If this had happened with a republican president that had an enemies list…

As usual a complicit media just lets the criminals running our government tell blatant lies and show no curiosity or desire to get to the truth. At this point it is a given that the IRS was ordered to target conservatives by the WH – and only fucking liars will pretend otherwise – but the criminals have been beyond efficient at hiding the level of criminal activity the Obama administration has gotten away with because of media treatment of this abuse of power:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Investigators are blaming mistakes by IRS employees — not a criminal conspiracy — for the loss of thousands of emails related to the tax agency’s tea party scandal.

IRS workers erased 422 computer backup tapes that “most likely” contained as many as 24,000 emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, who has emerged as a central figure in congressional investigations, according to IRS’s inspector general.

The workers erased the tapes a month after IRS officials discovered that an untold number of Lerner’s emails were lost. The IG says the workers were unaware of a year-old directive not to destroy email backup tapes.

J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Oversight Committee about his investigation into the emails. The Associated Press obtained a copy of his prepared testimony.

George says his investigation “did not uncover evidence that the erasure was done in furtherance of an effort to destroy evidence or conceal information from Congress and/or law enforcement.”

No, they are not just reporting news and not speculating here. They are covering for these crooks. We all know that the level of incompetence of the politically motivated bureaucratic monster that has been dragging this country into the abyss for a few decades now has reached absolutely new levels of low during this criminal administration, but not even I – someone that expects nothing but mendacity and stupidity from these people – can believe this level of stupid and ineptness is responsible for the bold faced claims nobody would otherwise accept. As the title of post asks: do you think that anyone, especially in the media, would have accepted this ridiculous answer to what was obviously another attempt at a coverup?

Why no questions and answers about who conducted the investigation and what evidence they used to present this ludicrous argument? And how likely would one be to accept this conclusion when you find out it was neither an independent or honest investigation, but some other insiders beholden to the crooks in charge that couldn’t find anything. Shit, I bet if the evidence was dropped in their lap they would manage to misplace it or lose it. Because that’s how they have been doing things.

Maybe we should ask the Chinese what their hack produced about the various Obama administration criminal activities. Then again, with Obama and the people following him being this corrupt, destructive, and profitable to China, they might just feel compelled to lie to keep him in charge for as long as it takes them to take over the world.

Still, the revelation that computer tapes were erased after officials knew about the lost emails is likely to fuel conspiracy theories among conservatives who say the IRS has obstructed investigations into the scandal.

Nixon was unavailable for comment, and George Bush was caught laughing because so many of the people that called him stupid are now bending over and grabbing their ankles trying to provide cover for the stupid criminals now in charge. Can you imagine the media making this sort of excuse for a republican president if the IRS, after attacking his political enemies and being caught & investigated, decided to erase evidence? I normally would go into my rant about how I told you Obama would make mediocre Boosh look like a fucking awesome president, and how stupid and destructive leftists and what they believe and do are, but at this point, after all this damage and destruction, there is not even joy in that.

More Gun Grabber Baloney

The anti-Second-Amendment crowd has been positively giddy over a new study that claims Connecticut’s gun registration law cut gun violence an amazing 40%.

I find this claim extremely suspect.

You can read some good critiques from Reason, Hot Air and especially John Lott. Lott is an object of hate from many gun grabbers because of his “more guns, less crime” theory. Some of the criticism is deserved: he can’t reproduce his original results because, he claims, his hard drive crashed. But what Lott is good at is poking holes in the claims of marginal studies of single states that make grand conclusions.

In this case, the authors’ result is that Connecticut saw a sharper reduction in gun violence than Rhode Island did over a very specific ten year frame. That’s it. So give up those NRA memberships guys, the debate is over.

Of course …

Of course, if you look at the data before that law was passed, Connecticut’s rate of gun violence was already falling. And if you look at the data after their ten year window, Connecticut’s rate comes back up. And if you compare them to literally any state other than Rhode Island, the supposed reduction in violence disappears. And if you look at other states that have passed similar gun control laws, you don’t see a reduction in gun murders.

To be clear: there’s no fraud here. Their claim is true. But it’s cherry-picked. You could do a hundred other studies looking at the effects of gun laws and not come to this conclusion. You could do this study with only slightly different parameters and not reach their conclusion.

And it’s not the first time for these guys. Recently, they claimed that violence in Missouri went up because of a repeal of a gun control law. That claim was also cherry-picked. And now comes information that the claim that mass shootings were going up was also bogus. For some time, Mother Jones had been ground zero for this nonsense, including a collection of mischaracterized, cherry-picked data that proved nothing.

But remember, folks. It’s conservatives who are the enemies of science. It’s we who ignore empirical data and substitute our feelings in. Not the Left, oh no. Especially not those who are funded by gun-grabber Michael Bloomberg.

The Best of Lee: Kelo Anniversary

Ten years ago today, the Supreme Court issued out of the worst ruling in their history: Kelo v. City of New London, in which justices Kennedy, Souter, Ginsberg, Breyer and Stevens decided that it was “public use” for a government to force a citizen to sell his property to a rich developer. Because taxes.

Here’s some choice quotes from the wonderful dissents of Clarence Thomas and Sandra Day O’Connor. Thomas first:

This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a “public use.”

I cannot agree. If such “economic development” takings are for a “public use,” any taking is, and the Court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution, as Justice O’Connor powerfully argues in dissent.

The consequences of today’s decision are not difficult to predict, and promise to be harmful. So-called “urban renewal” programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted by uprooting them from their homes. Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful.

O’Connor:

Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded–i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public–in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings “for public use” is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property–and thereby effectively to delete the words “for public use” from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result.

The irony is that the deal with Pfizer fell through and Kelo’s former home is still an empty lot.

Lee’s comment was short and brutal:

Personally, I would love to see one of the homes of these justices earmarked for demolition because some douchebag on a city council somewhere has decided that the revenue from a new Wal-Mart Supercenter is more important to the community than the property tax being paid on the land that has been in your family for six generations. Simply disgusting. When the highest court in the land wipes its ass on a concept as fundamental to human liberty and dignity as the right of property there is something seriously wrong with our government.

The government’s assault on property rights has only gotten worse. Yesterday, SCOTUS pushed back a little. But it will not really begin until the Court repudiates Kelo.

Raisins in the Sun

This morning saw the Supreme Court hand down four more decisions. All were important to some degree but the most significant was one I blogged about earlier: Horne v. Department of Agriculture. The Court decided, correctly, that the government taking part of someone’s raisin crop to ostensibly raise the price of raisins was indeed a “taking” under the Constitution and they are entitled to compensation.

Somin:

The Court ruled in favor of the property owners by an 8-1 margin on the most significant issue at stake: whether the government’s appropriation of the raisins is a taking. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

This is an extremely important result, because it rejects the government’s dangerous argument that the Takings Clause offers less protection for personal property than for real property (the legal term for property in land), which had been embraced by the Ninth Circuit lower court decision. For reasons elaborated in detail in an amicus brief I joined along with other constitutional law and property scholars, the government’s position on this issue was deeply at odds with the history and original meaning of the Takings Clause. Indeed, as the Court notes, the Clause was adopted in part as a reaction to abusive British confiscation of personal property during the colonial era and the Revolutionary War.

The government argued that it wasn’t really a taking because if they later sold the raisins, the Hornes would get some of the proceeds. This was clearly nonsense. If I steal your car and later give you a cut of what I got from the chop shop, that doesn’t mean I didn’t steal it in the first place. The justices were a little more divided on how to compensate the Hornes.

This is a big case, though. Somin again:

The ruling also calls into question a number of other similar agricultural cartel schemes run by the federal government. In addition to property owners, consumers of agricultural products are likely to benefit from the decision, if these cartel schemes can no longer operate. Freer competition between producers in these agricultural markets will increase the amount of goods sold, and thereby lower prices. Lowered food prices are of particular benefit to poor and lower-middle class consumers, who generally spend a higher proportion of their income on food than the affluent do.

A few years ago, Robert Levy published a fine book called The Dirty Dozen, detailing some of the worst Supreme Court decisions of the last century. One of them was Wickard v. Filburn, in which a unanimous Court decided that a man growing wheat on his own farm for his own use was intrinsically “interstate commerce”. Wickard is the basis not only of our idiotic farm policy, but the basis of the Court’s expansive view of the commerce clause, including the vile Raich decision.

This doesn’t attack Wickard but it’s the first pushback on agricultural policy in a long time, at least recognizing some limits to the power of the Department of Agriculture. Hopefully, it’s the first in a series of decisions.

More from Mataconis and from McArdle, who cautions against optimism:

However, don’t get too excited, because it doesn’t do too much to limit eminent domain where compensation is offered, or “regulatory takings” in which government rules make your property practically worthless, but not quite so worthless that it has to pay you for the lost potential uses.

Indeed. Our federal government has a tremendous amount of power that has goen well beyond its Constitutional limits. Today, a little bit got pushed back. That’s a good day.

I Stand With Nikki

We Americans, we don’t like foreigners sticking their noses into our affairs. Ditto times two state’s rights. We have been known, out of sheer obstanacy at times, to push back against those that not only don’t understand our peculiarities but rail against them under the pretense of some superiority, fools. And no where is this more prevalent or timely than the latest kerfuffle over the Confederate flag flying at the war memorial right next to the Capital building in Charleston, looks like that is about to change;

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is set to join those calling on state lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag from a war memorial on the state Capitol grounds.

Up until now I have been apathetic about the controversy. Much like hunting, I don’t do it and don’t get the appeal, but understand that many do so I leave them do it, not being a Southerner (especially from SC, more on that in a bit) I don’t understand the loyalty or deference shown to an archaic symbol of a time not really worth lionizing. But, some folks see this an an issue worth fighting over, especially in South Carolina.

Since the country’s (separate states pledging themselves to the collective of one nation) inception, SC has been notable in their singularity, some say single handedly bringing the Civil War to fruition. Folks like John C. Calhoun and Preston Brooks had been arguing succession for years, but it was Lincoln’s election that pushed them over the edge, Fort Sumter soon followed.

A few words about Nikki Haley. I was a big fan before the shooting, expecting her to turn down a VP request from whoever gets the nomination, she doesn’t need it. But the day after the shooting I was sitting in my doctor’s office with CNN on (I know, commies) when Nikki was speaking. As she choked up, so did I (surreptitiously looking around to make sure no one was watching me) clearly here was a leader who understood their role in a crisis, so unlike Obama.

So now Nikki is calling for the permanent removal of the Confederate Flag. Normally after a tragedy like this ,politicians go all knee jerk (Obama, cough cough) and get on their soap box about gun control. This was different. A sufficient time period had lapsed. Buoyed by Tim Scott (another stud GOP up and comer) Nikki is saying it is time, South Carolinians are saying ,”It’s time”. Who am I to argue?

OT……………………. The USA/Columbia match starts in about 5 minutes, I’m stoked.

Science SunMonday: Volcanic Venus

The more we learn about our solar system, the more interesting it gets:

Could there be volcanoes erupting on Venus?

Scientists think the answer is yes based on the latest data from European Space Agency’s Venus Express, which completed an eight-year mission of Earth’s neighboring planet last year.

Using a near-infrared channel of the spacecraft’s Venus Monitoring Camera (VMC) to map thermal emission from the surface, an international team spotted localized changes in surface brightness between images taken only a few days apart.

“We have now seen several events where a spot on the surface suddenly gets much hotter, and then cools down again,” said Eugene Shalygin from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, lead author of the paper reporting the results in Geophysical Research Letters.

“These four hotspots are located in what are known from radar imagery to be tectonic rift zones, but this is the first time we have detected that they are hot and changing in temperature from day to day. It is the most tantalizing evidence yet for active volcanism.”

We’ve had hints of this for a long time now: changes in the sulphur content of Venus’ atmosphere, heat signatures of potential volcanos, what appear to be warm lava flows. But this is the clearest evidence yet. This follows on recent evidence of a cryovolcano on Enceladus. We are also seeing some interesting features as probes close in on Ceres and Pluto.

Friday Roundup: Guns, Money and Gag Orders

A few stories to close out your week:

  • Following on Alex’s post on the attempt to squash free speech at Reason, the Best Magazine on the Planet has gotten the gag order lifted and broken their silence. What they relate is appalling. Not only did the USA try to get personal information on Reason’s commenters, they got a gag order to try to prevent Reason from notifying those commenters that the government was seeking their information (Reason had already notified them by the time the order came). It’s a must-read on a government that is determined to shred any semblance of privacy.
  • Earlier this week, Treasury announced that the new $10 bill will have a woman on it, although it’s not clear who that will be or how she will “share” the bill with Alexander Hamilton. As someone who favors a radical overhaul of which faces are on our currency, I’m moderately in favor of this. But I much prefer the idea of putting a woman on the $20 for reasons articulated by Jillian Keenan (namely that Jackson was a racist slaveholding genocidal shredder of the Constitution). Still, there are lots of women we could honor: Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sally Ride, Clara Barton. I would take all of these over Jackson. And I wouldn’t mind if we took all the politicians off our currency.
  • How bad was the security at OPM that led to the huge data breach? Really really bad. And they won’t fix it. Change we can believe in!
  • If you’re having trouble finding delicious barbecue, blame government. They are literally outlawing the kind of slow-cooking methods that make for such deliciousness. And it’s not really clear why other than “because they can”.
  • It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that Paul Krugman and the Keynesians are full of it again. They are citing Iceland an example of how expansionary fiscal policy can save an economy. The problem? In this thing called reality, Iceland endorsed a severe austerity, with significant spending cuts and tax hikes.
  • The blamestorming for Charleston has already begun. Here is a quick refresher about the media’s desperation to blame horrific acts of violence on the Right Wing.
  • And finally, Reason has a feature on a college student who was busted with pot, turned informant and was murdered. No one is accountable, as usual. I’ll spare you my usual War on Drugs rant, in favor of my other favorite one: when dealing with cops and prosecutors, always get a lawyer. Never negotiate on your own.

Massacre in Charleston

This broke late last night, but I wanted to await details. Nine people are dead after a gunman opened fire in one of America’s oldest black churches. The dead include the senior pastor and a state senator.

Be wary of early narratives of what happened here. The gunman is still at large and reports are still fragmentary. Rather than speculate, let’s just pray for the victims. I will update this post as confirmed news comes in.

Update: They appear to have caught the shooter, a 21 y/o white supremacist.

Anti-Trans Discrimination

So over the last few years, the health fascists have been telling us to avoid saturated fats in favor of trans fats. According to their analysis, using trans fats will prevent thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of heart atta- ..

No, wait.

That’s what they were saying. Now they are saying that trans fats are the quintessence of evil, a mass murderer of our body politic, something that needs to be banned forthwith and its inventors shot so that the knowledge of how to make trans fats may be extinguished. And yesterday, the FDA caved, calling for trans fats to be gotten rid of within three years (having been pushed by lawsuits from food nannies).

Take it away, Walter Olson:

It’s frank paternalism. Like high-calorie foods or alcoholic beverages, trans fats have marked risks when consumed in quantity over long periods, smaller risks in moderate and occasional use, and tiny risks when used in tiny quantities. The FDA intends to forbid the taking of even tiny risks, no matter how well disclosed.

The public is also perfectly capable of recognizing and acting on nutritional advances on its own. Trans fats have gone out of style and consumption has dropped by 85 percent as consumers have shunned them. But while many products have been reformulated to omit trans fats, their versatile qualities still give them an edge in such specialty applications as frozen pizza crusts, microwave popcorn, and the sprinkles used atop cupcakes and ice cream. Food companies tried to negotiate to keep some of these uses available, especially in small quantities, but apparently mostly failed.

Even if you never plan to consume a smidgen of trans fat ever again, note well: many public health advocates are itching for the FDA to limit allowable amounts of salt, sugar, caffeine, and so forth in food products. Many see this as their big pilot project and test case. But when it winds up in court, don’t be surprised if some courtroom spectators show up wearing buttons with the old Sixties slogan: Keep Your Laws Off My Body.

Olson also points out that you don’t just ban trans fats; you have to switch to something else. That something else may be palm oil, coconut oil or genetically-modified soybean oil, all of which come with known and unknown health risks.

Anyone want to lay bets on when those oils will turn out to be dangerous? Anyone want to lay bets on how fast we’ll find out that the danger of trans fats has been wildly overestimated?

You can read more from Baylen Linniken, including the details of how this ban came about. What’s striking, however, is the complete and total lack of skepticism in the supposedly fact-based left wing. Vox has run several articles that repeated the health tyrants claims without any skepticism (despite having run numerous articles about how most scientific studies are garbage). Major media networks have mindlessly repeated the FDA’s shaky claim that this will save 7,000 lives a year. None of them have asked with it is the governments business to do this. All of them see this as some sort of progressive victory.

To hell with this. Trans fats are not poison. They are (probably) bad for you. But it’s not the FDA’s job to make us eat right. That’s our job. Their job is to make sure the food supply is safe. Trans fats aren’t nearly deadly enough to warrant a ban. They aren’t even as deadly as the horribly low-salt low-fat high-carb diet the health experts have been pushing on us for decades.

Don’t ban trans fats. Ban the food nannies.

Trump In

Donald Trump just declared that he’s running for President this year, apparently as a Republican, in one of the oddest speeches I’ve ever seen from a Presidential candidate. God knows what he’ll do. He has been famous for really awful ideas, including a proposal for a wealth tax.

This is going to be highly entertaining to blog, but bad for the Republic in the long run. We now have 12 Republican presidential candidates. Some of them are serious (Bush, Rubio, Walker, maybe Kasich and Perry), some have interesting things to say (Paul), some are just engaged in ego-stroking and some are just insane.

If they don’t pull their shit together, Hillary is going to coast to victory.