Thursday, July 20, 2017

Drone Alone

"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."
-The Fourth Amendment

 I saw a mildly disturbing news story on Fox this AM, which is to say, slightly horrified with a soupçon of ambivalence. The story, online as UAV spots stolen construction equipment in Cecil County, tells of a successful, multi agency apprehension of the perpetrator of at least a tri-state crime spree. Stolen goods recovered during this operation amounted to $394,000. Not chump change. Much of the property has been returned to its rightful owners. No problems there!

The ambivalence comes from the fact that while I'm glad this guy was caught and hopefully prosecuted to the full extent of the law, what bugs me is the sequence of events that lead to their arrest. The New Jersey State Police had a suspect. The suspect's domicile was not visible from the road. A warrant was obtained on the basis of evidence produced by a UAV overfly of the property, but what gave them the right to do that? Turns out that much of the stolen goods were stashed behind a barn, or big shed. My question is: What's the difference between flying a drone over the barn and simply sending an officer in to walk around the barn for a look see?

Well, sending an officer in without a warrant to search for stolen goods is an illegal search. Any evidence he found of wrong doing would be thrown out of court as "fruit of the poisoned tree". Now, suppose I just dangle him from a crane or a helicopter and swing him around the backside of the barn. Better? His feet never touched the ground! Problem solved!!

Is the Fourth Amendment mitigated by the fact that the aircraft was unmanned? Or does the fact that an operator is at the controls, looking through the camera make that point moot? Had the overflight been accidental, I can see the evidence being totally admissible. Next time, throw some tarps over the stolen goods, knucklehead! But the drone was flying over the property specifically because there was a "suspect", yet without enough evidence or probable cause to obtain a warrant. You see my dilemma here? If you're in your helicopter using your Forward Looking Infra Red because there's a lost child in the woods, and happen across a marijuana hothouse, that's one thing. But isn't warrantless unmanned electronic eavesdropping going just a bit too far? At what point does this become an "unreasonable search"?

The fact that law enforcement did not enter the property without first obtaining a warrant means they recognized that one was necessary. Although I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, it seems to me that the use of a drone was a mere legal fiction to provide probable cause for the warrant.

If I were on this guy's legal team, I would beat the Fourth Amendment like a rented mule! Still, I'm glad law enforcement put an end to this crime spree. I just wish they'd found a better way to do it.

Thus, the ambivalence.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Xavier Seen Such a Dishonest California Politician?


Californians aren't braindead, although you'd never know it from the quality of public officials they send to Sacramento year after year. And here's proof of it: liberal California politicians have to lie constantly to maintain their power, lest the common people they so disdain rise up against them. Case in point:

There is a ballot initiative coming up for a vote soon to repeal the onerous added gasoline tax to be added in November. The tax would add an additional twelve cents a gallon to gasoline that is already the highest priced in the nation. Fine. Let the voters decide. That's the democratic way isn't it? Let informed voters made the decision. It's that whole "informed" part that Democrat pols don't trust you with.

The office of the top law enforcement official in the state, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, D-Ishonest, is responsible for writing the official summary of the ballot measure, which is supposed to be an impartial description of the measure. (Stop laughing!) Becerra, who, had he been around when the saying "Crooked as a dog's hind leg"was written, might have been the maxim maker's model.

AG Becerra wrote the summary of a repeal of a regressive tax measure (minorities and poor hardest hit) without managing to use either the word "tax" or "fee" to describe it. In fact, it is so egregious that he is being sued because of it. Republican Travis Allen, remarkably a Republican, is suing Becerra for misrepresenting the initiative, casting it as an effort to, and I quote, "eliminate recently enacted road repair and transportation funding". The bastards!! The money fairies brought Californians cash to repair their roads, and some big meanies are trying to take it away from us!

And by "us", of course, he means the State Government, and the magic money fairies are you, every time you fill up your gas tank.

The stakes are high. The 43%, twelve cent a gallon hike in taxes, and the twenty cent a gallon hike in diesel fuel are expected to bring in $5 Billion (with a "B") a year. And as far as regressive taxes on the poor, this one has a double whammy, because everything you buy in the stores comes in on a truck. Your groceries, hardware, clothing, shoes, even your Amazon order, is transported at least in part by a truck or series of trucks. If the cost of fuel goes up, the prices of all those goods must go up at least incrementally. So in addition to paying more in gas to go to work, or to the store, or on vacation, you'll be paying more for everything you buy. Everything. You'll then find it harder to make ends meet and put food on the table and all the Democrat politicians will tell you it's those evil corporations that are stealing you blind. Right.

So, even though most of California's reputation is well deserved, remember this: we're not all braindead out here, and the politicians even have to lie to the ones who are to keep themselves in power.

Flowing Curves Of Beauty


“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”




Saturday, July 15, 2017

Another Magnificent Bastard

Ever since November 9, 2016 we have been inundated with a media clinging to the Russian collusion theory that goes way beyond the bounds of rationality.  It must be true, even if it isn't.  This week they think they’ve found the smoking gun in Donald Trump, Jr.  Next week it will be something else.  None of it, in the final analysis, has anything to do with actual collusion.
Enter Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA).  Brat stunned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 in the Republican primary going on to win a seat in Congress.
On Friday, Brat was being interviewed by CNN’s justice correspondent Pamela Brown.  Her first question to Brat, “Nancy Pelosi just said that Republicans are enablers.”
Noting Democrats want to impeach the President without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing Brat said, “What you gotta do is just name the statute that’s been violated.  Democrats are upset that Trump won the election and so they’ve been saying ‘impeach, impeach’ since day one.  My Senators from Virginia are getting apoplectic,” Brat argued. “Mark Warner’s seeing smoke everywhere he goes like he’s in a Cheech and Chong movie and [Tim] Kaine now thinks the son is worse than Benedict Arnold.”
“There’s collusion everywhere but the question is whether a statue has been violated,” Brat declared.  “There’s collusion between CNN and the DCCC and the Washington Post and I don’t complain about that–it’s not illegal.  I think it’s unethical but it’s not illegal.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Won’t Last Another 100 Days

The staff at Lawnewz made an extraordinary prediction earlier today.  It was so extraordinary Nick Givas went to press with the story at 4:44 PM for The Daily Caller.
The piece begins with what everyone clearly understands─President Trump is extremely unhappy with the protracted Russia investigation referring to it on Twitter at least a dozen times as a “witch hunt”.
The investigation has taken a decidedly more perilous and personal turn for the President. And that’s exactly why Lawnewz believes it won’t be longer than 100 days before Trump pulls the trigger on firing Mueller.  As information continues to seep out about the work Mueller is doing and the subpoenas start coming, we believe the President will be increasingly frustrated and the administration will undoubtedly continue to seek to undermine Mueller’s credibility. And let’s be clear, by any objective standard Mueller is an unassailable, apolitical public servant.
Many are saying there is no way the Administration would risk the fallout from having Mueller fired. And, as investigators are now reportedly probing Jared Kushner‘s role in potentially helping to direct a Russian operation targeting voters with fake news about Hillary, and as the specter of obstruction of justice in connection with firing FBI Director Comey hangs over the President and his Administration, we believe it now more likely than not Trump will decide that Mueller must go.
Among the reasons the Administration will likely cite:
– Mueller’s friendship with Comey
– Some yet to be discovered bias on the part of Mueller and his team
– The cost of the investigation
– The need to focus on “more important” issues
The legal website was careful to add, “Trump nor anyone in his Administration is guilty of any crime.  That is for the Special Counsel to decide.”

Game of Thrones: Libertarian Edition

Two Conjoined Twins, An Ex-KGB Spy And A Circus Bear

NBC and The Associated Press are cocksure they’ve got the nails necessary to crucify President Trump and Donald Jr.
The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and others on the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist—a former Soviet counterintelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned. 
The lobbyist, who denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies, accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr.; Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law; and Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign. 
The Russian-born American lobbyist served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship. 
The Associated Press identified the lobbyist as Rinat Akhmetshin, and said he acknowledged attending the meeting, though he said it was not substantive. “I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest,” he told the AP. 
The presence at the meeting of Akhmetshin is likely to be of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate panels investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is pursuing information on Akhmetshin charging he had been working with Fusion GPS, the oppo research firm hired by Democrats to research and write an “intelligence report” senior members of the Obama Administration widely circulated in pushing the narrative of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

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