Hamas hits Shifa Hospital (with playground update)

Applying the theses explicit and implicit in my “14 Israel-Gaza notes,” I’m going with the IDF statement that Hamas is responsible for today’s attack on Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital. The best account I can find at the moment is the Algemeiner’s, at which Dave Bender reports as follows:

he Israeli army said it was not operating in the vicinity of Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza on Monday, where an explosion reportedly killed and wounded dozens of Palestinians.

“A short while ago Al-Shifa Hospital and Al-Shati Refugee Camp were struck by failed rocket attacks launched by Gaza terrorists,” the army said in a statement sent to reporters.

The failed attempt to fire the projectile apparently hit a car near the center, according to Israel’s Channel 2 News, causing the casualties.

The station said that a “Hamas Fajr-5 rocket aimed at central Israel, which was fired from a playground outside the Shifa hospital and exploded on the site causing casualties, had at least a 100 kg (220 lbs) warhead,” according to The Times of Israel.

Reporter Nir Devori of Channel 2 and analyst Ehud Yaari confirmed the carnage was most likely the result of a failed Fajr rocket launch — aimed at central Israel.

Palestinian reports are claiming at least seven dead and dozens wounded in a “failed rocket launch” by Hamas from the vicinity of the medical compound, according to Israeli Channel 1 reporter Yoram Cohen.‏

The Algemeiner performs the service of running the suggestive photograph below with the caption: “Nick Casey, The Wall Street Journal’s Middle East Correspondent, posted a photo to Twitter of a Hamas spokesman being interviewed on camera at Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital, which Hamas uses as a base. The photo has since been removed. Photo: Nick Casey / Twitter.”

wsj-hamas-300x300

UPDATE: Let’s also credit Islamic Jihad terrorists with hitting the playground at a Gaza refugee camp today, as announced by the IDF and reported here by the Times of Israel.

Inversion Therapy for Liberals

Liberal Idiot copyAs we note here frequently—like yesterday, on the minimum wage—when it comes to economics liberals suffer from a severe case of cranial-rectal inversion.

Liberalism’s latest trip to a tight dark place is over the issue of —irony alert— “inversions,” whereby American corporations buy foreign companies and “relocate” their headquarters to a foreign nation to lower their corporate income taxes.  Kind of like what rich northeasterners do when they retire and move to Florida (no personal income tax), or as any number of American companies have done by moving to Texas (lower taxes and less nonsense of every other kind).

The reason for inversions is simple: the U.S. has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world, by a full ten points over the next highest.  To be sure, by taking advantage of the many wrinkles in the tax code carved out for favored industries or government purposes (like “green” energy—yeah, it’s green, but a different kind of “green” than you thought), many American corporations have a net tax bill that is far lower than the “rack rate” of 35 percent, but that just shows the corruption and special dealing that riddles our tax code, and is a screaming advertisement for genuine tax reform.

On the other hand, as Walter Galvin explains this morning in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. not only has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, but is also the only country that taxes corporations on their worldwide profits—not just what is earned inside the U.S.  This means that many corporations pay foreign tax and then U.S. tax.  If you then receive a dividend and pay income tax on it, it will mean the profit has been taxed three times, with governments getting a larger total portion than the shareholders.  And this, Democrats say, is not enough.  Even Hillary Clinton in 2007 and 2008 made careful noises (careful not to rile the Democratic Party base) that the corporate tax rate should be cut.

Naturally today’s Democrats disdain even to discuss the idea.  Instead, Obama and other liberals are charging that American businesses that invert are “unpatriotic,” with Obama claiming without any self-awareness that “You don’t get to pick which rules you play by.”  Because picking your own rules is his job!

More than 20 years ago I got to watch a highly amusing demonstration of liberal economic illiteracy at work.  California back in the 1980s imposed its sales tax on capital equipment purchases, which most states sensibly exempted for the simple reason that it drove away large capital investment.  A 6 percent sales tax on a $1 billion high tech chip plant adds substantially to the cost of a new plant, so many companies would locate outside of California.

I watched the head of tax compliance for a major Silicon Valley company that was deciding whether to build a new $1 billion plant in California or New Mexico attempt to explain the facts of life to the Senate Finance Committee in Sacramento in the following way.

Tax person: Senator—you are not going to collect an equipment sales tax from us.  There are two ways you aren’t going to collect this tax.  You aren’t going to collect it if we build our plant in New Mexico.  And you aren’t going to collect it if we build here in California.

Chairman of the Committee: But we need the revenue!

Tax person: Let me explain again. . .

The committee chairman (in whose district the new plant would have been built, incidentally) never did get it.  The plant was built in New Mexico.  California eventually got it, and exempted capital equipment from the sales tax.

Even if Congress were to be so foolish as to prohibit the current “inversion” strategy, nothing prevents American corporations from relocating overseas for real.  I’m sure most Apple executives ands engineers would find Switzerland a pleasant place to live and work.

Oh, and this news item: Record number of Americans renouncing their citizenship for tax reasons.  Maybe someone can send flashlights for liberals to extract themselves from their rectal-cranial inversions.

Report: At least 160 children died digging Hamas’ tunnels

Because of their size and agility, children make good tunnel-diggers. The English knew this when they were digging coal mines during the Victorian era; Hamas knows it now.

Thus, the Journal of Palestine Studies (edited by President Obama’s pro-Palestinian friend Rashid Khalidi) reported in 2012 that Hamas uses children to help dig tunnels into Israel. The finding appears in a paper called Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon: The Unintended Dynamics of Israel’s Siege.

The author of the paper, Nicolas Pelham accompanied a police patrol in Gaza during December 2011. He reported that “nothing was done to impede the use of children in the tunnels, where, much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies.”

He also found that “at least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials.” And, as noted, this was as of the end of 2011. How many more Palestinian children have died digging tunnels for Hamas since then?

It’s not surprising that Hamas endangers Palestinian children by having them engage in highly dangerous child labor. Hamas is willing to use children as human shields, so why would it not use them to dig tunnels?

Still, this additional example of Hamas’ inhumanity is worth noting.

Republicans are maintaining, and maybe expanding, their edge in battle for Senate

The Upshot, the New York Times’ successor to Nate Silver’s 538, gives the Republicans a 60 percent chance of winning a majority in the Senate. This assessment is similar to the one Silver rendered in June. Both assessments are based on poll averages.

However, the research firm YouGov, in partnership with The New York Times and CBS News, has just released poll results that seem more favorable to the GOP. The results come from an online panel of more than 100,000 respondents nationwide. Thus, in most states the sample size tends to be larger than the typical single poll, though not as large as in a poll average.

Note, however, that the YouGov poll lacks another major virtue of poll averages — methodological diversity — and suffers from whatever limitations inhere in internet polling. Nate Cohn of the Upshot discusses these issues here.

The YouGov poll has the Republican ahead in five hotly contested states where the seat at stake is held by the Democrats — Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Iowa, and Michigan. Adding these five to the three states where a Republican pickup is highly likely — Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia — brings to eight the total of states where a Republican gain is more likely than not. (No Democrat is leading in a race involving a Republican-held seat).

This compares favorably to the poll average data used by the Upshot to calculate Republican chances of winning a Senate majority. These poll averages show the Republicans gaining seats only in Louisiana, Arkansas, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. The 60 probability of Republicans gaining more than five seats arises from the fact that the Republican challenger is only slightly behind in a fairly large number of other states (notably Iowa, Colorado, Michigan, and Alaska).

Accordingly, if one were to use the YouGov poll to estimate the probability of Republicans winning the Senate, their chances might well be better than 60 percent.

The YouGov poll arguably overstates Republican chances of picking up the Michigan seat. Most polls have Democrat Gary Peters leading Republican Terri Lynn Land.

At the same time, I think YouGov understates Republican prospects in Alaska. For one thing, the Republicans haven’t yet settled on a nominee. For another, the poll encompasses only 452 Alaskans.

Other than these two states, the YouGov results seem quite plausible to me.

Many of the margins are razor thin and, of course, much can happen in the next three months. But burdened by their unpopular president, the Democrats are running uphill, and there is good reason for Republicans to be optimistic about their Senate prospects.

14 Israel-Gaza notes

In the spirit of David Bernstein’s “Some Israel-Gaza notes” at the Volokh Conspiracy, I would like to add my own notes summarizing points I have been making here, some of which Bernstein also makes.

1. Hamas has promoted phony casualty statistics as a propaganda tool and the media have dutifully provided the statistics every day without any reservation. The media fail to report the source of the statistics as anything other than Gaza health officials.

2. Bernstein puts it this way: “The Ministry of Health counts everyone not in uniform as a civilian. Most Hamas fighters don’t wear uniforms. The UN is sometimes sourced for the figures, but the UN gets its figures from … the Gazan Ministry of Health.” MEMRI set forth casualty statistics in “Reporting of casualties in Gaza” on July 14. Bernstein links to updated casualty statistics posted here at Aussie Dave’s IsraellyCool site. The Times of Israel reports the analysis of an Israeli intelligence center on this issue in “When numbers in Gaza masquerade as fact.”

3. MEMRI has posted Hamas media management instruction regarding the inflation and use of civilian deaths as a propaganda tool. MEMRI’s highly illuminating report is “Hamas Interior Ministry to social media activists: Always call the dead ‘innocent civilians’; don’t post photos of rockets being fired from civilian population centers.” So far as I am aware, if you didn’t pick up this key to Hamas media management here on Power Line, you haven’t picked it up.

4. Despite Hamas’s attempt to prevent images depicting the use of civilian facilities for martial purposes, the IDF has made relevant videos available. The IDF, for example, has posted videos illustrating the use of apparently civilian facilities for purposes including the firing of missiles. The IDF YouTube channel is here.

5. Among the facilities featured in the IDF videos are Hamas hospitals, schools, mosques, and graveyards. Here is one of Hamas firing rockets from civilian areas, posted yesterday by the IDF.

In the video below, Hamas terrorists fire from a Gaza school.

If you haven’t picked up these videos here, I doubt you have picked them up anywhere, yet they provide invaluable context for understanding the war.

6. Hamas uses Gaza Terrorist Theater to promote the theme that Israel irresponsibly causes civilian deaths when the opposite is the case. The most notorious incident of the current conflict is the alleged deaths that occurred at the UN Gaza school last week. Yesterday the IDF released the results of its study of the incident, reported here by the Times of Israel’s Mitch Ginsburg:

An Israeli army inquiry into fighting at a UN facility in Beit Hanoun Thursday found that IDF mortars did not play a role in the killing of 16 people in the school courtyard, dismissing claims that the military was responsible for their deaths.

The army admitted that an IDF-fired shell did hit the UN-run school’s yard, but at a time when there were no people in the area.

“A single errant mortar landed in the school courtyard, injuring no one,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Sunday in a conference call.

Ginsburg has posted the IDF photo supporting the IDF analysis with his article.

7. The Gaza school story replicates on a larger scale the Gaza Terrorist Theater invoking the death of Jihad Masharawi in 2012′s Operation Pillar of Defense. The media were tools of Jihad then and they are tools of Jihad now. It is way past time for them to get a clue.

8. Permit me to repeat what I said on this point yesterday. The IDF is the most scrupulous reporter on the scene in Gaza by far. The Gaza Terrorist Theater continues with all on-the-scene broadcast and cable network reporters in Gaza playing their assigned roles and performing as miserably as ever in the pageant of “Tools of Jihad.”

9. Israel’s discovery of the extensive Hamas terror tunnels was a turning point in the war. Lawrence Franklin explained why last week in the Gatestone column “Hamas mega attack planned through Gaza terror tunnels.” We posted Omri Ceren’s email summary to us in “Hamas’s big plan disrupted.”

10. The lack of interest in civilian deaths in Syria by contrast with Gaza is noteworthy. More than 700 Arabs were killed in Syria on Thursday and Friday in what was probably the bloodiest 48 hours of that conflict to date. I bet you haven’t heard a single word about those deaths and you can’t help but wonder why. Jeffrey Goldberg purports to explain why in “Obsessing about Gaza, ignoring Syria (and most everything else).” Goldberg quotes one Joyce Haram, the Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Hayat: “Only reason I can think of is Muslim killing Muslim or Arab killing Arab seems more acceptable than Israel killing Arabs.”

11. On a related note, Jay Nordlinger passes on “the comment of the month” in this article by Professor Marc Lynch of George Washington University. Quotable quote from Lynch: “It must be so awkward having to check whether the dead child is from Gaza or Syria before deciding whether to be morally outraged.”

12. John Kerry is reliably reported to have adopted key Hamas demands in a ceasefire proposal presented to the Israeli government on Friday. The Israeli government has unanimously rejected John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal, characterized by the Israelis as a capitulation to Hamas. The Times of Israel’s Raphael Ahren has filed an updated report on the Kerry ceasefire proposal here.

13. On Sunday Barack Obama placed Israel under enormous pressure to undertake an immediate ceasefire, yet Israel has not completed its important mission of eliminating Gaza’s terror tunnels. He is undoubtedly threatening to withhold funding for Israel’s depleted Iron Dome defense if the Israeli government refuses to cooperate. One could have predicted this based on the general theory that Obama reliably supports the interests of America’s enemies and undermines the interests of America’s friends, yet it is a striking illustration of the phenomenon.

14. John Podhoretz commented on Obamna’s ceasefire demand yesterday here, Bernstein here. By functionally aligning itself with Hamas, the Obama administration is undermining Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other key players who resist Iran and/or the Muslim Brotherhood for good and sufficient reasons, as should we. Isi Liebler puts it this way: “Obama abandons Israel.”

Katie Kieffer: Message to the millenials

My young friend Katie Kieffer is one of two beautiful and conservative Katies with books out this summer. Katie Pavlich is the author of Assault and Flattery:The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women, seeking to corral women to the conservative cause. Katie Kieffer is out with Let Me Be Clear: Barack Obama’s War on Millennials, and One Woman’s Case for Hope, seeking to corral millennials to the conservative casuse.

Katie Kieffer’s book has garnered the endorsement of conservatives including Karl Rove, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Mary Kissel, among others. Katie sends along a few notes on why her book would be of interest to Power Line readers and on her appearance tomorrow at the Young America’s Foundation conference in Washington, D.C.:

My book promotes an understanding of the Millennials and how conservatives and independents can reach out to them and win their votes in the 2014 midterms and 2016 presidential elections. The Millennial generation is 95 million strong and has the power to determine the direction of future elections.

I interviewed close to 300 doctors and surgeons and included their concrete, free market solutions for both opting out of and overturning Obamacare.

I discuss how the federal government’s involvement in education (think Common Core and the derailment of higher education) and the economy has affected your sons, daughters and grandchildren. Readers can learn what real solutions look like for the future. Read Let Me Be Clear for your own education, entertainment and empowerment and also to share the book’s message with the young people in your life.

I spent over two years researching this book and incorporated a good deal of humor along with my research so that it would be an important and fun read for all ages. I’ve already had both Baby Boomers and Millennials tell me that the book has empowered them to become more conservative and get more involved. The book has been featured on many FOX News shows and other national TV and radio shows.

On Tuesday, July 29th at 2:30 p.m., I will be speaking at the Young America’s Foundation’s National Student Conference in Washington, D.C. I will continue to speak at colleges and conferences throughout the fall and winter to educate young people, promote entrepreneurship and empower Americans of all ages to take back their dreams.

I got to know and admire Katie when she was an undergraduate student attending the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. She adds this note to her message on the book:

Power Line readers may remember me from my days as a college student at the University of St. Thomas. With the help of Power Line, I was able to successfully fight against the liberal administration and promote free speech on campus with my student newspaper. Today, I write a weekly column for Townhall and I’m also a contributor to The BLAZE.

Below is Katie’s nine-minute interview with Dana Loesch on The Blaze.

Managers take center stage at Cooperstown

The baseball Hall of Fame inducted six new members today. Among the inductees were managers Tony La Russa, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox (the others were Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine).

One thing about inducting managers: you don’t have to worry about whether their performance was enhanced by drugs.

There was a time, though, when it seemed like La Russa was managing on steroids. That time was the early 1980s when, as Barry Svrluga puts, La Russa would “splice together the final four innings of a game with six or seven pitchers.” Or so it seemed.

The objective was to get the best matchup, not just in the ninth inning, but throughout the latter stages of a game. All runs count equally regardless of when they are scored. Thus, baseball games can be won or lost as easily in the seventh inning as in the ninth.

These days, managers tend to pre-assign innings to pitchers. There’s a seventh inning guy, an eighth inning guy, and a closer who works only the ninth (and only if his team is ahead and the lead isn’t more than three runs).

I prefer La Russa’s less formulaic 1980s approach.

Cox and Torre did their best managing after 1994 when I stopped following baseball closely. Thus, I have fewer impressions of their methods.

Torre, of course, had a run of success rivaled only by his Yankee predecessors, Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel. Torre’s managerial career more closely resembles Stengel in that they both experienced failure before coming to the Yankees. Torre’s teams had losing records in nine of the 14 seasons he managed prior to taking the helm in the Bronx.

Cox’s career reminds me of Walter Alston’s — success year-after-year based on terrific pitching. Alston won three World Series compared to Cox’s one. But in Alston’s day, it took less to win the championship. For most of his career, there were no playoffs to navigate.

The winning percentage of Cox (.556) is almost identical to that of Alston (.558). But I give Cox extra credit for succeeding with more than one club. He guided Toronto to the World Series in 1985, before guiding the Braves to five of them.

I’ll conclude by noting an oddity. Torre succeeded Cox as the Braves manager in 1982 and La Russa took over the Cardinals in 1996, the year after Torre had managed them for the first 47 games of the 1995 season (Mike Jorgensen served out the remainder of that campaign).

Today, they all went into the Hall of Fame together, and appropriately so.