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IRS Scandal Coverage

2014-11-28 10:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Ex-CNBC anchor told to shut up about Obamacare flaws

2014-11-28 09:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An artificial emergency

It was the second time in recent months that Ohio law enforcement officers responded to 911 calls by concerned citizens, and then shot and killed people holding airguns with three seconds of arriving on scene, allowing them no time to process and respond to officer commands. Neither John Crawford nor Tamir Rice had committed a crime. They’re no less dead because of it.

Bearing Arms has shooting video from the Ohio 12-year-old with airgun incident. It looks like police didn't give themselves time to do anything BUT shoot the person.

It used to be that the goal of a police officer going into a situation like that was to resolve it peacefully.

2014-11-27 09:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Inspector General identifies 2,500 potential links to Obama's White House

In a shocking revelation, the Treasury Inspector General has identified some 2,500 documents that “potentially” show taxpayer information held by the Internal Revenue Service being shared with President Obama’s White House.

What does "potential" mean in this case? We don't know much more than what the Inspector General's office told Cause of Action:

My client wants to know if you would consent to a motion pushing back (in part) TIGTA’s response date by two weeks to December 15, 2014. The agency has located 2,500 potentially responsive documents and anticipates being able to finish processing 2,000 of these pages by the December 1 date. It needs the additional two weeks to deal with the last 500 pages to determine if they are responsive and make any necessary withholdings. We would therefore like to ask the court to permit the agency to issue a response (including production) on December 1 as to any documents it has completed processing by that date, and do the same as to the remaining documents by December 15. I note that the court’s remand was for a “determin[ation],” which the D.C. Circuit has recently explained can precede actual production by “days or a few weeks,” but we would prefer to simply agree on a date for turning over any of the remaining 500 documents that may be responsive.

The original FOIA request was for documents sharing taxpayer information with the White House. I don't think we can fairly assume that all 2500 potentially responsive documents actually are responsive; for all we know, the people handling the FOIA response simply searched for emails between IRS addresses and White House addresses. But even so, that's 2,500 potential felonies; it's hard to believe that, given what we know was going on with Lerner and her department, that none of those thousands of documents contain anything improper.

Between this and the Inspector General's recent discovery of 25,000 missing Lerner emails from backup tapes that IRS Commissioner Koskinen repeatedly claimed under oath could not possibly contain any Lerner emails, we may be about to see things heating up quite a bit in DC.

2014-11-26 17:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Is it possible to de-politicize the IRS?

The Daily Caller has found a man with a plan to depoliticize the IRS.

Frankly, I'm not convinced the IRS can be depoliticized, and I don't think changing the IRS Commissioner is going to matter a whit. The problem is that the bureaucrats are more than willing to put their thumb on the scale, and the only solution to that is cutting off the thumbs. Figuratively.

2014-11-26 16:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Home Depot may need to do background checks on nail guns...

... along with anyone who transfers (sells, rents, loans) flare guns in Washington State, all thanks to I-594. Or maybe not.

Part of the point of passing complex laws governing normal behavior with firearms is to put people in legal jeopardy for innocent actions, and make gun owning a legally hazardous thing to do.

2014-11-26 15:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Renewable energy sources not feasible

Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible.

Read the whole thing to understand the problem, and the solution.

Note too that there is no reason we shouldn't pursue improvements in energy efficiency. Making efficient use of a limited resource is reasonable.

2014-11-26 14:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

How Ironic...

It turns out that the Reverand Al Sharpton's organization is a 501(c)4 "social welfare" group. You know, the one that's been in the news recently for owing millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. Anyone think Al is non-political? Anyone think the IRS has been scrutinizing his group's activities the way conservative groups were scrutinized? I doubt it.

2014-11-26 13:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Wicked Lasers changing management

They will no longer be shipping their powerful lasers to the US in 2015, presumably due to liability issues. If you have ever wanted a powerful laser, this is your last chance to get one.

2014-11-26 12:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Huge trove of Fast and Furious documents released

A total of 10,112 documents, comprised of approximately 42,000 pages, were disclosed to Judicial Watch in the new production. The documents are being posted and most are now available on the Judicial Watch Internet site at http://www.judicialwatch.org/fast-furious-documents-released/.

They are requesting help in crowdsourcing the analysis.

2014-11-26 11:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Judge may hold DC in contempt of court for restrictive carry licensing

A federal judge is weighing a request to hold the District in contempt of court for enacting new gun laws that are so restrictive as to be out of compliance with his order to allow for concealed carry in the city.

During a hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. asked the city and the plaintiffs fighting the regulations for additional filings on whether the city should be considered in contempt of his order that officials develop a licensing scheme “consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

The 2nd Amendment applies to everyone, not just those "under a specific threat". We'll see if a judge agrees. The attorney in this case is Alan Gura, who argued and won the Heller case that brought the 2nd Amendment to DC roughly 6 years ago, and has won other gun-rights cases since.

If Gura wins this case, which seems likely to me, it will likely require shall-issue concealed-carry licensing in all 50 states and federal territories. Other requirements, like training, may remain in place, though I wouldn't be surprised if the court rules that training must actually be available at reasonable time and cost. (Currently, there are no approved instructors).

2014-11-26 10:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Rule of Law

See, your libertarian tendencies, while very real, are frequently superfluous when it's your ox being gored. That's not an accusation, far from it, it's the most human of tendencies. As a conservative, however, my philosophy is rooted in the belief that what makes the US system work is the adherence to the rule of law in all cases. The civil rights movement came about to force southern culture and social mores to conform with the law. You like to claim that gay marriage is a new civil rights movement, but it's not. The civil rights movement was a force to uphold the law, the gay marriage movement seeks to overturn by fiat laws that it doesn't like. It's OK that you don't like the law, and it's fine that you seek to change it. There are democratic methods (referendums) and legislative methods (laws) to do that. What isn't fine is to impose your will on everyone else just because they disagree with you. There are processes to be followed, when those processes are shortcutted, the entire system of rule of law is undermined. This is a perfect contrast. You can't be enthusiastic about fiat rulings when they benefit you and aghast when they harm you. That attitude is what will destroy the entire system. Adherence to the rule of law is the only thing standing between us and anarchy, and anarchy always evolves into totalitarianism. You're on the right track with regards to your political philosophy, but you really need to think it through. I'll leave you with one final thought. All of this should be important to you, personally, because you are a black lesbian. If blind pursuit of short term goals achieves them at the cost of destroying the larger societal structure, and we fall into totalitarianism, what then? Can you name one totalitarian regime in history that has been kind to minorities or homosexuals? I can't think of any. Can you?

Read the whole thing.

2014-11-26 09:29:25.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Vote Fraud in Colorado

Remember when it was concerning that Joe Salazar’s representative basically gave her blessing for an undercover James O’Keefe and his friends to commit voter fraud? This is why. Today, our sources tell us that allegedly a Denver Police Officer ballot with a signature cure turned up in Adams County. The only problem? The officer is saying he did not vote. Our source up north is further saying that many showing up on the cured list have moved away. What is going on in Adams County?

This is why Democrats put in mail-in voting in Colorado as soon as they were in power there; voting by mail makes vote fraud trivial. It doesn't mean you can win all elections, but it's a huge thumb you can put on the scale if you don't mind cheating.

2014-11-25 13:42:35.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

If Obama doesn't like your plan, he will pick a new one for you

“Here’s a Friday Obamacare news-dump for you: In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier. . . . It’s not just auto-reenrollment. It’s auto-reassignment. Basically, if you like your plan, but don’t go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There’s always next year. A hassle? Maybe. But have faith: They know what’s best.”

Yet another surprise released on Friday, along with all the other document dumps.

2014-11-25 09:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Flying Stingrays

We've heard about ground-based Stingray devices that collect cell phone information by pretending to be a cell tower. Police have been using those devices, and hiding their use from the general public and even from judges in specific criminal cases. Now, though, the program is being stepped up: DoJ is refusing to confirm or deny (which means confirmed, of course) that there is a program to mount Stingray devices on light aircraft in flight over major metropolitan areas.

2014-11-24 18:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obamacare was designed to do what Obama promised it wouldn't do

At a town hall meeting where he campaigned for health care legislation in 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to voters that he did not want any tax on health insurance plans he perceived as wastefully generous to ever impact average Americans. But in recent comments by one of the men who helped draft the legislation, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, that is not only precisely what will happen -- but that was the intention of the tax.

More Gruber fallout.

2014-11-24 17:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A tax on global warming deniers

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made national news last year when he fought to pass and signed a tax bill that levied a tax on Marylanders, businesses and churches for the amount of “impervious surface” they have on their property.

Though the O’Malley administration calls it a “fee,” it is commonly called the “rain tax” throughout the state. It is wildly unpopular and the promise to fight to repeal the tax was a large factor in Maryland electing Republican Larry Hogan governor this month.

Now Prince George’s County is offering a way for churches to avoid paying the tax, which is estimated to be an average of $744 per year for them — preach “green” to their parishioners.

So far 30 pastors have agreed to begin “‘green’ ministries to maintain the improvements at their churches, and to preach environmentally focused sermons to educate their congregations” to avoid being hit with the tax, The Washington Post reports.

In other words, the Left will tax you... unless you agree to proselytize for their causes, in which case they will forgive the tax.

I don't see how this can possibly pass First Amendment muster, because it is the definition of viewpoint discrimination. It's also pretty much exactly what the IRS was doing to Tea Party groups, except enshrined in legislation rather than in secret policies. Those of you voting Democrat because those blue-haired Republicans want to censor your hip tunes, it's time to wake up and smell the Earl Grey.

2014-11-24 16:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Yeah, about the IRS finding those 30,000 missing Lerner emails...

... let's just bear in mind that it wasn't the IRS who found the emails. If it was up to the IRS, we still wouldn't have any of them. The Inspector General found the emails by searching backup tapes that the IRS refused to search. The Inspector General is also an executive branch agency run by the President and his appointees.

We may never know what has been sanitized from those backup tapes.

2014-11-24 15:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

China, other nations can shut down power grid at will

“Rogers said he believed China along with ‘one or two’ other countries had the capability to successfully launch a cyber-attack that could shut down the electric grid in parts of the United States,” the report noted. “U.S. adversaries are performing electronic ‘reconnaissance,’ on a regular basis so that they can be in a position to attack the industrial control systems that run everything from chemical facilities to water treatment plants.”

This is what we get when the NSA is more interested in evesdroping on our own population than protecting us from foreign nations.

2014-11-24 14:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Jay Leno backs out of SHOT show speech

Jay Leno was supposed to be the headliner at the NSSF's State of the Industry Dinner at the SHOT Show. Under intense pressure from the gun prohibitionists, he cancelled his appearance.

This is a sad example of a man caving to pressure from the left to SHUT UP rather than give a talk at a gun industry event.

I can't agree that it's all a plan to destroy the gun culture, though. It's not. It's a plan to destroy any possibility that any opposition to the progressive left has validity or popularity.

The response is the same, though. We need to borrow a page from the people who are winning in GamerGate: we aren't going to sit down, we aren't going to shut up, and we are going to punch back -- politically -- twice as hard.

2014-11-24 13:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama issues executive amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants

I'm not going to say much about this, other than to note that it happened as it was expected to happen:

President Obama announced an expansive new set of executive actions in a prime-time address Thursday that the White House says will give legal status and work permits to 5 million immigrants in the United States illegally.

At first glance, it's a relatively limited amount of overreach. He's not trying to offer citizenship, just temporary deferral of deportation (with an exception for criminals). It's Obama refusing to faithfully execute the laws, but not Obama purporting to grant a benefit that the law does not provide, at least so far as I can tell. That doesn't mean it's not a harmful action, though.

For example, it means people can stay in the country and keep voting illegally (if they were already, of course), but it doesn't transform those votes into legal votes. It might encourage people who think they are now legal residents to think they are now legal voters, though. And the people who take advantage of this will get legal id which they can present when voting, which means the voter rolls have to be cleaned more thoroughly to make sure that non-citizens with valid ID are prevented from voting.

I do wonder if many of the low-income immigrants might not prefer to stay in the shadows, though. If they come out, they make themselves targets for potential deportation later, and -- as they are temporarily legal workers -- they must now be paid minimum wage, benefits or penalties under Obamacare, payroll taxes, income taxes... in other words, illegal immigrants can no longer rely on competing for jobs based on low wages to make up for other disadvantages (ie, poor english, etc).

In many cases, jobs that went to illegals before because those jobs were not economical under the minimum wage will now go to illegal illegals rather than Obama illegals because the jobs still aren't worth the minimum wage. I doubt the availability of government benefits will be viewed as worth the imposition of government taxes by those not used to paying them.

To the extent that this measure is taken advantage of by former illegals, competition for legal, minimum wage jobs will increase.

One point of personal concern to me:

A second hammer blow will be dealt by the president's unilateral increase in foreign worker programs for large corporations, including technology corporations. Currently, two-thirds of all new jobs in the IT industry are being filled by foreign workers — and yet the president wants to dramatically surge foreign worker admissions even further. This at a time when the Census Bureau tells us more than 11 million Americanswith science, technology, engineering and math degrees don't have jobs in those fields.

I have seen this personally. These visas are extremely damaging to the tech industry in the United States. Large companies that can sponsor these visas will rejoice at the availability of foreign temporary workers, effectively indentured, who cannot effectively negotiate for salary and benefits like an American worker can. And these workers do make enough to be a net tax positive.

These visas are not supposed to be issued when Americans are available who can fill the positions, but that requirement is a joke.

2014-11-24 12:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Ben Carson is definitely running for President

He's trying to walk back statements he made about guns that suggested he might favor a ban on semi-automatic firearms in urban areas. I appreciate that he's making the effort to walk them back, but disappointed that he has to walk them back in the first place. That said, whoever he has perched on his shoulder encouraging him to run for president has finally gotten the wording right:

Carson said that “under no circumstances” would he “allow a bureaucrat to remove any law-abiding citizen's rights for any kind of weapon that they want to protect themselves.”

If he were in a position of national leadership, Carson said he would seek to allow people to possess any kind of weapon they can legally buy, including “automatic weapons and semi-automatic weapons.”

I hope that these statements are the result of someone close to him having a series of deep, philosophical discussions on the issue, and not a pollster feeding words into his mouth. I am not reassured by the fact that this article appears in the Bloomberg news service. If anyone might be willing and able to fund a stealth Republican gun control candidate for President, Bloomberg is at the top of the list.

With that in mind, I'll be following what Carson does in the leadup to 2016 with interest.

UPDATE: Looks like Carson may have misstepped again while commenting on Ferguson.

2014-11-24 11:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Lois Lerner Curve

I call this the Lois Lerner Curve. With few laws policing corruption, there’s a lot of it. Then, as law enforcement increases, corruption declines, down to point zero on the curve. Thereafter, however, additional laws result in more corruption, because citizens and bureaucrats alike become lost in the complexity and enforcement is unevenly applied.

The Lerner Curve is a specific example of this quote being applied:

“There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

It has already become practically impossible for an ordinary man to participate in politics without breaking laws. An ordinary citizen is practically limited to donating money to organizations or candidates with the money to hire specialized campaign finance lawyers. God forbid an ordinary, unapproved man or woman try to run for office; look what happened to Christine O'Donnel, for example.

2014-11-24 10:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Checking your privilege

In a Victimocracy, suffering is the exclusive privilege of the elites. No one else is allowed to suffer except them. No one else has ever been oppressed, has felt pain, been insulted, abused, degraded, enslaved and ground down into the dirt except the very people who are grinding you into the dirt now.

This rings a bell. In a discussion on another website, I remember arguing that the accomplishments of non-minority individuals were worthy of respect, even though those people -- myself included -- did not have to overcome horrible barriers and discrimination and racism. Hard work, intellectual effort, and long hours were involved in learning to be a professional software engineer. I am proud of that, and my career accomplishments. I can be proud of that without putting down someone else's accomplishments, and it's certainly not the same as "playing a game on easy mode", as John Scalzi once put it.

Being told to "check my privilege" and that nothing I have accomplished in my life is worth being proud of because I'm not a minority is racist.

And yes, people have told me those exact things.

2014-11-24 09:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Schoolhouse Rock


The top comment when I wrote this post was "It's not funny when it happens in real life."

2014-11-23 15:52:04.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Full Disclosure on the IRS scandal


I didn't catch any new news here, but it's a decent 15 minute summary of what's going on.

2014-11-22 11:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

30,000 missing Lerner emails recovered

Up to 30,000 missing emails sent by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.

The fact that these Lerner emails were so easily recovered after the IRS fought the effort to retrieve them is practically proof of a cover up effort... if there is anyone left on the planet who wasn't already convinced.

There are supposedly 250 million emails -- obviously not all from Lerner -- that are still being searched. Some relevant emails from those working with her may also be recovered.

So far, I haven't seen any information about what's actually in the new batch of emails, but their existence alone is sufficient to condemn the IRS's document production effort, since the IRS did not even bother to search these backup tapes.

2014-11-21 20:43:10.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama Admin paid cash for Bergdahl release

The Obama administration made a ransom payment to an Afghan “con man” earlier this year in an unsuccessful attempt to secure the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, according to aWashington Times report. Best-selling author Brad Thor predicted there was likely money exchanged as part of the deal in a previous op-ed on TheBlaze.

And they didn't even get him released -- the money paid for Bergdahl just disappeared. It was the release of the Top 5 Gitmmo detainees that secured the release of a single American deserter and likely traitor.

2014-11-21 16:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Gruber says Obama personally requested obfuscatory language

Smoking gun. And in another video, Gruber says that 5 million people will lose their plan under Obamacare. So Obama knew that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" was a lie.

2014-11-21 15:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obamacare was designed to fail

So, as a result, I am required by law, under harsh financial penalties, to purchase a product that is not available to me. Had President Obama required that I buy 2 pounds of rocks from Mars, the result would not have been any more unfair.

The free market is better able to handle things than government experts, because no expert can possibly know as much about the life of every citizen in the nation as every citizen in the nation knows about their own life.

In this case, it's resulting in a business owner struggling to get his number of full-time employees under 30 -- in a workforce of over 350 people. All because he doesn't have to pay penalties on part-time workers.

2014-11-21 14:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NSA whistleblower claims 2009 inflection point in surveillance

If this report is accurate, it suggests that the NSA's mission changed from focused anti-terrorism to bulk surveillance of all Americans in 2009, the year Obama took office as president. The timing is suggestive.

That person, who has retired and spoke to the AP under condition of anonymity, said "he knows of no evidence the program was used for anything other than hunting for terrorism plots in the US. But he said he and others made the case that the collection of American records in bulk crossed a line that had been sacrosanct."

The NSA has been active for a long time. There were active programs during the Clinton administration to evesdrop on cell phones (ECHELON) and sabotage encryption (Clipper chip). I've long been opposed to those programs, while understanding that they are valuable intelligence tools when properly directed. But I can readily believe that the expansion of the NSA's mission into bulk collection and analysis of data is a relatively recent thing.

2014-11-21 13:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Smoking Gun proof that Obama Admin targeted Attkisson for Fast and Furious reporting

One of the documents provides smoking gun proof that the Obama White House and the Eric Holder Justice Department colluded to get CBS News to block reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Attkisson was one of the few mainstream media reporters who paid any attention to the deadly gun-running scandal.

In an email dated October 4, 2011, Attorney General Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, called Attkisson “out of control.” Schmaler told White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz that he intended to call CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer to get the network to stop Attkisson.

This validates Attkisson's claims that CBS didn't want to air her reports. There is also details on an effort to target Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee investigating the scandal, with leaks to another reporter.

2014-11-21 12:23:51.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Shutting off the water to the NSA

A bill is moving forward in the Utah State Legislature that aims to eventually shut down water to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) new massive data storage facility at Bluffdale, just south of Salt Lake City.

Refuse to cooperate in any way you can.

2014-11-21 12:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Mary wins or Mary wins, if you believe the media

Turns out the New York Times messed up their reporting about the Keystone pipeline vote, and published their story on the vote hours before the vote was actually cast. That's an understandable mistake... on a single-proprietor blog without editorial staff who are supposed to review, verify facts, and approve news stories before they are published. But in this case it's even more interesting, because the draft story published had quotes praising Landrieu, the Louisiana Senator facing a runoff election in the near future that may well hinge on the results of the Keystone vote.

Both versions of the story -- where the Keystone pipeline was approved, and where it failed -- had sections praising Landrieu for her efforts. In different words, of course. But it's clear that, according to the Times, Landrieu is worth praising... win or lose.

The actual vote failed to overcome a filibuster, 59-41. What happens in Landrieu's runoff election remains to be seen.

2014-11-21 11:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Background checks coming in Oregon, Florida

In Oregon they are going to try legislation, while in Florida, a ballot initiative appears to be in the works. Meanwhile, in Washington State, a museum has to return exhibits because of the background check measure that passed, and a generous gun owner has to collect his own loaner firearms.

2014-11-20 09:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NSA-approved bill to stop NSA spying fails in the Senate

It failed by 2 votes... which is actually a victory, I think. Remember that the so-called USA Freedom act is basically the followup to the PATRIOT Act (with similarly misleading names). It was supported by the director of the NSA and Diane Feinstein herself, who has previously opposed reform efforts.

Holding a vote on the act in the lame duck Senate was an attempt to prevent Republicans from taking credit for rolling back the Democratic administration's surveillance overreach. With support from the people who would normally attempt to block such a bill, it's clear that real improvements will need new legislation that has not been co-opted by the people in charge of creating the problem in the first place.

She even admits it:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a longtime opponent of intelligence reform, made a surprising change of vote and pleaded with her colleagues to support the bill. She remains a defender of the program, pointing out that there were only 288 queries for metadata in 2013.

However, Feinstein felt if the bill didn't pass, it could lead to the program being thrown out altogether.

"If we didn't pass the House bill, there were members that wanted to end the whole program," said Feinstein. "I do not want to end the program. I'm prepared to make the compromise, which is that the metadata will be kept by the telecoms."

So, in other words, Miss Feinstein, your minions at the NSA have spent billions to create a system to evesdrop on the whole internet, This system has scored, at most, a single "assist" in stopping terrorist attacks. Not even a single one with full credit. And you've only queried this system -- which, again, cost billions and continues to cost billions -- 288 times last year.

It sounds to me, Miss Feinstein, like the system doesn't work for it's intended purpose.

2014-11-19 10:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lame ducks in DC

“Democrats relinquishing the Senate have outlined an ambitious agenda for the lame-duck session,” reports the Boston Globe. The Democrats are “likely to have bold plans for the lame duck,” says NBC News. Lots and lots of business is evidently being packed into the brief window between the Nov. 4 election and Jan. 3, when the next Congress is sworn-in. That’s too bad. Lame-duck sessions, absent national emergency, are actually a very bad idea.

If I had my way, we would pass an amendment to the Constitution indicating that Congress may perform no official acts between the election and the seating of the next Congress. I'd have to consider variations on this theme to deal with emergencies (should a two-thirds vote be allowed? Should only those who lost their seats be barred from acting?), but when the present Congress is desperately looking for ways to advance their agenda before the new Congress is seated, that's a problem.

2014-11-19 09:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Barack Obama on the President's immigration power

Patterico has collected a list of cases where Obama's past words conflict with his anticipated future actions on immigration.

The bottom line is, Obama was all in favor of separation of powers when he thought he could get Congress to pass amnesty. Now, he's willing to say fuck all that and be the dictator. The rule of law is not something that you respect only when you get what you want; sometimes you have to respect it when it prevents you getting what you want.

Personally, I'm all for immigration, so long as it is legal immigration by people who want to become Americans and leave their previous culture mostly behind them. As a nation, we have the right to decide who we will allow to become one of us; that power is assigned in the Constitution to Congress, not the president.

2014-11-18 15:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Reminder: the IRS did not find Lerner's emails because it didn't look

IRS attorneys conceded that they had failed to search the agency’s servers for missing emails because they decided that “the servers would not result in the recovery of any information.” They admitted they had failed to search the agency’s disaster recovery tapes because they had “no reason to believe that the tapes are a potential source of recovering” the missing emails. And they conceded that they had not searched the government-wide back-up system because they had “no reason to believe such a system…even exists.”

And they are getting away with it. The establishment Republicans in power in the House and the Senate want to run against the IRS while letting Obama crush his enemies with it -- because all three branches of government share a common enemy in the Tea Party.

2014-11-18 14:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Even the agriculture department has undercover agents

The federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing, records and interviews show.

My rule of thumb is pretty simple: when you need to use an undercover agent to fight crime, the crime you are trying to fight is probably a victimless crime. And with a very small number of exceptions, victimless crimes should not be crimes at all.

2014-11-17 14:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Department of Justice admits misleading judge

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a remarkable letter (PDF) this morning in which the Department of Justice admits its lawyer misled a judge during oral arguments last month over the legality of National Security Letters, or NSLs.

It might have been an honest mistake. And it might not have been.

2014-11-17 13:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Registration leads to confiscation

This time, it's in New York. When a gun owner dies, the police go out to his home and take the guns there without informing the occupants that the guns can be reclaimed later.

2014-11-17 12:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Reason looks at Network Neutrality

President Barack Obama recently came out in favor of both "net neutrality" and the FCC changing the way that Internet service providers, or ISPs, are regulated. Shortly thereafter, Sen. Ted Cruz opined "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government." Obama's and Cruz's statements fed into the popular misconception that the proposed FCC reclassification is the same thing as net neutrality. It's not. The policies are distinct, though both are bad ideas.

I am opposed to net neutrality for several reasons:
1) I don't trust the government not to meddle
2) I don't want the government to slow down progress more than it already has
3) I don't want the government to have regulatory leverage on ISPs

2014-11-17 11:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Don't bring a conventional army to a nuclear war

“As they plan for how to cope with a United States that increasingly acts as if nuclear war is unthinkable, they are thinking through how they might physically employ a nuclear weapon to demonstrate their willingness to escalate to the nuclear level,” wrote Murdock.

Obama appears to be imposing unilateral disarmament for us while encouraging Iran to test one of theirs already... because as soon as they actually test one, there's no way we can really go in and take it away from them.

2014-11-17 10:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Cricket caught blocking STARTTLS?

STARTTLS is a command within the SMTP protocol that indicates the desire to initiate an encrypted connection. Cricket is allegedly blocking customers from using that protocol, even with SMTP servers that support it -- including SMTP servers that don't belong to Cricket. That would force customers to use either plain SSL (which may be similarly interfered with) or send email "in the clear" so Cricket's network administrators can snoop on it.

I'll point out here that what's likely going on is not selectively disabling STARTTLS (which would take a fair bit of network wizardry to accomplish; rewriting connections dynamically is tricky) but probably simply intercepting the SMTP connection itself with one of Cricket's servers, which has been an established anti-spam practice for a while on some networks. If Cricket's server doesn't support STARTTLS (deliberately or not), well, you get the observed result.

Note that this scenario is actually worse than the original scenario. Cricket is not just forcing email to be send into the clear, it is redirecting email users are intending to send to a remote server into one of it's own servers, and possibly collecting authentication information meant for the remote server in the process.

If you are going to intercept outbound SMTP to servers you don't own, you should be returning error codes and not advertising AUTH support.

2014-11-17 09:16:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Democrat party has abandoned democracy

“The dirty secret is the American voter doesn’t actually care about the uninsured," Gruber said. "The dirty secret is: You can’t really get a law passed by saying, ‘We’re helping the uninsured.’ You have to make it about cost control to get it passed. Because that’s what the American public cares about. So they had to make this law not just about the uninsured, but about cost control. That was a challenge,” he added.

Yes, I know we are a constitutional republic, and not a pure democracy. But the democratic principle is supposed to be that the representatives we elect do what the people want them to do, within the Constitution, and with the application of their judgment and expert knowledge of the situation (knowledge that the general public often does not have).

They aren't suppose to deceive people into passing legislation with lies, though. They are supposed to make their case honestly to the people, and face the will of the voters if the voters disagree.

2014-11-14 16:21:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Reid to move USA Freedom Act to a vote

Yesterday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took action to move the USA Freedom Act toward a debate and a vote. That's a big turnaround from September, when Senate sources said passing the act "wasn't a top priority." With Reid's support, a vote could come as early as next week.

The real question here is why. And the answer is pretty obvious: Reid wants to make sure that the Republicans can't take control of the surveillance apparatus the Democrats have been using to keep themselves in power, should the Republicans win the presidency in 2016. And if he moves now, in the lame duck Congress, he can make sure that a bill he supports with whatever hidden language he wants gets passed, take credit for shutting down the surveillance state with voters, and simultaneously prevent Republicans from running on the issue.

2014-11-14 15:21:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Family of Ebola victim to profit from his death

Patterico has the sickening details.

2014-11-14 14:21:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Explosives found near bridge at US border with Mexico

Two explosives were found near an Arizona bridge approximately 30 miles from the U.S. border with Mexico, according to a leaked report exclusively obtained by Breitbart Texas. The items were made from water gel commercial explosives and were ammonium nitrate based, according to the leaked official report from the Joint Intelligence Operations Center (JIOC).

But Obama tells us our border has never been more secure.

2014-11-14 13:21:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Hillary confidant may be Pakistan agent

A former high-ranking diplomat and Clinton ally at the center of an FBI counterintelligence probe was a registered foreign agent for the Pakistani government up until just days before she was appointed to run the U.S. State Department's Pakistan aid team.

The Washington Post reported last week that the State Department's aid coordinator for Pakistan, Robin Raphel, is the subject of a counterintelligence investigation and has had her security clearance revoked.

That's going to leave a mark on Hillary's chances in 2016.

2014-11-14 12:21:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]
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