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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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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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Heather Has Two Mommies

Friday, June 28th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Wild medical news out of the UK:

The UK looks set to become the first country to allow the creation of babies using DNA from three people, after the government backed the IVF technique.

It will produce draft regulations later this year and the procedure could be offered within two years.

Experts say three-person IVF could eliminate debilitating and potentially fatal mitochondrial diseases that are passed on from mother to child.

Keep in mind the third “parent” would be providing only mitochondrial DNA for the treatment of mitochondrial disease, and not any of the cell DNA that actually makes a person.

Still, I did just finish rereading Brave New World and that is set mostly in Britain…

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IRS Targeted Tea Party Groups

Thursday, June 27th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Your news-but-not-really-news item of the day:

Refuting Democratic suggestions that progressive groups were also swept up in the IRS probe of the tax status of Tea Party organizations, the Treasury Department’s inspector general has revealed that just six progressive groups were targeted compared to 292 conservative groups.

In a letter to congressional Democrats, the inspector general also said that 100 percent of Tea Party groups seeking special tax status were put under IRS review, while only 30 percent of the progressive groups felt the same pressure.

“At this point, the evidence shows us that conservative groups were not only flagged, but targeted and abused by the IRS,” said Sarah Swinehart spokeswoman for the Ways and Means Committee.

It’s the Chicago Way.

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Don’t Let Your Pigs Go to Pot

Thursday, June 27th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

How’s this for an unintended consequence of Washington State’s pot legalization — pot-fed pigs:

Part flavor experiment, part green recycling, part promotion and bolstered by the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington state, pot excess has been fed to the hogs by their owners, pig farmer Jeremy Gross and Seattle butcher William von Schneidau, since earlier this year.

Gross and von Schneidau now sell their “pot pig” cuts at von Schneidau’s butcher shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market at a premium price — bacon is $17 a pound while chops go for $16.90 a pound.

“He’s like `let’s see what kind of flavor it gives it.’ So we ran it and it gave good flavor,” Gross said. “It’s like anything else, what you feed them is what they’re going to taste like. It’s almost like a savory alfalfa fed cow or alfalfa fed pig.”

No, the bacon won’t get you high. No higher than bacon already gets you, that is.

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Up to 13 Years for Graffiti?

Thursday, June 27th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

News from the Left Coast:

Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.

According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial,” Olson must now stand trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.

It’s not often I find myself defending an Occupier, but the potential punishment, the judge’s restrictions… outrageous.

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‘Deep Cuts’ Coming to U.S. Army

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Meet our new Army of One:

The Army will announce that it will cut more than 10 brigade combat teams, a significant reduction in the size of its fighting forces and combat power, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The Army previously announced it would reduce its end-strength from its current level of 541,000 to 490,000 soldiers by 2017 under the $487 billion of spending reductions mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act, but has not detailed where it will cut. The Army is working to notify Congress of the cuts, an Army official told Stars and Stripes.

Army officials have said they had hoped to draw down gradually, but additional spending reductions and budget pressures have put those plans in doubt, the Journal wrote Tuesday. Some defense officials said that the Army will likely have to speed up its plans for reducing the size of the force.

There are so many snippy little responses to this story. A few for your pleasure:

• Good thing we won that war on terror.

• It’s not like anybody still feared us anyway.

• And yet we still found money for “stimulus” spending in an immigration bill.

• Maybe now Putin will give us Snowden back.

• It’s part of our re-positioning towards the Pacific — Pacific Avenue.

• How can Obama pivot to jobs when there’s still this great, big scary Army he has to look after?

I’m out. What’ve you got?

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NYT to Weiner: Drop Dead!

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Michael Barbaro reporting for the Gray Lady:

Anthony D. Weiner’s improbable campaign for mayor of New York City is a wager that voters have made peace with his lewd online behavior, a subject he has largely left behind as he roils the race with his aggressive debating style and his attention-getting policy proposals.

But for the women who were on the other end of Mr. Weiner’s sexually explicit conversations and photographs, his candidacy is an unwanted reminder of a scandal that has upended their lives in ways big and small, cutting short careers, disrupting educations and damaging reputations.

“I cannot tell you the devastation,” said Ms. Weiss, a 42-year-old blackjack dealer in Nevada who exchanged dozens of explicit messages with Mr. Weiner, then a congressman, in 2010 and 2011.

Ms. Weiss, a die-hard Democrat who once volunteered for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign and was inspired by “Fahrenheit 9/11,” a film critique of the Bush administration, said she had reached out to Mr. Weiner after watching him joust with Republican rivals on cable news. They traded admiring messages on Facebook that, at his prompting, became intimate and raunchy, she said.

From there, the story gets really brutal. Looks like the Times won’t go down easy for the disgraced former congressman.

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He’s Fled the Country

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

There are those on the right who say President Obama is curiously detached from the unfolding Snowden drama:

Conservatives say Obama’s posture in the case provides further evidence of a commander in chief whose credibility abroad has declined and who shrinks from presidential leadership at moments of international crisis, including in response to last fall’s attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

“Nobody’s afraid of this guy,” said former George W. Bush administration adviser Eliot A. Cohen, who argues that Obama should have personally stood up to Chinese and Russian officials. “Nobody’s saying there are any real consequences that would come from crossing him — and that’s an awful position for the president of the United States to be in.”

But then there are those on the left who say… well, that Obama is curiously detached from the unfolding Snowden drama:

Administration officials have not detailed any actions that Obama has personally taken to bring Snowden to justice, saying only that he has set the administration’s strategic direction and has been briefed regularly by his national security staff.

Unlike other crises, the White House has not distributed any photographs of Obama and his advisers monitoring Snowden’s movements in the Situation Room or calling foreign leaders from the Oval Office. All known communications between U.S. officials and authorities in Hong Kong, China and Russia have been made by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other underlings, although a senior administration official said Obama could become personally involved at some point.

But I say that the time for inaction is over. I call on the President to personally direct himself and some buddies to at least nine holes of golf, and perhaps a weekend at Martha’s, to be followed by a multi-deca-million-dollar tour of Asia or one of those places.

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White House to China, Russia: Pretty Please Give Us Snowden?

Monday, June 24th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Here’s Jay Carney on Hong Kong’s “technical” decision to release Snowden to Russia or wherever:

“We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official,” Carney said.

“This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship,” he said.

Pique — that oughta work, Jay. And if it doesn’t, maybe escalate to “snippy.”

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Dems Won’t Make Boehner an Issue in ’14

Monday, June 24th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

The GOP made Nancy Pelosi maybe the issue in 2010 (along with voter anger against ObamaCare) in their successful effort to retake the House that year. But it looks like Democrats won’t be waging a similar campaign with GOP Speaker John Boehner in the crosshairs:

If Boehner were a woman, his predecessor Nancy Pelosi has said, he would be considered “the weakest speaker in history.”

So as the two political parties gear up for the 2014 midterms, it would seem natural in today’s polarized environment that Democrats are eager to make Boehner a household word — and not in a good way. But interviews with several liberal strategists suggest that Democrats aren’t planning to demonize Boehner — or even to campaign against him at all.

Maybe that’s because Boehner isn’t a woman, and is therefore more difficult to demonize in our male-dominated patriarchy. (Cough, cough.) Or maybe it’s just because most voters would ask, “Speaker who?”

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Score One for Chief Justice Roberts

Monday, June 24th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

SCOTUS goes 7-1 to further restrict affirmative action:

The Supreme Court drew new limits on colleges’ use of affirmative action on Monday, saying that although racial preferences remain constitutional, they are permissible only if schools can first show that there are “no workable race-neutral alternatives.”

The 7-1 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy is likely to subject schools’ affirmative action programs to far tougher scrutiny in the future because schools will be required to show that they have no other way to create a diverse student body. The court stopped short of issuing a broader ruling either cementing or eliminating schools’ ability to take account of an applicant’s race when deciding who to admit.

Instead, Kennedy said that affirmative action remains permissible, but only if the University of Texas at Austin could prove that there was “no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the benefits of educational diversity.”

That’s from the USAToday writeup. For more, go to SCOTUSblog’s liveblog.

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Rubio ‘Toast’ in Iowa

Monday, June 24th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

David Freddoso spoke with conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace, who says Rubio “shouldn’t even bother to show up here” in 2016. Give the whole thing a listen.

He’s not the only one who thinks Rubio has blown what could have been an amazing political career.

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Kerry Can’t Cool Karzai Commotion

Thursday, June 20th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Step One in any smart peace plan is to piss off your thieving and unreliable peace partner:

US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday made his second call to the Afghan President in 24 hours to ease Hamid Karzai’s anger over the rollout of the Taliban’s new political office in Qatar – a rift that temporarily delayed US talks with the militant group set to begin this week.

Mr Karzai was upset that when it opened its new office in Qatar the Taliban used its formal name, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which is what it used when it was in power more than a decade ago.

Afghan officials said that violated an agreement that the office should open only for negotiations, not as a political entity like a parallel institution to the Afghan government.

Something tells me the peace talks — assuming we can attach enough jumper cables to its withered corpse — will end up bringing the Taliban formally into the Afghan government. They’ll sieze total power just as soon as we’ve left, and then the country will go back to enjoying its national sport of killing anybody who ain’t from around here. Or who might not be from around here. Or who looks different. Or talks different. Or who might have harbored an impure thought one time. And girls.

We need to bug out and let the Afghans work this out amongst themselves.

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