Archive for the ‘FedGov’ Category

BLM, Oklahoma, Texas, and the Red River

Posted: April 23, 2014 by ShortTimer in FedGov, Government, Texas
Tags:

As I’ve previously noted, I break with some on the right out of my own concern for rule of law, and I don’t have much sympathy for the Nevada rancher who’s simply disregarded the law because it’s inconvenient for him.  Every word written about that situation is one wasted that should be used to talk about the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma.

I certainly am very concerned for folks living on the northern border of Texas and souther border of Oklahoma, who are facing the BLM taking 90,000 acres that is and was always private land.

This story is much more black and white:

BYERS, Texas (RFD-TV) Most people think the border between Texas and Oklahoma is the Red River. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that, especially along the part of the river where Tommy Henderson and his family ranch.

Henderson lost a lawsuit 30 years ago that moved part of the northern Texas border over a mile to the south.

The Bureau of Land Management [BLM] took 140 acres of his property and didn’t pay him one cent.

Now, they want to use his case as precedent to seize land along a 116-mile stretch of the river.

“They’re wanting to take the boundaries that the courts placed here and extend those east and west to the forks of the river north of Vernon and east to the 98th Meridian which is about 20 miles east of us,” Henderson explained.

BLM, which oversees public land in the United States, claims this land never belonged to Texas.

This is an issue for the states to deal with.  As nice as it would be if the federal government actually did its job and made commerce regular by acting as a neutral party between disputes, the BLM has considered simply taking 90,000 acres of private land and making it off-limits.

“How can BLM come in and say, “Hey, this isn’t yours.” Even though it’s patented from the state, you’ve always paid taxes on it. Our family has paid taxes for over 100 years on this place. We’ve got a deed to it. But yet they walked in and said it wasn’t ours,” said Henderson.

It’s private property.  It’s not a lease, it’s not public land, it’s private, and has been since Texas was an independent nation.

The border pretty much is the river.  It isn’t that complicated… but it is a land grab.

Ever since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, there has been controversy over where Oklahoma ends and Texas begins.

In layman’s terms the boundary is the vegetation line on the south side of the Red River.

Over time the river moves. This movement north toward Oklahoma is the sticking point.

The sandy soils erode in a process called accretion, which wipes out the bank. So the property line follows the river.

BLM claims that the river moved by another process called avulsion. With avulsion, the land may be changed by flood or currents, but the property line isn’t. So BLM claims that when the river moved back north the property line stayed put.

It doesn’t help that Oklahoma defines avulsion differently than Texas and the U.S.

“Originally, here the river was out there where it is now and it eroded and accreted up to here, and then it eroded and accreted back. Well, their interpretation is that it eroded up to here but avulsed back. So when you listen to them it is always erosion to the south because the property line follows it then, but it’s always avulsion when it goes north. So the boundary can move south but it can never move back north,” said Henderson.

That the BLM could come in and just take 90,000 acres and rule it off-limits because the river moved is absurd and is not their function.  They’re not managing federal lands, they’re not dealing with delinquent grazing lessees, they’re taking land.

Sympathy and The Bundy Ranch

Posted: April 23, 2014 by ShortTimer in FedGov, Government, Nevada, Texas

I find myself again breaking from a lot of folks on the right on this issue, and mostly out of concern for the rule of law.

Powerline had this piece last week on the Nevada ranch standoff that’s worth reading for another viewpoint.  John Hinderaker argues that folks should feel sympathy towards the Bundys.  But he has to preface it with this:

First, it must be admitted that legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The Bureau of Land Management has been charging him grazing fees since the early 1990s, which he has refused to pay. Further, BLM has issued orders limiting the area on which Bundy’s cows can graze and the number that can graze, and Bundy has ignored those directives. As a result, BLM has sued Bundy twice in federal court, and won both cases. In the second, more recent action, Bundy’s defense is that the federal government doesn’t own the land in question and therefore has no authority to regulate grazing. That simply isn’t right; the land, like most of Nevada, is federally owned. Bundy is representing himself, of necessity: no lawyer could make that argument.

That’s why I can’t be on the side of the Bundys.  And no matter the cries for sympathy, I have find myself having no more for them than I would for yesterday’s example of a hypothetical where Reverend Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright used a church owned as a historic site by the National Park Service and then decided to ignore the law.

That being the case, why does Bundy deserve our sympathy? To begin with, his family has been ranching on the acres at issue since the late 19th century. They and other settlers were induced to come to Nevada in part by the federal government’s promise that they would be able to graze their cattle on adjacent government-owned land. For many years they did so, with no limitations or fees. The Bundy family was ranching in southern Nevada long before the BLM came into existence.

I don’t think he does deserve much sympathy.  He’s broken the law for decades.  Rather than create a conflict back in 1993 when he “fired” the BLM (which would be analagous to you or I “firing” the IRS… or a traffic cop) by choosing not to pay them, and with the BLM derelict in enforcement, he just kept on breaking the law.  He didn’t make it an issue then to get the law changed, he just operated in violation of it because the BLM didn’t enforce it.  I don’t have sympathy for Tim Geithner when he forgets to pay taxes and the IRS doesn’t bother to enforce it for a long time, and I don’t have sympathy for an illegal alien who ICE doesn’t deport until they finally do, so why should I have sympathy here?

The argument that he was there first by virtue of his family being there is meaningless.  Working land that wasn’t yours in 1870 but before there was an enforcement structure for the owner to control it doesn’t mean it’s yours – especially when the owner of the land owned it since 1848.

Over the last two or three decades, the Bureau has squeezed the ranchers in southern Nevada by limiting the acres on which their cattle can graze, reducing the number of cattle that can be on federal land, and charging grazing fees for the ever-diminishing privilege.  The effect of these restrictions has been to drive the ranchers out of business. Formerly, there were dozens of ranches in the area where Bundy operates. Now, his ranch is the only one.

Like the Blaze article yesterday noted… maybe other ranchers were “chased off”.  Or maybe it’s part of Bundy’s yarn to make him the heroic last rancher standing.  Alternately, that could mean he’s just a monopoly in the region.

Reducing the number of cattle on federal land, whether due to tortoises, or due to the kind of drought that has been hitting the west for the last decade doesn’t really matter.  It’s not his land.  The key word is privilege.

The land belongs to the federal government, not to Bundy.  It’s up to them how they want to manage their land – it’s up to us as the people who direct that federal government how we want to manage our land.

If the law passed by our elected representatives says no and we don’t like that, then it’s time to pressure our reps and change the law.  It’s not time to let one lawbreaker continue to violate it just because he’s managed to draw down on some BLM agents and wrap himself in some dramatic western martyrdom.

When Bundy refused to pay grazing fees beginning in around 1993, he said something to the effect of, they are supposed to be charging me a fee for managing the land and all they are doing is trying to manage me out of business. Why should I pay them for that?

Business models sometimes have to change.  If the landowner says “no more grazing”, then maybe it’s time to find some greener pastures, rather than just declare “these are my pastures now”.

Frankly, the Bundy situation smacks of the self-righteous entitlement of a general strike where communist workers claim the factory is really theirs because they work there.  It’s not the workers’ factory, and it’s not the Bundys’ land.

Hinderaker ends with this:

So let’s have some sympathy for Cliven Bundy and his family. They don’t have a chance on the law, because under the Endangered Species Act and many other federal statutes, the agencies are always in the right. And their way of life is one that, frankly, is on the outs. They don’t develop apps. They don’t ask for food stamps. It probably has never occurred to them to bribe a politician. They don’t subsist by virtue of government subsidies or regulations that hamstring competitors. They aren’t illegal immigrants. They have never even gone to law school. So what possible place is there for the Bundys in the Age of Obama?

I’d like to have sympathy, but just because the Obama administration is lawless doesn’t justify actions of individuals who’ve been ignoring the law since the beginning of the Clinton administration.

The Bundy’s family’s way of life is on the outs because they refused to change.  Their business model didn’t advance because their cattle were grazing for free since 1993.

They didn’t need food stamps because they were feeding their livestock on taxpayer lands.  They’re no different than if Weyerhauser decided to start cutting down national forests without permission, and then cried that their lumberjack way of life was dying because the Forest Service finally told them to stop two decades later.

They subsisted entirely because of government subsidies.  They subsisted entirely because of regulations that hamstrung their competitors – the other ranchers who were “squeezed out” were legal – the Bundys just chose to break the law.

-

Update: From a local Nevada news outlet, contrasting the Bundy claims:

…the 1998 opinion from U.S. District Judge Johnnie Rawlinson in a case where it was determined Bundy wouldn’t be allowed to use federal land for his cattle because of failure to pay grazing fees to the Bureau of Land Management. Rawlinson wrote that it wasn’t until roughly 1954 that “Bundy or his father or both have grazed livestock on public lands owned by the United States and administered by the BLM.”

Clark County Recorder documents show the 160-acre Bunkerville ranch Bundy calls home was purchased by his parents, David and Bodel Bundy, from Raoul and Ruth Leavitt on Jan. 5, 1948. The purchase included the transfer to the Bundys of certain water rights, including water from the nearby Virgin River. Cliven Bundy was born in 1946.

And federal grazing districts were established nationally in 1934 and in Nevada in 1936.

-

Furthermore, every word written about the Bundys is a word not written about the Red River along the Texas-Oklahoma border, where the BLM is looking at seizing 90,000 privately held acres of land.

Really, it’s a much bigger story, and it is black and white:

BYERS, Texas (RFD-TV) Most people think the border between Texas and Oklahoma is the Red River. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that, especially along the part of the river where Tommy Henderson and his family ranch.

Henderson lost a lawsuit 30 years ago that moved part of the northern Texas border over a mile to the south.

The Bureau of Land Management [BLM] took 140 acres of his property and didn’t pay him one cent.

Now, they want to use his case as precedent to seize land along a 116-mile stretch of the river.

“They’re wanting to take the boundaries that the courts placed here and extend those east and west to the forks of the river north of Vernon and east to the 98th Meridian which is about 20 miles east of us,” Henderson explained.

BLM, which oversees public land in the United States, claims this land never belonged to Texas.

That’s not leases that they haven’t paid in over 20 years, that’s their own land.

Welfare for Weed

Posted: February 4, 2014 by ShortTimer in FedGov, Government, Welfare state
Tags:

FOX already got the best title for this:

Amid the growing debate about the legalization of marijuana, Colorado GOP lawmakers are trying to make it a little tougher for people receiving welfare or other federal government benefits to spend that money on marijuana.

Colorado pot shops currently have ATMs where welfare recipients can withdraw cash using their EBT cards. A State Senate committee rejected Republicans’ proposal to close this loophole.

Of course the Colorado Democrat-controlled senate would reject it.  If you’re giving people handouts to vote for you, you need them to dope themselves up, too.

Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, said Colorado’s new legal pot industry needs to make sure not to invite federal scrutiny through improper cash withdrawals at recreational or medical marijuana stores.

“Already we are operating an industry which is not allowed under federal law,” said Marble, one of the chief lawmakers involved with Colorado’s marijuana regulation bills.

If federal authorities notice public benefit card use at marijuana shops, “I have a feeling we’re going to see trouble we’re not ready to deal with,” she said.

It’s only one of the chief lawmakers who worked with Colorado’s pot bills saying “we should probably not invite the fedgov in to crush us”.

The choom gang will eventually be out of office and other federal administrations may be less pot-friendly overall.

But even before the specter of a new administration, Obama’s “revenue”-happy fedgov will demand its share of taxes off these unlicensed pharmacists and it’ll get interesting.  The FDA will get involved, the IRS will get involved, and all these happy hippy doper businesses will suddenly find out that government regulation and taxation is a real pain in the ass.

There are still pro-pot people who say “legalize and tax it and it’ll solve the ______(fill in financial problem of choice)____”.  It’s as though they don’t understand what they’re inviting in.

Right now it’s a largely unregulated business.  Wait until they find out about all the laws they have to comply with for their pot shops.  Inviting in the fedgov in any way while pushing for deregulation especially in violation of federal law – is going to be a problem for them.

OSHA will have to be regulating secondhand exposure to pot smoke, the EPA will have to assess their carbon and particulate output, the NLRB will be out there representing the Marijuana Cultivators and Harvesters Local 420 against the Big Pot companies that are out to crush the working man and deny the grower a living wage.

-

As Colorado’s government leaders have decided that their people are unfit to defend themselves and thus should be disarmed, but should be doped up and given feelgood drugs – even going so far as to enable welfare benefits to provide direct handouts for drugs – it’ll make for some schadenfreude entertainment as they begin to run afoul of fedgov – whether it be through law enforcement, taxation, or regulation.

They might have even had some support from people who dislike pot, but who’d agree with them on an individual rights basis… except they traded a valuable right of self-defense in for a dubious right of self-intoxication.

They traded in the tools of liberty for soma.

May as well date the post, since this stuff will be ongoing.

Carrot-faced crybaby earthworm John Boehner is “setting up an immigration debate” which is not a debate, but just a question of “how do we tell people to let home invaders stay on the couch and claim it as theirs”:

GOP leaders are finalizing plans for an open debate on immigration to be held by legislators at their late January closed-door strategy session in Cambridge, Md.

The debate will include a panel of legislators, an outside expert, and an open mic, allowing members to comment on a one-page set of “principles” that likely will be released at the event, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

There should be no “debate” or question of “principles” on how to create amnesty for criminals.  There is one answer – deport illegal aliens.  Deport them all, deport them wherever you find them.  Make the climate for illegals hostile, and they will go away.  Legal immigrants and naturalized citizens will applaud it, and American citizens will applaud it.  The only people who won’t applaud it will be the slimy businessmen who want cheap, unaccountable labor and the Democrats who want free voters.

The new Quinnipiac University poll shows that both independent and GOP voters have swung sharply against an immigration amnesty since last May.

The reason is simple.  There’s a push for amnesty, and Americans are loathe to want to admit people whose first steps into the country were as criminals.

Furthermore, there is no economic argument.  We have a crippling labor participation rate and still have high unemployment across the country, yet somehow, illegals are needed to come in and do jobs that unemployed Americans won’t do?  And jobs that Americans are leaving the labor force about because those jobs have vanished?  What a load of nonsense, even taking into account leftist desires to make Americans into dependent pawns of the state who don’t work.

Senator Jeff Sessions said that the House is the last line of defense against the economic and socially destructive push for amnesty for illegal aliens.

On Friday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said the House was the last line of defense for the millions of Americans whose wages and livelihood will be put at risk by amnesty and comprehensive immigration reform.

He urged House Republicans to put the interests of American workers ahead of those of the consultant class, lobbyists, and Democrats who want cheaper labor and more potential votes.

House Republican leaders are preparing to unveil their “immigration principles” which will include amnesty provisions that the Congressional Budget Office determined would lower the wages of American workers. Sessions, the ranking Member of the Budget Committee, said that Obama and Senate Democrats have “uniformly embraced an immigration plan that would devastate wages and working conditions for millions of struggling Americans to benefit a small cadre of lobbyists and CEOs.”

He added that their plan “doubles the flow of immigrant workers, adds another 30 million new permanent residents to compete for every job, and guarantees illegal immigration will continue permanently in the future.” Sessions warned the House to not pass comprehensive immigration reform in everything but name only, which is what Obama has desired and Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s (D-IL) has said his “Republican friends” do as well.

Luis Gutierrez would have been forcibly removed from the country a few generations ago.  He has stated outright that his only loyalty is to the illegal alien community.  And his “Republican friends” are filthy turncoats willing to destroy the country for their personal interests.  At least Gutierrez has the courage of his ideological convictions to pretty much say he supports the destruction of the country and the Reconquista for his Balkanizing racialist group of illegals.

But that’s okay, because soon all his little illegal alien kinsmen (who he embraces while defecating on the legal aliens and naturalized citizens who bust their butts to get their hard-earned and well-deserved portion of the American dream) will be freed again, as Congress is cutting funding for jailing illegal alien criminals.

WASHINGTON — A massive 2014 federal spending bill passed this week by Congress would cut nearly $60 million — or about 25% — from a federal program that reimburses states and local governments for the cost of incarcerating undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes.

Local and state taxpayers will have to pick up a bigger share of the tab as Congress moves to reduce the annual funding of the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) from $238 million to $180 million in 2014.

Among the states that would be hit hardest are Arizona, California, Florida, New Jersey, New York and Texas, which have high numbers of undocumented immigrant criminals serving time in state prisons and county jails.

The feds should be picking up those bills, as its the fedgov’s job to enforce uniform immigration laws.  Every time the fedgov lets illegals go in the interior of the country because they refuse to let ICE do their jobs and refuse to deport illegals, and actively court illegal aliens as voters and “dreamers”, the states and counties are paying the price for it.  Every illegal alien who steps into the country is one more sucking up resources at hospitals, schools, and as clearly illustrated here – law enforcement resources.

“This is already a burden for state and local law enforcement and county budgets, and this latest cut just makes things worse,” said Matt Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties. “Our view is that it’s the federal government’s role to take care of illegal immigration. They’re supposed to protect the borders but they’ve failed and local law enforcement is paying for the consequences of undocumented aliens being in the country.”

It’s not just his view, it’s the law.  And the fedgov is willingly failing in it, because dirtbag RINOs like Paul “I’m All For Amnesty” Ryan and company are willing to support illegal aliens for their corporate buddies, and the Democrats of course are willing to help those fools commit suicide at the polls by offering amnesty to undocumented Democrats… and thus we have the entirety of the federal government’s political side pushing for something that the citizenry utterly loathe and oppose.

>Lame Duck "Immigration Reform" - Amnesty

And while I’m at it, a reminder that Chris Christie and Marco Rubio are both all about having home invaders get the right to sleep in your bed and claim it as theirs.

Break into someone’s house, give your kids their TV, and suddenly it’s the kid’s TV, because that kid dreamed all their life of owning your TV set.

Democrats and RINOs keep calling it immigration reform, but they should call it what it is – amnesty.

About two hours after holding a ceremonial signing New Jersey’s version of the “Dream Act,” Gov. Chris Christie tweeted a photo with one of the “Dreamers” the law will benefit, a New Jersey high school student who immigrated to the U.S. without authorization at a young age

She didn’t “immigrate without authorization” – she broke in or her parents broke in for her.  That’s like someone stealing your car and saying they’re a “driver without formal acknowledgement”, and demanding they be allowed to keep your car.

But that doesn’t stop a RINO like Christie from doubling down:

kfc double down

No, I mean doubling down on pushing for amnesty:

Union City, New Jersey (CNN) - Flanked by Hispanic leaders, students, and immigration reform advocates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie celebrated the signing of his state’s so-called DREAM Act on Tuesday, hailing the new law a sound economic choice and an object lesson in bipartisan cooperation.

“Sound economic choice” by importing illegal alien workers who work below legal wages, crony corporations get cheap labor, and Democrats get to give handouts and get votes.

Legalizing illegals (which states can’t do) will take those illegals out of the illegal labor market and is seen as a way to recruit them into unions by Democrats.  The economic effect is to take away the under-the-table workers and end up raising wages across the board, hurting those employers who were using illegal labor to undercut costs.  The illegal workers lose the jobs they had illegally, and the employers can’t afford to pay them.  So even ignoring the illegality all around, it will actually hurt businesses and depress wages.

But it will add to union and unemployment rolls, and drag more ethnic-voting-bloc groups out to vote for Democrats.

“We know that when we bring people together, when we work together despite some of our differences, that we also set an example of optimism for every one of the 8.9 million people who live here,” Christie said at a signing event in Union City, a Hispanic stronghold just across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

That there is a “Hispanic stronghold” in the US full of illegal aliens who are being pandered to is frankly offensive.  Ethnic neighborhoods that are recognized as primarily full of criminals demean both the ethnic group there and US citizens, and particularly US citizens of that ethnic group.  But Balkanization is good for race-baiting politicians and Democrats giving handouts to ethnic voting blocs.

“Unlike what happens in Washington, that government can actually work for you,” he added. “That things can actually get done, that agreements can be reached, and that commitments can be kept.”

No, Christie, you cannot do that.  Because laws for immigration come from Washington.  It’s one of the few authorities the fedgov has unquestioned in Article 1 Section 8:

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization

But that’s not going to stop Chris Christie from making New Jersey taxpayers (as well as national taxpayers) subsidize illegal aliens and their children who benefit from those crimes:

The bill grants in-state college tuition rates to undocumented high school graduates who attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years.

Meanwhile, the kid in Delaware or New York who wants to go to a college in Jersey will be paying full rate.  And their taxes – their money from their pockets – will be taken to subsidize those illegal aliens.

That money in their pocket is being taken by a state government acting illegally, taken by force from their pockets, and given to illegal aliens in the form of subsidies.

-

Try sneaking in to a foreign country and demanding that you be treated better than the children of citizens of that nation, and that their government give you what you want.

That’s what’s going on here, but in a masterful work of propaganda, people actually believe that illegal aliens should be treated better than their own children.

That’s downright cuckoo.

Colorado has made news in recent weeks for pretty much decriminalizing marijuana, and they’ve made news in the last year for working to criminalize and infringe upon citizens’ right to keep and bear arms.

But federal law may have already done those forces wanting to disarm Coloradans a big favor, as anyone who’s filled out a Form 4473 to buy a gun already knows from question 11.e.:

4473 marijuana

18 USC 922(g)(3) is the law that provides the basis for that question, and defines a person prohibited from owning a firearm thusly:

(g) It shall be unlawful for any person—
(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
(2) who is a fugitive from justice;
(3) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));

to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

18 USC 922(g) is a bit long, especially in contrast to “shall not be infringed”, so it isn’t all that surprising that it would be overlooked.

21 USC 802 still lists marijuana as a controlled substance and illegal narcotic, thus every user in Colorado is an unlawful user under federal law – and thus their right to own a firearm is abrogated.

The penalty for toking up and owning a gun?  10 years and a $250,000 fine.

-

You can claim the right to put what you want in your body, but it now comes at the expense of the fedgov denying you your right to protect yourself from harm.  And unlike drug laws, which the Obama administration has chosen to slack off on their duty to enforce, they choose to enforce gun laws though creation of crime, and with Fast and Furious went out of their way to murder people in other nations just so they could go after citizens’ rights in the US.

Judging their actions, this administration is certainly not a fan of pot rights, though it may find it convenient to hop on the bandwagon and have a large section of the population of the state thankful for being able to blaze away their troubles and worries created by this adminstration’s other decisions.

The current administration has made it abundantly clear that they don’t care for citizens with guns and plan on using backdoor “executive actions”, and doubtless they’ll use Colorado’s new decriminalization of marijuana as a means to use federal laws against stoners with guns.

Stoner guns especially.

eugene stoner

-

-

*Just to be totally accurate, there are about four people in the US who could both smoke pot in Colorado and still own a gun, because it’s contingent on federally legal use.  But Irvin Rosenfeld lives on the east coast, not Colorado.

From Free Enterprise (last year):

Tis the season to give thanks. And for the last 80 years, the federal government has required raisin producers to “give thanks” for the privilege of selling their raisins nationally by requiring them to fork over up to half of their raisins – for free. A lawsuit raising a constitutional challenge to the program has now made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is Horne v. Department of Agriculture.

The program, operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has a rather Orwellian-sounding name – the “Raisin Marketing Order.” In a nutshell, under this program, every year, as a condition for “letting” farmers sell their raisin crops in interstate commerce, the federal government has taken up to 47% of the farmers’ raisins – often for no payment at all, or below the cost of producing the raisins. The program has its origins in Great Depression efforts to fix the prices of agricultural crops. Don’t care much for raisins? Similar programs cover a variety of other agricultural products, such as walnuts, almonds, prunes, tart cherries – and cranberries! That’s something to chew on as you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal tomorrow.

From Free Enterprise (a few weeks ago):

The Supreme Court overruled a decision that allowed the federal government to attempt to strong-arm raisin farmers, Marvin and Laura Horne, into giving up half their raisin crop.

…When the government told the Hornes to hand over the raisins or their cash equivalent, the Hornes fought back.  Their legal fight began over a decade ago and the federal government has levied almost $700,000 in fines against them.  Today, Marvin and Laura won their Supreme Court case.

In today’s decision, the Supreme Court held that the raisin farmers could use the Constitution’s Takings Clause to defend their property rights in the enforcement proceedings the government initiated after the Hornes refused to hand over their raisins.  (The Constitution’s Takings Clause says that the federal government must provide just compensation when the government takes a person’s private property.)

It’s nice to see SCOTUS pushing back against the government and the government’s regulatory oppression of businesses.  The problem is the government wanted to keep their $700,000 in fines and then make them file again to get the money back that the government illegally took.  Thieves with the force of law.

Worland, Wyoming.  Photo by ShortTimer.

From HotAir:

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  Allegations arise of abuses of power and wrongdoing in a subordinate agency of a Cabinet department, which then conducts an investigation that lays the blame on a few low-level staffers and then insists that any further debate on the issue is nothing more than a “phony scandal.” The State Department did that with Benghazi, Treasury (or at least the White House’s spin on the IG report) with the IRS, and the Department of Justice with Operation Fast and Furious. The DoJ will now take a second spin on the Wheel Of Scapegoats by launching its own investigation into the DEA’s alleged widespread spying:

The US Department of Justice has launched an investigation into revelations that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses surveillance tactics – including wiretapping and massive databases of telephone records – to arrest Americans, amid growing concerns from lawyers and civil rights groups over its lack of transparency.

In a related story, the Obama Department of Agriculture has now announced that foxes make good guards of henhouses.

-

From Wired:

Security researchers tonight are poring over a piece of malicious software that takes advantage of a Firefox security vulnerability to identify some users of the privacy-protecting Tor anonymity network.

The malware showed up Sunday morning on multiple websites hosted by the anonymous hosting company Freedom Hosting. That would normally be considered a blatantly criminal “drive-by” hack attack, but nobody’s calling in the FBI this time. The FBI is the prime suspect.

“It just sends identifying information to some IP in Reston, Virginia,” says reverse-engineer Vlad Tsyrklevich. “It’s pretty clear that it’s FBI or it’s some other law enforcement agency that’s U.S.-based.

TOR has some big problems, because some people who don’t want their activities to come to light aren’t doing so out of concerns of privacy, but criminality.  This story, however, falls in a pattern of spying by the fedgov that keeps looking more and more ominous, like how the DEA is using NSA snooping for their own purposes – from Huffpo:

WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (Reuters) – A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

And how the encrypted email service that Snowden used has been shut down:

Lavabit announced today that it would shut down its encrypted email service rather than “become complicit in crimes against the American people.” Lavabit did not say what it had been asked to do, only that it was legally prohibited from sharing the events leading to its decision.

Lavabit was an email provider, apparently used by Edward Snowden along with other privacy sensitive users, with an avowed mission to offer an “e-mail service that never sacrifices privacy for profits” and promised to “only release private information if legally compelled by the courts in accordance with the United States Constitution.”

And how the fedgov is demanding your passwords (from CNET):

The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.

Of course, with the Associated Press being spied on, reporter James Rosen and reporter Sharyl Attkisson being targeted, this isn’t really a surprise.  The Obama administration uses every tool to target opponents, and the Constitution and its protections are meaningless to them.

Via Drudge, from CNET:

The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.

If the government is able to determine a person’s password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.

“I’ve certainly seen them ask for passwords,” said one Internet industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We push back.”

A second person who has worked at a large Silicon Valley company confirmed that it received legal requests from the federal government for stored passwords. Companies “really heavily scrutinize” these requests, the person said. “There’s a lot of ‘over my dead body.’”

Some of the government orders demand not only a user’s password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.

That doesn’t fit with the document that created and governs government.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

They’re just ignoring the rules now.

All of the American people are Walter Sobchak right now, but the Obama government just keeps on spying.

-

No relation to Kseniya Sobchak.

kseniya sobchak

This has been done a few times here, addressing the initial 450 million rounds of JHP, then addressing it with Social Security’s investigators, and then debunking it again, but the story of DHS’s millions and billions of rounds keeps resurfacing.  And it’s good to ask questions, but some of them have answers that have already been given, and others are answers that just aren’t was widely known because they’re just a bit specific and technical.

From HotAir:

Why do they need to purchase huge stockpiles of ammunition? Far more, in fact, than the the Army buys on a per capita basis.

Homeland Security’s procurement officer is grilled in Congress on why federal agents who rarely fire weapons need several times more bullets annually than an Army officer. Who or what are they shooting at?

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz on Thursday asked Nick Nayak, DHS’ chief procurement officer, a question we and others have been asking: Why has the Department of Homeland Security been buying so much ammunition?

The military doesn’t actually shoot that much.  Military personnel walk around on base unarmed, and their issued weapons are locked up in armories, stored far from ammunition (hence why civilian security stopped Hasan at Ft. Hood).  There just isn’t that much shooting done – for example, rifle qualification in the Marine Corps has been an annual thing for years.  Infantry may fire more rifle or machinegun rounds, armor crews may fire more machinegun rounds, but admin and intel and logistics and motor T and the like will fire maybe once a year.

By contrast, federal law enforcement goes everywhere armed.  They even fly armed.  Pistol, rifle, and shotgun qualification for federal law enforcement is often a quarterly event.  They carry guns every day, everywhere, in contrast to the military, which carries when deployed or on assignment, and sometimes not even then.

Law enforcement often operates as individuals who encounter violent criminals who are an immediate, personal threat to their lives.  The military operates as a large group, and in such a manner that overwhelming force is used to prevent losses.  A law enforcement officer is responsible for their own safety in an immediate and personal way, and can only fire when personally threatened.  The soldier, sailor, airman or Marine is responsible for his own safey as well, but in a different way, and very rarely is he alone, and he can fire when a target is present – whether or not that target is a personal threat to his own life.  The law enforcement officer usually can’t run and hide from a thug with a knife 10 feet away, but the soldier can usually take cover from fire 500 yards away and call for an airstrike.

Apples and oranges.

Chaffetz notes that DHS is currently sitting on more than 260 million rounds of ammunition. Their current claimed rate of expending bullets works out to between 1,300 and 1,600 rounds per officer each year, while the Army averages 350 per officer. Nyak agreed with the math, but insisted that DHS goes through roughly that amount every year, almost exclusively for training. But if it’s for training, there’s another question to be answered.

Another question is why so many hollow-point bullets are being purchased?

Federal law enforcement fires a lot more rounds per year.  They shoot a lot more.  They are issued ammunition for training and duty, and that ammo is the same.  The last thing you want to do is issue out some full metal jacket ammo for training and have someone carry it to the field.  The reason jacketed hollow points are used is because they’re very effective at energy transfer.  They’re good for stopping bad guys.

And that’s what law enforcement does.  Law enforcement shoots to stop.  Not to kill, but to stop an immediate, personal threat on the officer’s life.

That’s an important distinction, and one that needs to be made.

Full metal jacket rounds penetrate easily, but don’t do as much energy transfer.  They don’t create wounds that are immediately disabling the same way that JHP rounds do.  There is a plethora of information about this on the internet.

Full metal jacket:

Jacketed hollow point:

The duty and training ammo is the same because the agent training with it will know how it fires, how it recoils, and they’ll know how to handle it.  FMJ loads do not recoil the same out of a defensive pistol as a JHP duty/defensive round, either.  Ammunition is manufactured to its use, and JHP is manufactured to have to stop a threat, so the ammo is hotter, and recoils differently, which has effects on follow-up shots.

Pistol rounds in FMJ are not the best there is for self-defense, and are often wholly inadequate.

The duty and training ammo is also the same because if the agent were to bring a magazine loaded with FMJ to the field, and if the agent needed to stop a threat, the rounds wouldn’t perform as well.  If that threat overpowered him and the agent was killed, his family would have a pretty decent basis for a lawsuit on their hands.  Even if it were found to be the dead agent’s fault, the lawsuit would be expensive, as would the loss of an agency’s investment in a trained agent.

How many millions of dollars would that be, and how many millions would the repercussions be as compared to just buying JHP for everything?  Bean counters do those kind of numbers and find it’s probably easier just to spend the money once and just use JHP.

-

There have also been specific incidents in which FMJ rounds have been used in the field by federal law enforcement, and failed.

In 2009, a Border Patrol BORTAC unit in Arizona tracking rip crews ran into an armed smuggler group, one of whom decided to engage one of the BORTAC members with a revolver.  The BORTACer did what he could to try to avert the attack by attempting to blind and disorient the smuggler with a high-power flashlight and get the subject to surrender.  Even knowing he was spotted and caught, the smuggler turned to fire. The BORTACer had to fire 14 rounds with his rifle, 11 of which hit his assailant.  The first 10 were center-of-mass hits, and did not stop the attacker.  The smuggler, despite receiving 10 wounds from a rifle, was still able to fire all 6 rounds from his revolver at the agent.  What stopped the attacker was the last round – a headshot.  The ammunition used by the BORTACer was 55 grain FMJ.

Would the smuggler have died due to the FMJ in the body?  Yes, later.  But as demonstrated, it did not stop his attack.

The law enforcement officer is responsible for all of his rounds.  He’s not shooting in a war zone.  The military soldier, sailor, airman or Marine is not responsible in the same way for every round he fires.

HotAir quotes IBD here:

As former Marine Richard Mason recently told reporters with WHPTV News in Pennsylvania, hollow-points (which make up the bulk of the DHS purchases) are not used for training because they are more expensive than standard firing-range rounds. “We never trained with hollow points. We didn’t even see hollow points my entire 4-1/2 (years) in the Marine Corps,” Mason said.

As already noted, with pistols especially, performance is different, both for training purposes and especially for application purposes in the field.

The reason the Marine Corps doesn’t train with hollow points is twofold.  One is that the Hague Convention of 1899 outlawed the use of soft points and hollow points (so even though the US didn’t agree, they weren’t exactly in use much), and the other more important reasons are that the military may have to engage targets through concealment and/or cover, or to destroy materiel as well as personnel.

A JHP round will deform when it hits an object, as it’s supposed to mushroom out and cause more immediate damage to an immediate assailant that needs to be stopped RFN.  An FMJ round is much more likely to penetrate objects and still retain some performance, enough to cause disabling wounds or injuries which will take a combatant out of the fight, even if it’s a few minutes later from blood loss.

For example, federal law enforcement is unlikely to shoot through walls or doors because they have to be sure of their target, and prove ability, opportunity, and intent of a lethal force threat to be legally justified in a shooting.  If someone runs into a building to hide, you probably don’t keep shooting, because they’re probably no longer an immediate lethal force threat.  It’s time to call the negotiators and sit.

By contrast, if a Marine or soldier has a target that runs into a building to hide, shooting through walls or doors is quite often an option.  That’s because the person they’re going after isn’t even called a threat, but a target.  The military doesn’t have to wait to fire in self defense (discussions of bad ROEs aside), the military identifieds targets and destroys them.  Law enforcement reacts to threats.

-

JHP and FMJ rounds are used for different things.  DHS knows enough to buy it cheap and stack it deep, just like serious citizens have done for decades.  That’s just a matter of economics.  Is it good to ask questions?  Absolutely.

But it would be better to find out what Napolitano knows about terrorists that get in the country, and maybe why she’s allowed to not answer questions.

Or why Eric Holder, who’s killed DHS personnel in ICE and USBP through his Fast and Furious program, isn’t in prison.