Thursday, March 18, 2010

Political Digest March 18, 2010

Political Digest for March 18, 2010
Robert A. Hall
http://www.tartanmarine.blogspot.com/
I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

No Need for an Election this Year
Pelosi and the Democrats can just “Deem” themselves re-elected. Voting and Democracy is so 2008.

Calling Your Representative
If you’ve tried calling your US Representative in Washington about the Healthcare Destruction Bill, and can’t get through because the lines are jammed, you can look up his/her district office. You can also Google his/her name and usually find a link to a contact form where you can send an e-mail. Let your voice be heard. Here are some sites for contacting your Congress Critters:
http://www.contactingthecongress.org/
http://www.congress.org/
http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/congress-email.html
https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

House Democrats' tactic for health-care bill is debated
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/16/AR2010031602746.html?wpisrc=nl_headline
HCR—the suppository approach. Excerpt: An obscure parliamentary maneuver favored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suddenly ignited Tuesday as the latest tinder in the year-long partisan strife over reshaping the nation's health-care system, triggering debate over the strategy's legitimacy and political wisdom.

The Big Question: Should Dems 'deem and pass' healthcare?
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/87065-the-big-question-should-dems-deem
Some interesting comments. Excerpt: Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest news story burning up the blogosphere today. Today's question: House Democrats are set to "deem" the Senate healthcare bill passed. Is this an appropriate maneuver? Is it any different from Republican tactics? Damon N. Spiegel, entrepreneur and writer, said: Appropriate!!!!!! This has to be one of the most insane maneuvers in congressional history. We’re talking about a plan that could bankrupt a country already on the verge of losing its long standing AAA status. Yes, this has been used in the past, and so has reconciliation, but not to the magnitude of 1 trillion dollars. Can’t the democrats just realize that this is set for an embarrassing failure? This is not about winning the battle nor the fight; this is clearly an emotional win and one that will be very costly to the taxpayer. Seriously, the democrats don’t have the votes or this would be done. They are shamelessly embarrassing themselves and more importantly they’re threatening a system that has governed for 200+ years. Please carefully read this: GET RID OF THE EMOTIONAL PROCESS. TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE TRUE ECONOMICS OF WHERE THE UNITED STATES STANDS TODAY AND BE SMART. TAKE THE TIME TO START OVER. Focus on a few problems that can start the process of reform in this country. Focus on what is really hurting American’s and American physicians –preexisting condition and Payment to Physicians by insurance companies. If you really don’t get this, please call me right now and I’ll give you a little 101 on the problem and how much money can be saved across the board for patients, physicians, insurance companies and yes the good old government that is so capable of running a profitable. I take that back; this is not even close to a breakeven business.

Republican lawyers warn Democrats of "deem and pass" consequences
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/morning-fix/20100317-deem-and-pass-midterms.html?wprss=thefix
Excerpt: Less than 24 hours after House Democratic leaders floated the idea of using a parliamentary procedure to avoid a recorded vote on the Senate health care bill, a group of Republican lawyers -- including the legal counsels for the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee as well as high profile campaign attorney like Ben Ginsberg of Patton Boggs and Cleta Mitchell of Foley & Lardner -- penned an open letter making clear that such a tactic would not make Democrats immune from attacks on the bill in the fall campaign. Citing an assertion from Rules Committee ranking member David Dreier (Calif.) that "a vote for the rule is a vote for the Senate bill," the group wrote: "We believe it is accurate to state in public communications that the effect of a vote for any rule illustrated in [Dreier's memo] is a vote for the Senate bill and all of its provisions." Put simply: Republicans believe that House Democrats using the "deem and pass" maneuver in no way prohibits GOP candidates and party committees from attacking them for "voting" for the Senate legislation. The letter along with House Republican leaders' vow to force a vote on the use of "deem and pass" is a reminder that GOPers believe the health care bill -- no matter the outcome of the vote later this week (or weekend) -- is something close to a silver bullet for them in the coming midterm elections. "The point here is that there is no cover for Democrats on this vote," said Ken Spain, communications director of the NRCC -- adding that the other side is "resorting to political and legislative trickery" to try and keep from being attacked in a campaign setting. While all of the parliamentary jockeying is almost certain to be forgotten by voters by this fall (if it was ever noticed in that first place), Republicans want to make sure that targeted Democrats know that they will be held accountable for every nook and cranny of the Senate legislation whether or not they go on the record in support or opposition to it.

Americans 'Disgusted' With Congress: NBC/WSJ Poll
http://www.cnbc.com/id/35897628
They’ll be calling Bush for PR advice. Excerpt: As they prepare for climactic votes on health care reform, lawmakers face an angry public that isn't likely to applaud any decision they make, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The survey showed Congress with a paltry 17 percent approval rating from the public, with opinions decidedly mixed on lawmakers seeking to stop or advance President Obama's health care agenda.

Lincoln: House move to avoid vote 'won't fly'
http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/dem-primaries/87171-lincoln-maneuver-to-avoid-vote-wont-fly
The little critters scurry for cover. Excerpt: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) says House Democratic leaders should hold an up-or-down vote on the Senate health care bill and not use the "self-executing rule." Leaders have toyed with the idea in order to avoid a tough vote that might not have the required support. Lincoln is also calling on her primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, to renounce the maneuver. "Arkansans and most Americans are demanding more accountability from Washington, not less, so I believe that any plan to approve major reform without actually voting for it simply won't fly outside the beltway," Lincoln said in a statement. Lincoln was one of the final votes Senate Democratic leaders landed when they passed the health care bill. Halter is challenging her from the left.

Slaughter House Rules
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703909804575123512773070080.html
Excerpt: We're not sure American schools teach civics any more, but once upon a time they taught that under the U.S. Constitution a bill had to pass both the House and Senate to become law. Until this week, that is, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi is moving to merely "deem" that the House has passed the Senate health-care bill and then send it to President Obama to sign anyway. Under the "reconciliation" process that began yesterday afternoon, the House is supposed to approve the Senate's Christmas Eve bill and then use "sidecar" amendments to fix the things it doesn't like. Those amendments would then go to the Senate under rules that would let Democrats pass them while avoiding the ordinary 60-vote threshold for passing major legislation. This alone is an abuse of traditional Senate process. But Mrs. Pelosi & Co. fear they lack the votes in the House to pass an identical Senate bill, even with the promise of these reconciliation fixes. House Members hate the thought of going on record voting for the Cornhusker kickback and other special-interest bribes that were added to get this mess through the Senate, as well as the new tax on high-cost insurance plans that Big Labor hates. So at the Speaker's command, New York Democrat Louise Slaughter, who chairs the House Rules Committee, may insert what's known as a "self-executing rule," also known as a "hereby rule." Under this amazing procedural ruse, the House would then vote only once on the reconciliation corrections, but not on the underlying Senate bill. If those reconciliation corrections pass, the self-executing rule would say that the Senate bill is presumptively approved by the House—even without a formal up-or-down vote on the actual words of the Senate bill. Democrats would thus send the Senate bill to President Obama for his signature even as they claimed to oppose the same Senate bill. They would be declaring themselves to be for and against the Senate bill in the same vote. Even John Kerry never went that far with his Iraq war machinations.

A Democrat's view from the House: Senate bill isn't health reform
By Louise M. Slaughter, Special to CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/12/23/slaughter.oppose.senate.bill/index.html?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Morning%2BBell
My, how her views have changed! Now she’s going to force through the Senate Bill. Excerpt: I do not want to subsidize the private insurance market; the whole point of creating a government option is to bring prices down. Insisting on a government mandate to have insurance without a better alternative to the status quo is not true reform. By eliminating the public option, the government program that could spark competition within the health insurance industry, the Senate has ended up with a bill that isn't worthy of its support. The public option is the part of our reform effort that will lower costs, improve the delivery of health care services and force insurance companies to offer rates and services that are reasonable. Although the art of legislating involves compromise, I believe the Senate went off the rails when it agreed with the Obama Administration to water down the reform bill and no longer include the public option.

Pelosi, Slaughter went to court against GOP in 2005 case that exposes Slaughter Solution flaw

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Pelosi-Slaughter-went-to-court-against-GOPs-self-executing-rule-in-2005---87773712.html
Does that shoe pinch on the other foot?

Levin's Landmark Legal Foundation to File Immediate Challenge if House Dems Try to Pass Health-Care Bill Without Actually Voting on It
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/62939
Excerpt: Conservative talk-radio host and attorney Mark Levin said he plans to file an immediate lawsuit if House Democratic leaders try to utilize a little-known maneuver under House rules to pass the health-care bill without actually having to vote on it.

Quality Competition
http://www.john-goodman-blog.com/quality-competition/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=HA#more-9466
Excerpt: Most providers don’t compete for patients either on price or on quality. Since out-of-pocket payments by patients are well below the true cost of their care, demand exceeds supply and services are rationed by waiting — just like in Canada. In such an environment, quality improvements do not increase provider income and quality degradation does not decrease it. That’s why so much of the health care system resembles the Department of Motor Vehicles. In some specialized markets, however, providers actively seek more customers, often advertising directly to patients — on TV, in magazines, etc., sometimes in other cities and sometimes nationwide. For example, New York’s Mount Sinai Medical and Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Massachusetts General in Boston are all aggressive advertisers on cancer care. In these markets, third-party payment significantly exceeds the marginal cost of care, and supply often exceeds demand. Providers in these markets typically compete for patients based on quality. They need patient-pleasing services in order to attract their clientele in the first place and to retain them as ongoing customers. And their activities raise an obvious question: Why can’t we have quality competition system-wide?

ObamaCare and Eugenics
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703909804575123590196012672.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion
Excerpt: What Stupak is hearing from his colleagues is not the pro-choice argument that the government should permit abortion as a matter of individual liberty. Rather, they claim that the government should encourage abortion as a social expedient--a cost-cutting measure. The first thing one must say about this position is that when stated categorically, it is nonsense. Sure, babies are expensive. But from society's standpoint, that expense is a necessary investment--the only way to produce the next generation of productive adults. A society in which babies are a net long-term cost--in which the average person consumes more over his lifetime than he produces--is unsustainable. A policy aimed at reducing the number of babies born would be economically ruinous, because within a few decades it would result in a shortage of workers and taxpayers. But as a matter of cold cost-benefit analysis, not all babies are equal. Some are costlier than others, and not all grow into productive adults. In particular, certain disabilities and diseases are very expensive to treat and limit productive adulthood by causing either early death or lifelong dependency. In order to be effective, a policy of using abortion as a cost-cutting measure would have to aim at preventing the birth of babies with such pre-existing conditions. The goal would be not a reduction in the number of babies, but an "improvement" in the "quality" (narrowly defined in economic terms) of the babies who are born. This is known as eugenics. Getting government into the eugenics business would have disturbing implications for reproductive liberty. What would happen to a woman who received, say, a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome? She would be free (as she is today) to exercise her right to have an abortion. But would she be free to exercise her right not to have an abortion? Presumably the government could not directly force her to abort, as this would provoke political outrage and run afoul of Roe v. Wade and subsequent rulings. But one can easily imagine softer forms of coercion coming into play. A government-run insurance plan, for instance, could deny or limit coverage for the treatment of certain conditions if diagnosed before fetal viability, on the ground that the taxpayer should not be forced to pay the costs of the woman's choice to carry her child to term. Perhaps the courts would find this an "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose, but that does not strike us as an open-and-shut case.

Ten ways to have real heath care reform
http://ow.ly/1n1HJ
The bills in Congress are not about reducing costs or reform. They are about building government and the class of employees and recipients dependent on the statist party.

Disasters In Obamacare
http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=19110&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DPD
Good summary to share.

A move toward divided government?
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/house/why-republicans-may-not-need-a.html?wpisrc=nl_pmpolitics
Excerpt: Republicans have taken considerable flack -- mostly from their Democratic rivals -- for being the "party of no", blocking President Obama's major agenda items but offering few big picture solutions to the problems of the day. And, Republican strategists and even some elected officials have acknowledged that the party has not done much on the issue front. "This lurch to the left in public policy is helping Republicans even though we have not done that much to take advantage of it," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour recently. The "party of no" charge has set off a serious debate within Republican circles about whether or not the GOP needs a set of policies on things like energy, health care and the economy to bring to the American public to maximize their chances at gains this fall. Some argue that a "Contract with America" (part 2) is a necessity, others see it as unnecessary -- essentially handing Democrats a list of ripe electoral targets. Buried deep in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll is a question that suggests that simply painting themselves as the loyal opposition to the President's policies might be enough for Republicans this fall. Asked whether it is better for one party to control Congress and the White House so "they can work together more closely" or whether it is better for there to be divided control of Congress and the presidency "to prevent either one from going too far", 31 percent of registered voters preferred the former option while 60 percent chose the latter. Those numbers mark a significant retreat from NBC/WSJ polling conducted in the fall of 2008 as Obama coasted to victory and Democrats prepared to significantly expand their congressional majorities. In an early October 2008 survey, 41 percent said it would be better for one party to control all levers of government in Washington while 48 percent chose the checks and balances option.

Interesting story about government
Due to some breathing problems, I’ve been going to repertory therapy. One of the fellows I see a few mornings a week owns a coating business. He’s 70, has been a life-long epileptic, now has MS so lung problems. Still working full time, still giving money to his kids in their 50s for rent, etc. (Welcome to America where we are raising a generation of parasites!)

Among the things he does is work on munitions for the government. He has just told them to take a hike on a contract because the specs are from 1927, and the steel specified isn’t made. He doesn’t want to join similar firms driven bankrupt trying to meet specs long outdated by modern technology.

He reports that he was working on tank shells, where the casings are no longer made of brass. He claimed the military lost two tanks when the crews set a hot used primer down on a shell and it cooked off. They tried using rubber rims, but the heat caused the rubber to peel, resulting in extraction problems—not good in combat. He developed a thicker primer that dissipated the heat, solved the problem and saved the government $9M. Usually the government gives you half for developing something that saves money. He says they declined to pay, saying the solution was too easy and that anyone could have thought of it. (Anyone but a government bureaucrat, of course.)

I have no way of verifying this; it might be just what we Marines call a Sea Story. But it sure sounds like the efficiency we can expect from the people who want to control our healthcare system. God help the next generation in Collectivist America.

What's the Matter With Illinois?
http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2010/03/16/whats_the_matter_with_illinois__98384.html
It’s run by corrupt liberal Democrats in league with corrupt Republicans. What’s the mystery? Excerpt: Over the last two budget cycles, every state except North Dakota has had to close a budget gap. But a handful of states stand out for the depth of their fiscal problems. For 2010, seven states had budget gaps totaling more than 25% of general fund spending, as measured by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Of these, six have a clear story about how they ended up in such a mess. Nevada is battered by weak travel to Las Vegas, while California is heavily reliant on shrinking income tax revenues. Arizona, California and Nevada were all hit particularly hard by the burst of the property bubble. Alaska's odd finances are sensitive to falling oil prices. And New York and New Jersey are feeling the effects of fewer, and smaller, Wall Street bonuses. The most puzzling member of the "over 25% club" is Illinois. Illinois did not see a particularly large bubble (or burst) in property prices, does not have outsize exposure to finance or tourism, and has a lower-than-normal reliance on its flat income tax. So how did the state achieve a staggering budget gap equaling 47% of its fiscal 2010 budget, second only to California?

Allies everywhere feeling snubbed by President Obama
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/16/AR2010031603322.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns
Excerpt: The contretemps between President Obama and Israel needs to be seen in a broader global context. The president who ran against "unilateralism" in the 2008 campaign has worse relations overall with American allies than George W. Bush did in his second term. Israelis shouldn't feel that they have been singled out. In Britain, people are talking about the end of the "special relationship" with America and worrying that Obama has no great regard for the British, despite their ongoing sacrifices in Afghanistan. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has openly criticized Obama for months (and is finally being rewarded with a private dinner, presumably to mend fences). In Eastern and Central Europe, there has been fear since the administration canceled long-planned missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic that the United States may no longer be a reliable guarantor of security. Among top E.U. officials there is consternation that neither the president nor even his Cabinet seems to have time for the European Union's new president, Herman Van Rompuy, who, while less than scintillating, is nevertheless the chosen representative of the post-Lisbon Treaty continent. Europeans in general, while still fond of Obama, have concluded that he is not so fond of them -- despite his six trips to Europe -- and is more of an Asian president. The Asians, however, are not so sure. Relations with Japan are rocky, mostly because of the actions of the new government in Tokyo but partly because of a perception that the United States can't be counted on for the long term. In India, there are worries that the burgeoning strategic partnership forged in the Bush years has been demoted in the interest of better relations with China.

Israel and the Crisis with Obama
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748703734504575125433891508788.html?mod=djemITP_h
Excerpt: Benjamin Netanyahu's first term as Israeli prime minister collapsed in 1999 in part because he had an unhappy relationship with President Bill Clinton. It is understandable then that Mr. Netanyahu's current government had, until last week, strived to stay close to President Barack Obama. That strategy would have been entirely sensible if Mr. Obama were simply another president in the long line since Franklin Roosevelt who vigorously asserted U.S. national interests, championed our friends (especially beleaguered ones), and kept alliances strong. But Mr. Obama is different. He is our first post-American president. He looks beyond American exceptionalism and believes that our role on the world stage should be merely one nation among many. Mr. Netanyahu's strategy is therefore out-of-date and flawed. Israel has sought to accommodate Mr. Obama on two critical issues: negotiations with Palestinians and Iranian nuclear weapons. These efforts have largely kept bilateral disagreements out of sight. But now the suppressed conflicts are fully visible and will either be resolved or cause a serious collision between Israel and the U.S.

Pacific Pushback: Has the U.S. Empire of Bases Reached Its High-Water Mark?
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/05-6
Long but important. Excerpt: For a country with a pacifist constitution, Japan is bristling with weaponry. Indeed, that Asian land has long functioned as a huge aircraft carrier and naval base for U.S. military power. We couldn’t have fought the Korean and Vietnam Wars without the nearly 90 military bases scattered around the islands of our major Pacific ally. Even today, Japan remains the anchor of what’s left of America’s Cold War containment policy when it comes to China and North Korea. From the Yokota and Kadena air bases, the United States can dispatch troops and bombers across Asia, while the Yokosuka base near Tokyo is the largest American naval installation outside the United States. You’d think that, with so many Japanese bases, the United States wouldn’t make a big fuss about closing one of them. Think again. The current battle over the Marine Corps air base at Futenma on Okinawa — an island prefecture almost 1,000 miles south of Tokyo that hosts about three dozen U.S. bases and 75% of American forces in Japan — is just revving up. In fact, Washington seems ready to stake its reputation and its relationship with a new Japanese government on the fate of that base alone, which reveals much about U.S. anxieties in the age of Obama. What makes this so strange, on the surface, is that Futenma is an obsolete base. Under an agreement the Bush administration reached with the previous Japanese government, the U.S. was already planning to move most of the Marines now at Futenma to the island of Guam. Nonetheless, the Obama administration is insisting, over the protests of Okinawans and the objections of Tokyo, on completing that agreement by building a new partial replacement base in a less heavily populated part of Okinawa.

Will America Defend Its Asian Allies?
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704259304575044354072896096.html
Likewise. Excerpt: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a visit to Hawaii last month to proclaim that, under the Obama administration, the United States is back in Asia to stay. Yet the fine details of the Pentagon's 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, released this week, may not convince Asian partners that America will retain both the resolve and the capacity to maintain a decisive military edge in the region. Superficially, there is much in the report that's reassuring. It reinforces the importance of alliances. It commits the U.S. to maintaining a forward military presence in Asia and a strong extended nuclear deterrent, while paying lip-service to the pipedream of a nuclear-free world. It focuses on rising threats in domains such as the oceans, space and cyberspace where—at least until recently—the U.S. has become used to uncontested dominance…. It is hard to square the report's legitimate concern about the "lack of transparency and the nature of China's military development and decision-making processes" with reports that the administration has downgraded China as a U.S. intelligence priority. Any rolling back of U.S. surveillance operations around China's maritime periphery in response to Beijing's bluster should also be of concern to U.S. allies. An even bigger question, though, is whether the U.S. will be able to afford the force outlined in the report: one capable of conducting stabilization operations when necessary and continuing to keep the peace in Asia into the future. Asian governments are nervous that this time around America's decline is real, and they are hedging in response. Both Australia and South Korea are building up their naval forces, for instance. It is no bad thing for U.S. allies to contribute more to international security, but a fundamental loss of confidence in the durability of American military dominance in Asia would be profoundly destabilizing. The report will only reassure U.S. allies if they are convinced Washington will deliver on the capabilities it promises and can project power, deter aggression and come to their aid. With little evident appetite in the White House or Congress to rein in rampant domestic spending, pressures on the defense budget will only increase. Asian governments will have little option but to divert resources to acquire more sophisticated weapons. That's not good news for anyone, including America.

Er, sorry, you still read newspapers because why now?
http://www.newsrealblog.com/2010/03/16/er-sorry-you-still-read-newspapers-because-why-now/
Reporters can’t ID Iwo Jima Flag Raising photo. Excerpt: The Chicago Tribune’s Ron Grossman writes: I took a quick survey in the newsroom the other day, something between a Rorschach test and a pop quiz, asking younger colleagues to identify an iconic photograph [see photo above] of World War II. While some instantly recognized the image, others couldn’t quite place it. Extremely disturbing on many levels. You can say, “Well, kids these days don’t learn the right things in school” and you’d be absolutely correct. But I didn’t learn about Iwo Jima in school, either. I learned about it through old Life magazines and then-new (1970s) Time magazines and from TV shows and old movies. Heck, there’s a Johnny Cash song about one of the men in that photo. What should really disturb you is not just that these young, “educated” people didn’t recognize this image after almost 20 years of public education. You should ask yourself how and why kids who “want to get into the media” apparently managed not to consume any media before they decided to major in it.


Iran sought to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/03/iran_sought_to_buy_nuclear_wea.html
Excerpt: The "Father of the Pakistani Bomb," A.Q. Khan, has written an official report on his illegal activities that points the finger at Iran for seeking to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan at the end of the 1980's. ...(I)t is little wonder that American presidents from Clinton through Obama have insisted that the Iranians want nuclear bombs, despite their protestations to the contrary.

The Gay Terrorist Who Could Have Foiled 9/11

http://www.observer.com/2010/politics/gay-terrorist?om_rid=Mqh-D0&om_mid=_BLoMcVB8Gc-hwx&
Interesting recent historical example of why the Patriot Act was/is necessary. Excerpt: A year and a half before September 11, 2001, the C.I.A. tried to recruit an Iraqi terrorist thought to be secretly gay, The New York Observer reports. If the agency had been successful, the terrorist attack perhaps could have been prevented. The C.I.A. hoped Ahmad Hikmat Shakir could be an "access agent"—someone without high-level knowledge but who could arrange contacts with people who do. Short, fat and jolly, he perhaps could have been flipped by threats to reveal his sexuality. In January 2000, al Qaeda was meeting in Kuala Lumpur, and Shakir picked up an eventual 9/11 hijacker, Khalid al-Mihdhar, at the airport. Al Mihdar had a multiple-entry visa to the U.S., but the C.I.A. didn't inform the F.B.I., who could have put him on a watch list or questioned him. An F.B.I. agent was drafting a memo to alert bosses about Mihdar's likely visit to the U.S., but the C.I.A. told him to hold off. The F.B.I. wasn't alerted to his presence stateside until August 2001. The C.I.A.'s actions are one of the biggest mysteries of the attacks, but the Observer speculates that proceeding with the alert could have exposed the agency's attempts to convert Shakir.

America: Break the Silence on Islam
http://www.amilimani.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=174&Itemid=2
Excerpt: The American people must hear the truth about Islam continually until they are completely aware of its dangers. Sadly, our Churches dare not speak up for fear of being accused of intolerance toward another religion. Our academia, the university professors, left or right, dare not, because, most likely, they would lose their salaries. Our politicians dare not because they are master practitioners of euphemism, hedging, doubletalk, and outright deception, and they need your votes as well as your money. Our editors dare not because they would lose subscribers. Businessmen dare not because they might lose customers and clientele. Even ordinary clerks dare not because they might be discharged. So I thought I would tell you. My fellow Americans, America is faced with a formidable enemy. This enemy has a name: Islam. I think it is time to revisit the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and see if Islam is qualified as a religion. Is this an outlandishly absurd proposal? Not at all, serious problems require equally serious solutions. The call for evaluation of the First Amendment may be seen as an attempt to curb Islam or other militant cults. The truth is: it is. It is truly a matter of survival of the United States and the free world. It is time to take a stand and shift the debate to orthodox Islam. We do not have to investigate every other religion on earth in order to compare them or offer opinion about their relative “goodness” in order to declare that on the whole Islam perpetuates evil. Let others devolve into religious disagreements. But for those commentators who would respond: “OK great, so now what...you claim Islam is evil. How do we combat that?” Your response is already clear: Through the spread of truth, not deceit. Through voluntary social sanctions and laws in every civilized country that forbid evil practices like Sharia, coercion and violence against women, threats against those who disagree, honor killings, apostasy and other hate crimes. Let the world know the truth and decide for itself. Let Muslims who come to their senses opt out. America, with a long history of protecting religious freedom, still clings to the “hands off” practice of leaving alone any doctrine or practice billed as religion. A thorny problem is in deciding what constitutes a religion and who is to make that call. The dictionary supplies a sociologically useless definition for religion: “The expression of man’s belief in and reverence for a superhuman power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe.” Just about anyone or any group under this definition can start a religion, and they indeed do—and some do so at significant costs to others. Muslims, under the banner of religion, are infringing blatantly on the rights of others, not only in Islamic countries, but also in much of the non-Muslim world. By their acts of dogmatic barbarity, Muslims are slowly awakening the non-Muslim democracies to the imminent threat of Islamic terrorism keen on destroying their free secular and free societies. As more and more Muslims arrive in American land, as they reproduce with great fecundity, as they convert the disenchanted and minorities, and as petrodollar-flush Muslims and Muslim treasuries supply generous funds, Muslims gather more power to undermine a serious challenge to the American system of governance—democracy. As for democracy, the rule of the people, Muslims have no use at all. Muslims believe that Allah’s rule must govern the world in the form of Caliphate—a theocracy. Making mockery of democracy, subverting its working, and ignoring its provisions is a Muslim’s way of falsifying what he already believes to be a sinful and false system of governance invented by the infidels.

Malaysia's religion minister rejects child marriage reform
http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/03/malaysias-religion-minister-rejects-child-marriage-reform.html
Excerpt: As always, what's standing in the way here is Muhammad's own example -- a "beautiful pattern of conduct," per Qur'an 33:21. Muhammad married Aisha when she was six, and consummated the marriage when she was nine. For this cleric, condemning child marriage would thus run the risk of implying Muhammad did something wrong, or that his example is less relevant for Muslims in modern times. In a land where churches are firebombed over the use of the word "Allah," one can imagine there being some fallout over that. In any event, keeping the status quo on child marriage laws lets the Sharia-inclined have it both ways: there is a symbolic law on the books for the sake of appearances, but a religious loophole to get around it in practice

Internet Video: Muslims Must Rise Up in Nigeria
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/03/16/world/AP-AF-Nigeria-Violence.html?_r=1&ref=global-home
didn’t get the memo. Excerpt: A video posted on a militant Web site calls for Muslims in Nigeria to use ''the sword and the spear'' to rise up against Christians in Africa's most populous nation, according to a translation released Tuesday by a U.S. group that monitors militant sites. The video on the Ansar al-Mujahideen forum, a Web site sympathetic to al-Qaida, comes in the wake of a series of religious massacres and riots in central Nigeria.

Quote
"The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex." --James Madison The Patriot Post www.patriotpost.us/subscribe/

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