The suspension of service into Ben Gurion International began as an ad hoc precautionary measure by several US carriers, following reports that a Hamas rocket landed within one mile of the airport. Soon after, the FAA instituted a 24-hour ban on US to Israel flights, over the objections and assurances of Israeli officials. European carriers are now following suit:
BERLIN (AP) - European Aviation Safety Agency 'strongly recommends' airlines avoid Tel Aviv airport.— Phil Elliott (@Philip_Elliott) July 22, 2014
Germany and France's largest airlines Lufthansa and Air France say they're suspending all flights to Tel Aviv over safety concerns amid the increasing violence. Lufthansa said Tuesday evening that it was suspending all Tel Aviv flights for 36 hours, including those operated by subsidiaries Germanwings, Austrian Airlines and Swiss. The company says it made the decision as a precaution to protect the safety of its passengers and crews. Air France says it was suspending its flights until further notice for the same reason....Palestinian militants have fired more than 2,000 rockets toward Israel. Several heading toward the area of Ben-Gurion Airport have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system.
It's unclear as to why the FAA's moratorium only lasts 24 hours; Hamas continues to reject ceasefire terms, and Israelis overwhelmingly support their military's campaign against the terrorist organization. With IDF military objectives still on the table and Hamas' bloodthirsty intransigence, the conflict shows few signs of slowing -- let alone stopping -- in the immediate future. As the death toll mounts, Hamas supporters and sympathizers constantly harp on the "disproportionate" casualty count, noting that far more Palestinians have died than Israelis. They conveniently elide the primary reasons for that gap: Israel's 'Iron Dome' missile defense system and bomb shelter protocols have proven to be extremely effective at protecting civilians. Hamas, by contrast, intentionally and diabolically surrounds its arsenal and leaders with civilians. To recap: Hamas is actively targeting Israeli civilians, and failing. Israel is bending over backwards to protect Palestinian civilians, while Hamas publicly exhorts said civilians to risk their lives to frustrate and complicate attacks against terrorist targets. When Israel's safeguards against civilian casualties fail -- as is inevitable in war -- Hamas gleefully exploits the dead to pummel Israel in the court of public opinion. These tragedies are uniquely inevitable in this conflict because Hamas is knowingly putting innocents in harm's way. The terrorists are storing rockets in schools, using hospitals as their command centers, and reportedly traveling in ambulances "packed with children:"
With this conflict about to enter its third week, winning the PR war is the best Hamas can hope to achieve. Their weapon of choice, however, seems to be the cannon fodder of their own people, performing double duty in also sounding the drumbeat of Israeli condemnation. If you can't beat Iron Dome, then deploy sacrificial children as human shields...There are now reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are transporting themselves throughout Gaza in ambulances packed with children. Believe it or not, a donkey laden with explosives detonated just the other day.
Craven and intolerable. That same Wall Street Journal editorial asks whether many adult Gazans forfeited their right to 'innocent civilian' status by overwhelmingly electing a known terrorist cartel to represent them. It's a difficult, but legitimate, question. But anti-Israel forces will brush all of this highly relevant context to the side, opting instead to morbidly trumpet the number of the dead -- focusing on women and children for PR purposes. They will blame Israel, not Hamas' cynical degenerates, for these deaths. Of course, many of Israel's foes are willfully blind to the truth, and would obstinately ignore it even if it were conclusively presented through evidence. That's because many of Israel's foes irrationally despise Jews, and they're merely using the Israeli government as a proxy target for their bigotry. This isn't a specious smear. It's betrayed by their own actions. I've written pieces over the last two weeks about the sickening anti-Semitism on parade in Paris and Boston. Additional reports pile up by the hour. Canada:
A group of Canadian Israel supporters who were violently beaten last week by a crowd shouting anti-Semitic slurs said they continue to be bullied on the Internet and in the media by those who claim that they were looking for a fight. A family of six pro-Israel supporters demonstrating in downtown Calgary was assaulted late Friday by a crowd of around 100 protestors who were demonstrating against Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip...The pro-Palestinian protestors shoved flags into Hamilton’s face and taunted her with shouts of, “kill Jews, “Hitler should finish you off,” and “baby killers.” “I heard my mother screaming because six or seven guys had jumped on my brother,” who is 19 years old, Hamilton recalled. “He had a Star of David on his shirt and they were ripping it off, biting him, and scratching him, and stomping on him on the ground.”
In a video taken at a large anti-Israel rally in Berlin this past Thursday, hundreds of protesters can be seen chanting in German, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight on your own” (“Jude, Jude, feiges Schwein, komm heraus und kämpf allein“).
It is uniquely horrifying that those words -- "Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight" -- are echoing in Berlin, of all places. Click through for video of a German Imam caustically praying for the annihilation of "Zionist Jews," asking Allah to "count them and kill them to the very last one. Don't spare a single one of them...make them suffer terribly." As I've written about the disgusting proliferation of anti-Semitic incidents around the globe, Israel critics have responded on Twitter, arguing that pro-Israel counter-protesters provoked the outbursts by showing up. This excuse is not only a laboratory pure example of the "heckler's veto," it also fails to explain the content of the slurs. Many of these barbarians aren't chanting, "shame on Israel." They're shrieking about despising and killing Jews. For them, none of this is about ceasefires, or rockets, or blockades, or land swaps. It's about an ancient, insatiable, and savage hatred. Fortunately, as Dan noted earlier, a large majority of Americans stand with Israel in this hour of terrible hardship. (Democrats are the least likely partisan group to call Israel's actions justified, but a plurality still do). The Jewish state may be a loathed scapegoat in many corners of the world, but not here. In fact, a Pew Research survey released last week showed that Americans' pro-Israel sympathies remain near all-time highs:
Self-described conservative Republicans split (77/4) in favor of Israel; liberal Democrats are the least pro-Israel cohort measured, at (39/21) -- still nearly a two-to-one margin.
Proponents of the Export-Import Bank, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), claim the corporate welfare bank is essential for protecting American jobs, but a new Heritage Action analysis of Export-Impot Bank annual reports show that $16 billions worth of loans have gone to state-owned foreign airlines since 2009 alone.
The Export-Import Bank has inked deals with 34 with foreign government owned corporations since 2009, including deals with China, Egypt, and Kazakhstan.
The biggest of the loan guarantees, at more than $2 billion, went to the National Aviation Co. of India for commercial aircrafts from Boeing, which just happens to be the banks biggest corporate welfare customer. Air China has also signed deals worth $1.8 billion with the Export-Import Bank since 2011.
Defenders of the Export-Import Bank, like Warren, claim the coporate welfare program creates American jobs. But whatever jobs are created for subsidized corporations are just lost elsewhere by non-subsidized American businesses.
This is why President Ronald Reagan proposed shrinking the Export-Import Bank saying at the time, "We’re doing this because the primary beneficiaries of taxpayer funds in this case are the exporting companies themselves–most of them profitable corporations."
If the Progressive movement and their Democratic Party want to become the part of corporatism, then conservatives and the Republican Party must offer the American people an alternative by fighting corporate welfare in all its forms, including the Export-Import bank.
Speaking with NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), dismissed Hillary Clinton as an intimidating candidate for president in 2016. First, he challenged her record as Secretary of State:
"The truth of the matter is she was the secretary of state during an administration that has had virtually no successes on foreign policy," he said.
Voters seem to agree. A recent Politico poll reveals that 32 percent deem her tenure as Secretary of State “poor.”
Barring her foreign policy record, Rubio’s second slight against Clinton was a more intriguing one:
"I just think she's a 20th century candidate," he said. "I think she does not offer an agenda for moving America forward in the 21st century, at least not up till now."
The criticism was not supposed to be a jab at Clinton’s age, but that must certainly be in the back of many voters’ minds. The former First Lady is now 66-years-old, meaning she would be well into her seventies were she to reach the White House. What’s more, after Clinton was hospitalized last year for a blood clot in her head, some questioned whether she is healthy enough to run for president.
Rubio, on the other hand, is 43-years-old and has seemingly not faced any major health scares. He has not decided on a presidential run, yet will make up his mind by early 2015, he told NPR.
With Clinton, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren as the only Democratic names being thrown around for 2016, clearly the Republican Party has age on its side this time around.
"When he doesn't know what to do, he talks."
It’s time to fire Harry Reid. Or so says the Republican National Committee -- which today launched its brand new campaign to wrestle control of the upper chamber from Democrats by explicitly targeting the Senate Majority Leader.
RNC National Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski issued the following statement this morning:
Today the RNC launches our #FireReid campaign.
Under the control of Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate has failed to listen to the American people and do what’s in their best interest. In fact, the U.S. Senate has failed to do much of anything that doesn’t serve Harry Reid’s quest to remain in power.
For example, the Republican-led House of Representatives has passed over 290 bills, including 40 jobs bills, that are stuck Harry Reid’s Senate. He won’t put them to a vote, even though they could put Americans back to work.
Likewise, Harry Reid has refused to let his Republican colleagues introduce amendments to legislation, a normal part of the lawmaking process. It’s his way or the highway. Or more accurately, it’s billionaire SuperPAC donor Tom Steyer’s way or the highway.
The RNC has put together a rather long list of all the reasons why Harry Reid must go. Blocking bills, breaking promises, and cutting off debate are only some of the grievances they document. But at the same time, they’re also trying to tie him to what they describe as the president's "failed" agenda; and as a result, will take their message to a dozen or so key battleground states to make their case:
The RNC will take this message to Senate races across the country. Beginning this week, we will launch robocalls in Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia. Those calls will tell voters that the only way to stop Obama is to vote Republican and fire Reid. The calls will remind them that a vote for their respective Democrat Senate candidate is a vote to rubberstamp the failed Obama-Reid agenda.
The ongoing Fire Reid campaign will use a variety tactics, including research briefings, social media, videos, interviews, and infographics to highlight where Harry Reid, empowered by a Democrat majority, has failed Americans: ineffectual leadership, ethical lapses, gridlock, ObamaCare, Keystone, and more.
The message is simple: if you want to get America moving in the right direction, you have to fire Reid in November.
The Supreme Leader is not happy.
Kim Jong-un’s latest ire comes from a Chinese-made YouTube video that has North Korea demanding its removal from the internet. The video, which features Kim’s head superimposed onto dancing bodies, shows the dictator waltzing his way through a variety of hilarious situations.
However, North Korea is not quite amused. As the South Korean publication Chosun Ilbo reports, “the North feels the clip, which shows Kim dancing and Kung-Fu fighting, 'seriously compromises Kim's dignity and authority.'" Please.
The newspaper says that after North Korea asked China to stop the video from spreading, "Beijng was unable to oblige."
In one segment, Kim pirouettes in a dance studio — before being hit with a kick delivered by President Obama. Other world leaders also make appearances, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
And while a couple of sequences make fun of Kim's fascination with weaponry, we'll note that the video doesn't accuse the North Korean leader of not having rhythm.
We should all know by now that Kim Jong-un takes himself very seriously.
The gratuitous anger over this video closely follows North Korea’s fuss about the release of a Hollywood comedy in which two journalists plot to assassinate Kim. North Korean officials even described the release of the James Franco and Seth Rogen film an “act of war” promising “merciless retaliation.”
The Mirror describes the bizarre nature of Kim and his cronies:
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) describes itself as a socialist state based around the country's official ideology of Juche - a philosophy of self-reliance initiated by the state's first President Kim Il-sung.
However, the country is widely viewed by the international community as a totalitarian dictatorship, with an elaborate cult of personality operating around the ruling Kim family.
Among some of the bizarre boasts, it was claimed that Kim Jong-il - father of the current leader - had a supernatural birth, invented the hamburger and in his first ever round of golf shot 38 under par – including five holes in one - before gloriously retiring from the sport.
The truth is that Kim Jong-un is a despot, but often viewed as a figure of fun in the West.
The video has already amassed nearly 900,000 views and counting:
UPDATE III (See other updates below) - The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled in the opposite direction on this precise issue, increasing the likelihood that we're ultimately headed to SCOTUS.
This is big. Really big:
BREAKING: Huge blow to Obamacare. DC Circuit says law restricted subsidies to state exchanges.— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) July 22, 2014
DC Circuit: "the ACA unambiguously restricts...subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges 'established by the State.'"— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) July 22, 2014
A full-blown Obamacare earthquake. The 'second highest court in the land's' judgment may not be final -- the administration will almost certainly appeal for an en banc hearing before the full court, and there's always SCOTUS -- but for now, it is the binding decision. What does it mean? George F. Will wrote a column summarizing the Halbig case and its potential implications earlier this year:
Someone you probably are not familiar with has filed a suit you probably have not heard about concerning a four-word phrase you should know about. The suit could blow to smithereens something everyone has heard altogether too much about, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (hereafter, ACA)...If [the lawsuit] succeeds, the ACA’s disintegration will accelerate...Because under the ACA, insurance companies cannot refuse coverage because of an individual’s preexisting condition. Because many people might therefore wait to purchase insurance after they become sick, the ACA requires a mandate to compel people to buy insurance. And because many people cannot afford the insurance that satisfies the ACA’s criteria, the ACA mandate makes it necessary to provide subsidies for those people. The four words that threaten disaster for the ACA say the subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state.” But 34 states have chosen not to establish exchanges.
So the IRS, which is charged with enforcing the ACA, has ridden to the rescue of Barack Obama’s pride and joy. Taking time off from writing regulations to restrict the political speech of Obama’s critics, the IRS has said, with its breezy indifference to legality, that subsidies shall also be dispensed to those who purchase insurance through federal exchanges the government has established in those 34 states...Some of the ACA’s myriad defects do reflect its slapdash enactment, which presaged its chaotic implementation. But the four potentially lethal words were carefully considered and express Congress’s intent. Congress made subsidies available only through state exchanges as a means of coercing states into setting up exchanges.
Democrats in Congress passed a law that explicitly limited Obamacare subsidy eligibility to consumers who purchased plans on state-level exchanges. They did so in order to coerce and bribe states into setting up their own marketplaces under the law. (Another attempt at coercion, mandatory Medicaid expansion, has been struck down 7-2 by the Supreme Court). Given the controversial law's unpopularity, a majority of states declined to establish exchanges, forcing the federal government to create the infamous federal version -- with Healthcare.gov as its centerpiece. Subsequent New York Times reporting indicated that HHS never expected to have to set up any exchange at all, let alone for 36 states. That's because they were laboring under the belief that the law's sticks and carrots would compel every state to implement marketplaces on their own. Many did not, and the plain text of the law clearly states that anyone buying coverage through any system other than a state-based exchange would not be eligible to receive generous taxpayer subsidies, which relieve much of the heavy cost burden for many consumers (even with the subsidies, many enrollees say they're struggling to pay).
Faced with this predicament, the IRS decided that Congress' true intent was for all exchange consumers to have a shot at subsidies if they were financially eligible, so it simply decreed it to be so in the form of a regulation that effectively rewrote a major provision the law. Today, the Court ruled that the law says what it says, and that the IRS overstepped. This decision, at least for now, plunges Obamacare into chaos -- and furious Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. When you ram through a lengthy, hastily slapped-together, unpopular law without reading it, unintended consequences sometimes arise. And this one's a biggie. Then again, as Will notes in his piece, a strong case can be made that this passage of the law was very much crafted intentionally, even if today's fallout was 'never supposed to happen.' Congress debated how to phrase the subsidy eligibility language, and ended up passing the Senate's version -- a move made necessary by the anti-Obamacare election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. A previous House version's verbiage had been much more encompassing. But it didn't pass. Obamacare did. If it stands, this ruling not only strips subsidy eligibility from many Americans (which could/will touch off a breathtaking adverse selection death spiral), it liberates tens of millions from the unpopular individual mandate tax. Why?
The individual mandate tax only applies in jurisdictions where consumers are eligible for subsidies. Thirty-six states are now off the table on that front, if this decision holds. The Court went out of its way to acknowledge the potentially drastic consequences of its ruling, ultimately concluding that it's not the judiciary's job to clean up messes made by legislators via ex post facto revisions:
Next question: what happens to all those people who complied w/ mandate, took subsidy, bought insurance this year?— Brian Faughnan (@BrianFaughnan) July 22, 2014
UPDATE - Relevant point. Harry Reid's filibuster power grab helped stack this full Circuit Court with Obama nominees who may be inclined to reverse the panel's 2-1 decision. Thus, overreach could salvage a migraine caused by overreach, and an appeal is on the way:
Reid's nuclear option, which put 3 new Obama-appt judges on the DC Circuit, could save Obamacare.— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) July 22, 2014
Oh, look: CRS wrote in April of 2010 that subsidies could only be applied to health plans bought via state exchanges. pic.twitter.com/UUU71Bp1Sm— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) July 22, 2014
POLITICO Chief Political Columnist Roger Simon is accusing Texas Governor Rick Perry of sending National Guard troops to the border so they can "shoot small children."
Rick Perry sending 1,000 National Guard troops to border to shoot small children. Could make good headlines -- in Russia.— Roger Simon (@politicoroger) July 22, 2014
First off, lets just mark this under most asinine statement of the day. Second, funny how Simon conveniently ignores why Perry is sending the troops: to stop cartels and gang members who actually shoot and murder small children from entering the United States. Here's one example:
Border Patrol documents newly obtained exclusively by Townhall detail the crimes MS-13 and other gang members in the Nogales processing center admit to committing.
In an interview with Border Patrol agents, 15-year-old self admitted MS-13 member with the last name Aguilar said he killed a member of rival gang 18th Street six months ago with a fully automatic Uzi before coming to the United States.
"He claims he walked over to the wounded rival, and emptied the magazine into the rival's body," interview documents show.
Aguilar also admitted to, "being involved in extortion for the gang," and "collecting money from local vendors and threatening them if they refused to pay."
Finally, the smear from Simon that National Guard troops are interested in "shooting small children" is abhorrent and disgusting. Border Patrol alone has gone above and beyond agents' job descriptions to care for children pouring across the border without their parents in a humane way. The National Guard will no doubt do the same.
It’s been almost a week since Israel launched its ground offensive into Gaza. Since that time, scores of IDF soldiers have been killed (including at least two American “lone soldiers”) and the civilian death toll (since the fighting first broke out) has now eclipsed 600. For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strenuously argued that despite the high costs of war, the world’s only Jewish state, surrounded by hostile and malignant actors, has a right to defend itself. This is a sentiment both President Obama and Secretary Kerry have publicly affirmed.
But the politics of the situation became somewhat inflamed over the weekend when Secretary Kerry was caught on an open mic. Speaking to an aide before an appearance on Fox News Sunday, he said Israel’s excursion into Gaza was “a hell of a pinpoint operation.” This has raised suspicions, especially on the Right, that the administration isn’t fully backing Israel. The State Department vehemently denies this allegation.
Nevertheless, it’s abundantly clear that the American public stands firmly behind our Middle Eastern ally. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they believe Israel’s actions are warranted, according to a freshly-released CNN poll:
Monday Palestinians officials reported more killed, bringing the death toll to around 550. It's unknown how many were militants, but the United Nations has estimated that 70% are civilians. Israel announced Monday that seven more of its soldiers were killed, bringing to 25 the number of Israeli soldiers who have died. Two Israeli civilians have also been killed.
According to the poll, 57% of the public said the Israeli actions against Hamas, the Palestinian organization that runs Gaza, are justified, with just over a third saying they are unjustified.
Forty-three percent of those questioned said Israel's using about the right amount of force, with 12% saying they're not using enough. Nearly four in 10 said Israel is using too much force in Gaza.
"Attitudes toward Israeli military action have been extremely stable over the years," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In 2012, an identical 57% thought that Israel's actions against Hamas in Gaza were justified. And in 2009, the number of Americans who felt that way was only a few points higher, at 63%."
Not surprisingly, Republicans strongly support military engagement in Gaza:
Forty-five percent of Democrats questioned said that Israeli's military actions in Gaza are justified. That number jumps to 56% among independents and 73% among Republicans.
For what it's worth, the poll was conducted last weekend, and more than 1,000 U.S. adults participated.
UPDATE: Read Guy's post over at Hot Air about the appalling rise of anti-Semitism...in the United States.
I'll say this for Sen. Mark Pryor, the Arkansas Democrat who votes with Obama 90 percent of the time: At least he didn't go the full Reid by calling millions of Americans liars. No, he merely dismissed the documented phenomena of canceled policies and increased premiums as "anecdotal" evidence against the law for which he cast the deciding vote:
Various polls have shown that Americans who were negatively impacted by the healthcare overhaul far outnumber its beneficiaries. Millions of plans were cancelled due to Obamacare's regulations, including tens of thousands in Arkansas, in spite of repeated promises that consumers would be allowed to keep their preferred plans, with more many more dropped policies looming. The administration itself predicted that as many as 93 million Americans would eventually be stripped of their existing coverage. Also, numerous polls and studies have indicated that most Americans have experienced a rise in costs, including for many of the newly insured. The law was sold by people like Pryor as a robust and across-the-board premium reducer. Both Barack Obama and his eponymous healthcare law are deeply unpopular in Arkansas. Let's review some additional "anecdotes," shall we? Premium increases in Florida:
Florida Blue, the state’s dominant health insurer, snagged more than one in three consumers on the health law’s exchange this year, but many could face rate hikes as the carrier struggles with an influx of older and sicker enrollees, said the company’s top executive...“We will be under tremendous financial pressure initially given the age, risk profile and high utilization of the new membership,” he said. “It is far from clear that large enrollment in the marketplace is a financially beneficial place to be.” ... About 23 percent of those who bought exchange policies from Florida Blue this year were in the 18-to-34 age category, Geraghty said. That compares to 28 percent nationally. Initial federal projections were that 40 percent of enrollees nationally would be young adults.
We've been writing about Obamacare's risk pool and demographics problems for months. Now here's a story about a man in Oklahoma who's had a nightmarish experience trying to cancel his Obamacare plan. Thanks to Healthcare.gov's back end data problems (which won't be fixed anytime soon) and lack of customer service (hours of waiting on hold), it took him three months to terminate coverage that he no longer needed, and even then, he was stuck with a bill he shouldn't have owed:
Meanwhile, a legally-mandated and transparency-minded Obamacare database website...isn't working:
A long-awaited federal database designed to reveal doctor payments from the drug and medical device industries is plagued with confusing error messages, according to a report. Physicians told ProPublica that they are seeing long waits and error messages when trying to look up their entries on a preliminary version of the Open Payments website. "Doctors say it is taking them as long as an hour, sometimes longer, to verify their identifies and log in," reported Charles Ornstein with ProPublica. Those who make it through the system and do not have relationships with industry are reportedly met with the message: "You have the following errors on the page. There are no results that match the specified search criteria."
But never mind all that. Everything is working "incredibly well," we're told. People "love" Obamacare! In fact, I think it was Senator Mark Pryor who once gushed that Obamacare was "an amazing success story." What many Americans wouldn't give for an exemption like the free pass just extended to US territories by HHS -- after years of insisting that they didn't have the legal authority to grant such a waiver. Turns out the administration's definition of what counts as a "state" depends on the political imperative of the moment. Speaking of which, keep an eye on this court decision, which should be arriving any day.