Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

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.
Follow Stephen:

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.

Read bullet |

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…

Read bullet |

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.

Read bullet |

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.

Read bullet |

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.

Read bullet |

‘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?

Read bullet |

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.

Read bullet |

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.

Read bullet |

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.”

Read bullet |

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?”

Read bullet |

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.

Read bullet |

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.

Read bullet |

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.

Read bullet |

Inhofe: Now is “Not the time” to Cut Back on Nukes

Thursday, June 20th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Here’s the Oklahoma Senator:

Inhofe was among several lawmakers who warned that cutting the country’s strategic nuclear arsenal by one-third would put America at a disadvantage against countries like Russia, North Korea and Iran. Inhofe said the president’s plan wrongly assumes that reducing the role of nuclear weapons would make the world safer.

“Instead, our experience has been that nuclear arsenals — other than ours — are on the rise, Russia defies us at almost every turn, efforts to curb the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran are failing, and our allies grow increasingly uneasy about the reliability of U.S. nuclear guarantees,” Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.

Russia is modernizing its missile forces. The RT-2UTTKh Topol-M dates back only to 1997, and production of the RS-24 Yars began in 2010. Both are road-mobile to compliment Russia’s collection of older, silo-based ICBMs. After years of neglect, Russia is rebuilding its SSBN fleet and arming them with brand new RSM-56 Bulava SLBMs.

Our strategic forces consist of 450 Minuteman-III missiles dating back to 1970, and about 540 Trident D5 SLBMs which first began operating in 1990. The Tridents are a problem, because the Navy won’t be building enough replacement boats for the aging Ohio-class SSBNs to maintain the size of the current force. We have no road- or rail-mobile missiles.

So if Obama wants to negotiate down our forces, fine — but it ought to be on the condition that we start modernizing our nuclear deterrent.

Read bullet |

Photo of the Day

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

DE-niro-in-Israel-cleaned1-550x366

Via Israellycool.

Read bullet |

Dem. Slaughter: Rape “Not so bad” to Republicans

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Here’s the story:

A leader of the House Pro-Choice Caucus suggested Tuesday that Republicans don’t have strong feelings against rape.

The remark came as Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) criticized the GOP’s proposed ban on late-term abortions ahead of a House vote on the measure.

Slaughter slammed Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee, all men, who rejected a rape exception to the bill during its markup last week.

“I’m of the opinion now … that if you really were to question all of them, that there is a sort of continuity of thought that rape is really not so bad and that the likelihood of getting pregnant is small,” Slaughter told a press conference.

Vote fraud isn’t so bad for Democrats, so I guess it’s even.

Read bullet |

Alaska Democrat: I’m a Rockefeller Republican

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

United Liberty has the story:

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) seems a litte confused about what party he belongs to. During an appearance on CNBC, the Alaska Democrat tried to distance himself from his the Leftist-wing of his party by telling the hosts that he is a “Rockefeller Republican.”

Begich was probably a shoe-in as Alaska’s next former Senator, but the GOP ads for 2014 now practically write themselves.

Read bullet |

California Senate Passes Bill Requiring Permit to Buy Ammo

Monday, June 17th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Once again, Sacramento proves that to go really over-the-top, you’ve got to go to Democrat California:

The California Senate this week approved a collection of bills, including one (SB 53) that would require background checks, permits, and fees for the purchase of ammunition.

All ammunition sales would have to be face-to-face, happening only in the presence of a store clerk; and vendors selling the bullets would have to submit sales records to the California Department of Justice. Those vendors also would need a permit to sell ammunition.

Kira Davis notes that SB 53 also “requires background checks and a $50 ammo purchase fee.”

It wasn’t that long ago that I saw Dick Durbin on one of the Sunday shows, with the stuff-eating grin on his face, joked about taxing bullets until they cost a hundred or a thousand dollars apiece. Which I could find that video, but no one seems to have grabbed it.

So if you think something like this can happen only in California — think again.

Read bullet |

Syria Policy? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Syria Policy

Monday, June 17th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Two pieces today really bring home the incoherence of President Obama’s Syria… “policy,” I suppose is one word for it. Maybe you can think of a better one. But first up, Lee Smith at The Weekly Standard writes about the White House promise to arm the rebels:

However, there are other administration officials who tell the press that the White House is not going to send weapons to the opposition. Josh Rogin at the Daily Beast writes that his source “says that lethal arms are not part of the new items Obama has now authorized.” “The president,” says this official, “has made a decision to provide the Syrian opposition with military items that can increase their effectiveness on the ground, but at this point it does not include things like guns and bullets.”

So is the White House arming the rebels or not? There’s been confusion since Thursday afternoon when Sen. John McCain said on the Senate floor that Obama “will announce that we will be assisting the Syrian rebels by providing them with weapons and other assistance. I applaud the president’s decision.” Shortly after, McCain retracted his remarks, explaining that “the president has not made the final decision on arming.” Afterward, McCain’s spokesman, Josh Rogin reported, said the senator had been told by reliable sources that Obama was planning to arm the rebels.

A White House conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon hardly clarified matters. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes was asked several times whether the White House intended to arm the rebels, or if it was just going to provide more of the direct non-lethal military assistance (like vehicles and night-vision goggles) that was promised in April but still hasn’t reached the Syrian Military Council. “I can’t go through an inventory of the type of assistance that we’re going to provide,” said Rhodes.

Got that? We may or may not be supplying the rebels with items we can’t inventory.

Over at The American Spectator, Jed Babbin calls it “a farce.” Read:

What the Times — the most faithful chronicler of liberalism — describes is the most desultory, most pointless and least compelling case for a war in American history.

Any case for Obama’s action would have to answer a few basic questions. What are we trying to accomplish? In other words, what is the outcome we desire and how will Obama’s decision produce it for us?

It’s impossible to say what outcome we seek because the president is evidently writing off any prospect of affecting the outcome. Which probably doesn’t matter much because the Syrian rebellion is about nothing more than which bunch of terrorists rules that country for the foreseeable future.

Babbin concludes that Obama can’t even wag the dog properly — and I’m so frustrated here that I won’t even add the obligatory “Obama eats dog” joke.

Right now, our President is in Belfast for the big G-8 conference, where Bloomberg reports that he is sounding out our allies on “how far to go to intervene” in Syria.

Would you put your country’s blood our treasure on the line for a “leader” so confused and feckless?

Read bullet |

NYU Caves to Pressure from Beijing?

Monday, June 17th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Here’s one of those local stories which should have gotten national attention:

Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, speaking out for the first time since The Post reported the school was giving him the boot, said pressure from Beijing had school officials planning his departure almost as soon as he arrived.

“As early as last August and September, the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University,” Chen said in a statement yesterday.

“So much so that after we had been in the United States just three to four months, NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us.”

According to the report, NYU is trying to get help opening another campus — in Shanghai. And University president John Sexton never once met with Chen.

I don’t recall hearing of any New York or national politicians taking up Chen’s case, either. Isn’t that what we used to do for dissidents of oppressive regimes?

Read bullet |

Rand Paul: The Drug War’s Federally-Mandated Racism

Friday, June 14th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Here’s Senator Paul on the disturbing disparity in drug-related arrest rates between black and white Americans:

In the case of arrests, federal agencies have hamstrung local law enforcement agencies by requiring them to meet numerical arrest goals in order to secure funding. Morally, this is troubling. In practical terms, instead of local enforcement agencies spending their time investigating serious felony crimes, they concentrate on minority and depressed neighborhoods to increase their drug arrest statistics.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which reported on the arrest statistics, highlighted the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. This federal program distributes millions of dollars a year to local law enforcement agencies. Arrest numbers are a performance measure used in doling out the money.

We are literally sending our money to Washington where an overgrown bureaucracy is encouraging racial profiling before the money is allowed to be sent back to us. We should keep more of our money and decision-making power closer to home — and put an end to practices that encourage discrimination.

A radical concept, returning to the states criminal jurisdiction never granted to the federal government by the Constitution.

Read bullet |

Did the Administration Hack CBS News Reporter’s Computer?

Friday, June 14th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

CBS News’s Cheryl Attkisson has been one of the few — only? — national reporters willing to look hard at Fast & Furious. Now I want you to look hard at her Twitter feed.

Attkisson

It seems certain that somebody hacked her.

Read bullet |

That 10-Year-Old Girl Receiving Lung Transplant

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Kathleen Sebelius could not be reached for comment:

A 10-year-old girl whose efforts to qualify for an organ donation drew public debate over how organs are allocated was getting a double-lung transplant Wednesday after a match with an adult donor was made.

Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, was receiving her new lungs Wednesday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, family spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said. Murnaghan’s relatives were ‘‘beyond excited’’ about the development but were ‘‘keeping in mind that someone had to lose a family member and they’re very aware of that and very appreciative,’’ Garrity said.

No other details about the donor are known, including whether they came through the regular donor system or through public appeals.

If you don’t like the way organ transplants are decided but haven’t signed your donor card, may I suggest you do so as a temporary patch on the problem?

Read bullet |

Hong Kong Activists to Protest for NSA Leaker

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

The Guardian has the story:

A group of 11 local organisations, many of them human rights NGOs, plans to hold the rally at 3pm on Saturday, according to a press release posted online on Wednesday afternoon. “We call on Hong Kong to respect international legal standards and procedures relating to the protection of Snowden; we condemn the US government for violating our rights and privacy; and we call on the US not to prosecute Snowden,” it said.

The rally’s press release said the participants would march past a Hong Kong government office and the city’s US consulate, and suggested that they bring posters reading: “defend free speech, protect Snowden”, “no extradition”, “respect Hong Kong law”, “shame on NSA”, “stop internet surveillance” and “betray Snowden = betray freedom”.

Hong Kong is an odd duck, being a part of Semi-Demi-Communist China but having its own semi-demi-independent political and economic system. Since the British handed Hong Kong back over, Beijing has increased its powers in the region, without ever quite cracking down.

So what I’d like to know is, if any of these 11 groups are fronts for Beijing, or how many of their members might be in cahoots with the mainland. Because Snowden, with a big assist from the NSA and the White House, has handed Beijing an excellent opportunity to embarrass the United States.

For the record, I’m glad Snowden revealed the NSA’s data-mining program — no matter whether his personal motivations were honorable or treasonous. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some unpleasant complications.

Read bullet |

More Russian Missiles to Syria

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

StrategyPage:

This is a new version with a much improved guidance system. Israel fears that some of these missiles will be sent to Hezbollah, who might use them against Israeli ships or offshore natural gas field platform facilities. Israel is trying to persuade Russia to stop delivering the missiles but Russia is reluctant to halt these shipments. Iran appears to be paying for this, so the loss of income would be felt in Russia.

This sort of thing has been going on for a while. Two years ago Russia delivered 72 Yakhonts and 18 of the mobile ground launchers (each carrying two missiles) to Syria. Also included were five battery command vehicles. Typically a Yakhont battery consists of one of these vehicles, four launchers, and several more trucks carrying security and maintenance personnel and equipment. The 2011 shipment cost $300 million dollars. The missiles can be stored in their launch containers for seven years before they require major component replacements and refurbishment to stay operational. Yakhonts have a range of 300 kilometers and are very hard to stop.

No matter who wins the Syrian Civil War, the Israelis are going to have their hands full dealing with all the new threats, courtesy of Moscow.

Read bullet |

FBI Snooping Requests up 1,000 Percent Since 2009

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Michael Isikoff:

The FBI has dramatically increased its use of a controversial provision of the Patriot Act to secretly obtain a vast store of business records of U.S. citizens under President Barack Obama, according to recent Justice Department reports to Congress. The bureau filed 212 requests for such data to a national security court last year – a 1,000-percent increase from the number of such requests four years earlier, the reports show.

The FBI’s increased use of the Patriot Act’s “business records” provision — and the wide ranging scope of its requests — is getting new scrutiny in light of last week’s disclosure that that the provision was used to obtain a top-secret national security order requiring telecommunications companies to turn over records of millions of telephone calls.

Taken together, experts say, those revelations show the government has broadly interpreted the Patriot Act provision as enabling it to collect data not just on specific individuals, but on millions of Americans with no suspected terrorist connections. And it shows that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court accepted that broad interpretation of the law.

Remember when Obama campaigned on repealing the PATRIOT Act?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Yeah, me neither.

Read bullet |

Dem Senator: Obama Didn’t Brief Congress Like He Claimed

Monday, June 10th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

The Hill has the story:

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Friday disputed a claim President Obama made at a press conference only moments earlier, when the president said that every member of Congress had been briefed on the National Security Agency’s (NSA) domestic phone surveillance program.

Merkley said only select members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees had been briefed on the program, and that he was only aware of it because he obtained “special permission” to review the pertinent documents after hearing about it second-hand.

“I knew about the program because I specifically sought it out,” Merkley said on MSNBC. “It’s not something that’s briefed outside the Intelligence Committee. I had to get special permission to find out about the program. It raised concerns for me. … When I saw what was being done, I felt it was so out of sync with the plain language of the law and that it merited full public examination, and that’s why I called for the declassification.”

At a press conference on Friday, Obama said that every member of Congress had been briefed on the phone monitoring program.

Every member who was aware enough after not being briefed to seek out the information on their own. So I guess that clears that up.

Read bullet |

Record 23,116,441 Million American Households on Food Stamps

Monday, June 10th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Daily Caller:

The March numbers the USDA released Friday reveal 23,116,441 households enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, each receiving an average monthly benefit of $274.30.

The number of individuals on SNAP did not break any records but remained high, with 47,727,052 people enrolled in SNAP, receiving an average monthly benefit of $132.86.

Maybe it’s just me, but every time I hear a left use the word “sustainability,” I start feeling all slappy.

Read bullet |

Religion of Peace Beheads 10-Year-Old Boy

Monday, June 10th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Hold on to your breakfast for this one:

Taliban militants beheaded two children in southern Afghanistan, a provincial governor’s office said.

The beheadings occurred in Kandahar province, the provincial governor’s office said Monday.

One of those slain was a 10-year-old boy. The other was age 16.

A press release issued by the office said the militants caught and beheaded the 10-year-old Sunday after he had collected food waste from a trash bin in the area of a security checkpoint.

Barbarians, not “militants.”

Barbarians.

Read bullet |

Payroll-to-Population Ratio Keeps Shrinking

Thursday, June 6th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Gallup

That’s Gallup, who adds:

Year-over-year comparisons are helpful in determining the degree to which monthly changes are the result of growth in permanent full-time positions rather than temporary seasonal hiring. The decline in P2P versus 2012 indicates that fewer people worked full-time for an employer this May compared with a year ago. The 43.9% found this May is similar to the 43.7% recorded in 2011 and 44.0% in 2010.

Gallup’s P2P metric is an estimate of the percentage of the U.S. adult population aged 18 and older who are employed full time by an employer for at least 30 hours per week. P2P is not seasonally adjusted.

As ObamaCare kicks in, the amount of money flowing out of Washington will grow. But the proportion of workers with even just parttime jobs keeps shrinking.

This will end badly.

Read bullet |

How Big is Our Unemployment Problem?

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

NY and LA

Full story here.

Read bullet |

UCLA Study: There is No Recovery

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

So a bunch of economists looked at a bunch of numbers and came up with this:

“Growth in GDP has been positive, but not exceptional,” UCLA economists wrote in their quarterly Anderson Forecast. “Jobs are growing, but not rapidly enough to create good jobs for all.”

The report, which analyzed long-term trends of past recoveries, found that the long-anticipated “Great Recovery” has not yet materialized.

Real GDP growth — the value of goods and services produced after adjusting for inflation — is 15.4% below the 3% growth trend of past recoveries, wrote Edward Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast. More robust growth will be necessary to bring this recovery in line with previous ones.

“It’s not a recovery,” he wrote. “It’s not even normal growth. It’s bad.”

If this is news to you, you must live in or around DC.

Read bullet |

Who’s Sworn on First?

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Twitchy Team is on it for you:

Lawrence

O’Donnell deleted his tweet once he — or one of his brighter young interns — realized just how stupid he’d been.

Read bullet |

“Overreach” of the Day

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

On Monday it was Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan for WaPo, and Caitlin Huey-Burns at RCP. Then Joan Walsh and Alex Witt were warning that the GOP would “overreach” on the IRS scandal. Today, Leonard Pitts:

An old political axiom says that you should never interfere while an opponent is busy destroying himself. Not that Team Obama is destroying itself, but it is undeniably wounded. That should be the story here. Instead, the story is becoming — again — GOP overreach, opportunism and craziness.

The IRS is on the warpath against conservative groups, but Darrell Issa is nuts.

Glad we’re all — all — on the same page here.

Read bullet |

WaPo: Will GOP Overreach on IRS?

Monday, June 3rd, 2013 - by Stephen Green

Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan blogging in today’s paper:

By the end of the week, there will have been six hearings in the House or Senate regarding the IRS’s scandal, which leads to the question: How many is too many?

“My suspicion is Republicans in Congress will stay too obsessed,” former White House senior adviser David Plouffe predicted in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” program Sunday. “Kind of surfing scandals, trying to repeal Obamacare for the 40th time, and less on the economy, and doing the job they were sent [to do].”

Karl Rove, the chief political strategist for George W. Bush’s presidency, acknowledged that he worries “a little bit” about the possibility of overreach, particularly if his party loses sight of the need to offer its own vision on the economy.

Then there’s the equally-helpful Caitlin Huey-Burns for RCP:

With the field starting to take shape for the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans hope to increase their numbers in Congress. If party leaders have their way, controversy over the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the DOJ’s subpoena of reporters’ records (mixed with the lingering specter of the Benghazi consulate attacks) will consume much of the summer, with the scandals driving a wedge between voters and the president’s party.

That could happen. What also could occur is that the GOP’s zeal could backfire by galvanizing the Democratic base to defend a man they see as being hounded by an obstructionist Republican Party.

These “Quit while your ahead!” stories always come out just when the scandals start to get seriously juicy.

Go get ‘em, Darrell.

Read bullet |