Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won't answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening -- or why she didn't disclose it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor III. Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
There's an interesting dilemma here. Does Congress proceed to charge her with crimes, or offer immunity in return for testimony about involvement higher in the food chain?It looks like she won't get out of appearing
Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Conservative Enterprise Institute.
Combine this with the IRS targeting of tea party groups, and it looks like a systemic problem. At some point, it doesn't matter whether the White House ordered officials at various government agencies to break the law and target their enemies; the officials at those agencies know what to do without being told. They can help and hinder in ways both small and large. And over time, when it is consistent, it adds up.
The two "rogue low-level employees" turn out to be four employees who were just following their bosses' orders
while targeting almost 500 organizations. In at least one case, groups paid $400 to "fast track" the process without actually being fast-tracked
. There are credible charges that information from Romney's tax information was leaked during the campaign
. The head of the office in charge of this can of worms was Sarah Hall Ingram
, who seems to have received more than $100,000 in bonuses (in addition to $175,000 in salary) during the relevant period. Oh, and those bonuses would have had to be approved at the Presidential level, and she's now in charge of Obamacare.
UPDATE: A smoking email
UPDATE: Reason magazine has a good summary of the situation
UPDATE: Obama's counsel was told weeks ago, which contradicts his claim to have only learned about the scandal from the news
. House Democrats are demanding more resignations
UPDATE: No ordinary scandal
. It started at the top
Unlike her first article on the topic, this one actually provides useful information.
Ok, ok, it's a blog post by Jennifer Rubin, not the Washington Post editorial board. But there IS a pool on the resignation question
. So, go vote: it's 64% in favor of resignation as I write this.
"Today I'm going to take a big leap over all of the many specific challenges we're facing, some of which you'll hear about from the incomparable Cecile Richards, to suggest a more comprehensive solution, Schakowsky said. "Today I am asserting that humanity is at a crossroads on this small planet and that our survival as a species is dependent on women taking charge, taking the world in our own hands."
"I really do believe that we are at a tipping point from which there could be no turning back -- a turning point that the traditional male hierarchy of the world ignores at their own peril. A peril that puts us all in the unacceptable danger -- actually of extinction, so let us begin the era of the woman."
I don't intend to be taken charge of by politicians of either party -- or gender. Moreover, I am offended by the blame that Schakowsky places upon my gender for what she claims is the end of the world.
A question for supporters of Barack Obama
1) Fast and Furious
-- smuggled thousands of firearms to Mexican drug
cartels, resulting in the deaths of several American law enforcement
officers and hundreds of Mexican citizens. The President blocked
release of evidence to Congressional investigators using executive
privilege, yet claims to have known nothing about the operation.
Americans died, and the President lied.
-- a US consulate was overrun after requests for increased
security were denied. No military aid was provided during the attack
and operatives willing and able to go to the aid of those under attack
were told to stand down. Within days of the attack, a coverup was
, and a video on youtube which no one had seen before it was
pointed out by the administration was blamed for provoking the attack.
Talking points were heavily edited by the State Department and the White
House to remove references to terrorism and Al-Qaeda. The person
behind the YouTube video was publically arrested, and ads apologizing
for his video were broadcast in Pakistan with taxpayer money. The
filmmaker is still in jail. Americans died, and the President lied.
3) Politically-motivated IRS audits of "tea party" organizations
going all the way back to 2010, an obviously politically motivated witch
hunt, beginning shortly after the President joked about using the IRS
to go after his political enemies
. IRS officials concealed evidence from Congress
and the timing of this activity suggests it may have affected the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election. A "chilling effect" has already been demonstrated
, and reporters asking tough questions of the President have been targeted
. Abusing the IRS to go after political opponents was one
of the articles of impeachment against Nixon
(Article 2: Abuse of Power):
(1) He has, acting personally and through his subordinated and agents, endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.
In addition to politically motivated audits of groups using Tea Party related names, the IRS has leaked private tax information to political allies
, which published that information.Israel-related groups have also been subjected to additional scrutiny
. Because it isn't like persecuting Jews crosses a bright moral line or anything.
Of course, we should keep in mind that it might not be Obama behind this activity. It might be Senate Democrats
4) Sebelius has been caught soliciting outside funds to implement
Obamacare -- Doesn't seem like a big deal until you realize that, a)
This is the same basic offense as was alleged in Iran-Contra, and b) it
is an offense against the separation of powers in the Constitution, with
the historical roots of this conflict going all the way back to the
English kings seeking to work around the power of Parliament
5) The Justice Department wiretapped whole offices of journalists for two months
, in violation of internal protocols, and still has not said what they were seeking.
Still think he's a good president?
... blame the IRS asking for details information on membership in their organizations, including family members, with the intent to make that information public
Megan McArdle on the IRS tea party audit scandal:
Lerner, who heads the relevant IRS unit, says it was "initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati," so it's not like this was administration policy.
Megan, Megan, Megan... you're just going to take her word for it
I recall reading reports about this during the election, along with vigorous denials that there was any political motive to the additional scrutiny. This is confirmation
that there was, in fact, partisan political motivations. And yes, mistakes were made
. There should certainly be an investigation, but it doesn't make any sense to demand the Obama administration investigate itself
. This is a job for a House committee that can publish the results, or a special prosecutor who can put people in jail, or both.
Frankly, the way that Republican leaders in the House and the Senate have soft-pedaled everything from Benghazi to Fast and Furious, I'm starting to wonder if the Obama administration has pictures of them in bed with a dead boy on one side and a live donkey on the other.Hat Tip to Dan Riehl
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that he was worried that last week's bombing at the Boston Marathon would make it tougher to pass the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill.
And so it should, since both alleged bombers were immigrants. Not all immigrants are bombers, but not all are here to "do the jobs Americans won't do" either. Until we control the border, we won't have any idea who is coming into our country.
This doesn't look particularly voluntary to me.
Searching for a terrorist suspect is all well and good. I have no quarrel with the motivations for this search. The methods, however, are those of a police state.
Hat tip to Bitter.
Dad Furious After Finding This Crayon-Written Paper in Florida 4th-Grader's Backpack: "I Am Willing to Give Up Some of My Constitutional Rights to Be Safer"
Never mind Dad, I'm mad too.This crosses the line from educating children about
the Constitution to indoctrinating children to reject
Connecting the dots in an uncomfortable picture
Over at A Keyboard and a .45
, there's a new study coming out of West Point that describes supporters of "civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government" as terrorists. In an uncomfortable coincidence, the CIA has been excluded from the rules in the President's drone strike playbook when operating over Pakistan. It seems the CIA has a habit of approving strikes in Pakistan based on "patterns of suspicious behavior", without a clear idea of who the targets are. And, of course, when they do know who the targets are, they have not been adverse to strikes against US citizens who they have determined, without trial, to be terrorists.
That adds up to an uncomfortable lack of due process. While Obama would have to be insane to think he could get away with a drone strike on American soil, the slope is slippery.
Terrorists are those who use violence against a civilian population to achieve political ends. This latest study -- far from the first to draw such attention -- seems to define terrorists as the President's political opponents.
A rare piece of legislation filed by a democrat that I can support wholeheartedly, though I do think that naming laws after individual people is silly. This law is intended to prevent prosecutors from charging you with a felony for violating a website's terms of service
; instead, it should be treated as a violation of contract law, a civil matter without criminal penalties.
Aaron was faced with a choice between 35 years in jail and spending the remainder of his life as a felon, or pleading guilty to the same felony and spending 6 months in jail. His "crime" was to break into a network closet to download material he had legal access to, and which the owner later released for free. Neither sentence would be justice, and using the plea bargain process to force a guilty plea or risk 35 years in jail is abuse as well.
There are two fronts to this attack right now: video games are being attacked as if labeling games will stop mass murders
, and Obama is using a proposed new SEC regulation to force corporations to disclose the political groups they provide financial support for
I wish the NRA hadn't given them cover for the effort to mandate and enforce video game labels. I don't object to voluntarily labeling, but I do object to government mandated enforcement. Video games are not to blame for crime.
The required corporate disclosure is also troubling, as Congress has considered and rejected such laws repeatedly, and the Supreme Court has rejected the idea of campaign finance limitations being placed upon corporations (Citizens United) as being violations of the First Amendment. The First Amendment is generally considered to protect anonymous speech.
Reason has an excellent (but lengthy) article on the return of the militia scare
Where Great Britain Used To Be
It seems that even granting police dramatic stop-and-search powers
doesn't prevent being mugged from being a part of everyday life
. However, at least the stop-and-search powers are being abused in a racially balanced manner!
Can a 10 year old spot a terrorist?
Probably not, even after watching this training video
... especially as the training video covers "extremist views" rather than terrorism. No doubt the kids will be turning in anyone who advocates that they defend themselves from the playground bully.
A while back...
... I wrote up a post on statistics and the assault weapons ban
. Someone else with a bit of an education has applied statistical reasoning to the list of car dealerships being shut down
. The theory is that the Obama administration is shutting down dealerships (in connection with the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies and bailouts) that are political opponents (ie, Republicans or who contribute to Republicans). It turns out that there's nothing to most of the conspiracy theories...
... but Clinton donors tend not to get shut down, at a p value of .125. That's a 12.5% chance that the correlation with Clinton donors was attributable to chance, compared to p values of about 50% with other variables. As the person who did the research points out, a 5% chance is the "gold standard" for this sort of work, but 10% is sometimes used, and 12.5% is unusual in the context of the others. It's not proof, but it's food for thought.
I should mention also it's not clear what other variables were being measured. Looking at the geographic data, that could perhaps explain the correlation -- a lot of political attention from Clinton during the primary campaign plus a decision making criteria emphasizing "one dealer per region". There's nothing solid here -- yet. But these initial results do suggest that there is something going on that should be explained, even if that explanation is innocuous.
UPDATE: Lott doesn't think there's anything to this claim
as it applies to Republicans, but doesn't say anything about the possible Clinton donor angle.
Earlier, I wrote about a case where a student's use of the command line prompt was judged to be "evidence of computer expertise" and that evidence was used as probable cause to search and seize his computer equipment and terminate his network access. The theory was that he might have sent a (relatively harmless, not threatening) hoax email that Boston College was investigating.
The EFF got behind the student and it looks like the correct outcome has resulted
Nonetheless, one conclusion is inescapable. The Internet used to be a place where minimal regulation was the order of the day; people cooperated willingly on core protocols and dealt with problems by adapting the technology rather than relying on the heavy hand of government regulation. For a brief time, the Internet was the frontier: new, exciting, unregulated.
That age is over.
The Texas Libertarian Party is opposing State Senate Bill 298, which would impose sobriety checkpoints. Their research references the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, which includes this quote:
to deter drinking and driving, sobriety checkpoints are related more directly
to educating the public and encouraging designated drivers, rather than actually
apprehending impaired drivers. Typically, sobriety checkpoints do not yield
a large volume of DUI arrests. Instead, they offer authorities an educational
tool. Education and awareness serve as a significant part of deterrence. Frequent
use of checkpoints and aggressive media coverage can create a convincing threat
in people's minds that officers will apprehend impaired drivers -- a key to general deterrence.
You didn't actually think that sobriety checkpoints were about catching drunk drivers, did you? Nope. Yet another instance of security theater. Not to mention harassing honest citizens and eroding the fourth amendment.
Another revealing quote:
If an agency's goal is to reduce the number of impaired
drivers over time, it should use both sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols,
as well as any other available methods. The bottom line is to do something "do
everything" to remove impaired drivers from America's highways.
The bottom line is, apparently, who cares if it works? Who cares about the constitutional rights of drivers? Who cares about the inconvenience to honest citizens? Evidently, not the FBI, and not local police forces either. The article quotes Mothers Against Drunk Driving 4 times, and National Commission Against Drunk Driving 3 times -- combined, more footnotes to special interest groups than to actual police or law enforcement sources.
At Boston College, a Linux user had all of his computer equipment confiscated by the campus police. They were seeking to determine whether he had sent an email "outing" another student as being gay to a campus mailing list. Never mind that doing so is not a crime. What's more worrisome is what was listed on the search warrant as supporting elements for probable cause
"[The student] is a computer science major who is considered a master of the trade amongst his peers... it is not uncommon for [the student] to appear with unknown laptop computers which he says are given to him by Boston College for field testing or he is "fixing" for other students. [The student] uses two different operating systems to hide his illegal activities. One is the regular B. C. operating system [presumably windows] and the other is a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on."
So using Linux, or even DOS (which would equally fit that sparse description), is now grounds for probable cause?
It's not just a report...
... it's an FBI investigation
, too. That started as far back as December. That's before Obama took office, but after the election, so no doubt the career civil "servants" were trying to adjust their political position with reports like this. There's a particularly good quote:
"This is an assessment of things just to be wary of, not to infringe on
constitutional rights, certainly not to malign our veterans," [Napolitano] said
on NBC's Today Show.
Be wary of people who believe in federalism and small government? Be wary of people who just finished risking their lives for our nation?
For those of you wondering...
... whether the Homeland Security report on "right-wing extremists" is worth getting worked up about
, here's one more data point: Janet Napolitano, head of the agency that released the report, has been forced to apologize to veterans and admitted that the department disregarded warnings from their internal civil liberties watchdogs
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