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Mar 23 11 1:30 PM

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Senate to hold hearings on Muslims' rights

Just weeks after House Republicans held a hearing looking at the dangers of radical Muslims in the U.S., Senate Democrats are countering with a hearing of their own, scheduled for after Congress returns from a 10-day vacation, to examine Muslims' civil rights.
Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, announced the subcommittee hearing Tuesday, saying there has been a spike in anti-Muslim bigotry in the last year that demands closer attention.
“Our Constitution protects the free exercise of religion for all Americans,” Mr. Durbin said.  “During the course of our history, many religions have faced intolerance. It is important for our generation to renew our founding charter’s commitment to religious diversity and to protect the liberties guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.”
The hearing will be the first ever before the Judiciary Committee's new subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and human rights, which Democrats created this year. Mr. Durbin is the chairman of the subcommittee.
Earlier this month House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, New York Republican, held the first in what he said will be a series of hearings to look at problems posed by radicalized Muslims in the United States.
In 2009, the latest FBi statistics available, anti-Islamic hate crimes accounted for 9.3 percent of the 1,376 religiously motivated hate crimes recorded. That's far less than the 70.1 percent that were anti-Jewish

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Mar 23 11 1:36 PM

Michelle Obama touts health law

Michelle Obama on Wednesday weighed in on the one-year anniversary of the health care law her husband signed into law, arguing that the changes will help parents raise a generation of “happy and healthy kids.”
Sharing a “personal” story in an op-ed on Yahoo’s Shine website, Obama said that as a working mom in her pre-White House days, she had “the best intentions” to feed her daughters Malia and Sasha healthy food on a budget, but admitted that “sometimes pizza or the drive-thru were inevitable.”

The first lady, who launched a childhood obesity initiative, Let’s Move!, last year, said she was surprised when her pediatrician told her to pay more attention to the food she was feeding her daughters.
“They were active and growing, with a healthy sense of themselves, which Barack and I have always encouraged,” she writes. “But our doctor told me that their BMIs were creeping upwards. Now to be honest, I didn’t really know what BMI was. And I certainly didn’t know that even a small increase in BMI can have serious consequences for a child’s health.”
With the Affordable Care Act, she writes, “the information is not within reach for you and your family too — you just have to ask for it,” she writes, noting that the law requires insurance companies to cover preventative services like BMI screenings “without any kind of deductible, co-pay or co-insurance.”
She urges parents to ask for a BMI screening to catch any obesity problems early on: “today, most of you can get your child’s BMI screened without paying a penny out of pocket.”
Leaders on both sides of the aisle used the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Health Care Act to celebrate or denounce the law. Republicans renewed their vows to derail the law, and chided what they said were President Barack Obama’s “broken promises” on health care issues.
“People were promised that their premiums would decrease – they have not,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a statement Wednesday. “People were promised that the law would lower costs — it did not. People were promised that the law would improve care — it has not. And people were promised that they could keep their existing coverage if they like it – they cannot.”
In a joint op-ed in the Cinncinati Enquirer, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote, “The fog of controversy has now cleared, but contrary to the confident predictions of some, the contents of this law are even worse than anyone expected. And that’s saying something.”
But Obama, in her op-ed, touted the law’s benefits to parents, such as coverage for preventive services including mammograms and colonoscopies, without any out-of-pocket costs.
“We know that these kinds of preventive services will go a long way in preventing chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and high-blood pressure, which touch the lives of millions of Americans,” she writes. “These diseases also consume over 75 percent of the health care spending in our country. Increasing access to preventive care will keep us all healthier and save money.”

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Mar 23 11 1:39 PM

Justice Department sues on behalf of Muslim teacher, triggering debate

BERKELEY, Ill. — Safoorah Khan had taught middle school math for only nine months in this tiny Chicago suburb when she made an unusual request. She wanted three weeks off for a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The school district, faced with losing its only math lab instructor during the critical end-of-semester marking period, said no. Khan, a devout Muslim, resigned and made the trip anyway.
Justice Department lawyers examined the same set of facts and reached a different conclusion: that the school district’s decision amounted to outright discrimination against Khan. They filed an unusual lawsuit, accusing the district of violating her civil rights by forcing her to choose between her job and her faith.
As the case moves forward in federal court in Chicago, it has triggered debate over whether the Justice Department was following a purely legal path or whether suing on Khan’s behalf was part of a broader Obama administration campaign to reach out to Muslims.
The decision to take on a small-town school board has drawn criticism from conservatives and Berkeley officials, who say the government should not be standing behind a teacher who wanted to leave her students.
The lawsuit, filed in December, may well test the boundaries of how far employers must go to accommodate workers’ religious practices — a key issue as the nation grows more multicultural and the Muslim population increases. But it is also raising legal questions. Experts say the government might have difficulty prevailing because the 19-day leave Khan requested goes beyond what courts have considered.
“It sounds like a very dubious judgment and a real legal reach,” said Michael B. Mukasey, who was attorney general in the George W. Bush administration. “The upper reaches of the Justice Department should be calling people to account for this.”
His successors in the Obama administration counter that they are upholding a sacred principle: the right of every American to be free of religious bias in the workplace. “This was a profoundly personal request by a person of faith,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, who compared the case to protecting “the religious liberty that our forefathers came to this country for.”
The Obama administration has gone to great lengths to maintain good relations with Muslims — while endorsing tough anti-terrorism tactics. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has called protecting the civil rights of Muslims a “top priority,” and his department has filed other legal actions on behalf of Muslims, including a corrections officer in New Jersey not allowed to wear a head scarf at work.
Perez denied any political motive in the Berkeley lawsuit, saying it was pursued in part to fight “a real head wind of intolerance against Muslim communities.” People in the rapidly growing Muslim community in Chicago’s western suburbs praised the Justice Department’s involvement.
“It rings the bell of justice that they will fight for a Muslim wanting to perform a religious act,” said Shaykh Abdool Rahman Khan, resident scholar at the Islamic Foundation mosque near Berkeley. “That certainly can win the hearts of many people in the Muslim world.”
Although the Justice Department, including during the Bush administration, and private plaintiffs have filed civil rights lawsuits on religious grounds, they have tended to be over issues such as whether employees can take off on the Sabbath or wear religious head coverings.
Cases involving the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, or hajj, are exceedingly rare, said Christina Abraham, civil rights director for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
19-day request
Khan arrived in November 2007 at Berkeley’s MacArthur Middle School, a faded brown brick building across from the public works department. She supplemented the math curriculum for sixth through eighth grades and helped prepare students for state tests.
Berkeley is a virtual speck on the map, a blue-collar village of about 5,000 people, rail yards, strip malls and ranch-style homes. The community, about 15 miles west of Chicago, is majority African American and Hispanic, and about 75 percent of its voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama.
The support for Obama’s Justice Department is much more mixed. Government lawyers, said longtime village President Michael A. Esposito, are “targeting a small community.”
“The school district just wanted a teacher in the room for those three weeks. They didn’t care if she was a Martian, a Muslim or a Catholic,” said Esposito, a political independent. “How come we bow down to certain religious groups? Why don’t we go out of our way for the Baptists or the Jehovah’s Witnesses?”
Khan, 29, who grew up in North Carolina and Arkansas, was happy in the job, said her lawyer, Kamran A. Memon. But she longed to make the hajj, one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, which Muslims are obligated to do once. It would not have fallen on her summer break for about nine years.
“This was the first year she was financially able to do it,” Memon said. “It’s her religious belief that a Muslim must go for hajj quickly . . . that it’s a sin to delay.” Khan declined to comment.
In August 2008, Khan requested an unpaid leave for the first three weeks of December that year. The district said the leave was unrelated to Khan’s job and not authorized by the teacher union contract, according to court documents. Khan resigned in a letter to the school board.
“They put her in a position where she had to choose,” Memon said. “Berkeley has qualified subs. She didn’t feel her absence would cause any problem at all.”

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Mar 23 11 1:40 PM

FDA halts food imports from affected area of Japan


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it will halt imports of dairy products and produce from the area of Japan where a nuclear reactor is leaking radiation.

The FDA said those foods will be detained at entry and will not be sold to the public. The agency previously said it would just step up screening of those foods.


Other foods imported from Japan, including seafood, still will be sold to the public but screened first for radiation.

Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex has been leaking radiation after it was damaged in a devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this month. The sea near the nuclear plant has also shown elevated levels of radioactive iodine and cesium, prompting the government to test seafood.

Japanese foods make up less than 4 percent of all U.S. imports, and the FDA said it expects no risk to the U.S. food supply from radiation. Officials and health experts say the doses are low and not a threat to human health unless the tainted products are consumed in abnormally excessive quantities.

Still, the World Health Organization said this week that Japan should act quickly to ensure that no contaminated foods are sold. The most common imports from Japan to the United States are seafood, snack foods, and processed fruits and vegetables.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the top Democrat on the House subcommittee that controls FDA spending, wrote agency officials Tuesday questioning how they could say with certainty that there is no threat to the U.S. food supply from Japanese radiation. She noted that the FDA is not always able to track where food production facilities are located in other countries.

Food safety advocates long have expressed concern over the agency's lack of money for reliable inspections abroad. A food safety overhaul bill signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this year would increase inspections of foreign food facilities that export to the United States.

David Acheson, a former FDA associate commissioner of foods, acknowledged concerns about the safety of imported foods and the lack of agency resources. But he said the agency prioritizes risky situations like the one in Japan.

"Whenever there is a threat, then resources appear," he said.

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Mar 23 11 1:44 PM

Trace Amounts Of Radioactive Elements Found In Anaheim, Riverside


Japan scrambled to prevent nuclear accidents at two atomic plants where reactor cooling systems failed after a massive earthquake, as it evacuated tens of thousands of residents. Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the plants, said it had released some radioactive vapour into the atmosphere at one plant to relieve building reactor pressure, but said the move posed no health risks. (credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM (CBS) —  Trace amounts of radioactive elements consistent with the earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant in Japan were detected by monitors in Anaheim and Riverside, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday.
But they also warned the “miniscule amounts” are not harmful and “pose no health concern.”
Similar trace amounts of radioactive iodine, cesium and tellurium were also detected by monitors in San Francisco and Seattle. The material was detected Friday and analyzed over the weekend, according to the EPA.

The radiation levels detected on the filters from California and Washington monitors are hundreds of thousands to millions of times below levels of concern,” according to an EPA statement.
The agency noted that on a typical day, Americans receive doses of radiation from rocks, bricks and the sun that are 100,000 times higher than what has been detected in material coming from Japan.

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Mar 23 11 1:47 PM

US Approaching Insolvency, Fix To Be 'Painful': Fisher

necessary. Again, we have a self-sustaining recovery."

The United States is on a fiscal path towards insolvency and policymakers are at a "tipping point," a Federal Reserve official said on Tuesday.If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent, the question is when," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said in a question and answer session after delivering a speech at the University of Frankfurt. "The short-term negotiations are very important, I look at this as a tipping point."

But he added he was confident in the Americans' ability to take the right decisions and said the country would avoid insolvency.

"I think we are at the beginning of the process and it's going to be very painful," he added.

Fisher earlier said the US economic recovery is gathering momentum, adding that he personally was extremely vigilant on inflation pressures.

"We are all mindful of this phenomenon. Speaking personally, I am concerned and I am going to be extremely vigilant on that front," Fisher said in an interview with CNBC.


Fisher also said that the U.S. Federal Reserve had ways to tighten its monetary policy other than interest rates, including by selling Treasurys, changing reserves levels and using time deposits.

He added that he does not support the Fed embarking on an additional round of quantitative easing.

"Barring some extraordinary circumstance I cannot forsee...I would vote against a QE3," Fisher told CNBC. "I don't think it's necessary. Again, we have a self-sustaining recovery."

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#7 [url]

Mar 23 11 1:49 PM

Obama's War on the Middle Class

Whenever he is in campaign mode, President Obama goes to great lengths to remind voters that he is "struggling to defend the middle class." As he did in January 2010, Obama speaks of the middle class as "under assault" (by whom he does not specify). In his Labor Day radio address of 2010, he spoke of his "commitment to the middle class." As evidence of this commitment, Obama established a "Middle Class Task Force" early in his presidency chaired by Vice-President Biden. With Biden in charge, why worry?

It should be obvious that Obama and the left wing of the Democratic Party are not struggling to defend the middle class. Most of the time they are struggling to disenfranchise it by ignoring the basic rights of human liberty and of property that are guaranteed under our Constitution.

The 18% real rate of unemployment during Obama's first two years in office has not done much for the middle class. At the same time, there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class to the underclass. ObamaCare, financial services reform, mortgage reform, education reform, tax reform: in all of these areas, the administration's efforts have been to create and expand services for the poor at the expense of the middle class.

Whether it is the free health care promised to tens of millions of new Medicaid recipients or mortgage principle reductions ("cramdowns") promoted at every turn by his Justice Department, Obama acts like a political general in the class war -- the war of the government services-dependent poor and unionized public sector against the middle class. Among the first acts of his administration were the expansion "making work pay" and child credit benefits: welfare of the sort that had been trimmed by the GOP Congresses of the 1990s.

Whether it is benefits for the underclass or more power for public sector unions, Obama is intent on cementing power based on the loyal support of the underclass and unionized labor. But to complete the task, he must deceive the middle classes for a bit longer by appearing to move to the center. The independent middle class voter, the very class of citizen that is most endangered by his presidency, is key to his reelection. In order to win reelection, he convince them he is safe.

But nothing Obama has done has benefited the middle class. That much should be clear just from what is happening with consumers' pocketbooks.

The recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report on consumer prices is a telling indication of the effects of Obama's policies on the middle class. During the past 12 months, gas prices are up nearly 20%. While global markets largely determine oil prices, Obama's assault on drilling and his weak-dollar policy have not helped things. Had the President pursued a pro-drilling policy and defended the dollar, gas prices would have been substantially lower. Even at this late date, if the administration were to signal support for expanded drilling, world energy markets would respond by lowering the price of oil, thus lowering the price the middle class pays at the pump.

Gas prices hit the middle class disproportionately hard. Bill Gates spends an infinitesimal portion of his earnings on energy bills, and the urban underclass pay little. But the middle class, most of whom commute some distance to work, are shelling out a great deal more each month. The same for food prices, which are up substantially above the "core rate" of inflation. The underclass benefit from increased food stamp subsidies; Gates has probably never shopped. It is the middle class that bears all the burdens under Obama.

The passage of ObamaCare was supposed to lower the cost of health care for practically all Americans. This, in fact, was one of the main rationales for its adoption. Again and again, Obama promised that his health care reform bill would lower the cost of health care -- by $100 billion (he likes big round numbers, for some reason), by $200 billion, by $500 billion over the next ten years.

But since ObamaCare was passed, health care costs for the middle class are way up. Over the past 12 months the cost of private medical insurance, where it can be purchased at all, is up by as much as 59%.  Hospital costs are up 6%, nearly three times the rate of core inflation. The cost of the most widely prescribed drugs has increased well above the rate of inflation, driven up by the prospect of future government regulation. None of this has helped the middle class. It is, in fact, part and parcel of a calculated transfer of wealth from the middle class to the underclass.

It's not just energy and health care. Other prices that are influenced by government policy have gone up disproportionately to those in the less regulated market. Educational expenses are up 4%, twice the rate of core inflation. Again, it is the middle class that has been hit. College tuition, private school tuition, and child care -- these costs impact the middle class, not the Warren Buffets of the world, and not the underclass who receive full "need based" scholarships,  magnet school preferences, and subsidized child care.

It does not help that, as announced Monday, sales of previously owned homes fell in February to their worst level in nine years. Middle-class homeowners who are now under water on their loans will have to wait a bit longer to break even. Boomers eyeing a place in the sun are going to have a hard time selling their current home before moving.

As Obama understands all too well, one of the hallmarks of all socialist countries is the absence of an independent middle class. From the Bolshevik experiment in Russia to socialist Venezuela today, it is necessary for communist leaders to eliminate that class of citizens who are not dependent on government for their welfare.

Political theorists from Aristotle to Locke understood that a truly independent and prosperous middle class was essential to the collective well-being of any society. The middle class has always, in every society, been characterized by qualities of social restraint and economic realism -- a shrewd and skeptical conservatism that serves to restrain the grandiose plans of utopian revolutionaries and embittered reactionaries alike.

Throughout its history American society in particular has been the beneficiary of an aspiring middle class whose efforts have created the world's greatest democracy. It is an ominous sign that the political left, with the loyal support of more than a third of our population, is intent on its destruction.


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Mar 23 11 1:52 PM

President Sorta, Kinda, Maybe

Listening to our President, a man who wants to avoid ambivalence, wants to be perfectly clear, and who does not want to be misconstrued, we now know that, in the issue of Libya, we are sorta, kinda, maybe going to get rid of Gaddafi.  Or not.

We are not going to do more than offer a new "coalition of the willing" anything other than logistical support.  That shows how much more intelligent the President is than the ordinary man-in-the-street.  There is little doubt that the ubiquitous man-in-the-street was unaware that over 100 cruise missiles aimed at military targets should be considered logistical support.

We can doubtless expect this same level of crystal clarity, and an obvious adherence to strongly held principles to assure us that he is on the side of the unions in Wisconsin ... without the President himself actually having to say a word. 

The President's lucidity has always been on display.  The words, "If you like your Doctor, you can keep him", is a classic example of the doublespeak that the nation suffers under this new President's leadership...and teleprompters.

The President and his verbal artlessness have apparently been an inspiration for his various Cabinet appointees.  Kathleen Sebelius comes to mind immediately, since she fought so hard to guarantee the seamless institution of the President's health care initiative.  Seamless is, of course, a qualitative word that means pretty much whatever the speaker wishes it to mean.  With the more than 1,000 waivers granted to allow favored groups and political supporters of the President to avoid compliance with the requirements of ObamaCare, there can be little doubt that Secretary Sebelius would describe a patchwork quilt as seamless.

Secretary Sebelius is also carrying the water to convince the American people that the elimination of private medical policies that are solely for children under 19 in favor of a nation-wide takeover of healthcare is good for children.  How can anyone say in honestly that there is anything confusing about that?

Not just Cabinet members, but others selected by the President have always had enough respect for the intelligence of the American people to avoid statements that lack sharp clarity.  For example, recall the words of Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein, who were later appointed to the Council of Economic Advisors by President Obama, when they said "with the stimulus spending, the U.S. unemployment rate this year would not exceed 8%."  That was certainly unambiguous phrasing.  It was completely wrong, but they could never be accused of ambiguity.

Of course Secretary Ken Salazar has always worked hard to assure everyone, especially the members of the United States Congress, that his department is doing everything in its power to move America toward energy independence.  Witness his testimony two weeks ago before the House Natural Resources Committee when he stated that oil production in the Gulf of Mexico "remained at an all-time high, and we expect that it will continue as we bring new production online."  He also stated that: "In 2009 there were 116 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, in 2010 in February, 120, in February 2011, 126."

Baker Hughes Reservoir Development Services, an independent oil analysis organization, and not part of the Department of the Interior, has indicated that Mr. Salazar's statements were sorta, kinda, maybe true...but only if you count the number of rigs that were located in the Gulf, not the number actually drilling and pumping oil.  According to Baker Hughes:

Four days before the Deepwater Horizon accident there were 55 rotary rigs actually drilling offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

On May 28, 2010, when the administration announced the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling, there were 46 rotary rigs operating in the Gulf.

Last week [March 3, 2011], 25 rotary rigs were operating in the Gulf of Mexico.

Any rational American can only conclude one thing from these few examples of the clarity, precision, directness, simplicity and unambiguity of the current administration.  We can rely on, and trust, the leadership in the White House...sorta, kinda, maybe.


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#9 [url]

Mar 23 11 1:53 PM

The Power of Samantha Power

Barack Obama seems to have outsourced foreign policy and national security issues to Samantha Power. 

John Podhoretz noted her influence with the President when she played a key role in his decision to bomb Libya-pursuant to a trendy concept among foreign policy elites called Responsibility to Protect (R2P for Blackberry texters):
The Tuesday-evening meeting at the White House at which the president decided to move on Libya was "extremely contentious," according to a report in Josh Rogin's excellent blog, The Cable.

Power and a few others took the position that the United States couldn't stay on the sidelines as Moammar Khadafy murdered his own people and snuffed out the people-power revolt in the Middle East in its infancy.

They were opposed by Power's own boss, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Samantha Power's opinions eclipsed the views of her nominal boss, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and those of Obama's Defense Secretary (who, at least, had to pass confirmation by the Senate, unlike Power).

Her influence is long-lasting and deep. She also probably played a role in nominating Mary Robinson to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, despite a checkered record involving international efforts towards our ally, Israel

People should not be surprised at her outsized influence.  Barack Obama has made a mockery of the concept of organizational charts and traditional power arrangements in the executive branch  (Czars and Czarinas, "advisers" such as Elizabeth Warren who, along with a bevy of recess appointments, escape Senate scrutiny.

Stanley Kurtz sees more moves afoot as the Soros-linked Samantha Power continues to work with Barack Obama to weaken the concept of American sovereignty and empower the international community at the expense of American independence. He also notes that Obama has always been clever about hiding his motives behind a façade of pragmatism.

Yet for years, Samantha Power, a prominent advocate of humanitarian intervention and a key backer of our action in Libya, has been a powerful member of Obama's foreign policy team. In 2005, Obama contacted Power after reading her book on genocide. There followed a long conversation, after which Power left Harvard to work for Obama, quickly emerging as his senior foreign policy advisor.

It seems reasonable to conclude from his long-term relationship with Power that Obama shares her interest in making humanitarian military interventions more common. Yet the president has said little about this, and the obvious policy implications of his ties with Power are rarely drawn.

What Samantha Power and her supporters want is to solidify the principle of "responsibility to protect" in international law. That requires a "pure" case of intervention on humanitarian grounds. Power's agenda would explain why Obama acted when he acted, and why the public rationale for action has not included regime change.

Yet Obama has so far been reluctant to fully explain any of this to either Congress or the American public, perhaps because he realizes that the ideological basis of his actions would not be popular if openly admitted. If Obama were a different sort of president, we would have all heard about "responsibility to protect" long ago. The country would have thoroughly debated Power's ideas, and the public would have quickly recognized the core motives of the president's actions in Libya.

But transparency is not President Obama's modus operandi. Nor does he care to have discussions with Congress or the American people regarding his policies. He defers to the international community and the Arab League and -seemingly-to Samantha Power. As Douglas Feith notes in today's Wall Street Journal op-ed, Obama is intent on substituting international law for American law, skipping the pesky process of Congressional voting and ignoring that piece of parchment known as the Constitution. This is part and parcel of his desire to internationalize our policies , both foreign and domestic. No wonder he "won" the Nobel Peace Prize. Those Norwegian selectors knew his type of person-they share cocktails with them at any number of soirees.

The White House has been pushing back from the idea that women have been in charge of our foreign and military policy. But at least one woman seems to have a great deal of influence in these areas -- unelected, unconfirmed, but very powerful.

Samantha Power is one to monitor-particularly because she has some views that might offend many Americans (as outlined in this article, linked above).

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#10 [url]

Mar 23 11 1:54 PM

For crying out loud, Barry - Make up your mind!

Should Gaddafi stay? Or should he go?

Obama on Monday:

"It is U.S. policy that Qaddafi needs to go," Obama said, during a brief press conference alongside Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in Santiago. "We've got a wide range of tools in addition to our military efforts to support that policy."

Obama on Tuesday:

"You are absolutely right that as long as Qadhafi remains in power, and unless he changes his approach and there are significant reforms in the Libyan government that allow the Libyan people to express themselves, there are still going be potential threats against Libyan people-unless he is going to step down," Obama said.

In other words, as long as Gaddafi has a change of heart and becomes more like a Democratic governor or something, he can stay.

Go...stay...go...Does Obama have a clue what he's doing? Of course, it would help if we had a strategy. Administration spokesmen are insisting that regime change is not part of the mission. They are also insisting that Gaddafi needs to go - or stay but reform - or go, but not necessarily feet first.

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Mar 23 11 1:55 PM

America at the service of the UN\

An excerpt from today's Wall Street Journal article on the propriety of Obama ordering military attacks on Libya:

"As the President told the country, the US military operation in Libya will be limited in duration and scope, and conducted in partnership with an international coalition. It is aimed at preventing an imminent humanitarian catastrophe that directly implicates the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States," said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman.
My comment: this is certainly an elastic definition of what constitutes the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. Libya does not have nuclear weapons; has stopped its international adventurism and sponsorship of terror; opposes Al Qaeda. He is a nut but he has been contained and his focus has not been on terrorism or the development of nuclear weapons - unlike Iran.
More from the WSJ:
Mr. Obama's notification letter does not satisfy the constitutional requirement that Congress approve military action, says Lou Fisher, former researcher with the Congressional Research Service and an expert on war powers. Mr. Fisher also raised objections to Mr. Obama citing United Nations authorization in his letter.
"It's impossible for Congress to take its war powers and give it to the U.N.," Mr. Fisher said. "Other than defensive actions-and there's no defensive actions here-this has to be done by Congress."
My comment: this is the policy ramification of Obama's approach towards the rest of the world (symbolized by his penchant for bowing before Saudi Kings and Japanese emperors): outsource our foreign policy and military actions to the United Nations and the Arab League. This is John Kerry's "international test" made real. Obama does not trust or listen to our Congress but he does listen to international diplomats and an Arab League run by dictators.

How do voters feel about Congress being sidelined to serve the interests of the Arab League?

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#12 [url]

Mar 23 11 1:57 PM

Congress and its war powers

I have just been reading the judgment made by Walter Dellinger (who was Assistant Attorney General and head of the Office of Legal Counsel under President Bill Clinton) with regards to President Clinton's intervention in Haiti. You can read his arguments here.

There are two things that are quite surprising, and I intend to break them down and discuss them with readers of AmericanThinker. I haven't yet been seduced by a powerful argument as to why President Obama's actions are "illegal." To the contrary, the United States finds itself in a position whereby the President has unilateral powers - at the interests of the UNSC. The United States army and military are at the disposal of the United Nations - and I think this is a reason for concern.

(1) The War Powers Resolution and the President

Dellinger argues that:

The War Powers Resolution (WPR) recognizes and presupposes the existence of unilateral Presidential authority to deploy armed forces "into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances." The WPR was enacted against a background that was "replete with instances of presidential uses of military force abroad in the absence of prior congressional approval."

(2) What is a constitutional war?

Dellinger argues that:

We believe that "war" does not exist where United States troops are deployed at the invitation of a fully legitimate government in circumstances in which the nature, scope, and duration of the deployment are such that the use of force involved does not rise to the level of "war." The President, together with his military and intelligence advisors, determined that the nature, scope and duration of the deployment were not consistent with the conclusion that the event was a "war."

I don't wish to sound overly cynical but Congress exists as a constitutional check on presidential power - including foreign affairs. Within last few decades, Congress has remained absolutely silent - which amounts to mute acquiescence towards greater executive control. The courts don't seem to define what is and what isn't permitted by the rather vague constitutional language. Moreover, the issue of "war" has been confined towards the political institutions of government to decide - as opposed to a great focus on legality.

President Truman authorized the Korean War without Congress in 1950. And ever since, in Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Panama, Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti there has been a greater unilateral executive authorization. Unless Obama is able to keep the intervention within the 60-90 day time limit, then I don't think he has much to worry about in terms of legality.

There is a cause for alarm. But, unlike most people, I think the root of the problem lies with US willingness for the United Nation to call the shots and - to some extent - dictate US foreign policy. We need to discuss multilateralism within the context of the United Nations, and then deal with Presidential powers.

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#13 [url]

Mar 23 11 1:58 PM

Drill, Bebê, Drill...

Let's see if I have this straight: America shouldn't drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico because our evil oil corporations surely will cause another accident like the BP spill and pollute all the oceans of the world; but it's no problema apparently for the obviously technologically superior Brazil to drill in the open Atlantic and sell their production to us?

At least that is what I gleaned from the encouraging words delivered by our president to Brazilian leaders in a speech to local businessmen in Brasilia last week. Discussing the partnering of our two national economies, the president said this:

The second place we want to partner with Brazil is on the issue of energy, which is why    President Rousseff and I also agreed to launch a Strategic Energy Dialogue.  By some estimates, the oil you recently discovered off the shores of Brazil could amount to twice reserves we have in the United States.  We want to work with you.  We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you're ready     to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers (emphasis added). At a time when we've been reminded how easily instability in other parts of the world can affect the price of oil, the United States could not be happier with the potential for a new, stable source of energy (emphasis added).

Admittedly, our president goes on to emphasize the need for clean energy development by both countries, but the immediate conclusion to be drawn from Obama's speech is that until such time as we get to this energy utopia, he is perfectly happy to let Brazil, not his own country and constituents, reap the wealth and job benefits associated with continued fossil fuel production.

While all Americans ought to be asking, "What the hell?" folks along the Gulf Coast should be soaking their torches and sharpening their pitchforks for a march on Washington. It is evident by now that Obama truly is a man of the world -- the Third World -- that is, and he is no more looking out for American economic interests than he's looking out for Hillary Clinton's political future.

If we should reach Obama's clean energy nirvana before all that Brazilian oil runs out, I suppose ours just stays there in the earth forever, hmm? But if their fields should be depleted before we achieve a totally unicorn-powered energy system, what then? I guess if the Democrats are in power, we can turn over all drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico to Petrobras, which already has offices and operations in Houston. Then we can borrow billions from the Chinese to construct an ocean floor pipeline to get all that crude down to Brazil where they can load it on tankers and sell it back to us so we can keep all our ridership-challenged (that's P.C. for empty for all you out there in Rio Linda) high speed trains running on time.

Which, when you consider it, sounds like another brilliant Democrat economic program. You oilfield workers on the Gulf Coast thinking about future employment better be brushing up on your Portuguese, know what I mean?

Drill, Bebê, Drill...

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#14 [url]

Mar 23 11 1:59 PM

Soros heavily involved in the 'Responsibility to Protect" movement

Barack Obama's adoption of the "Responsibility to Protect" justification for bombing Libya will create problems. Not only will this lead -- and has led to attacks against Israel and calls for international intervention in the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis -- but it also has the potential of being applied in a form of lawfare against America. When we engage militarily in other nations, civilian casualties are inevitable, especially since terrorists hide among civilian populations. There is one influential group that has been in the forefront of efforts to promote the idea that the international community is obligated to take measures (including military ones) to protect civilians. That group is the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect. Lo and behold! George Soros's Open Society Institute is one of the two foundations that bankroll this advocacy group (the other, the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation - a group that has, over the years, become known not just for its Genius Awards but also for its funding of left-leaning groups. It is headed by a former State Department official and we know how many of those diplomats think).
Soros, as I have also pointed out , has ties to Samantha Power-Obama's influential foreign policy adviser and one of the key people responsible for Obama's decision to attack Libya under the Responsibility to Protect rationale.
President Obama sought the approval of the Arab League and the international community before launching military attacks on Libya. He did not seek Congressional approval. This chronology illustrates his pattern of outsourcing our foreign policy to other nations and multilateral groups (as if the bowing, the abject apology for America's past actions, his praise for Europe, and other actions had not already indicated his ideology and likely future policies).
Soros, as always, is trying to weaken American sovereignty, harm Israel, and empower the so-called international community (as if the Arab League is not filled with tyrants).
And he has friends in the White House.

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#15 [url]

Mar 23 11 2:00 PM

For Democrats, taxes are for other people

Does Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) have the same presidential aspirations as her colleague, Senator John Kerry (D-MA)? Well, she sure is acting like him. Last week she admitted that
she had used taxpayer dollars from her Senate office account to pay for nearly 90 flights on a private charter plane co-owned by McCaskill, her husband and other investors.
The purpose of one of the trips billed to taxpayers - a roundtrip flight between St. Louis and Hannibal in 2007 - was purely political in nature, a violation of Senate ethics rules.
And so she sat right down and wrote a check for nearly $90,000 to reimburse the government. She was so embarrassed.

This week, she was embarrassed again, admitting

that after her own review of the plane's records, she had not paid personal property taxes on the aircraft over the past four years.
"I have discovered that the personal property taxes on the plane have not been paid. There should have been a reporting to the county of the existence of this plane. There are people I could blame for this, but I know better. I take full responsibility," McCaskill said to reporters, after revealing she had conducted her own audit of all 89 flights she had taken.
"This was a mistake, It should have been reported in Missouri. It will be paid in Missouri today," she said.
And so she sat right down again and breezily wrote a check for
$287,273 to St. Louis County Monday for the back taxes she owed between 2007 and 2010.

Well, ok, these things do happen, do get overlooked even from a politician

citing her advocacy for transparency and accountability in Congress.


The National Republican Senatorial Committee just revealed a new video capitalizing on McCaskill's past statement where she said, "If my walk doesn't match my talk, shame on me and don't ever vote for me again."
Last summer, the very wealthy Kerry--and yes, many Democrats are very wealthy--reluctantly paid $500,000 in state taxes after it was revealed he docked his extremely luxurious foreign built yacht in neighboring, lower taxed Rhode Island thus evading the higher home state Massachusetts taxes.

Now if you or I tried to evade personal taxes on our car or speedboat how much extra would we be fined by the Democrats who think nothing of taxing everything we own or do as they redistribute our wealth as they see fit?

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#17 [url]

Mar 23 11 4:06 PM

Senate Hearing To Protect Muslim Civil Rights


In “response to the spike in anti-Muslim bigotry,” the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has quietly scheduled a special hearing for early next week to better protect Muslim civil rights in .

Organized by Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, who chairs the judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, the event will mark the first-ever congressional hearing on Muslim civil rights. Durbin put it together because he claims there’s been a surge in anti-Muslim bigotry in the last year. As examples he offers Quran burnings, restrictions on mosque construction, hate crimes, hate speech, and other forms of discrimination.

Scheduled for March 29 in the , the hearing (“Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims”) will feature an all-star panel of leftist civil rights leaders, including the illegal immigrant advocate President Obama appointed to run a key division of the Justice Department. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who heads the agency’s civil rights division, is the headliner followed by Farhana Khera who runs a group called Muslim Advocates. Read about Perez’s latest shenanigans here.

In a speech at the Muslim Advocates annual dinner last year, Attorney General Eric Holder saluted the group and called it a partner in his agency’s mission to promote tolerance, ensure public safety and protect civil rights. Before the address Holder had met with Khera to discuss “shared concerns” about rising levels of religious intolerance and the unacceptable ”us versus them” mentality that the government has towards Muslims.

Those meetings were simply part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing Muslim outreach efforts. In the last year alone Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano discussed national security matters with a group of extremist Muslim organizations, the nation’s space agency (NASA) was ordered to focus on Muslim diplomacy and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a special order to allow the reentry of two radical Islamic academics whose terrorist ties long banned them from the U.S.

The Obama Administration also sent an America-bashing mosque leader (Feisal Abdul Rauf) who blames U.S. foreign policy for the 9/11 attacks on a Middle Eastern outreach mission and ordered a government-funded meal program for home-bound seniors to offer halal cuisine prepared according to Islamic law.

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#18 [url]

Mar 23 11 4:07 PM

Congress Asked To Pledge Respect To Latinos

Amid heated immigration debates, members of Congress are being asked to sign a pledge acknowledging the economic, civic and cultural contributions of Latinos and opposing “irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric” that “dehumanizes” them.

The contract is part of the “Pledge for Respect” campaign launched this month by the politically-connected National Council of La Raza (NCLR), which bills itself as the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the . The influential Mexican group receives millions of federal tax dollars annually to promote its leftist, open-borders agenda and has hundreds of branches throughout the nation.

NCLR leaders regularly attend congressional hearings as well as White House meetings and President Obama hired one of the group’s top officials (Cecilia Munoz) to serve in his administration. The commander-in-chief even violated his own lobbyist ban to make Munoz director of intergovernmental affairs even though she supervised all legislative and advocacy activities on the state and local levels for the NCLR, which is headquartered in

With that said, this isn’t merely a publicity stunt for the powerful NCLR, which is pushing the respect campaign as part of this year’s National Latino Advocacy Days. The idea is to reinforce that the Hispanic community is an integral part of the fabric of , according to the group, which is also using the opportunity to denounce politicians who use Latinos to exploit xenophobia for political gain.

The contract also forces members of Congress to promise that they’ll meet with advocates and leaders from the Hispanic nonprofit (that would include the NCLR) and business communities to hear their perspective on the “issues.” That way they could find a common ground based on “shared values and interests.”

To launch its respect campaign the NCLR enlisted a hip-hop band named after the Aztec astrological symbol of the monkey (Ozomatli). In a public service ad, members of the musical group claim that some candidates for public office have called for landmines on the U.S.-Mexico border and microchips to be implanted in undocumented immigrants. Others have used “stereotypical and menacing images of Latinos in their campaign ads.”

The message goes on to say that elected officials and states have fashioned “extreme draconian” proposals against the immigrant and Latino communities, including the elimination of ethnic studies programs in public schools, forcing publicly-funded hospitals to ask for patients’ immigration status and stripping U.S. citizenship from children born to illegal aliens. “It’s time to tell Congress that we won’t stand for this anymore. We need to know who is with us and who is against us! “

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#19 [url]

Mar 23 11 4:08 PM

U.S. demanding gay rights support at U.N. body

The Obama administration will introduce its first statement calling for the United Nations‘ top human rights body to combat discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world, completing a U.S. reversal from years of ambiguity on the subject during President George W. Bush's administration.
The U.S. declaration will be made Tuesday at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council and has the support of more than 80 countries. Although it is not in the form of binding resolution, the American push for U.N. action has helped win over a handful of new countries to the cause. A resolution could be brought to a vote later this year.
The issue of gay rights has polarized countries at the United Nations for years. And despite growing acceptance for homosexuality in Western nations and parts of Latin America, lawyers say there is still a gap in human rights treaties for the protection of gays against discrimination and mistreatment.
“We are very concerned that individuals continue to be killed, arrested and harassed around the world because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Suzanne Nossel, deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations. “This statement sends a strong message from across the globe that such abuses should not be tolerated.”
The U.S. document calls for nations to end any criminal punishments against lesbians, gays and bisexuals, and asks the global body to review how governments treat them in the U.N.’s human rights assessments. It acknowledges that “these are sensitive issues for many,” but the document insists that people must be freed from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

President Obama speaks at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, March 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Obama speaks at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, March 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Ms. Nossel said the United States was proud to be taking a leading role in promoting the idea that gay rights are human rights — among the sharper foreign policy redirections that occurred after President Obama took office.
Mr. Obama has stepped up the case for gay rights in recent months, winning a congressional vote to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military and urging last weekend in a joint statement with the Brazilian president for the establishment of a special investigator to monitor respect for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons in the Western Hemisphere.
Under the Bush administration, the U.S. policy was markedly different. The administration didn’t support a French resolution at the U.N. General Assembly in 2008 that addressed similar concerns, joining Russia, China, the Vatican and Islamic states in opposition. The United States explained its position at the time in technical terms, saying it was fearful of language that would infringe on the right of American states to legislate matters such as gay marriage.
In December, even the Obama administration held back from voting for a U.N. resolution condemning killings of vulnerable people around the world after specifically proposing an amendment to protect people based on their sexual orientation. At issue was a separate, arcane legal dispute over international human rights law.
U.N. General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions aren’t legally binding; they reflect only the view of the majority of the world’s nations.
Story Continues →

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#20 [url]

Mar 23 11 4:09 PM

Why is the United States Helping Al Qaeda in Libya?

Why is the United States helping the Libyan rebels who are backed by Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic interests?  Why are we assisting groups which seek to overthrow our own country in the “long run?”  Why are some conservative writers and leaders  so anxious to find a “George Washington” when what we have is Osama bin Laden and company?

These are not “democracy-loving” rebels, these are jihadists.  

Osama bin Laden -- alive or dead, his agenda continues

Daniel Greenfield at SultanKnish:
Osama Bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa against America was the first domino in a chain of events that was meant to accomplish three goals.
1) Unify Muslims in a war against Western civilization
2) Topple the governments of the Muslim world, and replace them with fully Islamist regimes.
3) Build a regional and then global Muslim Caliphate
Phase 2 is now well under way. And America and European warplanes are bombing Libya to help clear the way for it. Just as we already did in Yugoslavia and Iraq. It is unknown whether Bin Laden is still alive or not, but his goals are being met. Muslims now see the defeat of Western civilization as an important and an achievable goal. Our democracy and nation building efforts have toppled much of the old order, and those best positioned to benefit from it are the Islamists.
The East underestimated the sheer amount of firepower that the West had at its disposal, but the West once again underestimated how well the East could use its strength against it, corrupt its purposes and make it serve its goals instead.
UK Telegraph:
“WikiLeaks cables, independent analysts and reporters have all identified supporters of Islamist causes among the opposition to Col Gaddafi’s regime, particularly in the towns of Benghazi and Dernah.
An al-Qaeda leader of Libyan origin, Abu Yahya al-Libi, released a statement backing the insurrection a week ago, while Yusuf Qaradawi, the Qatar-based, Muslim Brotherhood-linked theologian issued a fatwa authorising Col Gaddafi’s military entourage to assassinate him.”

Abu Yahya al-Libi

Andrew McCarthy, author of Grand Jihad, writes for NRO:
“The [Muslim] Brotherhood, once again, is all over this. As I summarized in a column last week:
As in Egypt, the main opposition is the Muslim Brotherhood — avowed enemies of the West whose goal is the establishment of sharia states. The National Front for the Salvation of Libya is also a largely Islamist opposition group — one that was stronger until many of its Islamist members split off because they objected to the group’s acceptance of U.S. support in the 1980s. There are other Islamist and leftist groups, including violent jihadists. Moreover, Libya is virulently anti-Israeli, and a disturbing anti-Semitism courses through the opposition. (See this Pajamas report, as well as this post by Andrew Bostom on the history of anti-Semitism in Libya.) Whatever regime comes after Qaddafi is likely to be anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Israeli.”
British cleric Anjem Choudary says al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood have assets on the ground in Libya and are ready to take control if Moammar Gadhafi is removed from power.
The top Muslim cleric accuses the U. S. and French-led coalition trying to topple Gadhafi of working to install a puppet regime, but he says there are al-Qaida operatives in Libya who will stop the West from installing a friendly government.
“Al-Qaida has their own agents and their own people in the region who are propagating their own Islamic ideas and their agenda. At the right time they will make the move, and we will see the emergence of Islam and Shariah in that particular region,” Choudary said.
“The power vacuum is very useful for anyone who has an agenda and an alternative system to put in its place,” he said.
“Al-Qaida is in fact a philosophy and an idea which is franchised now all around the world. You don’t necessarily have to be a member of al-Qaida. If you believe in the Shariah and if you believe in the concept of jihad, and you want Islam to be implemented, then you are adhering to the same ideas as the people of al-Qaida,” said Choudary.

“This is widespread throughout Africa and the more these people resist against oppression, the more they see the Americans, the British and the French bombing Muslims, the more they will be drawn towards Shariah as an alternative,” Choudary said.
Florida Security Council President Tom Trento agrees.
“He is telling the truth, because North Africa from Cairo going West has deep penetration by the Muslim Brotherhood. We also know that Gadhafi is hated by and hates the Brotherhood and al-Qaida,” Trento said.
“We also know that al-Qaida has their heart set on controlling petroleum. Libya is the No. 4 producer. There is no bigger prize in northern Africa than Libya right now,” Trento said.
Jihad Watch publisher and Islam analyst Robert Spencer says that Choudary’s accusation that the U. S. and French-led coalition plans to install a puppet regime is giving the coalition way too much credit.
“Anjem Choudary is being a bit fanciful in suggesting the coalition that is attacking Gadhafi now from the West is going to install some Western puppet government,” Spencer analyzed.
“The glaring omission in this whole enterprise has been any discussion or any hint that anyone in this coalition has any idea of what’s going to follow Gadhafi at all or has made any provision for a post-Gadhafi Libya,” he observed.
But Spencer supports the analysts who say that radical Islam groups are on the ground in Libya and are prepared to take control.
“That’s the big problem with it, that the largest organized forces in Libya opposing Gadhafi are Islamic supremacist, pro-Shariah groups, including al-Qaida. So they’re most likely to be the beneficiaries of this intervention,” Spencer said.”
Boston Globe:
In a Globe op-ed column yesterday, former US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns raises a question about President Obama’s Libya strategy that should give even the president’s most ardent supporters some pause: This is “the first time in American history,” Burns notes, that “we have used our military power to prop up and possibly put in power a group of people we literally do not know.”
UPDATE:  Libyan rebels announce interim government
UPDATE:  Libyan Air Force “Wiped Out,” RAF says

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