless she step down – a threat he later carried out by vetoing an appropriation in the state budget.

This is the same office that indicted Tom Delay right before an election years back, and the effort strikes me as wholly political and aimed at knocking Perry out of the 2016 presidential race.

Perry's request for her resignation appears to have been prompted by a DWI charge in which she allegedly sought to use her influence to get out of. She was convicted of the DWI charge, but a separate lawsuit did not remove her from office for the alleged abuse of authority.

Travis County deputies arrested and charged Lehmberg with DWI in April 2013. She later pled guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail – an usually harsh sentence for a first-time drunken driving charge. She later prevailed in a civil lawsuit to remove her from office.

She was out of control on on the dashcam video and also while in jail:

2014-08-15 19:32:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Wisdom From Joe

People, especially young men, want power, to feel empowered. Welfare laws what they are, there are few good fathers to be role models in a lot of inner city “families.” Boys and young men look for “strong” men to emulate, and they see gang-bangers above shop-keepers in the social hierarchy. The anti-gun laws have created the inner city gang problem, and here is the underlying mechanism.

Read the whole thing.

2014-08-15 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

House Judiciary committee considering a balanced budget amendment

I don't necessarily object to running this up the flagpole to see who salutes it, but it would need two-thirds in the House (which isn't completely insane) and the Senate (which will vote for it shortly after hell freezes over).

It's more interesting to consider it as an indication that the state convention process is starting to scare the federal politicians in both parties. And taken that way, it's promising.

2014-08-15 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Is the no-fly list intended to leverage informants?

In the complaint, each person outlines a similar story: being detained at the border, often having digital devices seized, and being subject to prolonged physical searches. One was told that he was on the no-fly list and was later offered a chance to work on behalf of federal law enforcement in exchange for removal. He seems to have declined.

If you agree to become an informant, they will take you off the no-fly list? That seems fishy.

2014-08-15 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The flaw in the IRS deposition

The New York Observer outlines the missing pieces in the recent IRS deposition:

Who among us doesn’t receive and send emails from more than one device—each of which often has a different server? Did Lois Lerner have a desktop computer? Did she have any other device on which she could or did receive office emails? Did she have a Blackberry, a smartphone, an iPad or other similar devices? Where are those now and what servers did each use?

In short, the details about recovery attempts on data from the hard drive itself are a distraction. It was useful and necessary to acquire them, certainly, but it now appears to be a dead end. The next question is why no efforts were made to recover the email data from the email servers and backup tapes -- and why the IRS canceled it's contract to back up their email servers in the same time frame as the hard drive failure.

UPDATE: Legal Insurrection is reporting that the judge has issued a new order demanding further filings about the IRS efforts to recover Lerner's emails from alternate sources, and more details about the hard drive destruction policy.

2014-08-15 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Discretion is not always the better part of valor

The government is all discretion when it comes to one of its own. True, there have been threats against the police officer in question — but if any municipal institution is positioned to defend its members, it is the police. And are there no threats against private individuals who are arrested or investigated? Are there no threats against people in prisons? Police departments and prosecutors regularly release discretionary information that has serious consequences for the lives of private individuals, including those who have not been charged with or convicted of any crime.

The officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, and thus set off the Ferguson riots that have been continuing for 5 days or so now, has been neither named nor charged in the death of the man he shot. I completely agree that an investigation must be conducted, and that the situation in Ferguson leads to credible threats of violence against a man who may be innocent of murder, if not innocent of taking someone's life.

But I do not believe in the state keeping the identities of those who act on behalf of the public secret from the public. It smells like a cover up. There is clear public interest in the information.

The police have said that the name of the officer will be released if he is charged in connection with the shooting. That is not good enough. If he is never charged -- as many officer-involved shootings are not -- then his name would not be released under that standard. If he is in fact a public servant, his actions should be open to public scrutiny -- including his past performance record as an officer.

That is not to advocate any violence against the officer or his family, of course. But many people face that kind of threat without the benefit of secrecy, and there's no need to release the officer's address. But with respect to this shooting, the officer should have exactly the same right to privacy that anyone else would have in the same situation.

UPDATE: The name of the officer involved has now been released.

2014-08-15 09:38:54.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Census bureau, Obamacare health officials also lost emails

Last week, an Obama records officer claimed e-mails belonging to an official in the rollout also “may not be available.” And on Tuesday, The Post’s John Crudele reported 61 laptops missing at the Census Bureau.

It's hard to evaluate 61 missing laptops. 61 missing laptops total? 61 missing from a list of people who had their emails subpoena'd? If the latter, it would quadruple the number of officials under subpoena who cannot retrieve records they are supposed to be keeping.

Bear in mind that the Census has also been accused of faking numbers to help Obama electorally.

2014-08-14 18:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Hickenlooper is a Bloomberg fanboy

Not to mention a complete idiot:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper seems to have something of a man-crush on former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.Hickenlooper admitted in a tape-recorded conversation that that he penned a “long, fawning” handwritten letter to Bloomberg in which he enumerated his favorite Bloomberg achievements.

Once he figured out we weren't going to listen to his lying attempt at apologizing, he decided to show his true colors and go full anti-gun, because what does he have to lose?

It's up to us to remind him that the answer is: the election.

2014-08-14 17:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

ATF proposes lost-and-stolen rule with 48hr reporting requirement

The proposed rule appears to apply to FFLs, not everyone. The idea for the rule is just as bad as before, though; remember that we're talking about firearms being shipped from place to place. 48 hrs is barely enough time to even wonder whether a package has been delayed, never mind actually be sure it's gone missing and report it. And what if the package turns up after it was reported lost in transit?

This rule exists solely to get people in trouble.

2014-08-14 16:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

This nonviolent stuff'll get you killed

A new book by Charles Cobb, This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible, describes the presence and use of firearms in the Civil Rights movement, a subject that has received less attention than it deserves. The author was recently interviewed on NPR about the book.

I've had this sitting in my queue for a while, waiting for the opportunity to do a proper review, but given events in Ferguson, I will go ahead and post it.

Civil rights require the ability to defend yourself.

2014-08-14 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

I suspect the IRS did not go into detail about the backup tapes...

“It is quite telling that the IRS’s submission in response to the court’s order speak[s] to possible restoration of the hard drive itself rather than going into any detail about efforts made to restore Ms. Lerner’s email information through backup tapes or other systemwide mechanisms,” said Mr. Metcalfe, now the executive director of the Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University’s Washington College of Law.

... because there was no effort to recover information from the backup tapes.

2014-08-14 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS pulls lawyer with conflict of interest from Z Street case

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Justice Department has withdrawn the lawyer, Andrew Strelka, as the IRS’ counsel of record on the Z Street case and two others involving the agency’s alleged discrimination against right-leaning groups. The Justice Department told the Journal only that “it is not unusual for attorney assignments to change during the course of litigation.”

This doesn't necessarily mean anything... but it might.

2014-08-14 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A conversation about race that Eric Holder is afraid to have

I don't know what happened in the Ferguson shooting that has turned into protests, riots, and looting. But I know that people are using it to play the race card:

To ascribe this entirely to contempt for black men is to miss an essential variable, though—a very real, American fear of them. They—we—are inexplicably seen as a millions-strong army of potential killers, capable and cold enough that any single one could be a threat to a trained police officer in a bulletproof vest. There are reasons why white gun's rights activists can walk into a Chipotle restaurant with assault rifles and be seen as gauche nuisances while unarmed black men are killed for reaching for their wallets or cell phones, or carrying children's toys. Guns aren't for black people, either.

I have no objection to black people with guns or other tools of self-defense. Take Colin Noir as an example. There's nothing about race that makes minorities unable to use firearms safely and responsibly.

On the other hand, I do object to this:

And then the protest turned violent, as some citizens began to break into, loot, and set fire to storefronts in their own community. Whatever it was, it was met with force.

When people behave violently, rioting, looting, and burning down buildings en mass, they have justified the police response. On the other hand, a quote from my twitter feed:

A populace, when confronted with police forces that look like an occupying army, will begin to behave as if they are an occupied people.

Both sides need to back down and focus on resolving the situation peacefully based on an open and honest investigation of what actually happened. Riots, looting, and armored vehicles don't solve anything.

2014-08-14 12:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

It's all about building the list

If you would like up to four free gun locks for personal use, please indicate how many you would like on the enclosed postcard, include your name and address, and return the postcard. When we receive your request we will mail the requested number of gun lock to the address you provide.

As far as safety goes, gun locks are pretty much useless. You're better off with gun safety rules and a gun safe. But when a government agency is offering you free gun locks, you had better ask yourself why they want to give you something for free.

In this case, I suspect the answer is to find out whether you own guns and how many. Especially when combined with prior VA efforts to declare veterans mentally incompetent and deny them their firearms rights and many other efforts within this administration to compile lists of gun owners.

2014-08-14 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The horrors of property forfeiture

It seems that a county in Philadelphia is actually paying almost half of its salaries with the proceeds of property forfeiture laws. That's almost literally robbery -- armed police and a court system that takes your property and uses it to pay its own salary. The incentive structure is entirely perverse.

This should not be possible in America. It's the sort of corruption that belongs in third-world dictatorships.

2014-08-14 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS officials testify in federal court concerning lost emails

Judicial Watch has documents from the testimony available.

2014-08-14 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Stefan Becket is an ignorant twit

In reference to reporters covering events in Ferguson being arrested, he said:

Reporters are granted a privilege by the Constitution. Like it or not, their rights being violated rise above that of the average citizen's.

and then he deleted the tweet when it was criticized. I would like to preserve it for posterity, in case he ever runs for office.

So what's wrong with his statement?

1) The Bill of Rights protects rights, not privileges.
2) The Bill of Rights recognizes preexisting rights rather than granting new rights.
3) The rights protected by the Bill of Rights apply to all people equally.
Reporters are not special based on their profession. They have the same rights as any other citizen.
4) The rights protected by the First Amendment include freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. The "press" referred to is a printing press, the most modern means of widely publishing writing at the time. It does not refer to the profession of anyone. Among our founding fathers were both traditional newspaper businessmen and pamphleteers who ran a hand-cranked press in their basement.

... and these are the people supposedly disseminating information to everyone else. We're doomed.

(Read More...)

2014-08-13 22:37:12.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why money in politics doesn't bother me

Money can buy advertising, and consultants, but money doesn't vote.

2014-08-13 18:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The costs of a compliant media

"The president's commitment to transparency and the crucial role of the independent press is unwavering. The president has set an historically high standard of transparency that is part of the legacy to which future presidents will aspire ..."

The new presidential spokesperson has realized that the media will not challenge him on even an absolutely blatant lie, and he's taking full advantage of that.

2014-08-13 17:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

When coming into contact with the police as a gun owner is a crime

In New Jersey, calling the police because your wife stabs you in the neck is cause to break open your gun safe and charge you with having too much ammunition. Whatever "too much" means in New Jersey, which is probably "any".

They are confiscating his firearms, of course. The excuse will be "domestic violence", never mind that he was the victim of the violence. He won't get any of them back. How do I know? They are tossing them in barrels with neither reasonable care or an inventory kept.

2014-08-13 16:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS technicians testify about data recovery efforts

Neither technician said they saw any sign of physical damage on the hard drive, painting a similar picture to what IRS officials have been saying for months — that Lerner’s computer crashed on its own in 2011, leaving missing an untold number of her emails over a two-year span.

About the only thing this testimony proves (even if true) is that Lerner is not stupid enough to take the drive out of the computer and physically hit it with a hammer in an attempt to destroy the contents. When running, hard drives are fragile, but the external case is not; it would be easy to damage the data on the drive deliberately without doing much damage to anything else. Just drop the laptop or desktop a few feet while the drive is operating. Or run a data shredder program, which will destroy the data electronically while leaving a functional drive behind. (And, optionally, drop it to cause a physical failure to explain the data loss).

The other question is... what about the earlier testimony that the drive was scratched? There appears to be a conflict there. Was it scratched or wasn't it?

(Read More...)

2014-08-13 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Where are the Democrats?

The question is, where are the Democrats in the face of this obvious malfeasance?

During the Watergate scandal that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon, a few Republicans came forward and urged the president to come clean. Yet, the silence is deafening from Democrats in both the House and Senate in the wake of this obvious obstruction of the congressional oversight function.

Where are the patriots on the Democratic side, who are willing to stand up to an executive branch that has declared them inconsequential?


It doesn't count if you wait until the administration is abusing you and your staff personally.

2014-08-13 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

This explains a lot

Ms. Drohan was very gracious and straightforward in explaining why: “Here’s the problem,” she wrote. “Saying ‘this is a common misunderstanding’ sounds like a correction of a factual error (which in this case it is). We don’t use letters to make factual corrections. That’s for the corrections people. There is no such problem with ‘I disagree.’”

The New York Times does not print letters that correct factual errors made by the New York Times columnists. I don't believe the Pope is infallible, and I certainly do not concede that quality to anyone writing for the largest New York fishwrap manufacturer.

2014-08-13 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The instant riots and looting make me suspicious...

... It seems to have escalated awfully fast for a questionable shooting that, frankly, is pretty similar to many others that happen on a regular basis without becoming news. Except this one is pretty close to an election.

I don't know if the shooting was justified or not. I am pretty sure the riots and looting are neither justified, nor strictly motivated by the shooting. Pretty sure those are motivated by greed and stirred up by political opportunism. Obama has to push his base to turn out during the midterms, after all.

And he's got a presidential statement right on cue.

It's almost like he planned it all out and was just waiting for the right incident at the right time.

2014-08-13 12:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

FCC to examine stingray devices

The chances that, after their examination, they will forbid state or local police to use them are probably close to zero.

2014-08-13 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Four more victims of Operation Choke Point come forward

A House report indicates that a primary target of Operation Choke Point is the short-term lending industry. A more expansive list of out of favor, non-financial businesses includes certain ammunition merchants, coin dealers, home-based charities, and sellers of pharmaceutical drugs – also lawful enterprises.

When the government uses regulatory pressure to stifle legal, but disfavored, businesses, that's tyranny. And, it seems, standard operating procedure for this administration.

2014-08-13 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Pressure building for Ginsburg resignation

She doesn't seem to appreciate it:

“All I can say is that I am still here and likely to remain for a while,” Ginsburg told Yahoo News, while indicating that she expects to remain on the bench for “at least” another year, meaning that Obama may have to push a nominee through a Republican-controlled Senate after the 2014 elections.

After the way Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has handled the filibuster rule, the Republicans would be well within their moral authority to refuse to vote for any Supreme Court nominee while Reid is still majority leader. Unfortunately, they don't have the willpower to play hardball.

2014-08-13 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Maryland judge rules AR, AK rifles not protected by 2nd Amendment

She's claiming they are "dangerous and unusual". She believes they are not in common use (3% of civilian gun stock), that ownership is highly concentrated in under 1% of the population, that they are disproportionately used in crime and not possessed for self-defense in the home.

Nationally, she's way off.

In Maryland, a state which is not exactly friendly to firearms, she may have a point. But if so, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy -- guns that are not in common use because they are heavily regulated cannot justify the regulations because the guns are not in common use.

The law she upheld is a ban on standard capacity magazines (over 10 rounds), and "assault weapons" however Maryland defines them. It appears to be a "confiscation" law that does not grandfather existing firearms. There is an exception for law enforcement personally owning banned firearms, including transfer to a law enforcement officer upon retirement.

The full ruling is here. This is from a Federal District Court, meaning that it is at the first stage of the appeals process.

A word to the wise: The "Read More" link below has a LOT more to this post.

(Read More...)

2014-08-12 22:45:08.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

California anti-gun legislation on the move

The Dems in control of that state obviously view gun control as a way to motivate their base. If you live there, get your activism hat on. Some of the stuff could get a vote as early as today.

2014-08-12 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Freedom and Safety are not compatible

“Part of our mission as an association is to defend liberty and deliver justice,” Silkenat said at the program, “Combatting Gun Violence: A Role for Lawyers and the Bar.” Someone “who cannot go to the laundromat, the movie theater or school, without fear for their safety, is not truly free—even if he or she can vote or have the right to legal counsel,” he said.

No one is safe. There will always be accidents and criminals. The question is whether individuals are free to accept the risk of the former in order to go about their lives with minimal interference, and to defend themselves from the latter without being attacked again by the legal system.

The American Bar Association would prefer that we sue anyone and anything that presents even the slightest risk to our safety, and that the "justice" system come down like a load of bricks on anyone who defends themselves with a firearm.

Coincidentally, both situations require people to hire very expensive lawyers.

I wonder if that might have something to do with their position on guns?

2014-08-12 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A short review of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

An uninspired, forgettable attempt to reboot Tom Clancy's series of Cold War technothrillers with a terror angle. Clancy's strength as a writer was a combination of technical knowledge, strong and memorably flawed characters, and the ability to write convincingly about CIA analyst Jack Ryan who is obviously much more comfortable behind a desk yet nonetheless has enough action hero inside to save the day at the last minute. When he got bored, he passed the torch to an author who writes fairly standard espionage thriller novels about Jack Ryans' son, a much more conventional action hero. And along the line, the movie rights got sold, and a script got written, and the script did not bother to follow the book universe; it tried instead to reboot the whole universe with the original Jack as a reluctant action hero (who nonetheless volunteered for the CIA) in a plot vaguely reminiscent of the book it was named for without actually including any of the interesting complexities.

Give this one a pass, even if you liked Clancy in written form.

2014-08-12 12:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

DEA spends almost a million to steal your identity

The Drug Enforcement Administration paid $854K to obtain credit card numbers, travel itineraries, emergency contact info, passport numbers, and dates of birth of passengers from an Amtrak employee.

The employee, described as a "secretary to a train and engine crew" in a summary obtained by the AP, was selling the customer data with Amtrak's approval. Amtrak and other transportation companies collect information from their customers including credit card numbers, travel itineraries, emergency contact info, passport numbers, and dates of birth. When booking tickets online in recent years, Amtrak has also collected phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Why? Dear god, why?! What possible legitimate use is there for this information?

2014-08-12 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An extremely dangerous place to be

Tom Coburn, the GOP ranking member on the Senate Government Reform Committee, is retiring later this year after a decade of championing openness in government. He is worried about the precedent the Obama administration has established: “This is an extremely dangerous place to be for a government established to be of the people, by the people, for the people.”

It's our government, not Obama's government. He is a temporary caretaker, hired by the people to administer, not to rule. But he seems to have forgotten that.

2014-08-12 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Murderer in the Kremlin

2014-08-12 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Sounding the alarm in Washington State

For those of you who don’t know, a serious fight kicked off last January in Washington state. Lately I have volunteered my time to speak at gun shows and other events and let me tell you something, I am terrified. Out of the people visiting their local gun show you would expect at least 90% of the people to have at least heard about what’s going on, it’s more like 50%. Most have no real knowledge of either of the initiatives or their real legal impact and what it means for them as gun owners.

If you live in Washington State, read the whole thing. There are important ballot initiatives you need to be aware of.

2014-08-11 17:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

This is sort of amusing

Some paper called the Chronicle-Tribune based in Grant County, Indiana, is calling for a special prosecutor in the IRS scandal. The piece is written by US Senator Dan Coats. But the article itself is blocked by a subscription paywall.

Seems just a little counterproductive to me.

2014-08-11 16:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Six Questions for agencies losing emails

Sharyl Attkisson has questions, I have some answers:

Is it reasonable any longer to expect accused federal agencies to conduct their own search for records that could implicate themselves and their top officials?

No. This process is too easily corrupted when the top officials or the bureaucracy at the agency has something to hide. Since most of the communications herein are public records anyway, the records should be retained and published via an automated process. If necessary, a separate neutral agency can redact information that should not be public record in a way that preserves the information for later requests by authorized parties.

Publishing this sort of information in a publicly accessible, searching electronic format automatically is well within our technological capabilities. There is no need to wait for time-consuming FOIA requests or Congressional committees negotiating with agencies. Publish it all.

There is, however, one other issue with the very frame of this question. It's not just that the agencies are doing these searches themselves. It's that in many of these cases, the archives themselves are held individually. Lois Lerner could make her emails disappear because she was the person responsible for retaining and archiving those emails. Not her agency, but Lerner herself.

That needs to stop. All records need to be retained and archived by an agency whose sole task is to maintain and publish those archives.

(Read More...)

2014-08-11 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Journolist 2.0

For those who remember the original Journolist, a mailing list of liberal/progressive media figures that was used to coordinate coverage of political issues during the 2008 election, a public records request has uncovered its replacement.

It's not improper for this list to exist, or for opinion writers to participate. It's not even necessarily improper for news journalists to participate. What it does do is shatter the claim that the participants are neutral, unbiased reporters.

2014-08-11 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Legislation

The "Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2013" (H.R. 2959)--introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Richard Nugent (R-Fla.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah)--would allow any person who is not prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm under federal law and who has a valid concealed firearm permit, to carry a concealed handgun in any state that issues its own residents permits to carry concealed firearms. Persons carrying a handgun in another state pursuant to H.R. 2959 would be subject to the laws of that state with respect to where concealed firearms may be carried. Similar legislation to H.R. 2959 passed the House in 2011 by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 272-154.

This legislation would be a step forward, and it would prevent states with no respect for the right of self-defense from imprisoning honest citizens who drive across a state line in ignorance. Find out if your representative is a cosponsor, and thank them or encourage them as appropriate. Shaneen Allen should be the last person victimized by the anti-gun bigots in New Jersey.

Remember, the prosecutor in that case thinks that peacefully carrying a gun is worse than actually beating your wife.

2014-08-11 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]
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