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All it needs to do is keep the people quiet through the election

... because when the courts strike it down after the election, the incumbents can always pass one with slightly different language for next time.

Occasionally, the Supreme Court considers questions that are answered merely by asking them. On Tuesday, the court will hear arguments about this: Should a government agency, whose members are chosen by elected officials, be empowered to fine or imprison any candidate or other participant in the political process who during a campaign makes what the agency considers "false statements" about a member of the political class or a ballot initiative?

Ohio is one of the battleground states that decides presidential elections.

If you think that's an accident, I have some oceanfront property in the state you may be interested in.

2014-04-23 14:40:04.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Joe explains what's wrong with personalized handguns from a security perspective

Read the whole thing to learn why smart guns are impossible to make. Although it doesn't take long before "making a new gun from scratch" becomes easier than disabling the "smart" part of the gun.

And in other news, a Democrat Ed Markey has introduced legislation mandating personalized handguns (aka smart guns) as the only guns being sold within two years.

Since Joe already dealt with how this proposal is impossible to actually implement, I'll take a different look at it. Think about the existing stock of firearms in the United States right now. Easily a hundred million functional firearms in civilian hands. 2 or 3 hundred million is a more likely number. It will be illegal to sell these weapons after such a law passed; but it will still be possible to steal them.

Three hundred million firearms is enough to supply the criminal market for hundreds of years.

2014-04-23 13:40:04.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Unions to gain access to workers' personal info before any union election is held

The administration's National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) proposed rules would allow for union elections -- in which workers at a company vote whether or not to unionize -- to be held 10 days after a petition is filed. And what, exactly, would be happening to the unions during those 10 days? The new rules require employers to disclose workers' personal information, including phone numbers, home addresses, and information about when they work their shifts.

Remember, at the point this information is to be provided, no election will have been held. The workers will not have any say in whether the union -- possibly more than one -- gains access to their phone numbers, home addresses, and work schedules. If this rule passes -- and it seems likely -- the privacy rights of every American worker will be subject to the whim of every union boss in the country.

Because we all know that unions are such mild, peaceful organizations.

2014-04-23 12:40:04.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Bread and Circuses

What is going on? Increasingly, journalists who cover the White House are concluding that the smears are part of a conscious strategy to distract voters from Obamacare, the sluggish economy, and foreign-policy reverses; the attacks are intended, the thinking goes, to drive up resentment and hence turnout among the Democratic base.

Figuring out the game doesn't seem to have stopped any of those journalists from playing.

2014-04-23 11:40:04.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Keystone XL pipeline delayed again

The State Department announced last week that it was extending the Keystone XL pipeline's five-year stay in purgatory -- this time, indefinitely. A departmental review scheduled to end in May has been pushed back while the Nebraska Supreme Court decides a case that could affect the pipeline's path. It seems unlikely that the issue will be resolved before polls are cast in the 2014 midterms, meaning another controversial policy that could affect this year's closest Senate races is in limbo.

When your whole platform is based on attacking the system, it's hard to be the system. Democrats in office don't want to take a vote on the pipeline because approving it would piss off environmentalists nationwide, but blocking it would piss off the people who actually live in the energy-friendly states they represent. So they delay, and delay, and delay to avoid taking a position and choosing sides until after the election.

2014-04-23 10:40:04.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Prior drug conviction does not bar firearms ownership

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns ruled that Michael Wesson of Salisbury and Thomas Woods of Natick have a Second Amendment right to own firearms despite being convicted of possessing weed in the past. Sterns said the portion of the Massachusetts Gun Control Act that disqualifies gun applicants who had previously been convicted of possessing a controlled substance was unconstitutional, as applied to the two men.

Note that the state law is still in place, and Massachussetts has decriminalized the drug. There's still quite a bit of legal jeopardy available to people with past drug convictions. But in some cases, at least, prior drug convictions may not bar later firearms ownership.

Hire a lawyer to investigate your personal circumstances before you rely on that, though.

2014-04-23 09:40:04.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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]
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