Patterico's Pontifications

8/27/2014

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.

8/26/2014

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.

8/25/2014

Two Different Kinds Of Feminist Protest

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:12 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This weekend, a fearless young Egyptian feminist protested ISIS in a bold and brazen manner. (Warning: Photo at link NSFW)

Aliaa Magda Elmahdy and another female protestor defecated and menstruated on the Islamic State flag:

In the image, the 23-year-old feminist is seen facing the camera, while the other woman, dressed in a black hijab, has her back towards the viewer. Two presumably plastic machine guns are in the background, and the veiled woman is holding up her middle finger. The letters IS are inscribed on Elmahdy’s stomach and on the second woman’s bottom.

Elmahdy said in the past that her photos “scream against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.”

Meanwhile, a few weeks ago our own local feminist protestors, Code Pink voiced their objections to the airstrikes in Iraq that were part of a humanitarian effort to save the trapped Yazidis. The 7 protestors who showed up stated:

[T]hey opposed bombing for any purpose in Iraq and argued that the United States was motivated by financial, not humanitarian, interests in the region.

Untitled-1

The effectiveness of protest is not always measurable, but anyone willing to take an actual risk against the oppressive and tyrannical rule of bloodthirsty killers (and no, Code Pink, I’m not referring to George W. Bush) should, I think, be taken seriously.

-Dana

More Wedding Woes And Penalizing ‘Private’ Business Owners

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:00 pm

[guest post by Dana]

We’ve already seen wedding cake bakers and bridal shop owners having complaints filed against them for refusing service to gay couples, and now we have wedding site owners being ordered to pay penalties for refusing to host a gay wedding. At their home.

Owners of a family farm in Schaghticoke, New York, are being fined $13,000 for refusing to allow a gay wedding ceremony to take place on their property in 2012, just one year after the state legalized same-sex nuptials.

Cynthia and Robert Gifford, owners of Liberty Ridge Farm, a family-friendly farm and special events venue, told Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, a lesbian couple from Newark, New Jersey, that they were welcome to hold their reception on the property, but not the actual wedding ceremony, according to Religion News Service.

The Giffords live on the premises and these ceremonies are typically conducted on the first floor of their home or on the nearby property. Considering that they are Christians and consider marriage to be confined to relationships involving one man and one woman, the two weren’t comfortable hosting McCathy and Erwin’s nuptials.

The couple has apparently had gay staff members and hosted gay events, but were simply not comfortable with a gay wedding taking place on their farm. The ruling judge rejected the couple’s argument that their business entitled them to be able to legally refuse the couple.

Judge Migdalia Pares, who argued that the fact that the owners live on the premises does not mean that the business is private in nature, ruled that Liberty Ridge Farm is a public accommodation as it rents its space and regularly collects fees from the public.

What’s left to go after?

–Dana

UPDATE: The owners of Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation, which operates a lodge used for weddings in Minnesota, were the subjects of a discrimination complaint made by a gay couple after said owners turned down their request to hold their wedding at the lodge:

The Department of Human Rights investigated and determined there was probable cause of discrimination by the lodge owners due to sexual orientation.

“This is the first public accommodation case for the department related to same-sex marriage, and it serves as a reminder that businesses may not deny services based on a person’s sexual orientation just as they can’t deny services on the basis of race or gender,” Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said.

The owners of the lodge subsequently picked up the full tab for the couple’s wedding, reception and guest accommodations at another location.

Further:

The gay marriage law passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2013 provides specific exemptions for religious entities from taking part in same-sex union, but it doesn’t exempt individuals, businesses and nonprofits from non-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.

The Minnesota Family Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, said the government shouldn’t force family businesses to participate in ceremonies that violate their beliefs.

“The Minnesota Human Rights Department’s treatment of Minnesota families is deplorable. They are choosing to enforce the same-sex ‘marriage’ law in an unconstitutional manner, targeting Minnesota business owners and, to top it all off, claiming victory for settling with a hunting preserve owner who should have never had to face a human rights case against him,” Council CEO John Helmberger said in a statement.

Paul Ryan Claims He Was Silent on Government Shutdown for Party Unity, But the Record Does Not Agree

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:35 am

CBS News: Paul Ryan: I kept quiet during government shutdown for party unity.

Rep. Paul Ryan said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that he didn’t voice his opposition to the government shutdown in 2013 because he wanted to ensure there was “party unity.”

“I don’t think it was constructive for conservatives to be carping at each other. At the same time, the purpose of that passage is to try and unify our party. I don’t think we can succeed if all we do is criticize and define what we are against,” he said.

Ryan wrote in his new book that came out last week that he believed the Republican attempt to defund Obamacare by shutting down the government was “a suicide mission” but that too many members of his own party were unwilling to abandon the idea for fear that they would be punished by outside groups aligned with the tea party.

He told CBS News’ Bob Schieffer that he didn’t believe the strategy was “really legitimate” because a government shutdown cannot stop an entitlement program, not to mention there was no support for the strategy in the Senate.

But the point of his book, he said, “to help design a unified conservative Republican movement that is principled, inclusive and aspirational so that we can win a majority of Americans’ votes to save this country from what I believe is going down the wrong track.”

When politicians make claims about what they did (or did not do) in the past, it’s sometimes helpful to consult the record.

August 4, 2013:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Influential Republican congressman Paul Ryan disagreed on Sunday with the idea of using the threat of a government shutdown as a means of trying to get rid of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law known as “Obamacare.”

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and a former vice presidential candidate, said he strongly backs the goal of repealing Obamacare but added there were other, more effective ways of achieving it than by refusing to approve any government funding bill that includes money for the program.

“I think there’s going to be a better strategy to actually achieve our goal of ultimately delaying and ultimately replacing Obamacare,” the Wisconsin congressman told the CBS talk show “Face the Nation.”

Note: the August 2013 comments were made on “Face the Nation” — the very same show where Ryan said this past Sunday that he had been silent in 2013. It takes a large pair of brass nerves to claim that you were “silent” about a topic, on the very same show where you held forth at length about the same topic one year earlier.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 7.31.38 AM
Above: a tight-lipped Paul Ryan keeps his mouth shut for the party’s sake

So why is Ryan obfuscating about this? Because his “silence” didn’t end in August 2013. In October 2013, he was spouting off to reporters again . . . this time trying to prevent a compromise that would have ended the shutdown. This is the embarrassing history that he needs to erase from our memories.

Let’s consult that pasky record again. After his August 2013 “Face the Nation” appearance, it was reported that conservatives were upset with Ryan. Next thing you know, on October 8, Ryan had penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed blaming Obama for the crisis and proposing his own solution. By October 12, 2013, Ryan’s “silence” consisted of telling reporters about his opposition to a Senate compromise floated by Susan Collins:

Boehner’s closest friends in the Senate, including Graham and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), pleaded with him Friday to modify his legislation along the lines of what they were trying to broker across the Capitol. The speaker told them Saturday that the Collins plan would face opposition from too many Republicans for him to put it on the floor, Chambliss said.

“We don’t support it,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters, saying that the reasons for opposition were “too many to go into.”

Ah, the sounds of silence! Ryan wasn’t just spouting off to reporters about his opposition to the Senate compromise. He was actually rallying the troops against it:

[I]nstead of absorbing this painful reality, some rank-and-file Republicans grew visibly excited about the prospect of opposing such a deal, said one person in the room. This defiance was fed by Ryan, who stood up and railed against the Collins proposal, saying the House could not accept either a debt-limit bill or a government-funding measure that would delay the next fight until the new year.

According to two Republicans familiar with the exchange, Ryan argued that the House would need those deadlines as “leverage” for delaying the health-care law’s individual mandate and adding a “conscience clause” — allowing employers and insurers to opt out of birth-control coverage if they find it objectionable on moral or religious grounds — and mentioned tax and entitlement goals Ryan had focused on in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Ryan’s speech appeared only to further rile up the conservative wing of the GOP conference, which has been agitating the shutdown strategy to try to tear apart the health-care law.

With such fervor still rampant among House Republicans, there was bipartisan agreement in the Senate that Boehner’s House had lost its ability to approve anything that could be signed by Obama into law.

My guess is that it is this leadership role in prolonging the government shutdown that Ryan is trying to whitewash.

I guess he’s running, huh?

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