**Posted by Phineas
Dear San Franciscans,
I love your city, really I do, but, as voters, you have so much to answer for:
Rep. Nancy Pelosi appeared on CNN Sunday and commented on the ongoing war in Gaza. While defending Israel’s right to defend itself and stating that the US must support Iron Dome, Pelosi also noted that many Palestinians live in her district, and “We have to support the Palestinians and what they need.” She also made a strange comment on the nature of Hamas.
“We have to confer with the Qataris,” Pelosi told CNN’s Candy Crowley, “who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization.” She added her hope that the Qataris could use their “influence” over Hamas to “calm” the situation.
The Red Cross is a humanitarian organization. So are Doctors Without Borders, CARE, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, and so many others. And yet none of them –as far as I know– use donor money to buy weapons. None of them hide behind civilians, using them as human shields. None of them store weapons in schools. None of them dig tunnels as a means of plotting mass murder. None of them get 160 children killed digging said tunnels. None of them fire rockets at a nuclear reactor, heedless of the danger to everyone in the area.
And no humanitarian organization that I have heard of has ever called for war against an entire people because of their religion:
“…the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, says: ‘The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.’”
This, however, is perhaps not surprising. Pelosi was, after all, famously a useful idiot for Syria’s Bashar al Assad.
Hamas is a “humanitarian organization” in the same way that Capone donated to charities or Colombian drug lords paid people’s medical bills back home: whatever good works they might do are a cover for and overshadowed by the evil they commit.
And Qatar? Nancy, please. Even the Obama Treasury Department has described that nation as a sponsor of terrorism. To take seriously their protestations on behalf of Hamas is like believing Mussolini when he says Hitler has his good points.
I realize public diplomacy requires officials to often say anodyne things about despicable people, but could Minority Leader Pelosi please not insult our intelligence in the process?
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
The USA Today reports that the “rogue” Alaskan has decided to cut through the left wing media filter and launch her own network:
Sarah Palin has gone rogue again, this time launching her own Internet channel.
“Tired of media filters? Well, so am I,” the former Alaska governor proclaimed Sunday on her Facebook page. “So let’s go rogue and launch our own member-supported channel. “
In a video on sarahpalinchannel.com, Palin calls the new subscription-based network a “community” where she and viewers can share ideas. “I want to talk to directly to you on our channel on my terms and no need to please the powers that be,” she says, promising to go beyond soundbites and to “cut through the media’s politically correct filter.”
The new channel includes videos of Palin criticizing President Obama and his addiction to “OPM,” or other people’s money, and her explanation of why she believes he should be impeached. There’s also a blog by her daughter, Bristol, and running tallies of the national debt and how many days, hours, minutes and seconds are left in the Obama administration. Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, will serve as the channel’s executive editor and will oversee all posted content.
As to the cost? $9.95 a month, or $99.95 for a year.
Rest assured there will be a lot of laughter and mockery over this coming from the Usual Suspects, but I say more power to her. Any opportunity you have to cut through media spin, to provide your own side unfiltered – especially in a visual/video format, is a good thing. Rock on, Sarah!
Memeorandum has more.
**Posted by Phineas
This is from last June, but, given current events in the Levant, Pat’s words are still relevant. He certainly speaks for me:
In the Washington Free Beacon, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes (whom we’ve met before) is quoted as saying the administration is seeking “a common place” between Israel and Hamas to “stop the violence.”
Try as I might, I’m having a real hard time imagining a “common place” between one side that says “I want to live in peace with you” and another that says “I want you dead.”
Afterthought: “Stop the violence” is one of those mealy-mouthed phrases that bug the heck out of me. By not assigning responsibility, it declares everyone to blame and places the Israelis on the same moral level as their Muslim attackers, which is utter tripe. Hamas started this fight by firing rockets at civilians and even a nuclear reactor. Theirs is the responsibility, theirs is the blame, and there is no moral equivalence between the two. You want to “stop the violence,” Mr. Rhodes? Then disarm Hamas.
By The Way: And speaking of disarming Hamas, the latest ceasefire proposal from Secretary Kerry would have allowed Hamas to keep their rockets. With friends like these, Israel needs no enemies.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
It’s not often I’m singing the praises of “comedienne” Joan Rivers but this week she has earned some major props in my book:
A passionate Joan Rivers joined the fray on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Islamic militants in Gaza, taking the opportunity to slam Selena Gomez for writing “Pray for Gaza” on Instagram last week.
“Oh, Selena Gomez, yeah, that college grad,” Rivers sneered when asked about Gomez’ social media message. “Well if Selena said that… let’s see if she can spell Palestinian.”
When questioned by a TMZ paparazzo, Rivers was adamant about her support for Israel in the ongoing conflict and compared the situation to a hypothetical conflict between New Jersey and New York.
“Let me just tell you, if New Jersey were firing rockets into New York, we would wipe them out,” she said with her voice raised. “If we heard they were digging tunnels from New Jersey to New York, we would get rid of Jersey…. [To] the Palestinians [militants], you cannot throw rockets and expect people not to defend themselves!”
The cameraman then asked her about the casualties of the citizens in Gaza.
The Palestinian death toll reached 817, after 115 were killed Thursday, in one of the deadliest days of fighting, said Ashraf al-Kidra, a Palestinian health official. More than 5,000 Palestinians have been wounded since July 8, he said.
During the same period, 34 Israelis, among them 32 soldiers, and a Thai worker were killed.
Rivers was ready with a reply, telling TMZ it was the fault of the Hamas for storing their weapons near civilians.
“Don’t you dare put weapon stashes in private homes,” she said.
Rivers added that the current clashes in Gaza are happening because Hamas had previously been firing rockets at Israel.
Go girl. When you’re right, you’re right!
**Posted by Phineas
I normally use that graphic as a metaphor for the needlessly disruptive, even harmful effects the Affordable Care Act is having on the American health care system and the millions who rely on it. But the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Halbig v. Burwell (formerly Halbig v. Sebelius) turned the ACA into its own flaming wreck by holding that purchasers of insurance on the federal exchange were ineligible for subsidies, meaning those buyers would be forced to pay the full cost of their new, needlessly more expensive O-care plans.
Some background: When the writers of Obamacare were designing this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law, it was decided that states would be able to set up their own exchanges, with the federal exchange serving as the “insurance mall” for those that didn’t. To encourage states to create exchanges, it was written into the bill that subsidies for insurance purchases would only be available to those who bought their policies via an exchange “established by the State.” The idea was that pressure from purchasers who wanted those subsidies would force even conservative governors and legislatures to “opt in” to the system.
Trouble was for Obamacare fans, it didn’t work out that way.
Only 14 states set up their own exchanges (and some of those have been such disasters that their states are switching to the federal marketplace). That meant that, under the law, insurance buyers in the federal marketplace would be paying full price for their policies. It also meant that the federal government could not collect the “Roberts tax” (penalties) for not buying insurance, since those taxes were triggered by the availability of subsidies. No subsidies, no tax revenues, which the government was relying on to fund those same federal subsidies. You can just imagine how that prospect thrilled the pols in D.C.:
So the IRS, hearing its master voice, suddenly decided it had the power to declare that “established by the State” intended to include the federal exchange, and thus the subsidy money could keep flowing.
Enter Halbig and its argument that, no, the law meant what it plainly said, and then the First Circuit’s agreement.
The reaction on the Left has been amusing, to say the least. Ranging from shrieks of “judicial activism!!” to whines of “it’s just a typo and you know very well that’s not what Congress intended, meanies!”, they want the full, en banc, First Circuit to reverse the ruling. And, if they don’t do it, then, by golly, it’s on to the Supreme Court, where John Roberts will rewrite the law for us! Or something.
That got an awful lot harder to imagine, though, after the Competitive Enterprise Institute last night uncovered video from 2012 in which Jonathan Gruber, one of the key architects of both Obamacare and the earlier Romneycare, point-blank admitted the plaintiffs in Halbig were right:
The key moment starts at minute 31. Here’s CEI’s transcription of the big reveal:
What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this.
Per Michael Cannon, Gruber is off on one point, because the “Roberts taxes” are only triggered in states that create exchanges and thus get subsidies. But the core is that this destroys the government’s “congressional intent” argument, because we now have one of the designers saying the limitation of subsidies to state exchanges was the intent of Congress.
Where Obamacare defenders go from here (other than to a bar to drown their sorrows), I don’t know. They can’t give up, because the loss of the subsidies wrecks Obamacare. Can you imagine the reaction when customers on the federal exchange are told they have to pay full price, prices mandated by Obamacare, which was passed solely by Democrats?
I have no idea how the courts will handle this. Assuming the government asks for an en banc hearing, it’s possible the ruling in Halbig will be reversed, thus probably ending the matter, but I’d have to think less so after this revelation. And there is a contradictory ruling from the 4th Circuit, a situation that almost guarantees the Supreme Court would take the case in 2015.
As ST likes to say, stay tuned…
RELATED: More from Reason. The Federalist on Michael Cannon’s revenge. Mr. Cannon himself points out how Halbig frees tens of millions from an illegal tax. Paula Bolyard reports how Mr. Gruber calls the plaintiff’s arguments in Halbig “nutty,” …er… but they’re his own ideas, too. Oops, again. By the way, did you know 91% of fake applicants for Obamacare can get subsidized coverage? Another reason to kill this thing and bury it under a crossroads at midnight with a stake through it.
UPDATE: This is amusing – four ways in which Obamacare defenders have desperately tried to spin Mr. Gruber’s “speak-o.”
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
Our celebrity President held a couple of high-dollar fundraisers on the left coast this week – and the mainstream media are not happy that they weren’t granted access whatsoever to either of them (via):
SAN FRANCISCO — President Barack Obama went to the West Coast to meet donors from two top Democratic super PACs, but the press wasn’t invited.
Tuesday, the reporters and photographers traveling with the president on Air Force One and in his motorcade were left on the gravel path not even within sight of former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal’s house in the Seattle suburbs where Obama sat for a Senate Majority PAC fundraiser with a $25,000 entrance fee.
Wednesday morning, when he met with big donors for the House Majority PAC at the Four Seasons hotel in downtown San Francisco, they weren’t even told what room or floor he was on.
“We think these fundraisers ought to be open to at least some scrutiny, because the president’s participation in them is fundamentally public in nature,” said Christi Parsons, the new president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. “Denying access to him in that setting undermines the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing. It’s of special concern as these events and the donors they attract become more influential in the political process.”
Despite constant complaints from the press corps and promises from White House officials, access to the president continues to be limited. The constantly repeated line that they’re running the “most transparent administration in history” tends to prompt snickers. Halfway through Obama’s West Coast swing, it’s tipping toward outrage.
Make sure to read the whole thing as Politico writes about other events that the press were only allowed very limited access to, and notes two meetings with high profile Democrats that the media only found out after the fact.
This is nothing new. In fact, the secretive nature of this administration is so absurd that they have actually blocked reporters from covering meetings about … transparency! So it’s about freaking time someone in the mainstream media got outraged. Bring on the chorus of frustrated journalists. Let’s hear more about it!
“Transparency” you can believe in – only it’s the kind of phony”transparency” that I described here….
Related: Via the SF Chronicle - Signs of donor fatigue at Obama’s Bay Area fundraisers
Via Fox News:
Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who faced a death sentence for refusing to renounce her faith, has been flown to Italy on an Italian government jet, accompanied by that country’s vice-minister for foreign affairs.
Reuters reported that Italian television broadcast images of Ibrahim, 27, arriving at Rome’s Ciampino airport accompanied by her family and Italian politician Lapo Pistelli. Earlier, Pistelli had posted a picture on his Facebook page depicting himself with Ibrahim and her two children. The caption, translated from Italian, read “With Meriam, Maya, Martin and [Ibrahim's husband] Daniel, a few minutes from Rome. Mission accomplished.”
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was among those who greeted the plane, calling it “a day of celebration.”
Pistelli told The Daily Telegraph that Ibrahim and her family were due to fly to the United States in a few days. The minister also said that the family would be given an audience with Pope Francis.
Ibrahim had spent more than a month at the American Embassy in Khartoum after a previous attempt to leave Sudan was halted by that country’s authorities. They said she had attempted to use false travel documents, a claim Ibrahim denied.
Last month, Sudan’s Supreme Court threw out the death sentence Ibrahim had received for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Ibrahim’s father, a Muslim, claimed she had abandoned Islam and committed adultery with her husband Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen who lives in New Hampshire. However, Ibrahim insisted that she had been raised Christian by her Ehiopian Orthodox mother after her father left the family when she was still young.
While it looks like Ms. Ibrahim’s story will have a happy ending, the persecution of Christians abroad has turned into an epidemic of sorts:
After 2000 years, Christianity is exterminated in Mosul. The persecution of Christians is a human-rights crisis: http://t.co/qH89K5Jx3H
— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) July 23, 2014
The story he references is written by St. John’s University’s Director of the Center for Law and Religion Mark Movsesian:
Say goodbye to one of the most ancient Christian communities in the world. Last week, members of ISIS—the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” a Sunni Islamist group that recently has captured parts of Iraq and declared a new caliphate—began going through the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and marking the homes of Christians with the Arabic letter “Nun.” “Nun” stands for “Nasara,” from “Nazarenes,” a word that refers to Christians. The implications were clear. Mosul’s Christians faced the same fate the Christians of Raqqa, Syria, had when ISIS captured their city last spring. “We offer them three choices,” ISIS announced: “Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”
The dhimma is the notional contract that governs relations between the Muslim community, or umma, and Christians (as well as Jews) in classical Islamic law. The dhimma allows Christians to reside in Muslim society in exchange for payment of a poll tax called the jizya—in Mosul, ISIS required a jizya of about $500—and submission to various social and legal restrictions. The dhimma forbids Christians from attracting attention during worship, for example, from building new churches, and generally from asserting equality with Muslims.
The dhimma is said to date back to an “agreement” a seventh-century caliph made with the Christians of Syria, though nowadays most scholars dismiss that claim. Most likely, the rules developed over time; by the eighth or ninth centuries, they were standardized in the Islamic law books. From the classical Muslim perspective, the dhimma reflects the fact that Christians, as the recipients of an earlier, incomplete revelation, merit some protection and communal autonomy. But there is a price. The jizya and the many dhimma restrictions are meant to keep Christians in their place and provide a salutary incentive for them to convert to Islam.
Incredibly disturbing. Make sure to read the whole thing – and pray for Christians in these parts of the world, and others, where their faith effectively becomes a death sentence. Fortunately, Ms. Ibrahim and her family were able to escape. Many more Christians, unfortunately, will not.
Related: Via BBC – Isis ‘orders female genital mutilation’ for women in Mosul
The head of the IRS confirmed Wednesday that investigators looking into missing emails from ex-agency official Lois Lerner have found and are reviewing “backup tapes” — despite earlier IRS claims that the tapes had been recycled.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, testifying before a House oversight subcommittee, stressed that he does not know “how they found them” or “whether there’s anything on them or not.” But he said the inspector general’s office advised him the investigators are reviewing tapes to see if they contain any “recoverable” material.
The revelation is significant because the IRS claimed, when the agency first told Congress about the missing emails, that backup tapes “no longer exist because they have been recycled.”
It is unclear whether the tapes in IG custody contain any Lerner emails, but Koskinen said investigators are now checking.
Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee first raised questions about the backup tapes on Monday, releasing a partial transcript from an interview with IRS official Thomas Kane. In it, Kane said “there is an issue” as to whether all the backup tapes were destroyed. Asked if they might still exist, he said he didn’t know but “it’s an issue that’s being looked at.”
Investigators in Congress and with the inspector general’s office want to see those backup tapes because of the possibility they might contain emails that otherwise were lost in Lerner’s apparent hard drive crash in 2011. Lerner is the former IRS official at the center of the controversy over agency targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status — the agency’s acknowledgement last month that years’ worth of emails were lost has infuriated GOP investigators.
Well, this is certainly an interesting development, to say the least. And we would’t have known about it had the House Oversight Committee done as corruptocrat Rep. Elijah Cummings demanded and stopped “the public harassment of an agency head.” Well done, Oversight. Well done. Now, on to the tapes …
Phineas blogged about this developing scandal yesterday involving the ‘alleged’ master’s thesis plagiarism of Montana Senator John Walsh (D), but the Senator’s biggest issue going forward may not be in the allegations themselves but in his controversial attempts at excusing them away:
Sen. John Walsh said his unattributed use of others’ work in his master’s thesis was not plagiarism but “a few citations that were unintentionally left out of a term paper” that he blamed in part on post-Iraq war trauma.
The apparent plagiarism first reported by The New York Times on Wednesday was the second potentially damaging issue raised this year involving the Montana Democrat’s 33-year military career, which has been a cornerstone of his campaign to keep the seat he was appointed to in February when Max Baucus resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China.
National Democrats said Wednesday they remained “100 percent behind Sen. Walsh” in his campaign against Republican Rep. Steve Daines. But even before the plagiarism revelations, top Democratic strategists saw Walsh’s campaign as an uphill pull, never counting on it as key to holding their Senate majority.
Walsh dismissed the notion that the allegations will harm his campaign. He also chafed at the suggestion that he deliberately presented other scholars’ work as his own in his 2007 thesis to earn a Master of Strategic Studies degree at the U.S. Army War College.
“I admit that I made a mistake,” he said. “My record will be defined by (Walsh’s service in) the National Guard, not by a few citations that were unintentionally left out in a term paper.”
Walsh said that when he wrote the thesis, he had post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Iraq, was on medication and was dealing with the stress of a fellow veteran’s recent suicide.
“I don’t want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor,” the senator said. “My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment.”
You know what? No. Blaming this on PTSD is just wrong on so many levels and is, frankly, an insult to the our veterans who have experienced it. Check this graphic from the New York Times – which, surprisingly enough, broke this story, and decide for yourself:
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 24, 2014
As to what impact this may have on Walsh’s election battle, it’s hard to say. As Phineas noted yesterday, plagiarism hasn’t hurt VP Biden’s political career and other notable politicos (like Sen. Rand Paul) have been caught in similar scandals, but this one involves military service, and there is that little matter of honor, as Army War College grad/colonel Kurt Schlichter notes:
I do NOT want these allegations against Sen Walsh to be true. Make no mistake, I support his opponent. But I want him to retain his honor.
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) July 24, 2014