Appropriate This!

Sat Apr 23 09:46:32 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Political theater

The Republican party plans to pass some IRS reform legislation. Unfortunately, most of it is toothless. The main proposals seem to be:

1) Cracking down on IRS employees who don't pay their own taxes. A good idea, but mostly meaningless in terms of overall reform. Especially since it requires the Treasury Secretary to "certify" but probably doesn't provide any penalties if he certifies incorrectly.

2) Blocking the IRS from rehiring those it fired for misconduct. Again, a good idea, but not a lot of actual reform.

3) Ban IRS employees from receiving bonuses until it improves customer service. Again, this doesn't strike me as very helpful, but it's doing better than the other proposals because it has penalties that will hit the IRS in the personal pocketbook.

4) Blocking funding for targeting citizens exercising their first amendment rights. Honestly, I can't imagine a more toothless way to do this. As if the IRS is going to admit some particular activity is targeting? Who makes that determination and denies the funds? No one, at least not until after the fact. This is better than nothing, I suppose, but lacking enforcement mechanisms ultimately meaningless.

5) Printed copies of IRS rules upon request... is this even a serious problem? Really?

Not mentioned in the above list of proposals (which I based on the linked article) is the only one which seems to have a chance at being effective, HR 4885:

Accounting TodayH.R. 4885, IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending Act of 2016, sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., would repeal the IRS’s current authority to spend the user fees it collects without congressional approval. The proposed legislation would restore to Congress full authority over how the IRS spends those resources. The proposal requires the Treasury to deposit the funds from user fees into a general fund that would be used for improving taxpayer services.

Preventing the IRS from using user fees as a slush fund might actually give Congress some control over the rogue agency.

According to the Accounting Today article, all of those proposals have passed the House. I'd like to see the Senate take up HR 4885 and make it a must-pass piece of legislation, including tying it to those hideous must-pass funding bills if necessary. The rest can proceed individually; let the Democrats block them if they can and force Obama to veto them to protect his enforcers.

Notably absent, however, is the best available mechanism for encouraging the IRS leadership to behave responsibly rather than covering up abuses: impeaching the IRS commissioner who conducted the coverup.

Color me not impressed with the GOPe, for the most part.

Fri Apr 22 12:46:32 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Health Department refusing to hand over subpoenaed documents

Daily CallerFederal health officials refuse to give Congress hundreds of subpoenaed documents on Obamacare’s failed co-ops so that people will continue enrolling in the deeply troubled program, a congressional leader said Tuesday.

Twelve of the 23 co-ops created in 2011 under Obamacare at a cost of $2.4 billion have failed, and another eight of the remaining 11 are likely to go under this year. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) won’t hand over documents subpoenaed months ago by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

I would say that this administration's contempt for the rule of law is shocking, but frankly, it's no longer shocking.

Fri Apr 22 11:46:32 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Hillary sees gun control opportunity after Scalia's death

Chelsea Clinton on Gun Control“So if you listen to Moms Demand Action and the Brady Campaign and the major efforts pushing for smart, sensible and enforceable gun control across our country, disclosure, have endorsed my mom, they say they believe the next time the Court rules on gun control, it will make a definitive ruling,” Clinton said. “So it matters to me that my mom is the only person running for president who not only constantly makes that connection but also has a strong record on gun control and standing up to the NRA."

We know what kind of justice Hillary will appoint if she wins. We know what kind of justice Obama has already nominated, if the Republican squishes in the Senate confirm him. We know that the next justice will likely determine whether the 2nd Amendment has legal force to protect our rights or becomes yet another dead-letter amendment that the government ignores.

I trust Ted Cruz, who has argued for the Second Amendment before the Supreme Court, to appoint justices who will protect our rights.

Trump, I'm not so sure about, but a question mark is better than a Hillary.

Fri Apr 22 11:37:06 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Sixth Circuit rules 4th Amendment does not protect cell site location data

No warrant required to find out every cell tower you've connected to. Which your cell phone does automatically whenever it is turned on.

Fri Apr 22 10:46:32 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Political operatives and corruption at the Department of Justice

PJMediaDuring the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, [Community Relations Service] helped to organize rallies and protests against George Zimmerman.

CRS did the same thing in Ferguson, pouring gasoline on the flames of protests, violence, and looting. This included training demonstrators on how to protest and “spreading the word” that what had happened was racially motivated -- which the grand jury investigation concluded was completely untrue.

One observer said the CRS basically put “a keg of dynamite in the middle of Ferguson” and lit the fuse. A source inside DOJ confirmed that CRS was stirring things up instead of trying to calm things down.

Yes, we've gotten to the point where the government is inciting riots. Is it any surprise that the people doing that are also massively corrupt and wasteful with the tax money they were given?

Fri Apr 22 09:46:32 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Left is coming for you next

National ReviewKamala Harris, Eric Schneiderman, Claude Earl Walker, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch should not resign — they should be hounded from office, and from polite society. Prosecuting political institutions and businesses for political activism is brown-shirt business, plain and simply and ugly and heinous. If you believe that this will stop at prosecuting wicked, evil “corporations,” you are deluding yourself.

Read the whole thing, while you still can.

Thu Apr 21 12:46:32 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Complaints are not enough

Instapundit[quoting Ann Althouse] “It is true that Facebook would be protected by the First Amendment, even as it screwed with the freedom of speech of over a billion human beings. What's tremendously important here is to maintain pressure on Facebook to respect our freedom. We don't have a legal right to assert against Facebook, but that is absolutely not a reason to give up and let Facebook do what it wants to repress speech. We have moral, political, social and economic power, and we should assert it.”

In response to these concerns, Facebook has announced that it doesn’t try to influence how people vote: "We as a company are neutral — we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote.”

To put it bluntly, I don't believe Facebook's protests here. Or those of companies in a similar position like Google.

While Althouse suggests that simply complaining loudly at Facebook will help, and I don't disagree that those complaints should be voiced, the more important task is to create and maintain alternatives to market dominance. Ultimately, complaints about Facebook by people on Facebook are meaningless. Those complaints must be backed by the ability to exit.

Thu Apr 21 11:46:32 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Putin forms internal security force focused on firearms

The Liberty ZoneWe view the right to keep and bear arms as a bulwark against tyranny. The fact that Putin has now created an armed entity, controlled solely by him, to focus on “all that is connected with firearms” should tell you everything you need to know about where that nation is headed internally. And that, my friends, coupled with the recent aggression of Russian fighter jets first buzzing the USS Donald Cook, and then flying dangerously close to one of our recon craft, is indicative of the kind of threats with which the next President will be dealing.

A very ominous sign indeed.

Thu Apr 21 10:46:32 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Did Twitter kill a Pro-Gun-Rights ad campaign?

According to BearingArms, that's exactly what happened. And while Twitter would normally be free to abuse their customers speech however they chose, we are also free to object. Or, for that matter, simply abandon the platform.

Thu Apr 21 09:46:32 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

San Bernardino iPhone data reveals... nothing

Daily MailThe FBI has found new data that has helped answer some remaining questions in the probe against the San Bernardino terrorists after successfully hacking into their iPhone.

Investigators say they are confident that terrorist Syed Farook and his wife, Tasheen Malik, didn't make contact with another plotter during an 18-minute gap that was missing from the FBI's time line of the attackers' location after the mass shooting, CNN reported.

In addition, the iPhone 5c has helped authorities address concerns that were lingering about whether the two had help from family and friends, officials say.

According to CNN, the iPhone did not contain evidence that the couple had contacts with other ISIS supporters and that they did not use encrypted communications during the 18-minute gap the FBI was worried about.

Declining to offer more specifics, FBI investigators concluded there was data on the phone they did not have previously, CNN reported.

In other words.. the iPhone had no contacts with other plotters, no encrypted communications (beyond the encrypted iPhone itself), no contacts from family and friends (not surprising, since it was a work phone not a personal phone), and no contacts with other ISIS supporters.

In short, the iPhone had nothing useful at all, and the only "new data" the FBI found was the absence of new data. But of course they are trying to imply that they found something useful to preserve the public impression that oh-my-god-the-terrorists-might-use-encryption as an argument against ordinary people preserving their privacy rights by using encryption.

They are trying to lie by implication to influence public policy and undermine the fourth amendment, and it disgusts me.

Wed Apr 20 12:37:57 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Paul Ryan thinks his party is made up of idiots

TaxProfReps. Paul Ryan and Jason Chaffetz both believe IRS Commissioner John Koskinen should be fired, but they disagree about the timing. Chaffetz wants to remove Koskinen now, while Ryan says the GOP must win the White House first.

I can understand the argument that repealing Obamacare requires winning the White House, because Obama is inevitably going to veto any repeal of his major policy win, and the GOP doesn't have the votes to override a veto. Not even close. (Arguably, if they tried really hard to make an effective case with a viable alternative, they could get enough votes to override -- but at this point, they haven't done the work and it's just not going to happen).

But while an impeachment requires a 2/3rds vote in the Senate, it has nothing to do with the presidency, so this is just Ryan trying to placate his party's demands for real action with meaningless mouth noises he probably recites in his sleep by now.

Ryan should be pushing hard to impeach Koskinen for his multiple documented failures to produce evidence, obstruction of justice by delay, and actual destruction of evidence in aid of covering up violations of the law. Force the Democrats to make a clearly political vote against. Lay out the evidence of negligence and the case for deliberate destruction of evidence.

I think the case for negligence is provable beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The Senate may not be a court of law, but there's no need to wait for a new president to impeach the current IRS commissioner.

Wed Apr 20 12:07:06 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

EPA head named conservationist of the year... despite chemical spill

Daily CallerEnviromental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy was recognized as 2015 “Conservationist of the Year” at a Thursday luncheon of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

The green group is honoring McCarthy even though she presided over the spill of three million gallons of toxic and acidic mine waste-water from the Gold King Mine in Colorado last year.

They are issuing this award to a political ally who has fed them all sorts of legal, policy, and financial benefits. That's all they care about. The actual environment is unimportant.

Wed Apr 20 11:07:06 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Judge says IRS is not to be trusted

Washington TimesJudge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said there is strong evidence that the IRS violated the constitutional rights of the groups when it delayed their nonprofit status applications and asked inappropriate questions about their political beliefs.

But the wheels of justice turn so slowly that the president who likely ordered it will be stepping down at the end of his second term before anything is done about the IRS abuse that helped give him a second term.

Wed Apr 20 10:07:06 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The attacks on free speech seem endless

National ReviewHillary Clinton’s hometown of Chappaqua, in Westchester County, New York is ground zero in the national controversy over AFFH. Westchester’s County Executive, Robert Astorino, a Republican, has been publicly asking Hillary Clinton whether she thinks her hometown is discriminatory, and whether she agrees with the Obama administration’s efforts to force Chappaqua to build a low-income housing development that it doesn’t want. Last July, Astorino even held a press conference outside of Hillary’s home to press her to speak to the issue.

And now it just so happens that the “Federal Monitor” appointed to oversee the settlement of a court case compelling Westchester to “affirmatively further fair housing” has asked a court to muzzle Astorino. The Federal Monitor wants to force Astorino, the man who has led public resistance to Obama’s de facto takeover of local governments, to repudiate his own claims and parrot the administration’s line instead. In effect, they want a court to order Astorino to stop criticizing Obama’s HUD and start advertising HUD’s own views. This is truly Orwellian stuff, a frightening demonstration of how the expansionist regulatory state ultimately chokes off political speech itself.

I remember when the Democrats claimed to support free speech. That was back when free speech meant a media dominated by Democrat operatives with bylines.

Wed Apr 20 09:07:06 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Senator Rand Paul introduces gun-rights legislation to block gun control

The HillSen. Rand Paul is hitting back at an Obama administration policy on gun ownership that he says is negatively impacting veterans and seniors.
The Kentucky Republican, who is running for reelection, has introduced legislation that would require a court to declare someone "mentally incompetent" before an agency can report him or her to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

This seems to me both good policy and, properly, already policy. But the Obama administration has been pretending that they can use things like financial fiduciaries to declare mental incompetence, so restating it in law seems necessary.

I suggest that this time, they include penalties for violations -- and a legal cause of action for a civil suit.

Tue Apr 19 11:17:35 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why storing your data in the cloud is a really bad idea

Instapundit quoting Wall Street Journal Microsoft Corp. on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, challenging as unconstitutional the government’s authority to bar tech companies from telling customers when their data has been examined by federal agents.

The suit, filed in the federal court here, raises a fundamental question about the cloud computing era: Can the government force technology companies to remain silent about when and how federal agents search their customers’ data? Individuals would know if their home or hard drive were searched by investigators, but investigators now have the ability—and are using it in thousands of cases—to keep secret their searches of data stored on the cloud.

The whole point of having a search warrant is to make the search demand and the criteria used to obtain is public and subject to court review. If the subject of the search never learns they were searched, they can't challenge the search. And their privacy is harmed, even if they are never charged.

Tue Apr 19 10:17:35 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Newtown lawsuit against Bushmaster to go forward...

... at least for now. It looks like Bushmaster lost on a minor procedural question, but can still use the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act as a defense.

Tue Apr 19 09:17:35 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Clinton calls for $1 Trillion tax hike

Town HallWhen asked specifically about her tax policy and how she plans to pay for proposed infrastructure "investment," Clinton admitted her plan to pay for campaign proposals will require a $1 trillion tax hike over the next ten years.

And if she's admitting to that, what will it really cost?

Mon Apr 18 12:17:35 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS threatening to release illegally-obtained information from Tea Party groups

Washington TimesThe IRS says it has stopped targeting the tea party — but three years later, the tax agency is still holding on to the sensitive information it pried from the conservative groups through invasive questions, and officials are even vowing to make the answers public.

Groups caught up in the scandal say that is proof the targeting is continuing, and they want the IRS to expunge the information or, at the very least, to make sure it is never released.

Why release it? Well, the Obama administration has had 6 years to make use of the information after the IRS illegally collected it. Obama is about to leave office, so he won't be able to keep using it. The choice is between releasing it publicly, where other left-leaning groups can make use of the illegally-obtained private information on donors to target them for abuse and intimidation, or wait for the courts to order the information destroyed. You can't undo a public release, so look for the Obama administration to push hard for that option.

Mon Apr 18 11:17:35 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

2/3rds of British Muslims would not tip off police to terror plots

ExpressTWO thirds of British Muslims would not inform the police if they thought that somebody close to them had become involved with terrorist sympathisers, according to a poll.

Mr Phillips said the survey showed “the unacknowledged creation of a nation within the nation, with its own geography, its own values and its own very separate future.”

He said: “For a long time, I too thought that Europe’s Muslims would become like previous waves of migrants, gradually abandoning their ancestral ways, wearing their religious and cultural baggage lightly, and gradually blending into Britain’s diverse identity landscape.”

This illustrates a very real problem with Islam and Muslim communities within western nations. Even if an individual is peaceful, many are willing to provide cover for those who are not. And this problem is not unique to Britain; Islam is among the fastest growing religions in America.

Mon Apr 18 10:17:35 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Speaker Ryan at risk of missing budget deadline

Associated Press is reporting that Speaker Paul Ryan is about to miss a budget deadline. I hope that means that the more fiscally sane representatives are holding his feet to the fire.

Mon Apr 18 09:17:35 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A thousand-dollar tax on a five-hundred-dollar gun

The BlazeResidents of the Northern Marianas Islands, a U.S. territory, will be paying a tax of $1,000 per gun as part of a sweeping gun regulation package was approved.

Gov. Ralph Torres signed the gun tax and regulation bill into law Monday and stressed that his first priority is the safety of law enforcement and the community.

Violating the civil rights of residents by making it dramatically more expensive to purchase self-defense tools will not make anyone safer. Unless by "the community" he means criminals.

Hat tip to Instapundit

Sun Apr 17 12:33:31 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS illegally redirecting budget from taxpayer services to Obamacare

Washington Examiner"Congress, as I noted in my testimony, has underfunded … the Affordable Care Act," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a panel of the House Appropriations Committee. "That does not remove the statutory mandate we have that we have to implement the act."

Koskinen said it didn't matter where Congress intended the money to go, explaining the agency had pulled funding for customer service and cybersecurity in order to ensure compliance with the ACA.

This administration has made an utter mockery of the power of the purse and the rule of law, with the eager assistance of GOPe leadership.

Sun Apr 17 11:33:31 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS trying to encourage identity theft for tax purposes

Washington Examiner"What we learned is that ... the IRS continues to process tax returns with false W-2 information and issue refunds as if they were routine tax returns, and say that's not really our job," Coats said. "We also learned the IRS ignores notifications from the Social Security Administration that a name does not match a Social Security number, and you use your own system to determine whether a number is valid."

Asked to explain those practices, Koskinen replied, "What happens in these situations is someone is using a Social Security number to get a job, but they're filing their tax return with their [taxpayer identification number]." What that means, he said, is that "they are undocumented aliens … . They're paying taxes. It's in everybody's interest to have them pay the taxes they owe."

As long as the information is being used only to fraudulently obtain jobs, Koskinen said, rather than to claim false tax returns, the agency has an interest in helping them. "The question is whether the Social Security number they're using to get the job has been stolen. It's not the normal identity theft situation," he said.

Never mind that the person that stolen SSN belongs to legitimately is likely to have all sorts of interesting problems untangling their identity when they finally discover that someone else has been using the number. Never mind the person who might have gotten the job had the person using the illegal SSN -- who is here illegally and thus not legally allowed to work -- been arrested, or even simply had their employer notified that the SSN did not match their name and thus been denied the job. Never mind that the people here illegally may be filing tax returns to collect benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, or claiming dependents that are not really dependents for similar purposes. None of these people matter.

Sun Apr 17 10:33:31 CDT 2016 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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