Utah Politicians, Lobbyist Groups Put On Kabuki Show Over Driver License Data Exploitation (Updates)

Apparently politicians and some political groups are shocked, shocked, I say!

Utah DPS disputes driver’s license pics used in facial recognition mining, but lawmakers may hold hearings

This is rich. These are the same politicians who voted for sharing the driver’s license database with their cronies (see here too) and fought for increasing access for this and voter records (see here and here for example).

Available Jones Herbert and his Lt Governer Spencer Cox (Available Junior?) who’s in charge of voter records, by the way, can shove their whining where the sun don’t shine. They were mucho happy knowingly passing on your data well beyond the scope of core government functions.

Politicians and the other carping cohorts like the media, ACLU and Libertas either voted for or refused to join efforts to respect privacy and restrict the wholesale disclosure of various personal information.

The ACLU has the nerve to say “We plan to investigate how this breach of trust occurred and the steps Utah lawmakers need to take to protect the privacy of all Utahns from this widespread, open-ended surveillance program…”.

Oh really? Where were you last session when this was being voted on? Oh, right. You were too busy preparing a fund raising press release on some other unexpectedly unexpected outrage to siphon some dinero off the rubes.

Rather than carving out goodies for your cloistered buddies and yourselves, maybe next time you’ll think of the rest of us as people instead of a data resource to exploit (although Facebook would be proud!).

For the rest of us shlubs, there’s not much you can do on the driver license data but you can lock down your voter information: How To Make Your Utah Voter Registration Information Private

Ending on the positive, our political betters just earned the Captain Louis Renault award:

UPDATE: I read a few more articles on this issue. I noticed something I initially missed. It appears that the upset politcians and groups are most perturbed by ICE using the database. Interestingly, ICE may have the greatest justification for using it and we have swampy Curt Bramble to thank for it. See years ago, Bramble pushed through the Driver Privilege Card (DPC) to further Utah’s position as a defacto sanctuary state (also pleasing the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce). The DPC is only available to illegal immigrants (citizens and legal immigrants may only get a driver license). Thus, Bramble and his DPC inadvertently created a mechanism for ICE to have probable cause of a crime (illegal immigration at a minimum and likely employment-related identity theft and the other frauds/crimes that goes along with it) which could save law enforcement lives.

The ACLU also mentions the DPC in their whining. I have a feeling a lot of these politicians and organizations are more upset that their sanctuary vehicle* is being used than they care about citizen’s privacy given their tacit or overt approval of reckless personal data disclosure.

*Pun intended.

UPDATE II: The Salt Lake Tribune put up an official editorial decrying the privacy breech (and throwing in some divisive, race-baiting pap along the way). Huh. That’s funny, the Utah media (Tribune included) were all opposed to locking up voters’ personal information when that legislation was being pursued and didn’t give a rip about the Driver’s License data sharing bill when it was brought to their attention. But we should totes take their outrage seriously…That’s some nice kabuki outrage you have there.

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Utah Swamp Trio Of Arrogance Inadvertently Bolster A Trump Nomination (Update)

Over the weekend, Utah’s biggest swamp creature, Curt Bramble teamed up with Paul Mero and politically entrenched attorney David Irvine to pen a laughable hit piece about a local Trump nominee (full disclosure: the nominee is my father). It was so poor, that the piece generated a single comment…which jabbed the authors. LOLZ.

The diatribe they penned is one of those eye-rolling pieces dripping with hollier-than-thou, condescending pablum interspersed with guilt-by-association and innuendo. The cherry-on-top is they attack his religious convictions and insinuate he’s a ‘bad Mormon’.

The trio sure don’t have much to stand on. David Irvine proudly voted for Hillary Clinton, as all good NeverTrumpers should. In my opinion, the guy is an underhanded political hack involved with some ethically-challenged folks. Meanwhile, Bramble is probably Utah’s biggest swamp creature, embracing his home-town Chicago politics and was on the Evan McMullin squad. Then you have Paul Mero (who dutifully posts NeverTrump stuff on his Twitter feed). ‘Torpedo Mero’ was once a semi-player in Utah politics when he was with the Sutherland Institute…unfortunately, for the Sutherland Institute, his arrogance and condescending methods (here’s one example) served to send plenty of otherwise good legislation to Davy Jones’ locker. Fortunately, for Sutherland, he’s no longer there.

These guys appear to be a bunch of sourpuss NeverTrumpers throwing an elitist fit because they hate Trump and are upset the President isn’t selecting folks from their clique.

Heh. I was no Trump fan either. After Trump became the nominee, I said: ‘one thing’s for sure, we’ll soon have a charlatan in the White House’ (referring to Trump and Hillary). Hillary was awful but, as time went on, she got worse and her ethics were atrocious. I admit being wrong about Trump* and got over it. President Trump stuck to the conservative principles he preached in the campaign and actually fights. Trump also represents a rejection of the old-guard elite policies that left pain and terrible messes in their wake and a new direction away from globalism to renewing the US as the shining city upon the hill. These guys are out of touch and don’t realize they represent a aristocratic mindset in the midst of being rejected but desperate to cling on. At least one preferred to shaft us with Hillary Clinton and all preferred a continuation of their status quo injurious policies.

The trio is great at writing a preachy article but seemed to forget to mention their target of scorn lead humanitarian operations in such lovely getaways as Haiti, Darfur, Mali, Lebanon, and Iraq (multiple times including near the front during Daesh/ISIS’ apex). And only the best vacation hotspots include cholera and ebola outbreaks. So yeah, he knows what ministering and succoring suffering looks like and actually acted rather than preached. As an aside, check out Samaritan’s Purse – they were incredibly close to the front lines in Iraq providing aide and medically care – my dad said they were awesome out there.

So some of Utah’s biggest politically entrenched elite have decided question a nominee’s religious convictions and attack a guy who went out to some hell holes and coordinate humanitarian efforts because they need a surrogate for their Trump ire. Their whole hit job comes off as snobish and petty. Really, you couldn’t ask for a more resounding endorsement.

Who knows what will happen. If their hated effigy is nominated/confirmed, I know he’ll do a great job of effectively alleviating as much human suffering as he possibly can.

UPDATE: The Buzzard’s Blog has some thoughts on this as well.

UPDATE II: The Salt Lake Tribune is desperate. They’re continuing their attack line and drafted another yellow journalism hit piece as an excuse to regurgitate part of the above Swamp Trio’s hit piece. Maybe the letter calling them out for this crap stuck in their craw. LOL!

UPDATE III: Check out this gem. Very pious David Irvine is on the board of Alliance for a Better Utah. They sent out an official action alert with Planned Parenthood to support abortion. The email sent out by the organization’s Communications Director (Katie Matheson) states**:

We have joined with Planned Parenthood and created a petition of our own that makes a very clear demand: Utah lawmakers should keep their hands off a person’s right to decide whether to have an abortion

I guess we should follow “Christ’s call – of welcoming the stranger” so long as that stranger isn’t an unborn child.

*Important caveat: While I am pleased with President Trump (albeit don’t always agree with him or some of his rhetoric), I go by Alexander Hamilton’s advice: “For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.”

**Full text of the Alliance for a Better Utah/Planned Parenthood email:

From: Katie Matheson, Better Utah <[redacted]@betterutah.org>
Date: Fri, Jul 5, 2019 at [time redacted]
Subject: Help needed
To: [redacted]

Dear [redacted],

I’m not going to mince words–things are difficult right now in Utah for supporters of reproductive rights. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed an unconstitutional 18 week abortion ban. In the past month, Riverton City and Utah County passed anti-choice resolutions. And perhaps most worrying of all, state Senator Dan McCay has announced he will introduce a bill in 2020 to “end elective abortions in Utah.”

The agency of Utahns to make the most fundamental decision of all–what to do with our own bodies–is under attack right here in our state. A new group touting extreme views on bodily autonomy started a petition to support re-criminalization of abortion in Utah. So far they have over 2,000 signatures.

This is not the Utah we know and love. Utahns support the fundamental right to freedom for every individual; and yes, that includes the right to choose to have an abortion.

We have joined with Planned Parenthood and created a petition of our own that makes a very clear demand: Utah lawmakers should keep their hands off a person’s right to decide whether to have an abortion. But we’ve got an uphill climb ahead of us–we are short of our goal by over 1,500 signatures, which means we could really use your help. Please sign and share with your family and friends, and ask them to sign and share.

More Utahns support Roe v. Wade than want it overturned, but we have been ceding ground to the anti-choice activists because abortion is such a personal issue. If we don’t stand up now, we will be forced to fight unconstitutional laws implemented by a loud minority of Utahns. It’s time to stand up.

Thank you for all your support.

Best,

Katie Matheson
Communications Director
[Remainder of Email Redacted]

The Utah GOP Establishment’s One-Sided Unity

This subject is turning into a series. About a week ago, I wrote about the Swamp Wing of the GOP consolidating power and telling conservatives to get out and get a new party. A few days ago, I discussed the Utah Republican Party and their benefactor’s myopic focus on economy while our social fabric is torn asunder.

Well, here’s another example of elite ignorance. A few days ago, Aimee Winder Newton wrote:

If you’re tired of the bickering and are ready to move on from the political conflicts of recent years (like me), this ought to be a shot in the arm for Utah Republicans. Our new party leadership has pledged to get back to the most basic and fundamental purpose of the state’s GOP … winning elections.

Um…Ms. Newton seems to have selective amnesia. When insiders’ power was threatened, she and other Utah elites were quite happy to engage in “political conflict” and “bickering”. She happily supported the spoiler campaign of Evan McMullin. When it comes to the “fundamental purpose of the state’s GOP … winning elections”, it’s a tad ironic that McMullin avowed he was in the race to help Hillary Clinton win (preferable to political outsider, Trump).

For years, these insiders told conservatives to suck it up and vote for the milquetoast GOP candidate fare and endure their failure theater because Democrats would be worse. But as soon as the shoe was on the other foot, they threw a massive fit and backed a poster-child-for-the-deep-state to throw the election to Hillary Clinton and to give us a progressive Supreme Court for decades.

Now, these insiders tighten the grip on power in the party and their swamp buddy tells the grassroots to take a hike. Like I wrote back in December, these so-called elites are really an ignorant, ivory tower bubble class.

Hillbilly Elegy, The Utah Republican Party And The Salt Lake Chamber Of Commerce

I wrote about political insiders effectively consolidating their take over of the Utah GOP. The outgoing party Chair then told conservatives and other grassroots folks they are not welcome and to get out and find another party. The GOP entrenched elites headed by Governor Gary Herbert have some fellow travelers, most prominent of which is the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. These select groups have formed various policy front groups which they control and employ to provide a false veneer of neutral analysis to champion/justify their political goals/policies; a self-licking ice cream cone. The roll up of the GOP will certainly strengthen the local oligarchy they have formed.

They operate under the premise that what is good for business and GDP is good for everyone. They seem to believe in a one-size-fits-all silver bullet that stock values and business profits and growth equate to a healthy society. But that’s a lazy half truth that they (and many conservatives) fall for. To wit, with the power consolidation, we’ll likely see further business costs/risks being pushed onto the backs of of struggling families, onto low and middle income Utahns and onto small businesses — socializing the costs and privatizing profits. This will be done to improve the (big) business environment and to ensure the continued growth of government by broadening the tax base.

Certainly, having jobs is important to society but business success doesn’t always translate into jobs (e.g. automation and outsourcing) nor does it mean jobs are created where they’re needed (such as the rust belt and the vacating of rural Utah and especially where there is a seemingly blind focus on the Wasatch Front for government-assisted economic development measures). Nor can business success serve as a surrogate for the health of the foundational unit of society – the family and it certainly does not ensure a higher quality of life.

At the beginning of this year, Tucker Carlson gave a monologue on this issue which should be considered by everyone. I was going to quote part of his talk to capture his main point but decided against it because it is too important. It really must be considered at in full. Watch the segment or read the transcript here: Mitt Romney supports the status quo. But for everyone else, it’s infuriating.

I also just finished J.D. Vance’s book Hillbilly Elegy. I can’t recommend a better book. Just read it. It is a must for anyone who cares about their neighbors and community (and for those involved in politics/policy) or preparing for a church mission*.

Vance also took note of Carlson’s monologue (The Health Of Nations: Conservatives should heed Tucker Carlson’s advice. We shouldn’t assume that what is good for markets is good for all of us). He notes:

This raises a fundamental question with which so many of Tucker’s critics refuse to even engage: What happens when the companies that drive the market economy — and all of its benefits — don’t care about the American nation’s social fabric? What happens when, as in the case of a few massive narcotics sellers, they profit by destroying that fabric?

Surely our response can’t be: “Well, the market will take care of it.” The market is not a Platonic deity, floating in the sky and imposing goodness and prosperity from on high. It is the creation of our choices, our laws, and our democratic process. We know, for instance, that pornography has radically altered how young boys perceive their relationships with women and sex, and that the pornography industry has acquired a lot of wealth…

Again, please read the entire article (AND his book). It is true that both parties have rejected the social aspect of policy. National Republican economic elites have basically cast out and silenced social conservatives. We’re told the way to win elections is to limit ourselves to economic issues and definitely avoid anything about morality or “traditional family values”.

Meanwhile, in his book, JD Vance refers to family values with strong church and community support as part of the remedy to the situations he was faced as a youth:

…So I wasn’t surprised that Mormon Utah—with its strong church, integrated communities, and intact families—wiped the floor with Rust Belt Ohio.

When I read this, it was a source of pride. But it vanished quickly and I was chilled when I realized that I know kids and families much like JD’s in my own neighborhood and in our classrooms*. Utah is not immune. We all know someone or a family just like JD’s. It’s already here and we’re not talking about it. Nor is it helpful when local churches waver on foundational moral principles that give the stability cited by Vance to Utah and, most importantly, its families.

I hope we’ll wake to this and not continue to be lead by the nose by the Salt Lake Chamber and that we will recognize that gross economic growth does not ensure a thriving society and economy. As individuals, we don’t get absolution by blaming our oligarchs and doing nothing. We need to get ourselves together, inculcate religious values in our children, take political action, and reach out to those like JD.

*If you want to understand those near you and those you teach or will serve. Read Hillbilly Elegy. His was an Appalachian family but the experience, consequences, and ‘enduring monsters’ that JD faces transcend Appalachia and exist next door, sit in an elementary school, and can be found behind the door missionaries knock on as they proclaim Christ’s gospel. There’s plenty of swearing but it isn’t gratuitous – it’s the way they talk. Get passed it and look at the heart and lessons, and act!

Swamp Wing Of Utah Republican Party Takes Over: Tells Conservatives To Leave, Get Another Party

Fox13 reported on the Utah GOP convention (Utah GOP ‘civil war’ appears to be winding down as delegates pick new leadership). At the convention, conservatives were booted from some party positions as the establishment consolidated power. Entrenched politicians and political operatives who’ve bungled so many things over the years are now fully in charge of the party. The same folks who continue to cater to the Chamber of Commerce and like to socialize business cost/risk and inadvertently mentor our younger generation to view socialism as something familiar and worth looking into.

As the Party’s outgoing chairman (ethically challenged, Rob Anderson ironically with Curt Bramble in the background) makes perfectly clear in Fox’s report:

“Their voices are a minority now,” he said of the group of party hardliners, adding: “Maybe it’s time for a new party for that group.”

So, it’s clear they don’t want you around. It’s been obvious for years that the establishment folks just saw conservatives as votes and people to use for the in the trenches grunt work they don’t like to do. They consider party grassroots and conservatives outside their cloistered circle as rubes that they must tolerate (but not respect) to retain power and have been plotting to get rid of grass roots and conservatives influence for years (click here for more). They’ve blocked all but the politically entrenched and certain wealthy folks from running for office by destroying the caucus system and rendered primaries virtually inaccessible for the average person (see the linked article). There’s no longer any use for participating in the party if you’re not an elite. Even the wealthy need to be cautious if they’re not acceptable to party elites as they will use tactics of personal destruction if you rock the boat.

They got their wish. The mask is now off the Utah Kabuki GOP Dance and they’re explicitly telling you they don’t like you and to just shut up and leave.

I’ll take them at their word. After decades as a Republican, I just changed my affiliation to Unaffiliated. It’s a piece of cake (takes about two minutes):

  • Go to the Utah Voter Registration site and click Update Registration (or direct link).
  • Plug in your info (House #, driver license #, birth date).
  • Scroll down to  the “Political Party” section and select “Unaffiliated” from the drop down.
  • Scroll down to the final three sections (Private Voter Record, Applicant Declaration, Signature).
    Be sure to select Yes on the Private Voter Record section to protect yourself from ID theft (otherwise the Lt. Gov’s office discloses and/or sells your personal voter info).
  • Confirm the applicant declaration and signature and you’re done.

Sayonara.

2019 Legislative Lesson: Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Swamp Consolidates Stranglehold On Utah

The general session of the Utah legislature ended on Thursday and it was a major win for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and the elite swamp.

Let’s start with some temporary good news. Outcry stopped, for now, the Chamber’s HB441 tax reform which would have further socialized costs and privatized profits. Again, this is temporary as the legislature is planning a special session to address tax reform. I expect they will basically run HB441 with a bit more lipstick and stick residents with a larger portion of government/infrastructure cost while minimizing big businesses’ contribution (businesses represented by the Chamber), thus maximizing their profits.

Teachers were also unhappy with HB441 and should be reminded that it was the Chamber’s past president, Lane Beattie, who screwed up school funding in the first place. Senator Howard Stephenson also picked up on this as well on his March 9th radio show where he called out those behind this mess.

Stephenson: I believe they created a crisis to then have a solution that was basically cooked up behind closed doors and sprung on the legislature with only two weeks left in the legislature.
Dougall: So when you say “they”, you don’t mean the legislature created the crisis, others created the crisis was responding to…
Stephenson: Well we know who was involved in it: The Salt Lake Chamber, the Kem Gardner Institute and Natalie Gochnour, and the uh Representative Quinn and some others, who, nobody really knows who was part of this brain trust and when they were meeting or anything…

Next, the Chamber and politicians made another big step in pulling political power from citizens and into the hands of political power brokers and political elites (“the swamp”). HB119 modifies the rules on citizen intiatives/referendum to greatly increase the logistics (and cost) by carving cities up into separate districts and requiring signatures come from 75% of those districts along with having to hold town hall meetings. The bill also lets cities spend money to fight such initiatives (thus, they get to use citizens’ tax money to fight citizen initiatives). The bill was sponsored by none other than Brad Daw and chief Utah swamp creature (imported from Chicago), Curt Bramble. This junk comes on the heels of SB54 which shifted candidate selection from the neighborhood caucus (advantageous to citizens) to big money political campaigns and lobbyists/consultants. SB54 also resulted in candidates being selected with less than a majority. Somewhere, Kurt Jowers, his Alta Club posse and his “California friend” are smiling…

The Chamber and Legislature (BIRM) also pushed more high density housing onto local cities. This will make the Chamber’s developers very happy and will not help housing affordability – likely the opposite (note: read the op-ed but then read the author’s (Justin S) comments in the comment section, they are key). The Chamber is also behind the propaganda ads on this issue and note that the Chamber cites the Kem Gardner Institute in the article (you’ll never guess who sits on the board of the Kem Gardner Center…).

More cronyism is glaringly obvious with HB290 where the legislature decided to dish out your sensitive personal information (including SSN, mother’s maiden name, place and date of birth, physical characteristics, medical information, etc.) to the University of Utah (UofU) for their health and epidemiology studies. As I said when I highlighted this abuse of power:

I’ve been part of medical studies but voluntarily participated. The UofU is no better than any other university or other medical research group when it comes to this. They should adhere to the same standards as the rest. They should be ashamed for engaging in political cronyism and trying to get this type of preferential treatment to take our driver license information without asking. It’s another example of Bastiat’s “legal plunder”.

Our so-called elites continue their path of power consolidation and legal plunder. Unfortunately, we’ll be left holding the consequences these ignorant elites foist upon us.

Addendum: the Chamber also had limited success with their support of the irrigation water metering bill. They used the guise of water conservation for this bill but it was bunk – water operators stated it was easy to conserve water by simply limiting irrigation to certain days (turning of the system on ‘non-water’ days) etc. What they had attempted (pushing expensive water meters onto everyone) was likely to result in cheaper, smaller water operators being forced out and effectively creating water monopolies and to favor developers. That danger still exists and there’s a question if Utah’s aquifers will be harmed (irrigation water significantly replenishes the aquifer).

End Exploitation: Illegal Immigration, Tax Credits, ID Theft, And The Border Crisis

I was tipped off to a 2015 KSL article in the comments (thanks Jen). The report is super as it has several illustrations for today: Republicans say Obama giving immigrants ‘amnesty bonuses’

Armed with new Social Security numbers, many of these immigrants who were living in the U.S. illegally will now be able to claim up to four years’ worth of tax credits designed to benefit the working poor. For big families, that’s a maximum of nearly $24,000, as long as they can document their earnings during those years.

Obama has issued executive orders shielding about 4 million immigrants from deportation. Some were brought to the U.S. as children; others are parents of children who are either U.S. citizens or legal residents.

They’re referring to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). It’s something that should sound familiar if you’ve read this blog. It involves illegal aliens not only engaging in identity fraud but tax fraud as well and the IRS basically doesn’t care. To catch up, read the posts on WTHR’s Bob Segall’s outstanding investigative reporting on this issue. Better yet, check out all his reports from the source: WTHR Tax loophole investigation.

Based on the above, it may be possible for one of the illegal aliens who used a fake ID to ‘game the system’ and get a huge EITC for ineligible family members to turn around and file again (thanks to Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty) but under the new social security number they were assigned. Thus, they could double their take of taxpayer funds.

One means that this may be prevented is if the IRS flags their earnings documentation as having already been reported under a different SSN but, given Segall’s findings, that appears unlikely.

Then there’s the identity theft aspect that goes hand-in-hand with illegal immigration:

How does Social Security know when it receives taxes from immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally? There is no foolproof method, Goss said. One way is by tracking reported wages in which the Social Security number does not match the name the agency has on file.

Some of these are clerical errors or unreported name changes, But Goss estimates that a majority of these wages come from immigrants who have made up Social Security numbers or used someone else’s.

The numbers are huge.

It’s well known and well documented that illegal aliens engage in identity theft (along with credit fraud and medical ID theft) and leave plenty of innocent victims in their wake (besides those murdered, drunk/other vehicular deaths, and sexual assault and decades long humanitarian/drug border crisis). Amnesty, HB116 and/or cheap labor proponents like the media, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints prefer to ignore it and hope no one notices the one-sided compassion for the perpetrators and blind eye to victims. But so does the Federal Government.

The IRS upper echelon obviously doesn’t care. Even before Obama’s amnesty, Segall found frustrated IRS officials upset at the abuse and blind eye to the identity theft. The Treasury Inspector General wasn’t happy either. With Obama’s amnesty, the “supporting documentation” they provide will clearly, again, indicate earnings via a fraudulent social security number. Fortunately, you can count of IRS chief, Koskinen, to thumb his nose at victims, citizens/legal immigrants, IRS workers and the IG.

The IRS accepts these tax returns without reporting the taxpayers to immigration authorities, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. That encourages the workers to pay taxes.

“We don’t enforce the Social Security laws, we don’t enforce the immigration laws,” Koskinen said of his agency. “In fact, the reason illegal immigrants file taxes with us is they know we aren’t sharing that data with anybody. We treat it as taxpayer-protected information.”

The IRS was supposed to finally take action with a rule change but I have no idea if it was ever implemented (Segall’s investigation ends there).

Finally, the article ends with a line that unwittingly exposes and condemns the Chamber of Commerce:

“Let’s not forget that these workers receive the lowest wages for what they contribute to their communities and local economies,” said Ellen Sittenfeld Battistelli, policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center. “What do we as a nation gain by further impoverishing them?”

This is an admission that points that illegal aliens are getting paid below market rates (thereby likely artificially depressing wages and innovation) and underpaid employees are dependent on these credits. Unscrupulous employers (and the Chamber of Crony Capitalists) are quite happy to have taxpayers subsidize their lust for cheap labor.

This exploitation of various victims needs to end. The wall must be built and it is essential that E-Verify be implemented to turn off the magnet and perverse incentive to hire underpaid, illegal labor for competitive advantage.