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Stephen Green

Stephen Green began blogging at VodkaPundit.com in early 2002, and has served as PJMedia's Denver editor since 2008. He's one of the hosts on PJTV, and one-third of PJTV's Trifecta team with Scott Ott and Bill Whittle. Steve lives with his wife and sons in the hills and woods of Monument, Colorado, where he enjoys the occasional lovely adult beverage.
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SHOCKER: ObamaCare Price Tag Rises Again

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 - by Stephen Green

President Obama’s diktat to delay ObamaCare’s employer mandate will cost $12,000,000,000 and decrease employee coverage:

The Congressional Budget Office has released its cost estimate of the Obama administration’s one-year repeal delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate and anti-fraud provisions. The CBO expects the Obama administration’s unilateral rewriting of federal law (my words, not CBO’s) will increase federal spending by $3 billion in 2014 and reduce federal revenues by a net $9 billion, thereby increasing the federal debt by $12 billion. If President Obama keeps this up, Congress may have to raise the debt ceiling or something.

Where is that $3 billion of new spending going? The CBO estimates the administration’s action will lead to about half a million additional people receiving government subsidies, including through ObamaCare’s Exchanges.

Remember how the law’s real name is the “Affordable Care Act”?

If the Framers had had any clue to the depths to which our “leadership” would someday sink, I like to think they’d have added a provision to the Constitution. In it, any law achieving the opposite of its title would be considered null and void.

And wouldn’t you love to have seen Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid trying to push through the “Cost a Bundle and Screw Everything Up for Everyone Act”?

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You’re Doing it Wrong

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 - by Stephen Green

The Creep Factor on this one is turned up to 11:

The federal government is hiring what it calls a “Behavioral Insights Team” that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to a document describing the program obtained by FoxNews.com. Critics warn there could be unintended consequences to such policies, while supporters say the team could make government and society more efficient.

While the program is still in its early stages, the document shows the White House is already working on such projects with almost a dozen federal departments and agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

That which cannot be mandated will be nudged.

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Get More Weiner!

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 - by Stephen Green

BuzzFeed has the scoop:

Anthony Weiner’s campaign did not respond Tuesday to repeated inquiries about a new set of unverified images suggesting that he exchanged sexually charged messages — and an explicit image — with a woman last summer.

The screenshots of conversations — on the nightlife site The Dirty — could not be independently confirmed. They consist of screenshots of exchanges on Facebook and the lesser-known social network Formspring between a woman (whose avatar is blurred) and a man alleged to be (and who she appears to believe) is Weiner, but who also uses the handle “Carlos Danger.”

The site’s anonymous tipster claims that Weiner continued the correspondence with her at least until August 2012, when Weiner allegedly suggested finding her a Chicago condo where they could meet.

2012 of course was after Weiner was forced out of Congress and into some very awkward promises with his wife.

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Fast Food CEO: Hard to See How ObamaCare Can Work

Monday, July 22nd, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Andrew Puzder is CEO of CKE Restaurants, which runs the Hardee’s and Carl Jr’s chains. He says of his employees:

Only about 6% of crew-level employees and 60% of general managers sign up for health-insurance coverage.

These low participation rates surprised me. So over the past couple of years I have asked CKE employees what motivated their decisions. Our crew-level workers tend to be younger, and perhaps unsurprisingly some told me they were unconcerned about illness or injury. Others already had insurance through a spouse or parent. A significant number said they declined coverage because they could get medical treatment “for free at the emergency room.” Among those who had signed up, many said it was because they were concerned about developing a medical condition (perhaps due to a family history of illness), and then being unable to get affordable coverage due to this pre-existing condition.

These kinds of responses are why I question the ACA’s viability.

Precisely. If O-Care can’t get young and healthy signing up for $2,500-or $3,000-a-year health insurance plans, then rates are going to skyrocket for the older and sicker.

I remember in my twenties, I didn’t usually bother to carry health insurance, except for a few years when I had a high-deductible catastrophic plan — the kind that ObamaCare has outlawed for anyone over 29. But that was enough for me, since in my 20s my health care needs, no joke, never exceeded a trips to the dentist, a couple bottles of aspirin, and a new pair of glasses each year. My friends were much the same way. Even now, after two bouts with Grave’s Disease, my medical expenses don’t justify a Cadillac plan.

But let’s go back to Puzder:

The ACA’s incentive for young workers to pay for coverage is a penalty (or tax) on uninsured individuals. The penalty in 2014 is $95 or 1% of household income, whichever is greater. It increases in 2016 to $695 or 2.5% of household income, whichever is greater.

A young kid in good health, making about $20,000 a year, will face the choice of buying a gold-plated insurance plan for 10-15% of his pre-tax income — or pay a “tax” of $695. Either way, he’s unlikely to buy much health care, so it makes a lot more economic sense to pay the penalty. The emergency room is still there, and pre-existing conditions will be covered.

Theoretically, wouldn’t it be better to get people paying some money for some coverage, rather than this perverse incentive to game the new system? I have a couple thoughts on that.

Economically, basic coverage simply doesn’t funnel enough money away from the young and healthy (and comparatively poorer) to pay for the subsidies for the older and sicker (and wealthier). That is to say, the subsidies require a bigger fleece.

But I believe there’s another reason, a political one.

Have you seen what even the most basic “bronze” plan is required to cover at “no cost?” Mammograms, vaccinations, cholesterol checks, and more. Also squeezed into your mandatory coverage:

•Ambulatory patient services, such as doctor’s visits and outpatient services

•Emergency services

•Hospitalization

•Maternity and newborn care

•Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment

•Prescription drugs

•Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices

•Laboratory services

•Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management

•Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

Plus birth control, assuming that holds up to court challenges.

We’ll have young people paying for ambulatory services, gay men paying for maternity and newborn care, Scientologists paying for psychiatry, the healthy paying for chronic illness, infertile couples paying for pediatric services… well, you get the idea.

You don’t want or need all of that covered? Tough. ObamaCare hath spoken.

But larding up even the most basic plan with all this pork was just that: Pork. Obama and Pelosi and Reid were able to gin up medical professional support for the bill by promising more coverage for more services. Maybe I would never have seen a shrink before, but hey, now it’s so cheap!

What were once an indulgences are now benefits.

So on top of young people’s non-compliance, there’s one more way ObamaCare is set to explode costs.

And what is that drumbeat I hear in the distance? Ah, yes — the call for single-payer.

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Illiteracy is Fundamental

Monday, July 22nd, 2013 - by Stephen Green

That’s from WPRO’s Top Ten (Bottom Ten?) list of Detroit’s troubles:

The city’s unfunded liabilities top $18 billion.

The city owes money to over 100,000 creditors.

Nearly 80,000 buildings have been abandoned and many are unsecured.

Population of Detroit has fallen from 1.86 million in 1950 to 700,000 today.

Some 47 percent of properties are delinquent in paying their taxes.

Police take an average of 58 minutes to respond to calls.

Only 8.7 percent of violent crimes are solved and Detroit has the highest crime rate in the U.S. of large cities.

Manufacturing jobs in the city have slid from a peak of 200,000 to just 20,000 today.

Only 7 percent of the city’s eighth graders are proficient in reading.

Only 8.7 percent of violent crimes are solved and Detroit has the highest crime rate in the U.S. of large cities.

But according to Paul Krugman, Detroit’s just a victim of free markets.

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Colorado Town May Allow Drone Hunting

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Try as they might, the liberal Democrats in Denver haven’t sucked all the fun out of Colorado. Not yet:

The town of Deer Creek, Colo., is looking to begin offering “drone hunting licenses” and actually paying rewards to anyone who presents proof that they were able to bring down an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to the United States federal government, according to reporting by Denver TV station KMGH.

Phillip Steel, the man who drafted the ordinance, as well as other supporters, say it will provide a new source of revenue for the town, but Steel concedes that it’s not exactly like Deer Trail has a drone problem. In fact, he’s never seen one over the town.

“This is a very symbolic ordinance,” he told KMGH. “Basically, I do not believe in the idea of a surveillance society, and I believe we are heading that way.”

If English Common Law were keeping up with the times, every court would understand that “a man’s airspace is his castle.”

Honestly though, if Steel thinks we’re merely “heading” towards a surveillance society, then he needs to spend a little less time scanning the skies for drones, and a little more time reading the news.

Anyway, here’s to hoping my little town of Monument does something similar. But if they do, I won’t say, “cheers.” I’ll shout, “PULL!”

Happy hunting.

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Nobody Would Like Fries with That

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Sign of the times:

According to this week’s very weak retail sales report, Food-service sales fell 1.2% in June, the largest decline since February 2008 and the year over year change in “eating out” rose by just 3.1% – the lowest annual increase since June 2010. But at least all those empty restaurant seats have a record number of waiters catering to the non-existent clients which on the surface should mean the speediest service in history.

Looks like the restaurant hiring boom may be going bust.

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Netanyahu Won’t Return to ’67 Borders

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

From the J-Post:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied on Tuesday an official’s remarks that Israel had agreed to resume peace talks based on the borders of a Palestinian state being drawn along lines from before a 1967 Middle East war, and agreed land swaps.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, said “the report is untrue,” calling Reuters with the statement after initially declining to comment on what the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Three points for the soft-headed dreamers out there who think that all Israel needs to do is return to her ’67 borders and then all would be fine.

• Israel’s Arab neighbors were happy to try and push Israel into the sea back before 1967. It was those failed efforts that caused Israel to occupy lands outside of the ’67 lines.

• For safety reasons, Israel simply must hold on to at least small bits of the West Bank, especially now that the Arab world is devolving away from nation-states and into tribal, religious, and ethnic fiefdoms. The days of strongmen maintaining order within their own borders is over (See: Iraq, Syria, Egypt).

• Israel can’t let go of Golan, because it gives them strategic depth in rugged terrain over an historic invasion route. And anyway, who is there is Syria with the authority to take it back? Baby Assad? A “nice” rebel group? Al Qaeda? Fuggidaoubbit.

Surely, there’s room to negotiate. Israel tried — tried — to give the Palestinians 93% of everything they wanted about a dozen years ago, only to have Arafat rebuff them, then go on to launch another terror campaign. But they need an honest negotiating partner, and that’s one thing SecState Kerry can’t seem to rustle up, no matter how many trips he makes to the region.

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The China Syndrome

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

China needs to create 25 million jobs a year, every year, to keep people working and to keep China’s Communists in power. That became a huge problem when Western economies collapsed in 2008, bringing an end to China’s export-driven growth — they simply ran out of new buyers for cheap widgets.

No problem! Stimulus! Beijing re-directed billions of investment dollars to building cities without any residents, airports without any airplanes, high-speed trains without any passengers, soccer stadiums without any teams, and ports without any ships.

Fortunately, we have WaPo’s Brad Plumer and asset manager Patrick Chovanec to explain everything in clear, simple language:

BP: So why do banks and other lenders keep pouring money into these projects? It sounds like lenders don’t care if they invest in projects that don’t pan out.

PC: Here’s one concrete example. The way many investments take place and are rolled out is through private loan management vehicles, which will often promise 12 percent returns or higher on assets. When people go to the bank to buy these products, they think, hey, this can’t fail. The implication is that the state-run bank or government will stand behind these instruments. This belief is widespread. That leads to an incredibly distorted investment market, where no one’s looking carefully at the risk. Too much investment is based on the perception that the government is the guarantor of everything.

Sound familiar?

I don’t think I’ve ever said this before about anything at WaPo’s WonkBlog, but in this one case you’ll want to read the whole thing.

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BREAKING: Senate Breaks Jam, Saves Filibuster

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

The Senate remains the Senate — for now:

U.S. Senate Democrats backed away on Tuesday from a potentially historic crackdown on filibusters in exchange for a Republican commitment to stop using them to block some long-stalled nominations made by President Barack Obama.

But Reuters being Reuters, I want you to read the next graf:

Their agreement, reached after days of talks and jockeying for political position, will allow Obama to fill out his second-term team with top administrators to lead efforts to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

Obama to appoint top administrators to protect you from evil, over strenuous Republican objection that almost forced Harry Reid to go nuclear!

But he still might:

“They (Republicans) are not sacrificing their right to filibuster, and we for damn sure aren’t sacrificing our right to change the rules” to ban them, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, declared after tense negotiations.

Reid will use whatever suits Reid at any given moment. Kind of like Reuters.

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POLL: Coal Cooler Than EPA

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Rasmussen:

Voters view the U.S. coal industry more favorably than the Environmental Protection Agency and are closely divided when asked if the Obama administration’s ultimate goal is to kill that industry.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of Likely U.S. Voters view the U.S. coal industry at least somewhat favorably. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 29% hold an unfavorable opinion of it.

Remember when it was the EPA’s job to clean and protect the environment, rather than to shovel money to favored interest groups while suffocating its political opponents with countless harmful regulations?

Yeah, me neither.

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We’ve Only Just Begun to Race-Bait

Monday, July 15th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

After nearly a dozen years of blogging outrageous stuff from American politics, I should be beyond outrage myself. But no. Not after readin Edward Wyckoff Williams just now in Salon. Here’s a sample, but I suggest you take any prescribed blood pressure medications before reading any further:

The day before a jury delivered an acquittal in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger and Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith gave a national press conference to appeal for a peaceful reaction to the verdict — regardless of its outcome.

Eslinger, who is white, said “We will not tolerate anyone who uses this verdict as an excuse to violate the law.”

The veiled threat of an aggressive police response to imaginary civil unrest belies the very logic that led to Trayvon Martin’s death to begin with. For, you see, African-Americans are never protected or served by the law enforcement apparatus — yet they are always subject to its military might.

Sanford police coyly “tolerated” the actual killing of an unarmed black child, but yet refuse to “tolerate” any anger expressed for the acquittal of his murderer.

This is the new Jim Crow realized.

There are so many lies, evasions, half-truths, and just plain old-fashioned racial hatred in this piece, I hardly know where to begin. My first thought it simply to treat pieces with the quiet contempt it deserves — by ignoring it.

But just George Stephanopoulos set up the whole “War on Women” premise during that GOP debate to help win in2012, the vile progressives will parade over Martin’s corpse if that’s what it takes to win in 2014.

This ain’t over yet. Not by a longshot.

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Egypt Likes Us! They Really Like Us!

Monday, July 15th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Well this is embarrassing:

The first senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since the army toppled its elected president was snubbed by both Islamists and their opponents on Monday.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns arrived in a divided capital where both sides are furious at the United States, the superpower which supports Egypt with $1.5 billion in annual aid, mostly for the army that deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi two weeks ago.

Remember when President Obama travelled to Egypt in 2009 to give a big speech to make the Arab world love and respect us again after eight years of bumbling by that stupid cowboy that everybody hated?

Me neither.

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Retail Sales Disappoint Again

Monday, July 15th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Reuters:

U.S. retail sales rose less than expected in June, adding to signs of a slowdown in economic growth that could argue against the Federal Reserve’s plan to start trimming its monetary stimulus later this year.

The Commerce Department said on Monday retail sales increased 0.4 percent last month as demand for automobiles soared. However, sales of building materials fell.

But Tyler Durden has an even dimmer take:

If the worst retail sales number in 12 months doesn’t send the S&P to 1,700 nothing will. Because that is precisely the data point we got moments ago when the Census bureau reported June retail sales growth of 0.4%, missing expectations of a 0.8% print and down from a downward revised 0.5%. However, the only growth in the headline number was thanks to auto and gas sales. Ex autos retail sales were unchanged on expectations of a 0.5% increase, while ex autos and gas the print was down -0.1%, crushing hopes of a +0.4% increase. Any minute now, however, the Fed’s S&P500 trickle down wil, with a 4 year delay, hit the end consumer: the entire Princeton economics department pinky swears.

Ironically for the housing recovery had a bit of a sputter, with Building Material and related retail sales dropping 2.2% on an adjusted basis in June (and crashing Unadjusted but who cares about real, unfudged data).

Shout it with me: Stimulus now, stimulus tomorrow, stimulus forever!

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Fault Lines in the Democratic Party

Monday, July 15th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Salena Zito explains:

The days of blaming Republicans for getting America into its economic mess have passed, mainly because Democrats are not accruing any credit for getting us out of it. In fact, Democrats don’t have much to brag about at all with Barack Obama’s presidency; if we continue limping along with slow growth for the next few years, they will be hard pressed to make the argument that their party is better for the country than the GOP.

Another problem for Democrats is that they have allowed Obama to build a separate machine with Organizing for Action (OFA), his leftover campaign apparatus, modeled on former presidential candidate Howard Dean’s Democracy for America.

The trouble with such candidate machines is that they fundamentally are not party organs; their supporters back the individual candidates who founded them, not the party.

The dirty little secret, which no Democrat ever admits on the record, is that the OFA exists essentially because the party is no longer working. So OFA has taken over the party and refashioned it from the ground up around Obama.

This will have a devastating impact on the party because it has enabled OFA to act as a predator, while the party has failed to groom its own partisan bench for the future.

Then there is the Michael Bloomberg factor: The New York mayor’s anti-gun lobby hurts Democrats by supporting only pro-gun-control elected officials, essentially shrinking the Democrats’ coalition.

Finally, there’s the disconnect that Democrats have encountered with blue-collar whites and Main Street voters. That began way back in 2000 with Al Gore’s presidential campaign, but it escalated with President Obama’s class-warfare-themed reelection in 2012.

That “disconnect” is precisely what the GOP failed to exploit with Mitt Romney (“the 47%”) and some of its wackier Senate candidates in 2012. But the rift is huge, as the Democrat party has been fully captured by Wall Street and the progressive left. The Republicans can and should be able to capture a weak majority in the Senate next year, but only if they find Man-of-the-People type candidates who can’t be painted by the MSM/DNC/OFA machine into creatures of Wall Street or of the wacky fringe.

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Express Lane to Single Payer

Thursday, July 11th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Wegman’s grocery stores are eliminating health coverage for parttime workers:

However, part-time employees may actually benefit from Wegmans’ decision, according to Brian Murphy, a partner at Lawley Benefits Group, an insurance brokerage firm in Buffalo.

“If you have an employee that qualifies for subsidized coverage, they might be better off going with that than a limited part-time benefit,” Murphy said.

That’s because subsidized coverage can have a lower out-of-pocket cost for the insured employee while also providing better benefits than an employer-paid plan.

Under the Affordable Care Act, part-time employees are not eligible for health insurance subsidies if their employer offers insurance.

“It’s a win-win. The employee gets subsidized coverage, and the employer gets to lower costs,” Murphy said.

Hey… what about taxpayers who have to foot the bill for those subsidies? Are we winners, too?

I expect to see a lot more parttime workers (and there are a LOT more parttime workers nowadays) getting dumped onto these subsidized exchanges. And with the employer mandate delayed until at least 2015, there’s a huge incentive for employers to dump fulltime workers, too.

Who’s going to pay for all this largess?

The Rich™!

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GOP Drops Food Stamps from Farm Bill

Thursday, July 11th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

After last month’s big pork fail, a new approach:

House Republican leaders are taking a risky step as they try to bring a massive farm bill back to the floor, dropping food stamps from the legislation in the face of Democratic opposition.

The farm bill historically has been a vehicle for both oodles of farm subsidies and billions of dollars worth of food stamps. Twinning the two massive programs has in the past helped win support from rural-state lawmakers and those representing big cities. But after the bill failed in the House last month, Republican leaders are trying a different approach.

How about this for an approach: Quit treating Archer-Daniels-Midland like a welfare case and maybe the economy can grow enough to get people off of food stamps.

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Train Wreck II

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

The second part of your Trifecta team’s look at the disaster movie that is already his second term.

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Now the EPA Wants to Regulate How Cold Your Beer Can Be

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

At least, that’s the eventual result:

In a seemingly innocuous revision of its Energy Star efficiency requirements announced June 27, the Environmental Protection Agency included an “optional” requirement for a “smart-grid” connection for customers to electronically connect their refrigerators or freezers with a utility provider.

The feature lets the utility provider regulate the appliances’ power consumption, “including curtailing operations during more expensive peak-demand times.”

So far, manufacturers are not required to include the feature, only “encouraged,” and consumers must still give permission to turn it on. But with the Obama administration’s renewed focus on fighting mythical climate change, we expect it to become mandatory to save the planet from the perils of keeping your beer too cold.

I know I’m about to sound like a conspiracy nut, but hear me out on this.

The Administration’s war on cheap electricity, new regulations to raise the price of air conditioning, its determination to drive up gas prices, new CAFE standards to make our cars smaller, the high speed rail boondoggles…

I’m starting to suspect all of these things are designed to force people out of the Sun Belt suburbs and back into cold northern cities. Where, presumably, they’ll go back to voting Democrat.

Do you have a better explanation? Because I hope I’m not just going crazy.

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A Few Good Men

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Meet the guy who might be the most awesome man in the world:

Andrew Hudson, the Florida teenager who fought off an alligator Monday as he swam in the Little Big Econ State Forest, located just south of Geneva, told MyFoxOrlando.com he intends to graduate high school and join the Marines.

“I always have ever since I was little, and I accept the challenge and join the Marines. It’s always what I’ve wanted to do,” he said.

His dream of being a Marine was almost cut short by a 9-foot-long alligator that attacked Hudson from behind, bit his head and took him under the grassy waters of the river.

Hudson told the station that he felt the pressure on his head and the gator’s body next to his. At that point, he unloaded a few punches on the gator. The gator released him and Hudson made his escape.

Hudson’s injuries required 23 stitches and 17 staples to his head — and did I mention he punched an alligator?

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What’s a Bigger Disaster than an Irwin Allen Movie?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

It’s the towering inferno of an earthquake in a capsized ship inside a twister during a volcano explosion of a train-wrecked airplane in a trillion-dollar disaster movie so over-the-top even Irwin Allen would say, “Oh, that’s just too much.”

Part One of a three-part series.

We were being nice — we could have done a lot more parts.

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Obama Supporters Sign Petition to Repeal Bill of Rights

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

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VIDEO: See Eliot Spitzer Cry

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Hey, treat him with the respect he deserves, guys!

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Those Are Obama’s Principles

Monday, July 8th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Over at The National Interest, Robert Merry doesn’t seem to be too happy with Egypt’s new military government — but he’s even less pleased with America’s civilian ruler:

What’s clear, though, is that Obama has brought to the matter of Egypt’s internal struggle a lack of intellectual rigor, and this has undermined any consistency in his thinking. If Mubarak had to go because he had been entrenched for too long and was standing in the way of an Egyptian path toward democracy, then Morsi should probably have stayed because he had not been in office through his duly designated electoral term and his forced departure likely will wreck Egypt’s prospects for keeping on a democratic path.

But that’s for the Egyptians to decide. What’s the lesson for America? It is that we should stay out of the internal politics of other nations because our involvement inevitably tosses us into inconsistent and even hypocritical postures and makes us look like a sanctimonious nation. Further, such meddling always has unintended consequences. Why did Obama have to get involved in Mubarak’s fate in the first place? What standing did he have to lecture the head of a foreign state—and an ally, at that—on when his time had passed? And what standing did he have to suggest, as he subtly did, what Morsi needed to do to legitimize his rule?

Lord Palmerton famously observed that “Britain has no permanent friends and no permanent enemies; she has permanent interests.” That’s exactly right. For example, Britain could easily be swamped by a Europe united by a single dictator. That’s why they joined various coalitions to defeat Napoleonic France, joined France (twice) to defeat Germany, and joined Germany (well, two-thirds of Germany) to resist Russia. Friends changed, interests did not.

It’s become clear however that President Obama has no permanent friends or permanent interests — unless you count “trying to make Obama look good” as a vital national interest.

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Inside Khadafy’s Harem

Monday, July 8th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Soraya was 15 years old when she was forced to become one of Moammar Khadafy’s many sex slaves — but women loved him:

“Moammar Khadafy is the one who opened opportunities for us to advance,” one female member of his vice squad told The Associated Press in 2011. “That’s why we cling to him; that’s why we love him. He gave us complete freedom as a woman to enter the police force, work as engineers, pilots, judges, lawyers. Anything.”

In truth, the Amazonian Guard was a front: Most of those women, too, were Khadafy’s sex slaves. He shopped for victims at weddings, schools and summits. He kept a secret apartment at the University of Tripoli campus, where he abducted and raped students. He reveled in seducing the wives and girlfriends of heads of state, ambassadors, various dignitaries. He gobbled Viagra and had to have sex at least four times a day, with four different people. It is fair to say the entire Libyan populace existed to sate his depraved sexual appetites.

Then there were the willing — those elite foreigners who succumbed. Whether by force or free will is a mystery.

“It always surprised me to see the visiting women head towards his room,” Soraya said, “immaculately dressed, designer purse in hand, and then come out with their lipstick smudged and their hair undone.”

Soraya was most shocked, however, to see a jaunty Tony Blair exit Khadafy’s tent, clueless as to the atrocities under his nose. “Hi, girls!” he exclaimed.

Well, if Blair isn’t symbolic of just about every leftyWestern leader ever. Admire the Potemkin village, ignore the atrocities.

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Who Lost Egypt — Again?

Monday, July 8th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Mark Thiessen:

During the Egyptian revolution two years ago, the Obama administration alienated Egyptians by standing with Hosni Mubarak until it was clear that he was finished. Vice President Biden declared Mubarak was not a dictator. U.S. envoy Frank Wisner declared that Mubarak “must stay in office” to oversee democratic changes. Hillary Clinton endorsed a “transition process” that would have allowed Mubarak to remain in power for many months. Soon, The Post reported, protesters in Tahrir Square were “openly denouncing the United States for supporting President Hosni Mubarak.” Demonstrators carried signs that declared “Shame on you Obama!” and showed Mubarak depicted as President Obama in Obama’s iconic “hope” image — with a caption that read “No You Can’t.”

When Mubarak finally fell and Mohamed Morsi came into power, the Obama administration seamlessly got out of bed with one Egyptian pharaoh and into bed with another. Obama looked the other way as Morsi sidelined the judiciary, amassed authoritarian powers, sidled up to Iran and Hamas, prayed publicly for the destruction of the Jews and enforced Islamist dictats.

Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood had been busy turning Egypt into a Sunni version of Iran, with a new constitution giving Brotherhood clerics a leading role in government and religiously-rigged elections. You may choose from Brotherhood Candidate A or Brotherhood Candidate B. They didn’t get away with it because the educated urbanites saw what was coming, and the man on the street was tired of the economic mismanagement.

The Obama Administration however seemed to be just fine with the Muslim Brotherhood and their long-term goal of re-establishing the Caliphate, and now the Administration seems to be just fine with every faction in Egypt hating, resenting, or dismissing us. But surely a corrupt military dictatorship is preferable to a corrupt Islamist dictatorship. Haven’t we learned at least that much about the Middle East?

Or is there something else going on here?

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White House: Valerie Jarrett Is All That and a Box of Cookies

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Via BuzzFeed, which always makes me feel a little dirty, but here are the White House talking points:

The magic of Valerie is her intellect and her heart. She is an incredibly kind, caring and thoughtful person with a unique ability to pinpoint the voiceless and shine a light on them and the issues they and the President care about with the ultimate goal of making a difference in people’s lives.

Valerie is the perfect combination of smart, savvy and innovative.

Valerie has an enormous capacity for both empathy and sympathy. She balances the need to be patient and judicious with the desire to get things done and work as hard as possible for the American people from the White House.

To know what both drives Valerie Jarrett and why the President values her opinion so much, you benefit greatly from really getting to know the woman.

Valerie is tapped in to people’s experiences, their good times and bad. She knows from her own life what it is like to believe and strive for your dreams.

Valerie expects people to work their hearts out for the President and never forget where you work and the magnitude.

Single mother, woman working to the top in a competitive male dominated world, African, working for change from the grassroots to big business.

Valerie is someone here who other people inside the building know they can trust. (need examples.)

She also enjoys long walks on the beach, candlelight dinners, and she wants to become a veterinarian because she loves children.

And no, I did not add the parenthetical phrase to the end of the talking points.

But I really wish I had, because that’s some funny [REDACTED] right there.

(Svengali would not respond to our questions before publication of this report.)

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Obama Cops to Everything

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Everything I could possibly have wanted to say about Obama’s decision to delay the ACA employer mandate until after the 2014 election has already been said — by the President, himself.

BMO

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Putin to Snowden: No More Leaks!

Monday, July 1st, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Say no more:

“If he wants to go somewhere [another country] and is accepted, he can. If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: He must stop his work aimed at harming our US partners – no matter how strange this may sound coming from me,” Mr. Putin told a news conference following a gas conference in Moscow.

Well, maybe just a few more leaks — but only to your new Uncle Vladimir.

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Almost Half of Uninsured Unaware of ObamaCare Mandate

Monday, July 1st, 2013 - by Stephen Green

I present for your own bemused schadenfreude, about 20 million or so low-information voters who will get quite the education on January 1:

A new Gallup poll shows that many uninsured Americans aren’t aware of the individual mandate, which may be an unwelcome surprise next year.

“The vast majority of Americans, 81%, say they are aware of the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) requirement that most Americans must carry health insurance or pay a fine,” wrote Jeffrey Jones of Gallup. “Americans who are currently uninsured — those most directly affected by this requirement — are much less likely to be aware of the provision, with 56% saying they know about it and 43% saying they are unaware.”

The main reason uninsured Americans don’t have health coverage is, according to Gallup, predominately because the can’t afford it.

Can’t afford it? The official IRS response is, “Tough.” You might want to familiarize yourself with all 73 pages of IRS regulations regarding the tax-not-a-tax mandate. It’s extra amusing that IRS compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act takes of a page-and-a-half all by itself.

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Egyptian Army Issues Ultimatum

Monday, July 1st, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Wow:

The head of Egypt’s armed forces gave politicians 48 hours on Monday to answer demands made by the Egyptian people or the military would offer its own “road map for the future.”

In a statement read on state television, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called mass protests on Sunday, which called for Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to resign, an “unprecedented” expression of the popular will.

Will the Muslim Brotherhood go quietly, or is Egypt destined to be the next Syria?

UPDATE: Our own Barry Rubin was actually first with this story, beating out AP, Reuters, and WFB.

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The Minimum Wage Isn’t a Living Wage

Monday, July 1st, 2013 - by Stephen Green

AFP looks at who actually earns the minimum wage:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 1.6 million Americans earning minimum wage. Of those Americans, 40% percent—over 600,000 people—are teenagers or other dependents living with family members. Another 56% are adults living with a spouse who also works. Therefore, over 96% of minimum wage earners do not solely depend on that income to live. A study by the Employment Policy Institute found that for eight in ten families with children in which one parent was making the minimum wage, the parent’s earnings accounted for less than 20% of the household’s total income. Based on these statistics, the vast majority of minimum wage workers are young entry-level employees hoping to gain experience or parents earning extra income for their families. The discussion about whether the minimum wage is a “livable” one largely ignores the conditions under which most people earn it.

Still, it’s a convenient cudgel for beating up meanie right-wingers who don’t want to see young workers and second-household-income-earners priced out of the market.

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EU Unemployment Hits Record High

Monday, July 1st, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Nobody is talking “funemployment” on the other side of the Atlantic:

The percentage of those out of work in the euro zone was 12.1% in the month, up from 12% in April and a marked drop from the 11.3% recorded in May last year, according to EuroStat, which released the figures on Monday. The highest rates in the 17-country euro-zone were in Spain and Greece, with jobless rates of 26.9% and 26.8% respectively. Across the wider 27-member EU, unemployment was stable compared with April, at 10.9%, but down from 10.4% a year ago.

We’re about one more bubble-pop away from similar number, which is something to keep in mind as the Fed continues to prop up housing prices.

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Massive Magpul Mag Mugging

Friday, June 28th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Magpul Industries is the Erie, Colorado magazine manufacturer being chased out of Colorado by our restrictive new gun laws. But they’re not leaving without giving Governor Hickenlooper and the Democrat Assembly one final middle-finger salute:

The ammunition magazine manufacturer will take part in the “A Farewell to Arms” festival in Infinity Park in Glendale on Saturday.

On July 1, the law — which limits bans gun magazines to hold no more than 15 rounds and was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in March — goes into effect.

The first 1,500 attendees who are at least 18 years old will get a magazine, the company’s Web page said. The event is hosted by the nonprofit Free Colorado, which advocates for the rights of gun owners, according to its website.

I’m going to try to get up there for the big event, but Dana Loesch and Kelly Maher will be there for sure.

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Hollywood Hit Hard by ObamaCare

Friday, June 28th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

It’s a real three-hanky movie, this one:

Hollywood productions, for instance, might find it irksome simply trying to categorize employees as full- or part-time, seasonal or variable, and it’s important that they get the classifications right lest they face hefty fines. “ACA is thousands of pages, and it wasn’t written with this industry in mind,” says Belcher.

One of the unintended consequences, say some industry insiders, is that it could lead to productions running to foreign countries, given that ACA doesn’t apply to U.S. citizens working abroad. Some also say the number of production days in the U.S. are likely to be cut due to ACA because there’s a 90-day waiting period before productions must either pay a penalty or offer health insurance to full-time workers. That rule provides big incentives for a production to wrap in less than three months. While big-budget movies and season-long TV shows might not have such a luxury, smaller films or TV pilots could easily rush their schedules to make sure they come in at under 90 days.

Don’t worry: Obama’s big-ticket blockbuster donors won’t be harmed; just the guys who need to work for a living. And it’s not like California needs the jobs.

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