Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bret Stephens over at the Wall Street Journal just laid the hammer down on the Obama administration’s stance towards Israel and Hamas.
He begins with analyzing White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhode’s interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley this weekend.
Interviewed by CNN’s Candy Crowley, Mr. Rhodes offered the now-standard administration line that Israel has a right to defend itself but needs to do more to avoid civilian casualties. Ms. Crowley interjected that, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Jewish state was already doing everything it could to avoid such casualties.
"I think you can always do more," Mr. Rhodes replied. "The U.S. military does that in Afghanistan."
How inapt is this comparison? The list of Afghan civilians accidentally killed by U.S. or NATO strikes is not short. Little of the fighting in Afghanistan took place in the dense urban environments that make the current warfare in Gaza so difficult. The last time the U.S. fought a Gaza-style battle—in Fallujah in 2004—some 800 civilians perished and at least 9,000 homes were destroyed. This is not an indictment of U.S. conduct in Fallujah but an acknowledgment of the grim reality of city combat.
Oh, and by the way, American towns and cities were not being rocketed from above or tunneled under from below as the Fallujah campaign was under way.
Next Stephens turns his attention to the stupidity of trusting the civilian casualty statistics coming out of Gaza:
Consider the media obsession with the body count. According to a daily tally in the New York Timesas of July 27 the war in Gaza had claimed 1,023 Palestinian lives as against 46 Israelis. How does the Times keep such an accurate count of Palestinian deaths? A footnote discloses "Palestinian death tallies are provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs."
OK. So who runs the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza? Hamas does. As for the U.N., it gets its data mainly from two Palestinian agitprop NGOs, one of which, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, offers the remarkably precise statistic that, as of July 27, exactly 82% of deaths in Gaza have been civilians. Curiously, during the 2008-09 Gaza war, the center also reported an 82% civilian casualty rate.
When minutely exact statistics are provided in chaotic circumstances, it suggests the statistics are garbage. When a news organization relies—without clarification—on data provided by a bureaucratic organ of a terrorist organization, there’s something wrong there, too.
Stephens is spot on in his analysis of both the Obama administration and the mainstream media. To buy into the easily disprovable propaganda of Hamas is “either bald moral idiocy or thinly veiled bigotry.”
This is precisely why the IRS and other department within the Obama executive branch engage in coverups of their activity. The more we dig, the more illegal activity we find, and it’s clear that it’s a centralized, ideology-driven attack on those who think differently than the President.
from Wall Street Journal (emphasis mine):
In 2009 the Pennsylvania group Z Street applied for tax-exempt status for its mission of educating people about Israel-related issues. In 2010 an IRS agent told Z Street that its application was delayed because the tax agency’s Washington, D.C. office was giving special scrutiny to groups whose missions might conflict with Administration policies. The IRS’s “Be On the Lookout” list that November also included red flags for groups referring to “disputed territories.”
Z Street sued in August 2010 for viewpoint discrimination and its case is headed for discovery in federal court. Now emails uncovered by the House Ways and Means Committee show that the IRS and State Department were conferring in 2009 about pro-Israel groups like Z Street and considering arguments to deny their tax-exempt applications.
In an April 16, 2009 email, Treasury attache to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem Katherine Bauer sent IRS and Treasury colleagues a 1997 JTA News article sent to her by State Department foreign service officer Breeann McCusker. The subject was whether 501(c) groups buying land in Israel’s disputed territories were engaged in “possible violations of U.S. tax laws.” The article chronicles the controversy and whether “ideological activity” can “legally be financed with the help of U.S. [tax] dollars.”
"Thought you might find the below article of interest—looks like we’ve been down this road before," Ms. Bauer wrote. "Although I believe you’ve said you can’t speak to on-going investigations, I thought it was worth flagging the 1997 investigation mentioned below for you if it can be of any use internally when looking for precedence [sic] for the current cases." A Treasury spokesman declined comment on Ms. Bauer’s behalf.
The “current cases” would have been applications like Z Street’s in which Israel-related activity was apparently being scrutinized for its ideological and policy content. The government says Z Street got special scrutiny because it was focused in a region with a higher risk of terrorism, which is hard to believe and in any case doesn’t explain all of the IRS’s behavior.
It doesn’t cover, for instance, why one questionnaire we’ve seen from the IRS to another Jewish group applying for tax-exempt status asked, “Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel?” and “Describe your organization’s religious belief system toward the land of Israel.” No matter the answers, they should not affect the processing of an application for 501(c) status. The State-IRS emails reveal a political motivation for IRS scrutiny that gives Z Street powerful evidence for its suit charging IRS bias.
The IRS should have never shared the tax information of this group with the State Department. The group’s ideology should have no legal effect on their tax status. This whole episode is further evidence that the Obama administration has surpassed Nixon’s in using the IRS as a bludgeon against groups who don’t line up with Obama’s ideology.
The border crisis has come home to my state of Tennessee, and we’re nowhere near the border.
The Obama administration recently released 760 illegal immigrant children to sponsors in the Volunteer State without any warning, the governor charged.
There was not so much as a text message or tweet.
“It is unacceptable that we became aware via a posting on the HHS website that 760 unaccompanied children have been released by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to sponsors in Tennessee without my administration’s knowledge,” the governor wrote in a strongly-worded letter to President Obama.
Haslam, a Republican, said he still has not been contacted by the Obama administration – and has no idea where the illegals were resettled.
“I still have not been contacted and have no information about these individuals or their sponsors other than what was posted on the HHS website,” he wrote.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement says sponsors are typically a parent or relative who can care for the illegal immigrant child while their immigration case is processed. All sponsors are required to undergo background checks.
It’s also unclear why the ORR is handling the children – since they are illegal immigrants and not refugees.
Okay, Gov. Haslam. You have a chance to earn my respect. What are you going to do about this? A sternly worded letter isn’t going to cut it.
So, apparently there’s a gay job fair. And apparently straight people are attending. And apparently the gay job fair folks aren’t happy about it. And apparently they’re now deterring straight attendance by requiring that all straight attendees write an essay of sorts as to why they want to attend the gay event.
From Campus Reform (H/T: WZ):
When it comes to finding a job after graduation, business students are throwing their sexual orientation into the mix as well.
Reaching Out MBA, an annual conference of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender graduate business students, completes its three-day lineup of speakers and workshops with a job fair—a job fair that is becoming increasingly exclusive.
According to Matt Kidd, executive director of Reaching Out MBA, 10 percent of the 1,100 attendees at last year’s conference identified as straight. Because of that, this year’s attendees are now required to submit an essay on why they wish to attend the conference or be recommended through campus LGBT organizations so that the conference can vet potential attendees.
Kidd told Bloomberg Businessweek that the conference wasn’t trying to exclude LGBT-allies and also recognized that several conference attendees come from large, southern MBA programs where the LGBT students may not feel as readily accepted and may not be as readily apt to divulge their sexual preference.
But Kidd said that the straight students attending the job fair were “offensive” as LGBT-identifying students overheard things such as “Dude, I’m not gay” or “There needs to be less focus on gay stuff at this event.”
Let’s all take a second to think about what the fallout would be if there was a straight job fair that was trying to exclude gay people. Seriously. Imagine….
Don’t get me wrong, I think any private company, organization or individual should be able to do whatever it wants (including holding exclusively gay or straight job fairs), so long as it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others. That’s a little thing called liberty. But c’mon. This entire premise is an amazing double standard and I would be remiss if I didn’t point it out.
In any case, announcing, at a gay job fair, that you’re not gay is apparently “offensive” now. It’s a total faux pas. Don’t do it. But is it the fact that some people aren’t gay that’s offensive, or is it just the proclamation of it that’s offensive? That’s unclear.
Grilling in an American pastime, but for one New York woman it was an excuse for a New York City police officer to threaten her life and endanger her unborn child.
from NY Post:
Officers showed up at a Bradford Street in East New York home at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, where they spotted Miller’s husband, Moses, grilling on a public sidewalk before asking him to relocate to the back yard, cops said.
The man refused to hand over his ID and began to walk away before cops tried to grab him and place him under arrest, cops said.
That’s when Rosan and her brother, John Miller, started slapping at police preventing them from making the arrest.
The cellphone video, which was shot by a bystander, shows the soon-to-be mom resisting an officer’s attempt to cuff her and the officer’s left arm around her neck, as her 7-year-old looks on.
Cops are prohibited from using chokeholds on suspects, and police said the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is reviewing the incident.
“She was grilling in front of her home, not committing any crime,” former city councilman Charles Barron said at a press conference Monday, where he claimed at least one of the cops called Miller’s husband the N-word.
The response from the New York police commissioner is perhaps even more alarming than the incident itself.
At a press conference earlier today New York City’s mayor, Democrat Bill De Blasio, said that “the law is the law” and that the NYPD would continue to strictly enforce petty laws like the ones that led to this pregnant woman’s brutal encounter with police and Garner’s. Bill Bratton, the city’s police commissioner, added that respecting police and correcting your behavior when they engage you is what democracy’s all about.
Naturally, the police commissioner thinks that bowing to the Police State and adherence to idiotic laws like not grilling in front of your house is “what democracy’s all about.”
Actually, no. That’s what a totalitarian police state is all about, something New York City looks more like every day.
Imagine this scenario: you’re out protesting what you believe to be the bad guy when the supposed good guy begins firing missiles at you! That’s exactly what happened in Israel today.
from Times of Israel:
Several thousand left-wing activists gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday evening, calling for an end to bloodshed in the Gaza Strip and a return to negotiations with the Palestinians.
Slogans chanted by the protesters included “Stop the war,” “Bring the soldiers back home” and “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies,” Channel 2 reported.
Channel 2 noted that prominent left-wing party Meretz as well as the Peace Now organization had opted not to take part in the rally, with the TV report speculating that the protesters may fall to the left of those groups on the political spectrum.
Several hundred right-wing activists held a counter-rally at the scene, and police were spread out in the area to prevent altercations between the two sides.
The demonstrations were cut short when Hamas unilaterally ended a humanitarian truce with Israel and resumed rocket-fire from Gaza.
President Obama is not a fan of the letter of the law, even laws that he signed into existence. Tomorrow, his administration will unveil a new scheme to give part-time Federal employees and seasonal employees access to Federal Employee Health Benefits, effectively exempting them from the burdens of Obamacare mandates (something the law specifically forbids).
from the Blaze:
The Obama administration on Tuesday will publish a proposed rule that would give thousands of temporary and seasonal government workers access to the government’s health care program, even though Obamacare explicitly prohibits them from using that program.
The rule from the Office of Personnel Management would let these federal workers sign up for coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and also allow some of them to enjoy a government contribution to their insurance premiums. Both steps would be done through OPM’s proposed regulation, and not through an act of Congress.
As passed by Congress, Obamacare set up rules defining full-time workers eligible for coverage. Today, temporary federal workers with less than a year of service can’t enroll in FEHB. Seasonal employees working six months or less are also prohibited, as are many intermittent employees. And temporary workers with more than a year of service can sign up, but get no government contribution.
OPM’s rule would change all that:
“This proposed rule would allow newly eligible employees (employees on an appointment limited to one year and employees working on a seasonal or intermittent schedule) to initially enroll under the FEHB program with a government contribution to premium if they are expected to be employed on a full-time schedule and are expected to work for at least 90 days,” the proposed rule states.
It would also let temporary employees with more than a year of service “to enroll in a FEBH plan… (with a government contribution to premium) if the employee is determined by his or her employing office to be newly eligible for FEHB coverage under this regulation.”
Federal employees enjoy a luxury in their health benefits that ordinary American citizens do not have. Obamacare proponents like to point out that technically it’s not an “exemption from Obamacare,” but in practice that’s exactly what it is.
We can call this latest move what it is: an illegal maneuver to buy more votes among the hoards of government employees, a constituency that already heavily favors Democrats. Once again, what’s good for government isn’t good for the American people.
"Civil asset forfeiture." Unless its happened to you, you’ve probably never heard of it, but police all over the country are using this legal (yet wildly unconstitutional) concept to steal millions of dollars from American citizens.
"Hipster Libertarian" Bonnie Kristian provides this common scenario over at Rare: If you’re going to pay cash for a used car and the police stop you on a routine traffic violation like running a stop sign, they can confiscate the cash from you on the grounds that the cash itself is suspicious.
“Civil asset forfeiture” sounds like some obscure legal thing. It’s not. In fact, it’s probably the biggest threat to private property you’ve never even heard of.
Here’s how it works: Civil asset forfeiture is basically a law which allows a police officer who finds you “suspicious” to just take your stuff.
Once your property has been confiscated, the burden of proof is on you, not the police, to show that you didn’t get it from any criminal activity. Even if you personally are cleared of all charges, that may not matter. As the Philadelphia City Paper reports, “Technically, it’s the property—not its owner—that’s being accused of criminality, which means the property can be subject to forfeiture whether or not its owner is ever convicted of a crime.”
In other words, they don’t have to charge you. They don’t have to present any evidence of illegal activity. In fact, you have no right to a lawyer and won’t get a day in court. In some jurisdictions, you actually have to pay thousands of dollars just to be able to contest the seizure.
And guess what? The police conveniently happen to consider large amounts of cash very suspicious indeed—but not too suspicious to dump it right into their own department coffers.
And we’re talking big money. “Between 2004 and 2009, Philadelphia collected some $36 million via civil forfeiture,” mainly from young, black men. Long Island police took in $31 million in a single year. The State of Virginia seized assets and cash worth more than $18 million in 2013 alone. In the same year, Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture profits topped $16 million, and the State of Texas took a whopping $106 million from its citizens.
Allowing police officers to fund their own jobs by stealing the private property of others is a massive conflict of interest. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, don’t expect police to hold themselves accountable.
They have access to top secret information, domestic spying data, and military maneuvers, but they don’t pay their taxes!
from Washington Times:
It turns out that even having high security clearance doesn’t mean you are up to date on paying your taxes: the government’s chief watchdog said Monday that 26,000 Defense Department workers and contractors with high clearances are in arrears.
The problem is a big enough security risk that the intelligence community has formed a working group to try to get a handle on in. They are trying to see if they can get access to information about tax debt in order to make extra checks.
“Giving security clearances to individuals who fail to follow the law is unwise and risky,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican. “Federal tax cheats with security clearances jeopardize both our national and economic security, and could unnecessarily put our nation’s classified information at risk.”
In its report the Government Accountability Office said 83,000 federal employees and contractors eligible for security clearance had tax debt totaling $730 million. Not everyone eligible for clearances has access to secret information, however — that number was smaller.
Of the 83,000, only about 40 percent had tax repayment plans in place with the IRS, according to the report.
Can you imagine if we were talking about Walmart employees instead of the Pentagon….or maybe Haliburton employees! The media would be going insane! Instead, because it’s the government itself, not so much as a peep out of the media or the White House.