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Gutierrez Thinks Obama Will Mandate 5-10 Year Residency on Immigration Order

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who leads the Immigration Task Force in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, offered some clues as to what could be in President Obama’s executive order.

“I think the president is going to choose between five and 10 years, that is that you have to be in the United States for five to 10 years and you have to be working here and you are going to pay for a background check,” Gutierrez said on Fox last night. “You’re going to submit your fingerprints and they come back clear. He is going to give you a work authorization for two years and a Social Security card. He’s going to put you on the books paying taxes. And I think he is going to include that before you submit for an application you have roots in America. And I think that’s what he is going to do.”

“But that’s only going to be part. That’s going to be the largest part what he does in the number of people that’s about three million people. But I think what he’s going to do — even he’s going to do stuff for agricultural, farmers in this country, they need a million.”

Gutierrez said “there is no citizenship” in the plan.

“The president has no authority. Only through an act of Congress can they ever be granted citizenship,” he said. “Think of it this way. Here is how I look at it, like is he going to set them aside and say ‘I’m not going to prosecute these people, I’m not going after them so I get to — so I can go after the really bad guys and use the power of the government, the deportations will continue, but go after another.’”

Gutierrez said they won’t be able to sign up for welfare, food stamps and other federal benefits.

“And they can’t get a Pell grant to go to college. They cannot. Obviously we are raising money in our own community to help them, but from private sector,” the congressman said. “No, there won’t be any government benefits. And I just want to make clear to the American public — even the background check, they have to pay. The processing of their documentation, in order to get that work permit, probably will be around $500. There cannot be a cent of tax dollar money used even in granting them the work authorization. They must pay for it out of their pocket.”

He estimated four to five months from the period of Obama’s announcement to when illegal immigrants can start applying for legal status under the order.

Gutierrez suggested locking Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a room together until they arrive at a compromise immigration bill. “Let them come back in 45 days,” he said.

“They control the House. They control the Senate,” he said of Republicans in the next Congress. “Tell them to stop whining. Get the legislation done and put it on the president’s desk. That will stop everything.”

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SNL’s Cecily Strong to Headline D.C. Media’s Annual Self-Celebration

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 - by Liz Sheld

The White House Correspondence Association has announced the featured entertainer at their annual festival of self-love will be Cecily Strong of Saturday Night Live.

“Her political humor is sly and edgy, and it comes with a Chicago accent,” WHCD President Christi Parsons emailed.

SNL’s rating have been in the dumps lately, so it doesn’t seem like the public agrees with Mr. Parson.

Strong has a special connection to the Washington D.C. press. “Her father, Bill Strong, is a legendary former Associated Press bureau chief at the Illinois Statehouse.”

Apparently, it’s important that she’s a woman, as the association president made a point of saying Strong will be the fourth woman to entertain the group.

Mark your calendars: the event is scheduled for April 25, 2015.

 

 

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Rep.-Elect Mia Love: Obama’s Immigration Move ‘Looks Like Dictatorship’

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Mia Love is the daughter of immigrants from Haiti. She has worked her way up to become a mayor and is now heading to Congress as the first black Republican woman ever elected to the House, where she will represent Utah’s 4th district.

Love appeared on Fox this morning, and blasted President Obama’s decision to unilaterally grant amnesty to as many as 5,000,000 illegal aliens currently living in the United States.

Love noted that 74% of the voters say they want the president to work with Congress, not go unilateral. “He can’t make unilateral decisions,” Love said.

Asked to respond to Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s support of Obama’s unilateralism, Love pulled no punches.

“This is not about her. This is not about the president,” Love said. “It’s about the American people and what the American people want the president to do. The American people want Congress to work with the president, want the president to work with Congress so that we can be compassionate, so that we can create a uniform rule of naturalization. It is Congress’ job under Article 1, Section 8, to create a uniform rule of naturalization, a way in. It should be done line by line, section by section with the input of the public instead of being done by one person.

“It looks more like a dictatorship when a president is unilaterally making decisions for the American people,” Rep.-elect Love concluded.

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Israeli Ambassador Battles Those Tying Murders of Israelis to Peace Process

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. slammed the assertion that violence against the Israelis is somehow tied to whether or not there’s an ongoing peace process at the time.

Ron Dermer accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of “spreading this libel” that Israel is trying to invade the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Dermer then corrected the reporter who spoke on CNN before his Tuesday evening appearance.

“Is part of problem the breakdown of the peace process? … In the mid-1990s, we had buses blowing up. And people said at the time that was because the peace process was actually moving forward,” the ambassador said. “Now they’re saying that the reason why Jews are being massacred is because there is not a peace process. It has nothing to do with the peace process. It has to do with the fact that you have in Palestinian society people who want to murder Jews.”

“And they’re now in an environment where people are encouraging it. Hamas is celebrating in the streets of Gaza. Abbas is not condemning these types of acts. He is fueling the fire.”

Dermer said Abbas could start by ending his pact with Hamas. “President Abbas is sitting in the same government with the terrorists who are celebrating the savage murder of Jews in a synagogue,” he said. “The second thing that he might want to do is stop using the media that he controls, the schools that he controls, the mosques that he controls to incite against Jews, to incite to violence and terrorism, and spread a lie, as if we’re trying on destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is false. And he has to stop and the world has to hold him accountable.”

He said European governments are sending Abbas a clear message by recognizing a Palestinian state: “Do what you’re doing. Stay in bed with these terrorists. Continue to incite against Israel and we will give you everything you want. A different message has to be heard from the international community.”

Dermer confirmed that the FBI will be involved in the investigation of the synagogue attack since three American rabbis were killed. The other two casualties were a British rabbi and a Druze police officer.

“I don’t know if people know this, but Palestinian terrorists have killed more Americans over the last few months than ISIS has killed Americans,” he said.

“…The same people who are celebrating the murder of Jews in a synagogue were celebrating the murder of 3,000 Americans on 9/11. These are the same people. It’s the same type of fanaticism. And that’s why we have to stand together to fight it.”

Dermer called it a “joke” that Palestinian leaders justify the handing out of candy and celebration for the murders as a normal reaction to Israeli oppression.

“The Nazis had a lot of grievances. They were very upset about Versailles. They were very upset about World War I. They were very upset about their economy. No one cared, because people said nothing justifies Nazism. That’s the approach we have to have here as well,” the ambassador continued.

“Nothing justifies terrorism. It doesn’t really matter what their grievances are. You can’t have people go into a synagogue and kill people standing in prayer shawls, murder Jews in a savage way and have people dancing in the streets. This is a huge problem and the world has to stand together to confront it.”

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House Committee Chairmen Picked for the New Congress

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

House committee chairmen are in place for the 114th Congress, with some old faces staying in place and some shuffling around to new appointments.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appointed four of the chairmen: Pete Sessions (R-Texas) at the Rules Committee and Candice Miller (R-Mich.) at the Administration Committee will keep their posts. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) will take the helm of the Ethics Committee from Mike Conaway (R-Texas), and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will take the gavel from retiring chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) at the Intelligence Committee.

“At a time when the United States faces major international challenges including significant terror threats, I am honored and humbled to have been entrusted with this position,” Nunes said. “I’d like to thank Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger for their exceptional bipartisan leadership of the Intelligence Committee. The committee’s work is vital because strong congressional oversight of the intelligence community is critical for our national defense posture.”

The Republican Steering Committee made recommendations for the rest of the committee chairs, which goes to the full conference for ratification.

Staying in their posts will be Ed Royce (R-Calif.) at Foreign Affairs, Mike McCaul (R-Texas) at Homeland Security, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) at Judiciary, John Kline (R-Minn.) at Education and Workforce, Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) at Financial Services, Fred Upton (R-Mich.) at Energy & Commerce, Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) at Veterans Affairs, Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) at Transportation and Infrastructure, and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) at Space, Science and Technology.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) will take over for retiring chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) at Armed Services, and Rob Bishop (R-Utah) will take the gavel from retiring chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) at Natural Resources.

Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) will take over for Sam Graves (R-Mo.) at Small Business. Conaway will move over to Agriculture, currently led by Frank Lucas (R-Okla.).

Paul Ryan moves out of the Budget Committee seat over to Ways and Means, where he takes over from retiring chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.).

Taking Ryan’s gavel at Budget will be Tom Price (R-Ga.).

“We will put forward a budget that restores balance to the nation’s books. It will provide a blueprint for how to save and strengthen vital health and retirement programs while ensuring needed resources for those who protect and defend our great nation,” Price said. “Key to accomplishing real results will be to use budgetary processes at our disposal to move meaningful legislation through the House and Senate and to the president’s desk for his consideration. This can and must be done in a transparent manner with consultation and input from members across different committees of jurisdiction and Congress at large.”

And at the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, famously led by Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) since the 2010 GOP rout that took control of the lower chamber, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is the new chairman.

Chaffetz said he has “great respect” for Issa and “can’t thank him enough for his many years of dedicated service leading the Oversight Committee.”

“I thank him for the professional opportunities he has allowed me on the committee, and for his personal friendship,” Chaffetz added. “His commitment to the public good is without question.”

Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who’s gotten into some serious head-butting with Issa over the years, said he’s looking forward “to working together to conduct bipartisan oversight, develop constructive reforms, and move our nation forward.”

“I am hopeful that Rep. Chaffetz will work closely with Democrats to develop our Committee’s agenda for the next Congress, consult closely on our rules and protocols, and address the core issues that go to the center of people’s daily lives,” Cummings said. “I am encouraged that Rep. Chaffetz has shown a sincere interest in working together and focusing on reform, and I hope this bipartisanship continues.”

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Al Sharpton Has a Big Tax Problem

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Stop what you’re doing right now and read this New York Times piece on Al Sharpton’s massive tax problems. Here’s a sample.

Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses.

And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.

With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.

In 2009, when the group still owed $1.1 million in overdue payroll taxes, Mr. Sharpton began collecting a salary of $250,000 from National Action Network. The recent Treasury report that called that sort of practice abusive also said only 1,200 organizations in the nation owed more than $100,000 in unpaid payroll taxes, which would put Mr. Sharpton’s group among the most delinquent nonprofit organizations in the nation.

Today, Mr. Sharpton still faces personal federal tax liens of more than $3 million, and state tax liens of $777,657, according to records. Raw Talent and Revals Communications owe another $717,329 on state and federal tax liens.

Read the whole thing.

The Times has surveyed Sharpton’s records, and found that the formerly large alleged reverend is living large while failing to pay the little people — the travel agencies, the hotels, the landlords, the government that he is always trying to grow. He has been sued for failing to pay rent. Basically, he’s running a racket disguised first as churches and then as his public advocacy group, National Action Network, a group that is national and capable of action in name only. The Times says that Al doesn’t pay his bills, and that his liabilities have grown in recent years despite his claims that he is paying his debts down.

Sharpton’s tax and bills issues presents a problem for cable bottom feeder MSNBC. They can’t fire him, or he’ll turn around and accuse them of racism — that’s his standard shakedown schtick. On that network, literally every problem in the universe comes down to too little government or too much racism, or both. Sharpton could become the subject of unflattering news reporting even as he opines about public affairs on his show every weekday.

Sharpton and his network can hardly claim racism, as it’s the Obama government to which he owes money now, along with New York’s liberal government and various private entities to whom Sharpton reportedly owes millions. They can’t blame Fox or conservatives for the New York Times writing up a report on him. Sharpton himself is hardly in a strong position to continue his advocacy for big government, when he refuses to pay his own share toward that government. What’s a knee-jerk leftist cable network to do?

Ignore it all, of course, and so far that’s exactly what MSNBC is doing. Just as they and the rest of the media ignore Sharpton’s bloody and hoax-powered past.

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Is Obama’s Immigration Power Grab Imminent? (Update: Friday)

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Hill reports that the Obama administration held conference calls with illegal immigration advocates Tuesday.

The White House did not hold any calls with Brian Terry’s family, or with anyone else who has been harmed by crime related to the border’s insecurity. No one who lives in a border community that has been ravaged by cross-border crime and violence was invited on the calls. No ranchers who have their land overrun by illegal trespassers were invited on the call. No Americans whose jobs are threatened or whose wages are depressed by illegal alien competition were invited on the calls.

The purpose of the calls was to prepare those groups for  the president’s unilateral amnesty — the one that Obama himself has repeatedly claimed would be illegal.

One source said the White House sought to “temper expectations,” on the executive action, cautioning that while some advocates have pushed for him to carry out the Senate’s immigration reform bill, Obama doesn’t have the legal authority to go as far by acting alone.

“They’re setting expectations, making it clear he has the legal authority to do what he’s going to do, but that he’s not going beyond his authority, as some advocates would like,” said one source familiar with the calls on Tuesday.

The source predicted that, given the timing of the calls, that the White House could announce the executive order as early as Wednesday, but cautioned the president could also wait for the government funding fight in Congress to run its course.

“My guess is whatever they have teed up is already ready,” the source said.

Multiple reports have suggested Obama is poised to dramatically expand his deferred action program, allowing the parents of children who are legal residents or citizens of the United States to avoid deportation proceedings. Obama might also expand the eligibility for the current deferred action program, which allows children who were brought to the United States and remained in violation of the law to remain.

The president is also reportedly poised to expand specialty visas for high-tech workers. In total, an estimated 4 to 5 million illegal immigrants could be eligible for the program.

All without Congress, of course. Obama has been trying to goad and intimidate Congress into doing exactly what he wants, or he will bypass them and do what he wants anyway.

Obama has admitted in the past that what he is about to do is not how our system works.

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Update: Friday–

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Senate NSA Bill Fails to Advance by Two Votes

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 - by Liz Sheld

A bill that would curtail the government’s massive domestic spying apparatus failed to advance in the Senate, garnering only 58 of the 60 votes needed.

The bill, the USA Freedom Act, would reform some of the government’s surveillance operations leaked to the public by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The NSA would be prohibited from the sweeping collection of the cell phone metadata of American citizens and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) would also have greater transparency. Under the Freedom Act, the FISA Court would allow the appointment of a “public advocate” who would be present for all hearings. As of now, the court hears no opposition to the government’s requests for surveillance warrants.

The New York Times characterized the bill’s failure to move forward as a “Republican Block” but at least one Republican senator, Rand Paul, didn’t vote to move the bill forward because it “didn’t go far enough.” Paul also said he voted against the bill because it would have extended the Patriot act provision that allows the NSA to search phone records.

While Paul said he “felt bad” that the bill failed, because it “probably needed my vote,” he also claimed the country was “one step closer to restoring civil liberties,” because the Patriot Act provision’s expiration date will not be extended.

But some in the civil liberties crowd like the EFF and the ACLU, thought the bill was a good start.  On the other side, the bill was also supported by snooper extraordinaire Attorney General Eric Holder and lying Director of Intelligence James Clapper.

Former Attorney General Mike Mukasey and Former Director of the CIA Michael Hayden took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to make their case against the bill, citing the same national security concerns as many GOP senators who voted against the bill. Mukasey and Hayden describe the bill as “major new bill exquisitely crafted to hobble the gathering of electronic intelligence.”

For the sake of argument, domestic spying didn’t do a whole lot of good to prevent the Boston Marathon Bombing. Not only did the Tsarnaev brothers escape digital detection, federal law enforcement agencies were tipped off by another country that these guys had ties to radical Islamic terrorists in Chechnya but a local investigation found nothing to be concerned about.

Another late breaking development with the bill was notable: the the shifty matter of  Majority Leader Harry Reid slapping the bill with a controversial part of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). Mike Masnick over at Techdirt discovered not only that Reid had plans to attach part of SOPA to the bill, but that Reid was very cozy with interests that would benefit from passing that SOPA provision. The provision in SOPA Reid wanted to include was the felony streaming provision, which would turn the act of streaming infringing works into a felony.

Masnick explains, “So why is Reid suddenly doing this? What we’ve heard is that it’s a “favor” to his friends at UFC — Ultimate Fighting Championship — who are based in Las Vegas, in Reid’s home state of Nevada. Reid and UFC go back for years, with UFC being big supporters of Reid, and UFC has worked with Reid on a number of campaigns. UFC has also been one of the biggest supporters of expanding and abusing copyright law for years. The organization has sued its biggest fans, has sued streaming sites like Justin.tv (and lost) and even claimed copyright on videos it has no rights to, taken by fans.”

The next milestone on the NSA reform agenda will be May of 2015, when the Patriot Act will expire.

 

 

 

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Just in Time for Executive Amnesty, Illegal Immigrant Population Increases in 5 Eastern States

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Growth industry.

With the immigration debate taking center stage in Washington, a Pew Research Center report released Tuesday shows the unauthorized immigrant population has leveled off in the U.S., even as population trends in select states remain more volatile.

From 2009 to 2012, Pew estimates the unauthorized immigrant population rose in seven states and fell in 14. Those 21 states were the ones that had statistically significant changes in their populations of unauthorized immigrants during the period.

Five East Coast states—Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia—were among those where the numbers of unauthorized immigrants grew from 2009 to 2012. Totals also rose in Idaho and Nebraska, according to the center’s estimates.

“In the eastern states were the numbers went up it was due to non-Mexicans almost entirely,” said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at Pew and one of the report’s authors. “The destinations where immigrants chose to go are where they can find jobs and where they have families and friends.”

Passel said the growth in those states is mostly the result of immigrants from Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean.

I’m still mulling whether I think “unauthorized” is more insultingly euphemistic than “undocumented.” It is always best to be precise so I will continue to refer to them as “illegal” as to avoid any confusion.

Illegal immigration has been a problem largely confined to the west and southwest, leaving liberals in places like New York and Connecticut pontificating without risking any real pushback from constituents. It will be interesting to see how this plays out politically if the trend continues in in the east.

As for the drop in illegal immigrant population in California, that will probably be reversed when they’re all eligible for driver’s licenses next year.

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Increased Activity Could Protect Against Parkinson’s Disease

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Good news for a change.

Spending around an hour a day commuting, doing house work, gardening or exercising could protect against Parkinson’s Disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that even a moderate amount of activity had a significant protective effect.
People who were active for just six hours a week, less than one hours a day, were 43 per cent less likely to develop the disease.

And activity can come in many forms, say researchers, from walking to the train station or bus stop on the daily commute; exercising; playing golf; gardening; walking the dog or washing the car.

“We found that a medium level of daily total physical activity is associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease,” said lead author Karin Wirdefeldt, at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

“The protective effect of physical activity was further supported when we summarized all available evidence from published prospective cohort studies.

It’s frightening to think just how many diseases and/or minor maladies sitting in desk chairs for much of the day put us at risk for.

I’m going for a walk.

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A Real Women’s Health Issue: Ebola and Pregnant Women In Liberia

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

From NPR.

If a person can get treatment, he or she has nearly a 40 percent chance of surviving Ebola. But for a pregnant woman and her fetus, Ebola is almost a death sentence. One small study found about 95 percent fatality rate. The woman invariably passes the virus to the fetus. And the fetus dies before labor, or it’s born and dies shortly after.

The devastation doesn’t stop there.

Both the baby and the woman’s amniotic fluid are flooded with Ebola virus — and are highly infectious.

“After a few days, the midwife who did that delivery came down with Ebola,” Bahr says. “She spent 21 days in a treatment center. It was only by the grace of God that she recovered.”

Many other midwives haven’t been so lucky.

Right outside Bahr’s office is a whiteboard. There are about three dozen photos taped on it. At the top, it says, “Nurses and midwives who have died during the Ebola crisis.”

This is a terribly tragic story that also illustrates just how devastating Ebola is when it gets out of hand. It is so infectious in pregnant women that even people wearing protective gear are at risk:

With so much blood and so much bodily fluid involved in deliveries, even doctors with access to protective gear are getting infected.

That’s how the American doctor Rick Sacra got Ebola in August. Sacra, who is now recovering in Worcester, Massachusetts, was helping pregnant women at a hospital outside Monrovia, called Eternal Love Winning Africa, or ELWA.

“Sacra was being very cautious,” says ELWA’s assistant director, Dr. John Fankhauser. “But it’s also just very risky. What we consider our two riskiest places are the OB ward and the operating room.

Is it really so wrong to err on the side of extreme caution when it comes to dealing with any potential outbreaks, even in places where stringent protocols are (allegedly) in place?

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Keystone Vote Fails in the Senate

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It was appropriate that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), author of the Democrats’ “you didn’t build that” line against entrepreneurs, presided over and announced that the vote to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline had failed. Senator You Didn’t Build That got to announce that You Can’t Build That. Because hard left Democrats say so.

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) attempt to show her clout in the Senate to Louisiana voters who are prepared to fire her next month failed. The Democrat-controlled Senate voted against the Keystone by a single vote. The measure needed 60 votes, and it only mustered 59.

The votes should tell America a few things. The Democrats now regard the United States Senate itself as nothing more than an ornament. The vote, blocked by the Democrats for ages, was only allowed to give Landrieu a lifeline in her recall election. The measure’s failure says that Landrieu’s fellow Democrats do not believe that she can defeat Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy in the run-off. If they thought that she could win, they would have released one more senator to vote with her.

The failure prevents President Obama from having to make good on his veto threat and stand exposed for the radical that he truly is. He still has two years in office; Landrieu’s days have been numbered far less. The Democrats in the Senate chose to protect Obama, even after all the damage he has done to their party and the country.

The Keystone pipeline would create thousands of jobs, create stronger ties to our ally Canada, and would transport needed oil more cleanly than it is currently transported. The fact that it failed demonstrates clearly that the Democratic Party from the president down care far more about the radical environmentalists like billionaire and party bankroller Tom Steyer than they care about American jobs and our national energy security.

Also read: 

Tribe Says Construction of Keystone XL Over Their Land Would be ‘Act of War’

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Gruber: Seniors Should Be Limited to Three Lowest Cost Medicare Part D Plans

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

Jonathan Gruber

In a 2009 paper, “Choice Inconsistencies Among the Elderly: Evidence from Plan Choice in the Medicare Part D Program,” Obamacare advisor Jonathan Gruber argued that there were too many Medicare Part D plans for seniors to choose from, which led them to make bad decisions when enrolling in a plan.

In the paper, written for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Gruber wrote with Jason T. Abaluck that the privatization of the public Medicare program had resulted in dozens of private insurers offering a wide variety of insurance products for seniors to choose from. The result of so many choices, Gruber wrote, is that seniors are not making decisions that are in their best interest. ”First, elders place much more weight on plan premiums than they do on the expected out of pocket costs that they will incur under the plan. Second, they substantially under-value variance reducing aspects of alternative plans. Finally, consumers appear to value plan financial characteristics far beyond any impacts on their own financial expenses or risk.”

The paper noted that while standard economic theory would suggest that expanded choice is a beneficial plan feature, “There are reasons to believe that the standard model is insufficient, particularly for a population of elders. There is growing interest in behavioral economics in models where agents are better off with a more restricted choice set.”

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House GOP Picks Jonathan Turley to Lead Lawsuit Against Obama

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Good choice. Jonathan Turley is a committed liberal Democrat who has spoken out clearly and repeatedly against President Obama’s executive power grabs.

As many on this blog are aware, I have previously testified, written, and litigated in opposition to the rise of executive power and the countervailing decline in congressional power in our tripartite system. I have also spent years encouraging Congress, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, to more actively defend its authority, including seeking judicial review in separation of powers conflicts. For that reason, it may come as little surprise this morning that I have agreed to represent the United States House of Representatives in its challenge of unilateral, unconstitutional actions taken by the Obama Administration with respect to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is an honor to represent the institution in this historic lawsuit and to work with the talented staff of the House General Counsel’s Office.

 

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Why I Heart Israel and Salute the FIDF

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Jennifer Hanin

Last week I had the honor of attending the FIDF (Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces) gala in San Francisco. My invite was completely unplanned yet still eye-opening. I happened to casually meet an FIDF officer’s wife who was displaying her handcrafted jewelry at a Greek festival, and after chatting with her for sometime her husband invited my spouse and I to be their guests at their $10,000 table. So we there you have it.

One word capped the evening best: Heartstrings. I was so moved by the evening that I needed a week of respite to digest the effect the powerful evening had on me. In fact, looking back the evening holds even more importance after news broke of the recent ISIS (ISIL) beheading of American Peter Kassig. Once again, proving how important our Middle East allies are and how we must treat them with the upmost respect.

Note to Obama: LIKE Israel, Respect Netanyahu

More beheadings brings home a renewed awareness of how critical our ties with Israel and Egypt are to the US. For starters, Israel is known as the “Little Satan” and of course the USA is considered the “Big Satan.” Egypt after all is the most open of the Middle East countries. It’s known for its great philosophers and for leading the pack. It was and still is the only Middle East country that signed a peace treaty with Israel. It holds an important key to the future of the Middle East. For those who don’t follow Middle East politics closely, Egypt is the game changer. Egypt must flourish with its great scholars and  liberalism to lead the rest of its neighbors. And just in case it went unnoticed, ISIS is doing its best to be the game changer. The well-funded, well-organized group of 8 million strong (supported by 40 million last year) is baiting the USA to send even more boots to fight them then the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This call marks a new phase in war where our mad-masked enemy is not only unafraid of us, they taunting us into ground bloody assaults. Their call signals a type of bravado that we have yet to witness by any other terrorist group. I guess they think the head-rolling hobby they have going on is all that. Guess again.

Hearting Israel Stateside

Back to the gala. I’m one of those unique pro-Israel advocates who has never stepped foot in the Jewish nation-state let alone the Middle East. Closest I’ve come to Israel is Tunisia. Yet to my credit I’m likely one of the best layman’s experts on the Jewish nation-state you’ll ever meet. How so? Let me explain.

I not only converted to Judaism in 2008, launched a blog on Israel and world politics in 2009 on my jenniferhanin.com, co-founded Act For Israel, coauthored Becoming Jewish: the Challenges, Rewards and Paths to Conversion (Rowman and Littlefield, 2011) with then senior rabbi of Kehlliat Israel aka ‘rabbi to the stars’, Steven Carr Reuben, PhD, I also and coordinated a media fellowship to Israel with the Israeli MFA in 2012. Unfortunately, months later I had to pass on the fellowship as the second edition of my first book was due the same week.

Other ties to Israel? I communicate with my cousins via marriage on Facebook, and I can always count on their smiles to put a permagrin on my face. And I’m not talking about zealots who are complaining about incoming missiles but about incredible people living extraordinary lives.

So what thoughts did walk away with from the FIDF gala? Too many to report here yet suffice to say it was a uplifting evening that delivered warm fuzzies to anyone in attendance. Good friend Israeli Consul General of the Pacific Northwest Dr. Andy David was the keynote. Radio host, political lecturer and coauthor John F. Rothman MC’d the gala. Most touching? The FIDF dedicated the evening to lone soldiers who leave their countries with great pride to enlist in the IDF.

This tribute came to an obvious pinnacle when an attractive, young female soldier shared her testimonial and poured her heart and soul to dressed up strangers occupying a myriad of tables. She lost her soulmate in combat when she least expected it. Her American boyfriend was none other than Nissim Sean Carmeli who hailed from South Padre Island, Texas.

About twenty minutes later it was hard to find a dry eye in the soldout sea of tables as she graciously exited her tear-stained microphone. Why? Terrorists unceremoniously ambushed both Carmel and fellow lone soldier Max Steinberg who hailed from San Fernando, California while patrolling Gaza.

Surprisingly, Carmel’s Israeli funeral drew 20,000 many of which most were complete strangers. Likewise, Steinberg’s Israeli funeral drew 30,000 including US Secretary of State and failed Middle East diplomat John Kerry. Carmel (like Steinberg and other lone soldiers) didn’t receive a draft. Nor was he paid to pay the ultimate price for another country. He certainly was coerced into winning the affection of the brave Middle Easterner who shared her fleeting moments with her beloved before so many. Carmeli like Steinberg and other lone soldiers make a monumental sacrifice, and a colossal impression on locals who understand what it means to sacrifice it all.

Obama: ‘Our bond with Israel is Unshakable”

So president Obama made good on a cornerstone of his promise to Israel. He was part of funding the air defense system, the Iron Dome. I’ll give him that. It’s a godsend and a rockstar yet with all its hype its still far from boss as it boast an impressive but imperfect accuracy of about 85 percent. And despite the efforts to find and confiscate every short and long-range Iranian missile, Israelis are a lot of things but short of being psychic.

So what can we do to assure Obama stops embarrassing our ally and starts putting ‘leaders’ like Syria’s Assad, Turkey’s Erdogan, and Iran’s ayatollah on the hot seat? Plenty. Criticize Obama. Take it online. Keep the pressure on him. But don’t stop there. Go to bat for Israelis. Support the FIDF or any one of the laundry list of Jewish organizations out there. Need a list? Follow America’s most influential Jew who I’m proud to call my friend William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) via @daroff on Twitter or Capital Hill friend Eli Gold, Vice President of the London Center for Public Policy, and you’ll soon learn the network.

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Reid: Obama Should ‘Go Big, as Big as He Can’ on Immigration Order

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is encouraging President Obama to “go big, as big as he can” on an immigration executive order.

“Immigration should not prevent Senator McConnell and Boehner from working with me to fund the government, on this issue. This is — this is really hard to comprehend,” Reid told reporters at a closed policy luncheon.

“Every president since President Eisenhower have done executive orders as it relates to immigration. Every president, 39 different times,” he said. “Now, Reagan, Bush and Bush, they’ve done it, and we didn’t hear a single word come from the Republicans that they didn’t like that. So why now is this suddenly an issue with the Republicans?”

Reid said one of the priorities is to “understand the fairness of it all.”

“This will be a relief to many, many families whose families are being torn apart by this broken system,” he said.

“And remember, for my Republican friends whose conscience — as always, they’re always concerned about money — if Republicans in the House would allow a vote on the bill we passed here those many months ago, it would pass overwhelmingly and …produce $1 trillion in relief for the American people, $1 trillion.”

Executive action, Reid said in an echo of Obama, is “not the substitute for congressional action.”

“I understand that. But he’s doing what he can within his authority, and it’ll be up to Congress to finish this job,” he said. “…The first thing we have to do is fix our borders. If the bill that passed the Senate passed the House, we would have a border that would be so secure. Billions of dollars is in that legislation.”

“So I believe that when the president decides to do his executive order, he should go big, as big as he can, and there’s precedent for him going back to the Eisenhower administration to do something just like this,” Reid continued. “So the fact that he wants to do something on immigration, is being forced to do something on immigration should not stop us from doing our job, and this funding government.”

Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) noted after a GOP caucus meeting today that Obama had previously said he didn’t have the authority to order the immigration reform, “the very same one now that he apparently is determined to issue.”

“Right now, the people that benefit the most from our broken immigration system are the cartels, the transnational criminal organizations, for whom this is a wonderful business model. They traffick in children. They traffick in drugs. They traffick in weapons and the like. And the president’s executive order does zero, zip, nada, to shut that down,” Cornyn said.

“So, there is an opportunity for the president to reconsider, as he has done once before, and I hope he will reconsider and decide to work with us in a bipartisan, bicameral way to fix our broken immigration system. If he proceeds forward with his executive order, it will squander the best opportunity we’ve had in a long time to make progress.”

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Please Keep Victor Davis Hanson in Your Thoughts and Prayers

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by PJ Media Staff

We at PJ Media were saddened to learn that the daughter of Victor Davis Hanson, author, educator, and PJ Media columnist, died on November 13 after a short illness.

Susannah Merry Hanson was 27.

In a beautiful, moving tribute to his daughter, Dr. Hanson tells us of Susannah’s marvelous gifts:

Susannah, known to her family and friends as “Suzy,” was beloved by anyone who encountered her infectious laugh and her zeal for life and adventure. But she was perhaps best known for the human kindness she extended to everyone she met. She was especially drawn to the sick and elderly, which reflected her sense of public service. On the European trips she ensured that no tour member was ever left alone or without companionship.

Her family and friends feel blessed that even for such a brief time that they were able to be with such a kind soul and accomplished talent. She grew up packing fruit and working in the fields of the family farm, a childhood that fostered a singular work ethic, gave her a sense of independence and fearlessness, and grounded her in reality and modesty wherever she worked and traveled. She loved the San Joaquin Valley, and despite her residence and visits abroad, she always managed to return to the farm, where she felt most at home with her family and childhood friends.

Please keep our friend and colleague, Victor Davis Hanson, in your thoughts and prayers.

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HuffPo Already Hyperventilating About Post-Election Shift In Energy Policy

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

“ZOMG-IT’S PETROLEUMMMMMM!”

There is enough hot air in this post to finally almost make humans the cause of climate change. Most of it could serve as fodder for some psychology grad work on “projection”. Let’s just grab a couple nuggets to pick apart.

Pop the Champagne corks in Washington! It’s party time for Big Energy.

Hey-it only took two sentences to find something ridiculous! “Big Oil” is now “Big Energy” and the seemingly minor change is notable. A central component to the push for federal subsidization of alternative energy sources is the notion that it’s the result of the imminent danger of polar bears floating through Manhattan and not influence peddling by lobbyists. It’s all part of the Democrat fairy tale that all of the money ever spent in politics comes from the checkbooks of Charles and David Koch. There is plenty of money in being a shill for Big Green (see: Al Gore’s bank account). The Dem narrative is reinforced by pretending that all energy lobby money is oil money.

None of their initiatives, however, will have as catastrophic an impact as their coming drive to ensure that fossil fuels will dominate the nation’s energy landscape into the distant future, long after climate change has wrecked the planet and ruined the lives of millions of Americans.

Get this poor man a tissue and some smelling salts. It’s as if he’s trying to turn hyperbole into an alternative energy source. Ratchet up the fear-mongering and hope no one notices that the computer models aren’t really looking that solid and the United States is now becoming energy independent (an idea all Democrats paid lip service to when they thought it only meant alternative fuels would make it happen).

Most amusing in this meltdown is the assertion that non-AGW hysterics have a “messianic belief” in the benefits of fossil fuels. The fastest growing religion on the planet is the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming, which has resurrected the selling of indulgences from Middle Ages Catholicism and repacked it as carbon offsets. It even has its own elaborate climate-themed eschatology (WRECKED PLANET!).

All of this caterwauling has almost nothing to do with a genuine fear of the demise of the planet. It’s designed merely to obfuscate the almost purely political agenda of the Big Green movement. The panic needs to be at a fever pitch to keep the EPA running amok and taxpayer dollars flowing to fund technologies that can’t survive market testing at the moment, or maybe ever.

There are a lot of American cities buried in snow today. They’re looking for petroleum based heating solutions, not solar or wind. That petroleum is the better present day option isn’t a “messianic belief,” it’s reality.

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New White House Gruber Spin: The Videos Are Old!

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

ABC’s Jon Karl quizzed White House spokesman Josh Earnest about the Gruber-gate videos during today’s press briefing.

Earnest re-iterated some of President Obama’s spin — that he disagrees with what Gruber said — and then launched into new spin that rests on two hooks.

One, the Republicans want to talk about Gruber to distract America from Obamacare’s alleged successes.

The problem with that spin is that Republicans didn’t dig up the Gruber videos. A regular guy dug them up. Plus, most Americans still oppose Obamacare and hardly anyone sees it as a “success.”

The second hook is an utter irrelevance, and mostly a lie. Earnest claimed that the videos are “6 to 8 years old.”

They are not. They date from 2013 back to about 2009. The only video in the Gruber-gate set that is 8 years old is the one in which President Obama, then a senator, admits to “borrowing liberally” from Jon Gruber.

Apparently Earnest believes that the age of the recording renders it moot, no matter what the future president actually says on the recording. Or something. Take a look at video of Josh Earnest’s spin cycle, on the next page.

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McConnell Opposes NSA Reform Bill

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Liz Sheld

Current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has revealed his opposition to the surveillance reform bill introduced by Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT). McConnell is concerned that the bill might interfere with the U.S. ability to combat ISIS.

“Many of these fighters are familiar with America’s intelligence capabilities and many are savvy with communications: these are terrorists who know how to use encryption and they know how to change devices frequently,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “That’s part of the reason why I’m so strongly opposed to the legislation.”

The Senate is set to take up the bill Tuesday evening.

McConnell added that he believes the bill would curtail the intelligence community’s surveillance powers and that would “end one of our nation’s critical capabilities to gather significant intelligence on terrorist threats.”

“This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our backs,” McConnell said.

Leahy countered back by saying “The NSA and all our intelligence community had every single tool the Republican leader advocates for … [but] there was not one single alarm bell that rang. So let’s deal with facts not hypotheses.”

He went to say “We cannot afford to delay action on these reforms any longer, as the American people continue to demand stronger protections for their privacy,” Leahy said.  “Unfortunately, some would rather use scare tactics than legislate.”

The Surveillance bill, also known as the USA Freedom Act, would reform some of the government’s surveillance operations leaked to the public by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The NSA would be prohibited from the sweeping collection of the cell phone metadata of American citizens and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) would also have greater transparency. Under the Freedom Act, the FISA Court would allow the appointment of a “public advocate” who would be present for all hearings. As of now, the court hears no opposition to the government’s requests for surveillance warrants.

“We cannot afford to delay action on these reforms any longer, as the American people continue to demand stronger protections for their privacy,” Leahy said.  “Unfortunately, some would rather use scare tactics than legislate.”

The version the Senate is voting on has already been watered down to the point where both Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have endorsed the bill.  I wonder what’s left of it that has McConnell worried.

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Texas Rep. Flores Picked to Lead Conservative Caucus Over Mulvaney, Gohmert

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) defeated two Tea Party favorites to win the chairmanship of the conservative caucus in the House.

Flores moves into the post at the helm of the Republican Study Committee, once led by now-Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

“I congratulate Bill Flores today on being elected by our colleagues to serve as the next Chairman of the Republican Study Committee,” Scalise said. “As the conservative conscience of the House, I am confident that under Bill’s leadership, RSC will continue to unite our Conference around our shared conservative principles of greater opportunity for all Americans through lower taxes, controlled Washington spending, and more individual freedom.”

“I congratulate Bill, as well as Representatives Mick Mulvaney and Louie Gohmert for offering their names up to serve in this important position for the conservative movement.”

Mulvaney got 55 votes on the first ballot and Gohmert got 16, leaving Flores one vote short of an outright win at 71, according to National Journal. On the runoff ballot, Flores got 84 caucus votes and Mulvaney got 57.

Mulvaney and Gohmert both wanted to move the RSC further to the right and into a more combative stance with leadership.

Flores said in a statement that he plans to run the caucus ”as a member driven organization which puts forth positions developed through member participation and dialogue consistent with the RSC’s mission and the U.S. Constitution.”

“It is important that we take full advantage of the RSC’s size, character and the passion of its members to advance our conservative agenda in order to restore America to the ‘shining city on a hill’ that Ronald Reagan envisioned,” Flores said.

“For the 114th Congress, the RSC will be the largest, most influential caucus in Congress. I look forward to leading the RSC as we continue to promote constitutionally limited government, an environment for more jobs and better paychecks, a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, American energy security and American family values.”

Some conservatives have been defecting to Rep. Justin Amash’s (R-Mich.) House Liberty Caucus, which the congressman founded because he saw the RSC as becoming too moderate. Members of that caucus include Reps. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Steve Stockman (R-Texas), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Mark Sanford (R-S.C.).

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Boehner Rips Obama’s Keystone Veto Threat: ‘Stupid’

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

As the Senate nears a vote to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, President Obama is threatening to veto it — despite overwhelming popular and bipartisan support for approving the studied-to-death oil pipeline.

The Senate, still under Democratic control until January, is only allowing a vote in an attempt to save Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) seat. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has blocked previous attempts to vote on the pipeline, which the GOP-controlled House has already approved.

House Speaker John Boehner gave a few comments on the president’s threat today, and said that if Obama carries out that threat, it would amount to calling the American people, who strongly support building the pipeline, “stupid.”

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Boehner is clearly referencing comments made by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, which have been caught on tape over the past couple of years but have only recently come to light. In some of those comments, Gruber bragged that Democrats played on the “stupidity of the American people” to pass Obamacare into law.

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David Brooks Almost Figures Out that a Great Pants Crease Doesn’t Make a Great Man or President

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

David Brooks, the NYT’s resident faux conservative, is almost there. Almost.

The columnist who worshiped Obama’s fine pants leg creases and who admitted that he “divides people into people who talk like us and who don’t talk like us” — the essence of Gruberism — almost sees the light. In his column today, Brooks wonders why President Obama is being so “superaggressive” on immigration after losing the mid-terms in a landslide.

Usually presidents use midterm defeats as a chance to rethink and refocus. That’s what Obama did four years ago. Voters like to feel the president is listening to them.

Obama signed a healthcare law that the majority opposed at the time, and has defended it with smears and lies. When was he ever listening?

But Obama’s done no public rethinking. In his post-election news conference, the president tried to reframe the defeat by saying the turnout was low, as if it was the Republicans’ fault that the Democrats could only mobilize their core base. Throughout that conference, the president seemed to detach himself from his own party, as if the Democrats who lost their jobs because of him were a bunch of far-off victims of some ethereal malaise.

That’s how this president sees the whole country. It’s how he has always seen and treated the red states. He not only does not feel our pain, he is often the instigator of it. Now Obama has gotten around to loathing his fellow Democrats, too.

Usually presidents with a new Congressional majority try to figure out if there is anything that the two branches can do together. The governing Republicans have a strong incentive to pass legislation. The obvious thing is to start out with the easiest things, if only to show that Washington can function on some elemental level.

But the White House has not privately engaged with Congress on the legislative areas where there could be agreement. Instead, the president has been superaggressive on the one topic sure to blow everything up: the executive order to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws.

Brooks notes the obvious, which is that Obama is only treating immigration as an urgent issue now, not when he could have had the Democrat supermajorities in both houses of Congress pass an actual law. Instead, Obama is treating it as an urgent issue only when he can break the Constitution and pick a massive fight over it.

And that’s where Brooks loses the plot.

This move would also make it much less likely that we’ll have immigration reform anytime soon.

Obama does not and never did want to pass a law. He wanted it as a live issue, and now a means to another end. He does not care about immigrants, legal or illegal, or the rule of law.

White House officials are often misinformed on what Republicans are privately discussing, so they don’t understand that many in the Republican Party are trying to find a way to get immigration reform out of the way. This executive order would destroy their efforts.

Which is exactly what Obama wants.

The move would further destabilize the legitimacy of government. Redefining the legal status of five million or six million human beings is a big deal. This is the sort of change we have a legislative process for. To do something this seismic with the stroke of one man’s pen is dangerous.

Instead of a nation of laws, we could slowly devolve into a nation of diktats, with each president relying on and revoking different measures on the basis of unilateral power — creating unstable swings from one presidency to the next. If President Obama enacts this order on the transparently flimsy basis of “prosecutorial discretion,” he’s inviting future presidents to use similarly flimsy criteria. Talk about defining constitutional deviancy down.

I’m not sure why the Obama administration has been behaving so strangely since the midterms.

Brooks muses that it might be anger at losing, or the Gruberism that everyone else is dumber than those in the White House (an elitist position that Brooks shares). He misses the most obvious possibility: That division and chaos are exactly what Barack Obama has always wanted. He is picking this fight because he wants to pick this fight.

Brooks finishes up, wondering if Obama will look back at his presidency with regret because of all the damage he has done, but again Brooks absolves Obama of blame.

I wonder if, post-presidency, Mr. Obama will look back and regret that he got sucked into the very emotional maelstrom he set out to destroy.

Obama did not get “sucked into” anything. What part of “fundamentally transform America” did David Brooks miss when Obama issued that threat? All of it, apparently.

The mysterious cipher, the great divider, the angry community agitator, the shameless liar — this is who Barack Obama is. He never intended to be a unifying figure, and he never intended to stay within the bounds of American law or tradition. “Fundamental transformation” necessitates destruction first.

Six years later, David Brooks the intellectual still doesn’t even have the very first clue.

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Menendez ‘Not Optimistic’ Iran Negotiations Shaping Up to ‘Anywhere Near’ Good Deal

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told MSNBC this morning that he’s “not optimistic” that the P5+1 is near any sort of deal with Iran that he could support.

Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-N.J.) take on a final nuclear agreement with Iran is critical because he and sanctions legislation co-author Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) have promised to “act decisively” with a bipartisan majority in Congress should the administration forge an agreement that doesn’t kill Iran’s nuclear program.

“I don’t know that, as the negotiations sit right now, that they are anywhere near the type of deal that I certainly could support,” Menendez said.

“Iran with a nuclear — as a nuclear threshold state with the power to have nuclear energy for ultimately conversion into nuclear weapons, which the world is convinced that they were on a path to doing, is a threat to the national interest and security of the United States. It’s a threat to a whole host of our allies in the region,” he said.

The senator added that countries throughout the region have told him they’d have to beef up their nuclear programs in response to Iran’s development. “And of course, our ally, the state of Israel, I believe it would be an existential threat to them.”

“So the reality is, is that we cannot in our own national interest and security permit Iran to do this. And I am concerned that every benchmark that we originally stated in our negotiating posture has been moved closer and closer to the Iranians. So of course I’ll judge a deal when a deal is had, but I’m not optimistic that a deal will be had by the 24th.”

Secretary of State John Kerry is in London today to kick off “a very critical week, obviously, in Iran negotiations,” he told reporters.

“We hope we can get there, but we can’t make any predictions, nor will we. It’s imperative, obviously, that Iran work with us in all possible effort to prove to the world the program is peaceful, and we will reconvene in Vienna at the appropriate time later in the week,” Kerry said. “Our people are on the ground, they will begin work today, and we’ll see where we are.”

Last week, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) blocked an effort to force a vote on a bill requiring congressional approval on any nuclear deal, arguing that legislative action would send a “chilling message” to Iran and negotiators.

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Obama: ‘No Justification’ for Synagogue Ax Attack That Killed Three Americans

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama condemned the Palestinian terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue today that left four dead, saying in a statement that “there is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians.”

Three of the victims — Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Mosheh Twersky — were U.S. citizens with dual Israeli citizenship.

“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence,” Obama said. “At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.”

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he told Secretary of State John Kerry “this horrendous terror attack in a house of worship is the direct result of President Abbas’s campaign of incitement.”

The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement saying, ”The presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshippers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it.”

Kerry, meeting in London with his British counterpart, told reporters he was delayed by his call with Netanyahu.

“To have this kind of act, which is a pure result of incitement of calls for days of rage, of just an irresponsibility, is unacceptable,” Kerry said. “So the Palestinian leadership must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, from other people’s language, and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path.”

“Our hearts go out to all Israelis for the atrocity of this event and for all the reminders of history that come with it. This is — simply has no place in human behavior, and we need to hear from leaders who are going to lead their people to a different place.”

Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said two terrorists armed with knives and axes attacked worshippers at a synagogue in the Har nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. Police responded to the scene and shot both.

One police officer was in critical condition from a shootout with the terrorists, though, Rosenfeld said.

He said police units were providing security for this morning’s funeral for the four rabbis murdered in the attack. “Thousands of people attending,” Rosenfeld tweeted.

Seven were injured in the attack, he said.

Netanyahu held a security consultation with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and Jerusalem officials today, his office said.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who perpetrated the recent attacks and directed that enforcement against those who incite toward terrorist attacks be significantly increased.”

In a tweet, the prime minister promised to respond “with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers.”

Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev told CNN that Abbas “must decide which side of the divide he’s on.”

“On one side you’ve got ISIS, Hamas, al Qaeda, people responsible for the most brutal attacks, the most heinous atrocities against innocent civilians. On the other side you’ve got Israel and Egypt and Jordan and other moderate countries,” Regev said.

“When you have an atrocity like this, you can unfortunately, give a motivation to other like-minded people. So we’ve got to make sure there are no copycat attacks,” he said of the need to beef up security in the aftermath. “We also, to be frank, want to make sure that there’s no hothead on the Israeli side who decides he wants to take the law into his own hands and conduct a vigilante counterattack.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said the ”massacre in a house of worship while innocent people prayed is absolutely horrifying and unconscionable.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed and injured,” Gillibrand said. “Those responsible for these heinous and cold-blooded murders must be held accountable.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he was “deeply saddened and alarmed” by the attacks and vowed to stand with the Jewish state.

“These men of faith were cruelly murdered as they were worshiping in their synagogue in Har Nof,” Paul said. “I vow to stand with Israel and I will continue to do all I can to protect Americans at home and abroad. This is a horrific act of violence that should be universally condemned. We must demand that Palestinian leaders stop the incitement, which they have committed in word and in deed. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel.”

“The senseless targeting of innocent civilians has to be stopped; it is unacceptable under any circumstances,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Ma.), adding Israelis have “endured far too many of these brutal assaults.”

 

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CNN Misspells ‘Synagogue’ to ‘Mosque’ While Reporting Terrorist Attack

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Two Palestinian terrorists entered a Jerusalem synagogue today and launched an attack on the worshipers using guns and meat cleavers. The terrorists killed four and wounded several more before they were killed by police.

CNN’s Chyron operators got just about everything wrong that they could possibly get wrong during a report on the attack. The nature of the errors suggest bias.

Take a look.

The terrorists attacked a synagogue — a Jewish house of worship — not a mosque, which is an Islamic house of worship. The Chryron’s grave error is repeated twice in the segment above.

Additionally, the Chyron says: “Police: Four Israelies, 2 Palestinians killed in attack.” That implies that there are six victims and religion must not have played any role, since two of the victims are Palestinians and presumably Muslims.

But the two Palestinians who were killed were the perpetrators. The Palestinians killed the victims because the victims were Jews. Israeli police then killed the two terrorists before the terrorists could kill even more Jews.

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Former Obama WH Official: Gruber was ‘the Guru’ on Obamacare

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

There’s no nice way to put this — when President Obama dismisses MIT professor Jonathan Gruber’s role in constructing Obamacare, he is lying. Federal and state governments paid Gruber nearly $6 million total to build the federal and state versions of the system. Gruber met with Obama and White House officials 19 times over the course of the law’s authoring and passage. Gruber even says that Obama was in the room when the “Cadillac Tax” was created.

In a series of videos that have come out over the past week, Gruber is caught on tape calling the American people who supported Obamacare “stupid,” bragging about exploiting the American people, and bragging that the Obama administration and the Democrats lied in order to get the bill passed.

Steve Rattner was Obama’s chief adviser on the auto industry and headed up the Cash for Clunkers program. He was known as the president’s “car czar.” Rattner told Morning Joe today that any claim that Gruber was not the key person on Obamacare is false.

“The problem is not that Gruber helped them put Obamacare together, because he was the man,” Rattner said. “The problem is what he said in the last two weeks and how the White House has handled it.”

The White House has handled Gruber the same way it usually handles inconvenient facts: with misdirection and transparent lying.

President Obama has dismissed Gruber as “some adviser who never worked on our staff” at the White House. Gruber was the architect of Obamacare. He was an extremely well paid consultant to the Obama White House.

Rattner admitted that on Morning Joe.

“Jonathan Gruber was, back in the day in 2009, the guru on health care,” Rattner said. “I remember that when I was in the White House, he was certainly viewed as an important figure in helping to put Obamacare together.”

“I think if you go back and look at the Washington Post or the New York Times or anything from that period you will find Jonathan Gruber’s name all over it as both someone who’s the leading expert on health care quoted by everybody, and as someone who the White House was using — I don’t think we knew the dollar numbers he was paid at the time.”

Gruber was indeed quoted by President Obama, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other top Democrats who now pretend that he played little or no role in Obamacare’s construction and passage.

Watch Rattner’s admission here.

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Gallup Finds Persistent Racial Gap in Confidence That Police Protect

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

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A new Gallup poll found that nonwhites are less likely to believe that the police protect them, though the gap has slightly narrowed over the years.

In a survey conducted last month, 60 percent of white Americans have “confidence in police to protect them from violent crime,” while 49 percent of nonwhites felt that way.

In statistic compiled since 1985, trust in police protection was at its lowest in 1993 after the Rodney King verdicts. Just 47 percent of whites and 33 percent of nonwhites trusted the cops back then.

While they don’t always express confidence in the police — 57 percent of all Americans polled — respondents were slightly more likely to say they respected the cops.

Sixty-one percent said they respected police “a great deal,” 29 percent respected the police “some” and 9 percent said they had “hardly any” respect for lawmen.

Back in 1967, 77 percent had a “great deal” of respect for police, Gallup said.

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Cornyn: ‘Criminal Organizations Would be One of the Biggest Beneficiaries’ of Immigration Order

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The Senate minority whip asserted on the floor yesterday that an executive order from President Obama on immigration would embolden criminal organizations south of the border.

“The president has already made a number of unilateral changes in U.S. immigration policy with disastrous results,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. “We have seen literally thousands of convicted criminals released from U.S. custody, including those with violent records, and, of course, it wasn’t that long ago we saw what had been called a genuine humanitarian crisis unfold along the southern border in my state.”

“And what about the people who have been waiting patiently in line complying with our immigration laws to have these millions of other people jump right ahead of them and be given some form of legal status? It’s just not fair to them, and it certainly doesn’t encourage people’s compliance with the rules or the law.”

Cornyn added that “criminal organizations would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the president’s executive order, which would make it even harder for our friends in Mexico to reduce violence and uphold the rule of law.”

“And yet again, President Obama just doesn’t seem to care. He also doesn’t seem to care that his executive action would harm our opportunity to reform our broken legal immigration system. Republicans and Democrats alike have ideas for how to reform our immigration system, and many of them have bipartisan support,” the senator continued.

“So in the president’s desperate attempt to placate some very vocal activist groups and to make up for years of hollow promises, he’s decided to flout the rule of law and end up making real immigration reform that much harder to pass.”

Obama is expected to issue an immigration executive order as soon as this week.

“The record will show that I have actually taken fewer executive actions than my predecessors. Nobody disputes that. What I think has changed is the reaction of some of my friends in Congress to exercising what are normal and, frankly, fairly typical exercises of presidential authority,” Obama told reporters Sunday in Brisbane, adding he “showed extraordinary patience with Congress in trying to work a bipartisan deal.”

“As I’ve said before, I can’t wait in perpetuity when I have authorities that, at least for the next two years, can improve the system, can allow us to shift more resources to the border rather than separating families; improve the legal immigration system,” the president said. “I would be derelict in my duties if I did not try to improve the system that everybody acknowledges is broken.”

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Florida Lawmaker Proud to be Spied Upon by Chavistas

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A harsh critic of South American socialism in the House says she’s proud to be spied upon by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

El Nuevo Herald reported Sunday that Maduro uses a network of “patriots” to the Bolivarian Revolution on U.S. soil  to peer into the activities of NGOs and lawmakers unfriendly to the regime.

The paper singled out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

Ros-Lehtinen, the former chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and current head of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, responded to the report in a statement noting she’s proud to be spied upon by Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor.

“I’m greatly honored that this despotic regime that imprisons innocent opposition leaders, denies basic human rights to all and kills students peacefully demonstrating in the streets would find me to be a thorn in its side. Being a target of an autocratic regime, whether it is the Castro brothers or Nicolas Maduro, is a badge of honor,” the congresswoman said.

“The Venezuelan people endure continual violations of their human rights, suffer from a spiraling economy, and live with constant violence sanctioned by the Venezuelan regime.”

Ros-Lehtinen called this “latest episode by the Venezuelan regime” just “another reaffirmation that the puppeteers in Cuba continue to influence Maduro to adopt a system that denies fundamental freedoms to its people and attacks those who seek justice and liberty.”

“Maduro’s comrades-in-arms, the Castro brothers, have labeled me as La Loba Feroz (The Ferocious She-Wolf) so I’m honored that another thug would target me for trying to be a voice for the Venezuelan people who are currently suffering under this brutal regime, but I will not be deterred and will continue to push for sanctions for human rights violators in Venezuela.”

The report states that the Chavista network of paid spies fell apart after the U.S. kicked out several Bolivarian Intelligence Service officials operating from diplomatic facilities.

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White House Hits Back Hard At ISIS Kidnappers With…A Policy Review

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

A fistful of meh.

President Barack Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of U.S. policy governing efforts to free Americans being held by militant groups overseas, the White House said on Monday.

In recent months, Islamic State militants have beheaded three Americans, including Peter Kassig, an aid worker and former U.S. Army Ranger, whose death was announced in a video released by the group on Sunday.

“The administration’s goal has always been to use every appropriate resource within the bounds of the law to assist families to bring their loved ones home,” White House National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said in a statement.

“In light of the increasing number of U.S. citizens taken hostage by terrorist groups overseas and the extraordinary nature of recent hostage cases,” added Baskey, “this summer President Obama directed relevant departments and agencies, including the Departments of Defense and State, the FBI, and the Intelligence Community, to conduct a comprehensive review of how the U.S. government addresses these matters.”

This feels like a small band-aid on a gaping exit wound but, hey, at least they are now giving the appearance of being on top of things (someone must have gotten a current newspaper to the president).

Most, if not all, of the vague steps outlined in this article (“examining family engagement, intelligence collection, and diplomatic engagement policies”) seem like common sense things that the U.S. government should have been doing already so it’s difficult to see how anything markedly different will come out of this navel gaz…er…policy review.

That is unless they haven’t been doing any of the obvious things thus far.

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Three Americans Among the Dead in Jerusalem Synagogue Attack

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Hamas has applauded the grisly terrorist attack in a Jerusalem synagogue that left four dead. Among the dead are four dual citizens. Three of them were dual American-Israeli citizens and one was a dual citizen of Israel and the UK.

The two assailants who launched their attack with meat cleavers and a gun during early morning prayers were then killed by police officers in the ensuing gun battle at the scene of the attack.

The deaths occurred as the two men – identified by family members as cousins Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal from the East Jerusalem district of Jabal Mukaber – burst into the Bnei Torah synagogue in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of West Jerusalem.

A man who identified himself only as Yossi and was in the synagogue at the time of the attack, told Channel 2: “The police arrived and surrounded the entrance and then the terrorist ran out and they shot him. There was wild gunfire. People ran out of the synagogue. It was hell.”

“I tried to escape. The man with the knife approached me. There was a chair and table between us … my prayer shawl got caught. I left it there and escaped.”

Yosef Posternak, who was also praying in the synagogue at the time of the attack, told Israel Radio that about 25 worshippers were inside when the attackers entered.

Three of the victims held dual US-Israeli citizenship, and one was a British-Israeli citizen – 68-year-old Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, who emigrated to Israel from the UK in 1993.

The three US citizens were 59-year-old Rabbi Moshe Twersky – the head of an English speaking religious college – Aryeh Kopinsky, 43, and Kalman Zeev Levine, 55. The grandson of one of the founders of the Modern Orthodox movement, Twersky lived close to the scene of the attack in Har Nof.

The two attackers were reportedly members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Police killed them as they attempted to escape. Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza, has called for additional attacks on civilians. Palestinians in Gaza have reacted to the attack by celebrating, passing out candy and brandishing axes.

Israel Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu promises a “harsh response” to the attack.

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From a Terrible President Obama Asia Trip – Some Actual Good News

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Seton Motley

President Barack Obama’s recent Asia trip was – like much of his presidency – very often disastrous.

Some things are more disastrous than others.

A Look at What the US-China Climate Deal Means for the Fight Against Global Warming

China, whose emissions are rising as it builds new coal plants to fuel its economic growth, set a target for its emissions to peak in 2030 or earlier….

The U.S. set a goal to make its 2025 emissions between 26 and 28 percent lower than they were in 2005.

Get that?  China gets to grow unfettered for another fifteen years.  (And that’s if we can trust them at the end of it all to do what they say they will – a dubious bet at best.)

We would have to in ten years undo all of the growth of the last ten – and then lop off an additional quarter.

Not exactly an equitable arrangement – cut to address fictitious “problems.”

Global warming is a Left-concocted con and farce – ClimateGates 1 & 2, anyone? – to (not-so) stealthily attack capitalism.  (Vladimir Lenin’s birthday was chosen for Earth Day – not-so-stealthy.)

And global temperatures have since 1998 flatlined – despite huge global increases in carbon dioxide output.  CO2 these Leftists have ridiculously dubbed a global warming-inducing “pollutant.”

Ask the world’s flora – that inhales carbon dioxide – if they think it’s poison.  Rather than hug a tree, extrude some CO2 – the arboreal appreciation will be far greater.

President Obama did secure a deal that is actually good for Americans – and the planet.

U.S., China to Drop Tariffs on Range of Tech Products

The U.S. and China reached an agreement to drop tariffs on a wide range of technology products, in a deal that its backers say could cover $1 trillion in trade and that marks a significant accomplishment amid strained ties between Beijing and Washington.

The two countries late Monday reached a deal to expand the Information Technology Agreement, a global technology trade pact, to cover semiconductors, medical devices, Global Positioning System devices and other newer products, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Tuesday in Beijing.

The deal–reached late Monday after marathon negotiations and more than a year of stalled talks–could be ratified in December by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Less taxes on trade?  Excellent.  Less tension between two tense-together nations?  Excellent.

As “West Wing” fictitious employee Toby Ziegler factually noted:

You want the benefits of free trade?…

Food is cheaper, clothes are cheaper, steel is cheaper, cars are cheaper, phone service is cheaper…. It lowers prices, it raises income….

Free trade stops wars. And that’s it. Free trade stops wars. And we figure out a way to fix the rest.

Figuring out the fix for the rest isn’t that difficult.  Much of it involves the aforementioned WTO – a global entity with an actual useful purpose (as opposed to, say, the United Nations).

The WTO should approve this agreement – and take notes.  Because we need a whole lot more of these deals – with as many nations and in as many economic sectors as possible.

The WTO should be not just ratifying them – but fostering their development.  For instance:

The world’s sugar-producing nations need to sit down together, each with a copy of everyone else’s lists of protectionist policies. And start horse trading.

“Brazil – how about if you get rid of this subsidy, we’ll each get rid of one.”

“Mexico – if you get rid of this tariff, we’ll each get rid of one.”

Let the subsequent discussions ensue. Lather, rinse, repeat.

And then we do it for clothes.  And steel.  And cars.  And….

We get the idea.  Here’s hoping the WTO and the world’s nations do.

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Israel’s Response to Terror: Relax Gun Laws

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Israel suffered yet another murderous terror attack today. The government has responded by electing to relax gun control laws.

Let that soak in for a minute.

America suffers a horrific school shooting and the gun control lobby is out in full force before the bodies are cold, screaming about stricter gun control laws. Israel suffers a bloody synagogue terror attack and

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch pledged to ease controls on carrying weapons for self-defense after a gruesome terrorist attack at a Jerusalem synagogue that left four dead Tuesday.

It was not clear exactly what new measures would be put in place, but it was reported that the move would apply to anyone licensed to carry a gun, such as private security guards and off-duty army officers.

Aharonovitch added that “we have instructed synagogues to place security guards at their entrances.”

Israel’s gun laws are strict and the Israeli attitude towards carrying firearms differs greatly from the almost comedic depictions of gun ownership in America. A 2012 article published after the Sandy Hook massacre detailed:

“There is an essential difference between the two. In America the right to bear arms is written in the law, here it’s the opposite… only those who have a license can bear arms and not everyone can get a license.”

Amit said gun licenses are only given out to those who have a reason because they work in security or law enforcement, or those who live in settlements “where the state has an interest in them being armed.”

He added that former IDF officers above a certain rank can get a license.

Anyone who fits the requirements, is over age 21 and an Israeli resident for more than three years, must go through a mental and physical health exam, Amit said, then pass shooting exams and courses at a licensed gun range, as well as background checks by the Public Security Ministry.

Once they order their firearm from a gun store, they are allowed to take it home with a one-time supply of 50 bullets, which Amit said they cannot renew.

The gun owner must retake his license exam and testing at the gun range every three years. As of January, Amit said, a new law will go into effect requiring gun owners to prove that they have a safe at home to keep their weapon in.

The relaxed restrictions may relate to regulations imposed after a 2013 shooting in Be’er Sheva:

One day after a Be’er Sheva man shot dead four people in a local bank before turning his gun on himself, the Public Security Ministry on Tuesday announced new rules to limit the number of guns in circulation. School security guards will have to turn in their weapons, which guarding firms will reissue at the start of the new school year. Licensed gun owners will have to store their weapon in a safe at home. Security companies must obtain special exemptions from being required to store a weapon when its bearer is off duty, only one gun license will be issued to any single individual and anyone applying to renew a gun license must show why they need a weapon.

What “relaxed” means is yet to be seen. But for Americans weary of gun control arguments that continue to be completely irrelevant to the situations at hand, Israel’s response to gun ownership in the face of terror is refreshing and worthy of further examination by our own government and pro-gun lobby.

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Ban the Ban: Let Employers (and Everyone Else) Discriminate

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Whatever spirit swept the nation on November 4th, cleansing the political makeup of government, it passed over my home state of Minnesota. While Republicans managed to retake control of the state house, the senate and governor’s office remain in Democrat hands.

During two years of one-party rule, many radical policies were advanced and passed into law. One of those policies, seemingly innocuous compared to many others, bans employers from inquiring on initial application forms whether perspective employees have a past criminal conviction. It’s called “ban the box,” has been passed in 12 other states, and was intended to provide former convicts with “a fairer shot in the hiring process.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the law has been “tripping up Minnesota employers:”

The one company fined so far was Elgin Milk Service Inc., a trucking company in the southern Minnesota town of Elgin. It was fined $500 for not complying in a timely manner. The company paid up. Account manager Lynette Bruske said the company just didn’t know about the law change. The fine surprised her.

“I just thought that was real steep for just eliminating a page out of the application,” Bruske said.

Morrie’s Automotive Group, based in Minnetonka, was also fined but appealed. The fine was overturned, the applications fixed and the matter resolved, [the Minnesota Department of] Human Rights said.

So far, more than 50 companies have been harassed by the state for continuing to ask applicants whether or not they have past convictions. Most “responded favorably,” submitting to the force imposed upon them.

It may seem like a relatively minor mandate, and it is. However, that just reinforces how intrusive the nanny state has become. The answer to any perceived problem in our culture has become the passage of a new law. It’s an incredibly lazy and downright silly approach to cultural activism.

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