Patterico's Pontifications


Money Can’t Buy You Love, But It Sure Can Buy You Water – Even In A Drought

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:10 am

[guest post by Dana]

As Californians are now in the third year of a drought, now a Stage 4, economizing water has become a way of life for many.

But all things being relative, while some in hard hit towns like the immensely wealthy enclave of Montecito may appear to have made water-saving measures a new habit as evidenced in cutting water usage almost 50%, they are still using what anyone would consider copious amounts of water – even if they have to pay to truck it in:

Many mornings, just before 7 a.m., a large tanker truck pulls up to the grand gates of Oprah Winfrey’s 40-acre estate in Montecito, California. Inside is neither merchandise nor produce – just water.

A year ago, Oprah’s annual bill from the Montecito Water District was just shy of $125,000. This year, it is less than half. Like many in this wealthy enclave, Oprah has cut back on her consumption of district water. That said, her property has its own wells and a small lake and, according to neighbors, there are the trucks.

These days, tankers can be seen barreling down Montecito’s narrow country roads day and night, ferrying up to 5,000 gallons of H20 to some of the world’s richest and thirstiest folks.

Unfortunately, gorgeous Montecito has the misfortune of being located where there is less available water than any other part of the central coast as a nearby aquifer only reaches a small portion of the community. And because of the severity of drought in the community, heavy fines are levied for those who overuse. And some residents appear more than willing to pay:

In May, 837 defiant—or careless—residents coughed up $532,000 in penalties, or a collective overage of about 13 million gallons of town water. The beachfront Biltmore Four Seasons was whacked with a penalty of $48,000 for using about one million gallons over its allotment in April, while a nearby private home sucked up a $30,000 fine for the month for guzzling an extra 750,000 gallons. The district receives about 30 appeals a week. Those who do not pay their bills receive shut off notices— and about 400 were sent out in the last year. The Montecito Water District, which is particularly discreet about its patrons, admits it will rake in close to $4 million in fines this year.

But for those who understand that money talks, water is still plentiful.

Does it really matter if the wealthy pay for water to be brought in? Truck drivers make a living off the demand and the lush rolling lawns remain emerald green. Win-win. Well, it just might matter. The water they are trucking in doesn’t come from an endless source. It comes from the nearby town of Carpenteria. Charles Hamilton, general manager of the Carpinteria Water District, worries:

Carpinteria, one of the country’s top producers of avocados and flowers, is an agricultural wonderland for good reason. The town sits on an immense aquifer that Hamilton describes as a “geological treasure,” amply providing for its residents and thousands of acres of agriculture.

Every well in Carpinteria, however, draws upon its aquifer — like so many straws in a glass. If water continues to be siphoned from these wells to cash in on Montecito’s plight — and if the winter rains do not come — Hamilton frets that even its great aquifer will be threatened.

Meanwhile, 190 miles away from Montecito, the small rural town of Porterville has run out of water. The wells are dry.

“We received direction early last week from county administration to come out and conduct an emergency operation. We distributed 15,552 gallons of drinking water to the community,” said Andrew Lockman, manager of Tulare County Office of Emergency Services. “At this time, it is all funded under the county’s general fund.”

Many residents of East Porterville are now relying on a 5,000 gallon tank of non-potable water. The tank is provided by Tulare County and is located in front of Tulare County Fire Department Station 20.

Perhaps the rich and famous of Montecito might send word to turn those water trucks northeast.

You can also read here about the latest lawsuit in California between farmers versus Indian tribes, environmentalists and fishermen over the federal release of water to aid residents salmon.



Mexico’s President to United States: Stop Being Unethical!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:28 pm

[guest post by Dana]

You know what’s worse than having the visiting president of a neighboring country whose people stream across our border as if they owned the place lecture us on the ethics of immigration? How about the imbecilic governor of a U.S. border state reassure said president: “If we can put a man on the moon, we can put a man from Mexico to California in 20 minutes.”

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto was in town at Governor Brown’s invitation and spoke about the assumed need for immigration reform:

“We want to be a factor of cohesion, not division, with full respect for the sovereignty of the United States,” President Enrique Pena Nieto said Monday. “This, at the end, is about — and only about — a matter of justice for those who contribute so much to the development of the American society.”

And, while not naming names, Pena Nieto criticized what ABC News refers to as those unethical governors cracked down on immigrants:

“There are still states that have not evolved so much as California, that still skimp on recognition and, even worse, the rights of immigrants,” he said. “Those who still believe and bet for the exclusion and discrimination or the rejection of diversity … I only have one thing to say: the future, and a very near future, will demonstrate your ethical mistake. Time will show we’re right.”

It becomes so tiresome to point out the utter hypocrisy of Mexico.


Little Girl Accidentally Kills Her Instructor At Shooting Range

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:03 pm

[guest post by Dana]

A horrible accident:

A 9-year-old girl learning to fire a submachine gun accidentally killed her instructor at a shooting range when the weapon recoiled over her shoulder, according to Arizona authorities.

The instructor, 39-year-old Charles Vacca, died at a hospital Monday night after he was shot in the head.

The gun range where the accident took place, permits children as young as age 8 to shoot as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Sam Scarmardo, operator of shooting range Bullets and Burgers explained:

Our guys are trained to basically hover over people when they’re shooting,” Scarmardo said. “If they’re shooting right-handed, we have our right-hand behind them ready to push the weapon out of the way. And if they’re left-handed, the same thing.”

Gun experts question why a little girl was handling an Uzi in the first place due to its powerful recoil:

It’s always the supervision,” said Greg Danas, president of Massachusetts-based G&G Firearms. “But you also have gun enthusiasts running businesses where they place firearms in the hands of the uninformed, whether they’re 9-year-old kids who are not capable or adults. It all stems from gun enthusiasts running businesses that require a level of professionalism and education. The unexpected with firearms is something that’s only learned through years of being a trainer, not a gun enthusiast.”

Danas questioned why the instructor in Arizona was standing immediately to the left of the Uzi, which would have recoiled in that direction.

“It’s an awful shame,” he said. “He shouldn’t have been to the left side of the gun… But that child should not have been shooting anything other than a single-shot firearm.”


Greg Block, who runs California-based Self-Defense Firearms Training, said not only was the Uzi the wrong gun to use — “That’s not a kid’s gun” — but that instructors should stand to the rear and to the right of the shooter.

“He was literally in the line of fire,” Block said of the instructor. “He did pretty much everything wrong, and I don’t like saying that because it cost the man his life.”

Regarding any parental culpability, Chief Deputy Mohave County Attorney Jace Zack stated:

“They trusted the instructor to know what he was doing, and the girl could not possibly have comprehended the potential dangers involved.”


The New Republic: These Brazilians Need to Pay These Absurd U.S. Taxes

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:49 am

Some lefty at The New Republic whines as follows:

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday evening that Burger King is seeking to buy Tim Horton’s, the Canadian coffee and donut chain, to lower its U.S. tax bill.

You may be wondering, how does Burger King reduce its tax liability by purchasing a Canadian fast food company? The answer is that the deal is structured as a “tax inversion” which allows Burger King to switch its official tax jurisdiction from the United States, where the federal corporate tax rate is 35 percent, to Canada, where it is 15 percent. Presto! Burger King’s tax bill is suddenly much lower.

If it sounds ridiculous that an American company can purchase a foreign firm and suddenly avoid the U.S. corporate tax system, that’s because it is. Under current U.S. tax law, if the American company transfers 20 percent or more of its shares to the foreign firm, it can switch its official tax jurisdiction. It doesn’t matter that the vast majority of the shareholders are still American. Or that the management and control of the company remains in the U.S. Or that in making the deal, nothing about the company actually changes. You would still be able to grab a Whopper for lunch. Its thousands of American workers will all still have their jobs. But Burger King will have opted out of the U.S. corporate tax system.

Meanwhile, Forbes reported three days ago on the prospective merger and said:

Burger King’s majority owner, the Brazilian private-equity firm 3G Capital, would hold the majority of shares in the combined company, their statement said.

These Brazilians need to get patriotic and pay their absurdly high American tax rates.

P.S. The tax inversion is being funded by noted high-tax proponent and hypocrite Warren Buffett.

Texas: Father Tried for Murder of Drunk Driver Who Killed His Sons; UPDATE: Acquitted

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:31 am

Sounds like they don’t have much in the way of evidence:

The attorney for a Texas father accused of fatally shooting a drunken driver who caused an accident that killed his two sons argued with investigators Monday that none of the evidence they have presented at trial directly links his client to the murder.

. . . .

Dominick Sanders, the lead investigator with the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, told jurors that the search of Barajas’ home failed to find any evidence “that made a direct link from (Barajas) to the crime scene.”

Later, Cammack asked Sanders if he could tell jurors who shot Banda. Sanders said he didn’t have any direct knowledge on who did it.

“What in the heck are we doing here?” Cammack said.

They’re in trial?

I’m always suspicious of stories about criminal cases, since they sometimes don’t tell the whole story. If there’s evidence that makes the father an aider and abettor, police don’t need to show he’s the shooter, of course. But this doesn’t sound like an aiding and abetting case. The investigator can’t say who’s guilty, yet somehow the guy is on trial anyway? That’s not how it’s supposed to work. It sounds like they’re trying the guy on suspicion alone: he had motive, there is evidence he once had a gun, and the hard drive is missing from his home security system.*

If motive, means, and a missing hard drive are enough to charge someone with a crime, slap the cuffs on Lois Lerner, baby.

UPDATE: So here was my comment at 7:50 a.m. today:

“Texas justice” will be the jury’s verdict. Unless this story is misleading, it will be an acquittal.

And later on today?

The jury has acquitted David Barajas of murder in the fatal shooting of a drunken driver who had just caused an accident that killed the man’s two sons.

Always trust content from Patterico.

“Knee Defender” Argument Diverts Plane

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:09 am

First-world problems:

An argument over legroom on a weekend flight led United Airlines to divert a plane to Chicago and call authorities, the airline said Tuesday.

United Airlines Flight 1462 was en route from Newark, N.J., to Denver Sunday afternoon when there was a disturbance between two passengers, a spokesman for the airline said.

According to Chicago police, a 47-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman sitting in front of him got into an altercation after the female passenger realized she could not recline her seat.

The Associated Press reported that the man was using the Knee Defender, a plastic device that clips onto the tray table and prevents the seat ahead from reclining back.

The argument became so heated that the woman threw a cup of water at the man, Chicago Police Officer Janel Sedevic said.

I’m not a fan of reclining seats generally, but airlines have them, and allow passengers to use them. If it’s really important for you to do some work, you could ask the person in front of you if they wouldn’t mind sitting up enough for you to see your screen. Probably they will accommodate you, but if they don’t, that’s life. Put the laptop on your lap, get a first-class seat, do your work on an iPad, or come up with some other solution.


IRS Says Lerner Blackberry Wiped Clean After Start of Congressional Probe

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:22 pm

My, this is starting to sound like intentional destruction of evidence, isn’t it?

Lois Lerner’s Blackberry was intentionally destroyed after Congress had begun its probe into IRS targeting of conservative groups, a senior IRS lawyer acknowledged in a sworn declaration.

Thomas Kane, Deputy Assistant Chief Counsel for the IRS, wrote in the declaration, part of a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against the IRS, that the Blackberry was “removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.”

That date – June 2012 – is significant because by that time, ex-IRS official Lerner had already been summoned before congressional staffers who interviewed her about reports of the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.

“We had already talked to her. Our personal staff and Oversight Committee staff had sat down with Ms. Lerner and confronted her about information we were getting from conservative groups in the state of Ohio and around the country,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Fox News.

“If you intentionally destroy evidence, that is a crime. If you make a statement in court saying the evidence is not available and it is, that is also a crime,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice.

So. Her hard drive has already crashed. Congress is starting to look into her activities. Her Blackberry would have emails from her Outlook account — presumably including emails that were missing from the crashed hard drive:

In two elusive and nebulous sworn declarations, we can glean that Ms. Lerner had two Blackberries. One was issued to her on November 12, 2009. According to a sworn declaration, this is the Blackberry that contained all the emails (both sent and received) that would have been in her “Outlook” and drafts that never were sent from her Blackberry during the relevant time.

So they . . . wiped it clean??

Are you kidding me?

They know this looks bad — which means whatever they’re hiding would have been worse.

P.S. Judicial Watch is also making claims that the Administration admitted it can access the emails, but it would be “too onerous.” The Administration denies it said that. I don’t know what to make of that.

I do know what to make of a destroyed Blackberry. My humble suggestion? Convene a grand jury, please.

Rick Perry Files for Writ of Habeas Corpus

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:45 am

He’s not in custody, but the writ of habeas corpus can apply to constructive custody as well as actual custody — so maybe this is the right vehicle. I don’t know. (P.S. When lawyers use the word “constructive” it means it’s not real.) The arguments in the petition repeat a lot of arguments that were made by Eugene Volokh here and here. Check it out:

Rick Perry writ of habeas corpus.pdf

Via William Jacobson.

NYT: It Was Wrong of Us to Say Michael Brown Was “No Angel”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:36 am

In a recent profile of Michael Brown, a New York Times piece describes an anecdote in which Brown claimed to have seen an angel in the clouds. He told his dad that “he saw Satan chasing the angel and the angel running into the face of God” — and said that the experience had made him a believer.

In the fifth paragraph, after describing the anecdote about the angel in the clouds, the reporter, John Eligon, goes on to say:

Michael Brown, 18, due to be buried on Monday, was no angel, with public records and interviews with friends and family revealing both problems and promise in his young life. Shortly before his encounter with Officer Wilson, the police say he was caught on a security camera stealing a box of cigars, pushing the clerk of a convenience store into a display case. He lived in a community that had rough patches, and he dabbled in drugs and alcohol. He had taken to rapping in recent months, producing lyrics that were by turns contemplative and vulgar. He got into at least one scuffle with a neighbor.

At the same time, he regularly flashed a broad smile that endeared those around him. He overcame early struggles in school to graduate on time. He was pointed toward a trade college and a career and, his parents hoped, toward a successful life.

Now the reporter and the New York Times are taking grief for using the phrase “no angel” to describe Brown. They are pushing back, explaining that the phrase is a reference to the angel story at the head of the piece — and anyway, they add, he’s on tape committing a robbery, which is hardly angelic.

Ah, who am I kidding? The last sentence of the previous paragraph is fictional. Actually, the Times is in full backpedal mode. Here’s their public editor:

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: That choice of words was a regrettable mistake. In saying that the 18-year-old Michael Brown was “no angel” in the fifth paragraph of Monday’s front-page profile, The Times seems to suggest that this was, altogether, a bad kid.

Some people take their protests further; they say that The Times is suggesting a truly repellent idea — that Mr. Brown deserved to die because he acted like many a normal teenager.

What’s “obvious” to the public editor is not obvious to me, but an intense Twitter backlash has apparently moved the Overton window on what phrases are acceptable to describe Brown. The Twitter mob has even managed to get the reporter, a black man who wrote a balanced piece about Brown, to express regret over his choice of words:

Mr. Eligon told me in a phone conversation that he proposed the idea of a profile of Mr. Brown — an in-depth article that would give readers insight into his life. . . . As a 31-year-old black man himself, Mr. Eligon told me, he is attentive to many of the issues in the Ferguson case.

. . . .

“I understand the concerns, and I get it,” Mr. Eligon said. He agreed that “no angel” was not a good choice of words and explained that they were meant to play off the opening anecdote of the article in which Mr. Brown saw an angelic vision. That anecdote “is about as positive as you can get,” Mr. Eligon said, and noted that a better way to segue into the rest of the article might have been to use a phrase like “wasn’t perfect.”

“Hindsight is 20/20. I wish I would have changed that,” he said.

In general, he said, the profile was a “full, mostly positive picture” of the young man.

Reading the full profile, I don’t get the impression that Brown was an altogether bad kid. He had some positives going for him: a dad in the picture and a diploma from high school. But it is true he was no angel; most people caught on video committing a robbery aren’t. For that matter, most people aren’t, period. There are very few angels out there. But I think it’s safe to say that the Venn diagram of “angels” and “robbers” doesn’t really intersect.

Apparently it’s no longer allowed to tell the truth, even if the truth is told with sensitivity and balance.

Eligon deals with words on a daily basis. I guarantee you he thought about whether to use the phrase “no angel” — and consciously decided to go forward with that wording because it provided an artful and truthful transition from the story about the angel in the clouds to the grittier story of Brown’s actual life.

The most irritating thing about this is that of the horde of whiners on Twitter, my guess is that not one in 100 has read the whole piece. They just take a phrase out of context and run with it, because OUTRAGE!!!!

So, you have your marching orders, folks. Michael Brown was an angel after all, and don’t you dare say otherwise.

P.S. The story also says:

Mr. Brown’s uncle Bernard Ewing remembers talking to his nephew about how to interact with police officers.

“I let him know like, if the police ever get on you, I don’t care what you doing, give it up,” Mr. Ewing said. “Because if you do one wrong move, they’ll shoot you. They’ll kill you.”

Good to advice. Is it wrong of me to say it’s a shame Michael Brown didn’t take it?

P.P.S. There is now unconfirmed audio of the gunshots. Apparently some guy was chatting it up with his girl and recording the conversation on his computer, as you do, and in the background can be heard what CNN claims may be the shots that killed Brown. If these are the shots, it sounds like a cluster of six, a short pause, and a cluster of four. Bear in mind: Brown was hit six times. If he was advancing on the officer during the shots, the cop probably missed him more in the first cluster than the second, meaning Brown might have been hit only twice in the first cluster. Was he really still coming at the cop after the first cluster and the pause? If so, why? And another question: was the recording on during the first gunshot — the one that went off when Brown was struggling with the officer in the car? Why didn’t we hear that one?

Judge: California 10-Day Waiting Period Unconstitutional — As to Some People

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:35 am

Namely, those who have already passed background checks before:

A federal judge in California has struck down a law that requires a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases, but only for current gun owners who have already passed a background check and those who have a permit or certificate of eligibility to own a gun.

Eastern District of California Judge Anthony W. Ishii said Monday that the waiting period provision violates the Second Amendment rights of those who have already been approved to own a gun. This includes those who have previously undergone a background check and own a gun, people with concealed-carry permits and people who have a state certificate of eligibility to own a gun.

First-time gun buyers would still be subject to the waiting period, which Ishii emphasized in his ruling.

This does not seem like a huge development — but it does show that judges are now willing to consider arguments like this, post-Heller. The judge, by the way, was appointed by Bill Clinton . . . so there goes the left’s narrative that this is a partisan decision.

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