On Gaza, Obama Contradicts Himself
56 minutes ago
Douglas V. Gibbs is a proud member of the American Authors Association
Douglas V. Gibbs is a proud member of the Military Writers Society of America. Click the image below to go to the MWSA website.
Texas Governor Rick Perry said on Monday he planned to send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Mexican border to boost security during a surge in illegal immigration by children, a move that could increase pressure on President Barack Obama.
Perry, seen as a possible Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race, said the guard troops were needed because the flood of children crossing from Mexico had pushed federal border protection to its limits.
"The price of inaction is too high for Texas to pay," Perry told a news conference.
Tony Payan, director of the Mexico Center at Rice University's Baker Institute in Houston, said Perry's plan was more about politics than security because the state's guard troops would play supporting roles on the vast border and likely be deployed for a short period of time.
"The operational impact is limited. This forces one to think that this is a political move by Rick Perry," he said.
The governor's announcement came just days before Obama plans meet with the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador on Friday to discuss cooperation on the influx of child migrants from Central America.Yes, "discussing cooperation" - in planning even bigger follow-up waves of "migrants". It's like their version of the Yalta Conference....
The bevy of regulation since the 2008 financial crisis has weakened the banking sector to the point that another meltdown is inevitable, says private equity star J. Christopher Flowers, CEO of J.C. Flowers.
"All the stuff that has happened, and all the rules we’ve introduced have depressed profitability. And that is a real vulnerability," he tells the Financial Times. "Nobody is going to invest in an industry with returns of 5%."
While Flowers has invested in banks in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands, he notes, regulators are engaged in a fool's errand in trying to eliminate risk from the banking industry.
"How do you make something that lends money at risk a utility?" Flowers asks rhetorically.
[Commissar] of State John Kerry appeared on all five Sunday morning network news shows this week, and was caught between programs doing some behind-the-scenes work.
To make all five shows, at least some of the interviews were pre-taped with Kerry in the same studio.
"Fox News Sunday" caught Kerry talking to a top aide by cellphone between interviews.
"It's a hell of a pinpoint operation. It's a hell of a pinpoint operation," Kerry said to the person on the phone.
"It's escalating significantly, and it just underscores the need for ceasefire," the person replied.
"We've got to get over there," Kerry told the person on the phone, then handed the phone to someone and told that person, "Thank you, John. I think, John, we ought to go tonight. It's crazy to be sitting around."
"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace played the video of the conversation to Kerry and asked him, "When you said it's a hell of a pinpoint operation, are you upset that the Israelis are going too far?"
State [Commissariat] spokeswoman Jen Psaki later issued a statement, telling the Washington Post, "Given the range of important global events we are not going to spend time litigating whether taping and playing [Commissar] Kerry's private conversation was consistent with acceptable protocol."That roughly translates to, "Yeah, you caught him. [BLEEP] Israel and [BLEEP] you!" Kinda makes one wonder if the Obama Regime would try to trick the IAF into accidentally shooting down Kerry's plane if he did "get over there" again. It's not like the Boston Balker isn't expendable.
The escalating Israel-Palestine crisis illustrates the "real tragedy" of the Obama administration's inability to both fully support Israel's right to defend itself and condemn Hamas for using Palestinian casualties to win political victories, American Enterprise Institute fellow Richard Perle said Friday.
The former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and former assistant secretary of defense told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV the United States "mustn't play along" with Hamas' violent strategy."
The real tragedy here, at least with respect to American policy, is the apparent inability to say that not only do the Israelis have the right to defend themselves when they're attacked in this way, but [that] we have no sympathy for Hamas, which is undertaking these attacks."
The humane response of sympathy for the Palestinian casualties, Perle insists, "has the effect of encouraging Hamas to believe that it can win political victories."
[Commissar] of State John Kerry on Sunday said an "enormous amount of evidence" points to Russia providing antiaircraft missiles and training to pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
Kerry also said U.S. intelligence agencies "saw the launch" of a missile from rebel-held territory just as the passenger plane vanished from radar.
Kerry's accusations came as international horror deepened over the fate of the victims' remains.
Kerry demanded that Moscow take responsibility for actions of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine whom Washington suspects of downing the jet with a missile, and expressed disgust at their "grotesque" mishandling of the bodies.
Even if it was a mistake, Feinstein said, "it's a horrendous mistake to make. It points out the futility of what's happening in the Ukraine, because there will be repercussions from this."
Host Candy Crowley pointed out that the United States keeps adding more and more sanctions on Russia over its role in Ukraine, and Putin continues to ignore them. With the shooting of the plane and the deaths of 298 civilians from Europe and other countries, Putin may be in too deep, Crowley said, asking why would he "man up" now?
"I think the world has to rise up and say, we've had enough of this," Feinstein responded, saying that Europe has to come together, led by Germany, to impose further sanctions.
While admitting that U.S.-Russian relations are now at Cold War levels, Feinstein said she opposes Republican calls to arm the Ukrainians, as they have been requesting for months, because she thinks the shooting shows that neither side needs to be in possession of such weapons. [emphasis added]
"The income tax system in the United States is a sprawling mass of provisions spread across dozens of volumes and has been called everything from a 'disaster' to an 'abomination.'"
That's how the Tax Foundation begins its report "Putting a Face on America's Tax Returns."
The report discloses that it takes Americans up to 7 billion work hours each year to complete the paperwork required by the IRS, and it costs individual and corporate taxpayers more than $165 billion annually to comply with the income tax code.
In 1913, the federal income tax started as four pages of forms and instructions. Today, the tax code spans more than 70,000 pages.
A year before the United States entered World War II, excise taxes on such items as gasoline and cigarettes were the largest source of revenue for the federal government, followed by Social Security payroll taxes, then corporate income taxes.
Today, individual income taxes are the top source of revenue, expected to amount to $1.38 trillion this year, followed by social insurance taxes ($1.02 trillion), corporate income taxes ($380 billion), and excise taxes ($93 billion).
"Contrary to some claims that high-income households are not paying their fair share of income taxes, the average tax rate for the top 1% of earners is actually twice what it is for the rest of Americans," the report states.
"While only about 14% of taxpayers earn more than $100,000, they pay the vast majority of all income taxes in America today."
About half of all tax filers earn less than $30,000 a year — 26% earn less than $15,000, and 21% make between $15,000 and 30,000. Just 3% of filers earn between $200,000 and $499,000, and only 1% make $500,000 or more.
Taxpayers earning less than $100,000 a year account for 18% of all income taxes, while those earning more than $100,000 pay more than 80% of the taxes.
Those earning $1 million or more annually make 11% of all income, but pay 23% of income taxes, while those earning between $200,000 and $1 million account for 17% of income and 32% of income taxes.
Filers making $30,000 or less receive more back from the IRS than they pay in income taxes due to the Earned Income Tax Credit and other preferences. They account for 11% of income and minus-6% of income taxes paid.
Looked at another way, the top 1% of earners pay 37.4% of income taxes, the top 10% pay 70.6%, and the bottom 90% pay 29.4%.
The bottom 20% of earners receive $8.13 in federal spending for every dollar they pay in federal taxes. The top 20% receive $0.25.
The Tax Foundation calls the tax code "steeply progressive and highly redistributive."
AIG Non-Executive Chairman Steve Miller, who has received the nickname "Mr. Fix It" for stepping in to run distressed companies, thinks the economy could use a dosage of Ronald Reagan as a fix.
After the economic mistakes of President Jimmy Carter, "Reagan came in and did a lot of things, including cutting tax rates—both corporate and personal tax rates—and tried to slow the growth of regulation that was strangling business," Miller tells CNBC.
"I think that . . . would work again now."
Barack Obama will sign an executive order on Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, senior administration officials said.
The White House said last month that Obama would issue the order but declined to give details on its content or the timing of when he would do so.
The order will allow some exemptions for religious groups that are federal contractors but not as much flexibility as the groups had wanted.
A religious organization would be barred from making hiring decisions based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Exceptions would be allowed for ministers, and groups would be allowed to favor individuals of a particular religion when hiring.
A senior administration official said the order would affect 24,000 companies that employ some 28 million workers, roughly a fifth of the nation's work force.
Obama has pressed Congress to pass legislation that would ban such discrimination for all companies, but it has failed to gain traction with Republican lawmakers.
Testifying before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Yellen cherry picked data on inflation by noting prices are up, on a year-over-year basis, less than the Fed's target of 2%.
The Labor Department's consumer price index has accelerated since March and was up 4.2% in May. Tuesday, it will release June data that will perhaps not be quite so high, but it likely will show inflation continued above 3%.
Once inflation gets out of control, history has shown it is difficult to contain without a steep and painful recession. Recognizing these dangers, Yellen's cognitive dissonance will add new life to proposals in Congress to rein in the Fed's independence.
A bill under consideration would require the Fed to submit to Congress a detailed strategy or rule for the Fed's policy instruments — for example, targets for money supply growth, lending rates to banks — and essentially handcuff quick Fed responses to emerging crises.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that the suspect was found at the Daytona Beach home at about 1 a.m. Friday. The paper, citing the arrest report, said Raymond Frolander was found with several knots on his face and bleeding from the mouth.
The 35-year-old father and his son were not identified, but the father reportedly walked in on Frolander sexually battering his son.
The paper obtained the 911 call and reported that the dad told the dispatcher, "I just walked in a grown man molesting...and I got him in a bloody puddle for you, officer."
He told police that he didn't use any weapons in the beating, nor did he ask the suspect any questions.
"He is nice and knocked out on the floor for you," the dad reportedly told police.
The boy told police that Frolander took him to a back room of the house and pulled down his pants, the report said.
The boy, 11, had been playing video games with friends before the alleged attack, the report said.
Frolander was treated at an area hospital and allegedly told police "I'm guilty," when questioned.
He is being held without bail. Frolander was charged with sexual battery by an 18-year-old on a victim under 12, the report said.
The father was not charged.
The United States is building a case linking pro-Russian separatists to the shocking downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine.
A somber President Barack Obama declared the deaths of those on board, including at least one American, an "outrage of unspeakable proportions."
The president spoke shortly after Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, outlined preliminary evidence against Russia and the separatists during an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Power said separatists were spotted Thursday with an SA-11 anti-aircraft missile at a location close to the site where the plane came down and that they had boasted on social media sites about shooting down a plane, then later deleted those posts.
Power joined Obama in calling for an immediate international investigation, and she warned that the separatists and those supporting them would have "good reason to cover up evidence of their crime." The U.S. has called for evidence from the crash site to remain in Ukraine until investigators determine who is responsible.
Obama warned Russia anew on Friday that the U.S. has the capacity to increase the economic pain, but he outlined no specific potential actions. He did say he saw no U.S. military role in the conflict that has stemmed in part from Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. [emphasis added]A real profile in cabbage, isn't he?
Barack Obama is "sitting on the sidelines" in the Ukraine and Gaza crises, making him little more than "President Nero" fiddling "while the world burns," Senator Ron Johnson charged Friday.
The Wisconsin Republican and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee blasted the president for attending fundraisers in New York on Thursday night, the same day of a "barbaric" attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and Israel's push into Gaza.
Johnson told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV that Obama's priorities are "outrageous."
"I'm hoping Americans are watching as President Nero fiddles while the world burns," Johnson said. "It is outrageous that we have the ground operations conducted in Gaza, we have an airliner knocked out of the sky — blown out of the sky — over Ukraine, and President Obama takes off for fundraisers in New York."
"This is a pattern of activity like his Las Vegas fundraiser after four Americans were killed in Benghazi," Johnson added. "Elections have consequences, and right now, unfortunately, America is burying the burden of a very bad, a very unwise decision in November 2012." [emphasis added]
Tape recordings of phone conversations between Russian intelligence officials and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine may be the "smoking gun" that prove Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by the rebels, Fox News reported.
The intercepted calls were disclosed by Ukraine’s security agency SBU and published in the Kiev Post. They seem to reveal panic after it was discovered that a passenger plane was downed and not a Ukrainian transport plane, which the separatists had targeted in the past week, Fox News said.
"We have just shot down a plane," a man identified as Igor Bezler, the Russian commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine, said during a phone call twenty minutes after the plane was hit, according to Fox News.
Bezler allegedly made that call to a person identified by SBU as a colonel in the intelligence department of the general headquarters of the Russian Federation’s armed forces, according to Ukraine security officials.
A little later, a second call was reportedly taped between two men identified as "the Greek" and "Major," who discussed how debris showed the aircraft was a civilian passenger plane.
"It’s 100% a passenger aircraft," Major said while pointing out there were no weapons in sight. "Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper."
On that call, Cossack commander Nikolay Kozitsin is quoted as telling another separatist that the fact the Malaysia Airlines plane was flying over the war zone must prove it had spies on board, Fox News said.
"That means they were carrying spies," Kozitsin allegedly says. "They shouldn’t be [expletive] flying. There is a war going on."
The crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, and Russia's possible involvement in it, "should be a wake-up call" for the United States, John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Fox News.
Speaking on "The Kelly File" on Thursday, Bolton said, "We've got to begin to treat Russia like the adversary that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is currently demonstrating it to be."
"I think the issue is what this tragedy demonstrates about the nature of the Russian regime under Putin, and the way Russia has conducted its business over the past ten years," Bolton said. "And I think it should be a wake-up call not simply in the context of the conflict in Ukraine, but for the United States and Europe generally about what Russia's up to and how we should respond.”
Grant’s Interest Rate Observer founder Jim Grant believes the Fed Reserve is "constitutionally behind the curve" and that a thunderclap of unexpected problems could strike the economy as a result.
Grant told Fox Business Network that the uncharted territory the Fed has been in with its vast monetary stimulus means no one can predict the eventual outcome.
Grant noted Fed Chair conceded in a recent interview she did not see the 2008 housing crisis and credit market meltdown coming, and that her Fed chair predecessor Ben Bernanke has admitted taking unique steps to try to fix the Great Recession.
“So we are in the midst of this great improvisation. “I think the Fed is constitutionally behind the curve and no doubt will remain so,” said Grant, a frequent critic of Fed policy.
The flood of undocumented migrants into the United States might become an electoral tsunami that sweeps away Democrats in the November elections, handing control of the Senate to the GOP, political analyst Dick Morris told Newsmax TV on Thursday.Which he will, of course, chortlingly ignore.
Morris laid out a scenario for Senate realignment that connects developments in Washington to growing national anxiety over the immigration crisis:
- As protests multiply in communities where the federal government had hoped to shelter the new arrivals, pressure will grow on the president to deal with, and to repatriate, thousands of the children from Central America who crossed the border alone in recent weeks and months.
Which he will, of course, chortlingly ignore, and turn against the GOP with charges of "cruelty" and "callousness" and "lack of compassion" and, naturally, "racism" that Democrat congressional candidates will adapt and magnify as the means of keeping the Senate and re-taking the House.
- Republicans in Congress, sensing opinion on their side, will demand concessions from the president in exchange for his $3.7 billion emergency aid request: a reversal of the president's 2012 policy easing child deportations; and his consent to changes in a 2008 law that also prevents rapid repatriation of children from certain countries.
O will never consider any GOP offer other than unconditional surrender. Ditto Senate Democrats.
- As the president considers the GOP offer, the Senate as a whole under Majority Leader Harry Reid will object to concessions that anger Hispanic voters who want amnesty and a path toward citizenship for the new arrivals.
They're already in a difficult position with a collapsing economy, ObamaCare coming 'round again with the huge premium increases coming this fall, and the avalanche of Obama scandals. That's another reason why they'll latch on to the border crisis as the ultimate distraction.
- The resulting stalemate will leave a group of Reid's Democratic colleagues up for re-election this fall in a difficult position: facing a backlash from voters who are increasingly troubled by the crisis.
"They are out there, vulnerable, because when Obama is sending out this [emergency] funding bill, the Republicans are going to say… 'We won't give it to you unless you repeal the statutory protections these kids have so that we can send them right back.'
"At that point, the Senate Democrats will say, 'No, we don't want to send them right back,' and that could wipe them out in the midterm elections," said Morris.