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Asia Tells Obama to Take a Hike on His Energy Schemes

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Energy prices are rising for Americans because Barack Obama wants it that way. He told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would use energy prices hikes to socially engineer energy use, and that is one promise on which he is following through. His EPA’s war on coal alone stands to jack up power prices 70 to 80 percent, according to Dr. Julio Friedmann, of the US Department of Energy.

In recent remarks to the League of Conservation Voters, Obama said that he expects the rest of the world, including developing countries and the largest economies, to do what he is doing to their own energy consumers.

“[W]e’ve got to lead by example.  They’re waiting to see what America does.” Obama said on June 25. “And I’m convinced when America proves what’s possible, other countries are going to come along.”

About that.

Asia’s two largest economies are not waiting to see what America does, and they’re showing no sign of following Obama’s anti-coal lead.

China says it shares Obama’s goal, but it is following its own lead.

China’s chief climate official Xie Zhenhua said China should not be subject to the same rules for greenhouse gas emissions as the United States and other rich countries, signaling that Beijing will oppose any attempt to impose them at next year’s world climate conference.

“We are in different development stages, we have different historical responsibilities and we have different capacities,” Xie told reporters.

Japan is not only not following Obama’s war on coal, it is increasing coal use in new domestic energy projects, according to Mari Iwata in the Wall Street Journal today.

Japan said Wednesday it would step up support for coal-fired power plants in developing nations, challenging a U.S. policy that seeks to discourage such plants in an effort to fight global warming. […] The move represents a repudiation of the Obama administration’s strict stance of carbon emissions. Washington is talking to members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of developed nations, about a rule that would ban national export-credit agencies from financing new overseas coal power plants.

Japan understands that coal can safely power its economy.

Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy, Tokyo seeks each year to back overseas coal power-plant projects worth about $4 billion. Typically those projects have Japanese investors and use at least some Japanese equipment. While the annual target hasn’t been reached yet, several major projects have recently gotten under way.

Japan has long supported energy efficiency. Unlike Barack Obama, who claims to support an “all-of-the-above” strategy that in reality only supports the development of expensive so-called “clean” or “green” energy, Japan actually does support all-of-the-above.

China and Japan are the world’s second and third largest economies respectively.

They’re not buying the Luddite, anti-energy radicalism that Barack Obama is selling on energy.

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Senate Effort Underway to Require Congressional Approval of Iran Deal

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

GOP senators bit back at the Obama administration’s four-month extension of nuclear talks with Iran today, introducing legislation that would require congressional review of any deal and makes clear that this is the last extension before sanctions go back into effect.

It’s a bill that many Democrats would vote for — if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) allows it to come to the floor.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the top GOP on the Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the bill in a colloquy Wednesday with his co-sponsors: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho).

Corker gave a nod to the work on sanctions pushed forward by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), though it was unclear if either would sign on to the bill.

“Congress must weigh in on any final deal, ensure Iranian compliance is strictly enforced, and provide a backstop to prevent a bad deal from occurring,” Corker said. “While this bill does not include new sanctions on Iran, it allows Congress to seek further sanctions if an acceptable final deal can’t be reached.”

What it does include is the requirement that the president submit any agreement to Congress within three days of reaching a final deal. Lawmakers would have 15 days to review the deal, then have the option to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval that would have to pass the House and Senate.

If Obama failed to submit a plan to Congress or a resolution of disapproval would pass, sanctions that the administration had rolled back during the negotiation process would automatically be reimposed.

“Additionally, if Iran at any time violates the terms of its nuclear agreements, this legislation rightly obligates the Obama administration to re-impose all previous sanctions and start over,” Risch said. “Given Iran’s history and bad faith on this issue, this legislation is absolutely necessary.”

Additionally, sanctions would be re-imposed on Nov. 28 — four days after the newly extended deadline is up — should Obama fail to submit a comprehensive agreement to Congress.

“Congress played a fundamental role in enacting sanctions against Iran and should have a say whether this agreement is strong enough to lift sanctions,” Graham said. “President Obama felt he needed congressional approval to move forward in Syria and Congress should insist on being involved in any nuclear deal with Iran.”

Rubio said on the Senate floor that refusing to let Congress give the final approval to a deal “leaves us vulnerable – not just to a terrible deal –  but to a dangerous one that could potentially endanger the future of our allies and even of our own country.”

“So the Iranians in this whole negotiation view themselves as being in a position of strength. To be quite frank, they believe that our president wants this deal more than they do. They believe he wants this deal more than they do. And that’s what puts them in this tremendous position of strength. And the result is that these negotiations are not going to, in my view – I hope that I’m wrong, I hope that tomorrow we open up and read, you know what? They’ve changed their mind. They don’t want to do any more terrorism, no rockets and no nuclear weapon program and they’ve become just a normal government and a normal country,” Rubio said.

“Don’t hold your hopes out for that because that is not what they’ve shown in the past, that is not what they’re doing now, and they are negotiating from a position of strength because they believe that the president wants a deal much more than they want or need a deal.”

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Schumer, Graham, Cardin to Obama: Don’t Force Israel Into Cease-Fire that Doesn’t ‘Remove’ Rocket Threat

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Two Democratic senators joined Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) today in insisting that President Obama not force any cease-fire in the Middle East that leaves Israel in danger of rocket attacks.

Graham, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wrote to Obama that “the threats posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels whose only purpose is to kill and kidnap Israelis are intolerable, and Israel must be allowed to take any actions necessary to remove those threats.”

Obama dispatched Secretary of State John Kerry, who met today with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to forge a cease-fire agreement.

The senators wanted to impress upon Obama their “strong belief that any viable cease fire in Gaza must remove the threat to Israel posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels.”

“Any cease fire should create a situation in which Israeli citizens no longer face the threat of brazen terrorist attacks,” they wrote. “Israeli citizens have faced over 1800 rocket launches from Hamas since June. While Iron Dome has saved countless lives, over five million Israelis live in fear of incoming rockets fired indiscriminately from Gaza. Twenty-eight tunnels have been discovered by the IDF since the ground operation in Gaza began. Israel has an absolute right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel.”

“…Any effort to broker a ceasefire agreement that does not eliminate those threats cannot be sustained in the long run and will leave Israel vulnerable to future attacks.”

Schumer, Graham and Cardin stressed to Obama that Israel “has taken great pains to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties.”

“The IDF has used text messages, leaflet drops, phone calls, and other methods to clear out areas before attacks. The same cannot be said about Hamas. Their rockets have only one purpose: to kill as many innocent Israelis as possible. At the same time, they use their own civilians as human shields by placing missile launchers next to schools, hospitals, mosques, and private homes. The Hamas interior ministry has called on Gaza residents to ignore IDF warnings to get out of harm’s way,” they continued.

“The human toll in this crisis is tragic. Both Palestinian and Israeli civilians are dying because of the distorted priorities of the leaders of a terrorist organization whose primary goal is to destroy Israel. We must do everything possible to ensure they do not succeed.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said today that “obviously our top priority is getting a ceasefire and achieving a ceasefire.”

“What the contours of that ceasefire will look like, I’m obviously not going to outline. But longer term, the issue of rocket fire does need to be addressed. We’re very serious about that. Again, how that looks like, what that looks like, I’m not going to get into the details of that either,” Harf said.

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Images of Syrian Victims Poached for Hamas Propaganda

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

More than 170,000 people have been killed in Syria as the world has largely ignored the slaughter. So, Hamas figured it could poach some of those victims for its own use without the world noticing:

 

 

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Romney Says He’s Not Running for President

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

On Wednesday’s Sean Hannity Show, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney told Sean Hannity that he is not running for president in 2016. “I’m not running, Sean, but I’ll be rooting for the nominee,” Romney said. Saying that he had his chance in 2012  and lost, Romney thinks it’s time for someone else to have a shot at beating the Democrats.

He then ticked off a list of potential candidates he hoped would consider running:  Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio.

Romney suggested that he wouldn’t fare well in a face-off with Hillary. “I am not the person who should be the nominee to run against the Democratic nominee, who I think will be Hillary Clinton,” he said. However, Romney lambasted the former secretary of State for her disastrous record, including the “reset” button debacle with the Russians.

Romney also criticized President Obama saying, “He lacks the experience to do what America needs to do,” adding that he’s more focused on golf than on world events.

Hannity, meanwhile, gushed about what a great president Romney would have been, saying the country had “buyer’s remorse” for choosing Obama over the more experienced and more qualified Romney.

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Kerry: Abbas ‘Committed to Nonviolence and Committed to a Harder Route’

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry said today in Ramallah that he’s “very grateful” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his “tireless” leadership in the conflict between his unity government partner Hamas and Israel.

Following his meeting with Abbas, Kerry noted to reporters that he’s “been in constant touch with President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority over the course of the last months.”

“But particularly in the last days, we have been talking about how to achieve an end to the current violence and an effort to try to not only have a cease-fire, but build a process that can create a sustainable way forward for everybody,” he said. “I’m very grateful to President Abbas for his leadership, for his deep engagement in the effort to try to find a cease-fire. He has traveled tirelessly, he has been working with all of the interested groups and parties, and encouraging people to do the responsible thing, which is to come to the table – not only have a cease-fire, but then negotiate the immediate issues and the underlying issues.”

Abbas was criticized for a trip to Turkey last week on which he was photographed posing with TV stars.

“We had a good conversation today about how we can take further steps, and we’re doing this for one simple reason: The people in the Palestinian territories, the people in Israel, are all living under the threat or reality of immediate violence, and this needs to end for everybody,” Kerry continued. “We need to find a way forward that works, and it’s not violence.”

“President Abbas has been committed to nonviolence and committed to a harder route,” he said of the leader who has vowed “no way” will he recognize the Jewish state. “Sometimes it’s very satisfying for people to see the immediate impact of the violence, but it doesn’t take you to a solution. President Abbas understands the road to the solution, and that’s what we’re working for.”

Kerry said the U.S. will continue to push for a cease-fire, and “will continue to work with President Abbas and others in the region in order to achieve it.”

“And I can tell you that we have, in the last 24 hours, made some progress in moving towards that goal,” he said. “And I will leave here now with President Abbas’ thoughts about how we could make some progress, and I will go and meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and subsequently return to Cairo, where we will continue in the hopes that before long, we can change course and, for everybody’s sake, end this violence and move to a sustainable program for the future.”

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Cruz: Is the FAA Ban on Flights to Israel Really an Obama Economic Boycott?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The US FAA has extended the ban on flights into Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, citing increased risk after a Hamas rocket landed within a mile of the airport. Hamas is calling the ban a “great victory,” while several European countries are following up with flight bans of their own.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is now asking, is the FAA’s decision really based on risk, or is it a stealth economic boycott of Israel?

In a press release, Cruz notes that the FAA still allows flights into Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, all of which are under constant terrorist threat.

Sen. Cruz also notes that so far in the current battle with Hamas, the terrorist group has launched over 2,000 rockets. Only one has landed anywhere near Ben Gurion.

Mindful of the shootdown of MH17 last week, Cruz also notes that that shootdown was accomplished by a sophisticated BUK anti-aircraft missile made by Russia. Yet the FAA still allows flights into Ukraine.

According to Sen. Cruz’s statement, tourism is an $11 billion industry in Israel. Thanks to the FAA’s ban, though, tourist charters are canceling trips at a 30% rate, costing the Israeli economy enormously. At the same time, Secretary of State John Kerry arrive in Israel — at Ben Gurion, incidentally — pledging $47 million in aid for the Palestinians, which really means more money for Hamas.

Taking the impact of these decisions together with Kerry’s previous statements, in which he has accused Israel of being an “apartheid state,” Cruz wonders what is behind the FAA’s decisions — true risk or politics?

Read Sen. Cruz’s full statement on the next page.

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Meanwhile, in the Capital of the Caliphate, the Trains Run on Time, Impressing the NY Times

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

One can’t help but compare today’s New York Times’ dispatch from Raqqa, the “capital” of the new Islamic caliphate, with previous Times reports highlighting the troubles afflicting U.S. efforts in Iraq.

While sturm und drang prevailed in the latter, the leaders of the Caliphate seem to make the figurative trains run on time (something even Mussolini didn’t do).

More pragmatically, ISIS has managed to keep food in markets, and bakeries and gas stations functioning.

“What I see in Raqqa proves that the Islamic State has a clear vision to establish a state in the real meaning of the word,” said a retired teacher in the city of Raqqa. “It is not a joke.”

Many said that they received official receipts stamped with the ISIS logo and that the fees were less than they used to pay in bribes to Mr. Assad’s government.

 “I feel like I am dealing with a respected state, not thugs,” said a Raqqa goldsmith in his small shop as a woman shopped for gold pieces with cash sent from abroad by her husband.

In fairness, the story also notes that Muslim Sharia law leaves the hands of thieves disarmed,  smokers without a break, drinkers dry and women cloaked.

But there is a darker side to Islamic rule, with public executions and strict social codes that have left many in this once-tolerant community deeply worried about the future.

Of course, mentioning “a darker side” indicates the reader should weigh the relative merits of the coming Muslim dynasty with an open mind. Take the good with the bad.

O, and by the way, all three of Raqqa’s Christian churches have been shuttered, stripped of crosses, black flagged and converted to Islamic suicide bomber recruitment centers.

Nevertheless the story ends on a high note.

After ISIS’s advance into Iraq last month, the Jordanian went to Mosul to help organize a hospital there before returning to Raqqa.

“He talked with an eager shine in his eyes, saying that the caliphate of the Islamic State that began in Raqqa would spread over the whole region,” one of his employees said.

There was a time when the Left pooh-poohed theories that jihadis would establish a caliphate from which to launch their conquest of the rest of the earth.

Now, it seems, the caliphate exists, but it’s not as bad as those radical Right-wing scaremongers said.

 

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At Fundraiser, Obama Steers Foreign Policy Crises to Economic Equality Platform

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama used the foreign policy crises unfolding across the globe as a jumping-off point to promote economic equality policies at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Seattle last night.

He was addressing donors at a private home “under a white tent near a pool, on the lawn of an Italianate style house with a panoramic view of the lake,” according to the White House pool report.

Despite “enormous progress across the board on a whole range of fronts,” he said, “…people are anxious.”

“Now, some of that has to do with some big challenges overseas. I am very proud that we have ended one war, and by the end of this year we will have ended both wars that I inherited before I came into office,” Obama said to applause. “But whether people see what’s happening in Ukraine, and Russia’s aggression towards its neighbors in the manner in which it’s financing and arming separatists; to what’s happened in Syria — the devastation that Assad has wrought on his own people; to the failure in Iraq for Sunni and Shia and Kurd to compromise — although we’re trying to see if we can put together a government that actually can function; to ongoing terrorist threats; to what’s happening in Israel and Gaza — part of people’s concern is just the sense that around the world the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite yet to where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity, that’s based on economies that work for all people.”

“But here in the United States, what people are also concerned about is the fact that although the economy has done well in the aggregate, for the average person it feels as if incomes, wages just haven’t gone up; that people, no matter how hard they work, they feel stuck,” he added. “And that’s not an illusion. Because what’s happened is, is that a lot of our gains, a lot of the progress that’s been made in this economy — and this is like a 20, 25, 30-year trend — have gone to the folks at the very top. And middle-class families find themselves with stagnant incomes, even as the cost of health care or the cost of a college education for their kids keeps on skyrocketing.”

“And part of what people are also anxious about is the fact that government doesn’t seem to be responsive, at least at the federal level, to those concerns.

“We know how to solve some of our big problems. But what we’re going to have to do is break the logjam in Washington. So where I’m able to get Congress to help, I want to work with them. Where I can’t get Congress to help, I’m going to do everything I can on my own. Everything I can on my own. If they don’t want to pass a sensible climate change bill, we’re going to go ahead and put forward a Climate Action Plan and make sure we’re working with the EPA under authorities we already have to reduce carbon,” he said.

“And that’s why these midterm elections are so important. I do not want anybody here to succumb to cynicism. Cynicism is a choice, and hope is a better choice. But in order for us to make hope live, in order for hope to be more than just a slogan, we’ve got to work. We’ve got to work to make sure that members of Congress — whether the Senate or the House of Representatives — are serious about you. And I will say, for all the Democrats around here, I’m not overly partisan.”

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House Working Group Arrives at List of Border-Control Actions

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A working group appointed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to study the border crisis has arrived at its slate of recommendations.

Boehner named Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) to lead the group on June 24, and she said last week that the group was making “extraordinary progress in a short amount of time to understand the facts of the situation at the border, and develop sensible, humane, but tough recommendations on a course of action for Congress and the president to act on immediately.”

Granger along with Reps. John Carter (R-Texas), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) visited the Texas-Mexico border twice and flew to Central America to meet with the presidents of Honduras and Guatemala.

Their recommendations are:

·         Deploy the National Guard to the Southern border to assist Border Patrol in the humanitarian care and needs of the unaccompanied minors. This will free up the Border Patrol to focus on their primary mission.

·         Prohibit the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) from denying or restricting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) activities on federal land under their respective jurisdictions.

·         Require a DHS strategy and implementation plan to gain operational control of the Southwest border.

·         Establish independent third party commission to develop border security metrics as a means to accurately gauge progress on border security.

·         Establish border security in Central American countries and Mexico.

·         Establish repatriation centers in originating countries in order to facilitate the return of family units and unaccompanied minors.

·         Deploy aggressive messaging campaigns in originating countries and the U.S. to dispel immigration myths, clarify that individuals will be deported on arrival and advise on the dangers and legal penalties of traveling through Mexico to enter the United States illegally.

·         Mandate the detention of all Family Units apprehended at the border with the ultimate goal of processing family units 5-7 days. Congress must continue stringent oversight to ensure this mandate is being met.

·         Amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 so all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexicans and Canadians for the purpose of removals. This would require unaccompanied children who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in HHS custody while they await an expedited immigration court hearing that must occur not more than 7 days after they are screened by child welfare officials.

·         Deploy additional judge teams and temporary judges to expedite the hearing of asylum and credible fear claims. Congress must address the occurrences of fraud in our asylum system. Baseless claims crowd the immigration court system and delay processing for those with legitimate claims. The standard under current law that allows an alien to show a “credible fear of persecution” needs to be examined and addressed to ensure a fraud-free system moving forward.  In addition, criminal aliens and criminal gang members should not receive asylum.

·         Establish tough penalties for those engaged in human smuggling, including the smuggling of unaccompanied minors by strengthening penalties for human smugglers and those who assist them.

·         Increase law enforcement operations domestically and in originating countries to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and encourage originating countries to pass strict laws against human smuggling.

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said he expected the House to “take up these recommendations so that we can quickly send them to the Senate for a vote and to the president for implementation.”

“I expect that whatever proposal we pass will remain fiscally responsible and not add to our deficit,” Salmon added.

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How Secretary John Kerry Can ‘Address Long-Term Palestinian Grievances,’ Stopping War with Israel

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Shortly after touching down in Tel Aviv today (7/23), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the press why he had come to the region.

The goal, Mr. Kerry stressed, was not only to obtain a cease-fire but to map out a “sustainable process going forward” that would address some of the long-term grievances of the Palestinians in Gaza and prevent the fighting between Hamas and Israel from erupting every few years. [emphasis added]

His jet landed at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s front door, which had already been slammed shut by U.S. and European officials banning flights in and out. One can only imagine the comfort Kerry’s words brought to the mothers of Israel, whose sons crawl through tunnels attempting to flush out Hamas terrorists.

After all, what long-term grievances might the Palestinians harbor that Mr. Kerry could address?

How about the fact that Israelis live on land that Palestinians will forever claim as their own?

Well, he might address that by agreeing with Hamas and Fatah that a Jew can no longer have an address in the former, and ephemeral, state of Israel. Then he could get back on his plane at Tel Aviv’s new Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin International Airport and enjoy a ticker-tape parade down Broadway.

That might encourage Hamas to stop lobbing thousands of missiles into the area. Although history shows that if radical Muslims don’t have Jews or Christians to kill (or even if they do), they’ll kill each other. Even Bill Maher knows that.

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Hamas Threat to Israel’s Airport Demands a New Strategy: Let Israel Win

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Hamas launched a powerful rocket that landed within a mile of Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. Israel has opened an alternative airport in Negev.

The US Federal Aviation Administration overreacted to the Hamas rocket, by banning American carriers from landing at Ben Gurion, temporarily. Secretary of State John Kerry has flown to the Middle East to try and arrange a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Michael Bloomberg, of all people, showed stronger leadership by flying into Ben Gurion and publicizing his flight, to show that it is still safe.

Hamas is believed to possess from 10,000 to 20,000 rockets. The terrorist group has used that arsenal to start the current round of fighting by firing those rockets at Israeli civilian population centers.

Israel has responded by going after Hamas in as precise a manner as possible, to avoid civilian casualties. That is no easy feat when Hamas deliberately hides its weapons in schools and when its fighters do not wear uniforms and who themselves hide among civilians, using them as human shields. When those civilians are inevitably killed, Hamas then uses them for propaganda against Israel.

At this point, what would a cease-fire achieve?

For Israel, a temporary and untenable “peace.” For Hamas, it would achieve quite a lot. A cease-fire would leave its rocket arsenal intact. It would also leave the threat that Hamas could shut down Israel’s main international airport, at any moment, intact.

For Israel, that is an intolerable threat. Hamas could cut Israel off from the rest of the world, or at least from its strongest ally, any time it wants, just by firing one of its thousands and thousands of rockets near the airport.

Kerry should not have gone to Israel to mindlessly try to broker another cease-fire.

He should have gone to Israel to tell Hamas unambiguously that the United State supports Israel’s right to self-defense, and that if Hamas does not turn over all of its rockets immediately, that the United States supports Israel’s right to destroy the entire arsenal by means and methods of its choosing.

In other words, Kerry should have gone to Israel to tell Hamas and the world that the United States supports Israel and its right to defeat Hamas once and for all.

Negotiating with Hamas has proven to be futile. It’s time to let Israel win.

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John Kerry Fan Boy On CNN.com Not Quite Sure What Hamas Is Up To

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Yes, he’s talking about that John Kerry.

This is mostly full of what you would expect from cheerleaders in the MSM but there are a couple of notable nuggets here, the first of which is an implication that Kerry has grown weary of the boss’s thumb-twiddling:

Kerry is an activist and simply couldn’t abide the fact that people were dying and the United States wasn’t at least trying to stop it.

The comments on Kerry are generally full of praise for a Secretary of State who talks about climate change as a threat more than he does terrorism.

Amid the repeated reminders in the op-ed that Palestinians are dying, the author tosses out this gem:

As for Hamas, it’s not easy to read its calculations, in part because it’s not clear whether the military or political wing is in charge.

Really? Are we still pretending there is a lot of nuance there?

Let me offer some armchair (ok, desk chair) analysis: Hamas attacks Israel until it runs out of things with which to attack. As a distraction while re-arming, Hamas then whines about retaliation and is supported by useful idiots in various media around the world. Then it attacks again.

It is rather difficult to deal with the various evils in the world when so many keep playing dangerous games of moral equivalence.

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Go Home, United Nations, You’re Drunk

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Detroit has a water crisis.

Actually, no, it doesn’t. Detroit has a deadbeat crisis.

The broke down Motor City has announced that it is suspending shutting off water to those who don’t pay their water bills, for 15 days. Just about half of the city’s residents are actually paying their water bills.

Detroit, which by the way is bankrupt, made that decision because the United Nations pressured it to.

How did Detroit get to be bankrupt? Well, it has a deadbeat problem. And a corruption problem.

The United Nations claims that access to clean water is now a “human right.” And because of that, the city should not cut off the water to people who are using the city’s water service, but are refusing to pay for it.

Most of the same people who are refusing to pay for the water they use are on taxpayer-supported public assistance. Public assistance is meant to help them pay for food, shelter, and of course, water.

But instead, many of them are paying for cell phones and satellite or cable TV service.

They are making choices in what they pay for. If they prize other things over clean water, well, there ought to be consequences for that. The United Nations, which itself lives off of the public assistance of member states including the United States, disagrees.

Potable water doesn’t clean itself and, for the most part, doesn’t exist in nature in the quantities that we need to support our cities. Humans have to process water to make it drinkable. That processing costs money. Somebody has to pay for it. If that somebody is not the people who are actually using the water, then who ought to pay for it?

The United Nations has taken the position that it doesn’t care, and it doesn’t matter, who pays for water.

They’re not going far enough.

Food is just as important to our health as water. If clean water is a human right, why isn’t food? And if food is a human right, why should anyone ever have to pay for food?

Why shouldn’t farmers just give away all of the crops, beef, milk, and other products that they generate? Why shouldn’t all restaurants serve everyone whatever food they want, free of charge? Aren’t they violating our human rights if they force us to pay for the food that we eat? Steak and lobster for everyone, every day, whenever they want — since it’s a human right. Why shouldn’t the United Nations make this happen?

Then no one would have to choose between food and their smartphone.

Because having to make choices isn’t fair. Or something.

 

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New NRA Ad Urges Members To Vote And Protect Their Rights (VIDEO)

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

This is part of the organization’s Trigger The Vote campaign:

YouTube Preview Image

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IRS IT: Lerner’s Hard Drive Was Merely ‘Scratched,’ Data Was Recoverable

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The House Ways and Means Committee’s IRS targeting scandal investigators have tracked down some IRS information technology specialists who contradict the agency’s official line regarding the spoiled hard drive of Lois Lerner.

According to the IRS, Lerner’s hard drive “crashed” and the data on it was not recovered. That data, according to the IRS, included all of Lerner’s emails to and from people outside the IRS itself. Those so-called lost emails could shed light on who Lerner was communicating with outside the IRS and who outside the agency may have been aware of the targeting of conservative groups, and what the purpose of the targeting was.

But the IRS says that those emails are “lost,” and Lerner’s “crashed” hard drive was later “recycled,” meaning it was destroyed entirely.

But the IRS IT specialists tracked down by Ways and Means tell a different story.

According to them, Lerner’s hard drive was merely “scratched,” and most of the data on it was recoverable. The IT specialists tell the Committee’s investigators that they recommended the IRS seek outside assistance to recover the data on Lerner’s drive. Forensic experts consulted by the Committee agree that most of the data would have been recoverable.

The IRS apparently never followed that advice to seek outside experts for help with the drive.

But the IRS’ record-keeping on Lerner’s hard drive may not be complete or accurate itself. Paperwork discovered by the committee says that at one point, Lerner’s computer was described as “recovered.” The IRS has also failed to provide a paper trail for the destruction of the hard drive. To date, IRS officials have testified that it was destroyed. But the agency systematically tracks the disposition of hard drives. There ought to be paperwork tracking Lerner’s hard drive to its demise, but there is no such paperwork.

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President Obama Casts Himself as Champeen News Reader in the World, or Something

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

President Barack Obama is spending three of this week’s five work days fundraising for the Democratic Party. At a fundraiser last night, he contradicted everything he has ever said about how he learns about scandals in his own government.

POLITICO reports that Obama said he’s fighting however he can to combat cynicism from becoming a dominant theme in the upcoming midterm elections. And when the president brought up the media as partly to blame, he remarked, “Whatever they’re reporting about, usually I know.”

That’s a funny thing to say for a guy who claims that he learned about Fast and Furious, the Veterans Administration secret waiting lists, the NSA spying on foreign leaders, the terrorist capture of much of Iraq, Russia’s invasion of Crimea, the IRS targeting scandal and the failure of Healthcare.gov from the news media.

Or maybe he was just lying about not knowing about any of that beforehand…

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Survey Says Millennials Think Socialism is a Joke

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Reason Foundation just released a survey proving the failure of the American public education system. But, according to Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, we might as well just laugh at it:

3. Far less important, but entertaining nonetheless: Millennials don’t know what socialism is, but they think it sounds nice.

I predict that any readers over the age of 30 will absolutely love this fact about voters under the age of 29. Forty-two percent of Millennials think socialism is preferable to capitalism, but only 16 percent of Millennials could accurately define socialism in the survey.

Say what you want about the tenets of national socialism, dude, at least it’s an ethos that young people can define in an Internet survey.

A number of my PJMedia colleagues jumped on the survey with the usual complaint that “kids these days” want everything handed to them on a silver platter. Conservatives in general fail to address the far more creepy comedic love affair with socialism because we fail to understand the media that informs the Millennial generation.

Case in point: The “Jon Stewart takes on Gaza” debacle. Times of Israel editor David Horovitz did an excellent job ripping the comedian to shreds for his stereotypical, biased account of the meanie Israelis versus the poor Palestinians. Conservative media proceeded to join in the dissection 15 years too late. From the day he took the anchor’s chair on the set of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has attempted to be the court jester of the hipster elite. An admitted leftist, he was a psych major turned stand-up comedian who makes no bones about being a professional satirist – nothing more. Yet, the bulk of the millennial news audience share goes to Stewart and his former Daily Show co-star, Colbert Report comic actor Stephen Colbert. Knowing this, why should we be the least bit surprised that Millennials are laughing about the real issues facing the world and our country today, including socialism?

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Americans Dovish, New Poll Finds

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Politicians and pundits apparently have more interest in asserting American strength on the world stage than do the American people. From Fox News:

It’s no secret that after a decade of bloodshed and sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan, most Americans are weary of war. But the numbers in a new Politico poll bring home how sizable majorities are increasingly wary of further foreign entanglements.

Take Ukraine, which became a flash point when Russia invaded Crimea and has dominated the news since the downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane, almost definitely by pro-Russian separatists. When the pollsters asked whether the U.S should do more to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine, only 17 percent of likely voters said yes. Another 34 percent said America should be less involved, while 31 percent backed the Obama administration’s current approach. (The poll was taken before the jet was shot down.)

What about Syria, which shattered President Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons and has been suppressing a rebellion for years. Some 42 percent of likely voters want less U.S. involvement, while 15 percent want more and 26 percent back our limited level of involvement.

And then there are the two wars that have roiled American politics since 9/11. An overwhelming 77 percent support Obama’s plan to pull all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, with 23 percent in opposition.

And in Iraq, where tremendous gains by ISIS sparked a fierce debate over whether Obama should have left some troops in the country, 44 percent want less involvement and 19 percent favor more involvement, with 23 percent supporting the current level of engagement.

These are staggering figures that reveal a chasm between most politicians and a majority of voters. Many Americans are understandably focused on the problems in their daily lives and not terribly worried about what happens in Donetsk or Aleppo.

Have we become a nation of wimps? Or, has the Washington set been operating under a false dichotomy between restraint and strength?

An opportunity seems to be presented here for a new kind of foreign policy posture, one focused on quick and decisive victory against objective threats to American lives, but otherwise reluctant to intervene in wholly foreign affairs. Will Rand Paul fill that void? Many Republicans won’t trust him to recognize objective threats. Yet, his seems to be the only voice deviating from the bipartisan Washington choir. Who else might thread the needle between isolationism and military adventurism by articulating a vigorous defense that nonetheless minds our own business?

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 10:01 minutes long; 9.68 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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GAO “Secret Shopper” Investigation Finds Fraud in Obamacare Exchanges

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

On Tuesday, Republicans released preliminary results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) undercover examination of enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges.

Using fake information during an undercover “secret shopper” investigation, the GAO created 18 fictitious identities through the federal exchange by telephone, online, and in-person.  In 17 of 18 attempts the GAO was able to obtain premium subsidies and health insurance with fake information through telephone and online applications. According to the report, 11 out of 12 fake applications for the federal exchanges were approved, with credits totaling $2500 per month ($30,000 per year).

During the investigation, fake shoppers provided fake documents, such as Social Security numbers and proof of income and citizenship. They found that “Federal contractors made no effort to authenticate documents applicants provided” and the fake ID and income information proved to be no impediment to enrollment.  According to the report, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is not required to authenticate documentation. “The contractor told us it does not seek to detect fraud and accepts documents as authentic unless there are obvious alterations,” the GAO said.

As of July 2014 the fake enrollees continue to receive subsidized coverage for the 11 applications, including 3 applications where GAO did not provide any requested supporting documents.

When the GAO made attempts to sign up for federal subsidies in person, they were unable to obtain assistance in five of six attempts. “One navigator said assistance was not available because HealthCare.gov was down and another [declined] to provide assistance,” the preliminary report said, noting that navigaors have received tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to provide assistance to those in need of healthcare.

The report also pointed out that CMS officials still do not have the electronic capability to identify enrollees who have “put their policies in force” by paying their premiums. “As a result, CMS must rely on health insurance issuers to self-report enrollment data used to determine how much CMS owes the issuers for the income-based subsidies,” the GAO report said. “Work is underway to implement such a system, according to CMS, but the agency does not have a timeline for completing and deploying it.”

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) said, “We are seeing a trend with ObamaCare information systems: under every rock, there is incompetence, waste, and the potential for fraud.” Camp said, “Now, we learn that in many cases, the exchange is unable to screen out fake identities or documents.”

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) said, “Fictitious people have used fictitious documents to gain tens of thousands of dollars in real subsidies.  Yet, before subsidies were paid in January, the former secretary ‘certified’ the proper controls were in place to prevent these kinds of improper payments.” Coburn added that such incompetence and gross mismanagement is unacceptable and deeply troubling.  ”At a time when we’re facing a $17 trillion debt, it is imperative that DHS take the necessary steps to address the problems identified in GAO’s report.”

According to GAO, over 2.6 million application inconsistencies have been found for people who have signed up for health plans in the exchange. The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning with the GAO to discuss the findings of its report.

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Ted Cruz Sorry/Not Sorry About Losing the Vampire Vote

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded on Facebook to a True Blood episode that featured a storyline with a massacre at a fundraiser for Ted Cruz at the George W. Bush Presidential Library. In the episode, a pair of  left-leaning vampires show up at the Republican fundraiser to search for the parents of their enemy. Pam, the female vampire, catches a glimpse of herself in a mirror with a sparkly dress and big hair and exclaims, “I’m a Republican!” Except instead of “Republican” she invents a sexually crude word that’s not worth repeating here because it’s juvenile and debauched. After Pam recovers from her shock at looking like a Republican, a bloody massacre ensues at the gala.

On his personal Facebook page, Cruz said he never expected to turn up on the “misogynist and profanity-ridden” show. “I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote,” Cruz wrote, “but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends.”

But in retrospect, Cruz acknowledged that he probably never had a chance with the hard-core leftist blood suckers:

 

 

Cruz’s senior communications advisor (and frequent tag-team Twitter partner) Amanda Carpenter agreed:

 

 

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Dem Chairmen to Obama: Don’t Wait for Europe to Get Tough on Russia as National Security is at Stake

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A trio of Senate Democratic chairmen channeled their “outrage over the wanton destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17″ today to directly ask President Obama to consider designating the Donetsk People’s Republic a foreign terrorist organization.

Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Obama to impose broad sanctions on Russia’s defense sector as well as energy and finance industries.

“Evidence compiled since the crash, along with efforts to hide evidence and block international investigators, indicates the culpability of Russia and the separatist militants it supports in Ukraine. The attack on the Malaysia Airlines jet follows the downing of a Ukrainian AN-26 transport plane three days earlier, as well as the shooting down of a Ukrainian SU-25 attack jet and the downing of several Ukrainian government helicopters –  the Donetsk People’s Republic has claimed responsibility for each of these acts,” the senators wrote.

They noted how the separatists have controlled the crash site with many bodies uncollected after six days, tampered with evidence and scooped up the flight recorders before OSCE investigators could get their hands on them.

“President Putin may have publicly stated that all sides should allow an investigation into the downed airliner, but Russia’s actions belie his words,” the chairmen wrote. “These contemptible actions cannot go unanswered.  We strongly urge you to aggressively exercise your authorities under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and other relevant statutes to impose immediate broad sanctions against Russia’s defense sector, including state-owned Rosboronexport, in order to prevent Russia from providing weaponry, equipment, or assistance and training to separatists in Ukraine.”

The Russian arms giant that has been the target of so much consternation in Congress since President Obama lifted its sanctions in 2010 recently marketed to Malaysia the Buk missile system believed to have taken down the Malaysia Airlines jet.

Lawmakers have been trying to block U.S. funds from lining the pockets of Rosoboronexport — Russia’s state-owned arms behemoth that has raked in more than $1 billion in Defense Department contracts since 2011. President George W. Bush had placed a ban on doing business with the firm in 2008.

“We further urge you to explore the possibility of designating the Donetsk People’s Republic as a foreign terrorist organization. Increasing evidence of their human rights violations in Eastern Ukraine – including abductions and torture – demonstrates that their actions have threatened the lives of innocent Ukrainians, not to mention those unfortunate innocents merely traveling in civilian airspace over Ukraine,” the senators wrote.

“We understand and strongly support your efforts to coordinate the imposition of sanctions with our key European allies in order to ensure their maximum intended effect, and we encourage further cooperation in pursuit of this goal. However, the United States must not limit its own national security strategy when swift action will help fulfill our strategic objectives, support an independent Ukraine, and counter malignant Russian interference.”

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Sir Ian McKellen Says Struggling Actors Deserve “Living Wage”

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

If venerable film and theater actor Sir Ian McKellen has proven anything over the course of his remarkable career, he has proven that it is never too late to catch your big break. McKellen worked steadily throughout his life, achieving renown (and an Oscar) for his role as an aging Nazi war criminal in 1998’s Apt Pupil. But it wasn’t until two years later, when he reunited with director Bryan Singer to play Magneto in the first X-Men film and became Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings franchise, that McKellen became an American superstar at the age of 61.

Plenty of actors have “made it” well into their middle age. Despite playing roles in several Hollywood films, including a significant supporting bit in Jurassic Park, Samuel L. Jackson didn’t become a star until his role in Pulp Fiction at the age of 46. Another Quentin Tarantino film catapulted Christoph Waltz to fame at the age of 53.

Such success, like most all success, emerges from a commitment to develop a craft and persist through setbacks while relentlessly pursuing an individually-defined happiness. No one handed it to McKellen, Jackson, or Waltz. They earned it.

Nevertheless, McKellen recently shared his belief with Radio Times that struggling actors should be lifted up through wage controls. From The Independent:

A recent report found just one actor in 50 earned more than £20,000 a year.

“Most actors are not rich – they are very poor indeed. What keeps them going is that they just love the job,” Sir Ian told Radio Times.

He said: “I know actors who have had to turn down good roles because they just don’t pay enough. It’s hard. The one thing you can ask, I think, is that actors get paid a living wage. I would like it if all the repertory theatres that currently exist could do that. It would make a huge difference.”

The reason one actor in 50 earns more than £20,000 a year is because only one actor in 50 produces that much value. Forcing wage mandates on the industry will not change the amount of value produced. It will only increase the cost of giving struggling actors a chance, which means they will get fewer chances.

It’s precisely the same dynamic created by any minimum wage. Opportunities for those with low or developing skill dry up as they are priced out of the market. If McKellen truly cares about the struggling actors rising up in his wake, he should reconsider his position on wage controls.

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FAA Empowers Hamas, Sets Stage for Israel’s Long Term Win

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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A loser in the PR battle, Hamas decided to move their international offense to a new front today. Taking advantage of the Malaysian airliner downed by pro-Russian rebels, Hamas is now targeting air traffic entering Israel. Israel National News reports:

A rocket hit a home in the city of Yehud, near the airport, on Tuesday morning. Having failed to cause significant casualties due to Israel’s extensive defense systems, Gaza terrorists have focused rocket fire on the area in hopes of disrupting Israeli air travel.

Delta Air Lines was the first to suspend service, rerouting an Israel-bound flight with 273 passengers and 17 crew members to Paris, as if France is really a safer place for Israel lovers right now. Not long after, the Federal Aviation Administration barred flights to Israel for 24 hours. Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and Turkish Air followed suit. The State Department (whose official tweeted #UnitedforGaza this past weekend) rushed to clarify that the FAA’s move was “in no way politically motivated”.

Israel’s Transportation Minister released the following statement in response to the flight cancellations, rightly observing:

“Ben Gurion Airport is safe — takeoffs and landings — and there is absolutely no need to be concerned about the security of planes and passengers. There’s absolutely no reason why American airlines in particular should stop their flights and thus hand a prize to terrorism.”

The brash action of Hamas may have larger ramifications than even they realize. Analysts are already commenting on the long term impact of the airline safety concerns:

The implications are enormous. Whether intended or not, Hamas has made the case as to why its rocket arsenal and infrastructure must be dismantled no matter the cost. It also has justified why Israel cannot give up security control of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”). Hamas has to fire a long way to scare away air traffic, but from the West Bank it’s practically a stone’s throw.

Regardless of how Israel chooses to handle the West Bank, the actions taken by Hamas today have made two things very clear: Hamas has no problem holding America and the rest of the world hostage, and right now Israel is the free world’s last, best and only hope.

 

 

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State Dept. Denies Coordinating with FAA to Put Pressure on Israel

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The State Department denied today that yesterday’s travel warning coupled with today’s FAA decision to keep planes away from Israel is an administration strategy to put economic pressure on the Jewish state.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice at lunchtime today “informing U.S. airlines that they are prohibited from flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport for a period of up to 24 hours.

“The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning of July 22, 2014,” the FAA said in a statement. “The [Notice to Airmen] NOTAM applies only to U.S. operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.”

“The FAA immediately notified U.S. carriers when the agency learned of the rocket strike and informed them that the agency was finalizing a NOTAM. The FAA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation.  Updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines as soon as conditions permit, but no later than  24 hours from the time the NOTAM went into force.”

The notice was issued soon after Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the region to attempt to broker a ceasefire agreement. He announced a $47 million humanitarian aid package to the Palestinians soon after touching down in Cairo on Monday.

“The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens consider the deferral of non-essential travel to Israel and the West Bank and reaffirms the longstanding strong warning to U.S. citizens against any travel to the Gaza Strip,” reads the travel warning issued Monday.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters she “would wholly disagree with that argument” that the moves are intended to put pressure on Netanyahu.

“We issue travel warnings because one of our top priorities is protecting U.S. citizens overseas. I would note that in 2012, the department also issued travel warnings for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in March, August and December. So this is a step we have taken when we felt the situation on the ground warranted it. Obviously, that is a process that we go through that in no way is — is policy-related or politically related. It is just gets to how we can best protect American citizens,” Harf said.

“On the FAA, we to my knowledge were not involved in that decision-making. Obviously, we knew it was coming today. I was actually waiting for the announcement to come out before I came out to brief so I had more information. But the FAA makes these decisions when they feel it’s warranted, again for the safety of United States citizens. And they, in response to the recent attack at Ben Gurion Airport and the vicinity of Ben Gurion Airport, after consultation with U.S. operators, felt today that it was important to issue this notice, which is in effect for up to 24 hours and they will provide additional guidance to the — updated instructions to the aircraft operators no later than 24 hours from when it went into effect.”

Harf said it was “not true” that the White House was out of the loop on the FAA decision while the State Department had the head’s up.

“I was on many e-mail chains this morning about when the statement would actually come out that included my White House colleagues,” she said. “There’s not coordination — the FAA makes decisions on its own from a policy perspective. We all — we knew — you know, I knew a little bit before the briefing, as did the White House, that this was being announced publicly on the communications side. But from a policy perspective, this is a process driven entirely by the FAA.”

She said both the State Department and FAA were “in contact with the Israeli government about this,” but added that she didn’t “have specifics on what that looks like.”

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Reid: ‘Let the Dust Settle for a Little While’ Before New Measures Against Iran

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) insisted that the “dust” needs to “settle” before considering any new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Outside of a closed party policy luncheon, Reid was asked if he would continue to resist calls to bring a sanctions bill to the floor, such as the bipartisan Menendez-Kirk legislation.

“I think we should, on Iranian sanctions, let the dust settle. I think we should all feel good that an agreement was reached to move further,” Reid replied.

“Now, I don’t know if there’s going to be a final agreement. I certainly hope so, but I don’t know,” he added. “But before we start talking about additional sanctions, let’s just let the dust settle for a little while.”

The deadline for reaching an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program was July 20, but the Obama administration announced a four-month extension Friday night.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) indicated Sunday he wouldn’t stop pushing for a sanctions bill that would trigger new punitive measures if talks fail.

“Well, look, I have always been a proponent of the type of sanctions that we had devised in the latest legislation which are prospective, which sends Iran a message that if, in fact, they do not reach an agreement, an agreement that we would think is a good deal, that there are consequences and the consequences would be set up,” Menendez told Fox. “I believed those before and I believe in them now.”

In March, 83 senators — signaling a veto-proof majority if such a bill got a vote — banded together to demand that President Obama meet core principles, including clear consequences, in any final nuclear agreement with Iran.

Reid, who at the request of the White House held up a sanctions vote he’d previously vowed to allow, was not among the signatories.

The “core principles” demanded by the senators include no right to enrichment, a complete dismantling of the nuclear weapons program, cessation of all activities at Fordow and Arak, full adherence to UN Security Council resolutions, and “a long-term and intrusive inspection and verification regime.”

On the question of sanctions against Russia for its role in downing MH17, Reid said that’s possible.

“But I think first of all we have to look at what happened. 298 dead people for no reason,” Reid said. “That area clearly controlled by rebels supported overwhelmingly by Russia and Putin — and we’re going to see what the international community is willing to do to look at these people who were basically murdered.”

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VIDEO: Forget Obama/Kerry, Western Civ Is in Great Hands

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Roger L Simon

This video going viral on Facebook was sent to me by Robert Eisenman, the esteemed Dead Sea scholar, who pointed out that the mood of the IDF (Israel Defense Force) is wildly different than in previous wars.  In Hollywood, you would say, “This time it’s personal.”  In Israel, you would say, “This time it’s Biblical.”

Shades of King David.  Watch this video.

(Thumbnail on Tatler homepage based on a modified Shutterstock.com image.)

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White House Inexplicably Shuts Press Out of Apollo 11 Remembrance

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama Meets with Crew of Apollo 11

President Obama met with the crew of Apollo 11 to mark the 45th anniversary of the first mission to land on the Moon in an event mysteriously closed to the press.

The White House allowed a stills-only pool spray at the top of the meeting in the Oval Office. No reporters or TV cameras were allowed.

Badgered about the secrecy at today’s press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest called it “merely a scheduling matter.”

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times said in a tweet that a complaint would be lodged over the closed coverage.

NASA soon released a photo of Obama meeting with Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Carol Armstrong (widow of Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong), NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and Patricia “Pat” Falcone, OSTP Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs.

“Forty-five years ago, while the world watched as one, the United States of America set foot on the moon.  It was a seminal moment not just in our country’s history, but the history of all humankind,” Obama said in a statement.

“The three brave astronauts of Apollo 11 –Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins – took the first small steps of our giant leap into the future.  And for all the years since, they and their families have served as testaments to American ingenuity and human achievement.  Today, I was honored to welcome Buzz, Michael, and Neil’s wife, Carol, to the White House to mark this historic anniversary – and to thank them for serving as advocates, role models, and educators who’ve inspired generations of Americans – myself included – to dream bigger and reach higher,” he continued.

“Today, under Administrator Bolden’s leadership, the men and women of NASA are building on that proud legacy by preparing for the next giant leap in human exploration — including the first visits of men and women to deep space, to an asteroid, and someday to the surface of Mars — all while partnering with America’s pioneering commercial space industry in new and innovative ways.”

Obama added that “the United States of America is stronger today thanks to the vision of President Kennedy, who set us on a course for the moon, the courage of Neil, Buzz, and Michael, who made the journey, and the spirit of service of all who’ve worked not only on the Apollo program, but who’ve dared to push the very boundaries of space and scientific discovery for all humankind.”

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Heart-ectomy for Obamacare: Did Obama’s Lawyers Really Make This Argument?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

By now you’ve heard that a federal three-judge panel ruled that the Affordable Care Act does not permit federal subsidies to help people buy insurance through HealthCare.gov. This cuts the heart from the redistributive scheme by essentially pricing young, healthy people out of the market.

But scrolling down in The New York Times story, I found the stunning argument that the Obama administration offered in a vain attempt to rescue the president’s sole accomplishment.

Basically, the law says only the states can help people pay for their Obamacare policies. So, here’s how the all the president’s lawyers tried to get around that.

Obama administration officials said that an exchange established by the federal government was, in effect, established by a state because the secretary of health and human services was standing “in the shoes” of states when she established exchanges.

Imagine how Obama and his cronies might apply that principle.

Federal executive branch officers can act on behalf of the legislative branch in each of the states. This is a shocking coup attempt against federalism, republican governance, the separation of powers and the Constitution itself.

No, it’s not the first time he’s tried something like this, but forgive me if I never grow accustomed to the audacity of these would-be transformers.

Burwell ruling

Click the image to read the actual ruling.

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Netanyahu: Hamas Conflict the ‘Cruelest, Most Grotesque War I’ve Ever Seen’

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

In response to critics of the Jewish State’s response to Hamas rocket fire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is showing “a hell of a lot of restraint” compared to the British response during World War II.

“Who wants civilian casualties? Who wants to accelerate and escalate? We’re forced to do it. And what would you do? What would anybody do?” Netanyahu told Fox last night. “You know, you just have to put yourself in Israel’s place. And if you’re a leader, put yourself in my place. And ask a simple question, what would you do?”

“If you look at the historical antecedents, the answer is very clear. Israel is acting with great restraint because there’s no other country that’s been rocketed like this, with thousands of rockets. We’ve just had close to 2,000 rockets and mortars in the last few days, on every — just about every one of our cities,” he continued.

“Well, the only parallel, history parallel is Britain, rocketed by the Nazis in World War II. I don’t — you know, if we start drawing parallels, what Britain did compared to what we do, we’ve been showing a hell of a lot of restraint. So if there is any complaints, and there should be, about civilian deaths that they belong, the responsibility and the blame belongs in one place, Hamas. I don’t think anyone should get that wrong.”

The prime minister said there’s still hope for some sort of ceasefire. “But, you know, in the Middle East, it takes two to tango, sometimes three and maybe four,” he said, stressing that Hamas had rejected both the Egyptian proposal and a Red Cross humanitarian ceasefire.

“The point is that there’s one side that is clearly bent on escalation and one side, that is Israel, that is bent on defending its people, as any country would under similar circumstances,” Netanyahu said.

Of Secretary of State John Kerry’s hot mic remark that Israel was engaging in “a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Netanyahu said he doesn’t “want to deal with off the cuff remarks.”

“I’ll tell you what my experiences have been. I’ve been in war. I’ve been in battle. And when you take a surgical operation, you can’t guarantee when your soldiers are being fired from Hamas homes, that is, Hamas is targeting people with — from private homes. And you hit them back. Of course, some people are going to be hurt. That’s totally different from deliberately targeting them,” he said. “We asked these civilians, before we went in, we said, please leave. We text them. We call them on cell phones. We drop leaflets. We told them where to go. And those who left were safe.”

“Now, those who didn’t leave, you know what they didn’t leave? Because Hamas told them to be there, because Hamas, while we try to avoid Palestinian civilian dead, Hamas wants Palestinian civilian dead. The more the better, so they can give you telegenic fodder. So this is the cruelest, most grotesque war that I’ve ever seen. I mean not only does Hamas target civilians, ours, and hides behind their civilians, theirs, it actually wants to pile up as many civilian deaths as possible.”

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Breaking: Federal Court Rules Obamacare Insurance Subsidies Invalid

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

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

Jonathan Adler:

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

Background on the case can be found here.

Developing…

UPDATE

CNBC lays out some of the consequences of the ruling:

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

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

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

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

More: 

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

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Religious Leaders Beg Obama to Force Them to Hire LGBT, Then Celebrate His Commandment

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

This morning’s email bag included a news release with quotes from officers at Union Theological Seminary and Auburn Theological Seminary, in celebration of President Obama’s executive order effectively requiring religious organizations with government contracts over $10,000 to hire homosexuals.

Religious leaders across the country declared victory today as the president honored their request to leave out a religious exemption in an executive order banning LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.

This follows a “grassroots campaign” to gather signatures begging the president to force them to hire homosexuals — or in politically-correct parlance, to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In exultant language, the news release goes on…

Present at today’s signing ceremony was Rev. Fred Davie, Executive Vice President of Union Theological Seminary and a member of the LGBT community. “Today at the White House I witnessed the arc of history bend toward justice,” said Davie. “This is a tremendous victory for those of us who believe that as people of faith we should be exemplary, not exempted. Leaving out a religious exemption is simply the right thing to do, both theologically and civically. It is my obligation, and desire, as a Christian and a member of human community to love my neighbor and it is my obligation as a citizen to treat all my fellow citizens equally, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

It’s a peculiar locution — “leaving out a religious exemption” — akin to “leaving out the leaving out.” The authors of the press release preferred double negative to a plain assertion, like: “the president commanded faith-based organizations to violate the tenets of their faith if they want to serve as a federal contractors.”

But why all of this unseemly lobbying?

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The Media’s Shameful Lack of Objectivity on Civilian Casualties in Gaza

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Mike McNally

On his Fox News show on Saturday night, Geraldo Rivera conducted a “two-way” with John Huddy, one of the network’s reporters in Gaza. During their exchange, Huddy matter-of-factly stated that 40 percent of those killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge were children. He didn’t cite a source, and he didn’t say “Hamas claims….” He just rattled off the number as if it were the Dow Jones closing figure – final and indisputable. (The clip is here – click on the 10:33pm segment if it doesn’t play straight off.) Having failed to question or verify the 40 percent claim, Rivera then repeated it in an exchange with Danny Danon, who resigned as Israel’s deputy defense minister last week after opposing a proposed ceasefire with Hamas.

Rivera is far from most conservatives’ favorite Fox presenter, and he can be hard to take seriously as he veers between Kent Brockman-esque pomposity and Ron Burgundy-esque histrionics. However, he’s normally solidly pro-Israel, so it was troubling that he didn’t challenge Huddy’s 40 percent figure, which seems implausibly high – even Gaza’s notoriously exaggeration-prone, Hamas-controlled Health Ministry puts the figure at around 25 percent. Fox, along with the rest of the media, has a duty to ensure that casualty figures are reliably sourced and as accurate as possible, given the key role that civilian deaths, and those of children in particular, play in shaping attitudes towards any conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

No-one knows exactly how many Gazans have been killed, nor how many of the dead are civilians, nor how many of those civilians are children. As well as ensuring that health officials stick to the party line, Hamas also keeps a tight grip on information coming out of the territory from other sources. The New York Times, for one, appears to be tailoring its coverage to suit the demands of the terror group. There are suspicions that the Times is playing ball with Hamas in order to be allowed to continue operating in Gaza – not that it would need much encouragement, given the Times‘s legendary anti-Israel bias, but the one-sidedness of its reporting this time is particularly egregious.

Israel is unable to produce its own estimates of casualties inside Gaza. It only releases its own casualty figures for operations like the one currently underway after they’ve been concluded, and, as this Times of Israel Report details, it concedes that it can do little to counter the likely exaggerated figures from Hamas. 

Of course, one dead civilian, let alone a child, is one too many. But innocent people will inevitably be killed and injured when Hamas launches its rockets from densely populated residential areas, and stores them in UN-run schools. And in conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians, as in no other conflict anywhere in the world, the body count is the most important factor in the propaganda war, with Israel’s opponents pointing to the disproportionality in dead and injured as proof in itself that Israel is in the wrong.

Unfortunately, the same media that unquestioningly broadcasts Hamas’s civilian-heavy death tolls seems far less interested in examining why so many civilians are dying. On Sunday, the BBC aired a typically harrowing report from inside a Gaza hospital. While the reporter was talking to medics, there was a deafening roar as a salvo of Hamas rockets passed over the hospital, clearly launched from close by. To his credit, the clearly startled reporter said something to the effect of “but that doesn’t help the situation.”

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Central America Leaders Enter Phase II of Border Extortion Plan

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Surprise!

Central American leaders will ask U.S. President Barack Obama to support a regional development and security plan to stem the tide of illegal child migrants to the United States at a meeting next week, a Honduran minister said on Saturday.

Presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras will meet with Obama on Friday to look for ways to curb a record-breaking exodus of Central American children, fleeing to the United States to escape violence and poverty.

Since October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, most of them from Central America, and double last year’s count.

OK, they haven’t hit us up for any money yet, but let’s just say I tend to err on the side of cynical these days. When other countries want “support” from the United States they aren’t really looking for a group hug.

Kudos to them for at least admitting there is a problem on their end. That’s more than we’ve gotten from various Mexican presidents in the last several decades.

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Joni Ernst Gets The DSCC To Spend Some Early Nervous Money In Iowa

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Smell the sweat.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will launch a half-million-dollar television-ad campaign in Iowa on Tuesday against GOP nominee Joni Ernst, hitting her on entitlements.

“She’s proposed privatizing Social Security — gambling our savings in the stock market,” a female narrator says in the commercial, shared first with POLITICO. “Experts say that could be a windfall for Wall Street but a wipeout for us.”

“Joni Ernst — her ideas are just too extreme for Iowa,” the 30-second spot concludes.

The DSCC has reserved $188,000 in Des Moines, $145,000 in Davenport, $109,000 in Cedar Rapids and $72,000 in Sioux City between July 22 and August 4. It’s all broadcast, according to a source tracking the air war.

This a sizable early buy for the national party to make mid-summer, coming in the wake of an NBC News/Marist poll last week that showed the race tied at 43 percent. The Cook Political Report and Rothenberg Political Report also recently moved the contest from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss Up.”

It’s always amusing these days to see or hear the Democrats trot out the “OMG-PRIVATIZING SOCIAL SECURITY!” nonsense. Whenever anyone on the Left tries to put lipstick on the Obama economic pig about the only thing they can tout is the stock market’s performance. In fact they’re huge fans of it then. But the notion of people taking money that the government robs from them to invest in the market is still a Halloween story for them.

The Democrats are tired and old, even more so than the Republicans. The “extreme” bogeyman is all they’ve got. Extreme, of course, means “what most Americans outside of Manhattan, Los Angeles and San Francisco are comfortable with” and this tactic is losing its oomph.

So let ‘em keep at it.

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