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Why the left is trying so hard to shut up 501c4 groups...

Because in every other category of tax-exempt groups with some level of allowed political activity, the Left is dominant. They raise more money via 501c3s (often by funneling money through government grants, such as ACORN did), and more money via unions (especially public employee unions). Where they can obtain donor names, they can pressure donors to right-leaning groups or causes to stop donating or start publicity campaigns with charges of bigotry, such as we see continually in the gay-marriage debate.

2014-07-25 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obamacare flunks GAO audit for fraudulent benefits

Now, however, the problem has expanded from failed enrollments to successful enrollments that shouldn’t have made it. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a small test of the site, which the Obama administration claims is functional now, to see whether the system could prevent fraudulent enrollments. In twelve attempts, the GAO succeeded in eleven fictitious enrollments.

If there were proper protections against fraud, the system would be unable to redistribute wealth to illegal immigrants. So, instead we get a system that lacks the technical means to detect fraud and fails over to human beings who are unwilling to detect fraud. Meanwhile it's kicking people off the doctors they were promised they could keep, and it isn't even saving money.

A lot of people believed in Obamacare as something that would help them, or their friends, or their family, or "the poor" generically. They were wrong. They were, in fact, lied to. Slowly, as the pleasant promises of fork-tongued politicians give way to the cold hard truth of reality, they are realizing it.

2014-07-25 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

So,why would the IRS inspector general shut Koskinen down?

Koskinen claimed that IRS inspector general J. Russell George told him “not to do any further investigations or interviews” with employees pertaining to hard drive crashes, and that’s why he did not voluntarily provide a key witness to congressional investigators. But Koskinen later admitted that the inspector general never told him not to cooperate with Congress.

Assuming Koskinen is being honest about having been told that, the only reason I can see for such a request would be if Koskinen's interviews and investigations were actually interfering with the IG's own investigation. Such as using "interviews" to intimidate witnesses into shutting up, or taint their memories of what actually happened with after-the-fact insinuations.

2014-07-25 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Landmark Legal Foundation asks judge to sanction EPA for destroying emails

Landmark Legal Foundation today asked Federal District Judge Royce Lamberth to sanction the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for destroying or failing to preserve emails and text messages that may have helped document suspected Agency efforts to influence the 2012 presidential election.

The "attempt to influence the election" involved withholding proposed regulations until after the election took place, something that seems a relatively minor point. What is more serious is that continuing pattern of this administration in seeking to conceal and refusing to release internal communications to the public, even though the public is legally entitled to see them under the Freedom of Information Act.

2014-07-24 18:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Missing the point on IRS bonuses

Some idiot in the Washington Post is objecting to the House eliminating funding for IRS and VA executive bonuses:

These legislative actions demonstrate the willingness of Congress to renege on long-standing practices and promises to federal employees, promises enshrined in law. For example, the section of the U.S. code regarding senior executives says: “To encourage excellence in performance by career appointees, performance awards shall be paid to career appointees.”

I wonder what color the sky is on his world. If he thinks that the IRS and VA senior executives have been performing with excellence, it's got to have different chemistry or physics.

Besides, the IRS can use the money to upgrade their email system to one that can actually respond efficiently to Congressional investigations.

2014-07-24 17:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

I've been saying from the beginning...

... that Lerner's hard drive should have been recoverable. As it turns out, technical experts at the IRS agree with me. It's the nontechnical management team who have been claiming that no data could be recovered -- and refusing to seek outside help in performing that recovery.

I could accept not wanting to seek outside help to recover relatively insignificant email messages from an IRS employee, given that there are thousands of IRS employees and many of them will experience computer problems at one time or another, and handing the hard drive to an external contractor to recover data could risk exposing confidential taxpayer information. Such concerns are not unreasonable. But most of those employees are not management, making important decisions on IRS policy that need to be preserved. Most of them did not have a hard drive "crash" shortly after receiving a demand from Congress for their emails pursuant to an investigation. Most of them were not already involved in a lawsuit (the Z Street lawsuit) that should have placed a litigation hold on all of Lerner's email traffic.

Even then, I could understand not trying to recover her emails. It's possible there was a misunderstanding about whether the data was recoverable. It's possible someone said "Hey, we can get everything back from the email server", and then no one ever did. It's possible that a series of boneheaded decisions were involved.

But when the number of computer crashes by parties linked to Lois Lerner has advanced from just Lerner, to a current total of "less than 20" but definitely at least 9, I get suspicious. When the IRS tells us the backup tapes are not recoverable, and then has to backtrack on that, I get suspicious. When IRS management produces "contemporary" emails showing that "every effort" had been made to recover Lerner's hard drive and then has to later admit that not only was the data, originally described as "unrecoverable", actually "probably recoverable" with outside help that IRS management refused to authorize, and at one point actually described as "recovered", I get suspicious.

2014-07-24 16:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Jim Jordan versus IRS Commiss Koskinen

2014-07-24 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Trey Gowdy versus IRS Commiss Koskinen

2014-07-24 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Reason has some ugly quotes from police officers

They are commenting on the death by choking during the course of an arrest of a man suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes. Read the whole thing, but I wanted to call out some specific parts that seemed significant to me:

Anytime a person says "I'm tired of it. It stops today." That will almost always end with the use of force. He made that decision, not the Police. The Police must effect the arrest and rise above any resistance.

This guy is capitalizing "Police" like I would capitalize "Constitution" and other people would capitalize "God". That makes me really uncomfortable. Furthermore, resisting arrest should not automatically result in a death sentence, particularly if resistance is passive or with non-lethal means.

I could care less how the public perceives us when we're in the right and if YOU were any kind of law enforcement professional, you would understand that officer safety is FAR more important than public perception.

The only authority a police officer has comes from the public. If the public do not think he is in the right, based on accurate and complete information, then he is not in the right, and the correct response is to adjust his behavior to conform to the public standard or find a different line of work.

Again if Mr walking heart attack had simply put his hamburger shovels behind his back, he wouldn't have had a heartbattackmfor over exerting himself. The NYPD did absolutely nothing wron. Tomthe guys slamming these NYPD officekrs, I and many here wouldn't want any of you guys around us on a critical,incident. Hopefully you guys are desk jockeys.

All typos, misspellings, insults, grammatical errors, missing letters, and so on in the above are preserved intact from the comment Reason posted. Frankly, I don't want the guy who posted that around me in any "critical incident", though he doesn't seem likely to be a success at a desk job either.

I have nothing against responsible law enforcement officers who remember that they are public servants rather than public masters. I only wish there were more of them.

2014-07-24 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The wrong way to do immigration enforcement

Chris Burg describes an Arizona border patrol checkpoint that apparently harasses people living in the region on a daily basis. The enforcement action described ("All US Citizens here?" "US Citizens") is completely ineffective, but still a major inconvenience; imagine being stopped for speeding on your drive to work every single day. That would get old pretty fast.

Running this sort of blanket checkpoint is frankly unAmerican in addition to being about as pointless as the TSA's groping. I have to question whether it is being done deliberately to cause Americans to become fed up with border enforcement.

Stop people entering the country at the border, including measures to delay crossing until an interception can take place. Use drone surveillance technology along the border to identify illegal crossers, follow them (or their vehicles), and intercept them. All of this can be done without harassing ordinary people who are going about their daily lives without crossing borders.

2014-07-24 12:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Koskinen admits IRS has found backup tapes

Each time this guy gets caught in a lie, he takes a single step backwards and invents a new lie:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, testifying before a House oversight subcommittee, stressed that he does not know "how they found them" or "whether there's anything on them or not." But he said the inspector general's office advised him the investigators are reviewing tapes to see if they contain any "recoverable" material.

The revelation is significant because the IRS claimed, when the agency first told Congress about the missing emails, that backup tapes "no longer exist because they have been recycled."

It also seems that the IRS knew about missing emails in February rather than April:

According to Kane, it was confirmed on February 4 that Lerner’s hard drive had crashed... “Despite this awareness, Commissioner Koskinen failed to mention any problems with Ms. Lerner’s emails during his March 26, 2014, testimony before the committee,” the letter said. “Likewise, Ms. Duval failed to mention any issues with the IRS producing all of Lois Lerner’s emails during a meeting with bipartisan committee staff on April 4, 2014.”

As each lie and cover up attempt is revealed, they retreat back to the next line of defense. They will delay and delay and delay to avoid actually producing Lerner's emails until after the election, or possibly never.

2014-07-24 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Drug house robbery sting operations

Radley Balko opens the discussion, and Dave Hardy joins in:

One judge (I think it was Posner) has pointed out that the effect of these stings is to protect drug stash houses, which seems a bit paradoxical.

It's only paradoxical if you assume the cops aren't involved in the drug trade themselves.

2014-07-24 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Philadelphia loses concealed-carry privacy lawsuit

They are paying $1.4 million for improperly releasing applicant information.

2014-07-24 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lies, damn lies, and misrepresentations

“The IT professional in question told investigators that he was unable to recover the data on Lois Lerner’s hard drive – contrary to the GOP’s assertion that he said the data was recoverable. What’s more, he told investigators that he did not think Lerner’s hard drive crash was deliberate,” said Josh Drobnyk, a spokesman for the committee’s Democrats.

The IT professional said he could not recover the data, and recommended that the drive be sent to an external data recovery specialist who probably could recover the data.

What's interesting is that the old story was that Lerner requested the IRS technical staff spare no expense in taking whatever options available to recover the data; the new story is that the IRS declined to send the drive to an external contractor who likely could recover most of the data.

As for the claim that the technician "did not think Lerner's hard drive crash was deliberate", he has no possible way of knowing that and no reason to suspect it. That sort of hard drive crash could happen accidentally by dropping the laptop with the drive turned on (or throwing the laptop, or hitting it with a hammer...) and there's no real way to tell which one happened. What makes it suspicious is the timing, plus the lack of effort to recover the data combined with the claim that such efforts had been made.

Oh, and then there's the fact that the drive was listed as recovered at one point:

Additionally, committee investigators going through the IRS’s internal IT tracking system apparently found one reference to Lerner’s hard drive as being “recovered.” IRS employees, the release said, “were unable to confirm the accuracy of the documents or the meaning of the entry.

Yeah, I bet they weren't able to confirm or deny anything about that until they talked to their bosses.

2014-07-23 16:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Just how much data does the government keep when you travel?

An Ars Technica editor finds out, and doesn't like the answer.

2014-07-23 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Beretta moving from Maryland to Tennessee

They are citing proposed state-level gun control legislation as the reason for the move:

"During the legislative session in Maryland that resulted in passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, the version of the statute that passed the Maryland Senate would have prohibited Beretta U.S.A. from being able to manufacture, store or even import into the State products that we sell to customers throughout the United States and around the world. While we were able in the Maryland House of Delegates to reverse some of those obstructive provisions, the possibility that such restrictions might be reinstated in the future leaves us very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory in the State," stated Jeff Cooper, General Manager for Beretta U.S.A. Corp.

They had originally planned a more limited move while keeping the existing facility, but have since decided to drive home the lesson: even proposing gun control can cost your state jobs.

They aren't moving the administrative staff. Yet.

2014-07-23 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

To borrow the only wise words of Joe Biden...

... this is a big fucking deal:

Despite early refusals to make available IT professionals who worked on Lois Lerner’s computer, Ways and Means Committee investigators have now learned from interviews that the hard drive of former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner was “scratched,” but data was recoverable. In fact, in-house professionals at the IRS recommended the Agency seek outside assistance in recovering the data. That information conflicts with a July 18, 2014 court filing by the Agency, which stated the data on the hard drive was unrecoverable – including multiple years’ worth of missing emails.

We were told that the IRS had tried internally to recover the data, even sending the drive to their "criminal investigation" unit. We were told that Lerner instructed the IT staff to spare no expense. But now the truth is coming out -- not only was the drive only "scratched" (a condition which typically allows for data to be recovered), the IRS refused to use outside experts to recover the data.

And it gets better.

A review of internal IRS IT tracking system documents revealed that Lerner’s computer was actually once described as “recovered.” In a transcribed interview on July 18, IRS IT employees were unable to confirm the accuracy of the documents or the meaning of the entry “recovered.”

So even though we have... presumably faked, now? ... "contemporaneous" emails saying that Lerner wanted the data back very very badly and that it was just too bad that the computer had to be sent to the hard drive graveyard because no data was recovered... they actually DID recover data.

And then they threw it away. Or they claim they threw it away.

We still haven't seen any IT tickets indicating disposal of the asset, and the people who would have written those tickets were transferred around the same time.

It's clear the story is starting to unravel. Congress should keep pressing for technical details and interviewing, under oath, the people who actually do the work.

So how do you scratch a hard drive? If you're talking about a laptop, dropping it on the floor usually works, especially if the computer is actually running and accessing the disk.

Throwing it across the room will work just fine, too.

Stomping on it, hitting it with a hammer -- well, the hammer might leave a hard to explain mark on the outside.

2014-07-23 12:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Another NSA whistleblower speaks out

John Napier Tye is speaking out to warn Americans about illegal spying. The former State Department official, who served in the Obama administration from 2011 to 2014, declared Friday that ongoing NSA surveillance abuses are taking place under the auspices of Executive Order 12333, which came into being in 1981, before the era of digital communications, but is being used to collect them promiscuously. Nye alleges that the Obama administration has been violating the Constitution with scant oversight from Congress or the judiciary.

Read the whole thing.

2014-07-23 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lawyer defending IRS in court once worked for Lerner

This isn't necessarily a big deal, but it has three possible implications:
1) The obvious potential conflict of interest if the lawyer was himself implicated in targeting;
2) The personal interest in covering up activities related to his prior mnaager and friends;
3) The possibility that the lawyer himself would be a witness to some of the improper activity.

It's not really a big deal until one of those things actually shows up, though it would have been smarter for the IRS as an agency to find a lawyer without even the appearance of potential impropriety for this case.

2014-07-23 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

11 million new Democrats just in time for the midterms

Regardless of how Congress handles his request for more border resources, President Obama is moving toward a historic—and explosive—executive order that will provide legal status to a significant number of the estimated 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. One senior White House official says that while "what's happening at the border will provide atmospherics for the [president's] decision," it won't stop him from acting on the undocumented—probably before the midterm elections. The resulting collision over Obama's expected action could lastingly define both the Democratic and Republican parties for the burgeoning Hispanic population.

Obama does not have the authority to legalize illegal aliens by executive order. But that won't stop him from announcing it, and essentially zero states have significant citizenship verification requirements in place for ballot access. Even in voter ID states, if you have a driver's license and are in the polling book you are usually just fine. To get in the polling book, usually all you need to do is check a box saying you are a citizen. No one actually verifies that you are. Arizona tried to put in a proof-of-citizenship requirement, and lost in the 9th Circuit (appeals pending, last I checked). Colorado is handing out driver's licenses to illegal aliens.

2014-07-23 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Did the NSA give the IRS tea party intel?

“For example,” Binney said in response to a question on how the NSA can use data and metadata to identify potential threats, “if you started to communicate with people involved in the tea party … and [the NSA] saw you were talking to somebody who was involved in setting up 501(c)3s, then they could alert the IRS to target you if you came in with a request.”

“Do you think the NSA actually did that?” Klein asked his guest. “Do you think the IRS partnered with the NSA potentially, to target the tea party?”

“I already know they have access to it,” Binney responded. “One of the answers that came from some of the testimony in Congress by people who are being asked those questions kind of implied that that’s exactly what they were doing.”

I don't know whether I believe this or not.

2014-07-22 16:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Freedom of the Photograph

We have freedom of the press, but our founders neglected to mention the freedom to photograph -- and that's making it easy for "security" to shut down photographers, even when they have obtained permission in advance that they don't actually need to take pictures of public buildings.

2014-07-22 15:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

TSA doubles fee on plane travel

Sure, slightly more than doubling a fee of $2.50 to $5.60 isn't that big of a hit, especially on plane tickets costing a hundred bucks minimum and significantly more than that on average. But in the aggregate, it will bring in over a billion dollars -- and not all of the money will be going to the TSA. Apparently it will be shuffled to other areas in need of funding.

It's just a shell game to bring in more revenue while claiming to hold the line on no new taxes. And it's disgusting.

2014-07-22 14:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Missouri gun rights amendment will be on the ballot

The ballot is August 5th and will be a positive step forward for gun rights in Missouri.

2014-07-22 13:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Did you think the Obama administration was surprised by the flood of illegals?

The Obama administration, in July 2013, quietly introduced a new regulation that critics say will dramatically increase Washington’s power over local zoning laws in every city and town that accepts federal block grants through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. And it’s the federal grants that could be used as a hook in the nose of these cities, forcing them to house illegal immigrants against their will.

You would be wrong. They planned for it a year in advance. They are funneling the money being spent on feeding, housing, and caring for the health problems of the illegal aliens to their cronies.

2014-07-22 12:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

DC Court of Appeals strikes down federal Obamacare subsidies

This is not a Supreme Court ruling, but it is a victory. The next step is the DC Appeals Court en banc, likely followed by the Supreme Court.

In practical terms, this decision means that anyone who signed up for Obamacare in a state that has an exchange run by the federal government -- roughly half of the US -- will not receive the federal subsidies they were promised. The price of their insurance plan will likely increase dramatically. I expect a huge number of people to be unable to pay the new, unsubsidized price, and drop their plan as a result, which will make the Obamacare plans even more economically unsustainable.

There is enough disruption there that an appeal is almost certain. I would not be surprised if there is a stay pending appeal, so we should not expect massive disruption of the health care industry... yet.

What this decision does do is set the stage for a Supreme Court ruling along similar lines. If the Supreme Court eventually so rules, it's going to throw a mighty big wrench into Obamacare's economics. It might encourage states to set up exchanges (so their citizens can get the subsidies); it might bring the whole thing crashing down (economically, if not legally). The only thing I feel comfortable predicting as a result is chaos.

And the chaos has already begun: The White House has announced that it will ignore the court's ruling.

Note well: they did not say they will appeal and seek a stay of the ruling while the appeal proceeds. They said they will ignore the ruling outright.

2014-07-22 12:19:32.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

My God, The New York Times is filled with fawning sycophants

They actually wrote and published an article about the good impressions being made by the security detail of Atty Gen Holder and Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Because those two can't manage to make a good impression on their own, I suppose, and they aren't paid enough to live in walled compounds like they deserve.

And commenting on the article elsewhere:

So…just how dumb do you have to be to try to steal a car right next to a bunch of Secret Service agents and their idling war-mobiles?

I think the average Democrat fits the bill.

2014-07-22 11:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Issa considers another contempt vote

This one is for David Simas, who heads the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach:

“You can never predict what’s appropriate until you reviewed it but I can give you the historical element. In the case of Harriet Miers, the Judiciary Committee held her in contempt and the House held her in contempt. That would be my answer,” he said. “We’ve been faced…with the assertion that the president employees are above the law and above congressional review. We’re in the process of working with House Counsel and others to see what our response will be.”

It's amazing how the media can do the research to discover past positions contradicting the present position of Republican politicians, but allows the statements of Democrat politicians to go without challenge... even when it's the same people on the same issue.

How this actually works: Democrats went after Miers and created a precedent that Issa is now using against them. Once the precedent is there, both sides can use it.

2014-07-22 10:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

BOMBSHELL: IRS may still have backup tapes with Lerner emails

When the House Oversight Committee finally went below Koskinen to people actually doing work, they got different answers. Including some that may blow the case wide open:

Investigator: You stated at the time that document was produced to Congress, the document, the white paper in Exhibit 3, that it was accurate to the best of your knowledge. Is it still accurate?

Kane: There is an issue as to whether or not there is a -- that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the 6-month retention schedule.

Investigator:- So some of those backup tapes may still exist?

Kane: I don’t know whether they are or they aren’t, but it’s an issue that’s being looked at.

So what Koskinen told us was confirmed destruction of the backup tapes is now an open issue again. In the rest of the witness' testimony, he tiptoes within an inch of contradicting what his boss told Congress. This is the same individual who reported that more IRS officials related to the case had been having computer trouble, characterizing the total as "less than 20" (which is still substantially more than the previously acknowledged 7).

In an incredibly embarrassing timing quick, the IRS recently put out a request for bid on a contractor... to securely destroy thousands of hard drives and backup tapes.

2014-07-22 09:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An IRS love song

2014-07-21 18:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

De-Facto ban on playing with toy guns

The Burlington Iowa City Council is moving to pass an ordinance that would require you to get their WRITTEN permission before your kids can play with toy guns, replica guns, BB guns, etc!

This isn't about criminals with guns committing crimes, it's about making guns taboo for children and parents.

2014-07-21 17:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS reports new computer crashes

According to an IRS official, a total of "less than 20 people" have now lost emails in a variety of computer problems, including:

The new round of computer crash victims includes David Fish, who routinely corresponded with Lois Lerner, as well as Lerner subordinate Andy Megosh, Lerner’s technical adviser Justin Lowe, and Cincinnati-based agent Kimberly Kitchens.

This is a good time to refer back to my previous list of people who lost emails.

In another interestingly-timed action, three IRS IT asset managers were reassigned roughly contemporaneously with the Inspector General's report.

At what point do we stop taking this excuse at face value and start calling it obstruction of justice?

2014-07-21 16:50:00.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Operation Choke Point is starting to look like political targeting too

“Operation Choke Point is one of the most dangerous programs I have experienced in my 45 years of service as a bank regulator, bank attorney and consultant, and bank board member. Operating without legal authority and guided by a political agenda, unelected officials at the DOJ are discouraging banks from providing basic banking services…to lawful businesses simply because they don’t like them,” said William M. Isaac, former chairman of the FDIC.

We knew that, of course, but now Congress is looking into it. And, apparently, introducing legislation to stop it:

Missouri Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer brought forward the End Operation Choke Point Act Tuesday to curb the DOJ’s activities in this area. The act would provide financial institutions with safe harbor to serve customers engaged in legal activities, so as to cut out politically motivated attacks on businesses deemed undesirable by the Justice Department.

Asking your representative to get behind that legislation might be a good way to provide political cover for firearms companies under pressure from this administration.

2014-07-21 16:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS admits to deliberately destroying Lerner's hard drive

In its most extensive comments yet on Lerner’s hard drive, the agency said in court filings Friday that the hard drive was destroyed in 2011 to protect confidential taxpayer information.

Before that, the IRS said, the hard drive underwent a process designed to permanently erase stored data. That process occurred after a series of IRS technical officers examined Lerner’s hard drive, and found that it couldn’t be restored after a crash.

As we evaluate this admission by the Internal Revenue Service, It's important to keep some perspective. As an official in an agency dealing with a great deal of confidential taxpayer information, Lerner and her IT staff have obligations to both maintain privacy and retain data. These obligations will occasional come into conflict.

It is standard practice in the IT industry to wipe data off of hard drives before discarding them, when it is possible to do so. This is usually done with a software-based process that writes different data to each sector on the drive repeatedly. It is not always possible to do so, particularly with a drive that is malfunctioning; in those cases magnets can be used to do the job with brute force.

The IT staff in this situation were most likely following standard procedures for disposing of hard drives that had malfunctioned. They would probably have no reason to suspect anything, and if it were not for Lerner's apparent guilty conscience and an arguable litigation hold the IT staff would have no reason to know about, they would be doing nothing wrong or suspicious in destroying the data on the drive.

There are, however, a few points of interest.

(Read More...)

2014-07-21 15:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Taking the fight to the enemy

You needn’t approve of the parents’ actions in any of these cases to understand that dumping them into the criminal justice system is a terribly counterproductive way of addressing their mistakes. (And I’m not at all convinced that three of the four stories were even mistakes.) The mere fact that state officials were essentially micromanaging these parents’ decisions is creepy enough. That the consequences for the “wrong” decision are criminal is downright scary.

That's Radley Balko, libertarian and anti-militarization-of-police activist, writing in the Washington Post.

Maybe seeing this sort of thing inside the liberal bubble occasionally will get the point across.

2014-07-21 14:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Tea Party lawsuit moves forward

A case involving ten Tea Party groups has mostly survived a motion to dismiss and will go to trial. Surviving claims include retaliation and harassment in violation of the First Amendment; the claim of violations of individual privacy was ruled to be something that must be brought by the individuals themselves. Nothing bars those individuals from filing a new lawsuit based on those claims.

2014-07-21 13:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

It takes a superhero

2014-07-21 12:35:27.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

CCRKBA files lawsuit challenging restrictions on interstate handgun sales

Given that rifles can be purchased across state lines under some circumstances, why not handguns, given that state laws are followed and background checks are conducted? The Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is asking the courts to rule on the issue.

I'm not going to try to read the tea leaves on this one.

2014-07-21 11:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

It's not about race

You are the first attorney general in the history of the United States to be held in contempt of Congress. This had nothing to do with your skin color, and everything to do with your failure to explain how the United States government provided guns to Mexican drug cartels that were eventually used to kill Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010. This story may have disappeared from the headlines, but many of your fellow citizens are still upset our federal government would ever give guns to foreign criminals. Compounding this tragic error, neither you nor anyone else in the administration has explained what happened the night Terry lost his life. All we really know is that he was at the wrong end of a gun you approved handing over to drug dealers.

Read the whole thing.

2014-07-21 10:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Texas has a reputation for hands-off government, but is it deserved?

The Texas Department of Public Safety has been taking partial fingerprints from drivers for some time, but only recently began taking a full set of fingerprints from new applicants and in-person renewals. They have also been using facial recognition technology on driver's license photographs since 2010. The fingerprints collected are being run through the state criminal database, which to my mind makes their collection an illegal search.

The program was launched this year without any public announcement.

Whistleblower Barrett says, “I’m sure it probably would stop a little fraud or some crime, but that doesn’t mean it is morally right or in line with the concept of citizens’ privacy or cost effective. You could search every house in a city when a crime is committed and justify it with that statement and yes, the police would probably find some crime or wrongdoing. But again, that doesn’t mean it’s morally right.”

He's right. You can solve crimes by searching everyone all the time. But we have a term for that kind of government: we call it a police state, and it's generally understood to be a bad thing.

The head of a new organization called North Texas Civil Rights Project, Donald W. Jackson, a TCU political science professor, says that if someone were to challenge the new fingerprinting system in court, his organization would offer support.

So, does anyone want to volunteer?

2014-07-21 09:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The next link in the chain

Here's what we know so far. Lois Lerner was frantically trying to suppress conservative tax-exempt organizations at the IRS. We know that Lerner assembled a list of 1.1 million conservative tax-exempt organizations and provided that list to the FBI's Richard Pilger, including some confidential taxpayer information. Until recently we had been left with the assumption that Lerner had initiated that conversation. However, recently released emails indicated that the conversation was actually initiated by Pilger ("I have been asked to run something by you.")

So. Who asked Pilger to run the question by Lerner?

Whoever it was would need to know that Lerner was working on the issue already.

2014-07-19 13:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

When will DoJ convene a grand jury on Lerner contempt charge?

Jordan said he also wanted to ask Justice Department attorney Ron Machen when he would "convene a grand jury, like the statute says he's supposed to do," based on a bipartisan contempt resolution the House filed against Lerner.

"When is he going to do that? Take this to a grand jury? And more importantly, get this resolution in front of a judge, where maybe the judge will compel Lois Lerner to come answer our questions and tell the American people the truth," Jordan said.

After the election, of course. Probably the 2016 election.

2014-07-19 12:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Armed Services Committee approves NSA request for Lerner emails

The panel approved a resolution Wednesday authored by Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, that directs the Secretary of Defense to send the House of Representatives "copies of any electronic communication in the possession of the Secretary, the Director of the National Security Agency, or any office that reports to the Secretary or the Director that was transmitted to or from any electronic mail account(s) used by former Internal Revenue Service Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner at any time between January 1, 2009, and April 30, 2011."

It's a long shot, and probably couldn't be used in court. But asking the NSA for Lerner's emails is certainly worth a try, and it makes a political point.

2014-07-19 11:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why does this excuse seem familiar?

Deputy Atty General Cole, whose boss has already been held in contempt of Congress, has been dragged before Congress to answer questions about the IRS scandal and his agency's investigation:

A top Justice Department official on Thursday said he wants the Internal Revenue Service to explain why it waited two months to tell investigators about Lois Lerner’s missing e-mails, testifying that his agency learned about the matter through media reports long after the IRS claims to have discovered the problem.

Oh, that's why.

Cole also testified that the FBI made virtually no use of a massive trove of information about tax-exempt groups that the IRS gave to the agency in 2010, around the same time the IRS was targeting groups for extra scrutiny based on their names and policy positions.

Then why did the FBI ask for the list?

Questions then rose about the manner in which the investigations were proceeding. Congressman Trey Gowdy questioned Cole over the witnesses of the case. “Have witnesses been brought in front of a grand jury? Subpoenas been issued? How many?” To which Cole admitted he did not know how many had been interviewed or appeared in front of a grand jury.

If the investigation was real, they would have interviewed victims by now. Instead, the only person we know they have interviewed was Lerner herself -- who apparently agreed to be interviewed by the FBI despite pleading the 5th before Congress, despite Congress lacking the power to charge her with crimes (other than contempt) and despite the FBI investigators possessing precisely that power.

Why do I get the impression that the FBI was asking Lerner how they could help her cover up her activities?

2014-07-19 10:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An irrational defense

Democrats on the committee denied that conservative groups were targeted, observing that the IRS also scrutinized tax exemption requests from liberal organizations. They accused Republicans of trying to manufacture a scandal for political purposes.

So if this is a made-up scandal, how did Republicans convince Lois Lerner to plant a question at a press conference?

2014-07-19 09:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

USDA preparing to dictate rules for grocery shopping

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is suggesting major changes to grocery stores to “nudge” Americans to purchase healthier foods when they shop. The group released an 80-page report this month presenting their ideas, which include talking shopping carts and a marketing strategy for grocery chains that would feature better store lighting for healthier items.

Everything inside the state. Nothing outside the state.

2014-07-18 18:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lawsuit filed over police raid on strip club, provocative photos

The strippers were "nearly nude" when their pictures were taken while officers made "arrogant and demeaning remarks" and intimidated the strippers to keep them from leaving, the lawsuit alleges.

If San Diego was ruled by a band of armed thugs with no responsibility to the public, how would they be behaving differently?

Working in a politically-disfavored industry doesn't negate your rights or make you fair game for police harassment, even if you happen to be pretty.

2014-07-18 17:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Sacramento sheriffs using warrantless surveillance devices

Sacramento sheriff's deputies have been playing NSA. They tool around town with suitcase-sized StingRay surveillance devices in their squad cars, scooping up cellphone data from whomever happens to be within a one-mile radius.

Using stingrays in targeted investigations is one thing, though many police agencies have been using them without warrants. Just leaving them turned on to collect data indiscriminately is another thing entirely.

2014-07-18 16:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Automated enforcement violates due process

Thousands of Chicago drivers have been tagged with $100 red light fines they did not deserve, targeted by robotic cameras during a series of sudden spikes in tickets that city officials say they cannot explain, a Tribune investigation has found.

The Tribune's analysis of more than 4 million tickets issued since 2007 and a deeper probe of individual cases revealed clear evidence that the deviations in Chicago's network of 380 cameras were caused by faulty equipment, human tinkering or both.

Normal traffic enforcement is basically revenue generation already, but it is at least limited by the fact that a human is involved. When you start issuing tickets based on automated cameras and nothing else, the human factor is completely removed -- which means people are being fined for bugs in the system, in numbers far greater than human enforcement could manage, often for arbitrary violations that involved no safety issues.

2014-07-18 15:35:26.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Cleveland mayor proposes major gun control legislation

The proposed legislation includes a limit on gun purchases to one every three months (because criminals will obey these limits? and because enforcement will require a registration system), a requirement to report loss or theft to police (punishing the victim if they don't know to do this), allowing access to anyone under 18 (what about teaching your children how to shoot?), and a publically available name-and-shame "gun offender registry" that would allow for social ostracism of anyone who makes an honest mistake like not immediately reporting a stolen gun.

The legislation also includes various other silly provisions, banning things like martial arts equipment, slingshots, brass knuckles, replica firearms, and pocketknives.

The Democrats appear to be doubling-down on gun control for the midterm elections. I'm guessing they figure Obama has already pissed off everyone on the right and in the middle, so they have to goose turnout among their base to have any chance at all.

2014-07-18 15:02:18.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]
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