Saturday, February 27, 2010

Political Digest February 27, 2010

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.

Blocking Healthcare Reconciliation
Hopefully the Tea Party movement will arrange huge, Tea Party protests outside the district offices of every vulnerable Democrat Congress Critter. Doesn’t matter if there are there, only if local TV and their staff members are.

Obama to deliver health care The Chicago Way,0,3431927.column
The Chicago Trib’s great political columnist and long-time Obama watcher, John Kass, called it in advance. Excerpt: President Barack Obama will star in his very own televised entertainment spectacular on Thursday — let's call it Federal Health Care Kabuki Theater. The Republicans wanted to dance. Now they'll have to step lightly. They were foolish to get trapped in his so-called summit on national health care. Or did they actually think they could outperform the skinny fellow from Chicago? The president is taking this one last chance to push his health care agenda, which by his own estimate will cost about $1 trillion over 10 years. That's money America doesn't have, but he could probably just print some more. Obama will be in his element, talking and lecturing, the law professor framing the debate. He'll spend hours being seen as reasonable. The Republicans will balk and the president will shrug. He'll sigh and say he tried to reason with them but they refused. Then once the cameras are turned off, he'll take out the baseball bat and explain how things get done The Chicago Way. It's all about muscle. As an acolyte of the Chicago Democratic machine, he's seen muscle at work in Daleyland. Now he's in the White House, and he's going to use muscle too.

Scaling the Summit
Excerpt: You didn’t watch the President’s Health Care Summit? Hey, I get paid to do these things so the rest of you can engage in more productive uses of your time. Here’s what I learned: The people who are proposing to reform our health care system actually know very little about how our health care system works. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have any idea whatsoever about how to control the rate of growth of health care costs. Neither party has any idea how to fundamentally improve the quality of care. And although both parties would increase the number of people nominally insured, neither party truly understands the problem of access to care and neither has any realistic idea of how to achieve it. Here is the lesson you can draw from all this: Under no circumstances do you want to give any of these guys power over your health care.

Must Read: White House Health Care Plan Contains Back Door to a Public Option
The NCPA is a great source of information on healthcare, the economy and other issues. Hopefully they won’t mind my promotion them by using a tad more than an excerpt: President Barack Obama's new health care proposal - more of an outline than an actual plan - builds largely on the Senate bill passed in December, and like that plan contains no "public option."1 But there is built into the President's proposal a mechanism by which the public option may one day make a triumphant return.
The key is in one of the few new proposals to show up in the President's plan, the creation of a "Health Insurance Rate Authority," a new federal agency charged with monitoring health insurers to make sure that any proposed premium increases are not "unreasonable" or "unjustified."2 This federal agency will have the power to compel private insurers to lower premiums, offer rebates, or "take other actions to make premiums affordable."3
This is price control of the most egregious kind, and any industry subject to such draconian government oversight can scarcely be considered "free." But it does accomplish several important political goals for the President. For starters, it has been widely interpreted as showing that Obama knows his plan will raise the cost of insurance premiums, and this is his way of diffusing the issue – he just promises to make premium hikes illegal!
Unless, of course, such a hike is "reasonable" or "justified." Who decides what is reasonable and justified? The government, of course, which will also under the President's plan dictate that insurers cover those with pre-existing conditions4 and saddle them with billion in new taxes and fees. Now some insurers might argue, reasonably, that such strictures will all but force them to raise rates in order to stay in business. Any guess what Uncle Sam will say to such arguments? Sorry, tough cookie.
And the health insurance industry, far from being the over-fed fat cat that Obama and his allies have successfully painted it to be, is in fact already one of the least profitable industries in America. In terms of profit margin, it ranks a dismal 87th out of 215 industries; its overall profit margin was a timid 3.4 percent from 2008 to 2009.5
What do you think will happen when an already low profit margin industry is suddenly compelled to swell its rolls and simultaneously told when and how much, if at all, it can raise its prices? They'd be a fool to stay in that business. Maybe there are some fools running the health insurance companies, but not enough, I'd wager, to keep the whole industry afloat in the long run.
The Wall Street Journal predicts a "cascade" of insurer bankruptcies in the wake of such disastrous law, 6 and its right. One by one the insurance companies will go belly up, fold their tents, and hang a permanent "gone fishing" sign on their doors. They will have concluded, quite rightly, that they are no longer wanted by the American government, even though they are desperately needed by the American people. And so the well of choice for the individual health insurance consumer will steadily and remorselessly dry up. So much for keeping the plan you like.
Eventually, and you may count on this, some senator or president, it may be Obama, it may not, will look around and say, "Hey! There are no more insurance companies! We've got to create a government one so people can get the insurance that we're forcing them to have." Hello public option. Hello single payer. Goodbye choice, and goodbye greatest health care system the world has ever known.
The President's strategy is clear: First turn the insurance companies into government utilities. Then run them out of business. Then fill the void.
Matt Patterson is a policy analyst for the National Center For Public Policy Research. His email is

Obama embraces Nixonomics chaos,0,7361712.column
As I said about this subject, price controls don’t work—look at the cost of housing in rent-controlled cities. Excerpt: Barack Obama has often modeled his policies on Franklin Roosevelt. Lately, though, he's been coming across more as Richard Nixon Lite. In 1971, fed up with the steady rise of wages and prices, Nixon had a big idea: Attack inflation by imposing strict controls on wages and prices. A federal board was created to establish guidelines and enforce compliance on the assumption that government officials were wise enough to decide the correct price for millions of products and the right wage for millions of workers. The main result was to prove the folly of such intervention. Nixon's own chief economist, Herbert Stein, admitted that the administration eventually had to give up because the program was "a total disaster." Among the unwanted side effects: "Cattle were being withheld from market, chickens were drowned and the food store shelves were being emptied." Motorists had to wait in line for hours to buy gasoline. At one point, Americans faced a nationwide shortage of toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper. Oh, and the inflation rate didn't fall. It rose. So how does Obama intend to make health insurance affordable? He wants the federal government to regulate premiums from coast to coast. He unveiled the proposal shortly after a California company owned by WellPoint Inc. raised charges on some individual policies by as much as 39 percent. Obama will not stand for it. Under his plan, says the White House, "if a rate increase is unreasonable and unjustified, health insurers must lower premiums, provide rebates, or take other actions to make premiums affordable." I have a better idea. If a rate increase is unreasonable and unjustified, customers can head for greener pastures. Among the several dozen competing insurers in California, some presumably will leap at the chance to grab their business. If other companies decline to offer lower rates, however, it's a surefire sign that the increase is both reasonable and justified.

Winners and losers from the health care summit
Interesting look at the politics.

Spinning the health care summit
Excerpt: With the health care summit now in the books, the political spin show has begun as each side tries to define what it meant -- and who won. Dan Pfeiffer, communications director at the White House, tried to stay above the fray, saying only that the summit "was a good discussion and even though people periodically lapsed into talking points, it was honest, substantive and thoughtful." (He wrote something similar on the White House blog.) Other senior Capitol Hill aides of both parties were more willing to declare victory for their side. "Democrats stressed similarities while Republicans stressed the differences and trotted out some tired and false talking points about a 'government takeover,'" said a senior Democratic aide. A Republican aide countered that "we fought this to tie and that is a loss for the president and congressional Democrats who needed to make something happen to pull this unpopular bill from the brink." What's clear is that the summit was not the clear win for the White House that President Obama's recent appearance at the House Republican retreat was seen as -- a fact not all that surprising given that Republicans knew they had been rocked back on their heels and were determined not to let that happen again. The next fight -- the only fight that matters -- is over reconciliation (the process by which pieces of the legislation can be passed by a simple majority vote. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said at the outset of the summit that unless Democrats "renounced" the idea of reconciliation, any future discussion about the bill was pointless; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) not only rejected the call to renounce reconciliation but shot back that Alexander needed to check his facts. Assuming Democrats move forward, and President Obama's wrap-up comments at the summit seemed to suggest they will, the party will face a skeptical public. A majority (52 percent) in a new Gallup poll said they opposed the use of reconciliation to pass the health care bill while 39 percent support the idea.

Obama eyes Dems-only endgame at summit
Excerpt: President Barack Obama closed Wednesday’s healthcare summit by stating his willingness to use controversial rules to pass healthcare with a simple majority vote.
Obama insisted at the highly-anticipated healthcare summit aimed at bringing the parties together that he hoped to win Republican support. But in the end, he made it clear that he intends to move forward with or without the GOP.

Bob’s take: Not exactly a surprise, as everyone with two brain cells to rub together knew the “summit” was just a PR gimmick by BO. He isn't willing to accept one substantive idea from the Republican side. The two positions are incompatible. The Conservative position is to lower healthcare costs through tort reform and competition. Obama’s calls for “compromise” and “bi-partisanship” mean, do it my way or get out of the way. Liberals want to shift healthcare costs to the taxpayers, protect their trial-lawyer masters and build bigger government and Democrat-unionized government workers. Hard to compromise between lower costs and bigger government.

Conrad: Health Care 'Dead' Unless House Passes Senate Bill First
Excerpt: The Senate Democrats' top budget guy told reporters today that the Senate can't pass a reconciliation package tweaking a comprehensive health care bill unless the House passes the Senate bill first. And if the House won't do that, he says health care reform is "dead." "The only way this works is for the House to pass the Senate bill and then, depending on what the package is, the reconciliation provision that moves first through the House and then comes here," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) outside the upper chamber this morning. "That's the only way that works." I pointed out that House leadership, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has repeatedly insisted they won't take a flier on a reconciliation package--that they will only pass the Senate bill after the smaller side-car reconciliation bill has been all wrapped up. "Fine, then it's dead," Conrad said.

Ducking and Dodging
Excerpt: “We have some strong disagreements on the numbers,” President Obama said after Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) concluded his devastating critique of the Democrats’ budget claims, “but I don’t want to get too bogged down.” In the ensuing debate, what became clear is that the Democrats just don’t have an answer to Ryan’s arguments. They ducked, dodged, and changed the subject repeatedly, because Ryan’s numbers themselves are unimpeachable. The Democrats are touting an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office that their health-care bill would reduce the deficit by around $130 billion over the next ten years. What Ryan pointed out — and what no Democrat even attempted to counter — is that this is because the legislation front-loads tax hikes and Medicare cuts and defers costs, forcing the CBO to score ten years of offsets with only six years of spending. Looked at on a level playing field, the true ten-year cost of the bill is $2.3 trillion rather than $950 billion, Ryan said. Then he brought up another gimmick: The bill is full of double-counting. “Savings” are counted as offsets for new health-care spending and at the same time set aside to pay for future entitlements. For instance, the Democrats claim $52 billion in offsets as a result of increasing Social Security payroll-tax revenues. But these dollars are already claimed for future Social Security beneficiaries. They can’t pay for both. The Democrats take another $72 billion in premiums intended to fund a new long-term-care program and count them as offsets for other spending. Ryan pointed out that Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad has called this “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of.”

Cuba's Doctor Abuse
Michael Moore’s slaveholder friends. Excerpt: Health Care: Remember Cuba's vaunted medical missionaries — those who treated the poor abroad for nothing, supposedly out of selfless motives? A lawsuit shows they were nothing but a communist slave racket. It ought to bear a few lessons for our own country as the role of doctors in the health care debate drags on. Back in 1963, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro launched a much-praised initiative to share Cuba's medical doctors with the poor around the world. The idea, of course, was to appear to be acting on higher motives than the profit-driven doctors in free societies. It was small scale and propaganda-oriented. But in 2003, Castro went big, and shipped 20,000 doctors and nurses to Venezuela's jungles and slums to treat the poor, doing the work "selfish" private-sector doctors wouldn't. Hugo Chavez touted this line and the mainstream media followed. Now the ugly facts are getting out about what that really meant: indentured servitude to pay off the debts of a bankrupt regime. This week, seven escaped doctors and a nurse filed a 139-page complaint in Miami under the RICO and Alien Tort acts describing just how Cuba's oil-for-doctors deal came to mean slavery.

Coming To A Hospital Near You?
Reform: American health care is not British health care, at least not yet. But if Democrats get their way, this country will rush to adopt a system much like the one that is killing people in Great Britain. Democrats will say that what they have planned for U.S. health care is not a copy of the British system, though it's been held up by the left as the model for years. But a nationalized health care system, no matter how it's tailored, will collapse like other socialist programs. Government-run health care may at times look like it works, but it is unsustainable — and deadly. Consider the British hospital that was the focus of a recently completed independent inquiry. According to U.K. media reports, the review found that at least 400 and as many as 1,200 patients died from 2005 to 2008 because of poor care at Mid-Stratfordshire National Health Service Trust.

Great Moments in Socialized Medicine
From The Patriot Post
Excerpt: "This was my heart, my choice and my health," said Danny Williams this week. Williams isn't just any heart patient, however. He's the Premier of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and he had heart surgery, not at the local hospital under CanadaCare, but in Miami. If Canada's health care is so great, why did Williams travel 2,500 miles for surgery? Because "I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics." In other words, socialized medicine leaves something to be desired. Namely, "the best possible care." Doctors in Canada advised him that the only way to repair a heart valve problem was through a full or partial sternotomy, which would require breaking bones. However, when he was referred to Miami's Mount Sinai Medical Center by a fellow Canadian practicing cardiology in New Jersey, he found that he could be treated with only an incision under his arm. This procedure "was not offered to me in Canada," he said. Notwithstanding the superior care he received under a system that is at least somewhat based on the free market, Williams still declared his support of Canadian medicine, saying, "I have the utmost confidence in our own health care system." Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Williams. Furthermore, if ObamaCare passes, where will other wealthy Canadians go for health care?

Truths from the Oval Office,0,434558.story
Excerpt: "It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now." Who said it: (a) Ronald Reagan, (b) George W. Bush or (c) John F. Kennedy? Also, which hawkish president said this during his inaugural speech: "Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas." And finally, which president invoked the Almighty and said: "… rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God." Times up. These "conservative" quotes come not from the far right wing of the Republican Party, but instead from the Democratic Party's poster child: John F. Kennedy.

Rep. Rangel's trips broke congressional gift rules, panel says
How’s that “swamp draining” going, Nancy? I suspect that if Rangal was white or republican, or, God forfend both, he’s have been gone long ago. But they tiptoe around his many ethics violations for fear of charges of “racism” and retaliation by the lobbyist-money-rich Black Caucus.

Pelosi sticks with Rangel, notes ethics panel ‘did not take action’
Gee, and she campaigned against the “Culture of Corruption” in Congress, so this is a shock. LOL. Excerpt: Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s once again sticking by embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) — at least for now. Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during a Thursday press conference that she had not yet read the full report from the ethics committee, which admonished Rangel, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, for improperly accepting reimbursement for two trips to the Caribbean. “All I saw was the press release where they said he did not violate the rules of the House,” Pelosi said. “And I think that’s an important statement that they made.”

Black Caucus throws roadblock in front of 'tax-cut' $15 billion job-creation bill
Gonna have to buy them off. No word yet from the Congressional White Caucus. Excerpt: Congressional Black Caucus members are dismissing a $15 billion jobs bill as inadequate, forcing House leaders to rethink their plan to vote on the measure Friday. Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) told Democratic leaders Thursday that they didn't support a measure they saw more as a "tax bill" than a bill that will create jobs.

From an attorney friend on the Census
“I have done a fair amount of work with the Constitutional right of privacy. The 4th Amendment restricts governmental intrusions without a valid warrant. Reportedly the census process is allegedly ignoring certain Constitutional rights. Here is a brief youtube statement about the issue:

January home sales fell 7.2%
And companies are not yet hiring. Gee, you think everyone could be holding beck because they are scared by the vast deficits and the government takeover of banks, car companies and healthcare? Nah, print more money—the rubes are stupid—they’ll come around to BO’s way of thinking.

IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri to face independent inquiry
Excerpt: Environment and Climate ministers meeting in closed session in Bali last night insisted that an independent review should be carried out following the publicising of mistakes in its last report, and a row surrounding Dr Pachauri's robust response to his critics.

British Tea Party Movement to launch on Saturday
I didn’t know the Brits even got Fox….

NYT Whitewashes Union Details in Story About School Reform
Excerpt: Teachers at a failing Rhode Island high school refused to work another 25 minutes a day in order to turnaround the school’s 48% graduation rate. So the school board fired them all. The teachers at Central Falls High School already earn over $70,000 a year, compared to a median home income of $22,000 a year for area residents, but their union balked at offers of $30 an hour for extra work, demanding $90 an hour. You would think that this information might be relevant for an article about the situation, but instead of reporting the facts behind the union’s negotiations, the New York Times whitewashed key details and selectively quoted people sympathetic to the union.

Give Scott Brown a Break, OK?,_ok
Nah, let’s drive him out of the party and help keep liberals in charge of the Senate in 2011! Excerpt: After Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., voted in favor of a jobs bill endorsed by President Obama and the majority of Senate Democrats, I immediately heard from a number of Republican friends in and around Washington, D.C. who knew I am a conservative from Massachusetts. The questions were rapid fire and the anger was surprising. “How dare he side with Obama?” “Is he just a Kennedy Republican?,” and “Where do I go to get my donation back?” My response to all was, “You have got to be kidding me. This guy has not been in office a month, he’s only taken three votes, and you’re willing and anxious to label him a traitor to the GOP because he voted in the best interests of his constituents?” The anger, name-calling, and profanity now being directed at Brown from a minority on the right is a perfect example of why I left the Republican party a few years ago. In columns and on the air, I now refer to myself as an “independent conservative.” In the increasingly worrisome and dangerous Post-9/11 world we all inhabit, it’s more important than ever that we have adult and independent leadership in Washington. (For my only-going small financial support of Scott Brown, I only hope he’ll vote right once. I hope he’ll vote so he gets re-elected in 2012 and votes Republican to organize the senate in 2013, putting conservatives instead of liberals in charge.)

The other war
Excerpt: It's a war the so-called mainstream media apparently have decided to ignore. Though its death toll is higher than Iraq's and Afghanistan's combined, it evidently isn't worth covering; and unless you're reading this in the Southwest, you probably haven't even heard about it. The conflict, a full-blown narco-insurgency, has claimed the lives of more than 17,000 combatants and innocents, threatens to undo several democratically elected governments and poses a real and present danger to the United States. It's not the one being fought in Afghanistan. It's the war being waged from the Andean basin all the way north to the Rio Grande. Last week, while our Fox News team was in Texas and New Mexico on a completely unrelated matter, "the war next door" was the principal topic of conversation among the locals we encountered. Just days before we arrived, 16 teenagers celebrating a birthday party were machine-gunned in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, less than a mile from the U.S. border. In the past 12 months, nearly 2,700 people have been murdered in this border city -- about 1,000 more than the previous year -- making it the deadliest place to live on the planet.

The taint in the Toyota probe
Excerpt: Regardless whether one loves or hates Toyota, a herd of huge elephants in the living room of this controversy have thus far been completely ignored in news reports and analysis. These include, first, a pair of related conflicts of interest underlying the government's role, and, second, the disreputable records of several key "expert" witnesses in the mounting crusade against the besieged automaker. The conflicts of interest begin with the fact the federal government is itself the controlling owner of General Motors, having invested billions of U.S. tax dollars in one of Toyota's two main American competitors. There is no creditable way to separate federal policy decisions from their commercial effect on both Toyota and GM as long as the government is simultaneously prosecutor, judge and jury. At the very least, the government must divest its GM shares as soon as possible. The other conflict of interest is with the government's major partner in GM ownership, the United Auto Workers union. Aside from the fact Toyota has for decades successfully resisted UAW attempts to organize the Japanese automaker's U.S. work force, the UAW is among the most powerful special interests doling out campaign contributions to congressmen sitting in judgment of the stricken car company on two key House panels. Nineteen of 36 Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee cashed sizable UAW campaign contribution checks to their 2010 re-election campaigns, including the present and immediate past chairmen, Henry Waxman and John Dingell. Similarly, 12 of 25 Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee got such checks. Are Democrats who have long claimed that money corrupts politics now so brazen as to claim they are exempt from such special interests influences?

Hamid Karzai, D-Chicago
Excerpt: I am beginning to think of Afghan President Hamid Karzai as Hamid Karzai, D-Afghanistan. The way he inveighs against troops who are fighting to secure his government in that inhospitable realm sounds very much like Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., inveighing against our troops during the Bush administration. Not only that, but now Karzai has arrogated for himself a formerly independent Afghan commission whose duty it was to monitor elections for fraud and other irregularities. Last week, he signed a decree that henceforth will allow him rather than the United Nations to appoint officials to the Electoral Complaints Commission, which the United Nations had set up in the aftermath of Karzai's rigged re-election. So maybe it would be more appropriate for me to think of him as Hamid Karzai, D-Chicago.

Taliban defectors accept U.S. approach but wait for promises to be kept
Hey, Obama’s from Chicago—he should know you don’t stiff the muscle! Excerpt: As the Taliban commander in the Pusht-e-Zargon district of western Afghanistan, Abdul Wahab considered himself the law. A stolen sheep? He would choose the thief's punishment: often a gunshot to the forearm or calf muscle. He was careful to avoid the bone. When salaries arrived from the Taliban leadership in Pakistan -- $100 a month per man -- he doled them out. Thirty fighters moved at his command. "If I asked them to jump in a river and drown, they would," he said. Power and respect, this is what the Taliban meant for Wahab. A government job and protection from U.S. raids are what he thought he was getting when he agreed to lay down his weapons in November. The United States, along with its NATO and Afghan allies, is trying to "reintegrate" militants like Wahab, offering them jobs on the assumption that they would rather earn a salary than spend their days fighting. The effort is a central pillar of the Obama administration's Afghan war strategy. Taliban leaders scoff at that notion, saying their loyalists are waging a determined holy war against the infidel armies of the West and can't be bought off. Interviews with Wahab and other fighters who recently left the Taliban as part of an Afghan government effort to lure them from the battlefield suggest that in many cases, U.S. policymakers may be on to something. Several ex-fighters said they joined the Taliban not out of religious zealotry but for far more mundane reasons: anger at the government in Kabul, revenge for losing a government job, pressure from family or tribe members -- or simply because they were broke. "Nobody goes to the other side for fun," Wahab said. "There must be a pain in your heart."

Intel bill pulled over controversial added interrogation provision
excerpt: A controversial bill that would have levied criminal punishments on intelligence officers for harsh interrogations was pulled Thursday evening. House Republicans charged Democrats with trying to sneak a provision into the intelligence authorization bill that would establish criminal punishment for CIA agents and other intelligence officials who engage in “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” during interrogations.

Muslims Furious Over Israeli Decision to Highlight Ancient Link
Excerpt: A decision by the Israeli government to include a location with an almost 4,000 year-old link to the origins of Judaism in a list of 150 national heritage sites has sparked an uproar among Muslims – and drawn the disapproval of the Obama administration. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu insisted Thursday that the decision to include the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on the list would not in any way change the status quo at the site, which has long been shared by Jews and Muslims. He called accusations being made by Palestinians and others “an artificial attempt to distort reality and sow discord. (I haven’t heard President Wobbly disapproving of Muslim child marriages, of raped teen girls stoned to death for “adultery” of women whipped for being immodest, or the daily toll of Muslims murders. But let the Jews name something….)

Qaddafi calls for jihad against Switzerland because of minaret ban
Excerpt: Who would have thought that the legendary Libyan "strongman" would turn out to be a Misunderstander of Islam? Why is it that those who understand Islam correctly as a Religion of Peace seem to inhabit only Western university posts, not leadership positions in the governments of Muslim countries? … Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi called on Thursday for jihad (holy war) against Switzerland over the ban adopted last year on the construction of minarets in the country. "It is against unbelieving and apostate Switzerland that jihad ought to be proclaimed by all means," Kadhafi said during a speech in the Mediterranean coastal city of Bengazi to mark the birthday of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

Egyptian Muslim cleric: "Brothers, we pray to Allah that we be terrorists, if terror means Jihad for the sake of Allah"
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo.

Time magazine runs story on human rights in Egypt with no mention of Copts' or women's rights
Excerpt: No, this story is all about the Muslim Brotherhood -- presented as an innocent party with no nefarious agenda. Just pious, disenfranchised, moderate folks. The focus of the story is the general silence on the part of the U.S. regarding the behavior of its "friend and ally" in this regard. A story about the shadiness of the Mubarak regime would be far more meaningful -- not to mention fair -- if it took up the issue of religious minorities (Copts, Baha'i, and others), and/or the persistence of female genital mutilation and other women's rights issues in Egyptian society. But, alas, all we get is a story devoid of depth and context on a group the author has clearly not investigated with any degree of diligence.

New Obama Interrogation Unit not Deployed to Question Captured Taliban Chief guess is the lawyer who was to read him his rights was on vacation. Excerpt: Last summer, the Obama administration announced that, as a replacement for the Bush administration's secret CIA terrorist detention and interrogation program, it would create a SWAT-style team of interrogation experts to travel the world squeezing terrorist suspects for vital information. Administration officials say that the interrogation unit, known as the HIG (for High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group) is now operational. But for reasons that are unclear, the administration has not deployed HIG personnel to question Afghan Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, arguably the most important terrorist suspect captured since the detention of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh

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