Sarcelles, France is a suburban city located just north of Paris. It is known as “Little Jerusalem” to Jewish residents, who say the community feels almost like their home country. Unfortunately, the neighborhood is now the latest victim of anti-Semitic rioting. This past week, despite a government ban on protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza against the terror organization Hamas, pro-Palestinian protesters looted Jewish shops, set fire to automobiles and chanted “Kill the Jews” in the city that is supposed to celebrate Jewish culture.
The Huffington Post UK reported the violence, including horrid pieces of eyewitness news:
Eighteen people were arrested for attacks on shops, including a kosher supermarket, a Jewish-owned chemist and a funeral home. Rioters, who carried batons and threw petrol bombs according to eyewitnesses, were yards from the synagogue when they were driven back by riot police who used tear gas.
“They were shouting: ‘Death to Jews,’ and ‘Slit Jews’ throats’,” David, a Jewish sound engineer told The Times. “It took us back to 1938.”
On Sunday, locals reported hearing another pleasant chant, "Gas the Jews," according to Huff Po.
This is just the latest bout of heinous behavior in the country home to Europe's largest population of Jews. Anti-Semites also recently stormed Paris synagogues.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has not been afraid to label the violence what it truly is:
"What's happened in Sarcelles is intolerable: attacking a synagogue or a kosher grocery is quite simply anti-Semitism, racism," he said.
Valls also said that Sarcelles had never before seen such violence, according to the BBC.
Some condemn Israel’s use of force against Hamas seemingly without taking into account Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorism.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said something to this nature:
“There are some in the West who tell us, we support Israel’s right to defend itself … as long as you don’t exercise that right,” Netanyahu told Fox News. “Well what else could we do, what would you do … if 80 percent of your people were in bomb shelters?”
What’s more, while Israel has been willing to accept ceasefires, Hamas continues to reject them. A recently released CNN poll revealed that Americans are taking note of this, with 57 percent of respondents supporting our Middle Eastern ally’s use of force.
Nevertheless, anti-Semitic behavior continues to spread like wildfire, as more frightening protests also recently took place in London, Vienna and Berlin…and yes, even here in the US.
Larry Sabato giving us a view from above this morning on C-SPAN2:
Specifically, GAO Forensic Audits and Investigative Service Acting Director Seto Bagdoyan testified before the House Ways and Means Committee about a GAO investigation that tested Obama administration claims about the internal controls the federal government has set up to prevent fraudulent Obamacare coverage and subsidies.
GAO investigators used fictitious identities and documents to apply for Obamacare coverage on 12 separate occasions. The Obama administration granted coverage and subsidies to 11 of 12 fraudulent applicants. Additionally, as of July 2014, the GAO reported that fake documentation sent for two enrollees had been "verified".
“The total amount of these credits for the 11 approved applications is about $2,500 monthly or about $30,000 annually. We also obtained cost-sharing reduction subsidies, according to marketplace representatives, in at least nine of the 11 cases,” Bagdoyan said.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare is set to spend $1.4 trillion on Obamacare subsidies over the next ten years.
Obama's complete failure to prevent fraud in his signature domestic accomplishment even had some liberals questioning the administration. "This lack of oversight just isn’t acceptable," Indiana University School of Medicine professor Aaron Carroll (no relation) blogged, "The GAO should be checking this stuff, and the administration should be responding to it. Let’s see what happens."
Carroll should not hold his breath. Obama has every incentive to get as many "beneficiaries" signed up for Obamacare no matter how fraudulent they are. Democrats have made the number of "Americans" enrolled in Obamacare the defining metric for the law's success. There simply is no penalty for signing up fake people.
True, the IRS will supposedly fine people who "knowingly and willfully" provide false information $250,000. But no one believes the IRS will ever enforce those penalties. Carroll's co-blogger Nicholas Bagley, an assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan, explained to Vox, "The money at stake in any given case is too small, and the process for imposing civil money penalties too cumbersome, to justify much in the way of governmental enforcement."
"I would be surprised if the government decides to spend a lot of government resources on this," added Washington and Lee University law professor Timothy Jost.
In fact, the federal government has a long history of ignoring fraud in welfare programs. Just look at the Earned Income Tax Credit. According to the Inspector General of the Treasury Department, the IRS mails out somewhere between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion in fraudulent EITC payments every year. That comes out to about 22 to 26 percent of the entire EITC program.
As long as a program's success is defined solely by how many people are benefitting, the federal government will continue to shell out billions in fraudulent payments every year. Obamacare only made that situation much, much worse.
Democrats seem to be having a trouble prioritizing as the 2014 midterm cycle heats up. Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Iowa and U.S. Senate candidate, is a perfect example. Over a period of two years, he decided to skip 75% of committee meetings that directly dealt with veterans’ health care. In one instance, Braley’s absence on the committee was due to him attending three fundraisers for his campaign. (via Des Moines Register):
Over a two-year period, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley missed 75 percent of meetings for a committee that provides oversight over the Veterans Administration, including one meeting on a day he attended three fundraisers for his own campaign.
A few months later, news reports exposed systemic problems in patient care that have since resulted in the resignation head of the federal department of veterans affairs.
Republicans argue that Braley, who missed 15 of the 20 Veterans' Affairs Committee meetings in 2011 and 2012, has shown a lack of commitment to conditions within the health care system for veterans.
Democrats who back Braley, a trial lawyer and seven-year congressman who is now running for U.S. Senate, say he has been an outspoken voice for veterans and it's wrong for his GOP rival, Joni Ernst, to "try to inject partisan politics into veterans issues." He missed the veterans affairs meeting on the day of the three fundraisers because he went to another congressional hearing, aides said.
At 10:19 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2012, the committee held a hearing on a backlog of disability claims and reports of problems with mental health care and stewardship of VA funding, congressional records show. The roll call shows Braley didn't attend.
Braley's aides said he skipped it to attend a 9:36 a.m. Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting on the "Fast and Furious" gun trafficking scandal.The congressional record marked Braley "present," but reveals that he offered no testimony during the three-hour hearing, which ran until 12:45 p.m.
On the same day, Braley had three fundraisers on his schedule for his re-election to the U.S. House, records from the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation show. He attended all three, campaign aides confirmed to The Des Moines Register.
Well, that’s embarrassing. Although, one could argue that President Obama gets the failing grade in optics for traveling to various fundraisers as Israeli troops enter Gaza, Ukrainian separatists allegedly having the ability to down commercial airliners, and the various scandals, namely the ones centered on the IRS and Veterans Affairs (VA), that continue to plague his administration.
On the day of his absence, Braley attended a $2,500 breakfast at Johnny’s Half Shell, an afternoon $1,000 per person fundraiser at a law firm, and an evening $2,500 per person fundraiser on K Street, according to the Register.
At the same time, veterans were dying, or lingered in anguish on those infamous VA wait-lists.
The plot thickens, via NBC News:
Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee say that their investigators have learned that the hard drive belonging to former IRS official Lois Lerner was "scratched" and that data was recoverable, according to a release from the committee. The release says that it's unclear if the scratch was put there deliberately or accidentally. Republicans are now accusing the IRS of not being forthcoming after they said in court filings that the data on Lerner's hard drive was unrecoverable....Whether Lois Lerner's emails and data were lost has become the most recent focus in Republicans' investigation into the targeting of conservative groups by the tax-exempt office of the IRS. Lerner pled the fifth during two appearances before the House Oversight Committee, which called her to testify about that targeting.
House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp unloads on the IRS:
Despite early refusals to make available IT professionals who worked on Lois Lerner’s computer, Ways and Means Committee investigators have now learned from interviews that the hard drive of former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner was “scratched,” but data was recoverable. In fact, in-house professionals at the IRS recommended the Agency seek outside assistance in recovering the data. That information conflicts with a July 18, 2014 court filing by the Agency, which stated the data on the hard drive was unrecoverable – including multiple years’ worth of missing emails. “It is unbelievable that we cannot get a simple, straight answer from the IRS about this hard drive,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). “The Committee was told no data was recoverable and the physical drive was recycled and potentially shredded. To now learn that the hard drive was only scratched, yet the IRS refused to utilize outside experts to recover the data, raises more questions about potential criminal wrong doing at the IRS.” It is also unknown whether the scratch was accidental or deliberate, but former federal law enforcement and Department of Defense forensic experts consulted by the Committee say that most of the data on a scratched drive, such as Lerner’s, should have been recoverable...Further complicating the situation, the Committee’s investigation has revealed evidence that this declaration may not be accurate. A review of internal IRS IT tracking system documents revealed that Lerner’s computer was actually once described as “recovered.”
Wow. It sure would be nice to get these IT experts on the record in sworn, public testimony -- if only to witness Democrats' epic excuse-making. Allahpundit snarks that even if a video emerged of Lerner beating her hard drive with a hammer, Elijah Cummings and friends would still be sneering about GOP "conspiracy theories." Based on these reports, it sounds as if the IRS at first tried to deny investigators access to these professionals, who've since revealed that Lerner's hard drive wasn't irrevocably "crashed" when the matter was brought to their attention in 2011 -- less than two weeks after Congressional Republicans first began asking questions about the agency's (since-admitted) abusive targeting practices. According to the release, the IRS decided against "utilizing outside experts to recover the data" at that time. Why? IRS Commissioner John Koskinen recently testified under oath that the IRS did everything it could to recover all of Lerner's files (before being forced to concede that they hadn't actually done everything). Lerner's lawyer has said the same, asserting that "every effort" was made to do so. This new evidence suggests that was not the case. A few questions: (1) What happened to the hard drive? After it was "scratched," and someone allegedly made the call not to mine its recoverable data, was it then proactively destroyed? Or is it still floating around somewhere? Camp's memo says the IRS "believes it was recycled." (2) How does a hard drive get scratched, exactly? And how often does that sort of thing happen -- unintentionally, that is? I'm not alone in wondering, either:
@allahpundit i guess my next question would be: How often are hard drives physically scratched?— Vox's Research Dept. (@AceofSpadesHQ) July 22, 2014
Let's not forget that the IRS now claims a group of more than a dozen agency officials who dealt with Lerner also experienced hard drive "crashes" (scratches?), resulting in lost emails. What are the chances of that happening? No, really. What are they? Here's another weird one, via a Washington Post piece that posed a series of questions to the IRS from a professional IT entity:
1.) What happened to the IRS’s IT asset managers who appear to have disappeared at a key juncture?
Ordering the destruction of a hard drive and documenting that process would be handled by trained, certified IT asset managers, according to IAITAM. But the group’s records show that at least three IRS IT asset managers were shuffled out of their positions around the time of the May 2013 inspector general’s report that detailed the agency’s targeting practices. IAITAM said investigators need to “determine if these in-house IT asset managers were removed from the picture as the IRS email investigation heated up.”
Another tragedy this week: a civilian airliner carrying 58 people crashed in Taiwan on Wednesday, killing nearly everyone on board:
BREAKING: Taiwanese news agency: Plane crashes in emergency landing, killing 51 people, injuring 7.— The Associated Press (@AP) July 23, 2014
Taiwan's Central News Agency says a plane has crashed in a failed emergency landing, killing 51 people.
The news agency cited the head of the fire department in the Taiwanese county of Penghu as saying that seven people were also injured in the crash.
The report cites the Civil Aviation Administration as saying the flight crashed Wednesday with 54 passengers and four flight crew and was operated by a Taiwanese airline, TransAsia Airways.
The report says the plane likely crashed when an attempt to make an emergency landing in the city of Magong.
UPDATE: It appears "heavy rain" might have prompted the attempted emergency landing:
Taiwan was battered by Typhoon Matmo early Tuesday morning, and the Central Weather Bureau was advising of heavy rain through the evening, even though the center of the storm was in mainland China.
The flight was heading from the capital, Taipei, to the island Penghu, halfway between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait. Pictures from the airport showed a handful of firefighters using flashlights to look at wreckage in the darkness.
UPDATE: Buzzfeed reports there could be more survivors:
UPDATE: But obviously nothing is confirmed:
Status of 58 people on board crashed flight in Taiwan is 'uncertain,' Civil Aeronautics Administration says - @Focus_Taiwan— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) July 23, 2014
UPDATE: More from AFP:
The island's local fire chief put the death toll at 45 while media reports said 47 were killed.
"The control tower lost contact with the aircraft soon after they requested a go-around (second attempt to land)," Chen told reporters.
The commercial domestic flight was carrying 54 passengers and four crew, officials said.
It was flying from Kaohsiung and had been delayed due to bad weather, according to Shen.
Try not to be overwhelmed by the irony in this post.
Last night on CNN the spokesman for the terrorist group Hamas, Osama Hamdan, accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of acting like Hitler.
"He's reflecting a new image for Hitler," Hamdan said. "They [Israelis] are acting in the same way killing Palestinians just because they are Palestinians."
As a reminder, Netanyahu is Jewish and Hamdan represents an Islamic terrorist group that denies the Holocaust. Hamdan is accusing Israel of doing exactly what the Palestinians are actually doing. Hamas is trying to kill Jews solely because they are Jews. Israel meanwhile, is simply defending itself. Further, Hamas works under the direction of the Iranian government, whose leaders want to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
It should also be pointed out that in the interview Hamdan made the argument that Israel is targeting houses, mosques and hospitals, but failed to admit Hamas has placed rocket launchers in those places for the exact purpose of being able to go on television and falsely blame Israelis for targeting civilians. People are dying in Gaza and the responsibility for why lies solely with Hamas, a terrorist group that values dead civilians for propaganda purposes more than they value human life.
Over the past two years we've seen numerous firearm manufacturing companies leave liberal states with new gun control laws. Maryland is the latest to state to face tough consequences for its new harsh and irrational gun control law. Beretta, a firearms company that has been in the state for decades, is headed to Tennessee with hundreds of jobs in tow.
Beretta U.S.A. announced Tuesday that company concerns over a strict gun-control law enacted in Maryland last year have made it necessary to move its weapons making out of the state to Tennessee.
The well-known gun maker said it will move to a new production facility it is building in the Nashville suburb of Gallatin that is set to open in mid-2015.
Beretta general manager Jeff Cooper said that a sweeping gun-control measure that was passed last year initially contained provisions that would have prohibited the Italian gun maker from being able to produce, store or even import into Maryland the products that the company sells around the world. While the legislation was changed to remove some of those provisions, Cooper said the possibility that such restrictions could be reinstated left the company worried about maintaining a firearm-making factory in Maryland.
"While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland product lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility," Cooper said in a news release announcing the move.
Last year Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed into law extreme gun control measures despite strong objections from the public. Currently Beretta employs 400 people in Maryland. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, overall the firearms industry employs more than 200,000 people, has an economic impact of over $33 billion each year and provides the federal government with more than $4 billion in excise taxes each year.
Retiring Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) hasn’t ruled out running for president in 2016, she said today in an interview with Real Clear Politics. In her view, there’s lots of chatter about “various men” running, she explained, but virtually nothing about women.
Perhaps, then, she and other conservative women shouldn’t be so easily discounted:
Bachmann made the revelation during an interview, in which she was asked for her view on whether any Republican women might seek the Oval Office in 2016.
“The only thing that the media has speculated on is that it’s going to be various men that are running,” she replied. “They haven’t speculated, for instance, that I’m going to run. What if I decide to run? And there’s a chance I could run.”
Bachmann entered the last presidential race in June 2011 as a long-shot contender but was able to use her sway with elements of the Tea Party and an effective media campaign to rise temporarily toward the front of the Republican pack in a deeply fluid race.
Some Republicans might understandably balk at this suggestion. Yes, she defeated her rivals in the Ames Straw Poll in 2011, but despite this largely feel-good victory, her campaign never really got off the ground after that. What chance realistically, then, does she have? The field in 2016 will presumably be stocked full -- and overflowing with -- solid GOP candidates: former and current governors, youthful senators, and perhaps even a certain world-renowned surgeon. Is there room, in other words, for another tea party candidate in the mix, especially one who flamed out so early during the 2012 cycle?
Then again, Bachmann, by her own estimation, is a prolific fundraiser who has something almost none of the other presumed GOP candidates have: experience.
“Like with anything else, practice makes perfect,” she said. “And I think if a person has gone through the process -- for instance, I had gone through 15 presidential debates -- it’s easy to see a person’s improvement going through that.” …
“I haven’t made a decision one way or another if I’m going to run again, but I think the organization is probably the key,” she said. “To have an organization and people who surround you who are loyal, who are highly competent, who know how to be able to run the ball down the field in state after state -- because now I think the primary process will be very different this time. It will tighten up; it will be a much shorter run than it was before.”
To her point, Christie et al. have never debated 15 times in front of a national television audience before...
Parting thought: Since we now know, as of today, that former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) is pretty much all-in in 2016, is a Bachmann/Santorum ticket currently or possibly in the works? Hmmmm.
A federal judge dismissed Sen. Johnson’s (R-Wis.) Obamacare lawsuit Monday on the grounds that the senator had no legal standing in the case. Johnson filed the suit in January, claiming that the Office of Personnel Management took illegal and bias actions when it allowed congressional members and their staff to continue receiving federal health care subsidies while on the Obamacare health exchanges.
The OPM’s regulation violated Obamacare and also trounced on the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, according to Johnson’s complaint.
“The ACA provides that as of January 1, 2014, the only health insurance plans that Members of Congress and their staffs can be offered by the federal government are health insurance plans “created under [the ACA]” or “offered through an Exchange” established under the ACA…..
[T]he OPM Rule does not treat Members of Congress and their staffs like the Members’ constituents. Instead, it puts them in a better position by providing them with a continuing tax-free subsidy from the federal government to pay a percentage of the premiums for health insurance purchased through an ACA Exchange….”
Judge William Griesbach said the challenge could not be accepted in a court of law due to Johnson’s lack of cognizable injury, or legal standing, in the case:
Federal courts do not have jurisdiction to decide every legal question that may arise. Instead, federal courts may resolve questions only when they are presented in justiciable “Cases” or “Controversies.” U.S. CONST. art. III, § 2, cl. 1. “As used in the Constitution, those words do not include every sort of dispute, but only those ‘historically viewed as capable of resolution through the judicial process.’"
If every judge followed the constraints of the Constitution so affably, the nation might be in a much better position than it is now. Johnson, however, was disappointed that a "legal technicality" stopped the judge from addressing important constitutional issues.