Schoolhouse Rock

The top comment when I wrote this post was "It's not funny when it happens in real life."

Sun Nov 23 15:52:04 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Full Disclosure on the IRS scandal

I didn't catch any new news here, but it's a decent 15 minute summary of what's going on.

Sat Nov 22 11:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

30,000 missing Lerner emails recovered

Up to 30,000 missing emails sent by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.

The fact that these Lerner emails were so easily recovered after the IRS fought the effort to retrieve them is practically proof of a cover up effort... if there is anyone left on the planet who wasn't already convinced.

There are supposedly 250 million emails -- obviously not all from Lerner -- that are still being searched. Some relevant emails from those working with her may also be recovered.

So far, I haven't seen any information about what's actually in the new batch of emails, but their existence alone is sufficient to condemn the IRS's document production effort, since the IRS did not even bother to search these backup tapes.

Fri Nov 21 20:43:10 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama Admin paid cash for Bergdahl release

The Obama administration made a ransom payment to an Afghan “con man” earlier this year in an unsuccessful attempt to secure the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, according to aWashington Times report. Best-selling author Brad Thor predicted there was likely money exchanged as part of the deal in a previous op-ed on TheBlaze.

And they didn't even get him released -- the money paid for Bergdahl just disappeared. It was the release of the Top 5 Gitmmo detainees that secured the release of a single American deserter and likely traitor.

Fri Nov 21 16:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Gruber says Obama personally requested obfuscatory language

Smoking gun. And in another video, Gruber says that 5 million people will lose their plan under Obamacare. So Obama knew that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" was a lie.

Fri Nov 21 15:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obamacare was designed to fail

So, as a result, I am required by law, under harsh financial penalties, to purchase a product that is not available to me. Had President Obama required that I buy 2 pounds of rocks from Mars, the result would not have been any more unfair.

The free market is better able to handle things than government experts, because no expert can possibly know as much about the life of every citizen in the nation as every citizen in the nation knows about their own life.

In this case, it's resulting in a business owner struggling to get his number of full-time employees under 30 -- in a workforce of over 350 people. All because he doesn't have to pay penalties on part-time workers.

Fri Nov 21 14:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NSA whistleblower claims 2009 inflection point in surveillance

If this report is accurate, it suggests that the NSA's mission changed from focused anti-terrorism to bulk surveillance of all Americans in 2009, the year Obama took office as president. The timing is suggestive.

That person, who has retired and spoke to the AP under condition of anonymity, said "he knows of no evidence the program was used for anything other than hunting for terrorism plots in the US. But he said he and others made the case that the collection of American records in bulk crossed a line that had been sacrosanct."

The NSA has been active for a long time. There were active programs during the Clinton administration to evesdrop on cell phones (ECHELON) and sabotage encryption (Clipper chip). I've long been opposed to those programs, while understanding that they are valuable intelligence tools when properly directed. But I can readily believe that the expansion of the NSA's mission into bulk collection and analysis of data is a relatively recent thing.

Fri Nov 21 13:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Smoking Gun proof that Obama Admin targeted Attkisson for Fast and Furious reporting

One of the documents provides smoking gun proof that the Obama White House and the Eric Holder Justice Department colluded to get CBS News to block reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Attkisson was one of the few mainstream media reporters who paid any attention to the deadly gun-running scandal.

In an email dated October 4, 2011, Attorney General Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, called Attkisson “out of control.” Schmaler told White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz that he intended to call CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer to get the network to stop Attkisson.

This validates Attkisson's claims that CBS didn't want to air her reports. There is also details on an effort to target Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee investigating the scandal, with leaks to another reporter.

Fri Nov 21 12:23:51 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Shutting off the water to the NSA

A bill is moving forward in the Utah State Legislature that aims to eventually shut down water to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) new massive data storage facility at Bluffdale, just south of Salt Lake City.

Refuse to cooperate in any way you can.

Fri Nov 21 12:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Mary wins or Mary wins, if you believe the media

Turns out the New York Times messed up their reporting about the Keystone pipeline vote, and published their story on the vote hours before the vote was actually cast. That's an understandable mistake... on a single-proprietor blog without editorial staff who are supposed to review, verify facts, and approve news stories before they are published. But in this case it's even more interesting, because the draft story published had quotes praising Landrieu, the Louisiana Senator facing a runoff election in the near future that may well hinge on the results of the Keystone vote.

Both versions of the story -- where the Keystone pipeline was approved, and where it failed -- had sections praising Landrieu for her efforts. In different words, of course. But it's clear that, according to the Times, Landrieu is worth praising... win or lose.

The actual vote failed to overcome a filibuster, 59-41. What happens in Landrieu's runoff election remains to be seen.

Fri Nov 21 11:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Background checks coming in Oregon, Florida

Thu Nov 20 09:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NSA-approved bill to stop NSA spying fails in the Senate

It failed by 2 votes... which is actually a victory, I think. Remember that the so-called USA Freedom act is basically the followup to the PATRIOT Act (with similarly misleading names). It was supported by the director of the NSA and Diane Feinstein herself, who has previously opposed reform efforts.

Holding a vote on the act in the lame duck Senate was an attempt to prevent Republicans from taking credit for rolling back the Democratic administration's surveillance overreach. With support from the people who would normally attempt to block such a bill, it's clear that real improvements will need new legislation that has not been co-opted by the people in charge of creating the problem in the first place.

She even admits it:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a longtime opponent of intelligence reform, made a surprising change of vote and pleaded with her colleagues to support the bill. She remains a defender of the program, pointing out that there were only 288 queries for metadata in 2013.

However, Feinstein felt if the bill didn't pass, it could lead to the program being thrown out altogether.

"If we didn't pass the House bill, there were members that wanted to end the whole program," said Feinstein. "I do not want to end the program. I'm prepared to make the compromise, which is that the metadata will be kept by the telecoms."

So, in other words, Miss Feinstein, your minions at the NSA have spent billions to create a system to evesdrop on the whole internet, This system has scored, at most, a single "assist" in stopping terrorist attacks. Not even a single one with full credit. And you've only queried this system -- which, again, cost billions and continues to cost billions -- 288 times last year.

It sounds to me, Miss Feinstein, like the system doesn't work for it's intended purpose.

Wed Nov 19 10:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lame ducks in DC

“Democrats relinquishing the Senate have outlined an ambitious agenda for the lame-duck session,” reports the Boston Globe. The Democrats are “likely to have bold plans for the lame duck,” says NBC News. Lots and lots of business is evidently being packed into the brief window between the Nov. 4 election and Jan. 3, when the next Congress is sworn-in. That’s too bad. Lame-duck sessions, absent national emergency, are actually a very bad idea.

If I had my way, we would pass an amendment to the Constitution indicating that Congress may perform no official acts between the election and the seating of the next Congress. I'd have to consider variations on this theme to deal with emergencies (should a two-thirds vote be allowed? Should only those who lost their seats be barred from acting?), but when the present Congress is desperately looking for ways to advance their agenda before the new Congress is seated, that's a problem.

Wed Nov 19 09:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Barack Obama on the President's immigration power

Patterico has collected a list of cases where Obama's past words conflict with his anticipated future actions on immigration.

The bottom line is, Obama was all in favor of separation of powers when he thought he could get Congress to pass amnesty. Now, he's willing to say fuck all that and be the dictator. The rule of law is not something that you respect only when you get what you want; sometimes you have to respect it when it prevents you getting what you want.

Personally, I'm all for immigration, so long as it is legal immigration by people who want to become Americans and leave their previous culture mostly behind them. As a nation, we have the right to decide who we will allow to become one of us; that power is assigned in the Constitution to Congress, not the president.

Tue Nov 18 15:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Reminder: the IRS did not find Lerner's emails because it didn't look

IRS attorneys conceded that they had failed to search the agency’s servers for missing emails because they decided that “the servers would not result in the recovery of any information.” They admitted they had failed to search the agency’s disaster recovery tapes because they had “no reason to believe that the tapes are a potential source of recovering” the missing emails. And they conceded that they had not searched the government-wide back-up system because they had “no reason to believe such a system…even exists.”

And they are getting away with it. The establishment Republicans in power in the House and the Senate want to run against the IRS while letting Obama crush his enemies with it -- because all three branches of government share a common enemy in the Tea Party.

Tue Nov 18 14:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Even the agriculture department has undercover agents

The federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing, records and interviews show.

My rule of thumb is pretty simple: when you need to use an undercover agent to fight crime, the crime you are trying to fight is probably a victimless crime. And with a very small number of exceptions, victimless crimes should not be crimes at all.

Mon Nov 17 14:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Department of Justice admits misleading judge

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a remarkable letter (PDF) this morning in which the Department of Justice admits its lawyer misled a judge during oral arguments last month over the legality of National Security Letters, or NSLs.

It might have been an honest mistake. And it might not have been.

Mon Nov 17 13:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Registration leads to confiscation

This time, it's in New York. When a gun owner dies, the police go out to his home and take the guns there without informing the occupants that the guns can be reclaimed later.

Mon Nov 17 12:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Reason looks at Network Neutrality

President Barack Obama recently came out in favor of both "net neutrality" and the FCC changing the way that Internet service providers, or ISPs, are regulated. Shortly thereafter, Sen. Ted Cruz opined "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government." Obama's and Cruz's statements fed into the popular misconception that the proposed FCC reclassification is the same thing as net neutrality. It's not. The policies are distinct, though both are bad ideas.

I am opposed to net neutrality for several reasons:
1) I don't trust the government not to meddle
2) I don't want the government to slow down progress more than it already has
3) I don't want the government to have regulatory leverage on ISPs

Mon Nov 17 11:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Don't bring a conventional army to a nuclear war

“As they plan for how to cope with a United States that increasingly acts as if nuclear war is unthinkable, they are thinking through how they might physically employ a nuclear weapon to demonstrate their willingness to escalate to the nuclear level,” wrote Murdock.

Obama appears to be imposing unilateral disarmament for us while encouraging Iran to test one of theirs already... because as soon as they actually test one, there's no way we can really go in and take it away from them.

Mon Nov 17 10:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Cricket caught blocking STARTTLS?

STARTTLS is a command within the SMTP protocol that indicates the desire to initiate an encrypted connection. Cricket is allegedly blocking customers from using that protocol, even with SMTP servers that support it -- including SMTP servers that don't belong to Cricket. That would force customers to use either plain SSL (which may be similarly interfered with) or send email "in the clear" so Cricket's network administrators can snoop on it.

I'll point out here that what's likely going on is not selectively disabling STARTTLS (which would take a fair bit of network wizardry to accomplish; rewriting connections dynamically is tricky) but probably simply intercepting the SMTP connection itself with one of Cricket's servers, which has been an established anti-spam practice for a while on some networks. If Cricket's server doesn't support STARTTLS (deliberately or not), well, you get the observed result.

Note that this scenario is actually worse than the original scenario. Cricket is not just forcing email to be send into the clear, it is redirecting email users are intending to send to a remote server into one of it's own servers, and possibly collecting authentication information meant for the remote server in the process.

If you are going to intercept outbound SMTP to servers you don't own, you should be returning error codes and not advertising AUTH support.

Mon Nov 17 09:16:24 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Democrat party has abandoned democracy

“The dirty secret is the American voter doesn’t actually care about the uninsured," Gruber said. "The dirty secret is: You can’t really get a law passed by saying, ‘We’re helping the uninsured.’ You have to make it about cost control to get it passed. Because that’s what the American public cares about. So they had to make this law not just about the uninsured, but about cost control. That was a challenge,” he added.

Yes, I know we are a constitutional republic, and not a pure democracy. But the democratic principle is supposed to be that the representatives we elect do what the people want them to do, within the Constitution, and with the application of their judgment and expert knowledge of the situation (knowledge that the general public often does not have).

They aren't suppose to deceive people into passing legislation with lies, though. They are supposed to make their case honestly to the people, and face the will of the voters if the voters disagree.

Fri Nov 14 16:21:59 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Reid to move USA Freedom Act to a vote

Yesterday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took action to move the USA Freedom Act toward a debate and a vote. That's a big turnaround from September, when Senate sources said passing the act "wasn't a top priority." With Reid's support, a vote could come as early as next week.

The real question here is why. And the answer is pretty obvious: Reid wants to make sure that the Republicans can't take control of the surveillance apparatus the Democrats have been using to keep themselves in power, should the Republicans win the presidency in 2016. And if he moves now, in the lame duck Congress, he can make sure that a bill he supports with whatever hidden language he wants gets passed, take credit for shutting down the surveillance state with voters, and simultaneously prevent Republicans from running on the issue.

Fri Nov 14 15:21:59 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Family of Ebola victim to profit from his death

Patterico has the sickening details.

Fri Nov 14 14:21:59 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Explosives found near bridge at US border with Mexico

Two explosives were found near an Arizona bridge approximately 30 miles from the U.S. border with Mexico, according to a leaked report exclusively obtained by Breitbart Texas. The items were made from water gel commercial explosives and were ammonium nitrate based, according to the leaked official report from the Joint Intelligence Operations Center (JIOC).

But Obama tells us our border has never been more secure.

Fri Nov 14 13:21:59 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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