National license plate database delayed, pending rename

Anyone remember Total Information Awareness?

But I wouldn't dwell on the ICE's internal failures for too long. The most plausible explanation is that someone up top at the DHS or ICE suddenly realized that publicly calling for bids on a nationwide surveillance system while nationwide surveillance systems are being hotly debated was probably a horrible idea.

This may have been put on the back burner by the agency but it's not simply going to go away. It will return, either via a super-secret bidding system that turns the job over to favored government contractors, or further down the road, when the heat surrounding surveillance of US citizens dies down.

This sort of bullshit never dies, it just goes back into hiding and comes back with another name or more secrecy.

Thu Feb 27 15:32:51 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Government can not be trusted with this information

We have a 4th Amendment warrant requirement for a reason:
As the Washington Post reports, abuse is already happening. In Washington, DC, one patrolman kept track of license plates outside a gay bar, then tried to extort the car owners. In Edmonton, Canada, the abuse was higher-level: "Edmonton officials admitted in 2005 that authorities had improperly used police computer systems to gather information on a Canadian newspaper columnist and the former head of the city's police commission, both of whom had been critics of the police department. The two became targets of a failed drunk-driving sting targeting them, according to an official review of the operation."

If the government has to assign a surveillance team to watch you, it costs enough money and time that the police have an incentive to only watch people they really suspect of criminal behavior. If they can watch everyone simply by buying some computers, that adds up to a serious problem.

Thu Feb 27 14:31:32 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Public comment period on proposed IRS oppression ends Thursday

Power Line explains why the IRS rules change is a bad idea, and notes that the comment window closes this week.

The period for public comment on the IRS’s proposed regulation will close this week. Not to worry, though. The number of comments already filed is approximately 70,000. I’m told that only a proposed regulation of the internet has ever received more public comment.

We urge readers to call and write to Congress — both House and Senate — and demand action to stop the IRS regulation. The number for the U.S. Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121. The good folks who work the switchboard will put you right through.

Congress has various pieces of legislation that you can call to support, too, but that doesn't have a deadline and Obama has already threatened to veto any legislation on this topic. The deadline is on comments to the IRS rule, and it is today. If you want to leave a comment, you have until the end of the day today.

Thu Feb 27 12:45:25 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]


If they are willing to stonewall Congress, of course they are willing to stonewall peons:

The group Cause of Action requested four sets of communications between the IRS and administration officials to ensure that political bias did not factor into the design of the new rules. But the IRS delayed the release of the documents until after the period to make public comments on the new rules closes Thursday, according to an amendment to Cause of Action’s existing lawsuit against the IRS.

The strategy of the Obama administration appears to be to do whatever they want, and then delay any investigations by whatever means necessary until it no longer matters. Unfortunately, it seems to be working.

Thu Feb 27 11:46:31 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Supreme Court denies cert on three gun rights cases

The SCOTUSBlog has details. Two of them are related to age limits for the 18-21 groups, one case for purchases and another for carry licenses. The third is a standing case related to interstate gun purchases.

Losing cert here isn't necessarily a big deal. The court can always take up a later case on the same topic. My hunch would be that the pro-gun and anti-gun factions are both nervous as to which way the swing vote on the court will go in borderline cases, and would rather not take cases that might do damage in either direction. It's also difficult to argue for gun rights beginning at age 18 when alcohol rights do not begin until age 21 -- sure, there are arguments that can be made and make a lot of sense, but they are the sort of technical and sophisticated arguments that often fail when opposed by an argument that is easy to make, simple to understand, and still completely wrong.

Thu Feb 27 01:20:20 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

30 children killed in school shooting... in Nigeria

and CNN ignores the event because it doesn't support a gun control narrative -- since many of the victims died by fire, and the attack was conducted by an Islamic terror group. UPDATE: 59 people.

Thu Feb 27 00:27:54 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Victims of Gun Control

We get to hear all the time about the people the media claims are victims of gun violence -- as if gun violence was somehow worse than knife violence, fire violence, hands and feet violence -- but rarely do we get to hear about the victims of gun control.

Nikki Goesler lost her husband to gun control, and she has a powerful story:

What gun control advocates have to say to people like her:
"For women especially, it’s more likely to be used against them and taken away from them,” asserted Hudak. “They are more easily overpowered… and I don’t want people to have a false sense of safety and security."

Guns don't give people a false sense of security. They give people a real sense of security, especially women who usually lack the muscle mass and aggressiveness required to win a fight with a male criminal -- a male criminal who, by the way, might well be armed with a gun.

Wed Feb 26 23:14:50 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Registration leads to confiscation

Connecticut going straight to confiscation for those who missed registration deadline:
This is why you never register firearms. By registering you admit that you are in possession of a firearm that the state is interested in. If the state is interested in a type of firearm you can all but guarantee that it will eventually become interested in confiscating that type of firearm. But confiscation doesn’t always have to come in the form of a piece of legislation. Police officers charged with handling registration forms can merely claim that the form was not properly filled out and therefore the weapon listed on said form is forfeit, which appears to be what is happening in Connecticut.

More importantly, they aren't talking about just picking up the ones they happen to find. This is confiscation firearms from people who tried to register them after the official registration deadline. No other crimes involved, just trying to follow the law a few days or weeks late. And they have to prove they disposed of the weapon, mind you...

Wed Feb 26 23:09:20 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

What libertarians understand about the law

People only obey it if they want to:

Laws rely, almost entirely, on voluntary compliance, with enforcement efforts sufficient for a tiny, noncompliant minority. If a large number of people to whom a law applies find the law repugnant -- and a majority of a group, consisting of scores of thousands of people, constitutes a large number -- than the law is unenforceable, no matter how many politicians and newspaper editorial writers think it's a swell idea. Governments that try enforcement, anyway, will be stuck in a pattern of escalating brutality and declining legitimacy.

Gun registration, let alone confiscation has, always and everywhere, fallen into that "unenforceable" category. We saw the same phenomenon with Prohibition, and we've also seen it with drugs.

... and when the people tell the government to fuck off with a particular law, you have pretty much two choices: the government can try to kill them, or the government can back off.

Laws against murder are effective because murder is pretty much universally recognized as wrong, and those people who don't recognize that are generally the sort of people who society is better off without.

Wed Feb 26 10:10:59 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Health and Human Services wants to monitor Twitter

They want access to 5 years of historical data, location information, and complex boolean searches.

Now, most information on Twitter is public, and there's no indication the agency is seeking special access to non-public data -- though it's certainly possible, if Twitter itself provided the information. But it is yet another case of a government agency conducting mass surveillance of the populace on the thinnest of pretexts. Once you have your application, what is to stop you from searching for... say... individuals talking about guns on twitter? And correlating that search with the user's location, and scheduling a police visit if the gun they mentioned is banned in their location?

On the one hand, the solution is obvious: Don't talk about doing illegal things on twitter. On the other hand, though, it produces exactly the same chilling effect on legal conversations about uncomfortable topics, especially when you consider that Twitter allows you to retroactively protect your feed if you change your mind about what you said, but a government application that already has your historical twitter data will not respect a subsequent deletion.

There are lots of ways to solve this problem with technology. (How about a simple, easy to use website for doctors to report unusual outbreaks, for example? Oh, wait, Obamacare...) Demanding that the entire internet haystack be delivered to the government so they can look for a needle that might not even exist is colossally stupid in addition to violating our expectation of privacy from government.

Wed Feb 26 02:13:31 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lois Lerner to be called to testify

The House Oversight Committee will call Lerner back to testify, having determined that her statement before the committee prior to pleading her 5th Amendment right effectively waived that right.

While I think it is vital to bring Lerner back to get her testimony in this matter, I also think the legal argument for bringing her back is somewhat questionable. The 5th Amendment should not bow to technicalities and brief statements. That said, if she testifies truthfully and is not prosecuted, it's a moot point.

The important thing is to get her truthful testimony, and find out how high in the chain of command this went.

Wed Feb 26 02:05:47 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Piers Morgan to leave CNN show

CNN has confirmed it. Note that Piers has been questioned by investigators recently about phone hacking scandals in Britain, so CNN is not necessarily being pro-gun about this. They are just canceling a poorly performing show hosted by someone under police investigation.
CNN President Jeff Zucker has decided to bring an end to Piers Morgan's low-rated primetime show, network sources told POLITICO on Sunday. "Piers Morgan Live" could end as early as next month, though Morgan may stay with the network in another role.

Morgan, a former British tabloid editor, replaced Larry King in the 9 p.m. hour three years ago, prior to Zucker's tenure as president. His show earned consistently low ratings, registering as few as 50,000 viewers in the 25-to-54 year-old demographic earlier this week.

I wonder how many of those 50,000 viewers were gun rights people recording the show to criticize it?

Wed Feb 26 01:40:23 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Political targeting and online activism

Intelligence agencies are not only surveilling everyone, they have a wide variety of tactics and training in deploying false information to disrupt the lives of their targets.

No matter your views on Anonymous, "hacktivists" or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want -- who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes -- with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption.

The problem here is not that those tactics and training exist; the problem is that the target list for such activities is inherently political and focused inward -- on a nation's own citizens and businessmen, engaging in legal political or journalistic activity -- rather than limited to a target list composed of foreign intelligence agents. Even then, I am inherently skeptical about attempting to discredit people with false information. If our opponents are evil, we can discredit them with true information even more effectively.

Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the use of what GCHQ itself calls "false flag operations" and emails to people's families and friends. Who would possibly trust a government to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal framework?

I am skeptical about these tactics being applied even to foreign dictators we seek to depose, simply because if they are worthy of being deposed the truth should be weapon enough. I completely reject such tactics as applied to ordinary citizens.

This is the path to Enemies Foreign And Domestic.

Wed Feb 26 00:07:40 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Still not getting it...

James Taranto on the Peruta decision:

Peruta would make a good test case, because it would allow the justices to establish that right without getting into the weeds of what restrictions on it would be reasonable. The plaintiffs do not challenge the requirements of a training course and "good moral character." The former is unobjectionable and is required by many states with permissive "shall issue" carry policies. The latter could be applied in questionable ways--would California deny a carry permit to Bill Clinton?--but it doesn't seem unreasonable on its face.

If the 2nd Amendment is a fundamental right, there are only two ways to interpret a clause requiring good moral character to exercise it. Such a clause either restricts only those convicted of a serious violent crime with due process of law, or is an unConstitutional restriction upon the right to keep and bear arms.

Similar arguments apply to laws requiring a training course. While seeking training in the law of self-defense before carrying a firearm is a wise course of action, it can no more pass Constitutional muster than a training course in safe journalism. Such requirements remain law in part because they have yet to be seriously abused, but mostly because we haven't gotten to them yet.

Mon Feb 24 10:58:26 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Eye of Sauron

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

Mon Feb 24 10:56:17 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Never waste a crisis?

This is apparently the little-known cousin of that famous saying:

Documents from an Ohio National Guard (ONG) training drill conducted last January reveal the details of a mock disaster where Second Amendment supporters with "anti-government" opinions were portrayed as domestic terrorists.

The ONG 52nd Civil Support Team training scenario involved a plot from local school district employees to use biological weapons in order to advance their beliefs about "protecting Gun Rights and Second Amendment rights."

Never waste a chance to put your political opponents as the OPFOR in a training exercise, especially not in a political swing state like Ohio. Because gun rights advocates are so well known for committing terrorist attacks.

Thu Feb 20 10:03:08 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

IRS partners with progressive, Soros-funded organization to process tax-exempt data

I see some serious problems with this.

There, in the "How to File" box, are instructions to use "this link" to file. The IRS explains, "When you access the system, you will leave the IRS site and file the e-Postcard with the IRS through our trusted partner, Urban Institute. The form must be completed and filed electronically. There is no paper form."

First, even if it's somehow legal to process taxpayer information through a third-party organization this way, it shouldn't be. It's one thing for private organizations to offer voluntary help with tax filing. It's another thing for the IRS to require taxpayers to use a third-party organization's services to process the submitted information.

Second, legality aside, can we trust the Urban Institute not to make use of the data it is gathering in collaboration with the IRS for its own partisan purposes?

The supposedly "nonpartisan" organization's employees have a record of donating nearly 100 percent of their political contributions to Democrats, and officially, the Urban Institute advocates for totally socialized medicine, carbon taxes and amnesty for illegal aliens.

And UI's president, Sarah Rosen Wartell, is the co-founder of the Center for American Progress, widely considered ground zero for the development of many of the Obama administration's progressive policies.

Well, it's clear they have partisan purposes, and Democratic organizations like Battleground Texas don't exactly have a good track record on respecting voter's privacy rights.

Evidently not.

Thu Feb 20 09:39:03 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Democrats respect your right to privacy?

Only when privacy is code for abortion, it seems:

Battleground Texas Field Organizer Jennifer Longoria was caught on camera multiple times making statements such as, "So every time we register someone to vote we keep their name and number." Doing so however, is illegal. According to the Secretary of State, it is unlawful to transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a telephone number furnished on a voter registration application.

Even scarier, Longoria is training others to become Deputy Registrars and register Texans to vote. No doubt, using the same illegal methods.

Doing that is illegal, but it also demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the privacy of voters.

Thu Feb 20 09:32:23 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]


"... Semi-automatic weapons are not just about gun control, they're about national security," Jackson said. "You know these weapons can shoot down airplanes, they can blow up railroads. This is really a whole national security issue."

Sure, they can shoot down airplanes and blow up railroads. Model railroads and toy airplanes -- if the toy airplanes are on the ground. It would be challenging to hit a toy airplane in the air.

While Jackson believes the destructive force of "assault weapons" are too dangerous, he does agree Americans have a right to have a gun in their home or for the purposes of hunting.

Militia rifles are less powerful than a typical hunting rifle.

"You want a gun for your house, you got it, a gun with which to hunt, you got it. But these semi-automatic, military-style assault weapons -- they shot at the White House two years ago, so none of us are safe," Jackson said.

Assault weapons are already banned in the District of Columbia, and in fact, have been for decades. It doesn't seem to stop people from shooting at the White House with them.

Hat tip to Alphecca for the story.

Thu Feb 20 09:07:25 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Registration leads to confiscation

Connecticut passed a law banning new sales of "assault weapons" and requiring that people who already owned them register their weapons. Residents largely failed to do so:

It's estimated that perhaps scores of thousands of Connecticut residents failed to register their military-style assault weapons with state police by Dec. 31... Guns defined in state law as assault weapons can no longer be bought or sold in Connecticut. Such guns already held can be legally possessed if registered. But owning an unregistered assault weapon is a Class D felony. Felonies cannot go unenforced.

"Scores of thousands" is probably a low estimate. Other articles have estimated 350,000, which is also probably low. The Connecticut definition of assault weapon is a "one-feature" ban that includes hundreds of individually named models, plus anything with a pistol grip or a threaded barrel. The most common "assault weapons" are the AR-15 and the AK-47, and both have been available for about 50 years. There are lots of them around.

But the bottom line is that the state must try to enforce the law. Authorities should use the background check database as a way to find assault weapon purchasers who might not have registered those guns in compliance with the new law.

So the author is perfectly fine with taking the background check system -- which is explicitly prohibited from being used as a registration system by federal law -- and sending police to search the homes of everyone who has bought any firearm in Connecticut for the past 50 years in hopes of finding an "assault weapon". And if they do find one...

A Class D felony calls for a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Even much lesser penalties or probation would mar a heretofore clean record and could adversely affect, say, the ability to have a pistol permit.

... they will throw the owner in jail for five years and ruin their ability to hold gainful employment, vote, or own any firearms at all for the rest of their life. Not because the owner did anything wrong. Not because they hurt anyone. Not because they threatened to hurt anyone. Solely because they failed to file the proper form with a faceless government employee.

That's not American. It is about as far from American as it is possible to get.

I am reminded of an old saying from John Harinton: "Treason doth never prosper, what's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it Treason."

Well, I will call it treason. And if the elected officials in Connecticut attempt to follow through with this suggestion, we must ensure that it doth not prosper.

Wed Feb 19 08:54:19 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Putting school shootings in perspective

John Lott does some analysis of the school shooting hysteria:

Also, some perspective is needed. Contrary to what many people believe, high school shootings have actually been falling over the last two decades. To illustrate this let's compare the five school years 1992-93 to 1996-97 with the five school years from 2008-09 to 2012-13. During the first period, the number of non-gang, non-suicide shooting deaths averaged 25 a year. During the recent five-year period, it averaged less than half that, 10 per year -- and that figure does include the horrific Newtown massacre.

To put these numbers in perspective, there are about 50 million young people between the ages of 6 and 17. Another 21 million people are enrolled in colleges.

Yes, despite the huge amount of attention paid to media orgies of death like Newtown, school shootings are getting rarer.

Tue Feb 18 12:02:21 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A fundamental problem with automated enforcement

This red-light camera case from St Louis, Missouri seems promising:

The key element found to be in violation of state law is the fact that ATS' cameras (like all traffic enforcement cameras) presume the registered owner of the vehicle is the driver. This common aspect becomes even more problematic when the ticketed person has very limited avenues for recourse, which also unfortunately tends to be the case with automated enforcement. (This is also one of several problems with the recently introduced legislation that would allow Oklahoma police officers to issue traffic citations without leaving their vehicles.)

Very similar arguments apply against the NSA's automated surveillance, the TSA's no-fly list, and state license plate readers on police vehicles. The presumption that the registered owner is driving is not proof. The same applies to email addresses and IP addresses.

If you are an intelligence agency, you don't care whether your information would stand up in a court of law as proof. You don't care because you aren't putting your own citizens in jail over that information, you're spying on foreign governments (who are certainly capable of protecting themselves when necessary) or terrorists (who are usually fugitives from their own governments).

But when you are a hybrid agency, it gets more complicated. When, for example, you are the NSA, spying on its own citizens because those are the easiest to reach, and passing tips to local law enforcement which they then bring to court under false pretenses... those automated systems and the assumptions they make start to look more and more questionable.

Tue Feb 18 08:37:50 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Are American voters dumb enough...

... to re-elect the same Democrats who created the Obamacare debacle to fix the Obamacare debacle? It looks like we are about to find out. Also on the menu: attack ads claiming Republicans want to cut Medicare (even though Obamacare cut $716 billion from Medicare), attack ads accusing Republicans of siding with insurance companies (even though insurance companies were heavily involved in crafting Obamacare... with Democrats)...

Tue Feb 18 08:36:53 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Employers required to attest to IRS under penalty of perjury

Fox news reports:

Further, Treasury officials said Monday that businesses will be told to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate. Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury.

The whole point is this is to prevent employers from telling employees that they are being laid off due to Obamacare. Not to prevent the layoffs, mind you. Just to prevent employers from telling the truth about why employees are being laid off.

It's an outrageous violation of the First Amendment, and it has the practical effect of denying Obama's illegal "waivers" to anyone who criticizes the law -- and losing those waivers carries a substantial financial penalty.

Hat tip to Patterico for the story.

Mon Feb 17 15:58:10 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

They gave Gore the Peace Prize over Irena Sendler?

I didn't know this.

Now that I do, I am horrified. I knew Gore didn't deserve a peace prize, but I didn't realize exactly how stark the difference between him and the other nominees was.

Mon Feb 17 08:41:23 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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