The media’s self-beclowning

As someone who has worked in the media now for five decades, I have to wonder who the hell is in charge in major media outlets.

The past Riot Weekend demonstrates that some people shouldn’t be working in this line of work.

First, The Right Scoop reports:

In calling on Democrat mayors and governors to get tough around the country yesterday, Trump said “these people are anarchists”, referring to the rioters around the country:

Personally I wish Trump wouldn’t turn so many of his tweets into a political attack on ‘Sleepy Joe’ during a time of such nationwide distress over what’s going on. But I digress…

In response to this tweet, PBS White House reporter Yamiche Alcindor actually tweeted the following: “”These people are anarchists,” President Trump says without providing any evidence.”

Has Yamiche been watching the news this weekend? Has she not seen all the fires raging, stores broken and looted all around the country? Has she not seen all the cop cars with broken windows and graffiti all over them? Has she not seen members of the press being attacked? Trump doesn’t need to provide evidence, it’s all over the country.

This just goes to show how far the media will go in their hatred of Trump to defend these thug mobs and Antifa groups.

Ted Cruz hit Yamiche late last night:

Here’s a few more:

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and randomly destroys property …

Some people learn from others, and some people learn only from experience. And so The Post Millennial reports:

A news editor for a small, independent newspaper was in support of the protests-turned-riots, until they broke into the paper’s office and she had to take cover from looters and vandals in the basement.

Leigh Tauss, an editor for the progressive news outlet Indy Week in North Carolina, was stunned to find that the protesters-turned-rioters did not look favorably upon her business when they swept the area.

She tweeted out on Saturday, saying “the crowd is extremely peaceful and groups and many are wearing masks and trying to keep distance.”

It was only a few short hours later that Tauss tweeted again about the protests.  This time her tone was difference.

“I went into the hallway. I heard someone l enter the office and what sounded like smashing inside. We are a small newspaper with a handful of desktops. I’m now hiding in the basement.”

And then on Sunday morning, Tauss posted what had become of her office at the hands of the rioters, tweeting “I’m devastated. We are a progressive newspaper. Last night I was inside when the first brick was thrown.”

similar scenario happened with ESPN sportswriter Chris Martin Palmer, who encouraged rioters to burn down a low-income housing area in Minneapolis. But when they showed up to his place, he did not hold back in referring to the rioters as “animals.”

Tauss marked the escalations on Twitter.

She went on to record the late night actions.

Tauss ended the day thanking those who reached out.

A related media moron moment comes from Information Liberation:

Former ESPN reporter Chris Martin Palmer celebrated rioters burning down a $30 million affordable housing complex in Minneapolis on Thursday, writing: “Burn that s**t down. Burn it all down.”
He changed his tune after the “gated community” down the street from him came under attack.
“They just attacked our sister community down the street,” Palmer tweeted. “It’s a gated community and they tried to climb the gates. They had to beat them back. Then destroyed a Starbucks and are now in front of my building. Get these animals TF out of my neighborhood. Go back to where you live.”

…and then…

— Sean O (@Sean_O_914) May 31, 2020
Palmer deleted his tweet celebrating the affordable housing complex being burned down after widespread mockery.

The Biden (formerly Obama) taxes

Dan Mitchell:

After Barack Obama took office (and especially after he was reelected), there was a big uptick in the number of rich people who chose to emigrate from the United States.

There are many reasons wealthy people choose to move from one nation to another, but Obama’s embrace of class-warfare tax policy (including FATCA) was seen as a big factor.

Joe Biden’s tax agenda is significantly more punitive than Obama’s, so we may see something similar happen if he wins the 2020 election.

Given the economic importance of innovators, entrepreneurs, and inventors, this would be not be good news for the American economy.

The New York Times reported late last year that the United States could be shooting itself in the foot by discouraging wealthy residents.

…a different group of Americans say they are considering leaving — people of both parties who would be hit by the wealth tax… Wealthy Americans often leave high-tax states like New York and California for lower-tax ones like Florida and Texas. But renouncing citizenship is a far more permanent, costly and complicated proposition. …“America’s the most attractive destination for capital, entrepreneurs and people wanting to get a great education,” said Reaz H. Jafri, a partner and head of the immigration practice at Withers, an international law firm. “But in today’s world, when you have other economic centers of excellence — like Singapore, Switzerland and London — people don’t view the U.S. as the only place to be.” …now, the price may be right to leave. While the cost of expatriating varies depending on a person’s assets, the wealthiest are betting that if a Democrat wins…, leaving now means a lower exit tax. …The wealthy who are considering renouncing their citizenship fear a wealth tax less than the possibility that the tax on capital gains could be raised to the ordinary income tax rate, effectively doubling what a wealthy person would pay… When Eduardo Saverin, a founder of Facebook…renounced his United States citizenship shortly before the social network went public, …several estimates said that renouncing his citizenship…saved him $700 million in taxes.

The migratory habits of rich people make a difference in the global economy.

Here are some excerpts from a 2017 Bloomberg story.

Australia is luring increasing numbers of global millionaires, helping make it one of the fastest growing wealthy nations in the world… Over the past decade, total wealth held in Australia has risen by 85 percent compared to 30 percent in the U.S. and 28 percent in the U.K… As a result, the average Australian is now significantly wealthier than the average American or Briton. …Given its relatively small population, Australia also makes an appearance on a list of average wealth per person. This one is, however, dominated by small tax havens.

… It’s worth noting that even Greece is seeking to attract rich foreigners.

The new tax law is aimed at attracting fresh revenues into the country’s state coffers – mainly from foreigners as well as Greeks who are taxed abroad – by relocating their tax domicile to Greece, as it tries to woo “high-net-worth individuals” to the Greek tax register. The non-dom model provides for revenues obtained abroad to be taxed at a flat amount… Having these foreigners stay in Greece for at least 183 days a year, as the law requires, will also entail expenditure on accommodation and everyday costs that will be added to the Greek economy. …most eligible foreigners will be able to considerably lighten their tax burden if they relocate to Greece…nevertheless, the amount of 500,000 euros’ worth of investment in Greece required of foreigners and the annual flat tax of 100,000 euros demanded (plus 20,000 euros per family member) may keep many of them away.

The system is too restrictive, but it will make the beleaguered nation an attractive destination for some rich people. After all, they don’t even have to pay a flat tax, just a flat fee.

Italy has enjoyed some success with a similar regime to entice millionaires.

Last but not least, an article published last year has some fascinating details on the where rich people move and why they move.

The world’s wealthiest people are also the most mobile. High net worth individuals (HNWIs) – persons with wealth over US$1 million – may decide to pick up and move for a number of reasons. In some cases they are attracted by jurisdictions with more favorable tax laws… Unlike the middle class, wealthy citizens have the means to pick up and leave when things start to sideways in their home country. An uptick in HNWI migration from a country can often be a signal of negative economic or societal factors influencing a country. …Time-honored locations – such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands – continue to attract the world’s wealthy, but no country is experiencing HNWI inflows quite like Australia. …The country has a robust economy, and is perceived as being a safe place to raise a family. Even better, Australia has no inheritance tax

Here’s a map from the article.

The good news is that the United States is attracting more millionaires than it’s losing (perhaps because of the EB-5 program).

The bad news is that this ratio could flip after the election. Indeed, it may already be happening even though recent data on expatriation paints a rosy picture.

The bottom line is that the United States should be competing to attract millionaires, not repel them. Assuming, of course, politicians care about jobs and prosperity for the rest of the population.

That applies to Wisconsin too. Democratic wins in legislative races in November are likely to result in tax increases, as they did after the 2008 election, after which Democrats controlled all of state government. The result was three deficits, a delayed recovery from the Great Recession, and a Republican sweep in 2010.

Even after eight years of Scott Walker and Republican control of the Legislature, Wisconsin ranks poorly in individual …

… and corporate income taxes …

… and (inevitably) property taxes …

… while relatively low only in sales taxes:

Facts, unlike feelings

Andrew C. McCarthy:

Things are often more complicated than they appear at first blush. That is certainly the case with the murder of George Floyd, with which former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged in a complaint filed on Friday.

For one thing, contrary to most people’s assumption, Mr. Floyd appears not to have died from asphyxia or strangulation as Chauvin pinned him to the ground, knee to the neck. Rather, as alleged in the complaint, Floyd suffered from coronary-artery disease and hypertensive-heart disease. The complaint further intimates, but does not come out and allege, that Floyd may have had “intoxicants” in his system. The effects of these underlying health conditions and “any potential intoxicants” are said to have “combined” with the physical restraint by three police officers, most prominently Chauvin, to cause Floyd’s death.

As I’ve noted in a column on the homepage, Hennepin County prosecutors have charged Chauvin with third-degree depraved-indifference homicide. Now that the complaint has been released publicly, we see that a lesser offense was also charged: second-degree manslaughter. This homicide charge involves “culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk” of serious bodily harm, and carries a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment.

It is easy to see why prosecutors added this charge (and why they shied away from more serious grades of murder described in my column). The case is tougher for prosecutors if there is doubt about whether Chauvin’s unorthodox and unnecessary pressure on Floyd’s neck caused him to die. Had he been strangled, causative effect of the neck pressure would be patent. But if the neck pressure instead just contributed to the stress of the situation that triggered death because of unusual underlying medical problems (possibly in conjunction with intoxicants Floyd may have consumed), it becomes a harder murder prosecution.

The manslaughter charge requires only findings that Chauvin acted negligently, rather than with depraved indifference to human life, and that his negligence both created an unreasonable risk and contributed in some way to death. To be clear, I am not arguing against the murder charge. I am providing a legal analysis of why a jury could find that the manslaughter offense — which is a homicide charge — better fits the facts of the case.

If the complaint is accurate (and a great deal of it seems to be based on video from the cops’ body-worn cameras), Floyd was not as cooperative with the police as the media has been reporting. I do not see anything to suggest that the police were in real danger at any time, but Floyd was a large, well-built man (as we’ve seen from the video — the complaint says he was over six feet tall and weighed in excess of 200 pounds). Still, there is no indication that he was any threat to police during the critical last eight minutes, as Chauvin and two other officers, Thomas Lane and J. A. Kueng, held him down.

When Floyd was first confronted, by Lane and Kueng, he was not being sought for a violent crime. The allegation is that he had passed a counterfeit $20 bill. According to the complaint, Floyd briefly resisted when Lane first tried to handcuff him. This was after Floyd, while in a car with two other people, complied when Lane ordered him to show his hands and then to step out of the vehicle.

Floyd became more uncooperative when Lane and Kueng told him he was being placed under arrest. The complaint alleges that he stiffened up, dropped to the ground, and told them he was claustrophobic. He also refused to get in the squad car, intentionally falling down, refusing to be still. By then, the back-up officers, Chauvin and Officer Tou Thao, arrived in a second police car. Floyd continued to tell all four cops that he would not get into the squad car.

At a key juncture, the complaint is confusing. Sometime shortly after 8:14 p.m., we’re told, the officers were trying to force Floyd into the backseat of the squad car, when Chauvin “went to the passenger side and tried to get Mr. Floyd into the car from that side,” with Lane and Kueng assisting. The complaint then curiously jumps to a new paragraph, which begins by saying Chauvin “pulled Mr. Floyd out of the passenger side of the squad car at 8:19:38 p.m.

Note: We are told neither how Floyd came to be in the squad car, nor why Chauvin was pulling him out. Nothing that happened in the interim is related. These undescribed moments may be significant, given that Floyd’s underlying hypertensive heart condition apparently contributed to his death.

Instead, we learn that when Chauvin pulled Floyd out of the car, Floyd went straight to the ground, “face down and still handcuffed.” Is this because he threw himself down, or did something happen to him in the car, or in the process of being put in the car, that caused him to be unable to walk? We are not told.

The complaint says that at that point, Chauvin, using his knee, pinned Floyd’s head and neck down, while Kueng held his back and Lane his legs. Why was this done? The complaint provides no useful information. To repeat, we are not told what went on in the squad car before Chauvin pulled Floyd out.

From there, the complaint summarizes the excruciating eight minutes between 8:19:38 and 8:27:24, when Chauvin finally removed his knee from Floyd’s neck — nearly two minutes after Floyd had not only ceased to breathe or speak, but ceased to have a pulse (according to Kueng, who checked for one at 8:25:31). In the minutes leading up to that point, Floyd had pleaded with the police to recognize that he could not breathe, and called out “please” and “mama” – a poignant plea, for Floyd’s mother passed away two years ago.

At one point, while Floyd was still moving but apparently not talking, Lane said he was “worried about excited delirium or whatever” and suggested that the police should “roll him on his side.” Chauvin rejected this suggestion, opining that the excited delirium Lane feared was “why we have him on his stomach.” Finally, an ambulance arrives . . . but we’re not told why. Did the police call the ambulance? Was it because of something that happened in the squad car? Because of something that happened on the street? We don’t know. As the complaint relates the matter, the ambulance just materializes, along with emergency medical personnel.

To summarize: The narrative complaint conveys the complexity of the encounter, though it raises new questions by leaving potentially key moments unaccounted for. It usefully demonstrates something of great importance in excessive-force cases: There is a big difference between resisting by refusing to cooperate physically in being taken into custody, and resisting by menacing the police and putting them in fear of harm. In the moments leading up to Floyd’s death, there may have been plenty of the former, but he did not hurt or threaten the cops.

But we are left with what appears to be an awful, patently unreasonable hold, one that looks like a variation on a choke hold, but that did not choke Floyd — or at least did not kill him by asphyxiation, even if it probably made breathing more difficult. This will give Chauvin’s defense daylight to argue that the video makes his actions look worse than they really were, and that Floyd died from a tragic combination of circumstances Chauvin could not have grasped in the moment.

That said, the video is monstrous, and a third-degree murder conviction is certainly foreseeable. The difficulty of proving that the grisly-looking hold employed by Derek Chauvin directly and proximately caused George Floyd’s death makes the murder charge more challenging for prosecutors. But the hurdle is by no means insurmountable. And even if the defense argument against depraved murder were to gain traction, one could easily see a jury convicting Chauvin of manslaughter for creating an unreasonable risk.

June 1, 1968

The Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web Today created its own humorous tradition when the New York Times wrote a story attributing sex and race where it did not belong — ”World Ends; Women, Minorities Hardest Hit.”

In this case, the WSJ editorial isn’t funny at all:

The vi­o­lence that broke out in Amer­i­can cities this week­end goes far be­yond jus­ti­fied anger at the killing of George Floyd on Mon­day. The ri­ot­ers are loot­ing shops and at­tack­ing po­lice with im­punity, and they threaten a larger break­down of pub­lic or­der. Pro­tect­ing the in­no­cent and restor­ing or­der is the first duty of gov­ern­ment.
The vi­o­lent scenes in more than 30 cities were the worst in decades. Min­neapolis po­lice were over­run on Fri­day as neigh­bor­hoods and a po­lice precinct burned. Los An­ge­les po­lice were as­saulted and their ve­hi­cles van­dal­ized and burned. In Mil­wau­kee a 38-year-old po­lice of­fi­cer was shot and 16 build­ings were looted. In Dal­las a shopowner try­ing to de­fend his prop­erty with a ma­chete was stoned, beaten and left bleed­ing in the street.Amer­i­cans watch­ing on TV saw re­porters grabbed and pushed by pro­testers who flashed ob­scene ges­tures for the cam­eras. Po­lice were pelted with rocks and bot­tles amid “De­fund the Po­lice” signs. May­ors across the coun­try set cur­fews, and in Min­neapolis and else­where the Na­tional Guard was called in.
This was more than spon­ta­neous anger at the grotesque video of a white cop, Derek Chau­vin, kneel­ing on the neck of the African-Amer­i­can Floyd for nearly nine min­utes as he pleaded to breathe. Many protests were peace­ful. But the ri­ots in many places had the ear­marks of planned chaos by those us­ing Floyd as an ex­cuse for crim­i­nality.
Gov. Tim Walz blamed ag­i­ta­tors from out­side Min­nesota, in­clud­ing white su­prema­cists and drug car­tels, for feed­ing the vi­o­lence, though he of­fered no ev­i­dence. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bill Barr on Sat­ur­day blamed much of the trou­ble on “an­ar­chis­tic and far left ex­trem­ists, us­ing An­tifa-like tac­tics, many of whom travel from out of state to pro­mote the vi­o­lence.”
An­tifa are loosely af­fil­i­ated ag­i­ta­tors who claim to be anti-fas­cists. They dress in black and cover their heads, of­ten let­ting oth­ers man the front lines while di­rect­ing as­saults on po­lice from a dis­tance.
Amid this chaos, po­lice in most cities have shown no­table dis­ci­pline. A po­lice car drove into a crowd sur­round-ing it in New York City, but even Mayor Bill de Bla­sio noted it would not have hap­pened if pro­testers had not been threat­en­ing. The risk is that, as con­fronta­tions es­ca­late, some po­lice will lose their cool and some­one will be killed, pro­duc­ing an­other cy­cle of protest and vi­o­lence.
Con­trast all of this with the progress of the jus­tice sys­tem in the Floyd case. Of­fi­cer Chau­vin was charged Fri­day with third-de­gree mur­der and sec­ond-de­gree man­slaughter. The Hen­nepin County dis­trict at­tor­ney brought charges in record time that he will have to prove be­yond a rea­son­able doubt, and he says he may bring more charges, pre­sum­ably against one or more of the three other of­fi­cers in­volved in Floyd’s ar­rest.
The Jus­tice De­part­ment and FBI have as­sisted the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, as the D.A. has noted. Mr. Barr con­demned the acts in the video and has launched a civil-rights in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Cur­rent and for­mer po­lice across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum have de­nounced the acts on the video as a gross vi­o­la­tion of proper po­lice meth­ods. Pres­i­dent Trump is­sued an aw­ful tweet that “when the loot­ing starts, the shoot­ing starts,” but his re­marks oth­er­wise have sup­ported Floyd and shown sym­pa­thy with peace­ful pro­testers as op­posed to ri­ot­ers.
Po­lice bru­tal­ity is too com­mon, and it should be pros­e­cuted. But these events have be­come na­tional causes pre­cisely be­cause they are ex­posed in the me­dia. Cam­eras on cops have made it harder to cover up abuses and may have de­terred some. There are white racists in our midst but they are con­demned every­where ex­cept in the fever swamps of the in­ter­net.
There are also con­se­quences for black lives when po­lice re­treat from polic­ing. Roland Fryer, the Har­vard econ­omist, has found that when a high-pro­file po­lice in­ci­dent goes vi­ral and is fol­lowed by a Jus­tice De­part-ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion, homi­cides and felonies spike in suc­ceed­ing months. “It’s cost­ing black lives,” he told our colum­nist Ja­son Ri­ley last week in a Man­hat­tan In­sti­tute video. “That pains me” and no one is talk­ing about it.
All of this poses a par­tic­u­lar chal­lenge to the lib­eral es­tab­lish­ment that runs most of these cities and states. The may­ors of At­lanta and Den­ver were ex­cel­lent in dis­tin­guish­ing be­tween peace­ful protest and vi­o­lent de­struc-tion. But oth­ers have en­cour­aged rage against po­lice, and so-called so­cial jus­tice pros­e­cu­tors have risen to power in such cities as Phil­adelphia, San Fran­cisco and St. Louis. Now we’ll see if they pro­tect the neigh­bor­hoods they claim to rep­re­sent against vi­o­lent mobs.
The same goes for liberal media and intellectuals, who are in general portraying the riots as an understandable response to social injustice. Most of them live far from the burning neighborhoods as they denounce police. They ignore that there is no chance of addressing social injustice without underlying civil order. The main victims of a summer of chaos in America will be the poor and minority neighborhoods going up in flames.

Presty the DJ for June 1

The number one single today in 1963:

Today in 1967, the Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”:

The number one single today in 1968:

Today in 1969 during their Montreal “Bed-In” (moved from New York City due to a previous marijuana conviction), John Lennon and Yoko Ono, with backing vocals from Timothy Leary, Tommy Smothers, Dick Gregory, DJ Murray the K, Allen Ginsburg and others, recorded this request:

The number one single today in 1970:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for June 1”

Presty the DJ for May 30

Two more Beatles anniversaries today: “Love Me Do” hit number one in 1964 …

… four years before the Beatles started work on their only double album. Perhaps that work was so hard that they couldn’t think of a more original title than: “The Beatles.” You may know it better, however, as “the White Album”:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 30”

COVID reality

Vince Vitrano of WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee:

“I think we would not feel confident saying that on the 2-week anniversary we are attributing increases to the lifting of safer at home.”

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Designee Andrea Palm 5/27/2020

Palm said it. I was (virtually) there.

Let’s get into it.

DHS recorded a record number of new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 599 on Wednesday. A primary driver for that record number was that it is part of a record number of tests conducted, which for the first time topped 10,000 Wednesday. The percent of positive tests in the sample was 5.8%. That’s up from 3.6% the previous day, but it’s down.

It’s down from 8.3% on May 16th, just three days after the overturn of safer at home. It’s down from 6.3% on May 13th, the day the State Supreme Court overturned safer at home. It’s down from nearly 13% on May 1st, when we were still under safer at home. Thursday’s numbers were down to 512 new cases, and a still falling percentage at 4.8%

There is no upward trend reflected in this data in the percentage of positive tests since safer at home was overturned.

One qualifier that I’ve identified here before…. while the percentage is an apples to apples comparison… it’s like comparing a granny smith to a honey crisp. For weeks we were testing only very sick people. We have now expanded testing dramatically to include even those with no symptoms. Widening the parameters would naturally invite a lower percentage of positives to appear.

There is an uptick in hospitalizations. The number of people hospitalized across the State of Wisconsin was, at the time of this post, 408. That is starting to tick back down a bit from the day before, but the number hit a weeks-long high on May 26th at 422. You’d have to go back to April 14th to find a day with higher hospitalizations at 441, down from a peak April 9th of 446.

You can argue the hospitalization numbers are still relatively low given they’re for the entire state, and given dire predictions of hospitals being overrun. You can’t argue there isn’t an overall increasing trend from the first week of May. That is real.

So a mixed report on what the data is showing us in regard to spread of the disease… but no clear indication that the end of safer at home has, of yet, produced devastating effects on public health.

Secretary Designee Palm and the State’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ryan Westergaard both comment in greater detail about this in their last DHS briefing. They comment at about 47 minutes in… and then again at about 52 minutes in to the link I provide here, if you’d like to listen to their comments in full context.

Another thing to take away. While stopping short of saying the lifting of safer at home definitively produced an upward trend in cases, they do both continue to urge caution and suggest the likelihood that more people have coronavirus now in Wisconsin than did a couple of weeks ago.

They also stress we’re now at greater risk of coming into contact with those people. Here’s Westergaard on that, “I think we really need to think, not in terms of did this cause the cases to go up, did this cause the cases to go up? But to undertand that it’s complex, and we have to do a large number of differnt things in order to respond to keep ourselves safer.”

Also Wednesday, Kenosha County health officials expressed alarm that seven recent COVID-19 positive cases in the County are people who work in bars and restaurants. Health officials will not publicly disclose the establishments involved. Perhaps contact tracing could produce some circumstantial evidence that will be able to tie future cases to that. We can watch for news there.

Word of caution, Dr. Westergaard also suggested even when there’s strong associative evidence in individual outbreaks, “It’s not ever going to be possible to attribute something like a trend, especially on one day, to any one thing.”

Dr. Westergaard’s commentary suggests, like with the election, it will be difficult to know even two to three weeks out… because safer at home was overturned… X happened. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Just like we cannot know how coronavirus would have spread through Wisconsin without the order in the first place, we cannot know how it would have continued to spread if it had been left in place. People divided on the wisdom of the decision hope to find evidence one way or another to back their opinions. That’s natural.

Most of the State is allowed to fully reopen, and now it is up to individual business owners how they plan to care for their employees and their customers. It will be up to us as individuals to let our judgement guide decisions about whether to eat out, whether to hang out, whether to go out. I wish you all good health whichever way you break.

One other thing: Professional Steve asked about municipal swimming pools …

… and got not much response.


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