Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Cruising the Web

After the shooting at the Tennessee Waffle House this past weekend, the news came out that the shooter had actually been arrested previously at the White House and his guns had been confiscated. But the authorities gave the guns to his father who gave them to the shooter who used one of them to kill four people at the Waffle House. This leads Jim Geraghty to ask a good question of those supporting gun control: "how can any law overcome astonishingly bad judgment?"
However, Reinking's father was present when those deputies came to confiscate the guns, Huston said. The father had a valid state authorization card and asked the police if he could keep the weapons. Deputies gave Reinking's father the weapons, Huston said.

"He was allowed to do that after he assured deputies he would keep them secure and away from Travis," Huston said, referring to Reinking's father.

Huston and Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said they believe Reinking's father returned the weapons to Reinking.

Anderson said he believes under Illinois law, guns seized can be returned to someone who has a valid state authorization.

Anderson said he was not immediately aware of any Tennessee law Reinking would have violated by possessing guns in Nashville.

This is not the first time Reinking's father returned weapons to his son after concerns about Reinking's state of mind.
The father sounds culpable here and I wonder if he'll be charged. It's against federal law, but not state laws, to give guns to a persion that you know is prohibited from having them. The shooter was known to be operating under delusions that Taylor Swift was stalking him. Like the Parkland shooter, he had a long history of being investigated by the police for violent and just plain odd behavior. One policeman even called the father after one of these incidents and advised him to lock up the guns until his son got mental help." There were laws on the books that were even followed in these incidents, but still a man who should not have had access to guns still had access.

A more heartening story coming out of this sad episode is the heroism of James Shaw Jr. who risked his own life to tackle the shooter and wrestle the gun away. We all can ask ourselves how we would behave in a similar situation, but this is one man who faced death and decided to take action. The survivors of the shooting owe him an unimaginable debt of gratitude that he stopped by that Waffle House that night and had the courage to take action.

Some gun control advocates have been using this moment as an argument for their side that people don't need guns to defend themselves since, in this one incident, a good man without a gun was able to stop a bad guy with a gun. That is so silly. Do they really think that hand-to-hand combat is the optimal method for stopping an active shooter? Perhaps, if Shaw had had a gun, he might have been able to stop the shooter even earlier and some might not have died there. These are the same people who were defending the Broward County sheriffs who didn't go into the high school while the shooting was going on in Parkland because they only had pistols and he had a semi-automatic. So which is it?

I bet that you, like myself, didn't know that Elizabeth Warren's pet agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was collecting your private bank records and storing them. But this is so and now, as Paul Sperry reports, that data's security has been breached.

Without your knowledge or permission, the Obama administration collected and warehoused your most private bank records and continued to sweep them up — despite repeated warnings the data wasn’t being properly protected. Now there’s a good chance your personal information could be in the hands of identity thieves or even terrorists.

The government isn’t sure who has your information. It only knows the Obama-era databases have been breached by outsider threats potentially 1,000-plus times. That’s according to a recent investigation of cyber-intrusions at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where the sensitive information is stored.

The number of confirmed breaches of consumers’ personally identifiable information is “just north of 200,” revealed Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget chief who took control of the CFPB late last year, in testimony to Congress. “We think there’s another 800 [incidents of hacked information] that we suspect might have been lost, but we haven’t been able to nail that down.”

In fact, the bureau has suffered 233 confirmed hack attacks and another 840 suspected hacks, putting at risk the financial information and other personal data — including Social Security numbers and birthdates — of potentially millions of Americans.

Most people don’t know this, but after President Barack Obama created the CFPB, he had the powerful regulatory agency snoop into virtually every financial account held by Americans to assemble a massive and secret government database as part of the post-financial crisis overhaul of the banking industry.

Without asking if customers wanted to opt in, CFPB has collected and stockpiled from banks more than 600 million credit-card accounts and personal data from millions of home, auto, business and student loans.
That seems a lot more worrisome than advertisers and political groups using your personal information that you voluntarily posted online at Facebook to target ads at you. You chose to put the information up there and you're free to adjust your privacy concerns at any time or to simply ignore the ads. It's gotten that I barely notice ads that show up in my feeds on social media. But the thought that the government, without my knowledge, has all my banking and credit-card information and then didn't let the public know how often that information had been hacked by unknown actors is truly frightening. And they've been spreading that information throughout the bureaucracy.
CFPB maintained in regulatory notices buried in the Federal Register that all this personal information would be safely stored in “locked file rooms, locked file cabinets” inside a building with “security cameras” and 24-hour security guards and that the computerized records would be “safeguarded through use of access codes.”

But it turns out the agency also shared the codes and files with outside agencies and contractors, including state attorneys general, trial lawyers and civil-rights organizations interested in filing class-action lawsuits against banks, according to regulatory documents and congressional testimony.
Ostensibly, the purpose of collecting all that data was to look for patterns of bias in lending. But, despite repeated warnings, they neglected to protect the privacy protections that the federal government requires.
In 2015, the bureau’s inspector general warned that sharing the massive databases with outside contractors and storing sensitive private information on unsecured data clouds made the data vulnerable to hacking, identity theft and fraud.

Among other things, inspector general Mark Bialek found that CFPB failed to ensure that the data it was collecting on credit-card accounts and loans followed new cyber-security safeguards in the wake of the massive hacking of the US Office of Personnel Management by the Chinese, which compromised the personal information — including fingerprints — of current and former federal employees. He also found that the bureau was using an “outdated encryption mechanism to secure remote access to its information technology infrastructure.”

“CFPB has not yet fully implemented a number of privacy-control steps and information-security practices,” warned Bialek in a 10-page memo to then-CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

Also, the agency failed to perform background checks on outside contractors with “privileged access” to the computer system and databases, nor had it adequately trained employees to avoid falling for e-mail “phishing” scams that hackers use to break into government computer systems, Bialek further warned in 2017.

But the warnings largely fell on deaf ears. The full extent of the security breaches were only uncovered and disclosed after the Trump administration recently took over the agency, which Obama made sure would be shielded from congressional oversight and audit. The new director testified that “everything” the agency keeps on file is subject to being obtained by malicious third parties.
I agree with Paul Sperry's conclusion.
Even now, it’s unclear who has your data. But one thing is for sure: These breaches demand an independent audit and criminal investigation to fully assess the damage to consumer privacy. Until then, CFPB clearly cannot be trusted to gather and handle any more data that’s personally identifiable.

For those who like to brag that the left is all about science and dispassionate examination of data, how do you explain the CDC paying for research and then hushing it up once they realized that they didn't like the results? The CDC had data on how often guns were used defensively (defensive gun use or DGU) but they have never publicizing.
Many people who support gun control are angry that the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are not legally allowed to use money from Congress to do research whose purpose is "to advocate or promote gun control." (This is not the same as doing no research into gun violence, though it seems to discourage many potential recipients of CDC money.)

But in the 1990s, the CDC itself did look into one of the more controversial questions in gun social science: How often do innocent Americans use guns in self-defense, and how does that compare to the harms guns can cause in the hands of violent criminals?

Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck conducted the most thorough previously known survey data on the question in the 1990s. His study, which has been harshly disputed in pro-gun-control quarters, indicated that there were more than 2.2 million such defensive uses of guns (DGUs) in America a year.

Now Kleck has unearthed some lost CDC survey data on the question. The CDC essentially confirmed Kleck's results. But Kleck didn't know about that until now, because the CDC never reported what it found.

Kleck's new paper—"What Do CDC's Surveys Say About the Frequency of Defensive Gun Uses?"—finds that the agency had asked about DGUs in its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

Those polls, Kleck writes,
are high-quality telephone surveys of enormous probability samples of U.S. adults, asking about a wide range of health-related topics. Those that addressed DGU asked more people about this topic than any other surveys conducted before or since. For example, the 1996 survey asked the DGU question of 5,484 people. The next-largest number questioned about DGU was 4,977 by Kleck and Gertz (1995), and sample sizes were much smaller in all the rest of surveys on the topic (Kleck 2001).

Kleck was impressed with how well the survey worded its question: "During the last 12 months, have you confronted another person with a firearm, even if you did not fire it, to protect yourself, your property, or someone else?" Respondents were told to leave out incidents from occupations, like policing, where using firearms is part of the job. Kleck is impressed with how the question excludes animals but includes DGUs outside the home as well as within it.
But somehow, the CDC decided not to publicize those results.
For those who wonder exactly how purely scientific CDC researchers are likely to be about issues of gun violence that implicate policy, Kleck notes that "CDC never reported the results of those surveys, does not report on their website any estimates of DGU frequency, and does not even acknowledge that they ever asked about the topic in any of their surveys."
Shouldn't that sort of information be available when the public is discussing gun control legislation? Many gun control advocates deride the argument that people use their guns defensively, so it would be nice to know that the government has some sort of data on that very question. It would also be nice if they updated those studies from the 1990s. As more states have expanded gun rights, it would be interesting to know if DGUs had expanded.

Andrew McCarthy reminds us of the importance of the issue was that Andrew McCabe was lying and leaking about in the referral. The subject of the leak was the pressure from the Obama Justice Department regarding the FBI's investigation of the Clinton Foundation. He was responding to questions from a WSJ reporter about the FBI's probe of the Clinton Foundation.
After stewing for a few hours, McCabe got in touch with his special counsel, Lisa Page — the FBI lawyer now infamous, along with her alleged paramour, FBI agent Peter Strzok, for thousands of text messages, many bracingly partisan and anti-Trump. McCabe instructed Page to rebut Barrett’s story with a leak. Specifically, she was to tell Barrett about a tense conversation on August 12, 2016, between McCabe and a high-ranking Obama Justice Department official. The leak would show that McCabe, far from burying the Clinton Foundation investigation, had defended the FBI’s pursuit of it.
It was this leak that he lied about to the Inspector General of the Justice Department. He also tried to blame two underlings for the leak that he himself had made. But let's not forget the story that he was leaking and what it says about the Obama Justice Department.
Lost in the coverage of McCabe’s audacious fraudulence (complete with the smug, blame-everyone-but-me Washington Post op-ed in which he, of course, “take[s] full responsibility”) is the more significant matter of why this debacle happened.

Yes, McCabe shouldn’t have leaked, and it is even worse that he wouldn’t own up to it. But what was his leak about?

It was about more Obama-administration scheming to rig the election for Hillary Clinton.

The tense conversation McCabe had on August 12, 2016, was with a Justice Department official the IG report identifies only as the “Principal Assistant Deputy Attorney General (PADAG).” That post was then held by Matthew Axelrod, top aide to Sally Yates, Obama’s deputy AG eventually fired by Trump for insubordination. Lisa Page told the Wall Street Journal that the PADAG was “very pissed off” because the Justice Department had learned that the FBI’s New York office was “openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation probe.”

Yup, the campaign stretch-run was upon us, and the oh-so-non-partisan Obama Justice Department was fretting that Mrs. Clinton could be toast if the public heard about yet another criminal investigation.
He told the DOJ that the FBI was being discrete and not pursuing the Foundation. They were letting the investigation lie dormant, but hadn't closed it out.
Axelrod calculated that if he huffed and puffed enough, the FBI would get the message. To his credit, McCabe wouldn’t let him get away with that. If Obama’s Justice Department wanted the case closed, Axelrod would have to give him a direct order. McCabe put it to Axelrod: “Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?” There was then a pause, during which Axelrod doubtless thought about how that would look. “Of course not,” he finally said.

As McCarthy reminds us, this sort of interference from Obama's DOJ was part and parcel of their whole treatment of the Clinton investigations.
The Obama Justice Department “guidance” about the Clinton Foundation probe reminds us of their approach to the Clinton emails caper — call it a “matter” not an investigation; do not use the grand jury; instead of subpoenas, try saying “pretty please” to obtain evidence; do not ask the co-conspirators hard questions because they’re lawyers so that might infringe attorney–client privilege; let the witnesses sit in on each other’s interviews; let the suspects represent each other as lawyers; if someone lies, ignore it; if someone incriminates himself, give him immunity; have the attorney general meet with the main subject’s former-president husband on the tarmac a few days before dropping the whole thing; oh, and don’t forget to write up the exoneration statement months before key witnesses — including the main subject — are interviewed.

With the Clintons, though, enough is never enough. Obama Justice Department officials, figuring they were only a few days from succeeding in their quest to become Clinton Justice Department officials, decided to try to disappear the Clinton Foundation investigation, too.

After nearly two years of digging, there is still no proof of Trump-campaign collusion in Russian election-meddling. But we have collusion all right: the executive branch’s law-enforcement and intelligence apparatus placed by the Obama administration in the service of the Clinton campaign. To find that, you don’t need to dig. You just need to open your eyes.
Just imagine if Jeff Sessions or his deputies had put their thumbs on the scales in favor of Trump in any of the ways that the Obama folks did for Hillary. Then ask yourself why none of these efforts are a big deal in the MSM. It's only in a conservative outlet like the National Review where we are reminded of the bogus investigation that they conducted of Hillary throughout the campaign. And why does no one ask James Comey about the bogosity of his supposedly honorable leadership of this investigation?

Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate's news blogger reports on a conference call that the DNC held about their lawsuit against the Trump campaign. It seems that several Democrats are wondering "what's the point?" There was also doubt about how they could afford this. The answer was not all that convincing.
“We’re not getting into costs regarding this litigation” is not the kind of thing you say, in my opinion, when you are really confident that you are spending your donors’ money wisely during a crucial election year!

For all those people who voted for Hillary simply because she was a woman and you thought that she would change the culture toward women in government, pay attention to how some of her employees behaved toward Amy Chozick.
Despite the book’s title, and despite the decade Chozick spent on some version of the Hillary beat, Clinton herself does not emerge too vividly here. Sharper are the profiles of Clinton’s entourage, particularly the longtime male press aides whom Chozick never identifies by name but simply calls “The Guys.” The women around Hillary — such as Jennifer Palmieri, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills — rate full names and attributed quotes, but the men are dubbed Brown Loafers Guy, Policy Guy, Hired Gun Guy, Outsider Guy and the loathsome Original Guy, “the longest-serving Svengali and the most-devoted member of Hillary’s court of flattering men.”

The Guys constantly mess with Chozick, magnifying her self-doubts. “I don’t care what you write because no one takes you seriously,” Outsider Guy says. They suggest that a Times colleague is leaking her story ideas to a competitor at Politico and that more-experienced reporters in her newsroom will steal away her assignment. (“C’mon, you really think they’ll keep you on the beat with Maggie there?”) They ask if there are any other Times reporters, preferably male, that they could talk to instead of her. “They’d gotten in my head, and I let them,” Chozick admits. The undercurrent of sexism spills over when Chozick and Original Guy spar over whether a prior conversation can go on the record, and he randomly paraphrases a crude line from “Thank You for Smoking,” a 2005 film in which a reporter sleeps with a lobbyist for information. “I didn’t know I had to say it was off the record when I was inside you,” Original Guy smirks. (“The words hung there,” Chozick recalls, “so grossly gynecological.”)

Chozick doesn’t name him but later cites a Times story by Maggie Haberman revealing that Original Guy served as the Trump stand-in during Clinton’s debate preparation. “Hmmm, wherever will Hillary find a manipulative, sometimes-charming, often hilarious, possible sociopath?” Chozick muses. I won’t out Original Guy here, except to say that his name rhymes with “Philippe Reines.”
Why not out these sexist boors? Isn't that what we learned from the whole #MeToo movement - that we should stop protecting people behaving in an ugly, sexist manner? I guess that doesn't apply to Democratic operatives. In an interview yesterday, Chozick clarified that the sexist behavior she was describing were her State Department "long time aides." Isn't that worse - that these were the people she chose to put into government positions.

Jonah Goldberg makes a point
that is obvious, but so many refuse to see it. What used to be seen as rebellious is now the conventional. People like to think they are transgressive when, actually, they're fully in accord with the Zeitgeist.
Our colleges teach kids that being liberal or left-wing is rebellious, but there’s nothing rebellious about it. Rather, the claims of rebelliousness are the coating that makes the pill of conformity easier to swallow. The examples that demonstrate this are all too familiar — from the Google memo to, well, Kevin Williamson.

There’s still room in our culture to be different, though the irony is that wearing a gray flannel suit today is more rebellious than wearing, well, almost anything. Being an atheist on a college campus isn’t rebellious; it’s one of the most tedious forms of conformity. A real rebel talks out loud in an Ivy League classroom about how Jesus Christ is his or her personal savior. For today’s kids, it’s okay to have weird, eccentric, or oddball ideas, so long as they don’t rub against the grain of what Everyone Is Supposed to Believe. I mean, we live in an age where Satanists don the mantle of rebellion but are quick to clarify they’re not crazy like — you know — those whacky Christians.

I’d have so much more respect for the progressives who control the commanding heights of our culture if they had the courage to admit that they control the commanding heights of the culture and that they’re in the business of imposing orthodoxy. But they can’t do that because, in America, rebellion is the fashion, and claims of oppression and persecution are the cultural currency.

It's good to see some rare senatorial comity that led Democrat Chris Coons on the Foreign Relations Committee to vote present so that Mike Pompeo would be voted out of committee. Otherwise, there would have been a tie because Republican Johnny Isakson of Georgia was out of town at the funeral of his best friend. Congressmen used to do that sort of thing all the time, but partisanship has replaced comity on Capitol Hill. However, the real scandal is that almost all Democrats excepta tiny few who are up for reelection in red states voted against Pompeo for Secretary of State. This includes more than 12 Democrats who voted for him to be CIA chief and are now voting against him. The motivating factor is that they just hate Trump and are voting against as many of his top nominees that they can. Pompeo went to West Point and Harvard Law. He served honorably in the House and no one has any real complaints against his work as chief of the CIA. Some of the objections relate to his view on gay marriage or abortion, not really hot button issues for the Secretary of State especially as we approach a summit meeting with North Korea and decisions on the Iran deal. Rand Paul had opposed Pompeo, but then suddenly changed his vote when Pompeo agreed with him that the Iraq war was a mistake and that it is time to leave Afghanistan. So Paul got to talk about his issues and still vote with Trump. Do these opponents of Pompeo really think that Trump will come up with someone better to be Secretary of State? Do they think it is better to leave the post vacant heading into a summit meeting with North Korea? Is their low opinion of Trump so important that they would oppose a reasonable candidate just because Trump seems to get along with him? Do they think that Trump would pick someone who is able to restrain Trump in replacement? Has Trump ever shown that anyone can restrain him? Apparently, Democrats think that there is such a unicorn out there. Or they're just afraid to tell their base that they gave Trump this minor win. That's a true shame.

Ben Shapiro has some good advice to conservatives who are so excited that Kanye West tweeted support of a black conservative, Candace Owens, and has then tweeted out support for allowing people to have diversity of thought and saying that "the thought police want to suppress freedom of thought." Don't be so excited that a celebrity agrees with you one time. These tweets are fine, but that doesn't make Kanye West a beacon of conservative wisdom.
All of which sounds like solid, empowering conservative thought. It’s understandable that conservatives are pleased about a massive cultural figure suddenly embracing such concepts. But conservatives who are evidencing tremendous excitement over Kanye are falling prey to the same sort of celebrity-centric mentality they criticize from the Left. It’s one thing to say, “Hey, Kanye just said something halfway intelligent!” It’s another to say, “Hey, Kanye’s suddenly got it! He’s a thoughtleader!”

The jump from the former perspective to the latter is far too fast in today’s politics. Kanye West is the same fellow who once accused George W. Bush of targeting black people during Hurricane Katrina. He’s also tweeted about the shortcomings of fur pillows and about the need for antique fishtanks....

But the Right is so starved for celebrity that we’re often willing to overlook the crazy for the feeling of legitimization. That’s the same reason so many conservatives suddenly see Roseanne as one of them, despite the fact that she is a wild leftist who says insane things on a regular basis. Treat conservatives like humans with ideas, and some on the Right will respond with the enthusiasm of a puppy greeting its master at the door.

That’s a mistake. It’s particularly a mistake because allowing the halo effect to impact your views of celebrities means elevating celebrities in an area in which they’re not particularly qualified. Just because Kanye knows rap doesn’t mean Kanye knows politics. And just because conservatives like an occasional treat from the hands of popular artists doesn’t mean they should grant those artists credibility as arbiters of political matters.