State Department Warns Israel Not to Inconvenience Palestinians
Mark Toner, spokesman for the US State Department, issued a statement condemning the terrorist attack on a shopping mall that killed four Israelis, but simultaneously warned Israel to "not overreact."
In an effort to beef up security in response to the attack, the Israeli government rescinded 83,000 permits for Palestinians to visit relatives in Israel during Ramadan and sent an additional 600 troops to the West Bank where they will man border checkpoints and conduct raids against suspected terrorists.
"That four innocent shoppers were murdered is tragic, but we want to caution the Israeli government against taking measures that might inconvenience a far greater number of Palestinians," Toner said. "The total time lost due to more stringent security checks on Palestinians who want to visit Israel could very easily dwarf the number of life-years lost by those slain in the attack. This would be a disproportionate response."
"The region has been an area of tensions since Jews appropriated formerly Muslim territory in 1948," Toner contended. "That ended 1200 years of relative peace under Islamic rule. We cannot begrudge Muslim efforts to reestablish what might be considered a 'golden age.' We wish their methods were less violent, but we must not allow our prejudices against their methods to blind us to the merits of their cause."
The murders were followed by widespread celebrations—including chanting, fireworks, and the waving of Palestinian flags in the West Bank. Hamas spokesman Hussam Badran praised the attack as "the fulfillment of first prophecy of Ramadan" and "evidence of the failure of Jewish occupation of Palestinian land." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a confusing statement "rejecting attacks on civilians no matter how justified they may be in retaliation for continued Zionist incursions on what has historically been Muslim territory."
In other State Department news, Toner defended the agency's estimate that it would take 75 years to process and release all of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails. "Look, everyone knows how unmotivated government workers are," Toner reminded. "Getting a decent day's work out of the slugs who clog the bureaucracy is next to impossible. So, I'd call 75 years an optimistic estimate. Obviously, the purposes to which access to these emails might serve would be a moot issue by the time the job is done. So why start?"
Bill Would Stop DOJ Funding Liberal Groups with Federal Money
Four Republican senators—James Lankford (Okla), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Utah's Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee—have introduced legislation aimed at barring the Department of Justice from using settlement money to fund liberal interest groups.
"Settlements obtained from banks found guilty for their role in inflating the mortgage bubble in 2008 ought to be used to compensate those damaged by these egregious practices," Sen. Lankford said. "Instead, the Department of Justice has been funneling this money to favored liberal activists. This is a perversion of justice and an end run around the appropriations process."
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) belittled the proposed legislation, calling it "an exercise in futility. No Democrat will vote for this bill. The idea that money liberated from one element of the private sector ought to be paid back to another runs counter to our Party's agenda. The so-called victims of the mortgage bubble made unwise decisions. How can we justify returning money to such feckless dupes? Using these settlements to endow organizations active in progressive causes makes more sense. Congress should not intervene."
Sen. Hatch found Reid's argument to be "outrageous. In effect, the DOJ is muscling in on the loot stolen by the banks and using it to finance cronies of the Administration. This is not justice. It compounds the initial crime and leaves the wrongs unremedied. Such flagrant lawlessness undermines the legitimacy of the federal government."
Clinton Demands Trump Delete His Twitter Account
Democratic presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton demanded that Republican rival Donald Trump discontinue his twitter account. The demand followed Trump's tweet mocking President Obama's endorsement of Clinton's candidacy. In the tweet, Trump wrote "Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama-but nobody else does!"
"Trump's tweet was disrespectful to President Obama and to me," Hillary complained. "This is further proof that he lacks the temperament to be president. Those of us with experience in government know that there are certain things you just don't say in public. One of those things is that you don't call your opponent a crook without concrete proof. President Obama has reassured me that there will be no proof of any criminal wrongdoing against me released by the Department of Justice. So Trump calling me a crook is slander."
"On top of his vicious slander, Trump also uttered an unspeakable lie," Hillary continued. "My selection as the Democratic candidate for president shows that millions of voters want four more years of President Obama's policies. Clearly, Trump's tweet is untrue and is hurtful toward a man who has done great things in office."
"As a candidate, I don't expect Trump to voluntarily obey my request for him to delete his twitter account," Hillary added. "However, once I am president one of the issues we will look into is better regulation against the type of abuse of free speech engaged in by people like Trump. Just because a person can tweet doesn't mean he should be allowed to without facing a consequence for making unacceptable use of this technology."
In related news, Press Secretary Josh Earnest insisted that the President's endorsement of Clinton "will not sway the FBI investigation. The President doesn't have to 'sway' anything. He is in charge of the entire government. It will carry out whatever orders he gives. So, no, the President won't be 'swaying' the investigation."
Ninth Circuit Court Repeals Second Amendment
This week the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that government has a right to decide who will and won't be permitted to carry a concealed firearm. The ruling came in the case of Edward Peruta v. County of San Diego. The County denied Peruta and his fellow plaintiffs concealed carry permits on the grounds that they did not prove a need for them.
Writing for the majority, Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain asserted that "under California law, police authorities are empowered to determine who shall be allowed to bear arms and for what reasons. The plaintiffs' contention that personal self-defense was a sufficient reason for them to be armed was rejected by county law enforcement officials. Their argument that police cannot provide adequate protection emanates from an elevation of selfish individual concerns over the society's welfare. The collective body of California citizens has seen fit to elect a government that made the decision to grant authority to local governments to allow or deny firearm privileges as they see fit."
"The very fact that these plaintiffs contested local authorities lends support to the decision not to issue permits," O'Scannlain continued. "One of the main duties of government is to protect itself from those who it construes as potentially dangerous to this objective. The plaintiffs' assertion that police cannot be relied upon to provide sufficient protection raises a measure of doubt as to whether these individuals are reliable citizens."
Dissenting Judge Barry Silverman contended that "the California law clearly violates the Constitution's Second Amendment which affirms that 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.' Having to ask permission of a government functionary to exercise this right eviscerates it. A state where the government has absolute control over who may or may not be armed is the very tyranny the Second Amendment was devised to prevent."
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton hailed the Court's decision as "an encouraging step toward the attainment of a 'gun-free' society. We can make allowances for those who want to hunt to check guns out of a government armory much like a person can check out a book from a public library. There is no need for anyone to own his own gun. Once I'm president we're going to make that happen."
Gingrich Makes Self Available for VP Spot
Saying he "is putting the country ahead of partisanship," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced his availability as a vice-presidential running mate "for either candidate." Speculation about such a possibility heated up this week when Gingrich called Hillary Clinton's speech after she clinched enough delegates for the Democratic presidential nomination "spectacular." Earlier he had spoken favorably about GOP nominee Donald Trump.
"Listening to Hillary the other night I realized what a strong candidate she is," Gingrich said. "She's got the experience and the gravitas that this country needs. That's not to say that Donald Trump wouldn't also be a good choice. He's got a freshness and drive about him that offers people a sense of confidence in the future."
"Basically, I'm torn," Gingrich lamented. "I've always been a Republican and would like to stay loyal to the Party. I could fill in the experience gap that Donald faces vs. Hillary if he puts me on the ticket with him. I think we'd make a great team. On the other hand, bipartisan tickets have had their place in American history. Lincoln, for example, chose a former Democrat as his first VP and another Democrat for his second term. If Hillary were to choose me it'd be one of the great pairings in our nation's history."
The former House Speaker admitted that "the decision, of course, is out of my hands. All I can do is offer my services on a 'first-come, first-serve' basis. It will come down to whoever is quicker on the draw. I'll be standing by ready to answer whichever call comes first."
Feds to Crackdown on Temporary Health Insurance
A clause in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows individuals who are between jobs to purchase temporary health insurance policies. The Department of Health and Human Services has announced it will change the rules to limit these policies to three months duration and ban renewals.
The problem with these policies according to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell is "they fall short of the President's vision for how Americans ought to be insured. These temporary plans don't cover everything we think should be covered. Notably absent from most temporary coverage policies are items like gender reassignment surgery, mental health, and drugs. The President has been adamant that these items are crucial components of comprehensive health insurance."
A possible additional incentive for people to purchase these temporary plans is that they are cheaper than Obamacare. For example, an ObamaCare Bronze plan with a $6,000 deductible costs $184 a month while a short-term plan with a $5,000 deductible costs only $58 a month.
Burwell called the cost comparison unfair. "This temporary insurance is focused solely on the individual's needs as he or she perceives them. Obamacare is focused on society's needs. A self-centered individual may not appreciate the benefits to others from a plan that overcharges him in order to cover the needs of others. Changing this mindset is one of the key objectives of the ACA. The rule changes we are implementing will help correct this mistaken way of thinking by forcing everyone to comply with the ACA's mandated coverage."