Patterico's Pontifications

8/28/2014

“We Don’t Have A Strategy Yet”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:06 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The president admitted to the world today that we don’t have a strategy yet to fight ISIL.

“My priority at this point is to make sure that the gains that ISIL made in Iraq are rolled back and that Iraq has the opportunity to govern itself effectively and secure itself,” Obama told reporters in the White House briefing room.

The president promised to consult lawmakers on the strategy, “in part because it may cost some money,” and Congress holds the federal purse strings. But he repeatedly declined to commit to seeking a vote authorizing expanded military action in either Iraq or Syria.

“I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in,” he said. “But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.”

–Dana

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Here is video:

Spokesliar Josh Earnest tries to explain it away by lying:

Earnest quickly scheduled an appearance on CNN during which he argued Obama was simply referencing the U.S. options against the Islamic State in Syria — not in Iraq.

The president [was] asked a specific question about what approach he was going to pursue when it came to possible military action in Syria against ISIL. That was the specific question he was asked and the president was explicit that he is still waiting for plans that are being developed by the Pentagon for military options he has for going into Syria,” Earnest said.

But Spokesliar Josh Earnest lies badly. Here is the transcript of the question and answer:

QUESTION: Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?

OBAMA: You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in and we’re — that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate.

But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.

Yeah, Spokesliar Josh Earnest, the specific question he was asked was: “Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?” If you’re going to lie, lie better than that.

Meet the Man Who Has Nothing to Hide (But Not Really)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:34 am

At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf writes about a man who supposedly has nothing to hide:

When someone debating privacy says, “but I don’t have anything to hide,” I am immediately suspicious. “Would you prove it by giving me access to your email accounts,” I’ve taken to replying, “along with your credit card statements and bank records?” Not a single person has ever taken me up on that challenge–until now.

Arizona resident Noah Dyer emailed me about an anti-privacy project he is promoting. I replied in my usual way. And to my surprise, he sent all his passwords.

“I have given you the things you’ve asked for, and have done so unconditionally,” he wrote. “I’ve given you the power to impersonate me. I request that you do not take advantage of me in this way, though I have obviously not made that desire a precondition to sharing the info with you. Additionally, while you may paint whatever picture of me you are inclined to based on the data and our conversations, I would ask you to exercise restraint in embarrassing others whose lives have crossed my path … Again, I have not made your agreement to that request a condition of sharing the data. I don’t think I have enough money that you would bother to take it or spend it. Look forward to talking more and seeing the article!”

“Wow,” I thought. “How reckless to give this access to a complete stranger!” Then I logged in to his email.

It’s an interesting piece with an interesting premise. Dyer turns out to be a self-promoting narcissist who got a divorce because he decided it was important to be able to sleep around — including, apparently, with several married women. He gave Friedersdorf complete access to all his passwords, which means he unilaterally decided that there would be no privacy, not just for him, but for anyone else who had ever entrusted him with anything private.

Although Friedersdorf repeatedly claims that Dyer has “nothing to hide,” he clearly does — because, for some reason, he doesn’t seem to want to give his bank and email passwords to the world . . . just to Friedersdorf. Dyer is active in comments to the article and I have asked him to post his passwords publicly. So far he has not, and I don’t expect that he will. (Nor should he.)

As best as I can tell, Dyer defends this by explaining that in his utopia, nobody would have any privacy, so if you stole something, everyone would know. In our imperfect world, however, he has to behave differently. Of course, in my utopia, self-promoting narcissists would not exist, so there would be no Noah Dyer to begin with. (Utopia, I’ll remind the reader, means “nowhere.”)

Dyer is trying to fund some Kickstarter campaign:

[I]f his ambitious Kickstarter, “A Year Without Privacy,” is funded, “I will walk my talk. You will see every minute of my life for a year. You will see every email, every text, every Facebook message and any other communication that I receive. You will see my bank account transaction and balances. You will see everything I eat and all the exercise I do … If I do have sex, it will be documented as a matter of fact, not with any specific intention to arouse or otherwise manipulate the viewer.”

Ladies, the line to have sex with this guy on camera for the whole world to see starts right over there!

I doubt he will be giving out his passwords to the entire world, though. Because the guy with nothing to hide, as it turns out, still does have plenty to hide — at least in the real world.

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.

–Dana

8/27/2014

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.

–Dana

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.”

Further:

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.”

–Dana

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.

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