Privacy? What privacy?

Court documents allege the officers then used a police-issued computer to look up the women they found appealing in a confidential law enforcement database that connects to the DMV and state and federal records.

They "could" face felony charges, but I will believe that when I actually see the indictments.

Wed Aug 27 11:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Once is coincidence...

With incredible disregard for the law and the Congressional inquiry, the IRS admits that this Blackberry “was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.” This is a year after her hard drive “crash” and months after the Congressional inquiry began.

We have a huge number of unlikely coincidences piling up. Lerner is notified of a Congressional investigation via Rep Camp's letter of inquiry; almost immediately her hard drive crashes, destroying her email archives for over two years. The hard drive containing those emails cannot be repaired, though data recovery experts suggest that perhaps it should have been recoverable. That crash happened within two weeks of Camp's letter.

Thus far, we're only into the realm of the unfortunate and unlikely. But it gets better.

(Read More...)

Wed Aug 27 10:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS conflict of interest

House Republicans charged the IRS with a conflict of interest on Monday, insisting that a government lawyer that represented the agency previously took part in the IRS’s improper scrutiny of conservative groups.

GOP investigators have found emails from the lawyer in question showing he received at least one of the "Be On The Lookout" emails concerning the Tea Party. The conflict of interest, on the other hand, was big enough to force that lawyer to be removed from the case.

It's useful to remember that the IRS has been represented in the Z Street case by a lawyer who may well have been personally involved in the scandal, and would have a motive to defend himself by hiding evidence rather than defend the agency and the public by exposing the truth.

Similarly, the person handling DoJ's response to Congressional Oversight on the IRS matter appears to be friends with Lerner and a political activist for Democrats:

The Chairmen also expressed concern in their letter that Nicole Siegel, current employee of the Office of Legislative Affairs, which is charged with the Department’s response to congressional oversight of the Department’s interactions with Lerner and the IRS, appeared to have maintained a close relationship with Lerner and previously worked for a political action committee to assist political fundraising for Democratic candidates.

That's troubling on both counts. An honest investigation would not be riddled with conflicts of interest. That this investigation has practically every significant figure compromised in at least one way suggests that it is closer to a cover-up than an investigation.

This is on top of the inherent conflict of interest in the Department of Justice investigating conduct that the DOJ itself was directing. Remember that the DoJ requested the list of tax-exempt organizations from Lerner; it says now that the DoJ did nothing with those files for years, but why did it request them and who instructed the DoJ employee who made the request to do so? That information has yet to be released.

The DOJ also appointed a Obama donor to run its investigation of the IRS.

Investigative Reporter Sharyl Attkisson has more.

Wed Aug 27 09:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Another small step in the right direction

The Volokh Conspirecy has details about a 2nd Amendment ruling striking down a law banning guns in places that sell alcohol.

It's probably important to note that this doesn't do anything about laws banning the consumption of alcohol while armed. That remains a bad idea, and possibly (depending on your jurisdiction) against the law. This decision is be focused on things like parking lots, gas stations, and grocery shopping, and dicta in the decision appears to indicate appeal is unlikely.

It's also interesting that the law that was struck down tries to create a consent to search merely by entering any place where alcohol is sold or consumed. That's probably unconstitutional on entirely separate grounds.

Tue Aug 26 17:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Three steps to bringing police accountability back

This attitude is more dangerous than a Bradley, and the main danger of giving police military equipment isn't that they'll be well-armed, but that it fosters a war-zone mindset. The notion of unaccountable power is what does the real harm. A recent Washington Post column by an LAPD officer saying "If you don't want to get shot, Tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you," illustrates the problem.

Read the whole thing.

Tue Aug 26 16:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

I was wondering when this would come up

So, the American people appear to have thought over the issue and decided that terrorists are no longer sufficient justification for the government to violate the constitution's 4th Amendment by spying on everyone. The government, having absolutely no intention of stopping the spying, went in search of a new justification, and now they will start floating trial balloons.

Today's trial balloon is Ebola.

Dear NSA: The answer is still no.

At risk of trivializing the issue, I'm tired of the NSA raping my cellphone.

Tue Aug 26 15:44:35 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Fox News interviews Judicial Watch about IRS emails

Tue Aug 26 14:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

FedGov to create twitter hate speech and misinformation database

The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.

Note that they are specifically focusing on political activity.

I'm not sure that this is illegal -- perhaps through a chilling effect argument? -- but it is for damn sure scary.

And yeah, you can insert that up your database and SQL it around for a while.

Tue Aug 26 13:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

This is not going to end well

A new group calling itself the Huey P. Newton Gun Club launched armed self-defense patrols Wednesday with one stated purpose: to protect Dallas neighbors from police.

The problem is, these people are not reacting to a real problem of racism -- they are reacting to political incitement by Democrats desperate to boost black turnout in the midterm elections and preserve control of the Senate.

I won't argue that people of all races have the right to bear arms in self-defense. And, yes, that includes the police when it is necessary. But is it necessary?

The open-carry march with rifles is fine. I don't think this part of the story is necessary or safe:

At one point, the march went to Elaine's Restaurant on Martin Luther King Boulevard, where demonstrators piled rifles on tables as they ordered cold drinks and food.

Piled rifles on tables? Maybe that's just the reporter's choice of words. But honestly, it's interesting to see how the narrative shifts when the Left is doing this rather than the Right, isn't it?

The Dallas police get a compliment:

A Dallas police lieutenant and deputy chief were eating lunch in the restaurant at the time. They politely spoke to the demonstrators as they paid their bills. Chief David Brown issued a statement saying, "the Dallas Police Department supports the constitutional rights of all."

That's the right way to handle this situation. If the Dallas police are able to maintain their calm and respond in this entirely appropriate manner, I don't think there is a real epidemic of "police terror" in Dallas to worry about.

Most of my mixed feelings about this situation come from this part:

"We believe we can police ourselves and bring security to our community, ridding our community of black-on-black crime, violence, police terror, etc., etc.," Freeman said. Huey P. Newton Gun Club organizers hope neighbors will take up arms and join future patrols.

Armed inner-city patrols with a chip on their shoulder about "police terror"? That's a powder keg waiting for a match. And there are lots of "helpful" politicians with matches.

Tue Aug 26 12:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A refresher course on Democrat lawfare

Lawfare has been an ongoing tool of the Democrat party in attacking Republicans, of which the indictment of Rick Perry for using his line-item veto power as Governor of Texas is only the latest example. There are others:

  1. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

  2. Jack Ryan (Illinois Senate race in 2004 that launched Obama)

  3. Rep Tom Delay

  4. Senator Ted Stevens

  5. Governor Sarah Palin

  6. Governor Scott Walker

  7. Governor Chris Christie

  8. Governor Rick Perry

Tue Aug 26 11:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]


IF HE WERE A REPUBLICAN, THIS WOULD LEAD THE NEWS: Reid apologizes for Asian jokes. You do have to wonder, though, what with the quotas under affirmative action, and the ethnic jokes, whether the Democrats really like Asians much.

Harry Reid is a racist Democrat. He's called Republicans racists for far less.

Tue Aug 26 10:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama Administration has something to hide on the illegal alien problem

To date, Grassley says his questions to HHS have gone unanswered. Among other queries, he asked for information about who the unaccompanied minors are being released to, the health issues facing the unaccompanied minors, and the decision to move millions of dollars away from service for legal refugees.

On June 25, Grassley requested HHS provide information on its contracts related to handling of the illegal immigrant children. That request, he says, went unanswered. He reiterated it in a letter on July 17, which specifically asked about non-profit BCFS.

It has been over six weeks since the initial request for information and over one month since the previous letter was sent. I have received neither answers nor responsive documents.

It's not clear what exactly they are hiding, but that's the point of trying to hide things.

Tue Aug 26 09:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama Admin claims it is not subject to the rule of law

They are claiming that the "constitutional responsibility to protect the lives of Americans" somehow trumps the specific laws prohibiting use of funds for prisoner transfers without 30 days notice to Congress.

They don't cite any specific constitutional language to support their claim, because there is none. The rule of law requires that everyone, including the President, follow the law. While there are some areas where the President has authority derived from the Constitution, the power of the purse rests with Congress.

And let's get fucking serious here. Obama did not notify Congress, as required by law, because he feared Congress would block the deal and possibly wanted to avoid paying a political cost. That's how little the rule of law means to the President; he'll ignore the law to avoid political inconvenience.

Mon Aug 25 18:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Foley rescue op delayed by Obama for 30 days

Anthony Shaffer, a former lieutenant-colonel in US military intelligence who worked on covert operations, said: “I’m told it was almost a 30-day delay from when they said they wanted to go to when he finally gave the green light. They were ready to go in June to grab the guy [Foley] and they weren’t permitted.”

When seconds count, the Obama Administration is only 30 days away.

I wasn't about to criticize the Obama Admin for trying to rescue Foley and failing. Attempting the rescue is the right thing to do if it's feasible, and any military operation has a chance of failure. But when it fails arguably because of a delay imposed by the political decision makers, and when the failure is due to a full month between the military giving the ready-for-mission and the decision to actually launch the mission... well, that's worthy of criticism.

Mon Aug 25 17:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS BOMBSHELL: Lerner emails still exist on disaster recovery backups

It's now Monday, August 25th, 2014. The IRS was ordered to provide additional information to the court in a Judicial Watch case seeking information about the Tea Party political targeting and efforts to recover Lois Lerner's missing emails. The deadline for that filing, which was to detail IRS efforts to recover Lerner's emails from sources other than her failed hard drive (email servers, alternate devices, home email accounts, etc), was Friday, August 22nd.

Judicial Watch is now reporting that Department of Justice attorneys are admitting that Lerner's emails still exist:

Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search. The DOJ attorneys also acknowledged that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is investigating this back-up system.

We obviously disagree that disclosing the emails as required would be onerous, and plan to raise this new development with Judge Sullivan.

This is a jaw-dropping revelation. The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner’s missing emails. There are no “missing” Lois Lerner emails – nor missing emails of any of the other top IRS or other government officials whose emails seem to be disappearing at increasingly alarming rate. All the focus on missing hard drives has been a diversion. The Obama administration has known all along where the email records could be – but dishonestly withheld this information. You can bet we are going to ask the court for immediate assistance in cutting through this massive obstruction of justice.

Yes, recovering an entire email server from crash recovery backup tapes is time-consuming and potentially expensive. But what use are backup tapes if you don't use them?

More to the point, this is an open admission that the IRS has been refusing to turn over the Lerner emails rather than unable to turn them over.

I may have more to say once I have read the sworn statements for myself.

UPDATE: Comments on sworn statements below the fold. National Review Online is now reporting:

“A Department of Justice attorney told a Judicial Watch attorney on Friday that it turns out the federal government backs up all computer records in case something terrible happens in Washington and there’s a catastrophe, so the government can continue operating,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told Fox News’s Shannon Bream.

“But it would be too hard to go get Lois Lerner’s e-mails from that backup system,” Fitton continued, paraphrasing the DOJ official. “So, everything we’ve been hearing about scratched hard drives, about missing e-mails of Lois Lerner, other IRS officials, other officials in the Obama administration, it’s all been a pack of malarkey. They could get these records, but they don’t want to.”

Backup systems are meant to be used. If you don't use the system to recover data when you need to, why have it at all?

(Read More...)

Mon Aug 25 16:54:02 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Good advice for Libertarians on foreign policy

The philosophy of liberty is focused primarily on domestic policy. What happens in other nations is mostly an afterthought, something that is hand waved away more than actually discussed. If Libertarians are to be taken seriously as a party, that's going to have to change. Libertarians need to present a realistic vision of how our policies can protect Americans from external threats as well as internal ones.

A Libertarian party that allows anyone to cross the border, regardless of their identity and affiliation with criminals and terrorists, will not be trusted.

A Libertarian party that allows terrorists to take and hold territory, as ISIS has done, and use it as a launching pad for funding and carrying out attacks against the United States should not be trusted.

There are dangers in entangling alliances and preemptive strikes, yes. There are dangers no less powerful in waiting to be attacked.

Mon Aug 25 16:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

California waiting period law ruled unconstitutional

Sebastian is reporting that we won Sylvester v Harris, which invalidates waiting periods as applied to those who pass a background check before the end of the waiting period, if they already have an additional firearm (confirmed by checking the California gun registry apparently) or a valid CCW/COE.

Note that this does not appear to do anything about people buying a gun for the first time in California, even if they pass the background check and already own a gun. It's only for people who the state can verify already owns a gun.

Small steps. Each time we foreclose one of the gun-control planks through the courts, they have to go back to the legislative drawing board.

Mon Aug 25 16:28:13 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Pros and Cons of Impeaching Lerner

My first impression on encountering the idea was why bother? Lerner herself has already resigned in disgrace retired with full benefits, and having done that, she can't be removed from office a second time. Most of the senior figures that we know to have been involved have either resigned or retired or otherwise moved on, too, though a few are still around (including in at least one case, serving within the White House). But the impeachment process can, upon conviction, impose a ban on serving in federal office in the future. Lerner herself might not have further political ambitions but perhaps the others who might also be impeached do.

On the other hand, the Senate is still firmly in Democrat control. They can probably find 35 votes in safe Senate seats to agree with the idea that the dog ate Lerner's email, especially since if they don't protect her she will start talking; and exonerating her in the Senate would be a far worse outcome than a persistent cloud over the whole scandal.

The appropriate time for impeaching Lerner was as soon after she pled the 5th as possible. If the politics of the situation made a conviction impossible under those circumstances, it will be that much more difficult with her no longer in office and with little direct evidence, never mind how that lack of evidence is itself suspicious.

Mon Aug 25 15:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

If Global Warming is real, why do people have to fake the records?

The [Australian] Bureau of Meteorology has been accused of manipulating historic temperature records to fit a predetermined view of global warming. Researcher Jennifer Marohasy claims the adjusted records resemble “propaganda” rather than science. Dr Marohasy has analysed the raw data from dozens of locations across Australia and matched it against the new data used by BOM showing that temperatures were progressively warming. In many cases, Dr Marohasy said, temperature trends had changed from slight cooling to dramatic warming over 100 years.

The language is a little unclear, so I will clarify: Marohasy is saying that the adjustments to recorded temperatures changed the trend from a slight cooling trend to a dramatic warming trend. The adjustments are added by humans, supposedly to compensate for flaws in the raw measurements. It now seems clear that in Australia, those adjustments are done in support of a political cause rather than accurate data.

Australia is far from the first nation to have problems. To the best of my knowledge, every other major collection of temperature records has had similar issues. The common thread appears to be "scientists" who are more interested in promoting the cause of global warming in order to create political support for their Luddite agenda than in actually doing science.

To put it bluntly, scientists who care about being right don't need to torture the data until it confesses to whatever they want.

Mon Aug 25 14:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Moms Demanding Action escalates from vandalism to SWATing

Details over at Bearing Arms.

Just to make it clear: if you see someone with a holstered firearm peacefully going about their normal business, there is no reason to panic. If you do panic, you are suffering from hoplophobia -- excessive and irrational fear of weapons. If your fear causes you to abandon a shopping cart filled with perishable food on your way to run out the door, the place you were shopping is likely to forgive you for causing them a little extra labor. But if you premeditated the action -- such as would be indicated by posting on Twitter about it, or abandoning shopping carts frequently -- they might not be so forgiving.

Calling the police and reporting a robbery in progress because you saw someone with a holstered firearm peacefully shopping is going to get very ugly, very fast. Doing that puts lives at risk. It's certainly not a good way to reduce gun violence, because the person with the holster gun was causing no violence, but when the police show up primed by a false call about an armed robbery in progress, the violence that is very likely to result in that situation is entirely the fault of the person who called in the false report.

Moms Demand Action may claim to be about reducing gun violence, but some of their members seem quite happy to get gun owners killed.

Mon Aug 25 13:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

SWAT Teams and Umbrellas

Some people have been pointing at the riots and looting in Ferguson as justification for small town police forces to have SWAT teams and military vehicles. There's some value to that; riots and looting are in fact a situation where specialized gear and an armored vehicle might be useful. However, for every Ferguson, there are many more teachers with umbrellas.

Mon Aug 25 12:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Government agencies are blacklisting journalists

“[A] study released earlier this month revealed that many government information officers block specific journalists they don’t like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing “serious limitations on access to records” that they say have “impeded” their oversight work. –Sirota

The government should not get to play favorites.

Mon Aug 25 11:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

White House political office documents subpoena'd

The House Oversight Committee today issued a subpoena to the White House for documents involving the White House political office, which reopened after two members of President Obama’s cabinet were found to have violated laws intended to separate taxpayer functions from partisan political efforts. The cabinet members were Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Department Secretary Hilda Solis.

This scandal has yet to really break, but if the practices that allegedly took place occurred on a widespread scale, it could be fairly serious.

Mon Aug 25 10:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A documentary about IRS abuse to be in theaters

Mon Aug 25 09:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Bruce Schneier calls for breaking up the NSA

By treating the Internet as a giant surveillance platform, the NSA has betrayed the Internet and the world. It has subverted the products, protocols, and standards that we use to protect ourselves. It has left us all vulnerable—to foreign governments, to cybercriminals, to hackers. And it has transformed the Internet into a medium that no one can trust.

He wants to put computer-based offensive capabilities into the Department of Defense, law enforcement into the Department of Justice (and there subject to warrant process, etc) and defensive measures designed to increase our own security into a new agency. It makes sense to me, but we can't just split things up -- we have to make sure that the new divisions actually behave appropriately, with oversight and accountability.

Fri Aug 22 15:44:34 CDT 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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