Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Sessions’

LinkSwarm for January 5, 2018

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Happy New Year!

  • How Donald Trump is restoring the S-curve.
  • What it’s like to be a New York Times reporter during the war on terror:

    Success as a reporter on the CIA beat inevitably meant finding out government secrets, and that meant plunging headlong into the classified side of Washington, which had its own strange dynamics.

    I discovered that there was, in effect, a marketplace of secrets in Washington, in which White House officials and other current and former bureaucrats, contractors, members of Congress, their staffers, and journalists all traded information. This informal black market helped keep the national security apparatus running smoothly, limiting nasty surprises for all involved. The revelation that this secretive subculture existed, and that it allowed a reporter to glimpse the government’s dark side, was jarring. It felt a bit like being in the Matrix.

    It’s a long and informative piece, even if you don’t accept all of reporter James Risen’s analysis. And it really does show how badly our national security agencies leak…

  • The recently discovered vulnerability in Intel chips is really, really bad. And fixing it requires about a 5-30% performance hit on every OS that runs atop Intel processors. (Here’s a nice layman description).
  • More on the same topic from Borepatch.
  • “Crazy” like a fox: “The tougher the sanctions and rhetoric from the United States, the more flexible North Korea is becoming.”
  • 40 companies offer Trump Tax Cut bonuses. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Germany outsources censorship. Evidently you’re not allowed to say anything critical of Muslims or “Muslim refugees,” ever. “How the Germans can’t see that such a law, in the hands of the wrong party, could be devastating is a mystery. I can only conclude such occurrences have no precedent in their country from which they could draw obvious lessons.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Scott Adams enumerates all the things President Donald Trump broke that needed breaking.
  • DACA isn’t what Democrats say it is.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinds Obama-era memorandums on state-level legalized marijuana. Popehat thinks this is, at present, mostly cosmetic due to the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. I oppose federal marijuana prohibition on constitutional grounds: Regulating marijuana is not an enumerated power of the federal government, regulation is neither necessary nor proper (thus no 9th Amendment justification), and thus a matter entirely for the states absent any interstate commerce under the 10th Amendment.
  • “Mayor Sylvester Turner’s press secretary was suspended for two weeks without pay after she failed to turn over thousands of documents required to be released under Texas law. Darian Ward was asked to turn over emails relating to her work on non-city related projects, including a private side business called ‘Joy in Motion Productions.'” She must have gone to the Hillary Clinton School of Email FOIA compliance…
  • Dave Chappelle has a point. As gross, disgusting and socially unacceptable as having Louis C.K. masturbate on the phone with you is, if you let that dissuade you from pursuing a career in a field as hotly competitive as standup comedy, that’s on you. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • “Genetic Study Supports Carbohydrate-Insulin Model of Obesity.”
  • Perfect season.
  • Dibs.
  • Trump and Sessions Are Wrong on Civil Forfeiture

    Thursday, July 20th, 2017

    A commitment to constitutional due process is a bedrock of American civil society, and President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ efforts to increase federal use of civil asset forfeiture is deeply ill-considered.

    “[W]e hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture—especially for drug traffickers,” Sessions said. “With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime. Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners.”

    The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment and for more information about the directive.

    Asset forfeiture became a prized hammer in law enforcement’s tool chest in the 1980s, when the government was struggling to combat organized drug cartels. Law enforcement groups say the laws allow them to disrupt drug trafficking operations by targeting their proceeds—cars, cash, and guns.

    However, the practice has exploded since then, and civil liberties groups and political advocacy organizations, both liberal and conservative, say the perverse profit incentives and lack of due process for property owners lead to far more average citizens having their property seized than cartel bosses.

    The Justice Department plays a huge role in asset forfeiture through its Equitable Sharing Program, which allows state and local police to have their forfeiture cases “adopted” by the federal government. The feds take over the case, and the seized money is put into the equitable sharing pool. In return, the department gets up to 80 percent of those funds back. The equitable sharing program distributes hundreds of millions of dollars a year to police departments around the country.

    The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states that citizens shall not “be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law,” while the Fourteenth Amendment states that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” making official the incorporation of federal due process rights at the state level. (These rights were already largely observed for free citizens under common law, with the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly extending them for freed slaves.)

    There have been numerous documented abuses of civil asset forfeiture laws, with people having money and property seized despite having committed no crime. The Supreme Court has recently started limiting the scope of civil asset forfeiture, with Justice Clarence Thomas being especially critical:

    This system — where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use — has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses. According to one nationally publicized report, for example, police in the town of Tenaha, Texas, regularly seized the property of out-of-town drivers passing through and collaborated with the district attorney to coerce them into signing waivers of their property rights.

    In one case, local officials threatened to file unsubstantiated felony charges against a Latino driver and his girlfriend and to place their children in foster care unless they signed a waiver. In another, they seized a black plant worker’s car and all his property (including cash he planned to use for dental work), jailed him for a night, forced him to sign away his property, and then released him on the side of the road without a phone or money. He was forced to walk to a Wal-Mart, where he borrowed a stranger’s phone to call his mother, who had to rent a car to pick him up.

    These forfeiture operations frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings. Perversely, these same groups are often the most burdened by forfeiture. They are more likely to use cash than alternative forms of payment, like credit cards, which may be less susceptible to forfeiture. And they are more likely to suffer in their daily lives while they litigate for the return of a critical item of property, such as a car or a home.

    And Connecticut just passed a law making it clear that civil asset forfeiture can only occur after conviction of a crime.

    Texas state senator Konni Burton (R-Colleyville), who has been critical of previous Trump statements on civil forfeiture, had this to say:

    I am extremely disappointed in the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind certain policies implemented by his predecessors which limited the federal scope and use of civil asset forfeiture. While the A.G. has added some new safeguards against abuse, he is once again allowing law enforcement to potentially circumvent stricter state forfeiture laws and utilize weaker federal laws at the expense of the rights of the individual. Sessions’ announcement only underscores the dire necessity of making real change at the state and federal level by passing meaningful protections for the people into law, and not simply relying on prosecutorial discretion and rule-making, which changes from one administration to the next. Let me be clear: there is no bigger private property rights issue in America today than our current, egregious system of civil asset forfeiture. We must pass real reforms through the legislative process here in Texas and at the federal level as well. As we’ve seen today, the peoples’ property is not truly secure until we do.

    If President Trump and Attorney General Sessions were planning to increase civil asset forfeiture only for convicted felons and only for the proceeds from their crimes, I’d have no problem. Alas, nothing in their statements indicates adherence to such constraints.

    Like free speech and civilian firearms ownership, private property rights and substantive due process are both fundamental American constitutional rights, and “But drug lords!” is a pretty lousy argument for suspending those rights.

    LinkSwarm for January 13, 2016

    Friday, January 13th, 2017

    Time to extract more pure wheat from chaff!

  • Glenn Greenwald says Democrats will go to any lengths to avoid blaming themselves for their debacle:

    I really haven’t experienced anything even remotely like the smear campaign that has been launched by Democrats in this really coordinated way ever since I began just expressing skepticism about the prevailing narrative over Russia and its role that it allegedly played in the election and, in particular, in helping to defeat Hillary Clinton. I mean, not even the reporting I did based on the Edward Snowden archive, which was extremely controversial in multiple countries around the world, not even that compared to the attacks now.

    And the reason is very, very obvious, which is that it has become exceptionally important to Democratic partisans to believe that the reason they lost this election is not because they chose a candidate who was corrupt and who was extremely disliked and who symbolized all of the worst failings of the Democratic Party. It’s extremely important to them not to face what is really a systemic collapse on the part of the Democratic Party as a political force in the United States, in the House, in the Senate, in state houses and governorships all over the country. And so, in order not to face any of that and have to confront their own failings, they instead want to focus everything on Vladimir Putin and Russia and insist that the reason they lost was because this big, bad dictator interfered in the election. And anyone who challenges or anyone who questions that instantly becomes not just their enemy, but now, according to their framework, someone who’s actually unpatriotic, that if you question the evidence, the sufficiency of the evidence to support this theory, that somehow your loyalties are suspect, that you’re not just a critic of the Democratic Party, you’re actually a stooge of or an agent of the Kremlin.

  • In fact, Greenwald is all over this week’s LinkSwarm, saying that the U.S. “deep state” is at war with Trump:

    For months, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”

    It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it. Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow, while Trump wanted improved relations and greater cooperation. In general, Clinton defended and intended to extend the decadeslong international military order on which the CIA and Pentagon’s preeminence depends, while Trump — through a still-uncertain mix of instability and extremist conviction — posed a threat to it.

    Whatever one’s views are on those debates, it is the democratic framework — the presidential election, the confirmation process, congressional leaders, judicial proceedings, citizen activism and protest, civil disobedience — that should determine how they are resolved. All of those policy disputes were debated out in the open; the public heard them; and Trump won. Nobody should crave the rule of Deep State overlords.

    Yet craving Deep State rule is exactly what prominent Democratic operatives and media figures are doing.

    One need not buy all of Greenwald’s analysis of geopolitics or Trump to conclude that his analysis of the current alliance between Democrats, the media and the intelligence community is essentially correct. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • Borepatch, who is a real life computer security expert, is not impressed with the Russian hacking claims:

    My take is that several state actors certainly hacked Hillary’s email server for years and years, and silently read all her communications. Probably more than one state actor penetrated the DNC email system for several years.

    It’s plausible than an insider leaked the DNC emails – some BertieBro IT Admin type who saw how the sausage was being made and who was smart enough to cover his tracks while pointing clues towards Russia.

    Bottom line, this is a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury and signifying nothing. We know that something happened, but we don’t know who did it, and what they say in the report doesn’t change that.

  • Borepatch, in turn, points to this detailed analysis of the security on both Hillary’s email server and the DNC:

    At this point, we can largely dispose of Hillary’s Hack. It was an open book to all comers and at least one was Romanian (and sharing with friends) and not Russia. However, I’d say it was almost certain that at some time a Russian intrusion happened. The name of the server was obvious. The location insecure. The operating system and protective layers a joke. Frankly, I’d expect them to be “in” the same day they first looked at it. Which means something like 8 years ago. So why didn’t things leak then?

    Because the Russians Are Not Stupid. A fundamental of spycraft is you don’t expose sources and methods, you use them to collect intel for your use, not publication. I suspect they enjoyed a near real time email feed from the Secretary Of State for years, in silence. This argues for email dump to be someone other than them. My personal muse would be an NSA guy, aghast at what was in evidence. Like a Snowden, but not willing to give up the $1/4 Million salary… He (or she…) would have all the requisite skilz to pull it off and leave no finger prints, access to PRISM, and lots of neat toys to work with. Though more likely would be the underpaid I.T. guy Hillary had set it up who was making a backup one day and dropped a load… But I digress.

    The bottom line on Hillary is we know she kept a full copy (found on Huma’s Laptop with the Wiener…) and that it was around until she had her lawyers erase it. We know it surfaced in full at the time the laptop went to the FBI, and in parts before that. We know at least one of her hackers was found (though he had likely not leaked it) and that he said he had a doomsday copy for safety. He wasn’t a very good hacker, so that shows lots of good ones walked right in and snagged copies. Assigning source of any Hillary leaks is going to be an exercise is “ME ME MEE!!! PICK MEEE!” with a dozen hands up in the room.

  • More from Guccifer 2.0 himself: “I have totally no relation to the Russian government. I’d like to tell you once again I was acting in accordance with my personal political views and beliefs. The technical evidence contained in the reports doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. This is a crude fake.” (Hat tip: Zero Hedge.)
  • “The opposition research firm that hired a former British spy to dig up dirt on Donald Trump is the same shady outfit that was hired by Planned Parenthood to put a positive spin on videos showing the sale of baby parts.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Our new Secretary of Defense sounds serious about defeating the Islamic State. “We should try to shut down its recruiting, shut down its finances, and then work to fight battles of annihilation — not attrition, but annihilation — against them; so that the first time they meet the forces that we put against them, there should basically be no survivors.”
  • Speaking of which: “Islamic State publishes video of toddler executing prisoner on playground.”
  • House Republicans are already laying the groundwork to repeal ObamaCare.
  • News media buries story of Jeff Sessions bankrupting the Klu Klux Klan in Alabama because it doesn’t fit their narrative. (Hat tip: Dierctor Blue.)
  • Mexican illegal aliens are already self-deporting in advance of Trump’s inauguration. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The problem with rule by experts:

    The problem that we are faced with, and what the American people seem to be rebelling against, are the “experts” who seek to influence government policy in ways voters are either opposed to or at the very least find ineffective and expensive.

    To put it bluntly: those experts have screwed a lot of shit up. Obamacare, American foreign policy, the war on drugs, domestic environmental policy, the economy…the list of issues is seemingly endless. The American people were told for at least the last eight years that the smart set was in charge, and things would be just dandy if only we allowed the “experts” free rein. The problem is that there are a lot of things that may seem smart on paper but which just won’t work when forcibly applied to the citizens of 50 separate states, with 50 separate economies, and 50 distinct voting bases, and this assessment assumes that those implementing policy actually have America’s best interests as a free republic at heart.

    This leads us to the real heart of the matter: liberty. The Washington political and bureaucratic classes have no Constitutional right to force the “solutions” to any of these problems on their fellow citizens. The health insurance “problem” is not a national problem insofar as there is no Constitutional right to health insurance (or even healthcare), and the answer to what problems there are in healthcare in Texas are very probably not the same as the answer for New Hampshire or Oregon. The federal government institutes regulations constantly affecting the economy that have no Constitutional basis. There is no Constitutional basis whatsoever for banning or regulating any drug at the Federal level, and yet we’re told we have a national “opioid epidemic” that demands a federal solution. Foreign policy experts are undoubtedly necessary, but our foreign policy, when any logic or reason can be discerned in it at all, certainly doesn’t seem to be guided by any experts in the field. There is even a very good possibility that actually fixing any “problem” at the federal level is viewed as bad for business, because without the problem to solve there would be a lot of unemployable experts.

    In short, the American people don’t have a problem with experts or intellectuals. What they have a problem with is incompetence, and it is just a fact of life that the larger and more remote the government and bureaucracy become, the more incompetent and unaccountable they will be.

  • Thanks Obama. “93 percent of police officers are concerned about their safety on the job; 72 percent are less willing to stop suspicious characters; and 75 percent report increased tension between cops and the black community.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • U.S. troops sent on permenant deployment to Poland. Given that Poland joined NATO in 1999, it’s a surprise it took this long. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • About half the EU has been cheating on the 3% deficit ceiling fiscal discipline rule half the time. Only Finland, Estonia, Luxembourg and Sweden have never broken the rule. And Poland, France and the brexiting UK have actually violated the rule more than Italy and Ireland. Once again: Austerity hasn’t been tried and found wanting in the EU, it’s been declared difficult and left untried.
  • Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames “terrorist exchange rates” for attacking his country. Fun how that happens when you ruin your own country… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Social Justice Warriors already deterring people from the “Women’s March on Washington.” See, they were all set to flaunt the peacock feathers of their leftwing virtue, only to be told “they had a lot of learning to do.” Because there’s nothing more fun than being lectured about how you’re a racist when you’re not. Welcome to Red State America, liberal white women! (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “DNC Chair Candidate Forum to Be Held at Anti-Israel Restaurant” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Germany court rules that an attempt to burn down a synagogue is a “justified expression of criticism of Israel’s policies.” You know, I think I’ve seen this movie before…
  • Heh: “Intolerance at Berkeley as Faculty Demand Gay Immigrant Stay Off Campus.”
  • More: Berkley Social Justice Warriors dox the hosts of Milo’s speech. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • 1. “CEO Raises Salaries to $70K for EVERY Employee” 2. ???? 3. Wrecked company. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Teach women not to lie about rape.
  • Social Justice Warrior drama at the Free Software Foundation. “‘Developer’ Leah Rowe has been making unhinged, outrageous claims of harassment and bullying on behalf of her anonymous friend who was let go by the FSF. She then stole the Libreroot project from the community, locked it down away from the other devs, and made a unhinged claims of wrongdoing by the FSF and two employees. She has provided no evidence of any of these claims and as she is a post-modernist, we’re supposed to substitute her feelings for any facts as being equivalent.” The amazing thing is that, for once, FSF head honcho Richard Stallman (who is somewhere on the continuum between “true software visionary” and “fanatic lunatic no one wants to deal with”) isn’t the person at fault for the drama…
  • “An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer has survived an attempt on his life after a passing motorist shot dead a highway sniper who took aim at the trooper after stopping to assist an individual in a rolled vehicle.”
  • Also from Arizona: Naked woman steals police car, goes joyriding.

  • Clockboy’s lawsuit dismissed.
  • William Peter Blatty, RIP.
  • What the hell? YouTube takes down Legal Insurrection’s channel at the behest of anti-Israeli activists.
  • Slate won’t even delete their big mistakes:

  • Trump Taps Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

    Saturday, November 19th, 2016

    Despite speculation that it would be Rudy Giuliani or Ted Cruz, Donald Trump has nominated Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama as his Attorney General.

    Hans A. von Spakovsky makes the case that Sessions is an excellent pick:

    President-elect Donald Trump has picked Sen. Jeff Sessions to serve as the 84th Attorney General of the United States—and he couldn’t have made a better choice. Throughout his career, Sessions has demonstrated unshakable commitment and fidelity to the Constitution, the rule of law, and protecting the freedom and liberty that is our birthright as Americans.

    He has almost the perfect professional background to be the attorney general. As the former U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of Alabama under President Ronald Reagan, he gained practical experience in the most important prosecutorial work that the Justice Department is supposed to do every day: enforce the criminal and civil statutes of the United States.

    That is something that the Justice Department has neglected to do in a number of areas—such as immigration—under the leadership of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. In fact, Sessions’ most difficult job will be reversing the unprofessionalism and downright unethical conduct that has infected parts of the Department in recent years, the result of decision-making being driven by politics rather than a commitment to uphold the law.

    While many lawyers have the kind of practical experience Sessions gained as a prosecutor, not many have been a state attorney general. It is that experience that helps make Sessions the best choice. As the former attorney general of Alabama, Sen. Sessions won’t have a lengthy learning curve; he already has the administrative experience of running a law enforcement agency. More importantly, he has a keen appreciation of the fact that we are a federal republic, which means that state governments are independent sovereigns, not provincial subdivisions of the federal government.

    One things for sure: As a conservative Republican and a southerner, expect liberals to display more irrational loathing for Sessions than any Attorney General since Ed Meese.