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Obama’s Eid Message: Muslim Americans ‘Strengthen the Core of Our Democracy’

Monday, July 28th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama marked the end of Ramadan by crediting Muslims with strengthening the democratic fiber of the United States.

Eid al-Fitr will be marked today in Muslim communities with food and family celebrations, ending the month of fasting.

“This last month has been a time of fasting, reflection, spiritual renewal, and service to the less fortunate. While Eid marks the completion of Ramadan, it also celebrates the common values that unite us in our humanity and reinforces the obligations that people of all faiths have to each other, especially those impacted by poverty, conflict, and disease,” Obama said in a statement.

“In the United States, Eid also reminds us of the many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy. That is why we stand with people of all faiths, here at home and around the world, to protect and advance their rights to prosper, and we welcome their commitment to giving back to their communities,” the president continued.

“On behalf of the Administration, we wish Muslims in the United States and around the world a blessed and joyous celebration. Eid Mubarak.”

Obama doesn’t have any Eid events on his schedule today; he’ll be participating in the Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

Two weeks ago, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee encouraged Muslims to boycott Obama’s Iftar dinner at the White House in celebration of Ramadan, citing the administration’s support for Israel.

In a statement, the committee aid the “deplorable situation” in Gaza, “brought on by Israel’s U.S.-sanctioned illegal occupation of Palestine, has received no direct action from President Obama.”

“The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) will not be attending this year’s government iftars and calls upon members of the Arab and Muslim communities to join us in the boycott, including tonight’s White House Iftar hosted by President Barack Obama, given the government’s condoning of the current slaughter of Palestinians in Palestine and the spying of American Arabs and Muslims domestically,” the group said in a statement.

“In the government’s silence, Israel is committing a massacre in Palestine with the possibility of an all-out ground assault. Our American tax dollars have contributed to over 100 civilian casualties as of Monday morning, of which 70% are estimated by the United Nations to be women and children,” continued the statement.

The ADC cited recent reporting from Glenn Greenwald that revealed “the government’s indiscriminate and ongoing criminalization of the community” through NSA spying on some Arab and Muslim community leaders.

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Pelosi: Americans Should Welcome Illegals Because Jesus, or Something

Monday, July 28th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Nancy Pelosi has build a reputation for saying the darndest things. She added to that brand late last week, as Breitbart reports:

[The House Minority Leader] doubled down on her comments that Americans should view the flood of children crossing the border while claiming refugee status just like baby Jesus.

“You could even speak about, if it’s your tradition, Moses,” she said. “What would we do if Moses had not been accepted by the pharaoh’s family? We wouldn’t have the Ten Commandments for starters.”

Pelosi expounded, claiming that “we have [biblical] examples of humanitarian assistance that should guide us in all this.” It leaves you to wonder whether Pelosi has actually read a bible, or if she’s just patching together random word pictures snatched from vaguely recalled references.

If you’re having trouble recalling how the stories of the infants Jesus and Moses apply to immigration policy, it’s because they don’t. If anything, both tales highlight the malevolence of a lawless state.

If Pelosi really thinks the bible calls us to take in tens of thousands of children in need, she won’t mind them settling down in her neighborhood. Surely, the radical voters who continue electing her would be more than willing to put their money where their elected mouthpiece is.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 7:25 minutes long; 7.18 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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WR Mead at His Best: ‘Smart Diplomacy’ Becoming a Punchline

Sunday, July 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Walter Russel Mead writing in The American Interest:

The reckless and thoughtless Libya intervention just keeps looking worse. But don’t read the critics to see how horrible things are: as the government announces that the U.S. has officially evacuated its embassy in Tripoli this morning, the latest State Department travel advisory for the country says it all.

The advisory reads like a nightmare-vacation brochure:

Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country and attacks by armed groups can occur in many different areas; hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire.  Armed clashes have occurred in the areas near Tripoli International Airport, Airport Road, and Swani Road.  Checkpoints controlled by militias are common outside of Tripoli, and at times inside the capital.  Closures or threats of closures of international airports occur regularly, whether for maintenance, labor, or security-related incidents.  Along with airports, seaports and roads can close with little or no warning.  U.S. citizens should closely monitor news and check with airlines to try to travel out of Libya as quickly and safely as possible.

Don’t drink the water and if you go out after dark, make sure you wear your bullet-proof vest.

But Mead is angriest because he feels the lessons of Iraq were ignored by the administration when they blundered into the Libyan war.

If Obama were a Republican, the press and the weekly news shows would be ringing with hyperbolic, apocalyptic denunciations of the clueless incumbent who had failed to learn the most basic lessons of Iraq. Indeed, the MSM right now would be howling that Obama was stupider than Bush. Bush, our Journolist friends would now be saying ad nauseam, at least had the excuse that he didn’t know what happens when you overthrow a paranoid, genocidal, economically incompetent Arab tyrant in an artificial post-colonial state. But Obama did—or, the press would nastily say, he would have done if he’d been doing his job instead of hitting the golf course or yakking it up with his glitzy pals at late night bull sessions. The ad hominem attacks would never stop, and all the tangled threads of incompetence and failure would be endlessly and expertly picked at in long New Yorker articles, NYT thumbsuckers, and chin-strokings on all the Sabbath gasbag shows.

Why, the ever-admirable tribunes of a free and unbiased press would be asking non-stop, didn’t this poor excuse for a President learn from what happened in Iraq?  When you upend an insane and murderous dictator who has crushed his people for decades under an incompetent and quirky regime, you’d better realize that there is no effective state or civil society under the hard shell of dictatorial rule. Remove the dictator and you get chaos and anarchy. Wasn’t this President paying attention during the last ten years?

It’s not that Obama wasn’t paying attention, it’s that he believed himself to be smarter than everyone else and that such a fate could not befall him or his policies. Everybody warned the president that post-Qaddafi Libya was going to be a mess, a quagmire, a bloody clash of tribes, factions, and religions. But he dismissed the criticism, even from members of his own party.

Well, here we are, says Mead.

The news is so bad, and the President’s foreign policy is collapsing on so many fronts, that it is impossible to keep the story off the front pages. “Smart diplomacy” has become a punch line, and the dream Team Obama had of making Democrats the go-to national security party is as dead as the passenger pigeon. But what the press can do for the White House it still, with some honorable exceptions, labors to accomplish: it will, when it must, report the dots. But it will try not to connect them, and it will do what it can to let all the people involved in the Libya debacle move on to the next and higher stage of their careers.

Exactly. Have you seen any efforts in the press to connect the dots of Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Iran, and the border fiasco? The common thread is Obama’s policies leading to war and chaos. Such breathtaking incompetence, naivete, and arrogance have frightened our friends and emboldened our enemies. Not since the clueless reign of Jimmy Carter has American foreign policy been in such utter disarray.

Israel has taken the measure of this president and is ignoring his calls for a ceasefire in order to do what it thinks necessary for its security. Vladimir Putin has also sized up this president and realized that he can do just about anything — including helping to shoot down a passenger plane — with little fear of reprisal. Hundreds of thousands of people in Central America have judged President Obama to be an easy mark and are either here or on their way here.

At least Bush’s unforced errors were mostly confined to Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s incompetence spans the globe and the failure of his policies has the potential of igniting larger conflicts.

When you view the world through an extreme ideological prism, you see what your ideology tells you is real. The worldview expressed by President Obama was laughed out of America in 1972 when George McGovern told America to “come home.” It was apparently buried in 1984 when Walter Mondale lost 49 states.

But here it is, alive and well in 2014. When you believe your country is at fault for most of the world’s ills; when you think you can charm your enemies into being friends; when you think allies don’t matter; when you believe your own sycophantic press clippings regarding your ability to “lead from behind” — well, the resulting chaos and bloodshed let loose when America takes a back seat in world affairs is entirely predictable.

With American credibility in the toilet, you have to wonder if a total meltdown is avoidable.

 

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Israeli Government Source: Kerry ‘Completely Capitulated’ to Hamas

Sunday, July 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A very harsh assessment comes from an Israeli government source on the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to broker a ceasefire late last week.

The Times of Israel is reporting that a government official told Israeli Channel 2 that Kerry “dug a tunnel under the Egyptian ceasefire proposal” which was accepted by Israel on Friday, and gave the Israeli government a text that accepted most of the demands made by Hamas.

To the “horror” of the Israeli ministers, the Kerry proposal accepted Hamas’s demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza — where Israel and Egypt fear the import of weaponry; the construction of a seaport; and the creation of a post-conflict funding channel for Hamas from Qatar and other countries, according to the sources. The proposal, meanwhile, did not even provide for Israel to continue demolishing the Hamas network of “terror tunnels” dug under the Israeli border.

Rather than provoke an open diplomatic confrontation with the United States, the report said, the appalled ministers chose not to issue an official statement rejecting the Kerry terms. Instead, word of the decision was allowed to leak out.

The cabinet was meeting again on Saturday night to discuss all aspects of the 19-day conflict with Hamas. Ongoing efforts were being made to reformulate the ceasefire terms, Israeli sources said.

Channel 2′s diplomatic reporter Udi Segal said “voices” from the cabinet had described Kerry as “negligent,” “lacking the ability to understand” the issues, and “incapable of handling the most basic matters.”

Yep. That’s our Johnny. No one has ever accused Kerry of being the brightest bulb in the room, and this pretty much confirms everyone’s previous opinion of him.

The Channel 2 report said that some of those involved in the contacts with Kerry had suggested that “perhaps there was some kind of misunderstanding” or that Kerry “was only presenting a draft” of the offer, but the secretary himself gave no indication that this was the case when he expressed his disappointment that no ceasefire had been agreed during a press conference in Cairo on Friday night.

In fact, it makes you wonder which side Kerry is on.

Noting that the US secretary chose to hold Saturday’s talks without representatives of Israel, the Palestinian Authority or Egypt, Erdan said this showed “we’re a long way from a political solution.”

Privately, Israeli leaders have signaled deep dismay that Kerry engaged in talks in Paris with representatives of Turkey, whose leadership is openly hostile to Israel, and Qatar, whose leadership is seen by Israel to be representing Hamas’s interests, and not to include Israel, the PA or Egypt.

Israeli government sources also privately contradicted Kerry’s assertion Friday that his ceasefire proposal was “built on” an Egyptian proposal from last Tuesday, which Israel accepted and Hamas rejected. Far from resembling the Egyptian proposal, which urges an immediate ceasefire followed by negotiation, the Kerry proposal leans heavily toward Hamas, the sources said, in tying Hamas preconditions to a cessation of hostilities.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan said recently, “Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism.” Nice company you’re keeping there, Mr. Secretary.

Maybe it’s for the better that we have Kerry bumbling and fumbling around in the Middle East. His incompetence gives Israel a perfect excuse to continue their attack on Hamas. Imagine a competent secretary of state. If history is a guide, we would have had a ceasefire by now. Kerry is the only U.S. secretary of state in 20 years unable to negotiate an end to hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians.

That’s the kind of accomplishment we’ve come to expect from him.

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100 Days Out, GOP Hopes for Senate Takeover Still High

Sunday, July 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

With exactly 100 days to go before the November 4 mid term elections, Republicans still see a path to a Senate majority, but Democrats are holding out hope that some of their vulnerable incumbents can squeak through to victory.

The good news is that, in 3 red state open Senate races currently held by Democrats, GOP candidates maintain solid leads on their opponents. West Virginia, Montana, and South Dakota all appear ready to fall to the Republicans.

But in 4 other races that feature vulnerable Democratic incumbents who were thought to be ripe targets for the Republicans, Democrats are running better than expected.

The Hill:

Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) seem to have the edge in their races, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is hanging tough, and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) isn’t dead yet.

Hagan’s approval ratings are low, but state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) is even less popular, and public and private polls both show her ahead.

Tillis has been trapped in an extended legislative session as unpopular GOP lawmakers war over the state budget, and Hagan has a four-to-one cash advantage.

“Tillis has to put this legislative fight behind him. He’s got to move on. He’s struggled,” admitted one national GOP strategist.

Begich also appears to be in good shape in a tough state. His attacks on GOP primary front-runner Dan Sullivan have taken a toll and could hurt him in his August primary, too.

“Begich is running the best race of any Democrat right now,” said another national Republican consultant. “In Alaska it’s tough to see the path to victory until this primary plays itself out.”

Pryor has stayed alive because of Cotton’s unbending conservatism, most notably his vote against the Farm Bill. Both parties say they have a small advantage in the race and each have polls to back those claims.

Democrats admit Landrieu is their most vulnerable incumbent. It will be hard for her to reach the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a December runoff with two GOP candidates on the ballot. If that scenario plays out, Republicans believe Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) holds the edge in a runoff, especially if Senate control remains undecided after November.

Landrieu has been in this position before. She narrowly won run off elections in 1996 and 2002. Of the four vulnerable Dems, she probably has the best chance to sneak through.

All four are extremely well funded and outside money is pouring into their coffers. Republican candidates are trying to catch up, and between now and Labor Day should give a good showing of themselves in raising cash.

But circumstances have arisen in Iowa and Colorado that have cheered Republicans and placed those two races that were previously thought to lean Democratic into the toss-up column:

While Republicans have failed to knock out the incumbents some predicted would be underwater by this point in the election cycle, Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D-Iowa) missteps have given Democrats severe heartburn in that open seat race, and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is also running strong against Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.).

“We really have already expanded the field…. A year ago we weren’t even talking about those races. We were talking about having to win three of four open seats,” Carl Forti, the political director of the GOP super-PAC American Crossroads, told The Hill.

Braley damaged himself with comments that as a trial lawyer he’s more qualified than popular Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school,” to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) has run a strong race so far, and Democrats admit Braley’s lackluster campaign is cause for alarm.

“Braley has shot himself in the foot again and again. We have a lot of work to do. Iowa is a lot closer than we want it to be,” said one national Democrat.

Gardner’s entrance into the race earlier this year put Colorado on the Senate map. Democrats think Udall’s attacks on social issues have paid dividends, though Udall has squirmed on some controversial environmental issues. Recent public surveys show a dead-even race, but private polling from both sides show the incumbent up slightly.

Other potential GOP targets in Michigan and New Hampshire appear to be slipping away. In Michigan, Rep. Gary Peters has opened a significant lead over Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in a race to succeed retiring Democrat Carl Levn, while in New Hampshire, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s campaign against Senator Jeanne Shaheen has failed to generate much momentum.

Democratic hopes rest on the open Georgia race where charity exec Michelle Nunn, daughter of legendary Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, has raised a lot of money and received good reviews for her efforts. But she’s running an uphill campaign against GOP nominee David Perdue. There has been talk about “changing demographics” in Georgia which Democrats believe give Nunn a shot at victory. But Georgia is still a very conservative state and Republicans have a clear advantage. Perdue would probably have to commit some horrible gaffe for Nunn to win.

Political prognosticator Charlie Cook still gives the Republicans a 50-50 shot at winning the Senate. Now, 100 days out, the sprint to the finish is underway and Republicans consider themselves in very good shape.

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The Gray Lady Joins Stoner Nation

Sunday, July 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The New York Times has given the pot-legalization movement a huge boost by coming out in an editorial today advocating for the repeal of federal marijuana laws.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.

But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.

There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.

There has been far less research on the effects of pot on the body and brain than there has been on alcohol and tobacco. The evidence, for instance, that pot smoking can lead to an decrease in the production of serotonin – a brain chemical associated with mood and depression — is pretty well established. There is impact on memory, mostly long-term memory, as well as lingering effects on the heart, lungs, and kidneys.

The problem with the idea of “moderate use” is that the government defines “moderate” as smoking pot 3 to 8 times a month. It’s pretty obvious no one on the Times editorial board is smoking weed these days. Most pot smokers I’ve ever known — myself included — got high 3 or 4 times a week.

Then there’s the Colorado experiment with the jury still out regarding legalized pot’s effect on society. Taken together, the Times, in my opinion, is jumping the gun on national legalization, or decriminalization. What’s the rush? Let’s see how things work out in Colorado before we start debating the future of marijuana in America.

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Federal Judge Rules D.C. Gun Ban Unconstitutional

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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U.S District Court Judge Frederick L. Scullin, Jr. ruled on Saturday that the District of Columbia’s total ban on carrying firearms outside the home was unconstitutional. Judge Scullin wrote in Palmer v. District of Columbia,

In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional.

The court granted the Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and ordered the District of Columbia to stop enforcing the District of Columbia codes that effectively ban the carrying of handguns in the District ”until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

Judge Scullin went a step further, prohibiting the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns for individuals “based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District.”

Along with Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010),  Sculling cited the Seventh Circuit’s Moore v. Madigan (2012) decision which said, “[a] blanket prohibition on carrying gun[s] in public prevents a person from defending himself anywhere except inside his home; and so substantial a curtailment of the right of armed self-defense requires a greater showing of justification than merely that the public might benefit on balance from such a curtailment, though there is no proof that it would.”

Noting that the District of Columbia appears to be the only jurisdiction that still has such a complete ban on the carrying of handguns outside the home Sculling wrote, “That does not mean that other jurisdictions are indifferent to the dangers that the widespread public carrying of guns; rather, those jurisdictions ‘have decided that a proper balance between the interest in self-defense and the dangers created by carrying guns in public is to limit the right to carry a gun to responsible persons rather than to ban public carriage altogether[.]‘”

Alan Gura, the lead attorney for the the Second Amendment Foundation, a plaintiff in the case, said on his blog Saturday:

Obviously, the carrying of handguns for self-defense can be regulated. Exactly how is a topic of severe and serious debate, and courts should enforce constitutional limitations on such regulation should the government opt to regulate. But totally banning a right literally spelled out in the Bill of Rights isn’t going to fly … Congratulations Americans, your capital is not a constitution-free zone.

 

 

 

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Hamas Rejects Truce Extension: Fires Rockets into Israel

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Perhaps it’s just as well that Hamas rejected Israel’s suggested four-hour extension of the Gaza truce. It isn’t so much that the world will blame Hamas for the resumption of hostilities — no chance of that. It’s that Israel has unfinished business in Gaza: those insidious tunnels and Hamas’s cache of arms and missiles must be destroyed.

Hamas rejected the offer to extend the truce at least four hours and possibly longer, and fired missiles into Isreal.

USA Today reports:

The cease-fire rejection came after the Israeli Cabinet agreed to extend the 12-hour truce until midnight Saturday, and Yuval Steinitz, an Israeli Cabinet minister, said a further extension would be considered.

Earlier Saturday, the Israeli military had warned that it “shall respond if terrorists choose to exploit” the lull to attack Israeli troops “or fire at Israeli civilians.” It also said that operations to locate and neutralize tunnels would continue.

Meanwhile, at least 100 bodies were recovered Saturday, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said, as Palestinians used the cease-fire to move medical supplies and tend to the dead and injured in the Gaza Strip.

As the initial lull in hostilities began at 8 a.m. Saturday, Gazans poured onto the streets to find food supplies, look for missing family members or return to homes they left for shelters. The nearly three weeks of fighting has left swaths of rubble, destroyed roads and damaged power infrastructure in residential neighborhoods across the strip.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since the conflict began on July 8. Another 6,000 have been wounded. In Israel, 43 have died, including 40 soldiers, two civilians and a Thai worker.

Imad Nasrallah, 38, said he and others have made it a point not to forget the living.

“With my brothers and neighbors, we volunteer and go help others, in case their homes were targeted,” Nasrallah said. “We transfer the wounded to hospitals or go carry the martyrs and bury them.”

Saturday’s temporary truce was the second and the longest since the conflict began on July 8. A humanitarian cease-fire on July 17 was quickly overlooked as rocket fire resumed as soon as the set five hours expired.

In Paris on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with European foreign ministers to find ways to build off Saturday’s lull.

It was not to be. Kerry is being ignored by the Israelis as the government seems utterly determined to carry on its military mission until Hamas is neutralized. They have gone to war with the terrorists three times in the last five years. Israel’s citizens are under constant threat from thousands of missiles launched from Gaza every year, and Hamas has used its network of tunnels to carry out attacks on civilians.

Israel will de-militarize Gaza one way or another. And all the efforts by western powers to get them to dial it back will go for naught.

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Has Obama Already ‘Checked Out’ of the Presidency?

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The fact that people are seriously discussing the idea that the president of the United States has given up and is pining for retirement is unprecedented in my lifetime. I’m sure the during their last few months in office, most presidents begin mailing it in. But we are two and a half years from the end of the Obama presidency and the world order is collapsing while our borders are disintegrating. Without a strong hand at the helm of the ship of state, the aimless drift of American leadership is causing events to spiral out of control.

Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller penned a column for the Telegraph this weekend that states “Barack Obama has already checked out of his job.” But Lewis isn’t the only commentator who has wondered out loud about the president’s commitment to his job. Peggy Noonan wrote in her Wall Street Journal column earlier this month that Obama appears “above it all” and that his fancy dinners with celebrities and intellectuals as well as his endless rounds of golf present a frightening picture of a president detached from reality and “waiting for history to recognize his greatness.”

Jazz Shaw at Hot Air agrees with that assessment. Shaw points to Obama’s vision that he naively believed would be shared by everyone — “that everyone would, sooner or later, recognize the brilliance of his vision and the structural soundness of his solutions to the planet’s ills and things would truly change.” When they didn’t, Obama walked away.

Lewis, in his Telegraph column, lays out the evidence for Obama’s tanking it:

The fact that the press would find relevance in speculating on Obama’s post-White House residence – and identify California as the kind of scene the future ex-president would want to hang out in when he leaves office – is perhaps telling.

And, indeed, this comes on the heels of multiple reports from outlets such as The New York Times and Politico, detailing how Obama has increasingly been spending his time at trendy restaurants and fancy, late-night dinner parties with celebrities and various intellectuals.

Rubbing elbows with the rich and elite is fine enough. Unfortunately, the work suffers. The degree to which he is now phoning it in – sleepwalking perfunctorily through his second term – is astonishing.

And based on his recent handling of situations much more serious than a possible post-presidential move to sunny California, it seems as if “No Drama Obama” is no longer even worried about keeping up appearances; he doesn’t care enough to fake it.

Consider this: In recent days, a) Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down, apparently by Russian separatists in Ukraine, b) In the Gaza strip, the numbers killed continued to mount as Israelis and Palestinians exchange rocket fire, c) a huge influx of children fleeing Central American poverty and gang warfare swamped America’s southern border, creating a humanitarian crisis. And, oh yeah, d) Christians living in Mosul were given the choice to either convert to Islam or flee the area they have inhabited for nearly two thousand years.

You know what else has happened during this time? a) Obama played many rounds of golf, b) he attended numerous fund-raisers, c) he dined on barbecue in Texas and burgers in Delaware, and d) he almost appeared on the comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night television show in Hollywood.

I say “almost” because the White House finally relented. “We ultimately elected not to have the president do that interview over the course of this trip,” the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, conceded. “And that is at least in part related to the challenges of doing a comedy show in the midst of some of these other more serious matters that the president’s dealing with in the international scene.”

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Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton Doesn’t Think Congress has a Right to Know What the White House is Doing

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

You’ve got to give credit to Washington, D.C.’s non voting delegate to Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton for her novel interpretation of the Constitution and legislative tradition.

Becoming exasperated with Republicans on the House Oversight Committee who kept insisting that a White House aide cannot ignore a subpoena to testify, Norton scolded Chairman Darrell Issa, telling him “You don’t have a right to know everything in a separation-of-powers government, my friend.”

Washington Examiner:

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting congressional delegate for the District of Columbia, angrily sputtered during a congressional hearing Friday that the White House should not be held up to scrutiny, saying that there was no right to know what it was doing behind closed doors.

“You don’t have a right to know everything in a separation-of-powers government, my friend. That is the difference between a parliamentary government and a separation-of-powers government,” Norton said during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.

It was, to put mildly, a significant departure from the more traditional liberal stance that openness and transparency are must to prevent abuses of power by government officials. Instead the leading advocate for statehood for the District of Columbia literally argued that even the congressional committee charged with oversight shouldn’t be asking questions in the first place.

She made the comments while protesting the committee’s Republican majority for voting to ignore a claim by the White House that David Simas, director of it’s Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, was immune to a congressional subpoena to testify. Republicans believe the office is being used a political campaign operation, a violation of federal election law.

Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., noted he was not alleging any wrongdoing by Simas, but there was a history of violations involving that particular office in prior administrations that justified requesting his testimony.

Under President Obama, the White House has asserted sweeping executive powers, including the right to ignore pretty much all congressional inquiries. The administration has regularly ignored subpoenas from congressional committees.

Holmes was clearly down with that. She called Issa’s subpoena a “showcase fishing expedition.” She went on to argue that the Constitution’s separation of powers specifically gives the people who work directly under the chief executive immunity from subpoenas. “The president’s immediate advisor is not an agency and this is not a matter of policy,” she said, before going to further clarify that we “don’t have a right to know” everything that the administration does.

The Legal Information Institute makes Holmes-Norton look like the idiot she is:

The Court has long since accorded its agreement with Congress that the investigatory power is so essential to the legislative function as to be implied from the general vesting of legislative power in Congress. “We are of the opinion,” wrote Justice Van Devanter, for a unanimous Court, “that the power of inquiry—with process to enforce it—is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. . . . A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information— which not infrequently is true—recourse must be had to others who possess it. Experience has taught that mere requests for such information often are unavailing, and also that information which is volunteered is not always accurate or complete; so some means of compulsion are essential to obtain what is needed. All this was true before and when the Constitution was framed and adopted. In that period the power of inquiry—with enforcing process—was regarded and employed as a necessary and appropriate attribute of the power to legislate— indeed, was treated as inhering in it. Thus there is ample warrant for thinking, as we do, that the constitutional provisions which commit the legislative function to the two houses are intended to include this attribute to the end that the function may be effectively exercised.”163

You can’t get any clearer than that. Both conservative and liberal justices have recognized the right of Congress to investigate just about anything it wants — including, especially, the executive branch. In 1927, the court “ratified in sweeping terms, the power of Congress to inquire into the administration of an executive department and to sift charges of malfeasance in such administration.”

There are limits on congressional investigative powers, especially regarding private citizens. But demanding testimony from the White House aide running the Office of Political Strategy because Congress believes “the office is being used a political campaign operation, a violation of federal election law,” is the very definition of “malfeasance” and therefore, well within the purview of the Committee’s investigative mandate.

Since contempt citations apparently mean even less than subpoenas to this administration, it’s hard to see how the Oversight Committee can compel anyone’s testimony who works at the White House. It’s just more evidence, if any more were needed, that this president regularly thumbs his nose at the law and tries to stonewall congress when the seek to expose his administration’s wrongdoing.

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Up to 5 Million Illegals to be Granted ‘Temporary Legal Status’

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

President Obama is preparing executive orders that would grant up to 5 million illegal aliens temporary legal status, giving them the ability to work in the US.

Time Magazine is reporting that, although Obamaa is keeping his options open, it is likely he will grant relief from deportation and the temporary work authorizations to millions of illegal immigrants. Some experts believe Obama possesses this authority, although Republicans in Congress will almost certainly dispute that.

Exactly what Obama plans to do is a closely held secret. But following the meeting with the activists, Obama declared his intention to use his executive authority to reform parts of a broken immigration system that has cleaved families and hobbled the economy. After being informed by Speaker John Boehner that the Republican-controlled House would not vote on a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration law this year, the President announced in a fiery speech that he was preparing “to do what Congress refuses to do, and fix as much of our immigration system as we can.”

Obama has been cautious about preempting Congress. But its failure to act has changed his thinking. The recent meeting “was really the first time we had heard from the administration that they are looking at” expanding a program to provide temporary relief from deportations and work authorization for undocumented immigrants, says Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

The White House won’t comment on how many undocumented immigrants could be affected. “I don’t want to put a number on it,” says a senior White House official, who says Obama’s timeline to act before the mid-term elections remains in place.

Obama has a broad menu of options at his disposal, but there are two major sets of changes he can order. The first is to provide affirmative relief from deportation to one or more groups of people. Under this mechanism, individuals identified as “low-priority” threats can come forward to seek temporary protection from deportation and work authorization. In 2012, the administration created a program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), that allowed eligible young unauthorized immigrants to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit.

The most aggressive option in this category would be expanding deferred action to anyone who could have gained legal status under the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate in June 2013. According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis, the Senate bill would have covered up to 8 million undocumented immigrants. It is unlikely that Obama goes that far. But even more modest steps could provide relief to a population numbering in the seven figures. “You can get to big numbers very quickly,” says Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

“Obama has been cautious about preempting Congress.” Uh-huh. He was cautious 41 times when he unilaterally altered Obamacare. He was cautious when he unilaterally changed the law to allow hundreds of thousands of DREAMers legal status. He was cautious when he unilaterally halted most deportations. He was cautious when he ordered the Justice Department not to enforce DOMA. He was cautious when he made illegal recess appointments to the NLRB.

I don’t think Time has the same definition of “cautious” as you and I do.

Rep. Gutierrez believes that the number will be about 5 million. It will almost certainly include agricultural workers to make the Chamber of Commerce happy. Others on the list to be amnestied include family members of DREAMers already made legal by Obama’s other executive order.

Does anyone believe that this “temporary legal status” will actually be temporary?

No comment yet from the 1.5 million people waiting in other countries who are seeking to come to the US legally.

 

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U.S. Evacuates Tripoli Embassy Personnel by Land to Tunisia

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The Defense Department was called in to evacuate all staff from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli in what the State Department called a “temporary staff relocation” to Tunis.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said “at the request of the Department of State, the U.S. military assisted in the relocation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli” today. There were reportedly 150 staff there including 80 Marines.

“All embassy personnel were relocated, including the Marine security guards who were providing security at the embassy and during the movement,” Kirby said. “The embassy staff was driven in vehicles to Tunisia.”

“During movement, F-16′s, ISR assets and an Airborne Response Force with MV-22 Ospreys provided security. The mission was conducted without incident, and the entire operation lasted approximately five hours.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. is “grateful to the Government of Tunisia for its cooperation and support” and that the staff would travel “onward” from there.

“Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya,” Harf said in a statement this morning. “We are committed to supporting the Libyan people during this challenging time, and are currently exploring options for a permanent return to Tripoli as soon as the security situation on the ground improves. In the interim, staff will operate from Washington and other posts in the region.”

“Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top Department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly. Security has to come first. Regrettably, we had to take this step because the location of our embassy is in very close proximity to intense fighting and ongoing violence between armed Libyan factions,” she continued.

“We will continue to engage all Libyans and the international community to seek a peaceful resolution to the current conflict and to advance Libya’s democratic transition. We reiterate that Libyans must immediately cease hostilities and begin negotiations to resolve their grievances. We join the international community in calling on all Libyans to respect the will of the people, including the authority of the recently-elected Council of Representatives, and to reject the use of violence to affect political processes. Many brave Libyans sacrificed to advance their country toward a more secure and prosperous future. We continue to stand solidly by the Libyan people as they endeavor to do so.”

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon simply said “as Americans evacuate from Tripoli, I want to express my deep gratitude for the U.S. forces who have been on standby alert there.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with all Americans in Libya,” McKeon added. “I wish them a safe return, and for the safety of American troops watching over them.”

Libyan airspace has largely been closed due to the violence. The Libya Herald reported that Libyan Airlines planes were being hit on the tarmac in missile attacks on Tripoli International Airport.

A Maltese oil worker was abducted in recent days and Turkey told all of its citizens to leave the country.

The ongoing violence threatens to derail a meeting of Libya’s House of Representatives planned in Benghazi on Aug. 4.

 

 

 

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Good News on Pennsylvania Hospital Shooting

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 - by Howard Nemerov

Yesterday, the Tatler posted about Dr. Lee Silverman, the psychiatrist at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania, who was forced to defend himself against an armed attacker. The outstanding issue was the defender violating hospital policy that required anybody but law enforcement to be disarmed on premises. This is a reasonable concern, considering incidents like the Walgreens pharmacist who likely saved lives by shooting at two armed robbers, and was then fired for violating company policy.

Today, Associated Press reports that the hospital stands behind their heroic doctor:

The hospital said Friday it was thankful for the “brave and difficult action” taken by Silverman and his colleagues. It said he remains a full member of the medical staff and “we look forward to Dr. Silverman’s return to serving patients at our hospital.”

There’s more back story about the attacker, too. He has a “lengthy history of gun arrests, violence and mental health problems.”

[The attacker] also had at least four gun arrests, along with assault and drug charges, according to police and court records. And he has been barred from at least one residential shelter because of his violent history, Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said.

He had 39 more rounds of ammunition on him when stopped by Dr. Silverman. The attacker had just killed Silverman’s associate and wounded Dr. Silverman, such a clear case of self-defense that local law enforcement was quick to support Silverman’s actions.

“If the doctor did not have a firearm, (and) the doctor did not utilize the firearm, he’d be dead today, and I believe that other people in that facility would also be dead,” [Delaware County District Attorney Jack] Whelan said.

Whelan also stated it was Silverman who was the intended target.

Dr. Silverman deserves our good wishes for a speedy and complete recovery, and hopes that Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital amends its firearms policy to include people like Dr. Silverman, responsible armed citizens who can stop mass murderers before authorities arrive to stabilize the situation.

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McKeon: White House Request That Congress Repeal Iraq Force Authorization ‘Past Absurd,’ ‘Dangerous’

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee ripped into the White House for trying to lobby House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on a vote today regarding the authorization of military force in Iraq, noting “if the administration fought terrorists with half the tenacity they fight straw men, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

The resolution from Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Walt Jones (R-N.C.) directed President Obama “pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove United States Armed Forces, other than Armed Forces required to protect United States diplomatic facilities and personnel, from Iraq.”

It passed 370-40, with 37 Republicans and three Democrats voting against the resolution.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice sent Boehner a letter before the vote stressing that Obama has “made clear that if American interests are threatened, ‘we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.’ The President has made exceedingly clear that he will consult closely with Congress and leaders in Iraq and in the region.”

“While we understand the House of Representatives will consider this resolution that supports the President’s position, we believe a more appropriate and timely action for Congress to take is the repeal of the outdated 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq (P.L. 107-243),” Rice continued. “With American combat troops having completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 18, 2011, the Iraq AUMF is no longer used for any U.S. government activities and the Administration fully supports its repeal. Such a repeal would go much further in giving the American people confidence that ground forces will not be sent into combat in Iraq.”

Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said when Boehner told him about the Rice letter, “I thought he was joking.”

“Obama Administration officials are warning us daily that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is ‘worse than al-Qaeda’ and an extreme threat to the American people. The American people aren’t worried that the president will send the military back to Iraq. They’re worried about a deadly terrorist state that can hit us from Wall Street to Main Street. They’re worried that this president refuses to do anything, at anytime, in any way, to stop the flood of national security crises that are popping up around the globe,” McKeon said.

“Why on earth is the president’s national security advisor pleading with Congress to help build Americans’ confidence that the president will not confront a clear and present danger to the United States? He needs no help there. Where is her plan to stop this looming threat? Where is her request for additional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to monitor the situation? Why isn’t she over here, building support to stop a common enemy? Why is she fighting Congress instead of ISIS? Why on earth is she refighting the 2003 Iraq War in 2014?”

McKeon said Rice’s move “isn’t just absurd.”

“We’re past absurd. This is dangerous. This administration is fiddling while the world burns, and now they’re demanding Congress play with them,” he said.

“If the administration fought terrorists with half the tenacity they fight straw men, we wouldn’t be in this mess. It is my sincere hope that someone comes to their senses on Pennsylvania Avenue, before something worse happens.”

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Kerry on Release of Sudanese Christian: ‘Their Concerns Were Our Cause’

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry lauded the U.S. role in promoting religious freedom worldwide after the release of Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim.

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli helped arrange Ibrahim’s departure from Sudan to Rome, according to Vatican Radio. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi welcomed her at the airport; she then met with Pope Francis at the Vatican for about half an hour along with her husband, American citizen Daniel Wani, her son Martin and baby Maya, born in prison two months ago.

Before her death sentence was overturned, Ibrahim faced capital punishment for marrying a Christian man. Her father was Muslim.

“Around the world, supporters of religious freedom celebrate the arrival of Meriam Ishag and her family in Rome. I am grateful to the Government of Italy for its role in working with the Government of Sudan to enable Ms. Ishag and her family to depart Sudan,” Kerry said in a statement today.

“I want to acknowledge the many individuals in the United States and the international community who expressed their concern at Ms. Ishag’s plight. Their concerns were our cause,” he continued. “I am especially proud that our diplomatic efforts through the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum helped secure Ms. Ishag’s and her family’s release. The United States will continue to be an unwavering advocate for the right to freedom of religion worldwide.”

“I extend my personal best wishes to Ms. Ishag and her family as they rebuild their lives and restore hope for a future where all people can live their faiths fully and freely.”

The House today sent to President Obama’s desk a bill, originally introduced in the Senate by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and passed July 10, to encourage the appointment a special envoy to promote religious freedom among religious minorities in the Middle East.

“As we continue to witness disturbing violence against religious minorities in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, I’m pleased both chambers of Congress have passed this bipartisan bill to demonstrate that the U.S. takes religious freedom very seriously,” said Blunt. “I urge the President to sign this bill into law quickly and appoint a special envoy to promote religious freedom among all persecuted religious communities in these critical regions.”

“It is a tragic fact that in much of this region, the freedom to worship in keeping with one’s conscience is in doubt,” Levin said. “Passage of this legislation strengthens America’s role in protecting religious minorities from violence, persecution and fear.”

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Self-Defense Story With a Twist

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Howard Nemerov

ABC reported:

A psychiatric outpatient opened fire Thursday inside a psychiatrist’s office at a hospital near Philadelphia, killing his caseworker and slightly wounding the doctor, who shot the gunman with his personal firearm, authorities said.

However, what should be a clear-cut case of self-defense may run afoul of that well-meaning but dangerous myth: The Gun-Free Zone.

The hospital has a sign at the entrance to check weapons when entering. ABC says their official policy is that only on-duty law enforcement can carry on the premises.

Here are the problems with pretend-gun-free zones.

Another staff person heard arguing and saw the attacker with a gun. They closed their office door and called 911. This is reasonable. However, it took many minutes until SWAT arrived, and the first thing they did was to evacuate the area and lock it down to make sure there wasn’t another gunman. Fine, they don’t want to be shot, and that’s well and good. I don’t want cops getting shot, either. But the minutes needed to secure the area equate to many shooting victims when an active shooter is present.

The Supreme Court case Castle Rock v. Gonzales proves that police have no duty to protect you, and like any reasoning human being, police entering a danger zone may be inclined to protect themselves first. This is reasonable, because a dead cop can’t protect you.

What ABC conveniently left out was this gem provided by the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Donald Molineux, chief of the Yeadon Police Department, said that if Silverman returned fire and wounded Plotts, he “without a doubt saved lives.”

But the Inquirer also reported that it’s against hospital policy for “anyone other than security guards to carry weapons.”

So, now what happens to the man who risked everything to stop a potential mass murder?

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Dallas County Has Its Priorities Right Wrong

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Howard Nemerov

Fellow Tattler Bryan Preston reported that Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was arrested by the FBI on numerous counts of using his position for personal gain. Another news item puts Dallas County in even better perspective.

According to Dallas Morning News, Dallas County fails “to enforce laws that forbid certain domestic abusers to have guns.” State and federal laws allow the disarming of certain persons adjudged to have committed, or to be a threat of, domestic violence. Some application of these laws are suspect, but that’s for another column. It’s true that some people are a danger to spouses and family members, and the law should allow some due process for rendering them less of a threat.

As the gun banners will tell you: If it saves a life, it’s worth it. On that note, let’s look closer at Commissioner Price. He’s reported to have called one person a “fat boy” in public, and told white people to all go to hell.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice:

We define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone…

Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children. [Emphasis added]

Price is documented to use his position as a county commissioner to threaten, name-call, and psychologically intimidate people who disagree with him. He does this in order to gain or maintain power and control over his alleged constituents. Now, the FBI agrees that he has also used his power to enrich himself at the People’s expense.

Politicians offer a clear and present threat of domestic violence, and should be licensed and registered. After all, if it saves one life…

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US Releases Armed Mexican Police Who Strayed Into Texas

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Sharyl Attkisson reports that the US Customs and Border Patrol has released three Mexican police officers who strayed into Texas while pursuing cop killer suspects. The officers were armed with AR-15 rifles and Beretta 9-mm pistols.

The three claim to have had “tunnel vision” during the pursuit, when they walked across a dry section of riverbed from Juarez to El Paso. They were pursuing suspects who had shot and killed a police officer and wounded another during an ambush close to the border. A 16-year-old girl was also wounded in the firefight. The officers strayed into Texas Wednesday, and have already been released. The suspects have apparently not been caught.

Attkisson notes how differently the US treated the armed Mexican police officers, versus how Mexico continues to treat a US Marine.

Their prompt release contrasts with the case of U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, a 26-year old Afghanistan war veteran, who has been held in a Mexican jail since March after he reportedly took a wrong turn and was stopped at the San Ysidro border crossing in Mexico while carrying three registered guns in his pickup truck.

Tahmooressi was not on duty or in uniform, but also did not intend to break any laws. He did not even intend to enter Mexico. He alerted Mexican authorities immediately after he made the wrong turn into Mexico, and was quickly jailed.

According to Rep. Duncan Hunter, Wednesday’s incursion by armed Mexican officers into the United States is one of about 300 that occur each year.

Mexico’s violent drug war frequently spills over into Texas. There is no corresponding violence that spills over from the US side into Mexico.

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CNN Libels Israel, Promotes Hamas Propaganda Line

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Israel to try to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Neither side wants a cease-fire at this point, and neither side agreed to one — at any point.

Here’s how CNN reported the lack of any cease-fire deal.

 

That’s an impressive amount of propaganda to pack into one image. The crying, wounded child juxtaposed with that chyron is no accident. It puts Israel in the position of “rejecting” a deal and putting that child and others in the crosshairs.

There was never a deal.

It’s Hamas that is intentionally targeting children, and intentionally putting Palestinian children in harm’s way. Not Israel. Hamas hides its weapons in schools. Not Israel.

There never was a deal. Hamas rejected a cease-fire every bit as much as Israel did. More, really, since Hamas started the war in the first place.

So, CNN, what’s your excuse here?

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Netherlands, Australia Sending Troops to Secure MH17 Crash Site In Ukraine

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The interests of both countries in securing the MH17 site are clear: The plane was flying from the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur and many of the 298 victims were Dutch citizens. Not all of the victims’ bodies have been recovered yet. There were Australians and British citizens on the flight as well. Australia is close to hammering out a deal with Ukraine’s government to get its forces, mostly police personnel, in to help secure the site.

The Dutch are looking at sending combat-ready special forces in to secure the site, which is understandable but raises the stakes — the area around the site is still under the Russian rebels’ control and those so-called rebels have every interest in stifling the investigation. The rebels are even now reportedly using the credit cards and cell phones of the victims that were recovered from the crash.

The Netherlands is poised to send its most elite soldiers to secure the crash site of Malaysian Airways MH17, the Telegraaf reports on Friday.

The paper says all leave for the commandos of the 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade based in Schaarsbergen and Assen has been cancelled and that soldiers will leave for eastern Ukraine this weekend.

In addition, Dutch special forces currently in Mali are being recalled and sent on to the area around Donetsk, the paper says, without quoting sources.

The aim of sending troops is to ensure the 23 Dutch crash investigators and 40 unarmed military police officers can do their job, the paper says.

With Russia now firing on Ukraine military targets inside Ukraine from Russian territory, it’s not hard at all to see how this may escalate into a full blown world war.

Add to that, the British are considering sending in their forces to secure the site, too. One hit on troops from any NATO ally from Russia or its proxies and things could spiral out of control quickly.

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Rumsfeld an Alien Wizard? Cuba Faked Moon Landing? Congress Banned from Editing Wikipedia

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Critics have slammed Wikipedia, the crowdsourced online encyclopedia, saying its lack of professional editors makes it an unreliable source.

Well, that’s true when Congress gets involved.

It seems our hardworking representative(s) and/or their hardworking staffer(s) devoted time, on the public dime, to altering Wikipedia pages to accuse the Cuban government of faking the moon landings (when everyone knows it was the U.S. government that did that), and to name Donald Rumsfeld as an alien wizard.

It seems that those edits were the final straw for Wikipedia’s administrators, who implemented a 10-day ban on any changes coming from one particular IP address within the US Congress, “due to disruptive editing originating from that address”.

Don’t expect a Congressional investigation into this misuse of public funds, because…

a) It’s Congress, and

b) there’s no physical evidence, because government hard-drives never survive these sorts of incidents.

And stop laughing at us, Great Britain. Your MPs have been caught doing the same…a lot.

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Gallup: If You Oppose Israel, You’re Probably an Uneducated Democrat

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Gallup has released a new poll on Americans’ opinions of the conflict in Gaza. It’s no surprise that Republicans tend to side with Israel, and Democrats tend to believe that Israel’s military actions against Hamas are unjustified. Fully 47% of Democrats take that view, compared with just 31% who back Israel. That, plus independent voters’ ambivalence toward Israel, helps explain why the Obama administration is not backing Israel more strongly than calling for a (now rejected) cease-fire. Their base does not back Israel.

The educational differences on the issue are found in this chart.

gallup-israel-education

 

The more educated one is, the more likely one is to believe that Israel is taking justified action against Hamas terrorists.

Younger Americans tend to go left on everything from socialism to redefining marriage, and lack of support for democratic Israel against Hamas terrorists is no exception. This is despite Israel’s long history of supporting women’s and minority rights, while the Palestinians side with extremism that denies women and non-Muslims their rights.

This poll is a warning: If the rising millennial generation doesn’t change its attitudes in a hurry, Israel cannot count on American support for more than few more years.

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Stupid and Lame: Wealthy Actress Kristen Bell Begs for Minimum Wage Increase (Update: Reason Rebuttal FTW)

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

According to CelebrityNetWorth, actress Kristen Bell is worth $16 million. It’s fair to say that she make far more than a “living wage” for pretending to be other people in movies and on TV.

The actress is lending her looks and voice to the Democrats’ campaign to increase the federal minimum wage, on Funny or Die. Bell stars as a Mary Poppins knock-off. Take a look.

Funny or Die has gone all in for the minimum wage campaign, mocking House Speaker John Boehner over the issue in this ad video starring Harry Hamlin. Is the Obama administration or the Democratic National Committee paying Funny or Die for these clearly political ads videos that border on in-kind donations?

Liberals find Bell’s video persuasive, or at least politically useful. Democrat Rep. Diana DeGette is flogging it on Facebook.

In the video, Bell slams her boss for not paying her a “living wage,” despite the fact that as a live-in nanny, Poppins got full room and board in addition to pay for caring for the boss’ kids. Bell quits, mocks her boss, and curses in front of the children she is supposed to be raising, but never seems to figure out that if she is still making minimum wage, the problem may not be with her boss, but with her and her own job performance and her ability to stand up for herself.

Bell/Poppins never mentions the CBO study that found that raising the minimum wage will cost about half a million jobs.

In short, the unfunny video that barely scrapes the surface of the minimum wage issue and works in a slam on the Tea Party deserves to die.

Update: Reason rebuts with a win.

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Speak-O! More Audio of Obamacare Architect Jon Gruber Touting State-Based Exchanges Emerges

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Today, Obamacare architect Jon Gruber claimed to be at a loss as to why he said in 2012 that the Obamacare subsidies were directly tied to the state exchanges. It’s quite a mystery, a typo, Gruber claims about his own statements.

It’s “unambigious that it’s a typo,” Gruber tells Chris Matthews.

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It can’t be a typo, though, because Gruber said on video that the subsidies are tied to the exchanges, which is at the heart of the Halbig case against Obamacare. Call it a “speak-o,” then as is moving on Twitter.

If it’s a speak-o, it’s a recurring one. John Sexton has found more audio of Gruber saying that the Obamacare exchanges are tied to the state exchanges — that the exchanges are integral to Obamacare itself.

In addition, it’s worth pointing out that on this occasion, unlike the one revealed last night, Gruber’s statement was not in response to a question. During both speeches, Gruber listed three possible threats to the implementation of Obamacare. In both cases the third “threat” was that states would not set up exchanges. In the January 10th speech (above) he simply went into more detail about the nature of that threat. In the January 18th speech that detail wasn’t mentioned until the Q&A.

The exchanges and subsidies are at the heart of the Halbig case:

In brief, these cases claim the IRS has exceeded its statutory authority in authorizing tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies on federal exchanges because the PPACA only authorizes tax credits for the purchase of insurance on an exchange “established by the State under Section 1311.”  Section 1311 instructs states to create exchanges.  Federal exchanges are established under Section 1321 of the Act.

At one level these cases present a straightforward statutory interpretation question.  The text is clear and does not contradict any other provisions in the Act.  That would seem to settle the matter.  On the other hand, the PPACA is a complicated and poorly drafted statute and, because over 30 states refused to set up their own exchanges, invalidation of the IRS rule could have a significant effect on its implementation.  So the federal government has pushed back hard and has sought to argue that what the statute says cannot be what it means.

The administration is arguing that the plain text of the law does not mean what it says. Gruber has tried to make that case too, but his own words keep coming back to argue against him.

Update: Gruber lied in court.

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First Howard Stern, Now Joan Rivers Fires Up Passionate Support for Israel

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Radio jock Howard Stern went off on a listener who took Hamas’ side against Israel earlier this week. “If you’re anti-Israel, you’re anti-America!” Stern said, which is both true and probably doesn’t bother Hamas’ staunchest defenders.

Now Joan Rivers is coming to Israel’s defense too. TMZ asked Rivers about the ongoing fight in a street interview. Rivers pulled no punches, saying repeatedly that Hamas started the war, that it hides its weapons in civilian homes, schools and hospitals, and Israel has to defend its people.

“Palestinians, you cannot throw rockets and expect Israel not to defend themselves,” Rivers said. TMZ asks about civilian casualties, and Rivers responds “Don’t you dare put weapons stashes in private homes.” Rivers also slams Selena Gomez for her pro-Palestinian tweet. Rivers goes on to hammer CNN, the BBC and other media who have played up Palestinian casualties without noting that Hamas started the war by firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

Watch.

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Terrorist Tycoons: Meet Hamas’ Richest Men

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Palestinians project an image of poverty and powerlessness to the world. While most Palestinians do live in poverty, especially when compared to their Israeli neighbors, Globes profiles several Hamas leaders who have used their positions to amass incredible wealth while their own people suffer.

Hamas’ terrorist tycoons include Dr. Musa Abu Marzook. He was a US-based Hamas fundraiser who was arrested for supporting terrorism in 1995. After serving two years in prison, he was freed and allowed to leave. Marzook kept the money he raised for Hamas, left the US and resides in Gaza. He is estimated to be worth $2 to $3 billion now and maintains numerous ties to terrorists including al Qaeda, according to the Globes report.

Marzook is followed closely in wealth by Khaled Mashaal, who is estimated to be worth about $2.6 billion.

Following them is one of Hamas’ most public faces, Ismail Haniyeh. He is said to be worth about $4 million, which he has registered in the names of various family members to conceal the true size of his fortune.

According to Globes:

The question of where these officials got their money exposes the corrupt system used by Hamas through its control of the money pipelines in the Gaza Strip. They treated the money as their own personal possession. “Most of the money that went into the pockets of people in the Gaza Strip was obtained through tunnel deals and the creation of a flourishing smuggling market, which it is believed has created several hundred millionaires in the Gaza Strip, although most of the people there don’t live like that. The man pulling the strings from Egypt with the tunnels is none other than the number two man in the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat el-Shater. His connection with Hamas was ostensibly for Islamic religious purposes, but they actually built a prosperous business, which earned phenomenal profits,” Elad says.

The Arshaq Al-Awsad (Middle East) newspaper, one of the most prestigious in the Arab world, recently reported that at least 600 millionaires were living in the Gaza Strip – the same people sitting on the money pipelines there.

Elad describes how the system worked and to how much money (huge amounts) Hamas leaders were exposed: “Senior Hamas leaders charged a 25% ‘tax’ and $2,000 on every disassembled vehicle coming through the tunnels. There are hundreds of smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Gaza, and these are the types of tunnel Israel has been less busy in destroying, because Egypt has destroyed many of them. From June 2007 until 2010, $800 million in cash was transferred in tunnel deals (according to information from Hamas money traders). Hamas also taxes Gaza merchants on everything traded, from boxes of vegetables to luxury cars, and the leaders scoop the money into their pockets.”

In summary, Elad says, “This is corruption at the highest level… What has united the Palestinian leaders all throughout the years is the saying, ‘We have to get rich quick.’ This is how the regime sees it. Their leaders have no shame.

The PLO’s Yasser Arafat was reportedly worth $1 billion when he died.

In addition to its graft, oppression and corruption, Palestinian leaders also live on money provided to them by the United States and Europe. The US and Europe pay hundreds of millions in aid to the Palestinians every year, mostly through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Some of that aid ends up in the hands of the Palestinian government, including Hamas, despite US law against supporting terrorism and despite the fact that Hamas is still a designated terrorist organization. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Israel this week pledging $47 million more aid to the Palestinians, while calling for a cease-fire as Israel pounds Hamas forces, tunnels and weapons caches.

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Why Not Set Up Refugee Kiosks in Honduras? Can We Consider Any Idea from Obama, McCain?

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

A plan to evaluate refugee status for Hondurans in Honduras currently makes the rounds in D.C. – apparently backed by some in the Obama administration, it resembles a recent bill from Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona. The idea is to protect people, especially youth and children, from a dangerous trek across coyote-infested lands.

No one knows the details of this plan to set up, in effect, refugee immigration kiosks in Honduras, and the White House says no decision has been made, but already there’s pushback. This raises the question: Do Republicans, conservatives and libertarians need to shoot it down immediately because…

1) It might increase immigration from Honduras, and

2) might spread to other countries, and/or

2) it’s backed by McCain and Obama?

After all, we’re talking about facilitating legal immigration, and this might keep potential immigrants from piling up in U.S. border towns, jeopardizing public health and straining social services.

Regardless of the eventual shape of this plan, it’s time for folks on the Right to take the moral high ground on immigration. Oddly enough, if we’re serious about that, we’ll find that the issue isn’t immigration at all.

I know that even in whispering this, I may run afoul of my friends who think that it is the tide of immigrants — some unwilling to assimilate — that’s destroying our country. They’re stealing American jobs, or bearing contagions, including radical Islam. Seal the border.

Before our knees jerk in opposition to the latest proposal, we need to ask: Will the tide stop anytime soon under any plan which can actually pass Congress, and be implemented efficaciously?

No. The tide will stop when America stops being the beacon of liberty. I contend that one who wishes to stem the tide of immigration, inadvertently wishes American demise.

The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus

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Entire Firefly/Serenity Cast to Reunite. Sort Of.

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Shiny news from Comic-Con: The entire cast of Joss Whedon’s 2002 cult sci-fi series Firefly and movie Serenity have signed on to reunite.

They’re not coming back to TV, though, to extend the series from its original 14-episode run. And they’re not making a movie sequel to Serenity. Which is too bad, because that movie was one of the best sci-fi films of the century so far.

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The cast — Captain Mal, Inara, River Tam, Jane, the whole gang — are reuniting for Firefly Online, the long-promised MMORPG that carries the ‘verse to PC, Mac, iOS and Android. Even characters who were killed off in the movie have come back for the game set in the Firefly ‘verse.

The news seems to have crashed the game’s site.

Getting the cast together for a full series might be impossible, since most of the originals have gone on to have longer running hit series or promising new series including Homeland (Morena Baccarin), Castle (Nathan Fillion) and The Last Ship (Adam Baldwin). Baldwin also has a solid gaming career going, with voiceover work in major titles including Injustice: Gods Among Us and Batman: Arkham Origins.

Firefly Online will let players captain and outfit their own ships, hire crews, run from Alliance heavies, smuggle stuff, explore worlds and aim to misbehave. With the entire cast reprising their roles, FO is about as close as we’re ever likely to get to more true content. If it follows the lead of other MMORPGs like Star Wars: The Old Republic and DC Universe Online, the series characters will turn up in downloadable content including new storylines.

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Campaigning with the Rich and Richer, First Lady Wants the ‘Biggest, Fattest Checks’

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

While crises build from Ukraine to the Middle East to the Texas-Mexico border, President and First Lady Obama have checked out on the presidency to continue their manic fundraising tour. Last night they stopped in Chicago, and Mrs. Obama made no secret of why they were there.

“We need you to write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write,” Mrs. Obama told a crowd of donors in Chicago, her hometown. “Writing those checks is the single-most impactful thing that you can do right now.”

The president and first lady, along with Vice President Joe Biden, have stepped up their fundraising schedule in recent weeks as November’s congressional contests approach. Democrats’ chances of taking control of the House appear slim, and Republicans badly want to pick up the six Senate seats they’ll need to take over that chamber.

While Obama’s approval ratings hover at record lows — leaving many incumbent Democrats wary of campaigning alongside him — the President remains a draw at high-dollar fundraisers, which he’s attended in New York, Texas, Colorado, Washington state and California just in the past month.

His journey west this week included two stops in Seattle, two in San Francisco, and two in Los Angeles, including a star-studded afternoon event at the home of “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes.

It takes fat cats to write fat checks. Fat cats don’t write fat checks without expecting something in return.

The Obamas are spending more and more time among the left’s fat cats even as they denounce right-leaning donors like the Koch brothers, accusing them of “buying democracy.”

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Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price Arrested (Updated)

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, Democrat, once demanded an apology because a fellow commissioner used the scientific term “black hole.”

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Today Price finds himself in a hole of an entirely different kind, jail, with the probability of heading to federal prison.

The loudmouth commissioner who answers just about every inquiry into his outrageous conduct with versions of “That’s racist!” was taken into custody by the FBI early this morning. Charges will be announced today.

WFAA TV in Dallas reports that Price’s arrest means that the federal grand jury that has been investigating him for years has completed its work, handed down indictments and now the commissioner will stand trial. Other defendants are being arrested around Dallas today, ahead of the 11 AM news conference the FBI has called.

Price has been under FBI investigation since 2011, on myriad corruption charges. The FBI searched his home that year, and turned up $229,000 in cash and expensive watches. One bag of cash that was allegedly found in Price’s home was full of $100 bills, and marked “cheerleaders.” Let’s hope the FBI tells us what that was about.

Price has been in office since 1984, becoming one of the most powerful politicians in north Texas over the years.

2011 was an auspicious year for Commissioner Price. That’s the year that the FBI started taking a close look at him, and it’s also the year that he told constituents to “all of you are white, go to hell.” He also called one constituent a “fat boy.”

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“Go to hell”? How about “go to jail”…

Update: The Dallas Morning News sheds some light on the charges Price faces.

Conspiracy to Commit Bribery Concerning a Local Government Receiving Federal Benefits

Deprivation of Honest Services by Mail Fraud and Aiding and Abetting

Conspiracy to Defraud the Internal Revenue Service

Subscribing to a False and Fraudulent U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

Hm, tax fraud. Perhaps Price will be the first to try claiming that his hard drive crashed on the IRS. And then shout “That’s racist!” when the IRS doesn’t buy its own excuse.

 

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Stephen King’s Immigration Idiocy

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

 

From the world of social media, controversy trended earlier this week around comments (seen above) by horror writer Stephen King. The author of best-selling novels like The Shining and Pet Sematary challenged the convictions of Christians and Tea Partiers when it comes to helping children in need. The Christian Post reports:

An aggregation of King’s tweets by Twitchy, however, revealed some pointed rebuttals casting him as a hypocrite, including a few from conservative radio host Dana Loesch.

“Didn’t see you amongst the Christians ministering to the hungry in McAllen last weekend, @StephenKing. Full calendar?” Loesch noted on Twitter.

“Hey @StephenKing, look at this MEDICAL TRUCK provided privately BY A CHRISTIAN,” she added in another tweet.

Journalist Lachlan Markay also found King’s tweet particularly odd.

“Very odd tweet, @StephenKing, given the lengths to which many prominent Christians have gone of late to help refugee kids at the border,” he tweeted.

The nature of King’s hypocrisy deserves note. Those Christians, conservatives, and Tea Partiers who have rallied charity to meet the needs of illegal immigrant children held in Texas have done so in pursuit of their own values. Their personal beliefs and convictions motivate their actions, and they act with their own resources. By contrast, King assigns others the task of caring and providing. He stands eager to see Christians and Tea Partiers sacrificed for what he regards as a greater good.

It’s the difference between egoistic charity and altruistic sacrifice. Unfortunately, our language largely confuses these concepts. Caring for others is regarded as altruism, when it’s actually an egoistic chosen value. And human sacrifice is justified by appeals to caring, as if sacrificing someone could ever be a caring act.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 38:23 minutes long; 36.91 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Obamacare’s Architect Admitted in 2012 That Only State Exchanges Get Subsidies

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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In a video discovered by the Competitive Enterprise Institute from January of 2012, one of the chief architects of Obamacare says the Affordable Care Act provides no tax credits for citizens in states that do not set up their own exchanges.

Speaking to an audience at Noblis, a nonprofit scientific and engineering research organization in Falls Church, Virginia, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber urged states to set up their own insurance exchanges so citizens could take advantage of the tax credits. An audience member commented, “It’s my understanding that if states don’t provide [exchanges], then the federal government will provide them for the states.” Gruber responded,

What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this. [emphasis added]

At the time, states were being pressured to set up their own exchanges instead of leaving the federal government to manage them.

Gruber’s remarks at Noblis came five months before Halbig v. Burwell was filed. Halbig claimed exactly what Gruber is saying in the video: that Obamacare’s subsidies for private health insurance were limited to state-run health exchanges. Earlier this week, the D.C. Circuit Court agreed, striking down the Obama administration’s implementation of the federal subsidies under an Internal Revenue Service rule. The IRS had expanded the meaning of  the “established by the state” language in the Affordable Care Act to include the federal exchanges after only a handful of states set up their own state-based exchange.

Jonathan Gruber, who helped design the Massachusetts law that was the model for Obamacare and was paid almost $400,000 to consult with the Obama administration on the new law, made no attempt to conceal his feelings about the new health care law in the 2012 speech. “I’m biased, I’m in favor of this type of law, I won’t hide that,” Gruber told the Noblis audience. In the years after the passage of Obamacare, Gruber worked as a busy consultant on the issue, with several states hiring him for his expertise in the area of health insurance markets.

Gruber has since evolved on the issue of subsidies for federal exchanges.

In January 2013, he called the idea that Congress only intended the subsidies and tax credits to be available through state exchanges a “screwy interpretation” of Obamacare. In an interview with Mother Jones, Gruber huffed, “It’s nutty. It’s stupid…it’s essentially unprecedented in our democracy. This was law democratically enacted, challenged in the Supreme Court, and passed the test, and now [Republicans] are trying again. They’re desperate.”

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Rice Lauds Freedom of Sudanese Christian Without Mentioning Christianity

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House lauded the freedom of Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her faith, without mentioning Christianity.

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli helped arrange Ibrahim’s departure from Sudan to Rome, according to Vatican Radio. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi welcomed her at the airport; she then met with Pope Francis at the Vatican for about half an hour along with her husband, American citizen Daniel Wani, her son Martin and baby Maya, born in prison two months ago.

Before her death sentence was overturned, Ibrahim faced capital punishment for marrying a Christian man. Her father was Muslim.

“The United States is delighted that Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag is now safe and free and will soon be traveling to the United States. For months, Americans of all faiths kept Ms. Ishag in their thoughts and prayers as Sudanese authorities sentenced her to death for the alleged crime of apostasy,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a statement. “Today, she and her family have left Sudan on their journey to freedom. Her departure with her immediate family—including her infant daughter, born in custody—is a testament to her unyielding faith and the support she received from friends and allies, including our Embassy in Khartoum and the broader U.S. government.”

“On behalf of the American people, I am proud to celebrate the arrival of Ms. Ishag and her family in Rome. We look forward to the day when they arrive in America,” Rice added. “In addition to heralding the tireless efforts of my U.S. government colleagues to ensure her safety, I also want to extend my profound thanks to the Italian Government for its dedicated efforts on their behalf.” Ibrahim’s death sentence was overturned last month but Sudanese officials kept her from leaving the country by questioning her travel documents.

“Ms. Ishag’s freedom, while meaningful in its own right, also serves as a reminder that all countries, including Sudan, must uphold the universal right to freedom of religion. The United States has and will continue to support those denied this freedom, drawing strength from Ms. Ishag’s example.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said today that the family does have the proper documents to enter the U.S. “She and her family will make the determination on their travel to the United States. It’s really up to the family,” Harf said, adding that she didn’t know if the Vatican interceded in Ibrahim’s case.

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, noted chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), “have been extensively engaged in efforts to secure her release,” including a hearing to draw publicity to her case the day before she was released to the Italians.

“She and her family deserve an opportunity for a new chapter,” Royce said. “…While Meriam and her family escaped Sudan’s religious persecution, apostasy is still on the books in Sudan, leaving the chances open for other reprehensible cases like hers.”

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Deli Food for Thought

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Nathan D. Lichtman

Israel hasn’t been feeling the love lately. Not only are they in the midst of a literal war with Hamas, but also a PR war. I already wrote about how long it took President Obama to even make a phone call to Prime Minister Netanyahu, but his failure to lead has gotten worse, and has dictated another response from me.

This FAA debacle is indicative of an Administration that is throwing around its political leverage to bully Israel into succumbing to their harmful cease-fire demands. They prohibited all US flights from landing at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. They haven’t even prohibited flights to Moscow, Kiev, or anywhere near Ukraine—and we just witnessed a plane shot out of the sky there! But Israel gets flights canceled?!?

John Kerry’s lobbying hard for a cease-fire arrangement, which would be more restrictive and harmful to Israel than the Egyptian one…which Israel accepted. Think about that: Egypt, a country that has traditionally not gotten along with Israel, is promoting a less-harsh cease-fire than the US Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, a coincidence—Israel gets flights banned. I think it’s more than a coincidence.

Israel relies heavily on tourism. In 2013, Israel had 3.5 million visitors, which propelled the market to a $12 billion industry. The situation in Israel has already slammed its tourism profits. According to a Yahoo Travel article: “’It is devastating us economically,’ said Leon Avigad, the developer of Brown Hotels, a small collection of boutique hotels in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. ‘We are losing tons of money by the minute. The entire profit from the summer is wiped out.’” And Avigad said these things in the days leading up to the flight ban.

So the FAA, under Obama, really hit Israel where it hurts. An already suffering tourism trade, and they ban flights… Doesn’t seem like how we should be treating one of our top allies.

Obama is flexing his muscles, likely because he can’t seem to get away with it against Putin. Israel, he thinks, is one situation he can dominate. His egotistical and radical nature leads him to assert himself into this problem, not on Israel’s side, but by condemning them with bad cease-fire proposals and by essentially threatening them economically.

It’s no wonder why Marc Schulman, of Newsweek, reports, “On a number of different levels, there is a growing sense of frustration with the Obama administration among average Israelis.”

So, rather than stay in Washington and deal with these problems, Obama went on another fundraising trip these past couple days. This time, he came to my neck of the woods—Los Angeles. Probably to get some of that big-time Hollywood money for the Democrats.

As an aside, his motorcade has been mucking up the traffic here pretty badly, even getting the nickname “Obamajam.” They even closed down a street, keeping a woman from crossing while in labor. He wasn’t even at the scene while this was going on.

But back on topic, the Jewish community here, in LA, is very close to the events in Israel, with pro-Israel rallies going on often and with much fervor. I, personally, attended New Community Jewish High School in the San Fernando Valley area of the city, and just found out that a fellow alumnus has been hospitalized after a bomb went off near him in Gaza. Max Levin was serving as a part of the Israeli Defense Forces, when the incident occurred. He is in stable condition, but wounded. I don’t know him, as he graduated several years after I did, but it touches the community. Out of my small private high school alone, 26 alumni currently serve in the IDF.

So with Obama being seen as a hindrance to Israeli needs, or maybe even a counterforce, what did he do while here?

Our photo-op-in-chief went to the famous Canter’s Deli, a Jewish deli that’s been in the predominantly Jewish Fairfax district for almost 85 years. The patronizing President figured he would show his support for the Jewish community by eating a rye bread sandwich and schmoozing.

I cannot believe the condescension he is exposing here, especially just after telling Governor Perry that he doesn’t participate in photo-ops.

We need a leader, not a schmoozer, and we need a President who will stand up for our allies.

Oy gevalt!

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Caliphate Adds Tourism Sector with Passport-Free Travel

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

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The Islamic State has added a tourism sector to lure the ummah to the large swath of territory ISIS seized in Syria and Iraq:

Running twice-weekly tours from Syria’s Raqa to Iraq’s Anbar, ISIS buses fly the group’s black flag and play militant songs throughout the journey.

One of the first clients was Chechen militant Abu Abdel Rahman al-Shishani, aged 26, who took his new Syrian wife on honeymoon, according to activist Hadi Salameh.

“Just after they got married, he took her to Anbar. These militants are very romantic,” Salameh joked.

But the two weren’t able to sit together, because “women sit in the back, and men at the front. The bus driver plays militant songs all through the ride, and the ISIS black flag flies over the bus.”

ISIS proclaimed a “caliphate” last month straddling Iraq and Syria. According to a rebel from eastern Syria, the tours started operating immediately afterwards.

…Salameh said the group’s tour buses “start their journey in Tal Abyad (on Syria’s Turkish border) and end in Iraq’s Anbar. You can get off wherever you want, and you don’t need a passport to cross the border.”

The activist, who lives in Raqa and uses a pseudonym to avoid retribution from IS, told AFP via the Internet the company is for profit.

“Of course it’s not free. The price varies, depending on how far you go on the bus,” Salameh said.

Clientele has primarily been foreign fighters who speak English; a translator on board points out the sights. Tours run on Wednesdays and Sundays.

No word on whether this is one of the caliphate’s tour guides:

 

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