Ferguson on Fire

As the suicide of Robin Williams — one of the few self-inflicted deaths of a public figure which truly saddened me; the man made me laugh since my teenage years — grabs the headlines, Ferguson, Missouri is literally and figuratively on fire.

On Saturday in the majority-black suburb of St. Louis, 18-year old African-American Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white policeman. Details of the encounter between Brown and the as yet unnamed officer remain sketchy but it is undisputed that Brown was unarmed. A friend of Brown’s who witnessed the shooting claims that the officer shot Brown in the back and then shot him again repeatedly after Brown was attempting to surrender. According to CNN, “Authorities counter that Brown attacked the officer in his car and tried to take his gun.”

Urban legend — and requisite accompanying celebrity-promoted hashtag — has already been made regarding Mr. Brown putting up his hands and calling out “Don’t shoot!”

We don’t have enough information to fairly discuss just what happened and why. But some of the immediate reactions to the shooting are now making as much news as the terrible event itself.

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60244/ferguson-fire

Extraordinary Irresponsibility

In yet another uninspiring performance by our unengaged and unengaging president, this time a press conference at the end of a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., Barack Obama discussed, among other things, the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas which, according to The One, “we” have achieved.

It’s not entirely clear just how “we,” meaning the president, his feckless Secretary of State John Kerry, and his utterly incompetent foreign policy team (but at least they’re loyal — the most important characteristic for employees of any petty dictator), helped achieve anything other than the emboldening of Hamas, which led to the death of many more of Hamas’ human shields. Obama further asked how “we build on this temporary cessation of violence.”

It is unclear whether Hamas will go along with Israel’s offer to extend the ceasefire beyond its original 72 hours, which will determine how they who are actually fighting might or might not “build on” anything. As for what “we” might do, well, Martha’s Vineyard is very nice this time of year.

Showing his further detachment from reality on the subject — or more likely his ingrained anti-Israeli bias — Obama claimed (twice!) “I have no sympathy for Hamas.”

Well, isn’t that special?

Please read the entirety of my article for The American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60198/extraordinary-irresponsibility

Pass the House Border Bill

Conservative and liberal media alike were all atwitter with Thursday’s midday news that the House of Representatives was going on its summer recess without passing a border-related bill because Republicans did not have the votes to pass it. The left was particularly pleased in the apparent inability of the new House leadership team to pass a relatively inexpensive bill that contained at least one conservative priority on an extremely visible issue.

Later in the day, we learned that Speaker of the House John Boehner and House GOP leadership are keeping the House in session until there is a vote on a bill, which may occur on Friday.

Boehner is right to do this, and the House should pass the bill under consideration.

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60147/pass-house-border-bill

Join me July 30 at Denver Press Club

DUE TO TORRENTIAL RAIN AND STREET FLOODING, WE'RE RESCHEDULING THIS EVENT.

WILL LET YOU KNOW OF FUTURE DATE WHEN IT'S SET

To all my readers and friends who are in or near Denver:

Please join me on Wednesday, July 30 at the Denver Press Club on July 30th at 6:00 where I will be guest bartending.  The Denver Press Club is located at 1330 Glenarm Place, directly across the street from the Denver Athletic Club.

We'll get a chance to discuss important issues, have some fun, and view the many Pulitzer prizes that adorn the walls of the Press Club.

The Press Club's web site is here and you can get directions here.

Three Cheers for Tax Inversions

Former Chief of Staff for the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), Edward Kleinbard, writing in the Wall Street Journal, argues that “tax inversions must be stopped now.”

Kleinbard may understand taxes but like so many on the left has a weak grasp on economics and on the proper relationship between a government and its citizens (including those operating within corporations).

Tax inversions involve an American company buying a foreign firm in order to move its tax domicile to the lower-tax foreign location. Some of the most common recent inversions involve buying Irish companies.

For example, Medtronic, a Minneapolis-based maker of medical devices (especially pacemakers), is buying Covidien which has its tax domicile in Ireland — a country with a 12.5 percent corporate tax rate as compared to the U.S. rate of 35 percent — before the average 4.1 percent state tax rate for a statutory rate of 39.1 percent, the highest in the industrialized world. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “Medtronic Inc. could avoid $3.5 billion to $4.2 billion in U.S. taxes on funds it holds overseas” as a result of the transaction.

Kleinbard isn’t the only critic of these transactions.

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60063/three-cheers-tax-inversions

Appeals Court Slightly Wounds Obamacare

It’s too soon for champagne, but perhaps a beer is in order.

In a 2-1 decision in the case of Halbig v. Burwell, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that the Internal Revenue Service cannot interpret the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, as allowing subsidies for those Americans who purchase health insurance from the federal health insurance exchange known as Healthcare.gov. This is because the text of the law specifies that subsidies or tax credits are available for insurance purchased on state-created exchanges.

Later on Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled oppositely: that the subsidies are permissible for the federal exchange. More in this in a moment.

Should the D.C. Circuit’s ruling ever actually take effect, this would mean that those who purchased Obamacare insurance in a state that did not create its own exchange but instead relied on the federal exchange must cover the full cost of their insurance rather than have others pay for some share of it. (What a novel concept in Barack Obama’s America!)

A lower court had ruled that the intent of the law was to permit subsidies for insurance purchased on either a state or federal exchange, but the panel ruled otherwise: “Because we conclude that the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges ‘established by the State,’ we reverse the district court and vacate the IRS’s regulation.”

The ruling comes down to the permissibility of the IRS to interpret the law under a relatively lenient standard: “we will uphold an agency action unless we find it to be ‘arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.’”

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/60042/appeals-court-slightly-wounds-obamacare

Border issue leaves only "war on women" from Dems

Hundreds of Central American children held at an American Air Force base remind us of the humanitarian crisis at our southern border. Another thousand future illegal immigrants riding atop a Mexican "death train," anticipating their permisos en los Estados Unidos, remind us of the lawless policy that is causing this predictable crisis.

But it is the criticism by Hispanics and African-Americans of President Obama's response to the tsunami of adult and pint-sized illegal immigrants which suggests the political catastrophe that these events will unleash on Democrats during elections barely three months away.

Please read the rest of my Op-Ed for the Denver Post here:
http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_26173054/border-issue-trouble-democrats

Border Chaos Changes Election Year Politics

In a Gallup poll released Tuesday, the percentage of Americans who say that immigration is the nation’s most important problem reached 17 percent, the highest level in eight years and the second-highest ever recorded by that polling organization.

It’s easy to scoff at the fickleness of the American public, taking a long-term problem such as immigration (legal or otherwise) from rating as most important by 5 percent of the population to 17 percent of the population in just a few weeks, notwithstanding the images of young unaccompanied children flooding into Texas. After all, border security and immigration didn’t suddenly become three or four times as important as it was just a month ago. It’s just that the symptom has alerted people to the disease of a lawless situation encouraged by a lawless president and an ineffective immigration system.

But what has become massively more important in that short time frame is immigration as a political issue and how it may now favor Republicans — or at least not harm them.

Immigration, along with the closely-tied issue of race, were to be two the three legs of the stool upholding already flimsy Democratic electoral hopes in November’s elections.

But as Hispanic congressmen, an irate black woman in Houston (in a now-viral video), and furious black crowds in Chicago publicly assail President Obama for not doing his job and for treating illegal alien children with more care and concern than he shows for American children, claiming that the GOP is a party that “black and brown” people must fear and loathe is suddenly a challenge.

Similarly, with even MSNBC hosts questioning the administration’s competence, bashing the president for not visiting the border, and scoffing at a Democrat’s claim the border is really secure, the effectiveness of Democratic appeals (particularly to Hispanic voters) that Republicans are the problem when it comes to immigration reform will run into the increasingly credible notion that the GOP has no reason to trust this president as an honest partner in negotiating such reform. Would you?

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/59982/border-chaos-changes-election-year-politics

Pied Piper of Permisos

It’s beginning to sink in with the intelligentsia: The flood of illegal aliens (yes, I said “illegal”) and particularly the tsunami of children traveling alone — parents risking their youngsters’ lives by sending them from Central America through gang-ravaged Mexico — threatens to turn the immigration debate into a major political liability for Democrats in November.

While immigration is typically low on the list of issues Americans care most about, it was to be a trump card for the left in turning out otherwise apathetic or demoralized Hispanic and liberal voters four months from now. But, as seems to be the result of almost every Obama administration policy, reality is blowing up the best laid plans of the DNC.

As liberals are wont to do, their responses to the collapse of their one potentially winning issue fall into two main categories: demonizing critics of the president and others who are troubled by current events along our southern border and trying to change both the direction and actual words of the conversation about the problem. The latter is a particular sign of desperation.

Murrieta, California, a city of just over 100,000 people in Riverside County, was the site last week of protesters waving American flags and blocking buses transporting illegal aliens who had been apprehended illegally crossing the border into Texas. They were being moved to California because of overcrowding of Texas holding facilities. Not least due to health concerns, residents of Murrieta wanted no part of it.

In the last six months, over 52,000 mostly Central American children have been caught at the border. The estimated cost of taking care of them is $252 per child per day, with a total cost to American taxpayers of over $2 billion expected for 2014.

CNN’s Candy “I’m here for you, Barack” Crowley interviewed Murrieta mayor Alan Long on Sunday using language that should be journalistically disqualifying: “As you look at these protests, the overwhelming concern did not seem to be ‘Oh my goodness, the poor children.’ The overwhelming concern seemed to be ‘Go away. Not here.’”

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/59884/pied-piper-permisos

Bodies of Kidnapped High School Students Found in West Bank

The bodies of three young men, assumed to be the two Israeli and one Israeli-American yeshiva (religious high school) students kidnapped on June 12th, have been found "under a pile of rocks in an open field" between two towns in the West Bank, according to NY Times reporting. Initial reports are that the boys had been shot.

Let neither our utterly worthless Secretary of State, John Kerry, nor his utterly worthless predecessor, Hillary Clinton, utter a word about "calm" or "the peace process."

It is time -- well past time -- to end all US financial support for the murderous Palestinians who, even when not directly involved in attacks on civilians and children, celebrate such attacks while teaching their own children that Jews are monsters deserving of suffering and death.

Israel should find and kill everybody involved in the kidnapping and every Hamas official who sanctioned or even tolerated it.

And the world must understand that Hamas (and probably the faux-moderates in Fatah) share much more with ISIS than they share with the civilized world. It is a debilitating psychological condition which for most people can only be cured by death. Some need the cure sooner than others.