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What did the President know and when did he know it?

The New York Observer connects the dots: the White House Chief of Staff and White House Counsel knew about the IRS targeting at least a month before Lerner's planted question blew the scandal wide open.

The White House Counsel at the time has a history of hiding evidence:

Ms. Ruemmler has buried evidence before. It took counsel for Merrill Lynch defendants six years to find evidence that she had hidden when she prosecuted four Merrill executives—and then it was only produced accidentally by the third team of Department lawyers assigned to the case. The long-hidden evidence also proved that the “disclosure letter” Ms. Ruemmler signed to defense counsel was false and misleading.

So did they tell the President, or let him find out about it on the news?

Or maybe they didn't need to tell him about it, because he already knew.

2014-08-01 18:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An interesting degree of certainty

“[I]t's not going to surprise me to find out that when you get done with it all — it would be great if they found more e-mails — there's not going to be any evidence that anybody tried three years ago to destroy anything,” Koskinen said. “Now, when that turns out to be true, it will be like there's nothing to show the White House was involved, we'll move on[.]”

So, how does he know that the missing emails don't contain any evidence? How does he know that no one tried to destroy anything? I mean, hell, Lerner isn't even willing to go before Congress and testify that she didn't destroy her hard drive deliberately, yet Koskinen is absolutely confident that no evidence will be found of obstruction of justice, destruction or evidence, or White House involvement.

The only way he could be certain of that is if he intends to make sure that any evidence of wrongdoing at the IRS that does turn up is destroyed rather than produced.

You see, he's not using the language of someone who wants to find out what happened so he can restore trust in his agency. He's using the language of someone who wants very much to restore trust in his agency by pretending nothing happened at all and covering up any evidence that it did.

2014-08-01 17:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS union gives 94% of donations to Democrats

... but of course the workers there are completely unbiased.

2014-08-01 16:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Could audit logs hold the key to IRS scandal?

According to IRS publication 1075, section 9, the agency’s own regulations on how it shall retain information and maintain FISMA compliance, there is a log of every virtually every transaction. The notion that the IRS only kept a six month back up, as Troia put it in a telephone interview, “is pure nonsense.”

Regulations regarding disaster recovery aside, this audit log is kept for seven years. What is significant here is that in every year since 2009, ongoing reviews of security and records report that the IRS has indeed disclosed that these audit logs are intact and available.

The problem, of course, is that the audit logs likely refer to transactions that take place within the IRS' custom-built software systems and databases. Their email servers will have logs of some kind unless the IT people managing them are complete idiots (or, I suppose, obstructing justice), but those email server logs may not be treated as audit logs or retained for the 7 year timeframe.

Still, it's worth asking for those audit logs. You never know what you might find.

2014-08-01 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Koskinen whines and bitches

“I’ve had 10 hearings that take most of the day,” he told Tax Analysts. “It takes a while to prepare for those hearings. I get updates about how we’re doing.” “It’s probably 20 percent of my time.”

You know, if he actually provided the evidence he was being asked for, he wouldn't have to come to Congressional hearings any more. And quite frankly, I am fine with Koskinen spending 100% of his time answering to Congress for the behavior of his agency until he does comply.

“[E]ven if you have the funding, you still need to address how do I get young people in here?” he asked. “How do I get people in mid-career to have promotion opportunities and then develop opportunities?”

My god. Get this man a clue. No sane individual wants the country's best and brightest working for the IRS. We want the best and brightest doing something useful and productive. The people working for the IRS should be the most boring, incompetent bureaucrats we can possibly find, with the sole requirement of the job being the ability to process the paperwork without excessive drooling, comply with Congressional oversight, and careful monitoring to ensure that the brain-dead employees are not partisan and wouldn't have the power to discriminate against anyone if they were.

But, you know, if he's really concerned about the amount of time taken up by Congressional hearings, well, if we repealed the 16th amendment he wouldn't have to worry about that anymore.

2014-08-01 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Immigration and the Welfare State

Occasionally, one of my colleagues will make the argument that illegal immigrants are a net positive to society because they will work but are not eligible to collect government benefits. I don't dispute that many illegal immigrants are willing to work hard for low pay. Many others, however, are not. Those that do work generally do not pay taxes; if they file a tax return, which some do, they are still receiving more benefits than they are paying in taxes due to their low income. Other benefits of the welfare state include food stamps, effectively free health care at emergency rooms, the earned-income tax credit, and so on.

But I consider recent events to have provided an even more compelling example.

Witness the power of this fully armed and operational welfare state!

A 29-acre facility... Previously, the people being held at the facility were called detainees. Now they will be called residents. Guards are now called resident advisors. Even the facility itself will be referred to as a resident center rather than a detention center. The amenities do not stop simply at safe. Families will be given a health examination upon arrival along with six sets of fresh clothing for each member. Doctor attention will be available at all times and residents will have access to a dentist. Other amenities include recreational fields, a library, internet access, and a cafeteria which will serve three all-you-can-eat meals a day. Certified teachers will also be on site to provide year-round education and small jobs will also be available paying $3 a day for four hours of work.

Oh, and what was that last bit again? Jobs? $3/day? That's less than a dollar an hour. I thought the Left supported minimum wage laws?

2014-08-01 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Did Rep Shiela Jackson Lee threaten an IRS audit?

He then accused me of being un-American, raising his voice at me while asking me to calm down, and telling me that I am just on some mission to destroy our country. When I calmly asked for his name, he said “I don’t have to give it to you because I don’t want to show up on some right wing blog and be on your Twitter account.” Keep in mind, I never said who I was – he just made assumptions and attacked me. When I reminded him that he gets paid by our tax dollars, he said “I doubt you even pay taxes and the IRS will find you soon enough,” and hung up on me.

Was that a threat from Rep. Lee’s staff to use the IRS as a weapon against citizens for just asking questions?

If the author gets audited next year, Lee should be indicted.

He likely won't be, because he was calling anonymously. Which is why anonymous speech is protected by the First Amendment.

2014-08-01 12:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Fast and Furious documents no longer on hold

The first thing we'll get is an index of all the Fast and Furious documents that had been held back. Presumably the parties can then argue over which documents are not protected under Obama's claim of executive privilege.

Also, a suspect in the murder of Brian Terry (a member of the Border Patrol killed with a Fast and Furious gun) has been extradited.

2014-08-01 11:44:35.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Hundreds of Obama Admin rules are not legal

It seems there is a requirement to report the rules to Congress before they go into effect, and many of the rules since 2012 have not been so reported. But the same law bars judicial review, which strikes me as a catch-22 that won't survive long once someone points it out to the courts.

2014-08-01 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Ebola victim to be returned to the US

I see this sort of decision more and more often these days. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion; you can see what's going to happen and you can't look away, but you can't stop it either. Massively deadly infectious disease, mostly confined to Africa. Do you treat patients in Africa, or do you fly them to the United States where they will probably still die, but will have the chance to infect many more Americans who would otherwise not be at risk?

Obviously you treat them where they are and keep them the fuck out of the United States.

Which is why the plane is flying towards Atlanta right now.



This is NOT a first to be proud of.

2014-08-01 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lerner's home computer may contain clues

Other emails showed that Ms. Lerner used her personal home computer for IRS business and may have stored taxpayer information. An email she sent Feb. 22, 2012, to an IRS information technology specialist had the message line: “Virus on Home PC.” In the exchange, Ms. Lerner indicated that she kept work information on her home computer and some of it may have been lost. She said her computer may have been “simply hacked because my password was too simple.”


I have a couple concerns here. First, if she used her personal home computer for IRS business -- presumably including email -- why haven't investigators seized that computer to search it? That seems an obvious thing to do immediately, before this computer can have a hard drive crash.

Second, just for the record, it's generally illegal to have confidential government information at home. I know; I worked in a place where similar regulations applied for a little while.

Third, the reason it's illegal is because the information is vulnerable to hackers. Now, computer security is a mess. Home computers are awful. Computers in a secure facility... well, if the people in charge of security are any good, they are at least somewhat better. But that's pretty much pointless if you take the information home with you. Normally, if you are compromised by a computer virus, the attacker doesn't really care about you personally; generally you were hit by an automated process and your computer is just another spam-sending botnet slave. (There are good odds your home computer is doing this right now and you don't even know it).

(Read More...)

2014-07-31 17:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A private cause of action among proposed IRS reforms

The proposal would "create a private right of action allowing a victim of IRS confidentiality breaches to bring action against an IRS employee for any harm caused by a willful and injurious breach," according to the committee report.

"A private right of action would not only allow the victim the opportunity to vindicate the harm, but it would provide a strong incentive for IRS employees to better protect confidential taxpayer information," the report said.

Well, if we're not going to be able to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax entirely (and the IRS along with it), then allowing individuals to sue the IRS (including individual employees) when they are willfully harmed seems like a good way to rein the agency in.

It's not like the Justice Department will actually prosecute anyone, after all.

The same article also points out the consequences of the IRS delays and intrusive questionnaires:

"As the IRS ignored tax-exempt applications, donors stopped giving to the groups, overall interest waned, and some groups even stopped their operations," according to the report.

"The delays also resulted in the automatic revocation of some groups’ exemptions by operation of law because the groups had been waiting for an answer so long that they did not file for renewal within the statutorily proscribed period."

It seems to me the biggest part of the IRS effort was to delay approvals as long as possible and harass applicants in order to convince them to withdraw from organized political activity. Even if the applicants were seeking approval to conduct perfectly legal amounts of political activity.

2014-07-31 16:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lerner met with UK spooks on official business

In England months earlier, Lerner emailed of a Friday morning meeting with 'internal "spooks"' in an unnamed government agency. Then she took some leisure time. 'Ha[d] work this morning. Got to talk to their internal "spooks",' she wrote. [Emphasis added]

I had to go to the Daily Mail to see the above quotes from Lerner's emails, written while she was vacationing in the UK. "Spooks" is a slang term for spies or intelligence agency employees.

Why on earth would a tax official be talking with intelligence agents? Foreign intelligence agents, no less? And she says she is working, so it's not like a tea party social; some actual business is being conducted.

That email lends significantly more credence to this report by a whistleblower that the NSA was feeding Lerner information for her target list:

“Do you think the NSA actually did that? Do you think the IRS partnered with the NSA potentially, to target the tea party?”
“I already know they have access to it,” Binney replied. “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.”

In all honesty, I thought the guy was probably just an ex-NSA agent who was being a bit paranoid. I could believe that the Obama Administration would use the NSA to obtain blackmail material on key players (Roberts, Boehner, Petraeus for three strong possibilities). But to open a pipeline for NSA data into the IRS to harass ordinary citizens trying to involve themselves in politics rather than elected or appointed officials? I did not expect that. I did not think they would sink so low.

Harass people, yes. Ask them intrusive questions, yes. Make lives hell, yes. Bureaucrats do that every single day. But turn the NSA loose on something so obviously, blatantly political? I didn't believe it.

But he was right.

And let's not forget that Obama's CIA has now admitted to spying on Congress.

2014-07-31 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

CIA admits spying on Congress

The director of the CIA, in a rare apology, has acknowledged an internal probe's findings that CIA employees in the Executive Branch improperly spied on the Legislative Branch by searching Senate computers earlier this year.

Let's keep this is mind: The Senate is under Democrat control at the moment. If the Administration is prepared to spy on Congress using the CIA (which is supposed to be a foreign intelligence agency strictly forbidden from domestic involvement), what are they willing to do with politicians in the House under Republican control? Or the unexpected swing vote on the Supreme Court?

Even the Democrats are calling for independent counsel investigations and public apologies:

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said he has "lost confidence" in Brennan, and urged the administration to appoint an independent counsel to investigate. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called for a "public apology" from Brennan.

Again, these are Democrat Senators criticizing a Democrat appointee for spying on them.

2014-07-31 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Massachussetts may-issue gun ownership legislation is back

Both the state House and Senate had previously passed different versions of the bill. The House version contained language that would allow local police chiefs enormous leeway in determining who could own a firearm in their jurisdiction. The Senate version stripped this language.

Unfortunately, behind closed doors, a joint Senate/House committee has adopted a version of the bill that puts the police chief language BACK IN the bill. Today is the last day of the legislative session in Mass., so this is expected to be up for a vote today.

To my mind this legislation is both obviously unConstitutional and completely ineffective -- but it's better to block it from passing than to try to overturn it in court.

Massachussetts gun owners, if there are any of you left, please contact your legislations. The vote is expected to take place today.

2014-07-31 14:10:32.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A disturbing trend has been growing within the Democrat party

It is a trend that frankly scares me, and it should scare you, as well. Let us consider some data points:

1) Scientists who do not believe in the claim that "global warming" is manmade and will kill us all unless we de-industrialize are not debated; instead they are called "denialists", told to shut up, and a manufactured "scientific consensus" is invoked to prevent anyone hearing their ideas.

2) The IRS is pressured by prominent Democrats in the House and the Senate (and possibly, though unproven, the White House) into harassing tax-exempt organizations for legal activities and auditing donors to those organizations at 10 times the rate of an ordinary American. The evidence that would reveal the details of this targeting, and who ordered it, has been destroyed.

3) The FBI appears to have been an eager participant in the harassment.

4) In Wisconsin, a years-long intimidation campaign has been conducted against conservative organizations in the state, with literally knocks on the door to arrest people in the middle of the night based solely on their political opposition and legal activities.

What's the common thread here?

The use of government resources to threaten, intimidate, and harass political opponents of the party in power. Not merely to enforce the law, but to prevent the political opposition from being heard.

These efforts have been disturbingly successful, and they speak to a dark thread in the modern left. A thread that seeks not to convince their opponents, but to suppress them.

2014-07-31 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Gunsense does save lives!


A parody/refutement video based on a recent anti-gun ad.

2014-07-31 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Biden and Walsh push for existing gun laws

Walsh made clear that he is a gun owner, but said the United States needs to do more to address gun violence and characterized himself as “the biggest advocate for background checks out of any gun owner in America.”

It's sort of amusing the way they keep trying to convince us to pass laws that already exist. Most people buy guns with background checks already, because all licensed firearms dealers are required to conduct those checks, and most legal gun sales take place between a customer and a licensed dealer.

Illegal sales are between people who won't pass a background check anyway, so they won't bother to conduct one.

What the antis want is gun registration, so that all transfers are required to go through a dealer and create a permanent government record of who owns which gun. (The better to confiscate them with, my dear).

2014-07-31 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS to reconsider proposed nonprofit rules

A remarkable 87% of all public comments sampled opposed the rule-making outright, with 64% of comments from organizations, experts, and public officials in firm opposition. Even among comments favoring changes to current regulations, the rule proposed by the IRS was deeply unpopular. In all, 97% of comments from organizations, experts, and public officials were opposed to the proposed rule in varying degrees.

Not only were the comments received overwhelmingly opposed, they also set a record for number of comments.

2014-07-30 16:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS Abuses: Ensuring that targeting never happens again

That's the title for the House Oversight hearing, but frankly it's a bit optimistic. So far we've had one person resign and another retire with full pension after months of paid vacation. Those aren't consequences.

The actual reform proposals seem like weak tea. While archiving instant messages is an obvious step, people who destroy data to evade Congressional investigations don't just need to be fired. People need to go to jail for the original offenses and probably for the cover-up, too. Short of that, no one will be discouraged.

2014-07-30 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lerner's emails reveal contempt for conservatives

Not really a surprise that Lerner referred to conservatives as "assholes", "crazies", and "terRorists" in official emails, but it's at best rude, at worst illegal (under the Hatch Act, but perhaps stretching it), and definitely destroys any claim by the Left that Lerner was a neutral, unbiased civil servant.

There is also new evidence that Lerner used her home computer for IRS business. Personally, I'm disappointed that we are reading about this in the news, rather than reading about the House Sergeant at Arms confiscating computer and cell phone equipment from Lerner's home to hold in protective custody. We wouldn't want there to be an accidental hard drive crash, after all.

2014-07-30 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

ATF multiple-rifle demand letters upheld by appeals court

Remember that there is no basis for this in the law whatsoever. ATF just made it up the requirement.

Presumably they are adding the names they receive to their so-called "Suspect Gun Database", which they appear to use as a gun registration database and, as such, is illegal.

And all this is adding insult to injury over the Fast and Furious operation, where government agents encouraged licensed firearms dealers to make suspicious sales to crimes with the deliberate intent of seeing those firearms smuggled across the border to Mexico and retrieved from crime scenes there.

2014-07-30 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

DC Police enforcing carry ban again

The Palmer decision was stayed for 90 days while they figure out whether to appeal or write legislation to comply.

2014-07-30 12:44:35.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Remember when the IRS scandal was just about the IRS?

We have already uncovered links between the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice concerning possible prosecution of the tax-exempt groups. Now the Ways and Means Committee has uncovered emails linking the IRS effort to persecute organizations supporting Israel to the State Department.

So, let's sum up.

(Read More...)

2014-07-30 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Could the National Archivist know whether the White House also lost emails?

It seems that he should know, if the White House followed the law. Congress should ask.

2014-07-30 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

DC Police Procedure for CCW

My advice would be to stay out of the District with a concealed firearm for the present, despite the recent victory in Palmer v DC. The city is very hostile to gun ownership, and if they catch you, they will pursue anything they can think of to catch you on something, including silly technicalities. If the court ruling is overturned on appeal, it's possible that could also be a problem.

Alan Gura has posted the memo to DC police on what their police for concealed carry should be following the Palmer decision and before DC implements any legal changes.

2014-07-30 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

SAF says DC plans to appeal Palmer victory

Saturday’s long-awaited victory in Palmer v. District of Columbia is “one more important step toward firearms freedom,” the Second Amendment Foundation said today after reviewing the ruling, which the District of Columbia now reportedly plans to appeal.

The victory itself was a surprise, since many lower courts have been fairly shy about striking down gun laws, but the appeal? Not a surprise.

2014-07-29 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Legislation introduced to reform civil asset forfeiture

It's Rand Paul's work. The chances the legislation will pass the Senate are probably nil. But it's a beginning, and these things build support gradually.

2014-07-29 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Fast and Furious may have implemented gun registration

The lawmakers contended that ATF agents, under the Operation Fast and Furious investigation, added extensive amounts of firearms to what is termed the Suspect Gun Database maintained by the agency. All told, between 1992 and 2012, the agency added data on 173,784 guns to the database. Once added, even if an investigation is concluded, the information cataloged on both the gun and the purchaser remains active.

As far as building an actual, complete registration list of firearms, this is a drop in the bucket. But if the ATF is building a database of people who own politically incorrect guns for use as a target list, well, it might work for that.

The other issue, alleged targeting of minorities, is also troubling. The raw conviction statistics do not prove racism, of course, but it is also true that the ATF has some very troubling history in that area. History aside, the current objections are to sting operations where the ATF goes into a particular neighborhood and tries to talk individuals there into committing crimes:

"There’s something very wrong going on here,” University of Chicago law professor Alison Siegler told USA Today. “The government is creating these crimes and then choosing who it’s going to target.”

From the descriptions of the sting operations in the press, I agree. Recruiting local criminals to conduct an armed robbery from a drug stash seems to me like creating a crime rather than solving one. So does recruiting the mentally-handicapped.

2014-07-29 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS settles with atheist group to monitor content of sermons

I see a couple problems with this arrangement. The first is the obvious. Should the IRS be monitoring content of sermons at all? It implicates the rights of free speech, free assembly, and free exercise of religion. The IRS will obviously argue that this is simply a condition of the tax-free status, but I don't really think that excuse flies. Obviously the courts have allowed it, but that doesn't mean it's right.

In this specific case we're talking about a court settlement the IRS has made with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. That reminds of the EPA's practice of being sued by and then settling with friendly environmental groups in order to implement policies it might find politically difficult otherwise. I suspect that's what's happening here, and that enforcement will be quite thoroughly biased.

Given what we now know about the internal IRS culture, we absolutely should not allow that agency anywhere near regulation of speech or politics.

2014-07-29 12:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Boys Scouts Crossing Borders

If you want to cross the southern border of the US, you will be waved right through, whether you are a US citizen or not. If you are crossing the northern border, though, even a group of US citizen boy scouts can be detained for 4 hours.

2014-07-29 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Something that has always interested me about the missing Lerner emails...

I have wondered ever since the missing emails started being discussed... how exactly do they know that "about 24,000" emails are missing? How did the IRS determine that number in order to provide it to Congress? If the emails are missing, they cannot be counted, right?

I can see a couple possibilities.

It could be that the number is just an estimate. Perhaps the IRS looked at how many emails Lerner sent in a typical month from the time period they do have, and extrapolated over the missing time period? That would produce a number that's better than a wild guess, but wouldn't really tell us anything for sure.

It's possible they have more information than that. It's possible that the server logs from that time period have been preserved. It's been long enough since I admined an Exchange server that I don't remember what would be logged, exactly, but most email servers do maintain traffic logs with metadata information. If the IRS has email server logs which they used to estimate the number of emails Lerner sent and received, it would be worth asking them to produce the whole log in the hopes of obtaining a list of people she was corresponding with.

It's worth asking them how they came up with that number.

2014-07-29 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A brief summary of smidgens

Megan Kelly does a good job summing up some of the reverses the IRS has made. Remember, one of the indications of a cover-up is when the story keeps changing to accomodate new evidence. When you tell the truth, it tends to fit without needing to be changed.

2014-07-29 09:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The tip of a very large iceberg

A police chief in Wisconsin pleaded no contest Friday to a charge that he signed a local Tea Party leader up on gay dating, pornography and federal health care websites.

He's going to get off with a clean record if he stays out of trouble for two years, something that should be fairly easy for a chief of police. What concerns me here is not so much the harm to the victim, which seems minor, but the motivation (presumably political advantage) and the abuse of police databases to obtain the information necessary.

We trust individual police officers with all kinds of otherwise-secret information and authority. For a rank and file officer to abuse the privilege is common enough but always a matter for serious concern; to have a chief of police, who is supposed to set an example of ethical conduct for his subordinates, abuse personal information for political gain suggests that the problem is far larger than it appears on the surface.

This is not an isolated incident. It is part of a pattern.

2014-07-28 18:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Hillary goes on record supporting censorship

“With Klein, Halper and Kessler, we now have a Hat Trick of despicable actors concocting trashy nonsense,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “Their behavior should neither be allowed nor enabled, and legitimate media outlets who know with every fiber of their beings that it is completely made up should not get down in the gutter with them.”

We don't do censorship here, Hillary.

2014-07-28 17:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama advisor refuses to appear

Top White House political adviser David Simas refused again Friday to honor a congressional subpoena, prompting Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to vote to rebuke the administration.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 19-14 to reject the White House’s claim that Simas has absolute immunity from a subpoena from Congress.

The White House is claiming "absolute immunity".

2014-07-28 16:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

FEC trying to interfere with distribution of Rand Paul's book

“By failing to affirm this publisher’s constitutional right, statutory right, to disseminate a political book free from FEC conditions and regulations, we have effectively asserted regulatory jurisdiction over a book publisher,” warned Chairman Lee E. Goodman, one of three Republicans on the six-person FEC.

The Democrats are well past desperation if they are willing to try to interfere with publishing a book.

2014-07-28 15:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Representative says we have no right to know what our government is doing

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting congressional representative for the District of Columbia, angrily sputtered during a congressional hearing Friday that the White House should not be held up to scrutiny, saying that there was no right to know what it was doing behind closed doors.

The words of a woman in government who doesn't understand government. At least, not our form of government.

It's a good thing she doesn't actually get to vote, since she represents DC. But I suspect her attitude is not at all unusual.

2014-07-28 14:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The antis tell you this sort of thing never happens

As we’ve previously reported, an armed doctor prevented a possible mass shooting in a Pennsylvania hospital yesterday. The doctor engaged the shooter, hitting him multiple times in the chest and saving an unknown number of lives in the process.

He violated policy in order to be armed, and he was right to do so.

2014-07-28 13:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

MA police chiefs want control over gun ownership

Last month, a bill was introduced in Massachusetts that, among other gun control provisions, would give local police chiefs an enormous amount of power to determine who in their jurisdiction could own a long gun (rifle or shotgun).

This is inconsistent with the 2nd Amendment as a fundamental, individual right. I do not think that the proposed law would survive a Supreme Court challenge, but the legislation is still in play (currently in negotiations between the House and the Senate). We should also be aware of who has supported this provision to make sure their future political aspirations are appropriately limited.

To borrow a meme from Joe, don't ever let anyone tell you they don't want to take your guns.

2014-07-28 12:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Concealed carry holder captures 5 fleeing suspects

This man went above and beyond the call of duty, but the gun control advocates claim it never happens.

2014-07-28 11:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS backs off initial denial of providing legal advice to employees before testifying

John Koskinen had told lawmakers Wednesday that the IRS doesn’t talk to employees who are going to sit for interviews with congressional investigators.“ Any employee who wants assistance in preparing for transcribed interviews may receive assistance from the Office of Chief Counsel,” Koskinen wrote to Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), the top lawmakers on the House Oversight subcommittee he testified before on Wednesday.

This is yet another walkback from Koskinen's prior testimony. If IRS lawyers are helping prep employees before those employees testify to Congress, it raises ethical concerns over whether the advice being given is intended to protect the individual employee or the agency as a whole. The lawyers could also be a source of information for IRS cover-up efforts seeking to stay ahead of a Congressional investigation.

2014-07-28 10:44:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Victory in Palmer v DC!

In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and enjoins Defendants from enforcing the home limitations of D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) and enforcing D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.4 Furthermore, this injunction prohibits the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns in public for self-defense by otherwise qualified non-residents based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District.

Another tremendous win for Alan Gura on the 2nd Amendment. This one strikes down the last jurisdiction in the country that has no provision for law-abiding residents to carry arms in public. Gura is likewise responsible for striking down the Illinois law prohibiting concealed carry.

It must be noted that this is a DC District Court opinion. Appeals are both possible and likely.

If DC chooses not to appeal, they will need to write legislation allowing for carry by law-abiding citizens. If they take this path, it will be interesting to see what sort of legislation results. Although several states maintain may-issue licensing regimes for handgun carry, when Illinois was forced to implement a carry law they went for shall-issue. In my opinion, anything short of shall-issue is likely to have constitutional problems, though training requirements and the like might survive.

Given the timing, I suspect that the House amendment to block all DC gun laws had something to do with finally getting a decision in this case.

UPDATE: SAF press release says DC does plan to appeal.

2014-07-26 21:39:15.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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 Healthcare.gov 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]
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