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Arizona town hides license plate readers in fake cactus

Ars TechnicaThe City of Paradise Valley, Arizona (population: 12,820) is so concerned with keeping its newly deployed license plate reader (LPR) system a secret that it has installed dozens of fake cactuses with the cameras mounted inside.

If you need to hide what you are doing from the population that supposedly elected you in a free and fair election, perhaps you shouldn't be doing it.

2015-05-17 10:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Refuting the climate change consensus

The Daily SignalThe author bemoans the fact that only 40 percent of Americans (according to Pew Research Center) “accept that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming,” asking how so many “reasonable people doubt science.” Dubbing climate change one of the “precepts of science,” the author opines that climate change skepticism is “dispiriting” for anyone considered a “rationalist.” How could so many dismiss “settled science”?

Actually, there’s a healthy reason that the public has come to distrust government warnings and the scientific experts: they are often wrong.

Read the whole thing.

2015-05-17 09:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

2016: Why I'm not voting for Bernie Sanders the Socialist

Well, really, most of it is right there in the title. Even if I voted in Democrat primaries, I can't see myself voting for someone who openly admits to being a socialist. Better not to vote at all.

But to add some specifics to my dislike, Bernie Sanders voted for gun registration and an assault weapons ban. Either one would be a disqualifier.

2015-05-16 12:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lawsuits filed over FCC's internet takeover

Washington Post via Legal Insurrection“These companies have threatened all along to sue over the FCC’s decision, even though that decision is supported by millions of people and absolutely essential for our economy,” said Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press.

So, how exactly is government regulation of the Internet "absolutely essential" for our economy?

It's not, but it is absolutely essential to destroying our economy, which is the real goal.

2015-05-16 11:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Rand Paul's disappointing Obamacare vote

National ReviewThe rumors began trickling in about a week before the scheduled vote on April 23: Republican leadership was quietly pushing senators to pull support for subpoenaing Congress’s fraudulent application to the District of Columbia’s health exchange — the document that facilitated Congress’s “exemption” from Obamacare by allowing lawmakers and staffers to keep their employer subsidies.

It's not the first time Rand Paul has voted in a surprising way on issues related to Obamacare and medical issues. For example, he voted to make the Medicare doc fix permanent while Cruz and Rubio opposed it. (The actual legislation also included a huge amount of money for various other medical programs, particularly S-CHIP).

Some of those votes I could explain by noting that Rand Paul is a doctor, and while that doesn't necessarily grant him more moral authority to spend my money, it does grant him a different perspective along with some understandable self-interest. But in this case, Paul supposedly blocked a subpeona that would reveal who filed an application with the DC small business Obamacare exchange that allowed Congress (and staff) to obtain heavily subsidized Obamacare insurance. And I can't for the life of me think why a principled, libertarian-ish Republican wouldn't want to expose the corruption here.

Which makes me wonder if Paul isn't the principled sort of person he claims to be.

Rand Paul, the public deserves an explanation for this vote, and not the pathetic argument about a Constitutional amendment.

2015-05-16 10:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

North Carolina University bans drinking... for white people

Daily CallerIn response to the growing turmoil, NCSU has announced that it is banning all alcohol at social events for the vast majority of fraternities. A news release by the school attributed the decision to both local scandals as well as “national issues.”

But the ban has one big exception: The school’s historically black fraternities, such as Alpha Phi Alpha, are totally exempt.

I am in utter awe at the mastery of doublethink required to implement this policy.

2015-05-16 09:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A nuclear arms race in the Middle East

InstapunditNOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: Saudi Arabia Considers Nuclear Weapons to Offset Iran. Most telling sentence: “They also increasingly distrust the U.S., the traditional guarantor of Gulf security.” Well, they’re smart to, at least until 2017. And now that we’ve elected one unserious Administration to serve two terms, other countries have to worry that it could easily happen again, and make their plans accordingly.

There is no way this can possibly end well.

2015-05-15 12:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Cruz strikes back

Breitbart via Daily PunditOn Breitbart News Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) blasted California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) as a global warming “alarmist” who does not want to confront scientific data that undercuts his preferred narrative.

Cruz is right on the facts. "Global warming" is alarmist, Chicken Little nonsense. The evidence is now clear that carbon dioxide emissions, while a potential contributing factor, are not the driving force of Earth's climate. 17 years of continued carbon emissions with no further warming demonstrates conclusively that something else is going on, and Occam's Razor suggests that the great big nuclear fusion reactor in the sky probably has a significant influence over temperatures on earth.

And if carbon emissions do have some, small influence over the temperature on earth, I'd rather sweat a little than freeze in the next ice age.

2015-05-15 11:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

McConnell supports illegal warrantless NSA surveillance

Ars Technica"They’re not running rogue out there," McConnell said Thursday on the Senate floor. "The NSA is overseen by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government."

McConnell is trying to shore up the credibility of the NSA with the credibility of the other branches. What he doesn't realize is that the judicial branch recently ruled the program illegal (even before getting to Constitutional questions), and the other two branches have pretty much zero credibility as it is. Linking them to the NSA surveillance programs does nothing but reduce the credibility of the executive and legislative branches.

2015-05-15 10:09:09.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why do colleges keep trying to handle rape cases?

It's been enough of a persistent and noticeable problem that I really don't have to explain the background. I do have a few thoughts on why colleges feel such a desire to involve themselves, though.

I will mention in passing the fact that the government is putting pressure on colleges to be tougher about sexual assault and similar crimes, both by threatening to cut government funds and by citing the Title X rules (the ones that ban gender discrimination, and which were intended to allow women to get a college education, not promote the 57 flavors of genitalia). So, OK, government pressure on the one hand.

On the other hand, though, there's an interesting set of incentives that makes schools reluctant to pass the matter off to the police. See, the cases that get the most attention are the cases between two students. When was the last time a college student who was raped by someone who wasn't another student got all "rape cultured" in the media?

It just doesn't happen, and I think it doesn't happen because such cases get handed off to real police immediately and don't receive any media attention (unless the victim wants to carry a gun to protect herself).

But when you have two students and one alleges they were raped by the other, particularly when it's a close case involving alcohol and unclear memories, the college isn't seeing two people with a criminal justice problem. It's seeing two customers who happened to bump into each other inside the store, and maybe one of them got hurt, but for sure they are yelling at each other and making a scene and distracting all the other customers from buying things.

The college doesn't really care about justice. It just wants both students to shut up. And, if possible, have both of them remain paying customers. And not report anything happened so that the incident doesn't show up in campus statistics that more customers are looking at.

So the goal of the college administration is to sweep everything under the rug. Contacting the police will not do that, so that's out -- plus it would inevitably piss off one of the customers. If you do nothing, you piss off the other customer (who might just go to the police on her own). The only way out is not to actually judge the case, which you as a school are ill equipped to do anyway, but to pretend to judge the case and impose a punishment that is a) enough to make the victim feel vindicated and b) not enough for the accused to stop being a customer.

And that's it; it's practically preordained. The facts of the case, the evidence, these things rarely matter. What matters is that the case falls into that grey area that is too significant to ignore and not significant enough to involve the police. For those cases, the college administration will seek to find a voluntary compromise that both students can agree to abide by while remaining students... and ideally, shut up about the whole thing so as not to scare off any other customers.

2015-05-15 09:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Judicial Watch files lawsuit seeking Clinton email permission records

Sharyl AttkissonThe conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit to try to get documents regarding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s efforts to gain approval for use of an iPhone or iPad to conduct official business.

The answer to this question is likely to embarrass one or both of the people involved, and that's a win-win situation.

2015-05-14 12:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Rand Paul promises to filibuster surveillance authority renewal legislation

The Hill"I'm going to lead the charge in the next couple of weeks as the Patriot Act comes forward," the GOP presidential candidate told the New Hampshire Union Leader. "We will be filibustering. We will be trying to stop it. We are not going to let them run over us. And we are going to demand amendments and we are going to make sure the American people know that some of us at least are opposed to unlawful searches."

On Sunday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he would filibuster a short-term extension of the current provisions, which critics say give the government unreasonable surveillance powers.

The differentiating factors between the Republican candidates in the early primary battle appears to be shaping up along their approach to NSA surveillance reform.

Rand Paul seems to be making his early campaign differentiation about ending warrantless NSA surveillance and refusing to renew the legislation authorizing it at all. That's certainly a good cause. The risk is that it forces Senators to take a black or white position, and may thus torpedo compromise attempts to reform the law.

Ted Cruz seems to be occupying the middle ground by supporting some reforms while also renewing the authorization. Ironically enough this is also the position Obama seems to have staked out for himself. This is is also the position taken by the House, which passed renewal and reform legislation. Unfortunately, the legislation is sufficiently watered down that the Electronic Frontier Foundation withdrew its support.

The establishment position, renewal without reform, is supported by Rubio (and also McConnell).

So who's right?

I can tell you without any doubt that Rubio and McConnell are wrong. That part is easy. Obama is also wrong; he wants political credit for reforming the program without imposing significant limits on his ability to blackmail his political opponents prevent terrorist attacks against people he likes.

I'd like to see Rand Paul win on this issue, but I'd take significant reforms to bring the program into accord with the 4th Amendment as a temporary improvement over McConnell's just-renew-everything-and-damn-the-reforms approach. The problem is, the House legislation doesn't seem to be imposing any significant limits on what the NSA can do.

The flip side is that if Congress does not act and allows the authorization to expire, the NSA may continue the program anyway. So passing new legislation the imposes the best privacy guarantees we can get may be the only route to reform. If the NSA goes completely outside legislative authority, Congress is unlikely to have sufficient gumption to rein it in.

2015-05-14 11:45:20.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Florida universities using taxpayer money to oppose gun rights

Palm Beach Post via Sebastian“You, the taxpayers, are picking up the financial tab for these Chiefs to lobby against your constitutional rights – rights they were sworn to protect,” Hammer wrote in the alert posted on the group’s website.

Ten chiefs showed up – during work hours, in their uniforms, “with THEIR GUNS on their hips, to lobby against your Second Amendment rights,” Hammer wrote.

Emails provided to Hammer showed that the chiefs were not required to use vacation time to attend the hearing and that campus police budgets would cover travel expenses, Hammer wrote.

Doesn't surprise me. Remember, the other side habitually funds everything through the state. They are the party of the state.

2015-05-14 11:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Left wants an American royal family

Legal Insurrection quoting a bumper stickerHillary 2016, Michelle 2024, Chelsea 2032, Sasha 2040, Malia 2048.

Luckily they would have to actually get elected for things to work out this way. But the willingness of the Left to consign the Presidency to two families for the next 32 years is terrifying.

2015-05-14 10:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Hysteria and fear

Guarded via SaysUncleStudies say that one in four college women will be sexually assaulted by the time they graduate.

That statistic has been repeatedly debunked, but frankly, I can't argue with the desire to defend yourself from assault -- sexual or otherwise -- even if it is a low-probability event. Well, lower than one in four, at least. More like less than 1 in 100. But, sure, if you're that fractional 1 person, it's a pretty awful experience that you would really, really rather not have. So I understand wanting to carry a weapon to defend yourself.

So let's be honest.

Sticking your keys between the fingers of your closed fist is not a weapon. Neither are big multi-finger rings. Those are the things you improvise a weapon with when you neglected to actually carry a weapon.

Mace or pepper spray is understandable if you live in a draconian anti-gun state, I suppose, though the really bad ones also restrict those. I do see a few tasers, too. Credit where due to people who are actually carrying purpose-built defensive weapons, even if they are non-lethal.

But as Glenn Reynolds is fond of saying about global warming, I'll believe it's a crisis when the people telling me its a crisis start acting like it's a crisis.

So, about the campus rape epidemic?

Wake me when the women in the photo collection are carrying guns.

2015-05-14 09:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Environmentalism is religion

Michael CrichtonThere’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe...

Well said. This would provoke some serious self-examination, except that religion is often a vehicle for avoiding serious self-examination in favor of a weekly sermon.

2015-05-13 12:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Z Street IRS discrimination lawsuit likely to survive appeal

Wall Street Journal via TaxProfIt isn’t every day that judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declare themselves “shocked.” But that happened on Monday when an animated three-judge panel eviscerated the IRS and Justice Department during oral argument in a case alleging the agency delayed the tax-exempt application of a pro-Israel group due to its policy views.

In December 2009, Pennsylvania-based Z Street applied for 501(c)(3) status to pursue its pro-Israel educational mission. In July 2010, when the group called to check on what was taking so long, an IRS agent said that auditors had been instructed to give special attention to groups connected with Israel, and that they had sent some of those applications to a special IRS unit for additional review.

The strategy at the IRS appears to have been:
1) Delay as long as possible.
2) Interrogate conservative applicants about their political and religious views in order to intimidate them into dropping their applications.
3) Build political intelligence from the answers to questionaires about who funds which groups, and possibly release that information to third parties for political use.
4) Eventually, if forced, offer the groups a "deal" where they can agree to a 40% rather then 49% limit on political activity, preserving the left's advantage.
5) Point to groups eventually approved after years of delay and agreeing to discriminatory rules as evidence for a purported lack of bias.

2015-05-13 11:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Is diversity more important than saving lives?

NY PostRebecca Wax, 33, is set to graduate Tuesday from the Fire Academy without passing the Functional Skills Training test, a grueling obstacle course of job-related tasks performed in full gear with a limited air supply, an insider has revealed... While Wax fell short, two other female probies in the graduating class passed the FST with flying colors.

So, we've established that the test is a grueling physical challenge that this recruit cannot pass, but two other women in her class did pass successfully. So it's not impossible for a woman to pass, it's just difficult.

NY Post
They must complete the course in 17 minutes, 50 seconds or less. Despite many attempts over the Fire Academy’s 18-week training course, Wax completed the test just once — but it took her more than 22 minutes, the source said. In numerous tries, Wax struggled and was too slow. While fit probies finish with air left in their tanks, she had to stop when hers ran out, the source added.

This is what really exposes the whole thing as a problem. Every other successful candidate was able to pass this test, including two women. Wax was not. The test is designed to simulate the difficult and challenging real-world conditions firefighters face while fighting a fire. If it was just a question of time, I could see a credible argument that a few minutes doesn't make much difference. But over many attempts, she failed multiple times because her air supply ran out. In a real fire, that likely means she would die.

Based on her performance in that test, diversity may very well kill her.

2015-05-13 10:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Reminder: The IRS that delayed the Tea Party approved Clinton Foundation

ForbesWill there be an IRS investigation of the Clinton Foundation? Even suggesting it sounds laughable, for few can stand up to the Clintons, let alone to a Democratic administration. Besides, the IRS Exempt Organizations Division used to be run by Lois Lerner, and it isn’t clear how much has changed. In fact, we may never get to the bottom of the Tea Party targeting scandal. It almost looks as though the IRS will attack conservative groups but is silent on the Clinton Foundation. Heck, even Scientology got its IRS church status.

The evidence of bias is clear. Hey, the left has been preaching equality of outcome for years; it's time they started to practice it...

2015-05-13 09:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

In Michigan, the Republicans are becoming the party of tax increases

Ricochet.comYou see, they are afraid of conflict. It is bad for business. The thing to do is to make a compromise. The Democrats are not similarly timid. They thrive on conflict. They seek it. They stir things up. They know where they want to go, and they seize on every opportunity to press their agenda. And when they push, they are apt to push very, very hard.

And how do the Republicans respond? For the most part, they cower and head for the exits. Then, they seek a compromise. The Democrats are the party of motion; they Republicans, at best, drag their feet.

Read the whole thing. This is why we have a civil war within the Republican party.

2015-05-12 12:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Never give in to the thug's veto

Nick Gillespie“The future must belong to those who recognize a categorical difference between free expression and violent reprisals. The future must belong to those who affirm speech over silence and freedom over fear, regardless of who is speaking and who is offended.”

Read the whole thing.

2015-05-12 11:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lawsuits over Illinois concealed-carry denials

Chicago Tribune via SaysUncleOfficials won't say why Thomas' application was flagged for denial, or by whom. Thomas insists that he has a clean record. A search of Cook County court records turned up no charges. An Air Force spokesman told the Tribune that Thomas was honorably discharged in 2012 and that his military record does not contain any unfavorable information.

It's because he's black, isn't it?

2015-05-12 10:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

2016: Why I'm probably not voting for Carly Fiorina in the primary

Carly Fiorina has announced that she is running for the Republican nomination for President in 2016. I'm probably not voting for her, and no, it has nothing to do with her gender. I don't take a position on the Senator versus Governor debate except to note that I would like it if a serious candidate has some successful campaigns behind them. Experience as a CEO is certainly relevant, but it's not the same. The single most important political race in the country is a mighty big egg to put in an unproven basket.

That said, she seems to have some vigor and enthusiasm. She could turn into a credible VP candidate.

2015-05-12 09:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Justice and No Consequences

PopeHatThe DEA agents who arrested Andrew Chong for smoking dope and left him to die got reprimands or suspensions that were shorter than my last tension headache. You and I — the taxpayers — paid Andrew Chong the $4.1 million settlement he secured; the agents did not. They are not named in any of the articles about the incident. They will not go to jail. They will not lose their jobs. Free of significant consequence, they will continue to exercise their armed authority to inflict consequences on other people who break the law.

There are too many examples of this for me to conclude that it is an isolated incident. The facts seem to be that law enforcement, as a whole, has developed a culture of callous indifference to suffering. To some extent this is understandable and necessary, but it is also corrosive and corrupting.

2015-05-11 12:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Oregon looks like it will cave to Bloomberg

Yahoo News via SaysUncleThe Oregon Firearms Safety Act expands background check requirements, already in place at stores and gun shows in the state, to include person-to-person and online gun sales. The measure passed by a vote of 32-28 in the state's House of Representatives after previous approval in the state Senate.

Bloomberg is getting some traction. How can we turn it around?

2015-05-11 11:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]
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