Author Archives: R.D. Walker

Bannon Dismisses Cato and Austrian economics

Stephen K. Bannon does not care for classical liberalism or libertarianism in the least.

Ryan had epitomized to Bannon everything that was wrong with the Republican Party. Discussing the two parties’ shortcomings, Bannon later told me, “What’s that Dostoyevsky line: Happy families are all the same, but unhappy families are unhappy in their own unique ways?” (He meant Tolstoy.) “I think the Democrats are fundamentally afflicted with the inability to discuss and have an adult conversation about economics and jobs, because they’re too consumed by identity politics. And then the Republicans, it’s all this theoretical Cato Institute, Austrian economics, limited government — which just doesn’t have any depth to it. They’re not living in the real world.”

In one fell swoop, he has dismissed Freidrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, Thomas Sowell and dozens of other giants of economic thought.

He has also casually dismissed the the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and, consequently, the peace and prosperity they produce.

He completely misrepresents Republicans who generally adhere to neither Austrian Economics nor the libertarian principles of the Cato Institute. The Republican Party is the party of multiple trillion dollar budgets, a massive welfare state and it defends every crony capitalist program in government. This is neither representative of Austrian Economics nor the libertarianism of Cato.

What is Bannon’s objection to Austrian Economics and Cato’s libertarianism? He objects because these disciplines are either silent regarding, or hostile to, alt-right principles that are important to him. These liberty supporting disciplines are silent on blood, soil, nation, duty or the so-called scientific march of history. They are hostile to the nationalistic statism and government control to which Bannon is devoted.

Bannon sees government as the fundamental organizing force of mankind. Austrians and libertarians know this view is folly and that complex organization arises spontaneously and naturally and that it does so to the great benefit of mankind.

Bannon says those of us who adhere to the principles of liberty and human freedom “are not living in the real world” and offers up a statist alternative. We saw the results of the statist, nationalist, corporatist, identitarian approach to governance throughout the 20th century. It was ugly as hell. The statist “real world” is, more often than not, hell on earth.

Make no mistake, the statism of President Trump’s “key advisor” is no less virulent and corrosive to human freedom than anything nightmared up by Obama and his cast of statist deputies. It is just the opposite side of the same dangerous, depraved coin.

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Spiders could eat every human on earth in a year

The amount of prey consumed by spiders each year is far more than the total biomass of humanity. There is a pleasant thought.

The world’s spiders consume somewhere between 400 million and 800 million tons of prey in any given year. That means that spiders eat at least as much meat as all 7 billion humans on the planet combined, who the authors note consume about 400 million tons of meat and fish each year.

Or, for a slightly more disturbing comparison: The total biomass of all adult humans on Earth is estimated to be 287 million tons. Even if you tack on another 70 million-ish tons to account for the weight of kids, it’s still not equal to the total amount of food eaten by spiders in a given year, exceeding the total weight of humanity.

In other words, spiders could eat all of us and still be hungry.

They could, but they don’t. They eat a bunch of bugs and that is a fine thing.

More here.

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Robots are replacing longshoremen

The longshoremen aren’t happy.

The push over the last decade by international maritime ports to fully automate operations has sparked the ire of many U.S. longshoremen whose high-paying jobs and way of life are at stake. The trend also sets up a battle between their unions and companies and governments who see automation as a cleaner, more efficient and more cost-friendly alternative to the current system.

“Those robots represent hundreds of (lost) jobs,” Bobby Olvera Jr., president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13, told the Press-Telegram. “It means hundreds of people that aren’t shopping. They aren’t paying taxes and they aren’t buying homes.”

Questions to ponder….

1) What is the purpose of ports and shipping? To deliver goods or to create jobs?

2) If the purpose is to deliver goods, doesn’t it make sense to do it as efficiently and cost effectively as possible?

3) If the purpose is to create jobs, shouldn’t all forklifts, cranes, carts and so forth be eliminated? After all, the elimination of these labor saving devices would necessitate the creation of thousands of jobs. Limiting the amount one man is allowed to carry would create more.

Job Creation

Job Destruction

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No funds for the beautiful wall?

Funding Trump’s wall is getting complicated.

Congressional Republicans might deliver some more bad news for President Donald Trump, fresh off their embarrassing failure to scrap Obamacare: No new money is coming to build his wall.

Trump hoped to jump-start construction of a massive wall on the U.S.-Mexico border with money in a must-pass government funding bill. But Democratic leaders are vowing to block any legislation that includes a single penny for the wall.

With the GOP consumed by its own divisions, the White House and Hill Republicans will have to rely on Democratic votes to avoid a government shutdown next month in what would be another disaster for Trump’s fledgling presidency.

Republican leaders, wary of this, are considering a plan that would not directly tie the border wall money to the April 28 government funding deadline. Some Republican insiders worry that the president cannot afford another major legislative setback — and they believe a shutdown showdown would result in just that.

Wasn’t Mexico supposed to pay for the wall?

More.

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Trump dismantles Obama’s climate change agenda

Policies born in executive order, die in executive order.

President Trump will take the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record Tuesday, instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing U.S. carbon emissions.

The sweeping executive order also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.

The order sends an unmistakable signal that just as President Barack Obama sought to weave climate considerations into every aspect of the federal government, Trump is hoping to rip that approach out by its roots.

“This policy is in keeping with President Trump’s desire to make the United States energy independent,” said a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the directive Monday evening and asked for anonymity to speak in advance of the announcement. “When it comes to climate change, we want to take our course and do it in our own form and fashion.”

More here.

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At minimum, the optics of Nunes at the White House is very bad…

Meeting at the White House the day before Nunes made comments to somewhat vindicate Trump’s monitoring claim is pretty poor judgement. All that accomplished was to create a suspicion that collusion took place.

The day before he announced to reporters that Donald Trump may have been incidentally monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies during the transition, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes met with the source of that information at the White House, a Nunes spokesman told NBC News.

“Chairman Nunes met with his source at the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source,” said his spokesman, Jack Langer. “The Chairman is extremely concerned by the possible improper unmasking of names of U.S. citizens, and he began looking into this issue even before President Trump tweeted his assertion that Trump Tower had been wiretapped.”

White House spokesman Sean Spicer refused to comment when asked why Nunes was on White House grounds, saying he only knew what Nunes had done based on public statements made to various media outlets.

More here.

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Trump opens the door to working with Democrats

If he can’t get what he wants from conservatives in the GOP, he will look elsewhere. Here is the WSJ…

Days after the House GOP health bill collapsed due to a lack of support from Republicans, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus brought up the idea of working with Democrats multiple times, leaving little doubt that the White House intended to send a message to the hard-line Republican flank.

“This president is not going to be a partisan president,” Mr. Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.” He said that while “I think it’s time for our folks to come together, I also think it’s time to potentially get a few moderate Democrats on board as well.”

President Donald Trump could face hurdles in enacting his agenda if he can’t broaden his coalition, even though Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Markets have rallied since his election on the prospects that he would drive through tax cuts, boost infrastructure spending and cut regulations, giving a jolt to the economy.

On Friday, Mr. Trump repeatedly said he was willing to work with Democrats on a new health bill. Earlier this month, he met with House Democrats and told them he wanted to work with them on legislation to allow the government to negotiate for lower drug prices. Mr. Trump has also repeatedly talked about a large infrastructure project to rebuild the nation’s roads and bridges—a measure that also could bring both sides to the table.

The Democrats want single payer but would probably settle for a public option that opens the door to socialized medicine. Is this their chance to get it?

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Who is to blame for the health care bill failure?

President Trump is blaming conservatives and those who called for a straight repeal of Obamacare.

The president said then he didn’t feel betrayed by the conservative lawmakers who opposed the bill.

“They’re friends of mine,” the president said of the Freedom Caucus. “I’m disappointed because we could have had [the bill pass].”

More.

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The collapse of the Republican Party’s foundational goal

Over the last few weeks you you saw the collapse of the foundational goal of the Republican Party over the last eight years and an ugly spectacle it was. Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner compares and contrasts for you.

One has to admire the commitment that Democrats and Obama had to delivering something they campaigned on and truly believed in. They spent 13 months getting the bill from an initial concept to final passage, and pressed on during many points when everybody was predicting doom. They had public hearings, multiple drafts of different bills, they kept negotiating, even worked into Christmas. They made significant changes at times, but also never lost sight of their key goals. They didn’t back down in the face of angry town halls and after losing their filibuster-proof majority, and many members cast votes that they knew risked their political careers. Obama himself was a leader, who consistently made it clear that he was not going to walk away. He did countless rallies, meetings, speeches — even a “summit” at the Blair House — to try to sell the bill, talking about details, responding to criticisms of the bill to the point that he was mocked by conservatives for talking so much about healthcare.

The contrast between Obama and Democrats on healthcare and what just happened is stunning. House Republicans slapped together a bill in a few weeks (months if we’re being generous) behind closed doors with barely any debate. They moved the bill through committees at blazing speed, conducted closed-door negotiations that resulted in relatively minor tweaks to the bill, and within 17 days, Trump decided that he’d had enough, and was ready to walk away if members didn’t accept the bill as is.

And, bada-bing, bada-boom, it was over. Well, no coffee for Trump and the GOP.

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BREAKING: Health Care Bill Pulled

Trump and Ryan fail to get votes to pass. House is in recess

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Trump says take it or leave it

POTUS tells House to pass health care bill on today or Obamacare stays.

President Trump delivered an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday night: Vote to approve the measure to overhaul the nation’s health-care system on the House floor Friday, or reject it and the president will move on to his other legislative priorities.

The president, through his aides in a closed-door meeting, signaled that the time for negotiations was over with rank-and-file Republicans who were meeting late at night on Capitol Hill to try to find common ground on the embattled package crafted by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

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Health care vote postponed

House conservatives revolt and refuse to support Obamacare-Lite.

Republican leaders canceled a vote in the House on the plan to replace ObamaCare Thursday, after leadership’s attempts to lobby enough votes apparently failed — a major setback for House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump.

Trump and Republican leaders had spent much of the day scrambling to get both moderates and conservatives on board with the increasingly unpopular legislation.

Ryan postponed his press conference twice as he worked with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy R-Calif., Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., to get enough votes to get the American Healthcare Act through the House on the seventh anniversary of ObamaCare’s passage.

Meanwhile, Trump met inside the Cabinet room with the House Freedom caucus to try and rally conservatives to the cause. He also tweeted, urging supporters to call their representatives to back the bill.

More here.

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Health Care bill continues to evolve

Since the House vote is planned for today and it is still changing, I guess they are going to have to pass it so we can find out what is in it.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said Wednesday night he and President Trump have come to an “agreement in principle” on a plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, just one day before a historic House vote on the bill.

“The president and I came to an agreement in principle,” Meadows said during an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, adding that he was still ironing out a few final details with the White House.

“I think what we’re trying to do now is make sure that our agreement is actually something that can be executed in a way that passes the Senate,” he added. “There’s still work to be done, but I can tell you that the president is all engaged.”

The round-the-clock negotiations between the White House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus have centered on adding to the bill a repeal of ObamaCare’s “essential health benefits,” as well as other insurance regulations in Title I of the existing health law.

More here.

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Terrorist Attack in London

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Ivanka gets a West Wing Office

It is an unofficial position with several official trappings.

Cementing her role as a powerful White House influence, Ivanka Trump is working out of a West Wing office and will get access to classified information, though she is not technically serving as a government employee, according to an attorney for the first daughter.

Since President Donald Trump took office, his eldest daughter has been a visible presence in the White House, where her husband, Jared Kushner, already serves as a senior adviser. On Friday, she participated in a meeting on vocational training with the president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Jamie Gorelick, an attorney and ethics adviser for Ivanka Trump, said Monday that the first daughter will not have an official title, but will get a West Wing office, government-issued communications devices and security clearance to access classified information. Gorelick said Ivanka Trump would follow the ethics rules that apply to government employees.

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Every man for himself in Syria?

Syria continues to be a Balkan-like powder keg.

The United States and Turkey are on a collision course in Raqqa, as Turkish officials warn that Washington’s reliance on Kurdish forces to liberate the Islamic State’s de facto capital would severely damage its relationship with Ankara.

The current U.S. plan to advance on Raqqa depends heavily on the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish militia that Washington has supported with airstrikes and provided with military equipment. But Turkish officials accuse the group of being just another name for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group listed as a terror organization by Washington and Ankara that has waged a decades-long guerrilla war against Turkey. They say that the PKK has used YPG-held territory in Syria — territory gained in part with the backing of the United States — to train their fighters and plan attacks against Turkey.

“If [the United States] insists on carrying on this operation with terror organizations, our relations will be harmed – that is clear,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a group of visiting journalists this month. “Because it will show that they value terror organizations more than us.”

Turkish officials repeatedly declined to specify the steps they could take if Washington maintains its alliance with the YPG. But if Ankara wanted to, it could throw a sizeable wrench in U.S. strategy in the region — for example, by cutting off access to airbases in southern Turkey, from which the United States launches airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, or by deepening its cooperation with Russia.

Let’s break it down…

The United States and Turkey are NATO allies.

Turkey is supporting rebels in Syria who the US believes are terrorists.

Turkey’s rebels are fighting Assad.

The US is supporting rebels that Turkey considers to be terrorists.

The United States’ rebels are allied with Assad.

The US opposes Assad.

Turkey’s rebels are preparing to attack the United States’ rebels.

Russia is allied with Assad but not with US rebels who are also aligned with Assad who it often bombs.

Russia also bombs the enemy of US rebels.

Turkey hates Russia even though Russia bombs Turkey’s enemies.

Everybody in Syria wants to take Raqqa from ISIS even if they have to kill each other to do it.

I hope that helps.

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Your Government at Work

Deadly gas mines suitable for chemical warfare planted without notice in a residential area. Dog killed, child endangered.

Seriously. Read it.

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POTUS all in on health care bill

Mr. Trump is warning conservative Republicans to vote for Rino-Care or face primaries.

President Donald Trump arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning with a stern message for Republicans who’ve been wobbly about dismantling Obamacare: Give me your vote or you may lose your seat in 2018.

During a closed-door meeting with the House GOP conference, the president gave a full-throated endorsement to the House repeal bill that will come to the floor for a vote on Thursday. He warned that if Republicans don’t pass the bill, “I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018.”

Trump even called out the bill’s most vocal critic in the House, Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who’s led the conservative opposition to the Republican health care plan. “Mark, I’m gonna come after you” if he keeps it up, Trump said, according to multiple sources.

Basically, it will be Obamacare but without Obama’s named tied to it.

More here.

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The Blaze suspends Tomi Lahren

You can only go so far off the reservation in any organization. At some point, you are no longer part of the team.

In her appearance on The View, Lahren said she is pro-choice and called pro-life conservatives hypocrites, saying, “I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies.”

Lahren’s denouncement of pro-lifers sparked a backlash from her coworkers, as well as other prominent conservatives.

In her typical adversarial style, Lahren fired back at critics on Twitter, saying, “I speak my truth. If you don’t like it, tough. I will always be honest and stand in my truth.”

Soon after Lahren’s tweet, a reporter at The Blaze, Kate Scanlon, tweeted, “There is no ‘my truth.’ There is only the truth.”

Another reporter at The Blaze, Kaitlyn Schallhorn, tweeted soon after: “Even Hillary Clinton didn’t call pro-life conservatives hypocrites.”

On Monday, founder of The Blaze Glenn Beck–in an unusual move–played a clip of Lahren seemingly flip-flopping on the abortion issue on his radio show. He also argued against Lahren’s stance that pro-life conservatives are hypocrites.

For the record, defending the lives of innocent persons is not considered government overreach even by libertarians. Nobody really wants to control what she does with her body. What people care about is what she does with the body of the innocent child.

Read more.

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The right to trade freely is a natural right

American conservatism is many things but everything that makes up American conservatism is contained within the concept of free trade.

Free trade is built around a belief in property rights; that you have the right to own property and the right to control it. It is fundamental that the right own and control property is the right to improve your property and to benefit from it.

These are the very foundations of the social order on which the United States was built. The idea that you have the right to property and the right to benefit from its use and gather its fruits is fundamental to American conservatism.

Free trade is the acceptance of property rights and the right to dispose of property freely and without government interference. Its support by government is government support for the general welfare. Its obstruction by government, on the other hand, is the crony capitalist protection of special interests and monopoly.

The right to trade with our fellow man is a natural right that precedes the existence of government. Restrictions on trade by kings, princes or presidents undermine this God-given natural right.

When government promotes free trade it promotes individual liberty and the rights of man. Restrictions on trade are, by definition, corrosive of this fundamental natural right.

Trade that can only occur with permission of a sovereign is absolutely, positively hostile to the rights of man and American conservatism.

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“Never order a tequila sunrise again.”

Once, many years ago when I was just starting out in business I traveled with a group to do a due diligence on a company the firm for which I worked was acquiring. There were about five of us and the group was led by my boss, a dignified older gentleman who was nearing retirement. To my mind, John was the embodiment of business excellence.

That evening we gathered in the hotel lounge for drinks. I, being in my 20s, ordered a tequila sunrise. I noticed that John gave me a bit of an unusual look when I did.

Later he took me aside and said, “never order that drink again, at least not in this setting.” He explained that it was déclassé and made me look unfit for the career to which I was aspiring.

He explained that I need to learn to drink scotch or other whiskey neat or on ice. I may order a martini. If I am feeling especially casual, a draft beer is fine. Never, ever order a drink like a tequila sunrise again.

I remember being a bit taken aback and even a little insulted. I thought he was being a snob.

At that point, I had a decision to make. I could ignore him or I could take his advice to heart.

I ended up following his advice. If I wanted to swim in the waters men such as he swam, I would need to adopt appropriate practices. I became a scotch drinker and, after a time, became quite fond of it. I think he did me favor by guiding me that day and in the following months.

Should I find myself at the Bahama Mama Cantina during Spring Break, I will, without hesitation, order a Hurricane, or any other drink that catches my fancy but, when traveling in certain circles, I will continue to follow the advice of my business mentor of many years ago.

Did I betray my class? Was I a yuppie social climber? Thoughts?

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News from the Bolivarian Workers’ Paradise

Bread shortages and a military operation to seize control of bakeries.

Facing a bread shortage that is spawning massive lines and souring the national mood, the Venezuelan government is responding this week by detaining bakers and seizing establishments.

In a press release, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights said it had charged four people and temporarily seized two bakeries as the socialist administration accused bakers of being part of a broad “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the country.

In a statement, the government said the bakers had been selling underweight bread and were using price-regulated flour to illegally make specialty items, like sweet rolls and croissants.

The government said bakeries are only allowed to produce French bread and white loaves, or pan canilla, with government-imported flour.

Just a reminder: Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. They sure must have had some ‘bad luck’ to find themselves in this sad place.

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US formally apologizes to Great Britain

Making allegations that either cannot be proved or shouldn’t be proved seems like risky business to me. Well, unless it is more of that 5th dimensional chess that I don’t understand.

The US has made a formal apology to Britain after the White House accused GCHQ of helping Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump in the White House.

Sean Spicer, Mr Trump’s press secretary, repeated a claim on Thursday evening – initially made by an analyst on Fox News – that GCHQ was used by Mr Obama to spy on Trump Tower in the lead-up to last November’s election.

The comments prompted a furious response from GCHQ, which in a break from normal practice issued a public statement: “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

More here.

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Populist surge sees setback in Netherlands

Dutch voters decide not to put Geert Wilders at the helm.

The Hague (AFP) – European leaders breathed a sigh of relief Thursday as the pragmatic Dutch plumped for the status-quo, voting Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte back into power even though the far-right shot up into second place.

“A vote for Europe, a vote against extremists,” Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, said in a Tweet.

After the Brexit blow and Donald Trump’s victory in the US, Wednesday’s general elections was being closely watched across a continent seeking to take the temperature of the rise of populism.

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He could shoot a tourist on 5th Avenue…

…and Trump’s supporters would forgive him. There is one thing about the man, however, that even his supporters find unforgivable.

Donald Trump set off a firestorm last month when he was observed putting ketchup on a $54 dry-aged steak, cooked well done. Food critics howled (“insert a moment of silence for the cow, the condiment and what most chefs would call a forced marriage”), partisans pounced (“like a damn child”), and defenders rallied to his side (“the only people who have a problem with ketchup on steak (or anything) are hipster morons trying to act cultured.”).

Well, actually…

In what is easily the most important survey finding of the early days of the Trump administration, the left-leaning Public Policy Polling finds that Americans are generally united in their disdain for ketchup on steak. Over half (56 percent) say they disapprove of the practice. Only 27 percent are okay with it. And another 17 percent don’t seem to care either way.

Frankly, I don’t care how people eat their steak. If it were me, I wouldn’t spend $54 for a piece of meat that I was going to are prepare in a manner that makes it culinarily indistinguishable from a $2 piece of meat. That said, it isn’t my place to tell him how to spend his money.

More.

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