Senate Republicans already showing signs of weakness on Supreme Court nominees

The HillSen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says he would be open to holding post-election hearings on Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, in December.

Hatch, a senior Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters Wednesday that it might make sense to hold hearings and a confirmation vote on Garland in the lame-duck session.

Garland is not acceptable.

Fri Mar 25 04:39:29 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Senate GOP willing to meet with Obama's Supreme Court pick

The HillSeven Republicans so far have said they are open to considering or meeting with Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia who was nominated for the Supreme Court earlier Wednesday by Obama.

If they are already vacillating, how are they possibly going to hold out all year?

Susan Collins
Jeff Flake
Mark Kirk
Rob Portman
Kelly Ayotte
UPDATE: Orrin Hatch
UPDATE: Jerry Moran (may have backed down)
UPDATE: Pat Toomey
UPDATE: Lisa Murkowski
UPDATE: John Boozman (according to the White House)
UPDATE: Lyndsey Graham
UPDATE: Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley
UPDATE: John Hoeven
UPDATE: James Inhofe, Bill Nelson, and Ron Wyden
UPDATE: John Kasich, whose opinion matters because he is running for President and promised to consider Garland if he is elected. Of course, making this comment means he certainly will not be elected, at least by any Republican party worthy of the name, which I suppose is in doubt.

The count is up to 11 now. If they vote the way they talk to the press, that's enough to win a majority (but, for now, short of breaking a filibuster). And don't believe the nonsense about it being "just a meeting". This is a very public form of whip-counting.

If any of those senators belong to you, contact them and let them know you will see them out of office if they cave on this.

Fri Mar 25 04:28:21 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Police want 10 years of records

Technology ReviewThe government has requested laws that mandate data retention for over 10 years. Must all technologies be built to ensure that what they hear is retained and made available for law enforcement’s inspection?

Think about this for a moment. The government is not just demanding access to information collected in the ordinary course of business; they are seeking laws to require companies to keep 10 years worth of very detailed data on their customers just in case those customers are maybe suspected of doing something wrong in the future.

In other words, any time a police officer decides they don't like you, they can search 10 years of records to find a reason to get you in trouble.

No one can survive that kind of scrutiny by a motivated adversarial party.

Thu Mar 24 12:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Police abuse database access for personal gain

Ars TechnicaThe report by Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell listed a host of wrongful searches, including an officer getting a phone number of a woman he met on assignment, and an officer running the license plate of a man for a friend who then stalked that person. None of the 25 Denver officers who abused the crime databases were charged with any access crime. The harshest penalty was a three-day suspension. Civilians who accessed the databases without authorization, however, most likely would be charged with hacking...

The Denver Police Department does not audit officers' use of the databases but investigates complaints of abuse.

The lack of an audit should be a red flag in and of itself. Databases like these need to be coded so that every lookup has the identifying codes for the officer who requested the lookup, the officer who actually performed the lookup, the investigation for which the lookup was performed, and a specific, individual description of how the lookup is connected to the investigation. When that investigation is closed, every record related to it should be audited again and a notification sent to the subject of the lookup explaining what happened and why.

And providing a simple form to send back in if they feel the lookup was inappropriate.

Thu Mar 24 11:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NRA would like you to sign a petition to oppose Obama's Supreme Court nominee

NRA-ILAIt’s easy to draw the conclusion that because of Judge Garland’s past decisions, were he to be confirmed, Heller would be in danger. What’s more, it’s almost certain Judge Garland agrees with Hillary Clinton’s comment that the “Supreme Court got it wrong” when it affirmed the individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

With this nomination, President Obama is hoping Garland will act according to his anti-gun beliefs, and the anti-gun beliefs of Hilary Clinton – his preferred successor.

We must do everything we can to prevent Garland from joining the Supreme Court, and filling the seat left vacant by Justice Scalia.

Gun control is the only issue close to Obama's heart that he hasn't been able to move through either legislative or executive action, and it's only been through vigorous opposition at every stage that Obama has been blocked. The chance to nominate a replacement for the author of the Heller decision, which returned the 2nd Amendment to an honored place in American jurisprudence, must have seemed like a godsend to Obama in the final year of his presidency.

Petition here.

Thu Mar 24 10:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NSA confirms Clinton email contained signals intelligence above Top Secret level

ObserverNow, over two months later, I can confirm that the contents of Sid Blumenthal’s June 8, 2011 email to Hillary Clinton, sent to her personal, unclassified account, were indeed based on highly sensitive NSA information. The Agency investigated this compromise and determined that Mr. Blumenthal’s highly detailed account of Sudanese goings-on, including the retelling of high-level conversations in that country, was indeed derived from NSA intelligence.

That sources at the NSA -- which was once referred to jokingly as "No Such Agency", referring to it being so secret no one would admit it existed -- are willing to confirm that Clinton's email contained their signals intelligence information and that it was based on reports classified above the Top Secret level is frankly amazing. Even having the public discussion about this incident has probably tipped off the people being spied on that they are not secure and caused them to change their security measures, effectively burning the source.

One NSA source described it as "word for word, verbatim copying."

Thu Mar 24 09:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

New Hampshire passes jury nullification requirement

Volokh ConspiracyEven if you find that the state has proved all of the elements of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find that based upon the facts of this case a guilty verdict will yield an unjust result, and you may find the defendant not guilty.

Ironically, the courts may find it unConstitutional. Doing so would strike another blow to the foundations of the rule of law in this country.

Wed Mar 23 12:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

See no threats, hear no threats

Department of Homeland SecurityAt present, we have no specific, credible intelligence of any plot to conduct similar attacks here in the United States.

Washington Examiner quoting a Texas public safety official testifying to Congress"Clearly, there are special-interest aliens anywhere from Afghanistan to Yemen that have been coming across the Texas-Mexican border that have been detected and apprehended by border patrol," Texas director of public safety Steven McCraw told Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., during a Wednesday hearing.

"As it relates to al Shabaab and the connection to Somalians, it's an FBI case," he said. "A Somalian smuggling operation out of San Antonio would bring Somalians across and help them resettle across the United States, and there had been a nexus determined in that investigation to terrorism."

Just because DHS is either incompetent or willfully blind does not mean that threats do not actually exist.

Wed Mar 23 11:45:36 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

French police arrest four terrorists planning attack

Legal InsurrectionOn Wednesday, French Police arrested four suspected Islamists for planning yet another terrorist attack in Central Paris. French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, confirmed that at least one of the attested suspect was about to “undertake violent actions in France.” According French government more than 8,ooo French citizens have been identified as “radicalised.” The arrests in France come on the same day as the police in Belgium arrested two suspected ISIS terrorists in connection with the November Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

8,000 "radicalized" citizens. You can just send them home once you give them citizenship. That's why it's important to not let them in the first place.

Wed Mar 23 11:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why legal barriers to encryption technology won't catch terrorists

Washington PostEven if the U.S. government prevails in its quest to compel Apple and other U.S. companies to give the authorities access to encrypted devices or messaging services when they have a warrant, such technology would still be widely available to terrorists and criminals, security analysts say.

That's because so many encrypted products are made by developers working in foreign countries or as part of open source projects, putting them outside the federal government's reach. For example, instant messaging service Telegram — which offers users encrypted "secret chats" — is headquartered in Germany while encrypted voice call and text-messaging service Silent Phone is based out of Switzerland. And Signal, a popular app for encrypted voice calls and text messaging, is open source.

The technology is available and out there. It cannot be suppressed, nor does government have any right to suppress it. People have the right to privacy in their own papers and communications; to the extent that government wishes to invade that privacy, it needs a warrant based upon probable cause, and no one else is obligated to help. Particularly not the person who is being investigated, who is protected by the 5th Amendment from being required to incriminate himself.

If the government is unable to open the safe or break the technical means used to protect information, that's their problem.

Trying to change that by writing requirements to violate the privacy of device owners and customers into the law will just cause manufacturers of secure devices and customers for those products to obtain them from nations that respect their privacy.

Wed Mar 23 10:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Judicial Watch requests to depose 8 Clinton staffers

Daily CallerEight present and past Department of State officials linked to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private email scandal will be deposed by Judicial Watch in the non-profit government watchdog’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit if the federal judge hearing the case agrees.

I think the most devastating things these aides can testify about will be Hillary's privately expressed motives for setting up the server. Did she talk about avoiding FOIA requests? Did she talk about how to send and receive classified information by removing its markings? Will they admit it if she did?

I'm betting the answer to the last question is no, but they can't just say nothing; at least not without pleading the 5th (and that would look really, really bad).

Wed Mar 23 09:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Utah, Arizona, American Samoa vote today

If you're in one of those places and you're just now seeing this, it's pretty close to too late. Hurry and go vote for Ted Cruz.

Tue Mar 22 16:27:13 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Terrorist attack in Brussells

CNNISIS claimed to strike yet again on European soil Tuesday, saying its "fighters" launched attacks on the airport and a subway station in Belgium's capital that killed at least 30 people and wounded about 230 more.

There is little new that can be said here. The attacks are in Europe, and used bombs, so the gun control angle is a non-starter. They took place just outside the airport security checkpoints, as many have predicted would be the inevitable result of trying to set up checkpoints around secure areas. A defensive strategy does not have the resources to present a strong defense everywhere, so determined attackers will find some way to do damage.

One worrying note:

CNNAll but essential staff were sent home from two nuclear power plants in Belgium -- one in Tihange and the other in Doel, said a representative of Engie, the French company that operates the facilities. Belgian authorities ordered this evacuation, though the representative did not provide further details.

I have to assume this was driven by some specific intelligence. I hope that the people they are sending home are not any of the security personnel.

UPDATE: Take with glass of vodka, but Russia Today reports the terrorists had footage of nuclear power stations in Belgium and planned to attack those. (Hat tip to Gateway Pundit, because I don't normally read Russia Today)

Tue Mar 22 14:28:01 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama wants to break into your phone... to enforce tax laws?

ReutersU.S. President Barack Obama on Friday made a passionate case for mobile devices to be built in such a way as to allow government to gain access to personal data if needed to prevent a terrorist attack or enforce tax laws.

Note the sudden shift here. Terrorists! Child pornography!.... and tax laws?!

The first two are what he wants you to hear, because they produce an emotional response. Terrible things are happening, we have to get into your phone -- everyone's phone -- to prevent them. (Never mind that being in everyone's phone doesn't actually prevent anything). The last one, enforcing the tax laws, the drug laws, and every other part of the criminal code... that part isn't supposed to be mentioned.

The founding-era technology analogy here would be to ban fire because some people use it to burn their private papers to avoid paying taxes. Banning encryption is equally stupid, and equally futile.

Tue Mar 22 12:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Oregon governor considers executive action on gun control

Progressives TodayGovernor Kate Brown laments over the “gun safety” bills that were defeated in the recent Oregon legislative session. “I will be working to develop legislation for the 2017 session and explore what might be achieved using my executive powers” she said at a press conference last week. When asked to clarify, she struggles to form complete sentences and unloads a string of “uhhh” and “ummm”, while trying to say she wants to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, which is already the law, which was further bolstered by the passage of SB941 in the 2016 session. So, really, she’s already legislatively accomplished such things.

The left is openly abandoning our legislative process.

Tue Mar 22 11:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Another State Dept employee declining to answer questions about Hillary's server

That is, declining to answer them voluntarily while the questions are still voluntary.

PoliticoJohn Bentel, a now-retired State employee who managed IT security issues for the top echelon at the department, declined to be interviewed by GOP staff on the Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO.

“We are troubled by your refusal to engage with the committees even after repeated overtures of accommodation,” the letter to Bentel and his lawyer reads. “We need to speak with you. … We would, of course, prefer that you meet with us in a voluntary and informal manner, but we will consider other options if faced with a continuing lack of cooperation.”

He's not pleading the 5th, yet. In fact, he says he's declining because he already answered similar questions in detail for another committee. That doesn't seem like it will hold up as a reason not to answer questions, but it sounds better than pleading the 5th.

Tue Mar 22 10:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Angry Voters

Tue Mar 22 09:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Grand Jury in the Clinton investigation?

Daily Caller“My long experience as the United States Attorney and an independent counsel makes me conclude as a matter of professional judgment that a grand jury exists,” diGenova told TheDCNF. “It is readily apparent to me that there is at least a grand jury impaneled for the purposes of issuing subpoenas,” he said.

That's not a factual assertion so much as it is a conclusion from evidence, but it's still interesting. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if the FBI under its current director is actually taking the Hillary investigation(s) seriously, but if a grand jury has been set up that suggests that the DOJ might also be taking it seriously.

Mon Mar 21 12:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

AG Lynch admits DOJ discussed criminal charges for political opinions

The BlazeAttorney General Loretta Lynch testified Wednesday that the Justice Department has “discussed” taking civil legal action against the fossil fuel industry for “denying” the “threat of carbon emissions” when it comes to climate change.

I remember when you could hold a political position contrary to that of the current administration without being referred to the FBI for criminal charges.

Mon Mar 21 11:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Denying reality rarely ends well

The FederalistPrecisely because I came to regard internally what I was attempting externally as the maintenance of an illusion, and because of myriad other incidents and psychological factors I’ve already outlined in various publications, I made the decision last September to leave Sarah behind and return to Will.

Never one to shy away from grandiose hero worship, I now compare my seven-month stint as a female to the Beatles’ 1967 India holiday to study meditation under the Maharishi. It was something I was initially eager to explore and, indeed, would go so far as to say I felt I had to explore. Yet by the end, disenchantment had set in, along with an acceptance of reality, leaving me more grateful than ever to return to manhood. This was a decision I made for myself. Not, as my critics on the activist left now allege, for transgendered people en masse.

I have nothing against people who, for whatever reason, feel their physical gender does not mesh well with their mental self-image. At least as long as they aren't yelling at me for getting their preferred pronouns wrong, anyway. But I do think that no matter how special a snowflake you think you are, reality tends to win in the end. And the more of yourself you invest in denying reality, the more it hurts when you lose.

That's not me trying to make a choice for anyone else. That's just advice. Take it or leave it.

Mon Mar 21 10:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama makes first climate agreement payment without Congress?

GuardianObama administration pays out $500m to climate change project

The Obama administration has made a first installment on its $3bn pledge to help poor countries fight climate change – defying Republican opposition to the president’s environmental plan.

The $500m payment to the Green Climate Fund was seen as critical to shoring up international confidence in Barack Obama’s ability to deliver on the pledges made at the United Nations’ climate change conference in Paris in late 2015.

I don't remember Congress authorizing this. It's entirely possible I missed a sentence in a footnote of a piece of legislation about something else, of course.

GuardianAt one point Republicans insisted that the Paris agreement be submitted to the Senate for approval before any funds were released – before quietly relenting during budget negotiations last December.

Oh look, that's exactly what happened. The Republicans in power bitched and moaned and left the impression they wouldn't fund it and then funded it.

And they wonder why the people are angry?

Mon Mar 21 09:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why personal computers should not have cloud-based logins

Clayton CramerI can no longer use my Windows 10 notebook. It wants a password, but for my Microsoft account, which thinks my name is Leonardo Petterson. Nor can I reset my password. There are dozens of pieces of information it wants including subject lines of recent emails I ave sent, which I don't remember. Microsoft accounts are hell, and I don't see a way to restart my PC without the Microsoft account.

What Microsoft is trying to do with Windows 10 is make your personally-owned computer a "window" into a Microsoft-owned cloud of services. It's an interesting model for them, but too little, too late... and it doesn't appeal to people like me who want to be in control of our own computers.

Sun Mar 20 12:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Crying wolf about locked iPhones

The AtlanticThe truth is that despite the spread of encryption, law enforcement is living in a golden age of surveillance. In fact, the rapidly increasing capabilities of Big Brother pose a far greater threat to Americans than criminals or terrorists exploiting new ways to “go dark.” Acting surreptitiously is harder than ever in this world.

Ask yourself this: how did the government catch terrorists before everyone carried their own personal tracking device and bug in their pocket with them?

Sun Mar 20 11:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Hillary did send classified emails after all

In order to understand what we now know about what Clinton was doing with her private email system and classified information, let's examine a couple scenarios for how classified information could appear on her private email server.

1) Directly copying a classified document. She says this never happened, and it would obviously be a blatant violation of the rules. Reports are that the system is set up to make this physically hard; the classified computers are not networked to unclassified ones.

2) Telling aides and employees to remove classified markings and forward her information from those documents. We know this happened at least once. On its face, this appears to be ordering a subordinate to perform an illegal act. It's not clear if the subordinate complied in that specific case, but we have literally thousand of examples (including many classified top secret or higher) that probably fit into this category without the explicit instructions to remove classified markings and send in insecure email. In this case, Hillary's in trouble for receiving it on her server and not disposing of it properly, but the original offense isn't hers... at least, not for those cases she did not give explicit instructions about. (Although a credible case could be made that using her private server in this manner was a deliberate act, so she's not off the hook completely).

3) Writing (not copying or paraphrasing) emails that refer to information that should be classified, but which were not themselves ever designated classified. This is the sort of thing that happens if Hillary, say, writes an email to someone containing negotiating positions or the name of a spy or something. Just because Hillary, or an aide, wrote the email without referencing another document or marking the email itself classified doesn't mean the email isn't classified. We appear to have at least 104 examples of this.

The thing that gets tricky is that there may well be lots of examples of type-3 classified information flying around in private email. It's not like most government officials have minders reading their "private" email accounts preventing it. And while Hillary's casual approach to security seems exceptional, we've already established that many Obama officials both had and used personal email for work purposes. So if Hillary takes a big fall for this, it's likely to make other government officials uncomfortable. But then, Petraeus has already taken a fall for a similar offense, so the precedent has been set.

If Hillary can skate after deliberately setting up a system that negligently (at best!) exposed classified information, openly violated the rules for handling that information, deliberately conspired to avoid complying with federal records laws, and then trying to cover it all up by deleting her emails when found out... then we no longer have the rule of law in this country.

But then, we haven't had that for 7 years. So what else is new?

Sun Mar 20 10:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Dem turnout down in voter-id states

Political Wire“Eight out of the 16 states that have held primaries or caucuses so far have implemented new voter ID or other restrictive voting laws since 2010. Democratic turnout has dropped 37 percent overall in those eight states, but just 13 percent in the states that didn’t enact new voter restrictions. To put it another way, Democratic voter turnout was 285 percent worse in states with new voter ID laws.”

This is not evidence of a crime that would stand up in criminal court... but it sure is circumstantial evidence of widespread voter fraud in the Democrat party, and that voter ID laws can make a significant difference.

Sun Mar 20 09:19:16 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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