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Rick Moran

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.
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Breaking: Federal Court Rules Obamacare Insurance Subsidies Invalid

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

This case was going to the Supreme Court anyway, but for the notoriously liberal  U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to rule the subsidies invalid may sound the deathknell of an important part of Obamacare.

Jonathan Adler:

This morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit released its much awaited opinion in Halbig v. Burwell.  In a 2-1 opinion, the Court held that the Internal Revenue Service regulation authorizing tax credits in federal exchanges was invalid.  Judge Griffith, writing for the court, concluded, “the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges ‘established by the State.”  In other words, the court reaffirmed the principle that the law is what Congress enacts — the text of the statute itself — and not the unexpressed intentions or hopes of legislators or a bill’s proponents.  Judge Randolph joined Judge Griffith’s opinion and wrote a concurrence.  Judge Edwards dissented.  The opinions are available here.

Background on the case can be found here.

Developing…

UPDATE

CNBC lays out some of the consequences of the ruling:

A judicial panel in a 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to those people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov.

“Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states,” wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith. “We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”

In his dissent, Judge Harry Edwards, who called the case a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” Obamacare, wrote that the judgment of the majority “portends disastrous consequences.”

Indeed, the decision threatens to unleash a cascade of effects that could seriously compromise Obamacare’s goals of compelling people to get health insurance, and helping them afford it.

More: 

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

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Joyous, Adorable Reunions Between Returning Soldiers and their Dogs

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

To end your weekend on a real upper, Daily Caller has assembled 15 of the most adorable and emotional videos you’ll ever see; soldiers returning from deployment reunited with their dogs.

There is a question among scientists about whether dogs miss their human companions more after a long period of time as opposed to a few hours. Those of us who have had dogs for many years know the answer to that. We don’t need a scientist to tell us the absolute joy a dog shows when a friend returns after a long absence. It’s magic.

This is my favorite among the 15 entries. I love how the dog is trying so hard to speak. Enjoy.

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Kerry Heard on Hot Mic: ‘It’s a Hell of a Pinpoint Operation’

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Secretary of State John Kerry is apparently displeased with Israel for the way they are defending themselves from Hamas rocket attacks.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday — one of five talk shows on which Kerry made an appearance — the secretary of state was caught on an open mic talking to an aide about Israel’s efforts so far:

“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation, it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said to an aide on the phone, with some measure of frustration.

His comments seemed to be criticizing the Israeli government’s assurances about the limited scope of its attack and ground invasion of Gaza.

Kerry, speaking by phone to one of his top aides, then added: “We’ve got to get over there. Thank you John. I think John, we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.”

Kerry was confronted on air by host Chris Wallace, who asked if Kerry was implying that the Israeli government had gone too far in its Gaza operations.

“While you were on camera and while you were on microphone, you just talked to one of your top aides about the situation in Israel and the fact that 14 Israelis have apparently been shot and killed in an operation,” Wallace said.

Kerry stood by his comments, while defending Israel’s right to defend itself.

“It’s tough to have these kind of operations. I reacted, obviously, in a way that anybody does with respect to young children and civilians,” Kerry said,

“War is tough. I’ve said that publicly and I’ve said it again. We defend Israeli’s right to do what it is doing,” Kerry said.

“We support Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets that are continuing to come in. Hamas has started its process of rocketing after Israel was trying to find the people who killed three young [people] — one American kid, three young Israelis,” Kerry said.

If Israel was not engaged in a “pinpoint operation,” the casualties might be 10 times higher. If Israel was not engaged in a “pinpoint operation,” they wouldn’t have called every resident of that neighborhood two days ago telling them to leave. (What other nation in the history of warfare tells their enemy they are coming in order to minimize civilian casualties?)

Kerry is a putz. He gives Israel no credit for their efforts to avoid civilian casualties while failing to note that Hamas is using civilians as human shields. The more dead babies the better for Hamas. They’ve been playing this game a long time.

Kerry was probably reacting to the news that 70 Palestinians had been killed in Israel’s offensive today. He might have mentioned that 13 Israeli soldiers also lost their lives. He might also have said that it is unknown how many of the 70 dead Palestinians were shooting at Israeli soldiers.

In short, blaming Israel for the tactics of Hamas is irrational, illogical, and indicative of an anti-Israeli bias.

 Related: 

State Department Official Tweets #UnitedforGaza

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45 Years On and the Moon Landing Still Inspires Awe

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Ten thousand years from now, historians — if historians there be — will not have much to say about the 20th century. It will be seen as an obscure epoch where nothing very interesting happened — at least compared to our making First Contact with aliens, or the singularity coming about, or perhaps a cure for the common cold.

Except the landing on the moon, of course.

The wars, the political upheavals, the giant personalities may be worth a footnote or two in some grad student’s thesis. But the achievement of sending men to the moon and returning them safely to earth will never be forgotten as long as humans inhabit the planet. Our very first attempt to take a tentative step beyond the earth is easily the most significant development in human history to date both for what the event represented as far as what our species was capable, and how humans define themselves.

Petty politics, courage, brilliant thinking, striving to satisfy an insatiable curiosity, an ability to work together to achieve a common goal — all of this and more went into the machines we hurled toward the moon in July of 1969.

We had never conceived or built anything like them before or since. Consider:

* The Saturn V rocket that carried the crew into orbit was as tall as a 36 story building and weighed 6.5 million pounds. It was the largest machine ever built by man then, and remains so today.

* At takeoff, the Saturn V generated 7.6 million pounds of thrust. The Shuttle generated 5.4 million pounds of thrust.

* Up to 500,000 workers laid a hand on at least one of the Apollo’s systems — Saturn V, command module, and the Lunar module. By comparison, the Panama Canal employed about 70,000 workers.

* The Lunar Module was the first spacecraft designed to fly only in space. To save weight, there were parts of the outer skin that were less than 2 inches thick.

* More than 20,000 people at NASA, private companies, and other government agencies acted as support staff for the flight of Apollo 11.

This was a dangerous mission but, from the astronauts point of view, the risk was acceptable. It might be a much different story in today’s risk-averse NASA, but by necessity, so many of the systems employed on the flight could not be realistically tested, that some critical components like the LM ascent engine, would see their first real test on the moon’s surface.

The descent to the surface is the most dramatic part of the mission. This video synched up capcom communications with film taken from Apollo 11 cameras:

A little known and remembered fact from those tense July days; the Soviet Union had launched a sample return mission to the moon — Luna 15 — that was scheduled to beat Apollo 11 back to earth by a few hours and present the world with the first moonrocks. Unfortunately for the Soviets, the craft crashed on the surface and they failed to upstage Apollo 11.

So was it a waste of money? If you were to separate the larger space program from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo moon programs, you could make a very good argument that manned space flight was unnecessary. While satellites have changed the world, the manned program has had very little impact beyond national bragging rights. It may be that we must learn to live and work in space, but if NASA had done it right, manned space flight would have been developed by private industry.

The trip to the moon cost $125 billion in today’s dollars. We sent a 36 story building toward the moon and what we got back could fit in the living room of most American homes. Moon rocks are nice, and the knowledge gained from sending men to the moon is valuable, but what kind of return did we get on that stupendous investment?

These are all good questions, but despite the political nature of the effort, I still think it was worth it in a metaphysical way. Can you place a value on validating our national identity? On ultimately showing that capitalism is superior to communism? On defining our character as a people?

I understand and appreciate the arguments against the Apollo program. But what Apollo 11 ultimately accomplished was to achieve the landing of humans on the moon at exactly the first moment in history when it was possible to do so.

That’s an achievement that will stand the test of time for all time.

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Obama Aides Knew Crisis Was Building at Border a Year Ago

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The Washington Post is reporting that the Obama administration was fully aware of the spike in illegal alien children crossing the border almost a year ago and failed to do anything to prepare for it.

In fact, despite a report from the Department of Homeland Security that said the crush at the border was going to get much worse, federal officials viewed the crisis as a “local problem” according to WaPo.

Governor Rick Perry sent a letter to the president in 2012, also warning of the brewing crisis. Perry’s letter and the DHS report were ignored until the crisis became unmanageable.

The researchers’ observations were among the warning signs conveyed to the Obama administration over the past two years as a surge of Central American minors has crossed into south Texas illegally. More than 57,000 have entered the United States this year, swamping federal resources and catching the government unprepared.

The administration did too little to heed those warnings, according to interviews with former government officials, outside experts and immigrant advocates, leading to an inadequate response that contributed to this summer’s escalating crisis.

Federal officials viewed the situation as a “local problem,” said Victor Manjarrez Jr., a former Border Patrol station chief who led the UTEP study. The research, conducted last year, was funded by the Department of Homeland Security and published in March. A broader crisis was “not on anyone’s radar,” Manjarrez added, even though “it was pretty clear this number of kids was going to be the new baseline.”

So what was the problem? If you listen closely to what this bureaucrat is saying, since the real-time information didn’t fit in with their graphs and chart projections, they didn’t believe what they were seeing:

“What happened this year was . . . off-the-charts different,” Muñoz said. “It was not the same pattern. We assumed a significant increase, but this was not the same kind of trend line.

“This trend was more like a hockey stick, going up and up and up,” Muñoz added. “Nobody could have predicted the scale of the increase we saw this year. The minute we saw it, we responded in an aggressive way.”

But top officials at the White House and the State Department had been warned repeatedly of the potential for a further explosion in the number of migrant children since the crisis began escalating two years ago, according to former federal officials and others familiar with internal discussions. The White House was directly involved in efforts in early 2012 to care for the children when it helped negotiate a temporary shelter at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

“There were warning signs, operational folks raising red flags to high levels in terms of this being a potential issue,” said one former senior federal law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about internal operations.

The former official said the agencies primarily in charge of border security, Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were “ringing alarm bells” within the administration.

Meanwhile, top officials focused much of their attention on political battles, such as Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and the push to win congressional support for a broad immigration overhaul, that would have been made more difficult with the addition of a high-profile border crisis.

“I don’t think they ignored this on purpose, but they didn’t know what to do,” said Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights at the Women’s Refugee Commission, which published a 2012 report highlighting the influx of minors. “For whatever reason, there was hesi­ta­tion to address the root causes. I think the administration was dealing with it at a minimal scale, putting a Band-Aid on something they should have been thinking about holistically.”

In fact, they did their best to hide the surge from Congress and the American people while the president pushed an immigration reform bill that would have done absolutely nothing to stem the flow of illegals crossing the border. There’s a good chance it would have made the situation worse.

Incompetence and a lack of transparency have been the hallmarks of this administration since they took office. It’s no wonder we’ve got an unmanageable crisis when our national leaders prefer to look away and hope for the best rather than deal with the problem.

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Anti-Illegal Immigrant Protests Sweep the Nation

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A coalition of anti-illegal immigration groups are staging protests this weekend around the country in what’s being touted as “the largest coordinated protest against all forms of amnesty, comprehensive immigration reform, and the government’s failure to enforce immigration laws and secure our borders.”

According to the group’s website, hundreds of protests will take place on Friday and Saturday. There were apparently sporadic clashes between pro and anti-illegal immigrant forces at some of the rallies, but overall, words rather than blows appeared to be exchanged.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, writes in the Washington Times that a tipping point against illegal immigration may have arrived:

The response of the administration and its supporters to the breakdown of the border in South Texas seems to have finally gotten a large share of the public to see what’s happening. Even the White House’s use of illegal-alien children as human shields for its anti-sovereignty policies has not managed to allay the increasing sense of alarm across the country.

Only a few peeps of concern have emanated from Democrats in Congress, most of whom are applauding the border breakdown. Republicans haven’t been much better. Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain have taken the opportunity to repeat their support for amnesty and dramatic increases in immigration. Others at least are concerned, but have been distracted by the trivial issue of a 2008 anti-trafficking law, which does not even apply here.

In the absence of political leadership, the public is jumping out of the pot on its own. A new Gallup poll shows that immigration now tops the list of most important issues facing the country, higher than dissatisfaction with government, the economy, jobs or health care.

That concern is being expressed by ordinary citizens in their communities. Residents of Murrieta, Calif., were the first to act, blocking buses to prevent the relocation of illegal immigrants from the Texas border. Virtually the entire town of Lawrenceville, Va., came to a community meeting on relocating illegal-immigrant juveniles there, causing the federal government to back off. Similar resistance has happened in Vassar, Mich.; Oracle, Ariz.; Greece, N.Y.; Escondido, Calif.; and elsewhere.

The story isn’t over in those communities, where illegal immigrants have already been relocated. Come September, thousands of illegal-alien “minors” (many of them adults lying about their age) will be entering unprepared public schools, creating a new wave of outrage.

Perhaps one particular decision by the White House highlights how concerned the administration is about public reaction: As of now, not a single illegal-alien detainee seems to have been sent to Louisiana or Arkansas, the states bordering Texas that are closest to the site of the border deluge. This is no accident. Those two states have Democratic senators up for re-election who are vulnerable enough to lose, but who might still be able to prevail. The White House appears to have decided not to send any illegals there to avoid the potential for political damage.

The real tipping point comes in November. If the public stays outraged enough about the border situation, they should take it out on both Republicans and Democrats who don’t believe in our sovereignty and turn them out of office.  Putting enough anti-illegal immigrant lawmakers in office is the only way to flip the playing field and get serious about border control.

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Paris in Flames as Pro-Palestinian Rioters Clash with Police

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Despite a first-of-its-kind-in-Europe ban on demonstrations in Paris, pro-Palestinian protestors gathered to demonstrate against Israel on Saturday. When police tried to break up the protest, rioters threw rocks and other debris while chanting “Israel, assassin.”

Protests in Paris were banned following the demonstration last weekend that ended up threatening two synagogues.

The government of President Hollande has come under fire for the ban, as far-left groups accused Hollande of favoring Israel while far-right groups criticized him for policies they say encourage lawlessness among immigrants.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The clashes underscore a dilemma facing France’s Socialist government. President François Hollande has faced searing criticism in France—home to Europe’s biggest Muslim minority—for what pro-Palestinian groups say is his failure to take a stand against Israel’s incursions in the Gaza strip.

At the same time, Mr. Hollande is under pressure from even broader swaths of the French public, which blames minorities and immigrants for a perceived rise in violent crime and delinquency. The far-right National Front is garnering support by accusing Mr. Hollande’s ranks of being soft on crime and illegal immigration.

Saturday’s clashes occurred at the tail end of a large rally that had been called by several French political organizations, including the far-left New Anticapitalist Party, despite a French government ban.

The rally had been banned on Friday after government officials expressed concern that it could turn violent. Last Sunday, a similar rally in Paris sought to steer the march toward two synagogues and clashed with riot police, and eight arrests.

Earlier Saturday, French President François Hollande justified the decision to ban the rally at a news conference, saying groups have other ways to express themselves. “Those who want at any cost to protest will be held accountable,” he told TV cameras.

Nevertheless, French TV showed a large number of protesters showing up at 3 p.m., chanting and waving Palestinian flags under raised metro tracks. French television estimated between several hundred and several thousand people attended the rally at its peak, but the police official said the police didn’t immediately have any estimate.

The tension between the Muslim and Jewish populations in France has been building for years, which has led to many violent attacks. Reuters reports that “more Jews left France for Israel than at any other time since the Jewish state was created in 1948, with many citing rising anti-Semitism as a factor.”

Saturday’s demonstrations are not going to improve the situation.

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Pro-Russian Separatists Destroying Evidence of Plane Shootdown

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

As now seems likely, Moscow-backed separatists launched the missile that shot down a Malaysia airlines passenger plane flying near the Russian border.

Within minutes of the shootdown, rebels were on social media gloating about shooting down a Ukrainian cargo plane. But that posting, along with other damning evidence on Facebook and other sites, have been scrubbed by the rebels as they seek to cover up their involvement in the attack.

On Friday, the separatists blocked international monitors from the crash site, threatening members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and even firing shots to force them back. On Saturday, AP is reporting that the monitors got limited access, but that security was very tight.

Bociurkiw said the 24-member monitoring delegation was given some access Saturday to the crash site but their movements were being limited by the rebels. The site sprawls across sunflower and wheat fields between two villages in eastern Ukraine, encompassing eight square miles (20 square kilometers).

“We have to be very careful with our movements because of all the security,” Bociurkiw said. “We are unarmed civilians, so we are not in a position to argue with people with heavy arms.”

At issue for the monitors was the attempt by separatists, with the possible assistance of Russians, to remove evidence from the crash site:

The government in Kiev said militiamen have removed 38 bodies from the crash site and have taken them to the rebel-held city of Donetsk. It said the bodies were transported with the assistance of specialists with distinct Russian accents.

The rebels are also “seeking large transports to carry away plane fragments to Russia,” the Ukrainian government said in a statement.

In Donetsk, separatist leader Alexander Borodai denied that any bodies had been transferred or that the rebels had in any way interfered with the work of observers. He said he encouraged the international community to help with the cleanup before the bodies decay further.

As emergency workers loaded about 80 bodies of plane victims into bags Saturday, Bociurkiw stressed that his team was not at the site to conduct a full-scale investigation.

“We are looking at security on the perimeter of the crash site, looking at the status in the condition of the bodies, the status in the condition of the debris, and also personal belongings,” he said.

One passenger’s body was seen still strapped into an airline seat, with bare toes peeking out under long jeans. Another body was flung face-up into a field of blue flowers.

Ukraine also urged Moscow to insist that the pro-Russia rebels grant international experts the ability to conduct a thorough, impartial investigation into the downing of the plane – echoing a demand that President Barack Obama issued a day earlier from Washington.

“The integrity of the site has been compromised, and there are indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place,” Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.

He called for immediate access for Malaysia’s team at the site to retrieve human remains.

The Guardian is reporting that there has been other efforts to destroy or remove evidence from the site:

There is also confusion over the black boxes and other devices apparently salvaged from the plane. A rebel military commander initially said he was considering what to do with them, while another rebel leader, Aleksandr Borodai, contradicting his colleague, said the rebels had no black boxes or any other devices.

The Ukrainian interior ministry added to fears of a cover-up when it released video purportedly taken by police showing a truck carrying a Buk missile launcher with one of its four missiles apparently missing, rolling towards the Russian border at dawn . The video could not be independently verified.

Other material on rebel social media sites was being deleted, including pictures showing the alleged capture of Buk missile vehicles by rebels from a Ukrainian air base last month.

Perhaps the most troublesome question that needs to be answered is did Russian technicians assist the rebels in launching the missile?

Defence analysts with Russian expertise shared Power’s scepticism that Russia-backed rebel groups would have had the expertise to fire the missile and suggested it was more likely to have been Russian ground troops who specialise in air defence, seconded to help the rebels.

At the Pentagon, officials said a motive for the operation had yet to be determined, as had the chain of command. One said it would be “surprising to us” if pro-Russia separatists were able to operate the Buk missile battery without Russian technical support. The Ukrainian military confirmed it has Buk batteries but said it had none in the area the missile was fired.

It would seem unlikely that militiamen would be capable of handling a sophisticated surface to air missile system by themselves. If it’s true that Russian technicians aided the separatists, then Russia bears equal responsibility for this war crime — something that would ratchet up the tension between Moscow and the US and could lead to crippling sanctions against Russia.

Is Putin able to control the separatists? He is still supplying them with arms, but it’s unclear how many local commanders are actually taking orders from Moscow. Whatever influence he possesses, he better use it now. If the shootdown did anything to the war, it placed the west even more firmly on Ukraine’s side and isolated Russia even more than they were. The prospect that the next round of sanctions may hit the already weakened Russian economy should galvanize Putin into forcing the rebels to the negotiating table.

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Forget About Sending Them Back: 65% of Illegal Kids Already Have Asylum

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

It’s funny how we have to find this stuff out from Congress and not the administration.

A House Judiciary Committee report states that 65% of illegal alien children who have entered the U.S. this year have already been given asylum — without appearing before a judge. Once granted asylum, the border jumper is eligible for all welfare programs — including Obamacare.

Now, before you burst a blood vessel, you can relax. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 70% of asylum cases contain “proven or possible fraud.”

What a trusting government we have! Don’t you wish the IRS worked that way?

Byron York:

Now, new numbers released by the House Judiciary Committee show the “vast majority” of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum are granted it before even appearing before a judge. “Information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that shows 65 percent of unaccompanied alien minors’ asylum applications have been immediately approved by asylum officers in Fiscal Year 2014,” says a Judiciary Committee statement. “And this is just the first bite of the apple. Many more cases can be approved later. Where an asylum officer does not approve the application, it is then referred to an immigration judge where the applicant can try again. If that fails, they can continue to appeal their case.”
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The Judiciary Committee says asylum approval rates have “increased dramatically” under the Obama administration. Overall, according to the committee statement, “Approval rates by asylum officers have increased from 28 percent in 2007 to 46 percent in 2013 and approval rates by immigration judges in affirmative cases have increased from 51 percent in 2007 to 74 percent in 2013.” And that does not count appeals.

“Once individuals are granted asylum,” the report notes, “they have access to all major federal welfare programs.”

Complicating matters, according to the committee, is the rate of fraud in asylum cases. The committee says “an internal Department of Homeland Security report” has shown that “at least 70 percent of asylum cases contain proven or possible fraud.”

“President Obama’s refusal to crack down on rampant asylum fraud is one of the many reasons we are witnessing a surge of Central Americans seeking to enter the U.S. illegally at the border,” said the Judiciary Committee chairman, Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte, in a statement. “New data showing that the vast majority of Central Americans’ asylum claims are immediately approved will only worsen the situation along our southern border by encouraging more to come and take advantage of the situation.”

Gee. Ya think? I guess the “my dog ate my proof that I deserve asylum” excuse is working pretty well.

I am perplexed. Why not just announce to the entire world that you can come to America and be granted asylum if you’re from anywhere there is violence, drugs, gangs, or bad weather? Why talk tough about sending these kids home and then turn around and grant them what amounts to blanket asylum?

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Pope Francis Scores US for ‘Racist’ and ‘Xenophobic’ Approach to Illegal Aliens

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The head of state of the most closed country in the world is lecturing the US about open borders.

Pope Francis jumped into the US border crisis saying the illegal alien children flooding across our borders should be “welcomed and protected.”

Read carefully what Francis is saying. The Argentine Pontiff is blaming the US for a situation that it didn’t create while smearing the American people who want the exact same thing that the city state of Vatican City enjoys; control over its borders.

Washington Post:

“Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often, die tragically,” the pope said in a message sent to a global conference in Mexico.

“Many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.”

The Argentine pontiff said a different approach is needed to tackling what he called a “humanitarian emergency” as growing numbers of unaccompanied children are migrating to the U.S. from Central America and Mexico.

“I would also like to draw attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence,” the pope said.

“They are increasing day by day. This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”

Perhaps his Holiness would list the rights of these kids that were being violated instead of reading talking points from the agenda of the anti-American third world. And they are not “obliged” to separate from their families. It is a deliberate strategy of the illegal aliens to send their children across the border alone so that the US is forced to take them, and later, “reunite” the families who are then settled in secret somewhere in the US.

And the Pope would do well to get specific about what “racist and xenophobic attitudes” are being exhibited. Simply put, there is no more xenophobic nation in the world than Vatican City. And the Pontiff should know that just because American citizens are crying out for their government to exercise its sovereign right to say who can come into our country and who can’t, that doesn’t mean that the United States is in any way “xenophobic. Xenophobic countries do not welcome more than 1 million legal immigrants every year, far more than any other country in the world.

There is no such thing as an illegal immigrant in Vatican City. You can’t even enter most of the city without a pass. Legal residency is reserved for less than 500 people. There’s no way to enter illegally because every vehicle is thoroughly searched.

Talk about violation of rights — in Vatican City, it is against the law to show your bare shoulders or bare knees. Your movements are restricted, your right to privacy ignored, and the application of their laws is arbitrary.

But this hasn’t prevented the Pope from lecturing the rest of us about “migrants”:

In his latest message, Francis said the fear and indifference of what he termed the “throwaway culture” should be replaced with a commitment to building a more just and fraternal world.

“These measures, however, will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin,” the pope said.

“This challenge demands the attention of the entire international community so that new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted.”

The pope’s letter was sent to the Mexico-Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development and presented by the papal nuncio to Mexico, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, also attended the conference.

He can start us all off by reforming Vatican City. Then, perhaps, he can speak on an equal plane with the US who is trying its best to, if not “welcome” the illegal alien children who have shown up on our border, then treat them as humanely as is possible given the enormity of the challenges.

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Holder Equates ‘Vehemence’ of Opposition to Obama with ‘Racial Animus’

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News that “vehemence” in opposing the president and his policies is indicative of racism.

In other words, it’s OK to oppose the president. Just don’t do it too intensely if you want to avoid the racist tag.

The Hill:

“There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me [and] directed at the president,” Holder told ABC. “You know, people talking about taking their country back. … There’s a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s a racial animus.”

Holder said the nation is in “a fundamentally better place than we were 50 years ago.”

“We’ve made lots of progress,” he said. “I sit here as the first African-American attorney general, serving the first African-American president of the United States. And that has to show that we have made a great deal of progress.

“But there’s still more we have to travel along this road so we get to the place that is consistent with our founding ideals,” he said.

He also stood by his controversial comments made during Obama’s first year in office, in which he said the U.S. was a “nation of cowards” when it comes to race.

“I wouldn’t walk away from that speech,” Holder said. “I think we are still a nation that is too afraid to confront racial issues,” rarely engaging “one another across the color line [to] talk about racial issues.”

The attorney general also pointed to Republican efforts to enact stricter voter ID laws in southern States as evidence that more needed to be done to protect minority rights. Republicans have maintained the efforts are designed to prevent voter fraud, while Democrats say instances of fraud are exceedingly rare, and far outpaced by the minority population that does not have identification that would be unable to vote.

Holder called the laws “political efforts” designed to make it “more difficult” for “groups that are not supportive of those in power” to “have access to the ballot.”

“Who is disproportionately impacted by them? Young people, African Americans, Hispanics, older people, people who, for whatever reason, aren’t necessarily supportive of the Republican Party,” Holder said, adding that “this notion that there is widespread in-person voter fraud is simply belied by the facts.”

It takes a truly self-absorbed man to think that the level of emotion engendered by opposition to public policies is somehow indicative of race hatred. But from Holder’s point of view, it makes perfect sense. Obviously, the president’s policies are good for the country. Obviously, the only reason to oppose them is because you don’t like the president’s race. Obviously, the madder you are at the president, the bigger the racist you are.

Obviously.

Holder’s delusions about the opposition have been exposed before, as evidenced by his repeated contentions that voter ID laws are meant to suppress the black vote. But to define racism as a measurement of how strenuously the opposition opposes his policies is absurd beyond belief. If passionate opposition is to be an indicator of one’s tolerance for other races, what does that say about blacks who go off the deep end when opposing the policies of a white politician?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in nearly six years of having Eric Holder as attorney general, it’s his racial double standards. That last question is moot.

So the next time you go to a demonstration against President Obama, please remember to keep your emotions in check. And don’t scowl too much. And don’t scream too loud.

Be nice. Our AG will thank you for it.

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GOP Divide on Foreign Policy Widening

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The war of words between Senator Rand Paul and Governor Rick Perry escalated on Sunday when Perry again blasted Paul’s views on foreign policy in an interview with CBS News.

Perry wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post on Friday, saying that Paul’s “isolationist” policies were “curiously blind” and “wrong.”

Noting “the main problem with this argument is that it means ignoring the profound threat that the group now calling itself the Islamic State poses to the United States and the world,” the governor wrote. “. …This represents a real threat to our national security — to which Paul seems curiously blind — because any of these passport carriers can simply buy a plane ticket and show up in the United States without even a visa.”

Perry then picked apart an opinion piece Paul recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal arguing against U.S. military intervention in Iraq.

Writing that Paul went “so far as to claim…that President Ronald Reagan’s own doctrines would lead him to same conclusion,” Perry said, “his analysis is wrong. Paul conveniently omitted Reagan’s long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity.”

Paul responded through a spokesman with ridicule:

“Interesting to be lectured entirely in talking points though,” Stafford said. “His new glasses apparently don’t make him see the world any more clearly.”

And in a statement to CBS, Paul asked Perry, “How many Americans should send their sons and daughters to die for a foreign country, a nation the Iraqis won’t defend for themselves?”

The back and forth continued on Sunday with Perry’s CBS interview:

“He talks about basically, what I consider to be, isolationist policies,” Perry said. “And America can no longer come back onto the Continental United States, and draw a red line around the shore of America, and think that we’re somehow or another not going to be impacted.”

Perry, who got some good reviews from many Republicans this week confronting President Obama over the border crisis, used his heightened visibility to pick a fight with the GOP frontrunner. It’s a preview of the line of attack some candidates will take against Paul, who insists he’s not an isolationist — he’s a non-interventionist.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, , Senator John McCain said he wasn’t going to take sides in the debate — and then proceeded to, well, take sides:

“Senator Paul is part of a wing of the [Republican] party that’s been there ever since prior to World War I … and that is a withdrawal to fortress America,” The Republican senator from Arizona said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The things we’re seeing in the world today, in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime, is a direct result of an absence of American leadership, and we are paying a very, very heavy price.”

Paul is right when he says that many Republicans misunderstand his foreign policy vision — some, like Perry and McCain, deliberately so. Paul is no Robert Taft. He’s never advocated leaving the UN or breaking up NATO. But he has yet to impart a coherent set of principles in foreign policy that would ease the concerns of Main Street Republicans that he wouldn’t defend American interests beyond our borders if they came under attack.

If McCain and Perry exaggerate Paul’s non-interventionist stance, Paul inflates the McCain-Perry desire for more assertive leadership as something akin to military adventurism. Both sides would benefit if they realized they weren’t really that far apart and that their differences on substantive issues like Iraq aren’t enough to start a war over.

But a presidential campaign is all about highlighting differences so we can assume that Perry’s line of attack and Paul’s responses will be echoed many times over the next two years. It will be interesting to see if GOP voters give greater emphasis to a candidate’s position on foreign policy issues over the next few months. With all that’s happening in the world, it’s certainly a possibility.

Even more interesting will be Rand Paul’s efforts to convince Republicans he is not what Rick Perry and John McCain accuse him of being.

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Bi-Partisan Anger from Governors Over Obama Inaction at Border

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A bad weekend for the president at the National Governors Association meeting as both Democrats and Republicans took pot shots at the administration for their inaction in the border crisis, as well as being livid about the secret dumping of illegal aliens in their home states without being notified.

Politico:

“I found out in the last 48 hours that approximately 200 illegal individuals have been transported to Nebraska [by the federal government],” said Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, in an interview. “The federal government is complicit in a secret operation to transfer illegal individuals to my state and they won’t tell us who they are.”

As thousands of unaccompanied minors have flocked to the United States in recent months, primarily from crime-wracked countries such as Guatemala and Honduras, the Obama administration has been sheltering them in federal facilities around the country while they await processing. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol estimates that more than 52,000 have crossed the border since Oct. 1, double the rate from a year earlier.

President Barack Obama has asked Congress for nearly $4 billion to deal with the crisis, and he’s warned parents in the migrants’ countries that their children may be sent back.

Obama’s approach has fractured Democrats’ political unity on the issue.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month said the U.S. must “send a clear message [that] just because your child gets across the border doesn’t mean your child gets to stay.”

But on Friday, calls for mass deportation drew a rebuke from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a potential rival to Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

“I believe it is contrary to everything we believe as a people to summarily send children back to death,” O’Malley said at a press conference here alongside other Democratic governors. He said pictures of the children in the United States, after traveling for miles along dangerous routes, look more like scenes from a “local Humane Society than a humane country.”

Meanwhile, Heineman, a fierce Obama critic, endorsed the president’s message.

“We’re going to treat any person, particularly children, humanely while they’re here,” he said. “They should humanely and expeditiously be returned to their country of origin to their family.”

He said he’d been on the phone for days with the federal Department of Health and Human Services trying to learn the identity of the children sent to Nebraska and where they’re being housed.

“So far, the secretary’s office is saying they’re not willing to provide us the names of the individuals that the federal government is transporting to my state,” he said.

It’s not just the governors who are being left out of the loop. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois complained on Friday that more than 400 illegal aliens had been dumped in the Chicagoland area. The government refused to tell him where they were and declined to run criminal background checks on them.

Oklahoma’s GOP Governor Mary Fallin mentioned the health of some of the 1,100 illegal aliens being housed at Fort Sill.

“We had one case of chicken pox. We’ve had many cases of scabies and lice,” Fallin said.

She added that there’s been no guidance about how long the children will be housed, whether they’re entitled to any taxpayer-funded benefits, from education to Medicaid to foster care. And she’s unsure whether they might be “let loose in the United States” once they turn 18.

“Those are all the questions and concerns that governors like myself,” she said. “They are children so we want to treat them very humanely, but we also have a lot of concerns.”

The government is moving these kids all over the country. Some of them seem to be ill with communicable diseases. But HHS and the Obama administration are refusing to say anything about these kids, and have not told the governors even how long they are expected to care for the children.

Not only is this an arrogant attitude on the part of the administration, it is also extremely dangerous. The government isn’t informing authorities into whose custody they are releasing these kids or even where they’re going. They could end up living a block from the state governor’s mansion and the chief executive would never know it.

Time for the governors to demand more transparency from the administration.

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Multitude of Lawsuits Expected from Border Crisis

Saturday, July 12th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

This makes me want to put my fist through the wall.

Fox News:

Illegal immigrants pouring across the border could trigger a wave of lawsuits flooding the U.S. court system for years and costing taxpayers millions, according to legal experts.

The American Civil Liberties Union has already sued the federal government to ensure that each of the 60,000-plus unaccompanied children who have come across the border since November gets taxpayer-funded representation at deportation hearings. But legal advocacy groups who represent illegal immigrants could file additional suits alleging improper treatment at the hands of the government. And with the system overwhelmed, there’s little doubt corners are being cut.

“You can bet there is a phalanx of left-wing lawyers trying to line up illegal alien plaintiffs,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch.

Slow asylum hearing dockets — like those that have already prompted a class action suit on behalf of 40,000 illegal immigrants — are certain to get much worse, experts say. But every interaction between the government and the illegal immigrants pouring in could potentially trigger a cause of action if lawyers can prove the letter of the law was not followed.

Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, said there’s little the White House can do now that the children — most of whom are from Central America —are already here. Under U.S. law, kids from non-contiguous countries cannot be turned back at the border and must be granted deportation hearings.

“If we start sending these kids back to their home countries, there will be lawsuits galore,” said Vaughn. “We’re already seeing suits for conditions and denial of privileges. The sky’s the limit, it could be a nightmare.”

So, to sum up: These left-wing lawyers advocate for policies that cause the illegal-alien crush at the border in the first place and then enrich themselves by suing the government because the Feds are unprepared for the deluge.

Is this a great country, or what?

I have several descriptives I could use in venting my rage against these attorneys, but this is a family website and rather than write something that would get me fired, I will simply refer to them as garden variety pond scum.

We live in a suit-happy society, so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised when lawyers take full advantage of an awful situation in order to gain notoriety and wealth. But that shouldn’t lessen our total contempt for the maggots who feed off of tragedy.

No doubt there is a special level of hell reserved for their kind.

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The Stupidity of Climate Hysterics

Saturday, July 12th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Senator Marco Rubio is being called “an idiot” by the mayor of South Miami because he has differing views on climate change than the hysterics.

“Rubio is an idiot,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard said, as quoted by The Guardian. “He says he is not a scientist so he doesn’t have a view about climate change and sea-level rise and so won’t do anything about it.”

Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential contender, has said that he doesn’t agree with the notion of man-made climate change.

“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” he said in a May interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s what I do not — and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy.”

Stoddard, who is also a biology professor, contrasted Rubio with his Democratic counterpart Sen. Bill Nelson, who Stoddard said has been holding field hearings where scientists can explain the significance of the data on sea-level rise and climate change to people.

In the Guardian, a geology professor paints a dire picture of Miami’s future:

“There has been a rise of about 10 inches in sea levels since the 19th century – brought about by humanity’s heating of the planet through its industrial practices – and that is now bringing chaos to Miami Beach by regularly flooding places like Alton Road,” says Harold Wanless, a geology professor at the University of Miami. “And it is going to get worse. By the end of this century we could easily have a rise of six feet, possibly 10 feet. Nothing much will survive that. Most of the land here is less than 10 feet above sea level.”

Note that the good professor actually believes in the boiling frog scenario — that city residents will sit there and watch as the waters rise above their head and they all die a horrible death (killed by global warming) without doing anything to save themselves. Most of Holland is 13 feet below sea level, but thanks to a series of dykes and dams, they’ve been able to thrive as a civilization for more than a thousand years. But Miami residents aren’t smart enough to protect themselves if it comes to that?

Note also the extreme range of sea level rise suggested by the professor — 6 to 10 feet. That’s a monumental difference in the scheme of things since a rise of 6 feet is far more manageable than 10 feet.

Also, the professor fails to inform us how much of that 10 inch rise in sea level was in the 19th century when there was a miniscule amount of industrial activity compared to today. Any rise in sea levels in the 19th century would not be due to humans so why include that time period except to make the rise seem more dramatic?

Any “solution” offered by climate hysterics is not going to lower greenhouse gas emissions by one single molecule as long as China is constructing dozens of coal fired electric plants every year.

If all they’ve got is name calling, their case for catastrophic global warming must be weak indeed.

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Rep. Gutierrez Blasts Senator Kirk for Suggesting Criminal Background Checks on Illegals

Saturday, July 12th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The top secret operation to move illegal alien children from detention centers near the border to locations throughout the United States is continuing with the government now engaging Catholic churches to shelter the border jumpers until they can be processed and released.

The Daily Caller reports that a diocese in California is acting as a way station for the illegal children, housing them until other living arrangements are made elsewhere in the U.S.

The department “has reached out to the diocese and the bishop, and asked us to shelter families in transition,” Maria Christina Mendez, at the Office of Hispanic Affairs, told The Daily Caller. The services would be needed for the next 18 months, “or longer,” she said.

In response, the diocese has offered to let family groups of migrants stay at its buildings for up to three days, while they are being relayed by federal immigration agencies to cities and towns where they want to live, she said.

“Some of them are going to the East Coast, some of them are going all the way up north,” she told The Daily Caller.

The illegal inflow includes at least 100,000 people since October. Many are in so-called “family units” of adults and children.

Ordinary citizens are not informed of these arrangements, causing a lot of anger to be directed at authorities:

The diocese’ activities were exposed only after parishioners called into Rush Limbaugh’s radio show to protest the bishop’s agreement to provide shelter to the families for DHS.

“They have made the decision that they’re going to absorb the immigrants that are coming through because the federal government called the bishop’s office on Monday,” said one of the parishioners, named Ann. “The church will reimburse us for any out-of-pocket expenses and we were told not to talk to anybody about it, especially the media.”

They were told to be silent to prevent any local protests, Ann said. “They don’t want a lot of people there at the churches when they busload these mothers and children,” said Ann.

Another fait accompli involving the movement of illegal alien children occurred in the Chicago area where more than 400 illegals have been dumped by the government, according to Senator Mark Kirk.

Sen. Mark Kirk said today that 429 unaccompanied minors from the Mexican border crisis are in Chicago in the custody of a federal agency, and he wants to know if any of the children have criminal records.

Kirk, an Illinois Republican, said the children are in the custody of the Health and Human Services Department. His news release did not say where the children are being housed.

In the release, Kirk also said the State Department is “unable to confirm if any of these individuals has a criminal record or background.”

He added: “If any of these individuals has a criminal record in their home country, our government owes it to the American people to facilitate the sharing of records and reassure our nation that these individuals pose no threat.”

Kirk has written to the U.S. ambassadors in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador asking whether their embassies have done background checks on the “unaccompanied alien children” who have entered the U.S. at its southern border.

This is a prudent and sensible request. The Department of Homeland Security said in a report that 47% of the illegal alien children are young men between the ages of 14 to 17 — prime recruiting age for drug cartels. Also, it would not be unheard of for children growing up in such impoverished conditions to engage in a life of petty crime.

Don’t people have a right to know if the government is going to dump kids with a criminal record in their midst?

According to Illinois Rep. Gutierrez, apparently not…

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Debunking the ‘Escape from Violence’ Meme as Reason for Illegal Kids Coming to US

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The Center for American Progress — President Obama’s favorite think tank — has offered up a statistical analysis that “proves” the reason Central American children are fleeing their homes and coming to America is violence and not “deferred action” (amnesty).

An analysis of the available data suggests that:

Violence is among of the main drivers causing the increase. Whereas Central American countries that are experiencing high levels of violence have seen thousands of children flee, others with lower levels of violence are not facing the same outflow.

By contrast, the evidence does not support the argument that DACA or lax border enforcement has caused the increase in children fleeing to the United States.

Case closed, right? Whatever the statistics say, the Department of Homeland Security would beg to differ.

A DHS report leaked to Breitbart shows that Homeland Security believes the kids are coming here because they’ve been told they can stay — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The report, identified as “De-Classified” and “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” reveals the fact that only 0.1 percent of the Central American minors illegally entering the U.S. having been deported in Fiscal Year 2013, down from two percent prior, plays a significant role in why the current border crisis is occurring. The DHS-ICE agency report admits the fact that 98 percent are allowed to stay is a significant draw for the minors to come into the United States. The agency acknowledges that conditions in Central America play a role in why the wave is occurring, but directly contradicts the assertion that such conditions are the only significant reason the crisis exists. The report directly contradicts any assertion U.S. government refusals to deport illegal immigrants is not a significant factor in why the crisis is occurring.

The report further reveals that Central American nations are doing little to curb the flow of illegal immigration to the U.S. and attributes the lack of efforts in the host nations to stop the flow to the nations wanting their nationals to send money back home from the United States. The report also indicates that family members from the host nations already residing in the U.S. is a major draw for the current crisis. This indicates that illegal aliens already within the U.S. are possibly drawing more to illegally migrate north.

The report states:

Migration pull factors include reunification with family members already in the United States and successful migration attempts; that is, most (98 percent) OTM UCs are issued a Notice to Appear and not immediately removed from the United States. Last year, only 1,700 UCs were repatriated to their home countries.” The report also clarifies the statement: HSI-Intel assesses with high confidence that reunification with family members already in the United States continues to be a pull factor for UCs from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The report also states:

No single factor causes OTM UC migration to the United States. Rather, several factors combine to cause this, including poor economies and violence in home countries, potential employment opportunities in the United States, family reunification, and success at not being immediately repatriated drive OTM UC migration to the United States. [Emphasis Added by Breitbart]

How much is violence to blame for the illegal human flood and how much is the prospect of being able to stay? It’s difficult to say. The CAP analysis suggests that countries that don’t have a lot violence don’t send their  kids north in great numbers. That very well may be, but reduced violence also means a more stable, prosperous country. Even poor kids may have more opportunities in less violence prone countries, which may be a factor in their staying home.

Regardless, anecdotal evidence suggests that the promise of not being returned is a powerful “pull” in sending these kids north. The fact that in 2013, only 0.1% of illegal children were sent home would suggest that the word has gotten out about our lax immigration laws. With a better than 99% chance of staying if they get here. it seems worth the effort to come.

 

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Palin: ‘It’s Time to Impeach President Obama’

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is one of the most prominent Republicans yet to call for the impeachment of President Obama.

In a column she wrote for Breitbart, Palin points to the current crisis on the border as “the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas.’”

Without borders, there is no nation. Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. This is his fundamental transformation of America. It’s the only promise he has kept. Discrediting the price paid for America’s exceptionalism over our history, he’s given false hope and taxpayer’s change to millions of foreign nationals who want to sneak into our country illegally. Because of Obama’s purposeful dereliction of duty an untold number of illegal immigrants will kick off their shoes and come on in, competing against Americans for our jobs and limited public services. There is no end in sight as our president prioritizes parties over doing the job he was hired by voters to do. Securing our borders is obviously fundamental here; it goes without saying that it is his job.

The federal government is trillions of dollars in debt, many cities are on the verge of insolvency, our overrun healthcare system, police forces, social services, schools, and our unsustainably generous welfare-state programs are stretched to the max. We average Americans know that. So why has this issue been allowed to be turned upside down with our “leader” creating such unsafe conditions while at the same time obstructing any economic recovery by creating more dependents than he allows producers? His friendly wealthy bipartisan elite, who want cheap foreign labor and can afford for themselves the best “border security” money can buy in their own exclusive communities, do not care that Obama tapped us out.

As Palin points out, deliberately failing to protect the border is just one of Obama’s impeachable transgressions. PJ Media columnist Andrew McCarthy, author of Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, sums up the case in a Q&A that appears on his Amazon page:

Obama’s presidency is a willful, systematic attack on the constitutional system of separation of powers, an enterprise that aims to bring about a new regime of government by executive decree. This is exactly the kind of subversion the Framers designed the impeachment power to address. The Nixon and Clinton episodes involved misconduct that did not aim to undermine our constitutional framework.

In her column, Palin echoes these sentiments and adds that it’s not going to get any better:

President Obama’s rewarding of lawlessness, including his own, is the foundational problem here. It’s not going to get better, and in fact irreparable harm can be done in this lame-duck term as he continues to make up his own laws as he goes along, and, mark my words, will next meddle in the U.S. Court System with appointments that will forever change the basic interpretation of our Constitution’s role in protecting our rights.

It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.

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NY Times: The Real IRS Scandal is Republican Budget Cuts

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

ob·tuse
[uhb-toos, -tyoos]
adjective
1.
not quick or alert in perception, feeling, or intellect; not sensitive or observant; dull.
2.
not sharp, acute, or pointed; blunt in form.

Synonyms
1. unfeeling, tactless, insensitive; blind, imperceptive, unobservant; gauche, boorish; slow, dim.

Please read this editorial from the New York Times and apply as many descriptives above as are apt:
There is a scandal going on at the Internal Revenue Service, but it has nothing to do with Lois Lerner or her missing emails. House Republicans have not given up on their noisy crusade to tie Ms. Lerner to what they imagine to be widespread political corruption within the Obama administration, but all they have proved is that the I.R.S. is no better at backing up its computer files than most other government agencies.

No, the real scandal is what Republicans did to cripple the agency when virtually no one was looking. Since the broad Tea Party-driven spending cuts of 2010, the agency’s budget has been cut by 14 percent after inflation is considered, leading to sharply reduced staff, less enforcement of the tax laws and poor taxpayer service.

As the economist Jared Bernstein noted recently in The Washington Post, a weakened I.R.S. enforcement staff will be unable to make a dent in the $385 billion annual gap between what taxpayers owe and what they pay — an unintended tax cut, mostly for the rich, that represents 11 percent of this year’s spending. Middle-class taxpayers who struggle to fill out their 1040s may welcome a diminished threat of an audit, but in fact this reduction is not about them. The I.R.S. audits a far higher percentage of tax returns from people reporting incomes over $200,000 than from those reporting less, because that is where the money is (along with the most profitable cheating).

But in 2013, it audited only 24 percent of returns over $10 million, compared with 30 percent in 2010. Of returns reporting between $1 million and $5 million, it audited 16 percent in 2013, compared with 21 percent in 2010. That is great news for the nation’s highest-income taxpayers, many of whom donate generously to Republican politicians to keep their taxes low. They are getting their money’s worth from lawmakers who debilitate revenue collection while claiming to be deeply worried about the budget deficit.

But it is bad news for building roads, keeping the air clean, protecting the nation’s security, and countless other vital government tasks. Revenue collected by I.R.S. enforcement actions has fallen by more than $4 billion over the last four years, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And every dollar spent on enforcement yields $6 in additional revenue. Many I.R.S. computers use obsolete Windows XP operating systems and cannot keep up with a growing problem of identity theft that is directing refunds to criminals.

What a despicable piece of tripe. The entire government may be deficient at backing up computer files. But only Lois Lerner is the subject of a congressional investigation trying to get to the bottom of what might be the most egregious misuse of the IRS as a political weapon since the days of Richard Nixon. We don’t know how bad the IRS acted because Lois Lerner — and 6 other IRS employees — said their hard drives crashed and the agency says the information is irretrievable. The fact that this doesn’t elicit even a raised eyebrow from the Times is inexplicable unless you attribute their attitude to ideological and partisan animus directed against Republicans.

As for budget cuts interfering with IRS audit capabilities and its ability to hound taxpayers, rich and poor, something else endemic to government besides poor record keeping is poor management and allocation of resources. As we saw during the sequester nonsense, when forced to choose, government managers were able to make things work by reallocating personnel and their budgets. I suppose if you make it a priority for IRS managers to attend ritzy conferences at swanky hotels, you’re not going to have enough leftover to audit billionaires.

Perhaps if the IRS didn’t expend the effort to target conservative groups, they might save enough to audit a few Democrats.

I can just see the Times editorial staff giggling when writing this idiocy. Won’t we tick those right wingers off? Well, you got our attention. And for anyone above the age of seven with one or two working brain cells, you’ve also demonstrated a towering conceit that would be shocking if we didn’t already know that the paper is besotted with partisan rancor.

 

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Perry: Obama’s ‘Failure of Leadership’ on the Border

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Texas Governor Rick Perry has had enough of administration inaction on the border, and has lashed out at President Obama for the predicament his state finds itself in.

Texas is on the front line of the flood of illegal alien children — 60,000 of whom have crossed the border just since October. The governor pointed out that he warned the administration about the problem more than a year ago — and the White House didn’t bother to respond.

The Hill reports:

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Perry pointed to a letter he sent in May, 2012, that raised concerns about the flow unaccompanied minors. Perry said there was no response from the administration.

“They either are inept or don’t care,” Perry said. “I have to believe that when you do not respond in any way, that you are either inept or you have some ulterior motive.”

“This is a failure of diplomacy, this is a failure of leadership,” he added.

Perry said he does not believe that President Obama “cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” adding that “we are paying a huge price.”

Perry said Obama’s comments urging Central American parents not to send their children to the U.S. are coming “about five years too late.”

Perry rejected a comment from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, who in an interview earlier in the program said officials were confident they have enough resources.

“He is absolutely and totally wrong,” Perry said.

Perry said last Thursday that the Southern border is less secure today than at any time during the recent past. During a House Homeland Security field hearing in McAllen, Texas, Perry testified that the huge surge of child immigrants streaming over the border has sucked up border patrol resources, forcing agencies to deal with the humanitarian crisis and diverting them away from protecting national security.

Perry again invited President Obama to tour the border on his trip to the state next week, saying the experience would make the president “realize this is bigger than politics.”

The administration’s plan to change the law to allow for quicker deportations of minors from Central America is meeting fierce resistance from immigration activists. The 2008 law gives unaccompanied children from Central America the ability to stay in the country almost indefinitely waiting for a hearing:

First, the Border Patrol must hand them over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. HHS must “engage the services of child welfare professionals to act as child advocates and make recommendations regarding custody, detention, release and removal, based upon the best interest of each child,” according to a summary of the law prepared by its main sponsor, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The department must also provide pro bono legal services to the children. It must ensure that any detained child is “placed in the least restrictive setting possible.” It must conduct home studies to facilitate placement. And so on.

“The problem is that under current law, once those kids come across the border, there’s a system in which we’re supposed to process them, take care of them, until we can send them back,” Obama told ABC a few days ago. “It’s a lengthy process.”

It certainly is. And it was never designed to handle a mass influx. Immigration authorities removed somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 children in this way last year. The administration’s own estimate is that 90,000 will come this year — more than 52,000 are already here. The number could grow even larger next year.

“Every child that is here today — I cannot imagine, at least under this administration, them being removed,” says one GOP Hill aide who works on the issue.

The president says he wants to change the law to allow the minors from Central America to be treated the same as children who illegally cross the border from Mexico or Canada: immediate deportation after a brief interview with an immigration official.

But immigration activists are balking at any change in the law and it is unlikely that Democrats in the Senate would vote to oppose them. Hence, Perry’s concerns that the president doesn’t care about border security seem justified.

The president has no plans to visit the border, despite his upcoming visit to Texas this week. Instead, the president will hold a fundraiser in Dallas and visit Austin the next day for more fundraising.  For a man dealing with what most consider a humanitarian crisis, our president seems to be able to find time to make it “business as usual” for himself.

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Seattle Businesses to Fight $15 an Hour Minimum Wage

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A group of Seattle area businesses have gathered 20,000 signatures to place a charter amendment on the November ballot that would repeal the $15 an hour minimum wage bill recently passed by the city council.

Instead, the amendment proposes that the minimum wage eventually be raised to $12.50 by 2020, with an increase to $10.10 an hour in January 2015.

Forward Seattle, which represents restaurants, retailers and other businesses, launched the petition drive in order to save Seattle jobs and businesses from moving out of the city. But there have been complaints from activists that the paid signature gatherers misrepresented what the petition was about. They allege that petition signers were told that the referendum would be on approving a $15 minimum wage, not opposing it.

The signature-gathering effort has been clouded by allegations that paid signature gatherers have misrepresented what the referendum would do, telling some prospective signers that it would raise the minimum wage or that the city ordinance adopting the $15 minimum isn’t official yet.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg today forwarded complaints of fraudulent claims by Forward Seattle signature gatherers to the Seattle City Attorney’s office and the Seattle police for investigation. Satterberg said that the allegations constitute potential gross misdemeanors and so fall under the city’s jurisdiction, not the county’s.

Such is the gamble in using low-paid signature gatherers. Sometimes, they are paid by the signature; in other cases, by the hour. The workers are only as honest as the companies that employ them. We’ll have to see how this works out.

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US Regains Rank as Number One Oil Producer

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

For the first time in 40 years, the United States leads the world in crude oil production. In a report issued yesterday by Bank of America Corp., “U.S. production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first quarter.”

Bloomberg:

“The U.S. increase in supply is a very meaningful chunk of oil,” Francisco Blanch, the bank’s head of commodities research, said by phone from New York. “The shale boom is playing a key role in the U.S. recovery. If the U.S. didn’t have this energy supply, prices at the pump would be completely unaffordable.”

Oil extraction is soaring at shale formations in Texas and North Dakota as companies split rocks using high-pressure liquid, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The surge in supply combined with restrictions on exporting crude is curbing the price of West Texas Intermediate, America’s oil benchmark. The U.S., the world’s largest oil consumer, still imported an average of 7.5 million barrels a day of crude in April, according to the Department of Energy’s statistical arm.

U.S. oil output will surge to 13.1 million barrels a day in 2019 and plateau thereafter, according to the IEA, a Paris-based adviser to 29 nations. The country will lose its top-producer ranking at the start of the 2030s, the agency said in its World Energy Outlook in November.

“It’s very likely the U.S. stays as No. 1 producer for the rest of the year” as output is set to increase in the second half, Blanch said. Production growth outside the U.S. has been lower than the bank anticipated, keeping global oil prices high, he said.

Partly as a result of the shale boom, WTI futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange remain at a discount of about $7 a barrel to their European counterpart, the Brent contract on ICE Futures Europe’s London-based exchange. WTI was at $103.74 a barrel as of 4:13 p.m. London time.

That crude price would be a lot higher if not for the boom in the US. The situation in Iraq and Syria would ordinarily have sent prices through the roof. But the increase in supply thanks to the US has moderated prices somewhat.

They would drop even more if we allowed crude oil exports:

A U.S. Commerce Department decision to allow the overseas shipment of processed ultra-light oil called condensate has fanned speculation the nation may ease its four-decade ban on most crude exports. Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Enterprise Products Partners LP will be allowed to export condensate, provided it is first subject to preliminary distillation, the companies said June 25.

The decision was “a positive first step” to dispersing the build-up of crude supply in North America, Bank of America said in a report on June 27. The U.S. could potentially have daily exports of 1 million barrels of crude, including 300,000 of condensate, by the end of the year, according to a June 25 report from Citigroup Inc.

North America is poised to become the “New Middle East” in oil production, with a projected doubling of output from Mexico, the US, and Canada to exceed 20 million bbl a day by 2020. Some analysts believe that to be an underestimate. Canada’s tar sands revolution, the US shale boom, and the deregulation of the Mexican oil industry that will allow foreign companies access to some of the biggest untapped oil fields left in the world, promises to make North America a hub of energy production for the coming decades.

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Very Quietly, Obama Administration Is Reuniting Illegal Alien Kids with Their Families in U.S.

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

In recent weeks, the Obama administration has been making tough statements about the more than 50,000 illegal alien children, unaccompanied by adults, who have rushed the border and turned themselves in, hoping to gain entry to the U.S. The White House has stated flatly that they “can’t stay” and will be returned home. “Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it,” Obama said to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

Some of them — eventually — may be deported. But it appears that the vast majority are being “processed” and then given shelter until relatives are found to take them to their parents. According to the New York Times, the administration has “begun to send the expected 240,000 migrants and 52,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border illegally in recent months in the Rio Grande Valley to cities around the county.”

USA Today reports:

Under that law, most of the unaccompanied minors being caught by Border Patrol agents must be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which coordinates care for them, finds them safe housing and helps advise them on their legal rights as their immigration cases are decided.

The problem is that the HHS officials’ idea of “safe housing” is to reunite them with their parents who are also here illegally:

On Wednesday night, the crowd jeered at federal officials who sat through the lengthy meeting but offered few concrete details about what the city could expect. Paul A. Beeson, the chief officer in San Diego for Customs and Border Protection, said the agency still expected one plane from Texas to arrive every 72 hours, but did not know where the passengers would be sent for processing. The migrants will then be turned over to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and probably released to find relatives already living in the United States and told to appear later in front of an immigration judge.

“When you have a noncriminal mother, they are going to be released,” said David Jennings, the Southern California field director for the immigration agency. “The most humane way to deal with this is to find out where they are going and get them there.”

The president says he wants to change the law so that the illegal alien kids receive an immediate determination if they are eligible for asylum. But the reality is that immigration activists fiercely oppose the change and Democrats in the Senate won’t vote for the expedited deportation procedures for kids.

Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, says that process is unfair to children who usually have no idea what options are before them to stay in the country.

There are complicated applications for asylum. There are “T Visas” specifically designed for victims of human trafficking. There are “U Visas” for victims of certain crimes. There are U.S.-based relatives who can try to claim them. But all of those, Young said, are hard enough for experienced immigration attorneys to sort through, let alone children who just finished a perilous journey to the U.S.

“For many years, there has been a recognition both by prior administrations and Congress that unaccompanied children are uniquely vulnerable,” Young said. If those rules are changed, “children will be arriving at our borders, traumatized, hungry, frightened, confused…and certainly not knowledgeable about our immigration system.”

This means that things are likely to remain as they are today with the illegal alien children being given a piece of paper telling them to report to an deportation hearing sometime in the future, before disappearing with their illegal parents.

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Conservative Angel, Richard Mellon Scaife, Dead at 82

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Richard Mellon Scaife, heir to a banking and oil fortune, who funded conservative causes for 50 years, died of cancer at age 82.

There is hardly a significant conservative organization or cause that was not a beneficiary of Mr. Mellon’s generosity. The Wall Street Journal wrote: “He is nothing less than the financial archangel for the movement’s intellectual underpinnings.”

New York Times:

Decades before David H. and Charles G. Koch bankrolled right-wing causes, Mr. Scaife and Joseph Coors, the beer magnate, were the leading financiers of the conservative crusade of the 1970s and ’80s, seeking to reverse the liberal traditions of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society.

Mr. Scaife (pronounced SKAYF) inherited roughly $500 million in 1965, and with more family bequests and income from trust funds and investments in oil, steel and real estate, he nearly tripled his net worth over his lifetime. But unlike his forebears, who were primarily benefactors of museums, public art collections, education and medicine, he gave hundreds of millions of dollars to promote conservative political causes.

He never ran for public office or gave speeches to promote his political views. Indeed, he was notoriously withdrawn, rarely giving interviews or addressing controversies that regularly engulfed him. He had a longstanding drinking problem, engaged in bitter feuds with relatives, friends and employees, and found his troubled life examined in the news media, despite phalanxes of lawyers, spokesmen and retainers paid to insulate him from endless public fascination with his wealth and power.

But in written answers to questions by The Washington Post in 1999, he said concerns for America motivated him. “I am not a politician, although like most Americans I have some political views,” he said. “Basically I am a private individual who has concerns about his country and who has resources that give me the privilege — and responsibility — to do something to help my country if I can.”

Scaife was an early backer of Barry Goldwater, but eschewed donations to candidates after becoming disillusioned by Richard Nixon. It is then that he switched his focus to funding intellectual conservative endeavors:

But, disillusioned by Watergate and Nixon, he switched his focus from officeholders to ideologies, and his influence in the rise of neoconservatism stemmed primarily from his contributions to think tanks, lobbyists and publications that promoted free-market economics, lower taxes, smaller government and cuts in social welfare programs. Beneficiaries included the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute and Judicial Watch.

In another approach, in the 1990s, he poured millions into what critics called a moral crusade against Mr. Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, financing investigations by publications, notably the conservative American Spectator and his own Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that were aimed at discrediting the Clintons.

His liberal critics never understood him, preferring to portray him as a caricature of a right-wing billionaire. But Scaife was no rigid ideologue. He was fairly liberal on social issues: pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and in favor of marijuana legalization. And he had the capacity to change:

Most surprisingly, perhaps, this frequent enemy of Democratic politicians — a man who had spearheaded efforts to embarrass the Clinton administration — was reported in 2010 to have become a six-figure contributor to the William J. Clinton Foundation, the ex-president’s charity to work on global improvements.

In 2008, Mr. Scaife also welcomed Mrs. Clinton, at that time a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, to a cordial editorial board meeting in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review offices. By then, the rancor between them appeared to have evaporated.

Bottom line: Scaife was a pioneer in funding conservative causes at a time when donating to the right wasn’t cool. For that, he should be remembered as the father of modern intellectual conservatism who paved the way for the Reagan revolution and the right’s political rise in the 1980s.

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IG Report: HHS Unable to Resolve 2.6 Million ‘Inconsistencies’ Found in Obamacare Enrollee Info

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A new report issued by the Inspector General of the Health and Human Services Department says that the agency is unable to resolve most of the inconsistencies found in income and citizenship information supplied by Obamacare enrollees receiving insurance subsidies.

According to the report, those running the federal marketplace are having trouble resolving problems “even if applicants submitted appropriate documentation.”

“The federal marketplace was generally incapable of resolving most inconsistencies,” the report said, claiming the government could not resolve 89 percent of the problems.

And of the roughly 330,000 cases that could be straightened out, the administration had only actually resolved about 10,000 during the period of the inspector general’s audit. That worked out to less than 1 percent of the total.

The IG report says that out of 2.9 million problems with enrollees’ information, HHS was unable to resolve 2.6 million of the discrepancies.

About 80% of the problems reported were with income and citizenship issues — two areas  most vulnerable to fraud. Those 2.6 million inconsistencies do not mean there are 2.6 million individuals with discrepancies in their information. Many enrollees had multiple discrepancies, although as the IG pointed out, that “data on inconsistencies are limited and that “the Federal marketplace could not determine the number of applicants who had at least one inconsistency.”

The IG pointed to 5 major problems with verification of eligibility:

3. The healthcare.gov site is still not working perfectly. According to the audit, one health care marketplace was unable to verify the information on 15,000 applications because of outages on the federal website for verifying data. The federal data hubs also contained old and inaccurate information. In some cases, for example, infants were identified as “incarcerated.”

4. The healthcare.gov site is still incomplete. According to the audit, the federal government was unable to resolve inconsistent data from subsidy applicants because the system “was not fully operational.” In fact, the government was not able to determine how many applicants with whom the government had at least one problem verifying the information they provided.

On top of the problems being experienced by Washington, the state exchanges are having trouble verifying eligibility too:

5. Some state-run marketplaces have problems, too. Four states do not have the capacity to determine how many applicants for health care subsidies have provided potentially faulty information. Nevada and Oregon reported their systems “were not built with the capacity to provide that data.” In Colorado and Minnesota, health care marketplace officials relied on state Medicaid offices to do the verifying and said they had no access to the information.

As originally envisioned, the process to verify eligibility involved the enrollee entering income and citizenship data through the Obamacare website which would then verify the info with the IRS, Homeland Security, and any other agency involved in the process. The IRS would also calculate the correct amount of the subsidy.

But the healthcare.gov website is still unable to communicate with IRS and Homeland Security computers. Nor are insurance companies plugged into the system yet. So, the chances of errors in the amount of subsidies given to taxpayers (not to mention the prospect of giving subsidies to non citizens)  has become so serious that it’s possible that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers will be forced to pay back thousands of dollars in wrongly-figured subsidies next year.

Press Secretary Josh Ernest told reporters that the millions of discrepancies weren’t that important:

“Resolving those inconsistencies is important, but isn’t necessarily complicated and doesn’t necessarily indicate any sort of problem with the application that someone has filed,” he said Tuesday.

The government can’t verify income or citizenship but this doesn’t indicate “any sort of problem” with the application? “Josh” is well named. As far as not being complicated, if that were true why has HHS only been able to resolve 300,000 of out 2.9 million discrepancies in 8 months?

The IG is recommending that CMS have procedures in place to resolve the problems and give a deadline of when they will be completed.  They key would appear to be the Obamacare website and getting it fully operational.  But HHS has virtually stopped giving updates on progress in building the site’s back end and no one is predicting when it will be complete.

That flushing sound you hear is the noise made by your tax dollars disappearing down the Obamacare black hole.

 

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US-Sudan Negotiating Over Fate of Mariam Ibrahim

Saturday, June 28th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The Sudanese government is meeting with US officials in order to negotiate a way for Mariam Ibrahim to leave the country.

Ibrahim was at the center of an international controversy when a Sudanese court condemned her to death for converting to Christianity, and declared her an adulteress for marrying a Christian man.

Ibrahim was given a reprieve from the death penalty when a court overturned her conviction. But she was arrested again at the Khartoum airport and charged with carrying false documents.

Reuters:

Her lawyer Mohaned Mostafa said Ibrahim, her husband and two children have all been staying at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum since her release, which was granted on the condition that Ibrahim remains in Sudan.

“There are talks going on currently between Sudanese and American officials to try to find a way for Mariam and her family to leave the country,” a source close to the case said asking not to be named as he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Ibrahim was detained on Tuesday for trying to use documents issued by the embassy of South Sudan to fly out of Khartoum with her American-South Sudanese husband and their two children.

Despite lifting her death sentence after huge international pressure, Sudan still does not acknowledge Ibrahim’s new identity as a Christian South Sudanese because it does not recognize her marriage. Muslim women are not permitted to marry Christian men under the Islamic laws that Sudan applies.

“The talks now are aiming to get her out of Sudan on a Sudanese passport,” the source said.

South Sudan, which has a majority Christian population, became independent from the mostly Muslim north after a referendum in 2011 that ended years of civil war.

Ibrahim’s case has been closely monitored by Washington and London, which last month summoned the Sudanese charge d’affaires to protest against Ibrahim’s initial death sentence and urged Sudan to uphold its international obligations on freedom of religion and belief.

A U.S. spokeswoman said on Thursday before Ibrahim’s release that Ibrahim had all the documents she needed to travel to the United States.

Ibrahim’s saga might have ended very differently if Christians throughout the west hadn’t put enormous pressure on their governments to do something about her plight. Leaders like President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain were reluctant to get mixed up in a matter that, to Muslims, is mostly cut and dried. Only an outcry of protests from Christians forced their leaders to move.

One thing to consider is how the Sudanese government viewed the case.

“The punishment has little to do with religion and serves as a political distraction. This is a ploy by the Sudanese regime to appear as ‘defenders of Islam’ to mitigate their corruption”.

And, of course, Ibrahim’s situation served as a warning to other South Sudanese Christians, as well as Muslims in Sudan. An effective tactic to see a young woman forced to give birth in chains, and knowing she is to die when the child reaches two years of age.

Hopefully, Mrs. Ibrahim and her family won’t have to wait too long to escape Sudan for the freedom of America.

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The Insane Clown Car Posse Assassination Conspiracy that Ignited World War I

Saturday, June 28th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

You just can’t make this stuff up, they say, and when it comes to the conspiracy to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand on his visit to Sarajevo 100 years ago today, no imagination in Hollywood would be capable of drawing it up.

Not surprisingly, some details of the plot and the assassination are in dispute. Were the conspirators really part of the shadowy Serbian intelligence agency known as The Black Hand? Or were they local recruits that allowed the Black Hand some plausible deniability? There are also minor discrepancies in how the plot unfolded.

But most agree on the broad outline of the conspiracy — which makes the fact that they actually pulled it off all the more remarkable.

The archduke announced the trip ahead of time and helpfully published a map of the motorcade that would take the royal party to a ceremony at city hall. He rode in an open car with this loving wife Sophie and basked in the cheers from the large crowd along the way.

There were 7 assassins in all. Boys and young men burning with nationalistic fervor who saw knocking off the heir to the Hapsburg throne as a signal for a general revolt. While long on patriotism, they were short on training, planning, execution, and courage. Looking at them from the distance of 100 years, it seems remarkable that this inept, awkward, not-very-bright group of teenagers could pull off the assassination of the young century and throw the world into chaos.

The fact that they did is an example of serendipity and coincidence that boggles the mind today.

There was minimal security — not even 100 police along the motorcade route. But even that paltry number was enough to deter at least 4 of the would-be assassins who chickened out without firing a shot.

One assassin was foiled by a jammed pistol. Another tossed a crude homemade bomb at the archduke’s car that Ferdinand fended off, which caused the device to land in back of the car on the street, injuring several bystanders when it exploded.

The bomb thrower, Nedeljko Cabrinovic, began to run toward the river, swallowing poison before he jumped in trying to drown himself. Unfortunately for him, the water was only inches deep and the poison only made him sick. He was hustled off to jail while the motorcade continued.

Here’s where serendipity makes an appearance:

The furious archduke arrived at City Hall, where the mayor of Sarajevo delivered some totally inappropriate remarks that were written before the assassination attempt.

The archduke snapped, “What kind of welcome is this? I’m being met by bombs!” Then he wiped the blood off his prepared speech and addressed the crowd.

Afterward, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne got back into his motorcade with his wife, Sophie. They had decided to visit the hospital to see the people who were wounded in the bomb attack.

But no one told the driver.

At that fateful intersection, the car was supposed to go straight — but it turned right. A general in the motorcade shouted, “You’re going the wrong way!”

And the driver stopped the car … right in front of assassin number seven.

Assassin number seven was 19 year old Gavrilo Princip. He was crestfallen that he and his comrades had failed in their attempts to kill Ferdinand and decided to visit a local deli to drown his sorrows in a bottle of beer and a sandwich.

The driver’s wrong turn changed the course of history. At that exact moment, Princip was emerging from the deli and not 4 feet away was Ferdinand’s car – conveniently stopped and with no bodyguards in evidence. Princip leaped upon the running board and pumped two shots into the car, hitting both Ferdinand and Sophie. They would die within minutes.

A conspiracy planned and executed by incompetent amateurs ended up completing the task of assassinating Archduke Ferdinand by simple dumb luck and remarkable coincidence.

Thirty seconds either way and Princip would have missed his opportunity. If the mayor had taken 30 seconds longer in his remarks, Princip would have been denied. If the driver had gone the right way, Ferdinand would have probably lived to ascend to the Hapsburg throne. You can point to a dozen scenarios where a few seconds would have made the difference and Princip would have missed his rendezvous with destiny.

But it wasn’t to be.

They unveiled a statue to Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo yesterday. Honoring a terrorist says more about Bosnian Serbs today than it does about what the nation was like in 1914. One man’s terrorist may be another’s freedom fighter, but even if you believe that, it takes a certain amount of obtuseness to celebrate an act that led to the death of 40 million people.

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Did the US Really Arm and Train the ISIS Terrorists?

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

I’ve seen this meme in emails and websites of the conspiratorial internet – that the US army trained and equipped ISIS rebels at a training camp in Jordan.

The story got a boost when World Net Daily ran an article by Aaron Klein that repeated the claim, saying the information was confirmed by “informed Jordanian officials.”

The officials said dozens of ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.

The Jordanian officials said all ISIS members who received U.S. training to fight in Syria were first vetted for any links to extremist groups like al-Qaida.

In February 2012, WND was first to report the U.S., Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region.

That report has since been corroborated by numerous other media accounts

If we vetted ISIS members, we did a very poor job. ISIS is the reincarnation of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, so in order to believe the US trained them, you have to believe that we ignored their ties to a violent extremist group.

Are there US-run training camps in Jordan for Syrian rebels? Yes, we’ve been training members of the Free Syrian army for years there. But other than these anonymous “Jordanian officials,” who else has said we trained ISIS members?

Why, Rand Paul has said it:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday that the Sunni militants taking over Iraq have quickly gained power because the United States has armed their group in Syria.

“I think we have to understand first how we got here,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have been arming [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS in Syria.”

ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot, has been collaborating with the Syrian rebels whom the Obama administration has been arming in their efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Paul explained.

The administration has reportedly assisted the moderate opposition in Syria, but details about the dissemination of those resources are unclear.

“That is the real contradiction to this whole policy,” Paul said. “If we were to get rid of Assad,” it would become a “jihadist wonderland in Syria.”

Asked what he would do as president on Iraq, Paul deflected and did not give a straight answer. Instead, he pointed to the Reagan doctrine, and said Congress must ultimately determine the U.S. plan after engaging in a “full-throated debate.”

“The president doesn’t have unilateral authority to begin war,” said Paul, who couldn’t say whether he would support U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

He said he’s not ruling U.S. assistance out, but said first Shiites must show they will fight for their country.

Paul downplayed the idea that ISIS is an immediate threat to the U.S., but said it could be “at some point.”

“I don’t think ISIS in in the middle of the battle right now thinking ‘hmm, I think we’re going to send inter-continental ballistic missiles to America,’” Paul said.

Alex Jones of InfoWars says he got the information through his “military sources.”

Aside from that WND article, I can find no original source that confirms the “ISIS trained by US” story. If Paul is repeating conspiracies he read in WND and on InfoWars he should know better.

It’s possible that some fighters trained by the US in Jordan ended up joining ISIS, but that’s not the same as the US knowingly arming and training a terrorist group, which is implied in the WND article and that Senator Paul states as fact.

Most ISIS members were probably trained in the Gulf where Qatar and Saudi Arabia sponsor many jihad groups fighting in Syria. Both of those countries are far less discriminating about who gets sophisticated weaponry than the US. As for where ISIS got the weapons it’s using now, when the Iraqi army ran away from defending Mosul, hundreds of tons of US-made arms fell into their hands. It’s also suspected that the Saudis have been bankrolling the purchase of advanced weapons for many extremist groups in Syria on the open market.

ISIS didn’t need the US to train their members. The idea that we knowingly armed and trained an ultra-violent, pitiless terrorist group that is so barbaric that even al-Qaeda’s parent group in Pakistan has disavowed them, needs a lot more proof than any offered up so far by WND or Alex Jones.

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AP: Illegal Alien Children Can Stay in US for Years

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

An investigation by the Associated Press into the situation on the border with tens of thousands of unaccompanied children flowing into the US finds that US immigration law has tied the hands of the government in trying to deport the minors and that they could conceivably stay in the US for years.

Welcome children! Sit right down and make yourselves at home.

Thousands of immigrant children fleeing poverty and violence in Central America to cross alone into the United States can live in American cities, attend public schools and possibly work here for years without consequences.

The chief reasons are an overburdened, deeply flawed system of immigration courts and a 2002 law intended to protect children’s welfare, an Associated Press investigation finds.

Driving the dramatic increases in these immigrants is the recognition throughout Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that children who make the dangerous trip can effectively remain in the U.S. for years before facing even a moderate risk of deportation.

The Obama administration estimates it will catch 90,000 children trying to illegally cross the Mexican border without their parents by the end of the current budget year in September. Last year, the government returned fewer than 2,000 children to their native countries.

The administration has asked Congress for $2 billion to spend on the issue.

“They almost never go home,” said Gary Mead, who until last year was director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office responsible for finding and removing immigrants living in the country. “It’s not a process that ultimately ends in easy resolutions or clear-cut resolutions.”

The situation is widely perceived as becoming a humanitarian crisis at the border. The system is now so overwhelmed that children are being housed in Border Patrol facilities ill-equipped to handle them.

The government has asked the military to open temporary shelters in Texas, Oklahoma and California.

U.S. officials, including the Homeland Security secretary, the White House domestic policy council director and the Customs and Border Protection commissioner have described immigrant families’ concerns about education, jobs and personal safety as driving the rise in border crossings.

Only recently have officials acknowledged that perceptions that these children may be allowed to stay or that Congress soon may relax U.S. immigration laws — which is highly unlikely — may also be responsible.

Meanwhile, in a total PR move, the administration is promising a “surge” at the border:

The White House said it would send more judges and staffers to reduce the backlog of immigration cases but did not provide specific numbers about the amount of additional workers.

“We are surging government enforcement resources to increase our capacity to detain individuals and adults who bring their children with them and to handle immigration court hearings in cases where hearings are necessary – as quickly and efficiently as possible while also protecting those who are seeking asylum,” the White House said. “That will allow [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to return unlawful migrants from Central America to their home countries more quickly.”

Earlier Friday, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called on Obama to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, but administration officials threw cold water on that suggestion.

“The policies of your administration have directly resulted in the belief by these immigrants that once they reach U.S. soil, they will be able to stay here indefinitely,” Boehner wrote in a letter to Obama.

Obama previously deferred deportations of Dream-Act eligible illegal immigrants, but the White House says that children now crossing the border illegally are not eligible for that program.

We are surging judges and lawyers at the border! What’s next, accountants? Even with the increase in judges, they will hardly be able to keep ahead of the tidal wave. The administration is expecting double the number of kids crossing the border next year — 120,000. By the time the judges are finished hearing those cases of people already here, some of those kids will be collecting Social Security — illegally.

So how does this legal process work — besides very badly?

Like Antunez and thousands of others, most spend about one month in the custody of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement under the Health and Human Services Department, before they are reunited with parents or other relatives in the United States. There is no requirement that their parents or those other relatives were legally allowed into the United States.

Why isn’t there a requirement that their parents or relatives be here legally? What genius thought that one up?

When you have an immigration policy that encourages lawbreaking, this is what you end up with. The immigration reform package that everyone wants the Republicans to vote for will make matters even worse. The world is breaking down our door to get in and God knows who is coming with these desperate, poor people; terrorists, drug dealers, criminals in all shapes, sizes, and ages.

We are a sovereign country and are well within our rights to close our border to anyone who refuses to obey even the weak and ineffective laws already on the books. It is a fundamental right among nations to enforce our own laws even if the rest of the world doesn’t like them.The president — never letting a good crisis go to waste — is using this terrible situation on the border to try and advance immigration reform. It’s a despicable tactic and instead of trying to promote his agenda and putting on phony “surges” at the border, he should act like a president and take control of the situation.

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IRS Canceled E-Mail Storage Firm Contract Just Weeks After Lerner Computer Crash

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The rabbit hole keeps getting deeper and deeper.

We read earlier in the week that the IRS employed an email storage firm to backup communications at the agency.

The Daily Caller is reporting that the IRS canceled its contract with Sonasoft, an email archiving company, just weeks after it was learned that Lois Lerner’s hard drive had crashed and months before the six other employees targeted in the congressional investigation had their computers crash as well.

The IRS signed a contract with Sonasoft, an email-archiving company based in San Jose, California, each year from 2005 to 2010. The company, which partners with Microsoft and counts The New York Times among its clients, claims in its company slogans that it provides “Email Archiving Done Right” and “Point-Click Recovery.” Sonasoft in 2009 tweeted, “If the IRS uses Sonasoft products to backup their servers why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your severs?”

Sonasoft was providing “automatic data processing” services for the IRS throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails.

But Sonasoft’s six-year business relationship with the IRS came to an abrupt end at the close of fiscal year 2011, as congressional investigators began looking into the IRS conservative targeting scandal and IRS employees’ computers started crashing left and right.

Sonasoft’s fiscal year 2011 contract with the IRS ended on August 31, 2011. Eight days later, the IRS officially closed out its relationship with Sonasoft in accordance with the federal government’s contract close-out guidelines, which require agencies to fully audit their contracts and to get back any money that wasn’t used by the contractor. Curiously, the IRS de-allocated 36 cents when it closed out its contract with Sonasoft on September 8, 2011.

Lois Lerner’s computer allegedly crashed in June 2011, just ten days after House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp first wrote a letter asking if the IRS was engaging in targeting of nonprofit groups. Two months later, Sonasoft’s contract ended and the IRS gave its email-archiving contractor the boot.

IRS official and frequent White House visitor Nikole Flax allegedly suffered her own computer crash in December 2011, three months after the IRS ended its relationship with Sonasoft.

The obvious question: Is there a link between the cancelling of Sonasoft’s contract and the possible desire of IRS officials to cover up its targeting program?

There are a lot more questions than dots to connect. Was the cancelling of the contract a budget measure, or something more sinister? What happened to the emails Sonosoft archived? Who signed off on the cancellation order?

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GAO: $14 Billion in Improper Medicaid Billing

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A shocking new report from the Government Accountability Office has found that Medicaid wrongly paid out more than $14 billion to managed care organizations (MCO’s) — partners with states in providing health care services to clients.

The improper payments included “services that were not necessary, never performed or weren’t eligible for coverage,” according to this story in the Washington Examiner:

MCOs, which allow Medicaid beneficiaries to get their care though state-run programs are rapidly increasing in popularity through the expansion of Medicaid. The amount of annual improper payments could increase because of Obamacare, GAO found.
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The “size and diversity” of the MCOs have put both state and federal governments at odds on how to oversee the payments, the report said.

Specifically, the wrong payments made were for treatments or services not covered, not necessary, or billed for but never provided, GAO found.

States that expand Medicaid programs under Obamacare will receive a 100 percent reimbursement from the federal government for MCOs for the next two years, the report said.

Given that state and federal governments have recovered “only a small portion” of the wrongly paid money, unless they ramp up their oversight of MCOs, even more Medicare dollars will be “vulnerable to improper payments,” GAO said.

States were also under-reporting to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid how much money they recovered when they realized they’d made these undeserved payments, GAO revealed.

In 2013 alone, Medicaid covered almost 72 million Americans. The program costs American taxpayers more than $430 billion annually.

No one knows how much total waste, fraud, and abuse is in the Medicaid program. If this independent audit of the Illinois Medicaid program is any indication, the US taxpayer is in a world of hurt.

In January, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, or HFS, began a new project verifying eligibility for Illinois’ 2.7 million Medicaid enrollees. For years, state workers had failed to take adequate steps to ensure the people receiving Medicaid benefits were actually eligible for the program. As an Auditor General report noted, state workers failed to verify basic eligibility criteria, such as income, residency and citizenship status. Worse yet, some of the annual eligibility checks had been delayed for more than five years.

So state lawmakers pushed HFS to hire an independent vendor who specializes in this kind of work to review Medicaid eligibility. Since January, the independent vendor has reviewed nearly 419,000 case files of individuals currently enrolled in Medicaid. Of those, the vendor identified more than 210,000 that were ineligible for benefits, which amounts to more than 50 percent of all cases reviewed so far. Another 47,000 cases reviewed so far this year were eligible for some benefits, but enrolled in the wrong program. For example, some individuals enrolled in Medicaid may only qualify for programs with greater cost-sharing. Overall, the review has yielded an eligibility error rate of more than 61 percent.

When HFS receives a recommendation from Maximus to cancel benefits for a particular case, the state gives the enrollee an additional 20 days to submit documentation showing they are still eligible for benefits. The state then removes individuals from the program after verifying that they are no longer eligible.

Unfortunately, the American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees has initiated a legal challenge which may slow or halt this progress. AFSCME wants the state to terminate its contract with the expert vendor reviewing eligibility and instead hire new dues-paying state workers to do the job. Never mind the fact that state workers’ failure to do the job adequately prompted the state to hire an independent vendor in the first place. With another 347,000 cases currently pending review, and thousands more on the way, this challenge becomes all the more worrisome.

Illinois may not be typical, but some states are surely as bad as Illinois in managing the program. The problem is immense and may approach $100 billion in waste and fraud, according to this JAMA study from 2012 (abstract only):

The need is urgent to bring US health care costs into a sustainable range for both public and private payers. Commonly, programs to contain costs use cuts, such as reductions in payment levels, benefit structures, and eligibility. A less harmful strategy would reduce waste, not value-added care. The opportunity is immense. In just 6 categories of waste—overtreatment, failures of care coordination, failures in execution of care processes, administrative complexity, pricing failures, and fraud and abuse—the sum of the lowest available estimates exceeds 20% of total health care expenditures. The actual total may be far greater. The savings potentially achievable from systematic, comprehensive, and cooperative pursuit of even a fractional reduction in waste are far higher than from more direct and blunter cuts in care and coverage. The potential economic dislocations, however, are severe and require mitigation through careful transition strategies.

The study included both Medicare and Medicaid expenditures.

Not all of that is fraud. What the Illinois auditor found was that the problem was mostly bureaucratic incompetence and laziness. “Annual” reviews of eligibility would be given every 5 years. Placing recipients in the wrong program, giving them too much in benefits. The auditor found more than $12 million in benefits was dispersed to dead people. With 2.7 million Illinois residents receiving Medicaid benefits, those mistakes start to add up quickly.

The problems with Medicaid and MCO’s must be addressed now. There are 7 million new Medicaid clients as a result of Obamacare’s expansion of the program. One can imagine the utter waste of taxpayer money involved in vastly expanding what amounts to a broken program.

That $14 billion in improper Medicaid payments is just the tip of the iceberg. More must be done to combat the problems in Medicare and Medicaid fraud before both programs bankrupt us.

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Townfolk Say ‘No’ to HHS Dumping Illegal Minors at Local College

Saturday, June 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The good citizens of Lawrenceville, Virginia woke up one morning last week to discover that, without consulting them, a local college, now defunct, had signed a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to house 500 illegal alien teenagers on campus.

The mandarins at HHS didn’t deem it necessary to discuss the matter with the local town council or the people. They probably knew what the answer would be beforehand. On Friday evening, a town meeting was called and more than 1,000 angry residents showed up to show their displeasure at the decision.

After the meeting, HHS decided discretion was the better part of valor and retreated.

Washington Times:

“We have heard the concerns of many of the residents and leaders of Lawrenceville about the proposal to temporarily care for unaccompanied children at the now-closed Saint Paul’s College,” said Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Mark A. Weber. “We have taken this proposal off the table and will move on quickly to identify other sites to temporarily house these vulnerable children.”

The announcement followed a heated community meeting at a high school in Lawrenceville, a hardscrabble town about 70 miles south of Richmond. More than a thousand residents attended to voice opposition to the plan and denounce the Obama administration officials for trying to force the project upon their impoverished community.

We talk slow around here and with a twang. But we say what we mean,” Aaron Smith, a sergeant in the National Guard and former Marine, told administration officials at the meeting. “Let me talk straight into your eyes: We don’t want you here.”

The residents expressed concerns about security, disease, the town’s overburdened emergency services and tax dollars going to unaccompanied alien children — or UACs — instead of local families living in poverty.

The uproar in Lawrenceville encapsulated the national debate ragging over illegal immigration and the crisis spreading form America’s southern border.

After learning that the administration had nixed the Lawrenceville project, Mr. Smith applauded the HHS officials for keeping their promise that they would listen to the community.

“I’m actually for one time happy with my federal government for doing what they told us they would do,” he told The Washington Times by phone. “That’s all our community wanted.

“Rep. Robert Hurt, whose district includes Lawrenceville and pressed the Obama administration to listen to residents’ concerns, said that he was “thankful that HHS has made the right decision.”

“However, it must be said that the manner in which HHS attempted to impose its plan on our community without any meaningful input is a painful reminder of just how disconnected Washington has become from the people it is supposed to represent — a Washington that always seems to be wiser and know better than its local elected leaders and its citizens,” said Mr. Hurt, a Republican.

Who thinks up these idiotic schemes? Five hundred teenagers dumped on a small town? What kind of trouble do you think those kids could get into? I’m sure the townspeople are breathing a big sigh of relief.

Ultimately, the administration wants somebody else to pay for their mistakes. Texas and Arizona are already paying a steep price for the administration’s blundering on immigration reform. Apparently, no thought was given to how the desperately poor people south of the border would take the news that they were welcome to come across as long as their kids were here, or that their children would be reunited with them even if they weren’t here legally.

The people of Lawrenceville didn’t want to pay for someone else’s errors. Good on them.

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Iran Bans Women from Watching World Cup in Public

Saturday, June 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Iran’s national soccer team lost to world power Argentina 1-0 today, as superstar Lionel Messi scored in stoppage time to break the hearts of the thousands of Iranian fans in the stands and millions at home.

Iran has one of the largest contingents of fans in Brazil for the tournament, and judging by how the ladies are dressed, one might understand — from the Iranian authorities point of view — why they don’t want the sexes mixing in public. Images of the hijab-less Iranian women went viral and authorities were none too pleased, despite going so far as sending a minder to make sure the tourists to Brazil acted in an Islamic fashion:

Although Iranian women were warned to not dress “immodestly” when they appear in public in Brazil, scores of football fans took to the streets to attend the match between Iran and Nigeria, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

According to Al-Arabiya news, conservative officials in Iran told citizens traveling to Brazil to avoid any actions which may be deemed “incompatible” with the Islamic Republic’s values. Furthermore, those who traveled had to sign an agreement stating they would agree to adhere to these values while abroad.

A committee also reportedly sent an official to oversee Iranian tourists’ behavior.

Despite the Islamic regime’s hardline stance on the matter, pictures posted on twitter and Facebook show Iranian fans enjoying the World Cup celebrations in the same way as those from other countries.

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While the game was broadcast on television, the authorities forbade cafes, cinemas, and other public places from airing the game. The reason? The mixing of sexes is “unislamic.”

Yet, this does not stop football-loving Iranians from wanting to watch their team. Many universities and schools even rescheduled exams so that students could cheer on Team Melli.

This makes the police restrictions, communicated directly to restaurant and cinema owners, all the more confusing.

“We told our members not to turn on their TVs when World Cup matches are being broadcast or to make sure TVs are set to a different channel,” said Eskandar Azmodeh, the head of Tehran’s Union of Cafe Owners.

“It is possible that owners could lose their licences if any problems arise in their cafes while showing the games.”

Iranian state media reported that police text messages to restaurant owners said they had to close by midnight as usual.

Cinemas were told they would not be allowed to screen matches to mixed-gender audiences.

Police would have let them hold separate screenings for men and women but “due to the security issue we have given up showing the 2014 games”, said the head of the Iranian Cinema Owners Association, Mohammad Ghasem Ashrafi.

Watching football in cinemas became popular during the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

“They make everything about boys and girls,” said Parvin, 56, a retired chemistry teacher. “I used to go to the cinema four years ago to watch the World Cup with my daughter and son. I saw so many other parents there too.”

The new restrictions mean most Iranians will have to watch the World Cup, shown free on state TV, at home. Viewing the matches outdoors in public parks was also popular, but this now appears to be out of favour as authorities have not set up any facilities for it this time.

Iran is one of the most literate countries in the world, and the people there are not stupid. Authorities may seek to keep the outside world from intruding on their little Islamic paradise, but it can’t be done. Iranian women watching their sisters behave so freely in Brazil must be wondering why things have to be so different at home.

As the Soviet Union discovered when they initiated the reform program known as perestroika, you can’t give people a little bit of freedom and expect them to be satisfied. The 2009 protests showed there is a deep unhappiness among Iranians of all political persuasions. President Hassan Rouhani was elected partially as a response to that unrest, but even if he was for basic reforms — a dubious proposition given his standing in the Iranian theocracy  — his hands would be tied by the old guard of mullahs who run Iran like a 8th century caliphate. There can be no reform because Islam is perfect and nothing needs to change.

One wonders if those exuberant women in Brazil with painted faces and “unislamic” demonstrations of joy will suffer the consequences of disobeying the authorities when they get home. You also have to wonder if there will ever come a day when such demonstrations won’t be out of the ordinary.

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Biden Fails to Move Central American Leaders on Border Crisis

Saturday, June 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The Obama administration sent Vice President Joe Biden to Guatemala City to talk with Central American leaders about the crisis of unaccompanied children who are flooding across the US border from Mexico.

Instead of pledging support to rein in the exodus of children from their countries, Biden got something of a lecture about “migrant rights” and schemes to keep the illegals from returning to their home countries.

Even members of the Hispanic Caucus were frustrated with the Central American leaders, getting an earful about how we should be reuniting the illegal children with their illegal parents — in the United States.

While there is no doubt that statements from the White House about ICE going easy on illegal children are largely responsible for the tidal wave of minors coming across the border — 60,000 this year and more than 120,000 expected next year — the inaction, if not active encouragement, from Central American governments is also to blame. Now that the situation has become an humanitarian crisis that continues to grow, the region’s leaders have demonstrated a total cluelessness about the American government’s position and insist on telling the US to take care of the problem inside its own borders.

Reuters:

Senator Robert Menendez and Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez said U.S. lawmakers in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday held a “very testy meeting” with diplomats from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

“I proposed to the Vice President the possibility of considering temporary work programs, which would allow (Guatemalans) to go for a time and return,” Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said on Friday after meeting Biden, along with other Central American leaders, in Guatemala City.

U.S. data show that between October and May more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors, mostly Central Americans, crossed into the United States, nearly double the number in the prior year.

“As long as (U.S.) immigration reform is not approved, the exodus of children to the United States will continue,” Jorge Ramon Hernandez, the senior representative of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, said at the talks.

A partisan divide in the United States has stymied Obama’s efforts to reform immigration laws.

Insisting the immigrant children should be returned to their parents, Biden also said “immigration reform has not died”.

El Salvador’s President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said this week he would press Biden for a reform to help reunite existing family members in the United States with more recent arrivals.

After Friday’s talks, Sanchez said he intended to keep working for the rights of the affected children.

“Each and every one of our countries has an obligation to guarantee the rights of children and adolescents,” he said.

What “rights” is he talking about? No doubt they consider reuniting families in the United States who are here illegally a “right” of the border jumpers.

For the administration to say that the recent arrivals will be sent home, they are going to need a lot of cooperation from Central American countries to achieve it. Judging from the attitude of Central American leaders at the meetings in Guatemala City, that cooperation does not appear to be imminent.

Indeed, it looks as if Central American countries will fight to keep the children in the US — a prospect that has Congress up in arms over the cost of caring and eventually repatriating the children.

Politico reports:

“This is a problem of immense enormity and terrible hurt,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers on Wednesday evening as his panel took the first steps toward approving a $39.2 billion budget for the Department of Homeland Security. And the Kentucky Republican chastised the White House for showing “no leadership at all” in its budget for the coming year.

Indeed, President Barack Obama surprised many by asking for no increase in UAC funding in his March plan for new 2015 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Frustrated Democrats accuse the White House of lowballing the costs to make room for the president’s initiatives under the strict spending caps negotiated last December for 2015.

Having been caught short last winter, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) demanded a white paper from the administration on the crisis and forced an April 22 meeting of top staff from the White House budget office and four major line departments: State, Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

It was then that the administration acknowledged that the flow of migrant children could double again next year to 127,000 and the costs for HHS may approach $2 billion — twice the $868 million in the president’s UAC request.

No budget amendment has yet followed.

“A $1.1 billion gap that needs to be addressed based on the tremendous humanitarian need,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) at a May Senate hearing — weeks after the April meeting. In the same forum, Mikulski, a former social worker, didn’t hide her exasperation with HHS witnesses.

“We don’t want to warehouse them. We try to put them in foster care,” she said of the children. “Our failure to appropriate could exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. I need numbers.”

“Tell me what you need, and don’t stick us with the bill at the end. I feel you are not telling me what you need. I really don’t feel that HHS is telling me what you need.”

Even liberal Mikulski is disgusted with White House tactics. They hid the growing crisis from Congress for as long as they could, have shown no leadership in telling Congress how much they need to deal with the problem, and then ended up lowballing the costs anyway to game the budget process in order to allow other Obama pet projects to get funded.

Mikulski’s idea to provide foster care for the children is ludicrous. We don’t have the funding or willing foster parents to take care of American children. And now she wants to dump 60,000 kids on an already broken system? Spoken like a true social worker.

The problem isn’t “poverty and violence” in Central America. I’m sure it’s horrible, but there has been violence and poverty in those countries for a long time. There’s no getting around the fact that the administration has encouraged this invasion by hinting that children would be allowed to stay if they came here. Even if they didn’t specifically say that, authorities in Central America strongly hinted at it themselves.

There’s plenty of blame to spread around for the situation on our borders, and not much in the way of accepting responsibility to solve the crisis.

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Was Dinesh D’Souza’s Book Banned from the New York Times Bestseller List?

Saturday, June 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The Washington Examiner is charging the New York Times with an insidious form of censorship.

According to this article, Dinesh D’Souza’s new book — America: Imagine a World Without Her has been banished from the Times bestseller list despite the fact it would rank #8 in sales.

The way the Times calculates sales and assigns rankings for new books is a closely guarded secret. But the facts strongly suggest an element of bias in the Times‘ refusal to include D’Souza’s book on its influential non-fiction bestseller list.

The Washington Examiner reports:

His new book, on sale for three weeks, isn’t just absent from the top 10 lists already set for the next two Sundays, but totally missing from the list of the nation’s top 25 nonfiction hardcovers despite having sales higher than 13 on the latest Times chart.

According to sales reports provided to Secrets, D’Souza’s new book America: Imagine a World Without Her, sold 4,915 in the first week and 5,592 in the second week. Had it been included on the upcoming June 22 Times hardcover nonfiction list, it would have ranked No. 8, and then No. 11 on the June 29 list that puts Clinton’s sales at 85,721. The lists are widely circulated in the publishing industry before they go public.

The Times is somewhat mysterious in how it calculates its list, but it includes several books selling well under 3,000 copies in a week. A spokeswoman said, “We let the rankings speak for themselves and are confident they are accurate.”

America is expected to explode when the accompanying movie debuts next month. In America, D’Sousa slams Obama’s agenda and targets Clinton too — maybe one reason the Times hasn’t recognized it.

“They are part of the propaganda arm of the Obama administration,” D’Souza told Secrets from Philadelphia, where his book and movie bus tour had stopped before traveling to Washington on Friday. His Obama’s America was a Times No. 1 best-seller.

“It’s their newspaper, and they have a right to rig their list anyway they want, but if they are doing it, people should know,” he said.

D’Souza, who last month pleaded guilty to one criminal count of making illegal contributions in the names of others, said the list is important to boosting sales. “It matters to be on it,” he said.

But to ignore his latest best seller, he said, “the Times is falling short of its journalistic and editorial responsibilities in a much a bigger way than keeping me off the list.”

The fact that D’Souza has already had a #1 bestseller on the list also suggests bias is at work. It’s not like D’Souza is some rookie author being published by an obscure house. Regnery Publishing regularly has top-selling titles and D’Souza has been a successful author for a couple of decades.

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