Points of Information Archive
May 23, 2013 at 10:28 AM
Don’t criminalize the investigations. immunize the witnesses!
If we criminalize the investigations, if witnesses are afraid they will be indicted, prosecuted, and punished if they tell the truth about what they’ve been up to, our chances of getting the full picture will be enormously, maybe even fatally, diminished.
We want the truth, the whole truth. The best way to get it is to immunize congressional witnesses who tell the story. That way, they will be part of a common effort to understand what went wrong, rather than targets of a criminal investigation. It may surprise you to learn that there are many civil servants who have quietly asked to be subpoenaed so their superiors will not accuse them of ratting out their bureaucratic cohorts. Fair enough. Subpoena them, and give them the protection of immunity, provided they tell the truth.
The cudgel of criminal action should be reserved for those who insist on clamming up, for they are obstructing investigations desperately needed to protect and advance our freedoms.
And I say, right on! For example, I am not enthused about the claim that Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights by her testimony yesterday, thus allowing Congress to force her to speak or charge her with contempt. I fear this will only make her a convenient martyr to be used by the tools of the Obama administration to distract us.
It would be far better to give immunity to as many low level employees as possible. That way, we get the truth out, and the handful who lie to protect Obama and the Democratic Party will be exposed.
May 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM
Did contributing to Mitt Romney’s campaign last year cause the IRS to target you for an audit?
At the moment the data is anecdotal, but it appears that Coburn’s office might be accumulating some interesting information.
May 23, 2013 at 10:07 AM
“Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.”
The issue here is not sexual orientation, but the government forcing a certain set of beliefs on its employees.
May 23, 2013 at 10:04 AM
The accumulating dents and dings on Curiosity’s wheels.
May 23, 2013 at 9:56 AM
The competition heats up: Japan has announced an August 22 launch date for its new Epsilon rocket.
Key quote: “Epsilon replaces the M-V, a larger solid-fuel rocket that failed to attract sufficient customers to remain in production. M-V’s last launch was in 2002.” Competition rules!
May 23, 2013 at 9:52 AM
The competition heats up: The Russians announced today that they plan nine more Proton rocket launches in 2013, for a total of twelve.
I note this to give some context to what SpaceX will do with Falcon 9 this year. SpaceX has just updated its launch manifest schedule, and if the American company does what it says, it should have at least six more Falcon 9 flights this year, for a total of seven.
Should these predicted launches all take place, it will clearly demonstrate that SpaceX has grabbed a significant share of the launch market, but that the Russians are also holding their own.
Note also that the updated launch manifest still includes the first test flight of Falcon Heavy in 2013. Very interesting.
Update: The Russians are also preparing to launch their new Angara rocket family, which will replace their older rockets and allow them to launch from their new spaceport.
May 22, 2013 at 9:44 PM
A former IRS worker points out that the law allows the immediate termination of any IRS worker who violates certain clear rules.
The rule is Section 1023 of the Internal Revenue Code. The violations pertaining to this scandal are these:
-(2) providing a false statement under oath with respect to a material matter involving a taxpayer or taxpayer representative;
-(3) with respect to a taxpayer, taxpayer representative, or other employee of the Internal Revenue Service, the violation of – (A) any right under the Constitution of the United States;
-(6) violations of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, Department of Treasury regulations, or policies of the Internal Revenue Service (including the Internal Revenue Manual) for the purpose of retaliating against, or harassing, a taxpayer, taxpayer representative, or other employee of the Internal Revenue Service;
-(7) willful misuse of the provisions of section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for the purpose of concealing information from a congressional inquiry;
I like to say it isn’t what people say that counts, it is what they do. If President Obama was truly outraged about this scandal, he could do something about it. That he has not, and has in fact supported and promoted the key players at the IRS suggests instead that he is very happy with their performance.
May 22, 2013 at 8:55 PM
Pushback: Gun rights advocates counter a Michigan county gun buyback program with their own “Guns 4 Cash” operation.
It is interesting to read what happened after the County Executive himself observed the gun rights advocates:
From that moment forward until the event ended, the gun rights activists were harassed by all day by Wayne County deputies. Their first act was to park one of their marked cars by the parking lot’s entrance and started directing people further up the street to the church.
Then a deputy went into the fast-food restaurant and talked to the manager on duty. We do not know what they told the manager, but suddenly, the restaurant reversed its decision to allow gun rights activists onto its property. Prior to contact with the deputies, their presence was allowed as long as it did not interfere with customers buying food. Thus, the gun rights activists were ejected from the parking lot and had to move their cars. Apparently, the deputies thought their actions were enough to deter the activists. They couldn’t have been more wrong. The activists adjusted by walking up and down the public sidewalk while holding their signs.
The deputies responded by telling them that they would start writing tickets for both being on and obstructing the sidewalk in front of the church. It would be a hour or so later before discussions with the top deputy in charge confirmed that walking on the sidewalk was legal and that all deputies would be apprised of that fact.
This harassment by police of Americans, very carefully doing legal things, is appalling. More appalling is how common this is becoming.
May 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM
Working for the Democratic Party: When IRS official Lois Lerner was head of the Federal Election Commission’s enforcement office in 1998, she of stopping an investigation because Al Gore was involved.
May 22, 2013 at 10:17 AM
Pushback: A lawsuit was filed today in federal court in Connecticut against the new gun control laws that were passed recently after the Newtown shooting.
The lawsuit seeks immediate injunctive relief and a ruling declaring the new law unconstitutional under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It alleges that Connecticut’s new firearms law is not only unconstitutional but dangerous, since it makes both citizens and law enforcement less safe by depriving citizens of firearms that are in common use throughout the country. The very firearms and design features banned by the new law are commonly used in part because of safety, accuracy and ease-of-use features that make them effective in the hands of citizens who must defend themselves and their families against criminals and the mentally ill who do not obey such laws.
May 22, 2013 at 9:20 AM
Some of the Earth’s creepiest places.
Most of these aren’t natural places, but weird human ruins or artifacts of some kind.
May 22, 2013 at 9:14 AM
Stonewalling: IRS official Lois Lerner invoked the Fifth amendment to Congress today, defiantly refusing to answer any questions.
May 22, 2013 at 9:07 AM
An early sign of Obamacare’s impending collapse?
May 22, 2013 at 8:58 AM
Stonewalling: The IRS today failed to comply with a Congressional deadline to provide documents relating to the IRS scandal.
May 22, 2013 at 8:43 AM
The competiton heats up: In a speech in Dubai last week Richard Branson revealed that his company is aiming for a 2013 Christmas day inaugural space tourism flight of SpaceShipTwo.
May 22, 2013 at 8:39 AM
The competition heats up: A new Defense Department report says that China is aggressively ramping up its space program.
China will continue to augment its orbiting assets, with the planned launch of 100 more satellites through 2015. These launches include imaging, remote sensing, navigation, communication and scientific satellites, as well as manned spacecraft.
China is pursuing a variety of air, sea, undersea, space, counterspace and information warfare systems, as well as operational concepts, moving toward an array of overlapping, multilayered offensive capabilities extending from China’s coast into the western Pacific. China’s 2008 Defense White Paper asserts that one of the priorities for the development of China’s armed forces is to “increase the country’s capabilities to maintain maritime, space and electromagnetic space security.”
Further, China continues to develop the Long March 5 rocket, which is intended to lift heavy payloads into space. LM-5 will more than double the size of the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO) payloads China is capable of placing into orbit. To support these rockets, China began constructing the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in 2008. Located on Hainan Island, this launch facility is expected to be complete sometime this year 2013, with the initial LM-5 launch scheduled for 2014.
May 21, 2013 at 9:48 PM
A detailed analysis of the IRS’s chain of command in Cincinnati, proving the harassment of conservatives came from high up the chain.
The article names names, and places them in the chain of command both in Cincinnati and in relation to Washington. The new key person in that chain is Cindy Thomas, who appears to have been at the top of the chain in Cincinnati, reported directly to Washington, and also was the person who signed off on the illegal release of data to ProPublica.
All of it makes the claims of the White House and the IRS that this was done by a few low-level rogue agents look absurd and dishonest.
May 21, 2013 at 9:35 PM
The journal Science struggles to find the harm done to NIH from sequestration’s 5% cut.
Given that sequestration lopped off a staggering $1.55 billion from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) budget this year, it shouldn’t be hard to find examples of how the cut is harming research labs. Although sequestration “has already dealt a devastating blow,” said NIH Director Francis Collins at a Senate hearing last week, it turns out it’s not that easy to spell out the damage.
First of all, this cut was hardly “staggering.” All it did was bring NIH’s budget down to $29.15 billion, which is almost exactly the budget the agency had in 2008. Somehow, NIH managed quite well with this amount of money in 2008, and in fact probably wasted quite a bit of cash even then.
Second, this fact — that the cut wasn’t really that “devastating” — might explain why Science can’t find any obvious damage to any program. In its budget articles the journal routinely makes it a point to lobby for more money for scientists. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised when it tries to spin any cut — or even a small reduction in the rate of growth — as a disaster. The fact that Science still has trouble making that spin seem believable in this case is solid evidence that sequestration was a good idea, and that there was a great deal of fat that could be trimmed from the budget.
May 21, 2013 at 9:19 PM
The Dream Chaser engineering test vehicle has been unwrapped at Dryden.
This is not the actual flight vehicle, but a prototype built to do drop tests with. They will build the spacecraft based on the data obtained in these tests.
May 21, 2013 at 5:21 PM
Photos from various tea party protests across the nation today.
The protesters wearing targets on their backs were especially clever, considering the vicious attacks after the Tucson shootings two years ago against Sarah Palin for using tiny target graphics in some of her literature. Back then, Palin and conservatives got slimed for this irrelevant act, something they had nothing to do with the Tucson murders. Now, the IRS has made them real targets. And it both cases, they are innocent, doing nothing more than expressing their beliefs and ideas.
May 21, 2013 at 4:51 PM
How “Hope and Change” became spying on the press.
May 21, 2013 at 4:22 PM
Pushback: Another conservative organization that was harassed by the IRS has filed suit against the tax agency.
May 21, 2013 at 1:25 PM
A first look at the Saturn 5′s F1 engines that were recovered from the ocean floor and are being restored for museum display.
May 21, 2013 at 1:13 PM
IRS official Lois Lerner will invoke the Fifth Amendment when she testifies to Congress about the IRS’s harassment of conservatives.
She has the right to do this, but this action puts the lie to the Obama administration claim that no laws were broken in the IRS scandal. Her lawyer very clearly knows that she risks prosecution for breaking the law, and that is why he is advising her to invoke the Fifth.
May 21, 2013 at 9:22 AM
Finding out what’s in it: More labor unions balk at the consequences of Obamacare.
Many UFCW members have what are known as multi-employer or Taft-Hartley plans. According to the administration’s analysis of the Affordable Care Act, the law does not provide tax subsidies for the roughly 20 million people covered by the plans. Union officials argue that interpretation could force their members to change their insurance and accept more expensive and perhaps worse coverage in the state-run exchanges.
May 21, 2013 at 9:12 AM
The uncertainty of science: Climate scientists have been forced to revise their climate models due to the unexpected refusal of the climate to warm since the late 1990s.
In related news, the certainty of some ignorant politicians: A Democratic senator used the Oklahoma tornado to rant against Republicans who have expressed skepticism about human-caused global warming. Update: Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) followed up by blaming the tornado on global warming while pushing her carbon tax bill today.
The first story attempts very hard to keep the narrative alive that we are all going to die from global warming, even though the gist is that the warming has stopped and all the predictions of global warming scientists have been wrong. The second story illustrates the typically close-minded attitude of liberal politicians. The senator not only refuses to recognize the new data showing that warming has stopped, he has accepted the global warming narrative completely, including the entirely false claim that extreme weather is rising because of global warming.
May 21, 2013 at 8:59 AM
Pushback: A California tea party group sued the IRS on Monday for its harassment of conservatives.
May 21, 2013 at 8:45 AM
A Russian Bion-M spacecraft, filled with mice, lizards and other animals, returned to Earth after 30 days in space with about half its mice and all its gerbils dead.
The Bion-M experiment, launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on April 19, carried 45 mice, 15 geckos, 18 Mongolian gerbils, 20 snails and a number of different plants, seeds and microorganisms, according to a Russian state news site. About half of the mice died, but the lizards reportedly survived. The Mongolian gerbils all expired, apparently due to an equipment failure, said Vladimir Sychev of the Russian Academy of Sciences, according to AFP.
It is unclear at this moment whether it was the harsh environment of weightlessness or equipment failure that caused the mortalities.