This is not what it looks like.
To the bureaucraps, this legislation doesn’t give them enough power.
(a normal desire of bureaucraps being Moar Powah!)


DOJ urges Trump veto on FISA legislation, vote in limbo

The Justice Department on Wednesday urged President Trump to veto legislation to reauthorize surveillance authorities used by the FBI just hours before a scheduled vote in the House, marking the latest curveball that puts the legislation in limbo.

The Justice Department issued a statement Wednesday saying the legislation set to reauthorize and reform national security authorities in the U.S.A. Freedom Act goes too far and would weaken national security tools.

“If passed, the Attorney General [William Barr] would recommend that the President veto the legislation,” the statement from Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd said.

The legislation was already in jeopardy when Trump tweeted Tuesday night that he’s urging all Republicans to vote no on the FISA legislation “until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!”

 

Econuts & gubbermint don’t mix.


Failed dam owner fought with state over Wixom Lake levels before flood

EDENVILLE, MI — Owners of a collapsed dam that caused major flooding in Michigan say they were pressured by the state to maintain elevated water levels on Wixom Lake behind it, despite concerns about the structure’s ability to handle flooding. It is an accusation a state agency spokesperson calls “misinformation.”

Boyce Hydro Power LLC owners accused Michigan regulators of being more concerned with preserving aquatic life and appeasing property owners than ensuring public safety in a statement following the catastrophic Edenville Dam collapse on Tuesday, May 19. ………

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vowed the state will “pursue every line of legal recourse” against those responsible for the calamity. On Thursday, she suggested that such critical infrastructure should not be in private hands.

Boyce Hydro, which has been criticized for failing to keep the Edenville Dam in compliance with federal regulations, said it sympathizes with those affected by the flood but defended its actions in the weeks and months before record rainfall caused the dam to fail.

Boyce says it asked EGLE for permission to lower Wixom Lake last fall “due to concern for the safety of its operators and the downstream community.” EGLE and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources denied the request. Boyce lowered the lake without approval in mid-November “believing its safety concerns were paramount.”

Boyce claims it raised the lake this spring “under pressure” from the shoreline residents and state regulators.

“The state agencies clearly care more about mussels living in the impoundment than they do about the people living downstream of the dams,” said Lee Mueller, part owner of Boyce Hydro LLC, which owns the Edenville Dam….

When even anti-Trumper George Will writes, and the anti-Trump Washington Post publishes an article that has problems with this, well…………


Our plea bargain system can make the innocent admit guilt. Enter Michael Flynn.

Michael Flynn, who was President Trump’s national security adviser for 24 days and who has been entangled in the criminal-justice system for 40 months, pleaded guilty of lying to FBI agents and now recants that plea. We shall return to Flynn below, but first consider Habeeb Audu, who is resisting extradition from Britain to the United States, where he is charged with various financial crimes.

The Cato Institute’s Clark Neily was asked by Audu’s lawyers to write, in accordance with British extradition practices, a Declaration — an “expert report” — about the risk that Audu would not have a meaningful right to a fair U.S. trial. Neily, a member of the American Bar Association’s Plea Bargaining Task Force and head of its subcommittee on impermissibly coercive plea bargains and plea practices, concludes that extradition would “guarantee” Audu’s subjection to a process that “routinely” coerces through plea bargaining. So Audu probably would experience “intolerable pressure designed to induce a waiver of his fundamental right to a fair trial.”

Plea bargaining is, Neily argues “pervasive and coercive” partly because of today’s “trial penalty” — the difference between the sentences offered to those who plead guilty and the much more severe sentences typically imposed after a trial. This penalty discourages exercising a constitutional right. A defendant in a computer hacking case, Neily says  committed suicide during plea bargaining in which prosecutors said he could avoid a trial conviction and sentence of up to 35 years by pleading guilty and accepting a six-month sentence.

Trump pulls ATF nominee from consideration after GOP senators expressed frustration over gun answers

The White House announced that it was withdrawing Chuck Canterbury from being the nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The withdrawal was announced to Congress on Tuesday. Canterbury is the former president of the Fraternal Order of Police and was nominated by the president to head the ATF last year. During his confirmation hearing last July, Canterbury upset some Republican lawmakers for being evasive about his answers on gun control.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham had called the vote on Canterbury’s nomination “very problematic,” according to the Washington Times. “I’ll have that up to them, but I think that one will be a problem,” the South Carolina Republican said.

During his hearing, Canterbury was repeatedly asked about his personal views on major gun control issues, but he only responded by saying he couldn’t express views outside the Fraternal Order of Police’s positions.

“I like straight answers, and you are being evasive,” GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana told Canterbury. “You have been nominated to run ATF. I think every member of this panel, both my Democratic friends and Republican friends who have feelings about the Second Amendment, are entitled to know both morally and legally what you believe.”

Reining in the bureaucraps


To boost hobbled economy, Trump orders agencies to ease rules
Executive order does not provide specific instructions but is a blanket message across the government to roll back or change regulations

President Donald Trump ordered federal agencies to pinpoint regulations “that may inhibit economic recovery” and alter or eliminate them in order to boost the economy hobbled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The executive order issued Tuesday does not provide agencies, departments or officials with specific instructions but is a blanket message across the U.S. government to roll back or change regulations in the face of the health crisis that has killed more than 90,000 Americans and sent more than 35 million into unemployment.

“Agencies should address this economic emergency by rescinding, modifying, waiving, or providing exemptions from regulations and other requirements that may inhibit economic recovery,” the order says in part.

Trump unveiled the order at a Cabinet meeting, touting his efforts to eliminate federal rules.

“With millions of Americans forced out of work by the virus, it’s more important than ever to remove burdens that destroy American jobs,” Trump said. “Regulations, we’ve done more regulation cutting than any president in history.”…………..

report that the nonpartisan watchdog group Accountable.US released last week found federal agencies have issued more than 730 rules or rule proposals since Feb. 11, when the World Health Organization released the name of the virus. Just 2 percent of those rules or proposed rules directly related to COVID-19, the group said.

Congressional experts say an effort to dodge the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows Congress to repeal executive branch rules put in place during the previous 60 legislative days, may be driving the administration’s push to release new rules……….

If you believe “Hanlon’s Razor”, Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity, it’s just idiots in positions of power making stupid decisions. Lately, that doesn’t seem to fully explain current events.


COVID-19 Cytokine Storm Is a Metaphor for How a Society, Fearing the Unknown, Can Destroy Itself

One of the ways the Coronavirus kills is by stimulating an overreaction of a patient’s own immune system. “Diseases such as covid-19 and influenza can be fatal due to an overreaction of the body’s immune system called a cytokine storm.”…………

This metaphor can also describe how society can harm itself  when measures taken to control a disease do more harm than good. Perhaps the most forceful and controversial reaction to the coronavirus epidemic has been the lockdown, which believe it or not, did not exist in the American context as a bureaucratic concept before 2006. As Jeffrey Tucker writes in the American Institute for Economic Research:

So far as anyone can tell, the intellectual machinery that made this mess was invented 14 years ago, and not by epidemiologists but by computer-simulation modelers. It was adopted not by experienced doctors – they warned ferociously against it – but by politicians. …

Maybe you don’t remember that the avian flu of 2006 didn’t amount to much. It’s true, despite all the extreme warnings about its lethality, H5N1 didn’t turn into much at all. What it did do, however, was send the existing president, George W. Bush, to the library to read about the 1918 flu and its catastrophic results. He asked for some experts to submit some plans to him about what to do when the real thing comes along.

Tucker lets the New York Times take up the story of how lockdown was born.

Fourteen years ago, two federal government doctors, Richard Hatchett and Carter Mecher, met with a colleague at a burger joint in suburban Washington for a final review of a proposal they knew would be treated like a piñata: telling Americans to stay home from work and school the next time the country was hit by a deadly pandemic.

When they presented their plan not long after, it was met with skepticism and a degree of ridicule by senior officials, who like others in the United States had grown accustomed to relying on the pharmaceutical industry, with its ever-growing array of new treatments, to confront evolving health challenges.

Drs. Hatchett and Mecher were proposing instead that Americans in some places might have to turn back to an approach, self-isolation, first widely employed in the Middle Ages.

How that idea — born out of a request by President George W. Bush to ensure the nation was better prepared for the next contagious disease outbreak — became the heart of the national playbook for responding to a pandemic is one of the untold stories of the coronavirus crisis.

Not everyone was convinced this weapon should be added to the government repertoire. “It required the key proponents — Dr. Mecher, a Department of Veterans Affairs physician, and Dr. Hatchett, an oncologist turned White House adviser — to overcome intense initial opposition.” But eventually it happened and the bureaucrats now had a canned response to pandemics that did not exist before. When the coronavirus began to devastate the health systems of northern Italy, the frightened bureaucracy had an instrument ready to use.

But the science, given the lack of data in the early days, was far from certain.  When models in which so much trust had been reposed failed to pan out, especially those of the prestigious Imperial College, public confidence was shaken.

Imperial College has advised the government on its response to previous epidemics, including SARS, avian flu and swine flu. With ties to the World Health Organization and a team of 50 scientists, led by a prominent epidemiologist, Neil Ferguson, Imperial is treated as a sort of gold standard, its mathematical models feeding directly into government policies.

It was the crash heard round the world. After it was discovered how amateurish the software code was, trust turned to anger and the Daily Telegraph wrote in disgust that “Neil Ferguson’s model could be the most devastating software mistake of all time.” It was certainly an expensive one.

But even the most skillful software authorship could not have saved the Imperial model from the uncertainty surrounding the pathogen’s environmental behavior, which remain mysterious to this writing. Simon Jenkins writing in the Guardian captured his frustration at science’s ability to forecast a socio-medical phenomenon as complex as the weather in a kind of layman’s rant.

There is no correlation between fatalities and lockdown stringency. The most stringent lockdowns – as in China, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Britain – have yielded both high and low deaths per million. Hi-tech has apparently “worked” in South Korea, but so has no-tech in Sweden. Sweden’s 319 deaths per million is far ahead of locked-down Norway’s 40 and Denmark’s 91, but it’s well behind locked-down UK’s 465 and Spain’s 569. …

The half-Swedish commentator Freddie Sayer has been closely monitoring this debate from the UK. He makes the point that with each passing week the rest of Europe moves steadily closer to imitating Sweden. It is doing so because modern economies – and their peoples – just cannot live with such crushing abnormality as they have seen these past two months.

Some of these crushing abnormalities are actually unintended consequences of government’s response to the virus, of fixes gone wrong. Governments, like New York’s, keen to avoid for the forecast (see ‘models’) inundation of hospitals by patients, responded by offloading infected seniors to nursing homes. Distracted by their efforts to lock down whole societies, they caused a massacre of the elderly in a fit of absentmindedness. As the New York Times notes:

At least 28,100 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, according to a New York Times database. The virus so far has infected more than 153,000 at some 7,700 facilities. …

While just 11 percent of the country’s cases have occurred in long-term care facilities, deaths related to Covid-19 in these facilities account for more than a third of the country’s pandemic fatalities.

If nobody saw it coming maybe it was because government was fascinated with its shiny new superpowers. Only later did officials waken to this bit of friendly fire. “Gov. Andrew Cuomo has finally admitted — tacitly and partially, anyway — the mistake that was state health chief Howard Zucker’s order that nursing homes must admit coronavirus-positive patients.”

One of the reasons the lockdown debate is so psychologically difficult is it involves getting the public to choose between two risks, one with a tight sigma (economic collapse) versus another with a poorly defined sigma, the virus. Many people are hard pressed to select between a familiar, predictable system run-down and “high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare event … beyond the realm of normal expectations,” It has divided the public into those who would rather endure a known, but certain economic doom than take their chances with a less predictable yet psychologically more menacing viral hazard — or vice versa.

Unfortunately we now know there is a third source of risk, arising from the chance that governments may initiate  reactions to the pandemic that are catastrophic and unforeseen. Examples include the nursing home massacre and inflicting lasting damage on whole swaths of the economy. Such government reactions, far from having predictable linear effects, can be Black Swans in their own right.

If the lockdown set new standards for the intensity of government response to pandemics it also increased the risk of bureaucratically induced harm. Like the patients done in by a cytokine storm, countries and states may survive the virus only to succumb to their own countermeasures, felled by their own bureaucratic reaction.

I’ll take
“Inner Tyrant seizes an opportunity”
for $500, Alex

OpEd: Why is a Social Worker Dictating COVID-19 Policy for the Country’s Largest County?

Los Angeles County is, by a wide margin, the most populous county in the United States. At an estimated 10 million, its population is larger than all but seven states and over a hundred countries. In fact, LA County has nearly the same number of inhabitants as, dare I say it, Sweden.  Yes, that neo-Nazi, baby-killing, fascist, herd immunity gathering, bastion of pure evil Sweden (sarcasm intended).  Not only is LA County full of people, it is also full of money, having nearly the same GDP as Saudi Arabia.

A county with that population and wealth should have an army of world class scientists leading the battle in the fight against COVID-19. Let’s take a look at who is leading this world class team.

Our LA County Public Health Commissioner is Dr. Barbara Ferrer. You can find her bio here.

Impressive, right? Well, look a little closer. She must have graduated from a top-tier medical school, or so one would think…

Now is when I usually get the “OMG” response, even from the most liberal of liberals.

To be clear she is not even a medical doctor. She has a Doctorate in “Social Welfare.”  So essentially, we have a high-powered social worker (albeit one of the most well-known in the country) leading the largest county in the United States in the fight of our lives against this biological threat.

Yes, this is the real-life version of “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV.”

Instead of looking at science and data and adapting her public health response to attack what we now know are the strengths and weaknesses of this virus, she is essentially behaving like an elementary school principal (probably because she was one). Exerting her new-found unchallengeable and unelected power over an entire population that she views as children. She tells us what to do, how to do it, and even threatens to take away our few remaining freedoms, if we misbehave.

To be clear, I am not writing this to disparage Dr. Ferrer. She has had an illustrious career and has worked hard to achieve . The problem is that, in this fight against a novel coronavirus, we need a team of medical doctors and (apolitical) scientists guiding us, not a sociologist. In a place as populous and wealthy as LA County, we should expect to be led by some of the best in the world. We are clearly not.

She, like many of the public health directors across the country, is faced with a problem that a bureaucrat isn’t practiced or proficient enough to be fighting. Throw more common health issues at her, such as HIV prevention, homelessness, or opiate addiction, and I’m sure she could succeed. But, in the face of a brand new biological pandemic, she has no chance, and the numbers show it…………

LA County has the resources and financial wherewithal to focus on scientifically-targeted approaches, guided by data, and led by world-class medical doctors and scientists. Instead, we have allowed unelected bureaucrats to better their political lives by destroying all of ours.

This is about a ‘Fusion Center’. While the concept of having one place receive information, mold it into a product,  and then determine where best to send it onward is good, the information available makes these organizations extremely susceptible to misuse when someone with corrupt intent gets on the inside and has the opportunity to access it.


State police illegally collected data, trooper claims in whistleblower suit

A division of the Maine State Police illegally gathered and handled personal data about Mainers, according to an employment discrimination lawsuit filed in federal court by a state trooper.

George Loder, 50, of Scarborough is suing the Maine Intelligence Analysis Center, and its supervisors, claiming he was demoted after he told his bosses that the center was collecting and maintaining data illegally, including information about people who had applied to buy guns from firearms dealers, those who legally protested and those who worked at a Maine international camp for Israeli and Arab teens. The center is responsible for sharing information with other law enforcement agencies.

The complaint does not say with which agencies the center may have shared the information other than the state police. It also does not say when the center began collecting it. Loder expressed his concerns to supervisors in November 2017.

Loder alleges that staff at the center illegally gathered and kept information gleaned from social media about people who legally protested in September 2018 against Central Maine Power Co.’s proposed transmission corridor stretching from the Quebec border to Lewiston.

State police maintain a database that can be searched to determine if a person is prohibited from purchasing a gun. Applications to purchase firearms are supposed to be destroyed after the sale is approved but the center stored that information in the database, the suit claims………..

Data collection on the camp’s employees ended in May 2018, the complaint said…………

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges that the state police violated the Whistleblower Protection Act and illegally retaliated against him. It also names Col. John Cote, the head of the state police, which oversees the center, and supervisors Lt. Scott Ireland and Sgt. Michael Johnston.

Loder filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and received a right-to-sue letter before the agency was able to investigate and issue its initial findings……….

But luckily, a scapegoat has already been selected


Gov. Cuomo admits he was wrong to order nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has finally admitted — tacitly and partially, anyway — the mistake that was state health chief Howard Zucker’s order that nursing homes must admit coronavirus-positive patients.

On Sunday, Cuomo announced a new regulation: Such patients must now test negative for the virus before hospitals can return them to nursing homes. Yet the gov also admitted that COVID-19 cases might still go to the facilities via other routes, and didn’t explicitly overrule Zucker’s March 25 mandate that homes must accept people despite their testing status — indeed, couldn’t even require a test pre-admission.

The gov’s people say that a home that simply can’t accommodate coronavirus patients never had to take them — though they are obliged to help those people find a place that will, with help available from the state if needed. That is: Zucker’s mandate was never more than a “don’t discriminate” rule.

But Zucker publicly presented it as “must accept” — and Cuomo’s remarks regularly implied there must be something wrong with a home that couldn’t handle corona patients.

So, while the gov’s people imply that some homes simply misunderstood the rules, the real message to operators was that declaring themselves overwhelmed would put their licenses at risk.

Notably, the chief of one Cobble Hill facility not only had his request for PPE denied, he got turned down cold when he then asked to transfer patients.

Then, too, Zucker’s Department of Health has issued other heartless orders during this crisis — the now-rescinded “don’t even try to resuscitate” mandate to EMTs for cardiac-arrest cases, as well as telling at least one home it was OK to keep staffers on the job after they’d tested positive.

Also telling: The gov has ordered an investigation that’s plainly supposed to pin all the blame on nursing and adult-care facilities: It’s led by state Attorney General Tish James, who got her job with Cuomo’s crucial assistance — and it’s only looking at what homes did wrong.

We’re sure James will uncover plenty of real horrors: Everyone (who cared to know) has long been aware that many New York nursing homes leave a lot to be desired. But that was all the more reason for Zucker & Co. to focus on policing and assisting these facilities from the start — rather than issuing edicts that led to repeated and needless tragedies.

Why You Can’t Find Rubbing Alcohol
The U.S. now has vast surpluses of a sanitizing liquid that consumers aren’t allowed to buy.

One of the few everyday consumer items still not available at most stores is good old rubbing alcohol. Unlike the toilet paper shortage caused by irrational hoarding, the coronavirus pandemic has greatly increased the actual need for germ-sanitizing alcohol.
What makes the shortage particularly frustrating is that the U.S. is, by far, the world’s largest producer of alcohol. That distinction is a result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which required fuel producers to blend four billion gallons of corn ethanol into their gasoline by 2006 and 7.5 billion by 2012. The immediate result was a spike in the price of corn and an increase in food prices world-wide. U.S. farmers soon solved this problem by diverting millions of acres of land to growing corn. Ironically, this increased overall CO2 emissions, much to the chagrin of the environmentalists who had championed the mandate as a way of fighting global warming.
Long before policy makers had seen their error, however, farm states had so fallen in love with ethanol that they successfully lobbied the federal government to raise the mandate to 32 billion gallons a year by 2022. Keep in mind that the oil industry would gladly pay billions of dollars in extra taxes each year not to use it.
The negative effects of this forced usage of corn-based ethanol in refined petroleum include higher gas prices (alcohol costs more than oil per British thermal unit) and more than 30 million acres lost to subsidized corn production—an area that vastly exceeds all the land lost to urban, suburban and exurban “sprawl” over the past century. And while the U.S. now has inordinate supplies of excess alcohol, fuel producers can’t use it, since adding any more to gasoline will damage car engines.
Surely now, with people clamoring for germ-sanitizing alcohol, this excess supply can be put to good use. Not so fast. The Food and Drug Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have prohibited the use of ethanol in place of isopropyl alcohol even though both are equally effective as germ-killers.
On April 3 the FDA announced that “ethanol made at plants producing fuel ethanol can be used as rubbing alcohol if it contains no additional additive or chemicals from the plants and they can ensure water purity and proper sanitation of equipment.” But it’s unclear how much supply will increase, since the FDA also stated that it would “consider each plant on an individual basis and grant approval only if a plant meets quality control specifications.”
Worse yet, the FDA reversed course on April 16, announcing additional restrictions that effectively prevent any sales, even though ethanol companies had already produced and shipped millions of gallons of high-grade alcohol for hand sanitizer. With U.S. ethanol inventories at all-time high of about 900 million gallons, you’d think the FDA would let us have a little for our hands.
Messrs. Doti and Iannaccone are economics professors at Chapman University.

Gun group fires lawsuit at Nikki Fried over concealed permits
[Florida] Agriculture Commissioner called Young Americans for Liberty ‘obscure right-wing fringe’

The gun-rights group Young Americans for Liberty sued Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried claiming she’s depriving Floridians of their rights. The suit aims to lift a suspension of online concealed weapons permit applications.

“Nikki Fried thinks that your right to self-defense is negotiable. She’s wrong,” said Cliff Maloney, YAL President. “This is a blatant disregard for the rule of law, and I will not idly sit by while Nikki Fried uses this crisis to enact her gun-grabbing agenda. I encourage all Americans to join this fight for our rights. We either believe in liberty in times of crisis or we do not believe in liberty at all.”……….

“Commissioner Fried has not restricted processing of concealed weapons license applications; on the contrary, our department has processed more than 54,000 concealed weapons license applications since March 1, with an average review time of just 1 to 2 days,” said Franco Ripple, Fried’s Communications Director.

“Despite misinformation from special interest groups, we are continuing to process both new applications and renewals timely, and Commissioner Fried has also issued emergency orders extending expiring licenses by 90 days.”

Maloney’s group threatened litigation over the issue last month, saying the lone Democrat on Florida’s Cabinet was stalling with applications. The activist criticized her then for finding time to hold fundraisers but not to find a workaround on the fingerprint issue with online users.

Fried has since cited the potential lawsuit in a mass email to supporters. She suggested at the time she was simply following procedures that fell by the wayside with past Agriculture Commissioners. Former Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office notoriously stopped conducting proper background checks on such permits for a year because of a technical issue.

Senators Look to Bolster Firearm Background Check System as Sales Go Through the Roof

A number of Republican Senators are looking to bolster the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS])after back-to-back record-setting sales months in March and April.

“In response to the pandemic, millions of Americans practicing safe social distancing have lined up outside of firearm retailers in order to purchase firearms.  The resulting record-breaking surge has placed significant pressure on the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS), which helps to ensure that criminals and other prohibited persons cannot gain access to firearms,” Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray this week. More than two-dozen other Senators also signed on.

“As our country continues to respond to the pandemic, we are seeking additional information on the impact the coronavirus has had on your agencies and the firearm transfer process so that we have a clearer picture on where things stand and how we can better assist through the legislative and appropriations process,” the letter continues.

In March 3.7 million firearms were sold, breaking the all-time record. In April, 1.7 million firearms went out the door, a 71.3 percent increase over the previous year.

The demand has caused a backlog in the system and created unlawful waiting periods for purchasers.

“As our nation continues to navigate its response to the COVID-19, we recognize the firearm industry, like many other industries, is being impacted. NSSF® is aware of delays within the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) System. We want you to know the FBI is on the job and working diligently to address the dramatic response and increase in background checks experienced over the past few days,” the National Shooting Sports released in a March statement. “With daily volumes roughly double that of last year, the NICS team is unable to begin investigations on all delays within three business days, creating a backlog in the delayed checks.”

Senators are concerned about this issue and offering additional resources to help streamline the process.

“Federal law expressly recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to purchase and possess firearms but bars certain individuals like criminals and the dangerously mentally-ill. NICS was designed to provide a quick and accurate determination about whether a person can lawfully purchase a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer,” the letter states. “Any unreasonable and unnecessary delay beyond the three business days unlawfully impedes the exercise of a person’s fundamental constitutional right.”

“We appreciate that the current national emergency has brought about unprecedented challenges for the FBI and the ATF, and we appreciate that your agencies are working with significant challenges for staff and resources,” the letter continues. “We are confident that through your leadership, we can work together to ensure that NICS remains up and running during this crisis and that law-abiding citizens are not deprived of their constitutional right to keep and bear arms, especially during these uncertain times.”

Meanwhile, Americans across the country have been frustrated with excessive gun control laws during the Wuhan coronavirus crisis.

Rethinking emergency powers should be high on legislature’s list.

Looks like we are crawling out of our home arrests. Which also means the Colorado legislative season will soon restart, too.

Since some are predicting a resurgence of COVID as the weather grows cold again in the fall, the legislature should learn from our recent experiences and use their prolonged session to adjust our laws for the next potential “emergency.”

Here are three suggestions for the legislature to tackle immediately.

Only elected officials should have emergency powers: Many of us were surprised to learn that unelected bureaucrats had the authority to place us under house arrest.

Before Gov. Polis ordered his statewide lockdown order, the tri-county health department, servicing Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, ordered businesses closed and people locked in their homes. They did so over the objections of elected county commissioners whom they supposedly answer to.

It is unthinkable that under current law technocrats with no direct accountability to the people have such unchecked power. No one who can’t be voted out of office or recalled should have the power to declare emergencies and rip away basic liberties.

A top priority for the legislature must be to change the law so that only people directly elected by voters have the final say in exercising “emergency powers”.

Why this isn’t already the law is simply repugnant. It is likely a result of the many laws passed last time people were rushing to trade liberty for a false sense of secure after the 9-11 attacks.

Make 120 days, 120 days again. We the people passed the GAVEL Amendment in 1988 limiting the legislative session to 120 calendar days to, among lots of other good reasons, ensure that we have citizen legislators with real jobs outside of the gold dome.

After the COVID shutdown the Colorado supreme court nonsensically ruled that the term “calendar days” is “arbitrary” and can be re-interpreted by the legislature. When we passed the amendment back in 1988 it was made clear to voters, as it is clear in every loan you’ve ever signed, that “calendar” days are consecutive days.

The legislature needs to return the session back to a limited, consecutive 120 days, or even shorten it to 90 days as many states have. Since this may require clarifying the state constitution the legislature may have to refer it to the fall ballot for voter approval…………

Emergencies demand more transparency, not less: During an emergency, people — some literally making life-and-death decisions — need information more than ever. The need for governmental transparency is dire and immediate.

Throughout this crisis our leaders have been trying to balance competing interests. No easy task and I don’t envy them. But they have been rather covert about how exactly they make those decisions.

Good luck getting any people to volunteer in the future, Noo Yawk.


Health workers that volunteered to come to NY during pandemic have to pay state income tax: Cuomo

NEW YORK — Health care workers that came to New York to help fight the coronavirus pandemic at its epicenter will have to pay state taxes, according to the governor.

He addressed the issues Tuesday at a news conference.

“We’re not in a position to provide any subsidies right now because we have a $13 billion deficit,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “So there’s a lot of good things I’d like to do, and if we get federal funding, we can do, but it would be irresponsible for me to sit here looking at a $13 billion deficit and say I’m gonna spend more money, when I can’t even pay the essential services.”

Even though the state government asked thousands of people to come to New York from out of state to help fight coronavirus, they will have to pay New York state taxes, even on income they might make from their home states that they’re paid while in New York.

Cuomo said he needs help from Washington in order to cover budget deficits from COVID-19, let alone subsidize state income tax for essential workers that flocked to New York’s aid.

“If we don’t get more money from Washington, we can’t fund schools, right, so at the rate we want to fund them. We are in dire financial need,” he said.

The issue first came up when the temporary hospital in Central Park was being erected by Samaritan’s Purse.

“Our financial comptroller called me,” said Ken Isaacs, a vice president of the organization, “and he said, ‘Do you know that all of you are going to be liable for New York state income tax?’

“I said, ‘What?'” Isaacs continued. “[The comptroller] said, ‘Yeah, there’s a law. If you work in New York State for more than 14 days, you have to pay state income tax.'”

“I didn’t know that,” Isaacs told PIX11 News.

“What we’re even more concerned about than the money,” Isaacs continued, “is the bureaucracy, and the paperwork, and I think that once that’s unleashed…once you start filing that, you have to do that for like a whole year or something.”

A top New York City certified public accountant explained the situation further in a FaceTime interview with PIX11 News at the time.

Entities from “these other states will have to register in New York,” said Lawrence Spielman, a partner at the accounting firm Spielman, Koenigsberg & Parker, LLP, “and do withholding here in New York.”

Any out-of-state resident who’s come to the Empire State to work on coronavirus relief is subject to the tax after 14 days here.

There are thousands of emergency workers here who’ve responded to requests by Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio for help. Many of them are collecting paychecks from companies back in their home states, which allowed them to come to New York to volunteer.

Florida isn’t the problem. Georgia isn’t the problem. Wyoming, South Dakota, New Mexico and even California aren’t the problem.
New York is the problem.
The leaders of that state and city have failed. They couldn’t have botched this crisis any more than if they had done it on purpose. And that brings a question to mind.


Over 1,700 more coronavirus deaths reported in New York nursing homes

The coronavirus pandemic’s death toll on New York’s most vulnerable residents living in nursing homes has skyrocketed — with an updated state tally indicating the number of fatalities is more than 1,700 higher than previously reported. Revised state Health Department data reveal that at least 4,813 people residing in 600 nursing homes have died from COVID-19 or symptoms associated with the virus.

Sources told The Post even the new, higher number is likely undercounting cases. Many nursing home residents died after being transferred to hospitals, and industry sources said their deaths are not being fully accounted for. For the first time, the statistics include the deaths of nursing home residents suspected of dying from COVID-19 before a confirmed diagnosis was received. Previously the state did not count so-called presumed cases.

But in a Tuesday press briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to downplay his own Department of Health’s accounting of the new cases.

“Just to be clear, I would take all of these numbers now with a grain of salt,” he told reporters in Midtown Manhattan. “What does a ‘presumed death’ mean, right? … How do you presume it to be coronavirus?”

The climbing death toll comes amid finger-pointing who is responsible for what has become an emerging scandal. Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker have come under fire for a March 25 edict requiring nursing homes to admit or readmit recovering COVID patients.

In a rare slap at a successor, former Gov. George Pataki called Cuomo’s nursing home policy a “disaster” that has contributed to nursing home deaths and has called for an independent federal probe of the administration’s actions. The governor has defended the policy, saying nursing homes were obligated to transfer COVID patients elsewhere if they did not have the capacity and safety protocols to house them.

And, asked Tuesday what improvements the state can make going forward with respect to coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, Cuomo was at a loss.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s something we’re studying. … You do everything you can.”

Nursing homes were clearly unprepared, lacking infection control protocols, personal protective equipment and tests to properly identify residents and staff infected with the virus.

At Cuomo’s behest, state Attorney General Letitia James and the Health Department are probing the actions of the nursing homes. The revised list found 22 nursing homes in New York City and Long Island reported at least 40 deaths. At least 12 facilities reported 50 or more deaths.

 

Looks benign when reading the order, but this is the same thing every authoritarian gubbermint has required in the past.
Is it ‘tone-deaf’ cluelessness, or something else?
Well, the city gubbermint of KC is demoncrap partai controlled, so there.


Churchgoers Must Register With the Government in Kansas City

Kansas City, Missouri, officials are now requiring every church to submit a list of members and attendees along with their names, addresses and telephone numbers to city officials for tracking and surveillance purposes.

The new order

………Most non-essential business operations that are open to the public (such as non-essential retail stores and personal care services) can resume in-person operations provided business operators follow the “10/10/10 rule.” The 10/10/10 rule specifies that these businesses must limit the number of individuals on-site (inclusive of employees and customers) to no more than 10 percent of building occupancy or 10 people (whichever is larger), and record the names, contact information, and approximate entry/exit time of all customers who are on premises for more than 10 minutes.

In-person religious gatherings (including weddings and funerals) may resume, subject to the 10/10/10 rule (if held inside) or limited to 50 people outside, provided social distancing precautions are followed and event organizers maintain records of all attendees.………..

 

 

FBI railroading Americans, but we knew that here in Boston.

Who would have ever believed that James Comey and Andrew McCabe might be arrested before Donald J. Trump?

As the president said Thursday of this greatest scandal in American political history: “I wish I knew then what I know now.”

Every day, in every way, this catastrophe of corruption by the FBI’s “human scum,” as the president so rightly describes them, metastasizes into something ever more appalling.

Did these effete, crooked cops ever stop railroading their fellow American citizens and obstructing justice?

And yet the Democrats and the media, but I repeat myself, just keep saying, nothing to see here folks, move along.

They’ve gone from covering the news to covering up the news.

According to one account Thursday, the “news” networks spent 2,284 minutes over the years promoting the Russian collusion hoax from start to finish.

But here’s the amount of airtime they’ve devoted to these latest revelations about the FBI’s pervasive top-to-bottom corruption in promoting the hoax:

CNN, ABC and CBS: a combined zero mentions. MSNBC: one mention, at 5:14 a.m., NBC: one mention, at 3:41 a.m.

The New York Times, which handed itself a Pulitzer Prize for years of “reporting” Russian collusion that didn’t exist, now argues that President Trump wants prosecutions of the crooked FBI agents so he can “weaponize” their criminal behavior for the campaign.

So it was totally OK for the feds to try to frame Trump and everyone around him, but to want someone brought to justice for it is just politics — weaponizing and seizing and pouncing on those wonderful Democrats in the FBI and the CIA?

Thursday, the Associated Press was still couching these latest revelations about the FBI’s frame-ups as something that Michael Flynn was “claiming” and “contending.”

One of the pro-Deep State blogs “claimed” and “contended” that the newly-revealed handwritten notes about Flynn were no big deal, because the briefers at the J. Edgar Hoover Building often brainstorm on how to best destroy anyone who gets in their way.

Which everyone in Boston, at least, has known for decades. But isn’t that the problem, that this has been going on forever?

New stuff is coming out daily, and since it’s Friday, we’ll likely be getting more dirt late this afternoon. As the Justice Department said Wednesday, as it was releasing 11 more pages, “additional documents may be forthcoming.”

Here’s the smoking gun from Wednesday, in the handwritten notes of one of the members of the lynch mob, (very) Special Agent Bill Priestap. The leaders of America’s most corrupt law-enforcement agency were discussing how best to railroad a decorated three-star general and combat veteran:

“What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”

Get him fired? Think about that. Is that now part of the FBI’s mission statement, getting people they don’t like fired, especially people like Gen. Flynn, who had already been canned once, by Obama, for trying to clean up the endemic corruption of the Deep State?

You have to ask yourself, if this is what these FBI crooks would put in writing, what levels were they stooping to that they wouldn’t dare make notes on?

Bottom line: the Deep State got Flynn before he could get them. Which was probably to have been expected, considering the warnings of Sen. Chuck Schumer about how “really dumb” it is for anyone to think they can go up against the Deep State.

“Let me tell you,” he said, the same month the G-men began framing Flynn. “You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

So now Flynn finds himself still possibly looking at a prison sentence. By some accounts he owes up to $6 million in legal bills, and his career is ruined. So Schumer was right.

On the other hand, you could argue that Flynn has gotten off easy, compared to others who’ve crossed the Deep State. Just ask Jeffrey Epstein.

Poor Flynn. He just didn’t understand. He grew up watching Efrem Zimbalist Jr. on Sunday nights on ABC as Inspector Erskine. All the FBI agents drove Fords and fought bad guys.

He didn’t realize that the FBI were the bad guys.

If only the Famous But Incompetent G-men had been nearly as obsessed with trying to run down that lead from the Russians that the Tsarnaevs were planning a terrorist attack in Boston, or that tip to the FBI hotline from the Parkland High School shooter’s aunt that he was going to kill a bunch of his classmates.

But no, they were too busy trying to frame Gen. Flynn and Donald Trump and Roger Stone and Carter Page and George Papadopoulos … .

Whatever happened to the American Civil Liberties Union?

The ACLU doesn’t seem to have the slightest interest in this attempted coup against the duly elected government of the United States.

I remember when the FBI was coming after everybody in Somerville. One day an alderman I knew from Union Square told me sadly:

“Do you know what it’s like to see it actually printed out, at the top of a criminal indictment, ‘The United States of America v. Francis P. Bakey?’ ”

No, Frank, I don’t what that’s like, and I hope I never do. But I pray that every one of these crooked FBI agents find out, sooner rather than later.

Much of the FBI’s Treatment of Mike Flynn Was Business as Usual, and That’s the Scandal
Agents regularly attempt to catch suspects in lies to threaten them with prosecution, even when they can’t prove underlying crimes.

Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and the former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, is back in the news after his attorneys released documents purporting to show that FBI officials considered trying to get Flynn to lie in order to prosecute him or get him fired. Flynn resigned in February 2017. In December 2017, he pled guilty to charges that he intentionally lied to the FBI about his connections and communications with a Russian ambassador.

The documents, released by Flynn’s attorneys on Wednesday, show handwritten notes that discuss strategies for interviewing Flynn. One note asks “What is our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” Fox News reports that the notes were written by Bill Priestap, the former head of FBI counterintelligence.

Fox highlights that question in its reporting but also contextualizes it: This document appears to show the author (again, Fox reports it is Priestap, but that has not been confirmed by the FBI or the Justice Department) questioning the tactic and suggesting that the FBI show Flynn the evidence against him rather than trick him into a lie. The author of the FBI document worries that “if we’re seen as playing games, [White House] will be furious.” At the end of the list, the author wrote, “protect our institution by not playing games.”

Much of that context is lost in an online uproar over a supposed “perjury trap” meant to bring down Trump by first bringing down Flynn. Whether or not there were individuals or factions within the agency that wanted to attack Trump, what the FBI did to Flynn is normal FBI behavior for interviewing suspects. They’ve been doing it for decades. (Remember Martha Stewart?)

This is not a defense of the FBI. What the agency did to Flynn was wrong, not because he worked for Trump, but because it is wrong to induce an otherwise not-guilty person to break the law. And it’s something FBI interviewers do regularly so that they can use their dishonesty as leverage when there’s little evidence of actual criminal behavior. Ken “Popehat” White, Reason contributing editor and a former federal prosecutor who is now a defense attorney, has written extensively about the FBI’s tactic of luring suspects into lies. After Flynn pled guilty, White used his plea deal to explain precisely why no one should sit down for an interview with FBI agents without extensive preparation.

On Wednesday, White tweeted out a useful thread explaining precisely how the FBI gets away with this and how federal laws could be reformed to eradicate the practice. Federal statute 18 USC 1001 makes it a crime to lie to the feds on a “material” matter, even if the FBI already knows the truth, aren’t misled, and the lie doesn’t affect the investigation. This incentivizes the FBI to play these games in the first place, to try to trick suspects into a lie that could be used against them. White argues that if people truly care about these tactics, they should lobby Congress to change the federal statute that makes the practice legal.

Trump appears ready to do his part in getting rid of the practice:

Framing what happened to Flynn primarily as a “deep state” conspiracy to take down Trump obscures the reality that this is a routine and completely legal FBI practice that will continue unless there are serious statutory reforms.

Our Dress Rehearsal for a Police State

All my life, I have dismissed paranoids on the right (“America is headed to communism”) and the left (“It can happen here” — referring to fascism). It’s not that I’ve ever believed liberty was guaranteed. Being familiar with history and a pessimist regarding the human condition, I never believed that.

But the ease with which police state tactics have been employed and the equal ease with which most Americans have accepted them have been breathtaking.

People will argue that a temporary police state has been justified because of the allegedly unique threat to life posed by the new coronavirus. I do not believe the data will bear that out. Regardless, let us at least agree that we are closer to a police state than ever in American history.

“Police state” does not mean totalitarian state. America is not a totalitarian state; we still have many freedoms. In a totalitarian state, this article could not be legally published, and if it were illegally published, I would be imprisoned and/or executed. But we are presently living with all four of the key hallmarks of a police state:

No. 1: Draconian laws depriving citizens of elementary civil rights.

The federal, state, county and city governments are now restricting almost every freedom except those of travel and speech. Americans have been banned from going to work (and thereby earning a living), meeting in groups (both indoors and outdoors), meeting in their cars in church parking lots to pray and entering state-owned properties such as beaches and parks — among many other prohibitions.

No. 2: A mass media supportive of the state’s messaging and deprivation of rights.

The New York Times, CNN and every other mainstream mass medium — except Fox News, The Wall Street Journal (editorial and opinion pages only) and talk radio — have served the cause of state control over individual Americans’ lives just as Pravda served the Soviet government. In fact, there is almost no more dissent in The New York Times than there was in Pravda. And the Big Tech platforms are removing posts about the virus and potential treatments they deem “misinformation.”

No. 3: Use of police.

Police departments throughout America have agreed to enforce these laws and edicts with what can only be described as frightening alacrity. After hearing me describe police giving summonses to, or even arresting, people for playing baseball with their children on a beach, jogging alone without a mask, or worshipping on Easter while sitting isolated in their cars in a church parking lot, a police officer called my show. He explained that the police have no choice. They must respond to every dispatch they receive.

“And why are they dispatched to a person jogging on a beach or sitting alone in a park?” I asked.

Because the department was informed about these lawbreakers.

“And who told the police about these lawbreakers?” I asked.

His answer brings us to the fourth characteristic of a police state:

No. 4: Snitches.

How do the police dispatchers learn of lawbreakers such as families playing softball in a public park, lone joggers without face masks, etc.? From their fellow citizens snitching on them. The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, set up a “snitch line,” whereby New Yorkers were told to send authorities photos of fellow New Yorkers violating any of the quarantine laws. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti similarly encouraged snitching, unabashedly using the term.

It is said that about 1 in every 100 East German citizens were informers for the Stasi, the East German secret police, as superbly portrayed in the film “The Lives of Others.” It would be interesting, and, I think, important, to know what percentage of New Yorkers informed on their fellow citizens. Now, again, you may think such a comparison is not morally valid, that de Blasio’s call to New Yorkers to serve a Stasi-like role was morally justified given the coronavirus pandemic. But you cannot deny it is Stasi-like or that, other than identifying spies during World War II, this is unprecedented in American history at anywhere near this level.

This past Friday night, I gathered with six others for a Shabbat dinner with friends in Santa Monica, California. On my Friday radio show, I announced I would be doing that, and if I was arrested, it would be worth it. In my most pessimistic dreams, I never imagined that in America, having dinner at a friend’s house would be an act of civil disobedience, perhaps even a criminal act. But that is precisely what happens in a police state.

The reason I believe this is a dress rehearsal is that too many Americans appear untroubled by it; the dominant force in America, the left, supports it, and one of the two major political parties has been taken over by the left. Democrats and their supporters have, in effect, announced they will use state power to enforce any law they can to combat the even greater “existential” crisis of global warming.

On the CNN website this weekend, in one of the most frightening and fanatical articles in an era of fanaticism, Bill Weir, CNN chief climate correspondent, wrote an open letter to his newborn son. In it, he wrote of his idealized future for America: “completely new forms of power, food, construction, transportation, economics and politics.”

You cannot get there without a police state.

If you love liberty, you must see that it is jeopardized more than at any time since America’s founding. And that means, among other things, that at this time, a vote for any Democrat is a vote to end liberty.