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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.

I’d Like That in Tens and Twenties, Please

(Image courtesy inquisitr.com)

(Image courtesy inquisitr.com)

Seems legit:

Late April, Jeff Waters casually walked into the Jacksonville Bank of America and attempted to cash a check for $368,000,000,000.00 — that’s 368 billion dollars.

Armed with his identification and fully expecting the check to be cashed, Waters was befuddled when he learned that the blank check that he bought from a homeless man called Tito was unusable.

When the tellers became suspicious, Waters explained that a homeless man by the name of Tito Watts had sold him the blank U.S. Bank of Idaho check (which was issued in the ’90s) for 100 bucks a few months ago.

Tito, the “upstanding” guy that he is, told Waters that he can go ahead and cash the check for whatever amount his heart desires.

But here’s the really fun part:

“It’s always been my dream to own the best Italian restaurant in the earth,” he later told the police.

“I’m 10% Italian. Cooking authentic Italian food is in my blood. I had planned to make the restaurant 80 million square feet and able to accommodated [sic] 30 million eaters at once, plus it was gonna be totally underwater so people could look at sharks while they ate. But the bank wouldn’t give me my money they owed me,” said the hopeful entrepreneur.

Think of the good $368,000,000,000 could do for the south Florida economy, not to mention the bragging rights of hosting — by far — the world’s largest Italian restaurant. With sharks.

Just think of Waters as a freelance central banker, and I think you’ll see the wisdom in cashing that check.

Posted at 1:19 pm on May 22nd, 2015 by Stephen Green

Deere Smashes Expectations

John Deere reported earnings of $2.03 per share, over expectations of $1.56.


Deere is the world’s leading seller of farming equipment. The company also produces heavy construction equipment like bulldozers and excavators.

In Friday’s earnings statement, the company also had an upbeat outlook for the US housing market:

“The sales improvement reflects economic growth and higher housing starts in the U.S. offset in part by weakening conditions in the energy sector and energy-producing regions as well as lower sales outside the U.S. and Canada.”

Deere forecast that sales of construction and forestry equipment will increase 2% this year, with sales improvements in the US and Europe offsetting declines elsewhere.

Housing starts data has been mixed this year, but in May, we saw starts surge to the highest level since November 2007.

Deere, however, has a bleak outlook for the agricultural sector, saying it sees weak demand for tractors and other heavy machinery.

Great news for Deere, and hopefully for the broader economy. The thing which concerns me however is that nearly all their growth came from housing starts. We’ve seen that bubble before, not coincidentally popping shortly after November 2007.

Posted at 12:20 pm on May 22nd, 2015 by Stephen Green

Sign “O” the Times


Love and marriage — who needs it? Not Millennials:

The 2015 U.S. Wedding Forecast from Demographic Intelligence says millennials in the next five years will have more of its members at a typical marrying age than any previous generation. But they are also less likely to tie the knot than their predecessors.

The report shows a marriage rate of 6.74 per 1,000 people this year, with the number expected to fall slightly lower over each of the next two years. In 2008, the marriage rate in America was 7.09.

Others have made similar findings. A Pew Research Center report recently said that one-fourth of millennials are likely to eschew marriage entirely.

“A lot of people would like to see marriage remain strong. It offers benefits to children,” said Sam Sturgeon, Demographic Intelligence president. He noted that research has been somewhat politicized, but is “pretty consistent” in showing that children raised with two parents who are married to each other fare better across multiple measures.

Getting married and starting a family, even more than starting a new business, is an indication of hope for the future.

With declining birth, marriage, and business startup rates, it’s clear there’s not a whole lot of that hope left these days.

Posted at 11:12 am on May 22nd, 2015 by Stephen Green

Laser Beam Me

(Air Force image)

(Air Force image)

And now, planes with frickin laser beams:

The Air Force plans to be able to incinerate targets such as incoming missiles with laser weapons mounted on C-17s by 2023 as part of a directed energy developmental effort, service official said.

The High Energy Laser, or HEL, is being tested by the Air Force Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. Ground tests are slated for later this year as part of a plan to precede air-launched laser weapons firing evaluations, Mica Endsley, Air Force Chief Scientist, told Military.com in an interview.

The first ever ground test of the weapon is slated to take place at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., said Othana Zuch, an Air Force spokeswoman.

Service officials are working on a solid-state laser guidance mechanism and focus so the weapon can stay on track on a particular target.

“We’re working on maturing a lot of those kinds of technologies,” Endsley said. “We will be transitioning into airborne platforms to get them ready to go into a program of record by 2023.”

I know 2023 isn’t actually that far off, but still — faster please!

Posted at 10:36 am on May 22nd, 2015 by Stephen Green

Rolling in It

He's so money and he knows it. (AP photo)

He’s so money and he knows it.
(AP photo)

The Drudge headline simply reads “slush,” but WaPo has the details:

The Clinton Foundation reported Thursday that it has received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups.

The disclosure came as the foundation faced questions over whether it fully complied with a 2008 ethics agreement to reveal its donors and whether any of its funding sources present conflicts of interest for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she begins her presidential campaign.

The money was paid as fees for speeches by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Foundation officials said the funds were tallied internally as “revenue” rather than donations, which is why they had not been included in the public listings of its contributors published as part of the 2008 agreement.

This next part is, if you’ll excuse the word choice, rich:

The paid appearances included speeches by former president Bill Clinton to the Ni­ger­ian ThisDay newspaper group for at least $500,000 and to the Beijing Huaduo Enterprise Consulting Company Ltd., an investment holding company that specializes in the natural gas market, for at least $250,000. Citibank paid at least $250,000 for a speech by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The disclosures underscore how much the Clintons have leveraged their star power to draw more money not just for their personal enrichment but also for the benefit of their philanthropic work.

While the story notes that the Clinton Foundation has raised $2 billion-with-a-b since its founding less than 20 years ago, it fails to note that in 2013, the last year for which reports are available, it gave only 6% of its revenues as charity. Travel and office supplies were bigger expenses than “giving.”

So I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether the Clinton Foundation is more interested in “philanthropic work” or in the Clinton’s “personal enrichment,” but the numbers do seem to be rather lopsided towards the latter.

Posted at 9:58 am on May 22nd, 2015 by Stephen Green

The End of Iraq

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Looks like ISIS can now move unopposed between (what was) Syria and (what used to be) Iraq:

Jihadists from the Islamic State group seized the last Syrian regime-controlled crossing on the border with Iraq late Thursday, a monitoring group said.

“IS seized control of the Al-Tanaf border crossing on the Syrian-Iraqi border… after regime forces withdrew, leaving the Syrian regime with no control over its border with Iraq,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

But it’s cool, because the Pentagon says we’ve hurt their morale.

Posted at 8:52 am on May 22nd, 2015 by Stephen Green

How to Avoid the Media’s New Sand Trap

Posted at 7:34 am on May 22nd, 2015 by Stephen Green

I’ve Seen Some ‘Shops in My Time…



A little over a week ago, North Korea claimed to have successfully launched a ballistic missile from an undersea submarine. Such a launch would have been a major step forward for the hermit country, if it had actually happened. But according to German aerospace experts, the photos supposedly proving North Korea’s technological prowess only proved that, once again, North Korea is shit at Photoshop.

It’s like the Norks aren’t even trying anymore.

Posted at 6:28 am on May 22nd, 2015 by Stephen Green

News You Can Use


Meanwhile in local news:

Colorado Springs Police said officers responded to calls about a woman chasing a man with a knife on Tuesday night and encountered the suspect, Jade Gurley. Officers then determined that Gurley,39, was trying to stab a man and had torn a “quarter-size chunk” out of his left ear, police added.

The department said that Gurley was arrested without incident — and the knife was recovered from a nearby motel room. It was not immediately clear what charges she was facing.

She ought to be charged with “You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?”

Posted at 5:20 am on May 22nd, 2015 by Stephen Green

WiFi Is Not Making People Sick

Killing you softly?

Killing you softly?

It’s the latest medical scare story:

[Suzanne] Hoyt said that nothing prepared her for the rush of symptoms that she suddenly developed.

“Headaches, perspiration, pain in my jaws and my heart. It’s like physical expansion of the heart,” she said.

Hoyt said it all started when she installed wi-fi throughout her apartment.

“I started to be very uncomfortable, and I didn’t know what it was,” she said.

With wi-fi everywhere, from parks to restaurants and taxis it turns out Hoyt is not alone.

“With wi-fi everywhere…”

Stop. Right. There.

Wifi is everywhere. Years ago I had to turn off automatic wifi joining on my iPhone, because it would try to join every network at every house as I drove past in my car. iOS now uses motion detection to turn the feature off while you’re driving, but it isn’t perfect — and it still goes to show that wifi is indeed everywhere.

It’s at your Starbucks, it’s in your office, it’s at your school. It’s in the lobby of your hotel and in the drivethru of your local McDonalds.

WiFi is everywhere.

And yet Suzanne Hoyt claims she only got sick when she put a router in her apartment? Was there something wrong with the wifi that was already in almost every other apartment in her building, many of which were sending their signals right into her kitchen, 24/7?


It’s obvious Hoyt and others have some kind of problem — but the problem isn’t wifi.

It’s everywhere, and it’s been everywhere since about 2006. If you weren’t getting sick then, then wifi isn’t your problem.

Posted at 1:32 pm on May 21st, 2015 by Stephen Green

She’s Just Three Husbands Away from Being an Ann-Margret Song

It's safe to assume this is the first time in recent years that Liana Barrientos has stood before a judge without a man at her side. (AP photo)

It’s safe to assume this is the first time in recent years that Liana Barrientos has stood before a judge without a man at her side.
(AP photo)

New York City’s Liana Barrientos failed to show up in court earlier this week — after being brought up on charges of being married to nine men at once:

Barrientos, 39, was charged in April for marrying 10 times but only divorcing once – a Bronx detective uncovered records of marriage licenses filed across New York, including in the Bronx, Long Island and Westchester County.

The Bronx woman is charged with filing fraudulent marriage licenses, which is a felony. Her husbands are from Bangladesh, Egypt, Georgia, Turkey, Pakistan and Mali, according to PIX 11. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson told the news station that Barrientos was allegedly married to eight men at once, and is still believed to be wed to four of them.

The problem with letting straight people marry is you just know some of them will abuse it.

Posted at 12:44 pm on May 21st, 2015 by Stephen Green

Want to Fix the Debates? Look to the Gipper

You can’t pick up an op-ed page these days without getting whacked in the face with yet another idea for “fixing” the GOP primary debates. As Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Readers™ know, and as my liver could tell anyone else, the debates are in serious need of a fix. The style of the 2012 debate cycle was to cram the stage with enough candidates to serve as an Electric Light Orchestra road crew, then have them repeat as many rehearsed talking points as possible in each 60-second response, in the cadence of a coked-up jackrabbit.

If ecstasy has an exact chemical opposite, I’m pretty sure it was in the bottled water at those “debates.”

The second-best fix I’ve seen is from Ben Domenech, who gleefully suggested one simple trick: “Shoot the moderator.” And in the wake of Stephanopoulosgate, who wouldn’t want to do just that? Here’s more from Ben:

Here’s how a debate would work if you cut that out: candidates would debate an actual topic for an extended amount of time – say three topics with three questions in a policy space over an entire 90 minute debate (for example, a foreign policy debate where the questions concern what to do about ISIS, what to do about Russia, and what to do about the NSA, or an economic debate about taxes, trade, and Too Big To Fail). With 12 candidates speaking in that time period, they’re still only going to get two and a half minutes on each topic – but without a moderator, candidates are more likely to be drawn into debates with the people on the stage who disagree with their views. In a more free-flowing debate, there is no Wolf Blitzer to cut things off, and the confrontations will be more extended – but I expect also more substantive, as arguments will be more extended, gotcha questions eliminated, and the need to have quick quips as a substitute for a point will not be as pressing.

This harkens back to the best American presidential debate I’ve ever seen: Bruce Babbitt vs Pete DuPont in 1988. Two men, two chairs, two glasses of water, and a 90-minute free-form discussion of issues between two serious and well-informed candidates.

When I say “best debate,” I mean that only as someone who enjoys watching real debates. It’s more difficult to determine how much good the format did for the actual candidates, because neither former President DuPont nor former President Babbitt would return any of my calls.

This brings us to Dan Henninger in today’s WSJ:

One answer, as so often, lies with Ronald Reagan’s template. In 1980, Reagan’s campaign paid for the New Hampshire primary debate. “I am paying for this microphone.” Reinvent the Reagan model.

In addition to the traditional debates, the candidates or their supporters should underwrite a series of smaller debate/conversations. Divide the 19 into groups of four or five candidates, randomly selected. Pick the issues, and go at it. Give voters a chance to see who these mostly interesting people are and how their minds work outside the confines of a 60-second timer.

The moderator’s job would be to break clinches. Other than that, let ’em have at it. People say they “like” Scott Walker for what he did in Wisconsin. Agreed. Let’s see how he handles himself over 10 rounds with three other Republicans before climbing into the big ring with Mrs. Clinton.

This is a lovely idea, although I’m not certain Henninger has taken it quite far enough. Yes, allow each candidate to “buy” their own debates — but also let each candidate determine their own format, location, and opponents. “I am paying for this microphone!” indeed.

Posted at 11:00 am on May 21st, 2015 by Stephen Green

Where and How Much Have You Been Driving, Comrade?

Accident traffic jam on Oregon's I-5. (AP photo)

Accident traffic jam on Oregon’s I-5.
(AP photo)

Here it comes — a test program in Oregon to charge drivers by the mile.

The program is meant to help the state raise more revenue to pay for road and bridge projects at a time when money generated from gasoline taxes are declining across the country, in part, because of greater fuel efficiency and the increasing popularity of fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric cars.

Starting July 1, up to 5,000 volunteers in Oregon can sign up to drive with devices that collect data on how much they have driven and where. The volunteers will agree to pay 1.5 cents for each mile traveled on public roads within Oregon, instead of the tax now added when filling up at the pump.

Some electric and hybrid car owners, however, say the new tax would be unfair to them and would discourage purchasing of green vehicles.

Not to mention it’s creepy and intrusive for the state government to track your driving.

I have a simpler and less invasive solution. Take the state road budget, then first subtract what’s collected in state gas taxes. Whatever figure is left, divide by the number of car registrations, prorated by vehicle weight. Heavier cars and trucks would pay more than lighter ones, using a formula based on the differential in road wear.

Tack the resulting number onto each vehicle registration fee.

Gas guzzlers would still pay more at the pump, keeping the greenies happy. Heavier vehicles would pay for the additional wear & tear they cause to the roads, even the ones with hybrid or other super-efficient engines. Owners of tiny electric cars would still pay something for the roads they use the same as everyone else.

A small toll for using Oregon’s interstate highways, for which state residents would receive rebates, would make sure out-of-staters pay their fair share, too.

And civil libertarians like myself wouldn’t get the heebie-jeebies at the mere thought of taking a road trip through Oregon’s gorgeous scenery.

I know, I know — it makes too much sense to ever happen.

Posted at 10:24 am on May 21st, 2015 by Stephen Green

Sign “O” the Times

40% of Unemployed-Americans (they’re a big enough group now to get their own hyphen!) have given up looking for work:

The revelation, contained in a new survey Wednesday showing how much work needs to be done yet in the U.S. labor market, comes as the labor force participation rate remains mired near 37-year lows.

A tight jobs market, the skills gap between what employers want and what prospective employees have to offer, and a benefits program that, while curtailed from its recession level, still remains obliging have combined to keep workers on the sidelines, according to a Harris poll of 1,553 working-age Americans conducted for Express Employment Professionals.

On the bright side, the number is actually better than 2014, the survey’s inaugural year, when 47 percent of the jobless said they had given up.

The decline in labor force participation, in fact, has been a key to the drop of the unemployment rate in the post-recession economy. The jobless rate has slid from a high of 10 percent in October 2009 to its current 5.4 percent, the lowest level since May 2008. However, the participation rate has fallen from 66.1 percent to 62.8 percent during the same period.

While the survey lists the number of unemployed Americans at about 8.5 million, that ignores 81 million adult Americans who aren’t institutionalized, but who also aren’t in the labor force — although presumably millions of them would be employable in better economy.

That’s a lot of deadweight for the working adult population to carry.

Posted at 9:40 am on May 21st, 2015 by Stephen Green

Florida Man Strikes Again!


To be more accurate, Florida Man nearly struck again:

A Florida man apparently fell asleep after breaking into a home over the weekend.

Timothy Bontrager, 29, has been charged with felony burglary of an occupied dwelling after breaking into the home and falling asleep on the couch, according to WTSP.

The homeowner told police she woke up around 7:20 a.m. and found Bontrager sleeping on her couch. When she asked him what he was doing in her house, he apologized.

While I’m sure the apology was heartfelt, you know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

Posted at 8:52 am on May 21st, 2015 by Stephen Green

Look Before You Leap Second

Long before smartwatches, cell phones, or even personal computers with self-updating clocks, part of my dad’s morning routine was to turn on his weather radio in the bathroom and set his watch to the atomic clock signal. He was still usually late picking me up on Saturday mornings, but damn if his watch wasn’t always on the money.

With that kind of attention to detail, bordering on obsessive, I was certain back in ’81 or ’82 that he was joking when he told me there would be a “leap second” that summer.

But here we go again:

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems (IERS) announced an extra second will be added at the end of June to account for a discrepancy between Earth’s rotation and the atomic clock.

The extra second will be added as the clock strikes midnight universal time, meaning the extra second will come for people in the United States at 8 p.m. EDT.

Leap seconds can be added in June or December, according to IERS. There have been 25 instances since 1972 of an extra second being added.

Remember, we’re moving one second forward, so I don’t want anyone to be late on the first Saturday in July.

Posted at 7:34 am on May 21st, 2015 by Stephen Green

Suspiciously Fabulous Study Retracted

I missed the reports on this thing back in December, but apparently UCLA graduate assistant Michael LaCour used “dubious” means and outright fabrications in a study about how simple it is to change minds in favor of gay marriage — and his “study” has since been retracted:

The retraction this week of the popular article published in a December issue of the Science academic journal follows revelations that his co-author allegedly faked data for the study, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support of gay marriage.”

According to academic watchdog Retraction Watch, Columbia University political science professor Donald Green published a retraction of the paper on Tuesday after confronting co-author Michael LaCour, a graduate assistant at UCLA.

The study received widespread media coverage from The New York Times, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and others, when it was released in December.

“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science,” Green told the blog.

As someone who has spent 20 years or more trying to win hearts and minds in support of gay marriage, I would have called BS on this “study” had I noticed it last winter. Overcoming deeply-held religious beliefs and/or simple human biases is almost never going to happen, if ever, over the course of a short conversation.

However, I’m not at all surprised that The New York Times, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal fell for it.

Posted at 6:17 am on May 21st, 2015 by Stephen Green

Elian All Grown Up

Posted at 5:32 am on May 21st, 2015 by Stephen Green

News from the 7th Century

View over the execution square on the religion police building (R) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 15 November 2006. Photo by: Peer Grimm/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

View over the execution square on the religion police building (R) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 15 November 2006. Photo by: Peer Grimm/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

It’s a messy job, but somebody’s got to do it:

Saudi Arabia is advertising for eight new executioners, recruiting extra staff to carry out an increasing number of death sentences, usually done by public beheading.

No special qualifications are needed for the jobs whose main role is “executing a judgment of death” but also involve performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences, the advert, posted on the civil service jobs portal, said.

The Islamic kingdom is in the top five countries in the world for putting people to death, rights groups say. It ranked third in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States, according to Amnesty International figures.

The telling detail in this story is that the job title is “religious functionary.”

Posted at 3:02 pm on May 20th, 2015 by Stephen Green

Kill the White People (But Buy My Record First)

(Facebook photo)

(Facebook photo)

You may remember last week’s news from the UK about Goldsmiths university “welfare and diversity officer” Bahar Mustafa, who insisted that as a “an ethnic minority woman” she couldn’t possibly “be racist or sexist towards white men,” despite excluding them from her “diversity” event.

Well, now there’s this:

The Goldsmiths diversity officer embroiled in a racism row could lose her job after allegedly tweeting with the hashtag “kill all white men”.

Ms Mustafa said in a statement the use of the term “white trash” – an offensive American term referring to poor white people following the Great Depression – on an official account had been “not professional”.

But she added the uses of hashtags such as “kill all white men” on her personal account were “in-jokes and ways that many people in the queer feminist community express ourselves”.

Such hateful forms of self-expression should be banned for the sake of diversity.

Posted at 1:39 pm on May 20th, 2015 by Stephen Green

Required Reading

Robert Tracinski wants to know why the Left kowtows to Islam:

In fact, a running theme of the left’s arguments, repeated with a great deal of apparent sincerity, is the notion that it is irrational to fear Islam, that describing the religion as violent and dangerous is “Islamophobia.” They seem to have largely talked themselves into believing that they have nothing personally to fear from Islam. Jihadists may throw gays off of buildings in Syria, but it can’t happen here.

This is nonsense, of course, but it is revealing of the mindset. They actually talk themselves into believing that “censorship of LGBT artists” is an equal or even greater threat, far more urgent than anything having to do with Islam. For the left, the main source of evil in the world always comes from within America and from within the West, never outside of it.

The short version is that Islam is fundamentally opposed to Western Civilization, making it seem like a natural ally for Leftists and other vile progressives.

Of course, they’ll be the first with their backs up against the wall — or thrown off the building, or crushed by rocks, beheaded, burned alive, etc.

Posted at 12:51 pm on May 20th, 2015 by Stephen Green

News You Can Use

Dinner is served. (AP photo)

Dinner is served.
(AP photo)

Kids, don’t try this at home:

Police Monday investigated an instructor at a rural South Korean boarding facility who bit a hamster to death and swallowed it in front of children.

The instructor, surnamed Yu, 44, said he did so because he was “afraid of rats.”

The incident happened on May 11 at a boarding facility in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province.

After finding out that some children were teasing hamsters, Yu bit one to death and swallowed it to teach them “how dear life is,” according to police.

Seven children saw him eat the animal.

In North Korea, they’re lucky to eat hamsters.

Posted at 11:41 am on May 20th, 2015 by Stephen Green

Where Did Our Cash Go?

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

A Tennessee family is accused of collecting $187 million ostensibly for cancer research and spending it on themselves:

The Federal Trade Commission, in a federal lawsuit joined by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, said that James T. Reynolds Sr., his ex-wife and son raised the money through their various charities: The Cancer Fund of America in Knoxville, Tennessee, and its affiliated Cancer Support Services; The Breast Cancer Society in Mesa, Arizona; and the Children’s Cancer Fund of America in Powell, Tennessee.

The charities hired telemarketers to collect $20 donations from people across the country, telling consumers that they provided financial aid and other support to cancer patients, including pain medication, transportation to chemotherapy visits and hospice care.

But little money made it to cancer patients, as the groups “operated as personal fiefdoms characterized by rampant nepotism, flagrant conflicts of interest, and excessive insider compensation” with none of the controls used by bona fide charities, the FTC said Tuesday.

Maybe the FTC could look into the Clinton Foundation, which at last report gave a scant 6% of its multimillions to charity, and by other reports is also characterized by rampant nepotism, flagrant conflicts of interest, and excessive insider compensation.

Just a friendly tip for the good folks at the FTC.

Posted at 10:04 am on May 20th, 2015 by Stephen Green

The Party of Youth

Kruiser is sitting in Scott Ott’s seat on Trifecta this week, as only Kruiser can.

Posted at 9:22 am on May 20th, 2015 by Stephen Green

Chris Christie Flubs the Privacy Test

Keeping you in the dark. (AP photo)

Keeping you in the dark.
(AP photo)

Here’s the Republican New Jersey Governor on the PATRIOT ACT:

“When Edward Snowden revealed our intelligence secrets to the world in 2013, civil liberties extremists seized that moment to advance their own narrow agenda,” Christie said.

“Let’s be clear,” he later added, “all these fears are exaggerated and ridiculous. When it comes to fighting terrorism our government is not the enemy, and we should not be listening to people like Edward Snowden.”

Let’s be clear. Snowden did not reveal any intelligence secrets — he revealed the existence of a secret NSA program to monitor just about every bit of metadata generated by just about every American, every day. That’s something which, as Americans, we must know about if we are to trust our government.

And speaking of “civil liberties extremists,” I wonder what Christie would have to say about the extremists who dumped tea into Boston Harbor and took up arms against their own King & Parliament.

Whatever his motives, I’d take a dozen Snowdens over one well-meaning Christie any day.

Posted at 8:18 am on May 20th, 2015 by Stephen Green

More on Those Gay Wedding Blues

Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Reader™ rg322 clued me in to part of this morning’s story I somehow missed:

“Probate Judge Al Booth had halted all marriage ceremonies in the office the day before. DiPrizio refused to leave the office after sheriffs deputies were called and she was charged with disorderly conduct, court records show.”

I stand corrected. It looks like by handing out a suspended sentence that Booth was acting well within the traditions of American jurisprudence — and that DiPrizio and her newlyweds were acting well within the traditions of American civil disobedience.

The story makes much more sense now and, as always, I appreciate the correction.

Posted at 7:20 am on May 20th, 2015 by Stephen Green

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day


Get ready for a pain no doctor can treat:

The past month has provided a few hints that the relatively modest premium increases we’ve seen under Obamacare may not last for long, and today brings a few more.

In Maryland’s largest health insurer has requested rate hikes up to 30.4 percent for the vast majority of its members, reports the Baltimore Sun. Large insurers in several other states are officially targeting double-digit increases as well, according to Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily. Tennessee’s biggest insurer, BlueCross Blue Shield, which covers 165,000 people in the state, has asked for a 36.3 percent hike, and the top insurer in Michigan is looking at a 9.8 percent hike.

Why the big hikes? The 25.6 percent rate increase sought by Moda Health, which covers 100,000 people in Oregon, may provide a clue: As Graham notes, costs for the health plan exceeded premiums by 61 percent in 2014. The next largest insurer in the state is also seeking a double digit rate increase. Basically, the premiums charged so far aren’t an accurate representation of how much it costs to cover the people who are enrolled.

That Means It’s Working™

Posted at 6:33 am on May 20th, 2015 by Stephen Green

Gay Wedding Blues

An Alabama Unitarian minister has been sentenced to 30 days, suspended, for performing a legally meaningless gay wedding:

Anne Susan DiPrizio, 44, entered the plea before Judge Ben Fuller, but not before some delays and judicial wrangling. He gave her 30 days in the Autauga Metro Jail, and then suspended the sentence in place of 6 months unsupervised probation. Fuller also ordered her to pay a $250 fine and other associated court costs.

On Feb. 10, DiPrizio offered to marry a lesbian couple inside the Autauga County Probate Office. The couple had received their marriage license just a few minutes before.

Probate Judge Al Booth had halted all marriage ceremonies in the office the day before. DiPrizio refused to leave the office after sheriff’s deputies were called and she was charged with disorderly conduct, court records show. She spent about three hours in the Autauga Metro Jail that day before posting a bond of $1,000, jail records show.

Let me get this straight — with no cheap pun intended. DiPrizio was arrested, fined, and sentenced for performing a wedding which Autauga County had licensed?

The scene during her plea wasn’t pretty:

An apparent plea deal was agreed to before the bench trial began. When Fuller pronounced the 30 day suspended jail sentence the first go round, DiPrizio balked.

“That’s not what we agreed to, we said no suspended 30 day sentence,” she said.

Fuller withdrew the plea agreement and told Desirae Lewis, the assistant district attorney handling the case to prepare to call her witnesses. During the break prosecutors huddled with DiPrizio, who was representing herself, and tried to clear up any confusion on the sentence.

Fuller came back to the courtroom and second time, handing down the sentence and DiPrizio interrupted him when he was talking about the fine.

“Can I ask a question?” she said to Fuller.

“When I’m done!” a visibly angered Fuller said with a raised voice. “We are here to take a misdemeanor plea. I don’t know if you think this is a game. If you do, you can learn differently very quickly.”

I understand that gay marriage isn’t allowed under Alabama law, which ought to be a matter for the people of Alabama to deal with one way or the other — but that’s an issue for another day. The simple and non-controversial solution in this case would be for the judge to declare the license (and thus the marriage) to be invalid under Alabama law and leave it at that. Why arrest DiPrizio for “disorderly conduct,” when near as I can tell there was nothing disorderly about a couple obtaining a license and then having a friendly minister perform a civil ceremony?

If there are any charges to be filed, perhaps the not-newlyweds should have paid a fine for “obtaining a license under false pretenses” or something similar, if it turns out one of them pretended to be a man to the clerk. And maybe something like that will or did happen — the USA Today story doesn’t get into that side of it. So I looked into the history of the case which dates back to February of this year:

The incident took place one day after a federal ruling went into effect that found Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Because the state’s top judicial officer, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, ordered probate judges to defy that ruling, a majority were refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday. A day later, the chaos only seems to be intensifying.

“I will say I was nothing but polite, and there was nothing disorderly about my conduct,” said 44-year-old Anne Susan Diprizio, the woman who was arrested Tuesday, to msnbc. “The only person who was behaving disorderly was [Autauga County Probate] Judge Booth, who was aggressive, rude, hateful, not gentlemanly, had no southern manners – nothing you would expect from a good man.” Msnbc reached out to Booth for comment, but his office declined to speak on the matter.

Yet the minister was convicted of disorderly conduct for presiding over a non-binding wedding ceremony? Near as I can tell from the these reports, Judge Fuller is just waving his little gavel around because he doesn’t like lesbians.

Fuller’s dislikes and biases are his business, of course — but that doesn’t mean he gets to bring them to the bench.

Posted at 5:14 am on May 20th, 2015 by Stephen Green

Fail, Britannia

HMS Vanguard seen in this AP file photo from 2002.

HMS Vanguard seen in this AP file photo from 2002.

The Royal Navy ain’t what she used to be:

The British Royal Navy is searching for Able Seaman William McNeilly after he leaked an 18-page report called “The Secret Nuclear Threat.”

In the document, the submariner explained a wide range of insights relating to the UK’s submarine operations, reports The Independent. It covers everything from the mundane, such as food hygiene, to more worrying topics such as hydraulics failures that prevent submarines from launching missiles. In fact, he describes submarine floods during testing that would have killed if they’d happened at sea, and writes that he “learnt that HMS Vanguard is in the worst of the worst condition.”

Elsewhere, he claims that it’s“harder to get into most nightclubs” than into sensitive parts of the Faslane submarine base on the Clyde in Scotland. “I’ve gotten through a few times by just showing my pale white room key; looks nothing like a Green Area Pass,” he wrote.

Outrageous and intolerable, if true — and there’s little reason to doubt the seaman’s story, given the sorry state of the rest of the UK’s armed forces.

I’d also add that maintenance and security of a submarine armed with 16 Trident II nuclear-tipped missiles (with up to eight warheads each) is no laughing matter.

Posted at 2:34 pm on May 19th, 2015 by Stephen Green

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

It’s becoming more and more difficult to remember when ♡bamaCare!!! was supposed to save every American family an average of $2,500 a year — especially with health care expenses growing so quickly that they may be what’s caused the economy to stall.

Anthony Mirhaydari has the numbers:

The percentage of personal consumption expenditures (in current dollars) spent on health care goods and services has jumped from 20.0 percent last March to 20.8 percent this March, while the percentage spent on gasoline fell from 3.2 percent last June to 2.2 percent this March.

David Rosenberg at Gluskin Sheff echoes Yardeni, noting that the gasoline windfall wasn’t spent “on gadgets and small luxury goods” as was normally the case, but on cyclical services (like bars and restaurants) and health care. He highlights the fact that spending on health care is running at a 6.6 percent annual growth rate as of March.

Thomas Costerg at Standard Chartered is also worried about the drag on spending from changes under Obamacare, charging outright that, “health-care reform is stalling private consumption.” He’s waiting for forthcoming statistics from the Internal Revenue Service to provide specifics, but notes “anecdotal evidence from tax preparers already suggests millions may have had to pay penalties and/or seen their tax refunds reduced.”

It’s time for a tax revolt.

Posted at 1:26 pm on May 19th, 2015 by Stephen Green