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IRS sends inquiry letter to buy time, prevent Congressional inquiry

Washington TimesThe IRS sent one of its intrusive scrutiny letters to a nonprofit group in order to throw up a smokescreen and prevent the group from complaining to Congress about poor treatment, according to one of Lois G. Lerner’s apparently lost emails, which were recovered by auditors and released by an interest group Tuesday.

Just imagine how much more we could have found if the IRS hadn't degaussed the backup tapes.

2015-07-31 12:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

I remember when Republicans opposed taxes

CNS NewsRepublicans in the Senate are leading efforts to pass legislation that would allow the states to impose a sales tax on online transactions.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) has proposed the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), which would allow states to “collect and remit sales and use taxes with respect to remote sales.”

I remember when it was Democrats pushing for tax increases.

I guess there's not much difference now.

2015-07-31 11:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Rasmussen polls on IRS targeting

RasmussenFifty-two percent (52%) of Likely U.S. Voters continue to believe the IRS broke the law when it targeted the groups, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 24% say the IRS didn’t break the law when it went after Tea Party and other conservative groups, while just as many (24%) are not sure.

They did also poll (but did not report publicly) how many people think that Obama was aware of the IRS targeting.

2015-07-31 10:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Starting to put the pieces together

I've pointed out before that evidence suggested IRS Chief Counsel Wilkins was involved in the IRS targeting effort and was later assigned to run the hundreds of IRS lawyers involved in covering up that targeting effort -- officially, he was running the document production to Congress and was in charge of redacting information from emails produced to Congressional investigators. This is, obviously, the perfect position to manage the information being released and to carefully ensure that no information too harmful ever sees the light of day.

Now, though, new emails obtained by Judicial Watch allow us to put a few more breadcrumbs together and trace the origin of the targeting all the way back to Obama personally:

Hot AirSome may wonder why this is so significant. About nine months after signing off on this targeting, Wilkins spent more than seven hours in the White House meeting with President Obama. That seems a bit unusual, since Wilkins was counsel to the IRS; the White House has its own counsel with which to confer on legal issues. It’s not illegal for an agency counsel to meet with the President directly, or even necessarily improper, but it’s a bit … odd. And two days after this April 2012 meeting, the IRS suddenly modified its tax-exempt targeting criteria based on communication from Wilkins.

At the time that came out two years ago (!), one could have imagined that Wilkins got brought into the White House to consult on the targeting based on worries that it might have broken the law. Now, with this memo, it looks like Wilkins was actually involved in it from the beginning, which puts his seven-hour stay at the White House nine months later in a much different light. One might also wonder what his December 15, 2011 meeting with Obama — again for several hours — meant in light of this memo. It appears that Wilkins could have been a conduit for the targeting policy between the White House and the IRS — or at least had the resources to know about it for far longer than they admitted.

2015-07-31 09:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Invasion, not immigration

Gateway PunditThe 1.1 million Salvadoran immigrants in the United States represent about one-fifth (19.1 percent) of the total population of El Salvador (5.7 million in 2007 according to the Salvadoran Department of Statistics and Censuses).

Gateway PunditAccording to the most recent estimates provided by the CIA, the population of Mexico is roughly 120 million people. So how do we get ¼ of the population from that? Well, Coulter claims that there are 30 million illegals in the country currently.

If any given nation had 20% to 25% of its population under arms, we would be far more than simply concerned that nation was planning an invasion; we would be actively deploying our troops and recruiting more. That those nations, and possibly others, have such huge fractions of their population living within our borders illegally (and collecting benefits, and sending some of those benefits home, and voting for more benefits) is a violation of our national sovereignty that would invite a military response from a political class less corrupt.

2015-07-30 12:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Wisconsin John Doe whistleblower dead, police claim suicide

Milwaukee Journal SentinalFormer aldermanic candidate Michael Lutz died early Sunday morning of an apparent suicide, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Lutz, 44, a former Milwaukee police officer, suffered an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound “while in the presence of Menomonee Falls tactical officers after a brief tactical situation,” the medical examiner’s office said in a release issued Sunday.

Legal Insurrection has more background information.

So he commits suicide "after a brief tactical situation"? I don't buy it. The circumstances stink. The timing stinks.

Let's bear in mind the events of the past week or so:
1) Judicial Watch uncovers emails proving IRS targeted donors to conservative organizations.
2) Links between Lerner and the Wisconsin John Doe investigation are discovered.
3) President Obama puts a new rule in place requiring IGs to ask agency heads for permission before engaging in wiretaps or grand jury investigations (ie, criminal investigations).
4) Emails linking IRS Chief Counsel Wilkins to the donor targeting effort email.
5) Wilkins is known to have met with Obama for almost an entire day, just a day or two before he changes IRS policy on donor audits.

When you look at the chronology, Lutz is one end of a thread that may now lead all the way up to Obama. And I'm supposed to believe this was a suicide when he was surrounded by the same people conducting unconstitutional midnight raids on political opponents that he exposed?

I don't buy it. Someone's nervous and cleaning up loose ends.

2015-07-30 11:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama restricts investigative powers of Inspector Generals

In light of recent revelations about IRS targeting of donors to conservative organizations and a possible direct link to Obama himself, not to mention two IG requests to criminally investigate Hillary Clinton's use of an unofficial email server for classified material, Obama has taken steps to prevent Inspector Generals from, well, investigating things:

Washington TimesThe Obama administration formally announced that inspectors general will have to get permission from their agency heads to gain access to grand jury, wiretap and fair credit information — an action that severely limits the watchdogs’ oversight capabilities, independence and power to uncover fraud.

Agency heads are political appointees, and answer directly to Obama. If the IGs will need to ask permission from a political appointee before convening a grand jury or conducting a wiretap as part of their investigation, that agency head will have a de-facto veto over any investigative activity getting too close to things Obama wants to keep hidden.

I'm sure the thought of Inspector Generals with wiretap authority investigating the deletion of Lois Lerner's emails and ongoing coverup of the IRS targeting scandal is making Obama very, very nervous. So far he's managed to keep things under wraps and stay a few steps ahead of the investigation, but doing that has required an active coverup effort rather than a passive one. (The Lerner backup tapes, as just one example, were degaussed after the investigation was well underway and just before documents describing their location were provided to the IRS Inspector General).

2015-07-30 10:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Sounds like a smidgen to me

World Net Daily“We now know that the IRS targeted not only right-leaning applicants, but also right-leaning groups that were already operating as 501(c)(4)s. At Washington, D.C.’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83 percent were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100 percent were right-leaning,” Judicial Watch’s report said.

Nixon was impeached, in part, for asking the IRS to do this. The IRS refused. Clearly, they are more willing to help out Obama.

2015-07-30 09:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

De-facto Amnesty for all

National ReviewThe Migration Policy Institute, CIS’s opposite number on the high-immigration side, has released a report estimating that fully 87 percent of the illegal population is exempt from immigration law following President Obama’s November amnesty decrees. This is a change from the 2010-2011 decrees, under which only 73 percent of illegals enjoyed de facto amnesty.

We cannot solve our immigration problems by simply declaring that everyone who can make it into the country can stay. Particularly not when we are in an effective state of war with terrorists.

2015-07-29 12:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

SWAT raid leading to child injury results in charges for falsified warrant

You may remember a case some time back where a SWAT team tossed a flash-bag grenade into a baby's crib, leading to horrible disfiguring injuries for the child. The sheriff who led the raid has now been charged with lying to obtain the search warrant. I have no doubt that the high public profile and horrific results of this raid helped bring about the charges, and I have no doubt that there are many other cases out there getting less attention despite similarly falsified warrants.

2015-07-29 11:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Sandra Bland Case

Legal Insurrection has a detailed description of the Sandra Bland arrest (not her subsequent death-by-presumed-suicide in jail later). I think he's mostly rigth on the legal analysis, and I'm not going to quibble with it, though I will also refer readers to Orin Kerr's more sympathetic analysis.

I do think it is important to say this, though: if the current state of the law allows a police officer to conduct a traffic stop, order someone to put out their cigarette, and use the refusal of that order to justify an arrest for noncompliance, and use the noncompliance with the arrest to justify the use of force, and so on... then the current state of the law is bullshit.

Police officers should not have the legal authority to issue orders on anything they please with the authority to enforce compliance by force. A simple traffic stop should not escalate into an arrest-by-force because the driver is not interested in putting out her cigarette. Drivers should not have to fear that every polite request from a police officer is backed by immediate threat of violence if they do not comply, whether or not the request was justified. And instinctively resisting being forcibly removed from your vehicle and handcuffed should not create new offenses (resisting arrest) that can then justify further imprisonment and the creation of a criminal record.

These things, and especially the sense of fear and apprehension that every driver feels when they see a police car and wonder whether they are going to get pulled over, are indicators of a police state.

2015-07-29 10:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Be Prepared

2015-07-29 09:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Rep Meadows moves to oust Boehner

Gateway PunditMeadows was removed from his subcommittee chairmanship by Republican leadership when he did not support the unpopular Obamatrade deal. On Tuesday Mark Meadows moved to oust failed Speaker John Boehner.

I support this effort. Boehner must go.

I'm skeptical about his chances, but if we keep trying, eventually we will succeed.

2015-07-29 08:55:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

House Oversight calls on Obama to remove IRS Commissioner Koskinen

House OversightToday, Chairman Jason Chaffetz along with 20 members of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee joined together in calling upon President Obama to remove Internal Revenue Service(IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen from office.

Read their letter to Obama.

If Koskinen is not removed, they are threatening to impeach Koskinen. At this point, I think that's absolutely necessary and in fact a rather restrained response to the fiasco. Even so, it will be tough to get 67 votes in the Senate.

What's depressing is that the Republican leadership seems to think this sort of activity will distract their base from the betrayals of principle and caving to Obama that they have been engaged in since the 2014 elections.

It will not.

But there's more information in the Oversight letter that's worth pointing out. Specifically, we now know how the backup tapes were destroyed despite the preservation order in place.

House Oversight LetterLyewsang authorized the desctruction of the tapes because Steve Warren, the manager of IT backup equipment nationwide, told him the tapes were not needed and the room where they were located needed to be cleaned out. Warren told Lyewsang the agency no longer needed the tapes sometime in the fall of 2013. Lyewsang told TIGTA that the IRS wanted to remodel the space to house a new network operations center, and he was being pressured to move the backup tapes. Lyewsang's intern testified under oath about the disorganized cleaning process, specifically that the room in question had been a year overdue for clearing out to reduce computer space.

So why the sudden pressure for a new network operations center in the room holding all their old backups? I smell a rat here. The timing stinks, since the destruction of the tapes comes less than a month after the email gap was discovered at the IRS. And isn't it funny how the discovery of that gap in itself was not followed up on in any kind of timely fashion?

The backup tapes still existed -- were apparently being preserved -- until an IRS employee noticed the gap and sought to conduct a quality control check using the backup tapes to see what happened to the missing emails. That quality control check didn't take place... and instead, suddenly pressure was applied to the people managing the backup tapes to destroy them. The pressure doesn't sound like the routine sort of pressure -- "Gosh, why do we still have all these old tapes around?" -- but rather, a sudden need to repurpose the storage space for something else. That "need" wouldn't require the destruction of backup tapes, which could be easily moved to another location. Or provided directly to Congress if the IRS no longer wished to use a room storing them.

So in light of those facts, why hasn't Congress called Steve Warren before the Oversight Committee to testify under oath why he was so insistent on that storage space being cleared out all of a sudden? Was he put under pressure? Did someone order him to find an excuse to destroy those tapes?

If we ask the right questions, maybe we'll actually get answers.

2015-07-28 13:45:51.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Ted Cruz unloads on Majority Leader McConnell

Ted Cruz calls McConnell out on lying to his party, restricting legislative amendments in a manner reminiscent of Genghis Khan Harry Reid, being a corporate tool, making secret deals with the Democrats, and generally being corrupt. Watch the whole thing.

2015-07-28 12:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Cruz paying attention to issues that matter

The HillSen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wants to use the highway spending bill to get a vote to strengthen an unrelated oversight bill on the Internet domain name transition.

The presidential candidate on Thursday night filed an amendment to the highway bill that would require Congress to vote before the Commerce Department could give up its oversight role over the system that allows Internet users to easily find websites using an address.

The Obama-initiated process for moving the Domain Name System over to UN control has been proceeding under the radar for a while. Frankly, while putting the US government in charge of the domain name system isn't great, it's a lot better than putting the UN in charge of the system. The US at least has enforceable commitments to free speech. In the UN, it would just become another political football used to enable government censorship.

The best technical option is to transition to a decentralized DNS system, but that's not on the table. Keeping it under US control is the best short-term option we have,

2015-07-28 11:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Two Inspector Generals request criminal investigation of Clinton email server

New York TimesTwo inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.

Given that Clinton was Secretary of State and used this unusual email arrangement as her only email address during that time, it's pretty much inconceivable that nothing classified or national-security-sensitive was ever sent to or by her using that address. The question will be whether there is political will to pursue the investigation (which really boils down to whether Obama is sufficiently opposed to Hillary following him as President to kneecap her), and if so, whether mishandling of those emails can be proven given that Clinton has presumably shredded the server by now.

Sharyl Attkisson has more on the bias inherent in the system.

The investigation conducted by the Intelligence IG was not very difficult, finding four classified emails after reviewing only 40 (with tens of thousands remaining):
The HillThe four emails “were classified when they were sent and are classified now,” Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for the inspector general, told the newspaper. The watchdog office has reviewed only 40 emails from Clinton’s server, out of a total of more than 30,000 she sent and received while helming the Department of State.

The Wall Street Journal obtained the whole report, if you happen to be a subscriber. The New York Times has already been caught rewriting their article to use the passive voice at the Clinton's request.

2015-07-28 10:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

No proof of targeting?

PBS“The IRS has strong protections in place to ensure that exempt organizations are selected for audit only for the purpose of enforcing the federal tax laws with fairness and integrity,” the IRS said in a statement. “No internal or external review conducted to date has found any indication that an exempt organization has been improperly selected for audit.”

Let's consider what that lack of proof consists of.

PBSIn 2014, the IRS completed a little more than 8,000 audits of tax-exempt groups... Others groups were selected as part of compliance projects in which the IRS studied types of groups or activities that might be at risk for tax evasion. More than 1,600 were selected based on referrals or complaints from the public, IRS employees and other government agencies.

We know that Lerner ran one of those "compliance projects" as part of her targeting activities. That was why she claimed to be asking so many intrusive questions about the tax-exempt organizations on her targeting list; she was trying to develop information she could use to understand how they operated in order to prosecute them. And, of the 1600 selected based on referrals, we know from reading the rest of the GAO report that about 25% of those referrals did not keep any record of the referral itself, meaning that they could have been referred for political targeting reasons and we would have no way of knowing that was the case. And, in fact, we know that that was the case in at least one situation (see the ZStreet lawsuit, where they were audited based on having political opinions different from the administration's political goals).

Oh, and what happens to those referral cases?

PBSThe referrals go to specialists, who either recommend an audit or dismiss them. Referrals that deal with political activities, churches or high-profile organizations that have attracted media attention are also reviewed by three-person panels.

IRS procedures are designed to prevent individual employees from unfairly selecting groups for an audit, based on inappropriate criteria. However, the GAO report found: “Staff are not required to obtain executive management approval to deviate from these procedures.”

Also, supervisors don’t always document whether they have approved audits, or decisions to cancel audits, the report said.

In other words, we have no idea. Individuals at the IRS can change the rules willy-nilly, don't need to document that they did so, don't need approval from their supervisors, and if they choose to get that approval, the supervisors don't need to document whether they approved or denied a request or why they approved or denied it.

And let's not forget that we got to this utter lack of evidence of targeting by following a trail of admissions, apologies, 5th-amendment pleas, and destroyed hard drives.

The only lesson the IRS has learned from this is that they can't be punished if they destroy the evidence.

2015-07-28 09:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Beginning to address the illegal immigration problem

Power LinePaul wrote earlier today about the alien crime wave in Texas. In Congress, Senators Jeff Sessions and Ron Johnson have offered legislation that begins to address the problem of violent crimes committed by illegal aliens. It’s called the Protecting American Lives Act; the full text is here.

Obama has already threatened to veto any legislation attacking sanctuary cities. We should make him do just that, and then override the veto.

2015-07-27 12:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Objective, viewpoint-neutral reporting

at Buzzfeed, following another shooting in a gun free zone.

2015-07-27 11:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Democrat operatives with bylines

PowerlineThe Washington Post has rehired Dave Weigel. He is covering the presidential campaign for the paper. In his last stint with the Post, Weigel covered the conservative movement. However, he lost his job due to vicious comments he posted on Journolist about major conservative figures and the conservative movement in general.

They fired him just long enough to be able to claim objectivity, and now they are bringing him back for the election.

I've occasionally noted in recent days that the Washington Post seemed to be making more of an effort to cover both sides of political issues. The goodwill they earned doing that is easily squandered by a boneheaded move like this one.

2015-07-27 10:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

DOJ denies Operation Choke Point targeting

The Daily SignalAn internal review of the Justice Department’s controversial initiative known as Operation Choke Point found no evidence that agency attorneys intentionally used the program to target legal and legitimate businesses such as pawn shops, gun dealers and payday lenders.

He's not even trying anymore. Obama just orders the coverup with a big shit-eatin' grin and laughs his ass off, secure in the knowledge that whatever blackmail goods he's got on Congress will keep him safe and secure for the next year and a half.

2015-07-27 09:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

What to make of Obama's comments about the IRS scandal?

Fox BusinessYou’ve got this back office, and they’re going after the Tea Party. Well, it turned out, no, Congress had passed a crummy law that didn’t give people guidance in terms of what it was they were trying to do. They did it poorly and stupidly,” he said.

President Obama went on to say there was never a plot to go after conservative groups.

“The truth of the matter is that there was not some big conspiracy there. They were trying to sort out these conflicting demands. You don’t want all this money pouring through non-for- profits, but you also want to make sure everybody is being treated fairly,” he said.

He said this the day before two facts came to light:

1) Judicial Watch received emails proving that the IRS, including Lerner, sought to audit individual donors to conservative groups, including using a tax which has been invalidated by the Supreme Court for 30 years.

2) The Government Accountability Office issued a report indicating that controls at the IRS to prevent political targeting are deficient.

He knew that was happening and so he decided to get out in front of the issue with his big lie.

2015-07-26 12:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

More fake victories claimed by Mom's Demand

They are trying to build momentum for an attack on Cabela's being willing (as the law allows) to do a default-proceed after a NICS delay response runs out the clock.

Shall Not Be QuestionedThe reason default proceeds exist, and need to exist, is because without them, all the a petulant Administration would have to do to shut down gun sales entirely is take the NICS system offline.

As has been known to happen on a regular basis over any given weekend with a big gun show happening somewhere.

2015-07-26 11:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Not a smidgen of corruption?

Fox BusinessThe GAO now says that IRS political “targeting is indeed possible in the audit process” for nonprofits, largely due to poor agency oversight and controls.

“Unfortunately, the IRS has not taken sufficient steps to prevent targeting Americans based on their personal beliefs,” the GAO says.

Specifically, The GAO found that “control deficiencies” do “increase the risk” that the IRS nonprofit unit “could select organizations for examinations in an unfair manner—for example, based on an organization’s religious, educational, political or other views.”

In other words, despite all the noise, the IRS admitted to nothing, changed nothing, and continues to target the political opposition in whatever ways they think they can get away with. How does the IRS respond to this report? Denial. They even got Obama to go on late-night comedy TV to peddle the Big Lie.

Washington TimesThe tax agency wasn’t phased by the report, however, saying it accepts that better controls are needed, but it doesn’t think anything has gone wrong.

“We don’t think looking backwards that those controls led to anyone being improperly targeted,” Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress at a hearing called to examine the GAO’s report.

Let's recall that the whole controversy started when Lerner, trying to get ahead of an Inspector General report that claims targeting did occur, admitted and apologized for the targeting in response to a planted question, and that Obama himself called the admittedly improper targeting outrageous and vowed to hold the IRS accountable (which he has notably failed to do).

2015-07-26 10:03:45.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]
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