I think I know why

"She doesn't even say I'm missing emails," the aide said, describing that detail as one of the "things that don't ... quite add up." Also in that category, for some on the committee, is the matter of what happened with the IRS's backup system, which is supposed to back up data for six months. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, pressed Koskinen at the Oversight hearing, asking why IT professionals didn't go to the back-up tapes after her crash.

Koskinen said it's "very costly and difficult" to extract individual emails from that system, but acknowledged he hadn't seen messages explaining why that step wasn't taken.

"I don't know why," Koskinen said.

I think I know why. She didn't want to recover the emails; she wanted to create a paper trail that she tried to recover something, and then dispose of the evidence.

If the IRS had actually tried to recover Lerner's emails from that drive, they would have been able to recover at least some of the emails. But they didn't.

Sun Jun 29 18:35:27 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

160 Democrats go on record for gun control

Over 160 members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter asking Speaker of the House John Boehner to allow a vote on gun control legislation. All of the signers were members of the Democratic party.

In addition to this stunt, Obama has mentioned that his greatest regret as President is that he was unable to pass gun control. Let's continue to disappoint them.

Sun Jun 29 17:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Ask a silly question, get a silly answer

With the passing of former Senator Howard H. Baker Jr. of Tennessee, Democrats have a chance to rise above partisanship and get serious about the IRS scandal.


I'm sorry, you were saying...?

Are there any Senate Democrats today who would be willing to step up and assume an investigative role with President Obama similar to the role Howard Baker played with Richard Nixon? Does any Democrat dare to use the term cover-up? Is that word banned from Democratic talking points?

Is there any Democrat who is curious about the possibility that President Obama may have committed “high crimes and misdemeanors?”

Obviously not.

Currently, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has offered a resolution calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal. Why won’t Democrats appoint one, akin to Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski?

Because they know they are guilty. 10 Democrat Senators have already been implicated in pressuring the IRS to attack Tea Party groups. The FBI is implicated. House Rep Cummings, the ranking minority member on the House Oversight committee investigating the scandal, is implicated. Possible links to the White House have been identified and covered up.

Sun Jun 29 16:35:27 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Red tape versus Red Tape

“The notion that these emails just magically vanished makes no sense whatsoever. That is not how IT asset management at major businesses and government institutions works in this country. When the hard drive in question was destroyed, the IRS should have called in an accredited IT Asset Destruction (ITAD) professional or firm to complete that process, which requires extensive documentation, official signoffs, approvals, and signatures of completion. If this was done, there would be records. If this was not done, this is the smoking gun that proves the drive or drives were destroyed improperly – or not at all.”

This quote is really amusing to me. One set of officious bureaucrats are trying to achieve publicity for their organization by blaming another set of officious bureaucrats for not properly affixing sufficient red tape to a relatively simple process.

Sure, in the case of the IRS, they are probably right -- a large organization like that is likely to thrive on red tape, and we are talking about confidential and sensitive data likely stored on Lerner's drive; the IRS' internal processes should have records of what was done with her failed drive. I imagine those records will come out in time, if they exist, as there is little point in hiding them. If they don't exist... well, that's another story.

Sun Jun 29 15:35:27 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

$1 million bounty on Lerner's emails

Mr. Gohmert and fellow Texas Republican Rep. Bill H. Flores introduced a bill that would pay $1 million for producing the missing emails or $500,000 for information about who destroyed the emails. “And don’t forget the other — not just the carrot but the stick,” Mr. Gohmert said of the legislation. “We reduce everybody’s salary in the IRS 20 percent until the emails are produced.”

The salary cuts are likely to be effective at encouraging lower-level employees to come forward with any actions they took in good faith, but those actions will probably not reveal anything useful. The bounty may attract attention from outside contractors to check their backup tapes in storage, but honestly, I doubt the emails are recoverable at this point; the physical media on which they were stored has likely been destroyed.

That said -- identifying, say, the technicians who tried to recover Lerner's "personal files" from her hard drive would be very useful. They would be able to testify what Lerner told them, what she asked them to retrieve, and what the actual drive looked like -- was it physically damaged? How many bad sectors? Was it still operable if plugged into a computer?

It's easy to offer a bounty you probably won't have to pay, but it's worth trying.

Sun Jun 29 14:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Media Bias

A simple comparison:

The resignation of Venice’s mayor made the New York Times the next day. It would be three more days (according to a Lexis-Nexis search) before the loss of the IRS emails made it into the pages of the Times, the paper of record that sets the agenda for all other national media.

Remember, the motto of the New York Times is "All the news that's fit to print." The first line of defense for a biased media is to simply refuse to talk about stories they don't like. If they ignore the story for long enough, sometimes it does go away -- or get pushed off the headlines in favor of another scandal.

They admit to ignoring it openly, because anyone old enough to still be reading a printed version of their paper is old enough to remember Watergate.

Sun Jun 29 13:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

My false-flag theory gains credence

I theorized earlier that Open Carry Texas, an organization composed of non-photogenic people carrying AR-15s and AK-47s in an unsafe manner into fast food restaurants without checking first shortly before Moms Demand Action would start a pressure campaign for the restaurant to ask gun owners to stay out, was a literal false-flag operation for Moms Demand Action. I don't actually know that that is the case, but when Target refused to issue a statement on the topic, it seems the false-flag operation was escalated:

Yeah, they went there. Four people open-carried militia rifles through a minority neighborhood using racial slurs. While some people on our side aren't exactly media-savvy, absolutely no one on our side is that stupid. (Stupid people and guns don't mix; evolution is rapid when dealing with lethal tools).

I am certain this was a false-flag op.

Proving it is a more difficult challenge, but we had better start compiling evidence now. Until it can be exposed this sort of thing will remain a threat.

(That said, these particular idiots may be deterred from future stunts by the charges they are facing. As Tam put it, carrying a gun is often legal; carrying a gun at people is not.)

UPDATE: I should probably point out that I support open carry in general. I just think that it's important to put on your best public face when doing so, particularly when carrying rifles as a political protest designed to get attention, and that when the tactic doesn't work -- as in this case, and other recent Open Carry Texas cases -- you should stop and adjust your tactics. For an open-carry activity done right, see Virginia Open Carry.

Sun Jun 29 12:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS acting without authority

In February 2014, the D.C. Circuit unanimously held that the IRS lacked the statutory authority to regulate tax return preparers. Loving v IRS, No. 13-5061 (D.C. Cir. Feb. 11, 2014). For an extensive analysis of the decision, see this TaxProf Blog op-ed by Steve Johnson (Florida State). The IRS yesterday announced a "voluntary" program to regulate tax return preparers.

So the IRS wanted a mandatory licensing program, set it up, got sued, lost, and then set up a "voluntary" program instead. They don't have the authority to do that, not to mention that the money would be better spent on a working email system instead. But who is going to stop them?

Sun Jun 29 11:35:27 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

More details on the NOM donor exposure

What troubles us are a couple of things. First, [the IRS clerk]'s whole job was to make sure tax returns were properly redacted before being mailed out. Seems odd that the one time that didn’t happen was on the most politically sensitive set of donors.

Second, the IRS originally claimed the tax return got mailed out to Meisel in March 2011. But then a document was produced by Meisel in response to our subpoena in which he claimed to have a “promising conduit” for our tax return donor information. That document was dated February 2011 – before the supposed inadvertent disclosure. [John attached a copy of the relevant email that is omitted here.] So the IRS/DOJ changed the story, claiming without any further evidence that the return was actually mailed to Meisel in early February. Of course, they don’t have any documents to prove that one way or the other.

Third, and most damaging, in my view: Meisel asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when we deposed him. Because the DOJ has already announced that it would not be prosecuting anyone for this, we asked the DOJ to grant him immunity so that we could compel him to answer our questions. DOJ refused, which is a huge red flag that there is likely something more to uncover here.

So, the IRS released confidential and politically-sensitive donor information. When caught, they claimed it was a mistake. But another individual had claimed to have a "conduit" to obtain the data that he did, in fact, obtain. And when asked to testify, the person receiving the data pled the 5th, and Holder's Justice Department is refusing to grant immunity to compel testimony.

That makes two individuals pleading the 5th in the IRS story, so far.

Sun Jun 29 10:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Not a Phony Scandal

Sun Jun 29 09:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A detailed timeline on the IRS scandal

If you need a refresher, or just a reference, here you go.

Sat Jun 28 18:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obamacare provides subsidized health insurance

Hospice of Holland is closing down its on-site facility and placing some of the blame on the Affordable Care Act. “The biggest issue under the Affordable Care Act is we know we’re going to see cuts in reimbursement,” Husmann said. “It’ll be about 12 percent.”

... but health insurance is not health care. If the people providing health care can't make a profit doing it, they will stop.

Sat Jun 28 17:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Facebook threatened with contempt for advocating user privacy

On the one hand, in this case it looks like Facebook is doing the right thing by challenging a illegal, overbroad demand for user data by a local government. On the other hand, the idea that anyone on Facebook has any privacy left is sort of silly.

Sat Jun 28 16:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Koskinen had better start questioning what his underlings tell him

The IRS under the Obama Administration has spent over $4 billion on contracts labeled under information technology and software despite IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifying this week that budgetary restraints prevented the agency from spending $10 million to save and store emails.

I don't blame Koskinen personally for decisions made before he was placed in charge of the agency. But if his underlings are telling him to tell Congress that budget constraints are making emails disappear, he ought to consider the possibility that they are lying.

Sat Jun 28 15:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NSA spying costs Verizon its German government contract

See, when your government requires you to spy on your customers, people stop trusting you.

Sat Jun 28 14:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Ex-IRS WH official denies knowing about lost emails

“I did not know that her emails were missing and unrecoverable or that her computer crashed,” said the lawyer who specializes in responding to congressional investigations, a few moment after Issa called her a “hostile witness.”

I'm curious how exactly the IRS missed the fact that these emails were missing. What process did they use to collect the emails that they were searching?

Did they look on their email server? That would be incomplete, because it only has the emails she had not moved to her personal drive. I presume that much is obvious, so I have to assume they acquired Lerner's PST file archive from her then-current computer. Did she tell them it was a complete archive, or did she tell them it was missing emails because of her hard drive crash?

If Lerner is protecting herself, probably she didn't say anything. But I would like to get everyone involved on the record, under oath, as to whether she said anything or not.

Once you have your collection of emails to search, there's another question: how do you search them without noticing that you don't have any from a 2-year period?

Her excuse is that they were searching by keywords, which could perhaps disguise the fact that some were missing... though you would think that anyone competent would notice the gap eventually.

Add in the timing issue, with Camp's letter and a separate lawsuit both requiring preservation of emails, and it becomes obvious that Lerner's hard drive crash should have prompted immediate notification of Congress and the judge presiding in the lawsuit... except that the IRS had something to hide.

Sat Jun 28 13:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

PA sheriff defending against lawsuit seeking gun ownership info

Sheriff Carl Nace is defending himself against a lawsuit by county auditors seeking personal information about concealed carry holders within his jurisdiction of Perry County, Pennsylvania.

State law holds that all information for a license to carry a firearm is confidential and free from public release.

The county auditors, however, maintain they are exempt from this, and they want the names and addresses of local permit holders to crosscheck and verify permits issued and money paid with the individual to whom the records indicate the permit was issued.

Given how law-abiding the people seeking licenses are, this lawsuit has to be a smokescreen for some other purpose. The sheriff deserves thanks for fighting it.

Sat Jun 28 12:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A good point on the future of the IRS

The IRS knows — and conservatives now know — that it is now wholly and completely an arm of the political Left, and it now depends on the political Left for its continued viability. A future conservative administration and a future conservative attorney general will not be appointing significant progressive donors to “investigate” the agency. With the agency’s autonomy and perhaps even existence at stake in the coming elections, the only things standing between conservatives and redoubled targeting — particularly in the 2016 election cycle — are constant vigilance, mass public awareness, and a further barrage of litigation when the IRS lashes out once again.

The initial IRS targeting took place immediately before 2010. It was, on the whole, not very successful; they may have dampened the impact of the Tea Party, but that group still won a historic election for the Republican party. Whether the Republican party deserved their support is still in question.

Despite Congressional investigations beginning in 2011, the IRS continued to lay their thumb on the political scale. Perhaps they succeeded more thoroughly than in 2010; perhaps the demographic shift from a midterm to a presidential election changed the results; most likely a combination of both.

In 2014, the investigations intensified and the IRS has stonewalled. For all we know they are continuing their efforts to harass and suppress the Tea Party and other conservative or libertarian groups.

We have elections coming up in 2014. The IRS will be seeking influence those as well. We must remember to maintain our vigilance.

Sat Jun 28 11:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Fake FOIA reform

Senators Cornyn and Leahy appear to be trying to pass off a do-nothing bill as an improvement to FOIA.

The improvements we actually need are serious penalties for denying or unreasonably delaying FOIA responses; significant penalties for forcing private entities to seek court enforcement of FOIA requests; and significant penalties for claiming absurd and excessive costs.

Sat Jun 28 10:35:26 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Should we deunionize the IRS?

I don't see how it could actually hurt anything to try deunionization, but I would rather just abolish the IRS completely.

Sat Jun 28 09:35:27 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS required to explain lost Lerner emails to federal judge

Unlike Congress, the Court can impose penalties without Senate concurrence:

Internal Revenue Service officials will have to explain to a federal judge July 10 why the tax agency didn't inform the court that Lois Lerner's emails had been lost.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Emmett G. Sullivan quickly granted a motion filed earlier today by attorneys for Judicial Watch seeking a courtroom status conference “as soon as possible to discuss the IRS's failure to fulfill its duties to this court under the law, as well as other ramifications of this lawsuit.”

I don't even know what to say about this.

The missing emails are now public knowledge. The IRS failed to mention the issue in any of their filings, despite those emails being central to the Judicial Watch case. I could understand if they tried to explain it away, or if they didn't mention the issue until after they testified to Congress about it. ("Understand" does not mean "would not impose legal penalties for"). But not mentioning it even after it made headlines for a week? Are their lawyers crazy?

Fri Jun 27 19:00:08 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

US continues using secret evidence in trials

In the meantime, the US continues using secret evidence in trials:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled against terrorism suspect Adel Daoud, saying that he and his attorneys cannot access the evidence gathered against him. The Monday ruling overturns an earlier lower district court ruling that had allowed Daoud and his lawyers to review the legality of digital surveillance warrants used against him.

So they found him by NSA warrantless surveillance, enticed him into planting something he thought was a bomb, and then tried him for doing it... but won't let him see the evidence they have against him.

I don't disagree with conducting surveillance on terrorists. But was this person a terrorist before someone put a fake bomb in his hands? I don't know. And I don't know how a jury can possibly decide without seeing the evidence, or how he can defend himself in trial without seeing it.

Fri Jun 27 18:47:35 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Judge rules that the 2nd Amendment doesn't protect hunting

Kane said she could find no proof that courts have extended Second Amendment protections to include recreational hunting.

I don't think panic is warranted about this decision. It's about regulating how and when hunting can occur, not ownership of tools, which has long been a state perogative. The judge is right that there's no case law yet saying that hunting is protected (as far as I am aware, anyway). Sure, it's an adverse ruling and hunters should be concerned about setting the precedent that hunting is not protected, but it's a district court, which means there are still appeals; it's not a Supreme Court case.

The actual regulation amounts to a rule against hunting on Sundays, and many states have laws forbidding the sale of alcohol on Sundays as well. I oppose both sets of laws, but I'm not freaking out about them.

If worst comes to worst, I'll be glad to testify that your bolt-action hunting rifle is actually a military sniper rifle protected by the 2nd Amendment.

You're welcome.

Fri Jun 27 18:32:04 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Contact your representatives

Sebastian points out that the antis are funding calls to Congress as part of their astroturf effort. We need to counter that, even if there aren't specific proposals on the table. And there might well be specific proposals that we just haven't heard about yet. Moms Demand Action just delivered 5,000 postcards pushing for gun registration to a Senator. We can't let them have the floor unopposed on this topic.

By the time you see this, I will have written my legislators.

Fri Jun 27 17:47:35 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Legal issues with losing Lerner's emails

Even assuming the emails were lost before a litigation hold could be placed (or despite a litigation hold being in place), at the very minimum, it seems "good faith" means that the IRS should have notified Congress in February that it lost the emails. Rule 26 would have required Congress to do so. Indeed, such notice would have brought this issue to the forefront and could have saved a lot of money - the money it apparently has already cost to piece together some of the emails, and the money it will cost as the parties argue over whether the IRS negligently or willfully destroyed evidence. If the IRS had been upfront from the beginning, then subpoenas could have been issued months ago to other agencies who, as employers of the lost email recipients, might have copies of the missing emails.

If this discovery issue had arisen in federal court, the IRS would have likely been subject to monetary sanctions and possibly an adverse inference instruction. Shouldn't the IRS be held to these standards?

Of course they should. But who will?

Fri Jun 27 17:32:04 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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