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Judicial Watch files lawsuit seeking details of proposed church tax regulation

Judicial WatchJudicial Watch announced it has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to obtain the release of documents regarding the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) recent decision, following a lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, to reevaluate criteria for determining whether churches and other nonprofit organizations can claim tax-exempt status. The IRS also suggested that it may initiate investigations into church activities (Alliance Defending Freedom v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00525)). Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

It seems the Left is absolutely, positively determined to have some federal agency putting their thumb on the political scales, and keeping it as secret as possible.

2015-05-23 12:45:17.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Should we give up looking for a villian?

American SpectatorOn the two-year anniversary of revelations of the IRS scandal, perhaps it is time to leave behind the search for a villain and instead solve the problem. Until advocacy nonprofits have their First Amendment rights secured, the threat of future targeting lingers, no matter who is in charge.

I find it pretty interesting that the Spectator is calling for the search for a villain to be put aside just when the recovery of Lerner emails from the targeting period suggests we may actually get a villain.

2015-05-23 11:45:17.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

So Hillary did have classified material on her email server... sort of

The BlazeThe Associated Press also revealed on Friday that Clinton received information on her private email server that has now been classified about the deadly attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi.

OK, classified information on the server is bad for Hillary. But what's that bit about "has now been"?

The BlazeThe information was not classified at the time the email was sent but was upgraded from “unclassified” to “secret” on Friday at the request of the FBI, according to State Department officials. They said 23 words of the Nov. 18, 2012, message were redacted from the day’s release of 296 emails totaling 896 pages to protect information that could damage foreign relations.

So it wasn't classified at the time, but has now been classified in order to justify the redaction. Interesting.

But Hillary is still going to take some political damage:

New York TimesMrs. Clinton’s emails show that she had a special type of government information known as “sensitive but unclassified,” or “SBU,” in her account. That information included the whereabouts and travel plans of American officials in Libya as security there deteriorated during the uprising against the leadership of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. Nearly a year and a half before the attacks in Benghazi, Mr. Stevens, then an American envoy to the rebels, considered leaving Benghazi citing deteriorating security, according to an email to Mrs. Clinton marked “SBU.”

So, that demonstrates that she knew -- or should have known -- about deteriorating security conditions before the attacks. It also demonstrates that her possession of the information on an unsecured server posed a national security threat if any attackers managed to access her emails on that server.

And Hillary herself seems to have involvement in the video story cover up. As we review the data that dribbles out, we must keep in mind that Hillary has likely deleted anything that portrays her in a bad light.

2015-05-23 10:45:17.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why is a Republican blocking campus carry in Nevada?

John LottI have been told that Senator Michael Roberson, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, is preventing Campus Carry from being passed in Nevada. If he thinks that enough voters in his district (#20) want the bill, he will change is position on it, so the question is whether enough people in Henderson, Nevada will let him know about how they feel about the bill.

Good question.

2015-05-23 09:45:17.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Radio Shack to auction customer data in violation of privacy policy

If the privacy policy is not legally binding, then there's no fucking point, is there? It's bad enough for websites to pretend you've agreed to their privacy policy because it is linked in the fine print at the bottom of every page, even if it says they can hack your computer and sell your kidneys online... but if the company isn't bound by the agreement, why even bother *posting* one?

Just accept that the company can do whatever they bloody well want to with whatever information you are foolish enough to give them and stop paying lawyers to lie to your customers.

Fri May 22 12:45:17 CDT 2015 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Defense Distributed and 2nd Amendment Foundation sue over 3D firearms printing info

Second Amendment FoundationThe Second Amendment Foundation today joined Defense Distributed of Austin, Texas, in filing a federal lawsuit against Secretary of State John Kerry, the Department of State and other federal officials, seeking to stop the Government’s unconstitutional censorship of information related to the three-dimensional printing of arms.

What SAF doesn't call out in their press release is that there is already some fairly positive precedent on this issue. There were a number of free speech cases in the 90s related to encryption technology -- software source code that individuals wished to publish. The government regulated such software under the same regulations that covered export of physical armaments. The government lost those cases, though it wasn't a total loss; as I recall it took political pressure to relax the regulations as well as court rulings.

Although I don't know the details of current regulations in this area, with both the 1st and 2nd Amendments to draw upon and the fairly recent encryption precedents already in place, it will be difficult for the administration to maintain a legal ban on publication of 3D printed firearms designs.

2015-05-22 11:45:17.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Wisconsin voter ID law upheld

Scott Walker's reforms will likely remain intact for quite a while as a result of the decision.

2015-05-22 10:45:17.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

House rep requests IRS probe of Clinton Foundation nonprofit status

The HillRep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is circulating a letter among her colleagues asking IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to review the tax-exempt status of the Clinton Foundation. In the letter, a draft of which was obtained by Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel, Blackburn says, “recent media reports have revealed that the Foundation failed to report millions of dollars in grants from foreign governments that it accepted while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State and that it facilitated private business transactions between foreign entities” and as such, “given the substantial public interest involved, we feel a prompt review of the Foundation’s tax-exempt status is appropriate to determine whether it is acting within the scope of its charitable mission.”

I suspect this will interact in interesting ways with the ongoing investigation into IRS targeting. Does Koskinen refuse the request and try to claim the moral high ground? Does he accept it and invite charges that Republicans are now seeking to use the IRS to target their political opponents (which would be to his political advantage)?

I think the right answer is that the Clinton Foundation is an unusual case in a number of ways, and credible, specific allegations have been made concerning Hillary's time as Secretary of State and the donations flowing into her foundation; not to mention the very excessive overhead expenses the foundation occurs. We're not dealing with a whole class of political opponents seeking to participate in civic life; we're talking about a single organization that has legitimate questions raised and a close association with a cabinet member to draw additional scrutiny.

2015-05-22 09:45:17.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Texas campus carry legislation revived

Austin-American StatesmanA deal between Texas House and Senate members has revived legislation that would allow concealed handguns to be carried into university classrooms, dorms and buildings. After passing quickly through the Senate, legislation allowing “campus carry” has been bottled up for the past month in the House, raising questions about its viability with only three full weeks remaining in the legislative session.

It's hard to say for sure, but it sounds like the legislation was being held up by political infighting over who would get credit for passing it. That seems unfortunately typical of politicians.

2015-05-21 12:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama continues to push climate change as a national security threat

Jammie Wearing Fool“I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” Obama will tell the new Coast Guard officers, according to the White House. “And so we need to act — and we need to act now.”

He's doing it to justify using already scarce military funding to fund various "green" research projects, like growing gasoline from algae. But even the IPCC doesn't claim there is an immediate threat; they foresee serious impacts in about a century, not immediately. It's like Obaam doesn't even understand the words he is using; for him, "immediate" means "important".

2015-05-21 11:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Was Blumenthal the source for the Benghazi youtube video blame?

New York Times as quoted by Patterico's PontificationsThe day after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on American outposts in Benghazi that killed Mr. Stevens and three other Americans, Mr. Blumenthal sent Mrs. Clinton a memo with his intelligence about what had occurred. The memo said the attacks were by “demonstrators” who “were inspired by what many devout Libyan viewed as a sacrilegious internet video on the prophet Mohammed originating in America.”

He followed it up the next day with an email saying the "protest" was a cover and the attack had been planned for a month by Al Qaeda, but the White House narrative seems to have been established.

Does this make Hillary look better or worse? Hard to say. After that second email, it sounds like she remained silent while the White House lied to the people about the cause of the attack and put someone in jail for something completely unrelated.

Click through the link above to read the whole thing and decide for yourself.

2015-05-21 10:51:42.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An explanation of the issues with disclosing Clinton's emails on Benghazi

TechdirtIn the end, there may turn out to be nothing much of interest in all of those emails (though, of course, the fact that Clinton's own staff went through them and got rid of a bunch first will keep conspiracy theorists in business for ages), but the way that Clinton has handled this whole thing is really ridiculous. Who the hell thinks it's a good idea to print out 55,000 pages of records that were original electronic unless you're trying to hide stuff and make life difficult for those going through it?

When you read the whole thing, you should notice a couple things.

First, Clinton has already claimed to have removed any purely personal emails from this collection before turning it over (which should represent a red flag to investigators, but never mind). The State Department is also claiming that part of their process is to remove purely personal emails. This work is being done twice by two separate sets of people with different incentives to remove emails they don't want the public to see, and they will both claim "purely personal" for any such emails they want to remove. Who will double-check the State department in this removal process? (It's impossible to double check Clinton's removal process, which is why you usually don't trust someone to search their own emails and instead make them use the official server).

Second, the State Department is making a big project out of putting the emails in a searchable database. Great, a searchable database is nice, but it's not required for document production. The process is simple. Scan the emails. Publish the images (redacting if necessary). Then OCR the images and release the results in text format. Viola. Searchable. If you want a fancy searchable web thing, do that later.

Third, there are a LOT of hand-processing steps here. In particular, I note that the email header fields (To, From, CC, Subject, etc) are being manually entered for indexing. This process is wide-open to potential errors, and combined with the "searchable database", I suspect emails that have the To or From address incorrectly entered -- manually, remember -- will not be discoverable easily because the search will run on the indexed fields rather than the full content of the emails. Which means that documents with incorrect index information will be effectively invisible, and it's very easy for that manual process to effectively remove emails from the "searchable database" and there appear to be no plans to release the entire archive as a simple text file.

This all adds up to both Hillary and the State Department doing everything they possibly can to make it possible to hide information while pretending not to.

2015-05-21 10:51:39.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Another faked psychology study

BuzzfeedA study claiming that gay people advocating same-sex marriage can change voters’ minds has been retracted due to fraud...

The study was published last December in Science, and received lots of media attention. It found that a 20-minute, one-on-one conversation with a gay political canvasser could steer voters in favor of same-sex marriage. Not only that, but these changed opinions lasted for at least a year and influenced other people in the voter’s household, the study found.

Donald Green, the lead author on the study, retracted it on Tuesday shortly after learning that his co-author, UCLA graduate student Michael LaCour, had faked the results.

I was wondering what the motive for this sort of deception could possibly be, but it turns out that there was grant money involved that apparently did not get spent on what it was supposed to be spent on.

It's interesting to consider why the apparently faked results were what they were, too. Is the claim that a gay canvasser seeking to change people's opinions on gay marriage could successfully do so supposed to support the idea that prejudice and bigotry are behind opposition to gay marriage, and that contact with an actual gay individual would be enough to overcome the stereotypes and bigotry?

By faking the study, and producing three followup studies that all failed to replicate the key results, the person involved here has done their cause actual harm. He has invited people to prove his thesis incorrect and demonstrated that opposition to gay marriage is not based on simple stereotypes that contact with an actual gay individual can dispel.

2015-05-21 10:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Another rational argument against gay marriage

The FederalistWhen same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada in 2005, parenting was immediately redefined. Canada’s gay marriage law, Bill C-38, included a provision to erase the term ‘natural parent’ and replace it across the board with gender-neutral ‘legal parent’ in federal law. Now all children only have ‘legal parents,’ as defined by the state. . . it is considered discriminatory to say that marriage is between a man and a woman or that every child should know and be raised by his or her biological married parents. It is not just politically incorrect in Canada to say so; you can be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, fined, and forced to take sensitivity training.

I don't object to two people of legal age, of any gender, deciding they want to live together in peace and harmony and having some sort of ceremony to mark the occasion and announce it to society. I think that if those people want legal recognition and benefits for their relationship, they should petition the legislature the same as everyone else does. There are issues that need to be worked out by legislatures rather than judges.

I do think it's better for children to be raised by their biological parents, preferably both of them, preferably one of each gender, for a variety of reasons. There's room for disagreement and discussion about that, and I want to keep it that way. When one side of the argument is holding a legal club and threatening to beat me with it if I don't agree with them, I consider that a suboptimal outcome.

And that's exactly where the crusades against photographers and wedding cake bakers are going.

2015-05-21 09:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama to impose draconian new rules on international hunting trips

NRA-ILAThe Obama administration’s relentless assault on the Second Amendment continues as the State Department implements a new rule which catches American hunters and sport shooters in a web of bureaucratic red-tape when traveling outside the United States. Coming close on the heels of the withdrawn BATFE ammo ban we reported on last week, an unmistakable pattern of abuse is beginning to emerge, suggesting Obama’s last two years could prove the most challenging period in history for America’s gun owners.

Gee, it's almost like Obama waited until he didn't have to face the voters again before he decided to really set about punishing his enemies with his pen and his phone.

2015-05-20 12:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Government as Faction

PowerlineThe story goes on to report how the EPA worked in direct collaboration with environmental groups such as the Sierra Club to “stuff the public comment ballot box,” so to speak, likely in violation of the law. Good for the Times for giving this story front-page treatment. Now it should be the turn of the House Committee on Governmental Affairs and Oversight to hold some tough hearings of senior EPA officials...

This is the same philosophy behind the IRS scandal, various BATFE efforts to ban ammunition, and so on. The EPA is simply the best agency at doing it and not getting caught at it, until now.

2015-05-20 11:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Christie supports NSA surveillance

The Hill“I think it can be done in a way that is not only constitutional but protects national security,” he said on the second day of a trip to New Hampshire, according to The Associated Press. “I’m not one of those folks who believe that we should bring our guard down, especially during this really dangerous time,” added Christie.

The Fourth Amendment was adopted specifically to prohibit General Warrants that had been used to harass the colonists. There is no way to conduct the NSA's surveillance program legally under the Constitution.

2015-05-20 10:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Hillary emails must be released on a rolling basis

The HillA federal judge has rejected the State Department's proposal to not release thousands of pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton until next year, instead calling for them to be released on a rolling basis.

The State Department wanted to wait until 2016 to release the emails. I get the distinct impression that honest judges have caught on to the Obama administration's delaying tactics.

2015-05-20 09:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Names, Dates, and Dollar Amounts: who was paid to protest in Ferguson

Gateway PunditIn response to this protest MORE released a list of names and amounts paid out to protesters and protest groups who agitated and harassed police night-after-night in Ferguson last fall and winter climaxing in the torching and looting of dozens of local Ferguson businesses. The list of over 80 groups and individuals was posted on Twitter by an irate protester.

The left doesn't have grass roots. It has astroturf. Even the riots are astroturf.

2015-05-20 02:07:42.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Hubris brings forth Nemesis

Elizabeth FoleyHow typical of the Scandal Queen: Citizens United involved a documentary film critical of Hillary called Hillary: The Movie. In upholding the free speech rights of Citizens United to air the film, the Supreme Court defended the First Amendment rights of groups of people (rather than just individuals), including corporations, unions and associations. But of course the Court also allowed (gasp!) a criticism of Hillary to be aired.

So now the Queen is vowing payback for such criticism, and ensure it cannot happen again. Because, you know, a civilized country cannot allow citizens to question its political leaders. Nice.

I can't imagine that Hillary has thought this one through. Sure, complaining about Citizens United is popular on the Left, mostly because the Left doesn't realize that it was Obama's unilaterally refusing public financing for his campaign that unleashed the very monster they fear. (Not that I favor such public financing, mind you). So for Obama to complain about Citizens United is demogogery.

But for Hillary to complain about Citizens United is hubris, because Citizen's United was about a group of citizens who wanted to criticize Hillary, and the Supreme Court said they were allowed to. When Hillary draws attention to that case, she draws attention to her own unique role in it. When Hillary demands that potential Supreme Court Justices pledge to vote to overturn that case, she is a party to the case -- morally, if not legally. If Hillary were a judge, she would have to recuse herself. She would be wiser to avoid the issue entirely.

But wisdom has never been her strong suit.

(Her strong suit is hanging in the closet next to the pants suit and the law suit).

2015-05-19 13:56:03.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Stonewalled and journalistic malpractice

I ran across the following passage in Sharyl Attkisson's Stonewalled:
StonewalledAs a young journalist, I once had a supervisor who required us to label conservative analysts in our news stories as "conservatives," while the liberals were simply referred to as "analysts." And if a conservative analysts's opinion really rubbed the supervisor the wrong way, she might rewrite the script to label him a "right-wing" analyst. The implication is that when a conservative says something, the opinion needs to be qualified and perhaps discounted. But the liberal? He's just an independent, fair guy giving an everyman's opinion.

This is intriguing to me, because in my early blogging days I noticed exactly the same pattern. Never having been on the "inside" of journalism, I had no idea whether it was an official policy (making the organizations biased) or just media groupthink that no one really questioned. I did know that it was obvious and widespread.

Seeing the above account indicates to me that not only was I right and this was a real thing, it was a real thing that was being imposed upon the writers and reporters as a matter of, if not a formal policy, than certainly an informal one.

Some of my friends, who used to be quite skeptical about systematic media bias, will be receiving this quote in their inbox...

2015-05-19 12:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Progressivism: Empire of Lies

2015-05-19 11:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Was the IRS targeting started by employees just following the rules?

National ReviewThe targeting of tea-party groups traces back to February of 2010 when a low-level employee in the IRS’s Cincinnati office flagged a single file for his superior. In an e-mail written on February 25, 2010, Jack Koester, a revenue agent, told his boss, John Shafer, that “recent media attention” made the application at hand a “high-profile” case. In doing so, he was following the Internal Revenue Manual’s directive to agency personal to elevate to senior managers cases that fall into several categories, including those “that are newsworthy, or that have the potential to become newsworthy.”

Only in the sense that a pebble can sometimes start an landslide, but it is worth considering briefly the nature of the rules laid out in the IRS manual. Taken from a neutral perspective, those rules make a certain amount of sense: a sensitive case likely to get attention from the news media is probably appropriate for special (as in, very careful) handling. That special handling should avoid playing political favorites, but probably does need to exist.

When you're talking about individual cases that's not unreasonable; suppose, for example, that the President has nominated a prominent national media figure for Secretary of State and that individual runs a non-profit family foundation. The tax records of that foundation would certainly need some special attention, such as being sure all foreign donations were reported separately and limited in order to avoid conflicts of interest.

Where it becomes problematic is the determination that all Tea Party cases were deserving of that special handling, purely because the term Tea Party was in the news a lot. Consider, too, that when you are a non-profit just getting started, what is the thing you need most to attract donations? Media attention.

The IRS rules, when enforced broadly to draw in all Tea Party applications rather than narrowly focusing on the few groups that might be legitimately sensitive, created a barrier to success for any new group seeking to capitalize on the Tea Party media attention.

And most politicians, eager to protect their seats from challenges, are just fine with the idea of slapping a limiter on the formation of new non-profits that might educate the public about what a bloated mess the national budget really is.

There's a lot more to the IRS scandal than employees following the rules, but it seems clear that the rules need to be updated.

2015-05-19 10:30:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

2016: Why I'm definitely not voting for Huckabee

Washington ExaminerFormer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared his candidacy for president at a rally Tuesday in a speech that would make a libertarian's blood boil. Typically, libertarians can rely on Republicans to agree with their viewpoints on economic issues and Democrats to agree with them on social freedom. Huckabee is the rare populist who wants government heavily involved in both economic and social issues.

Huckabee is in the race to live off of the campaign funding for a year and split the social conservative vote away from the fiscally conservative candidates. That's about it.

2015-05-19 10:09:07.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Problems in America

Problems that attract attention from feminists in America: the ambiguously non-consensual bedding of a fictional character by her new husband that the actress "kinda loved". Because, you know, we can't even depict bad things in fiction anymore or something.

Problems that don't attract attention from feminists in America: Digital virginity tests for women entering the Indonesian armed forces. Literally digital, as in two fingers.

Problems that have been solved by good guys with guns in America: Woman saved from beating by concealed carry holder. She had been held hostage for 20 hours prior.

2015-05-19 09:14:19.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]
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