Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Will a Muslim Kill YOU?

My friends have noticed I am writing far fewer columns these days; this is due to old age and a growing disgust with both parties.  One subject that makes my blood boil, though, is the inexplicable refusal of liberals, from Pres. Obama on down, to discuss honestly and face the problem of Muslim terrorism on the part of violent jihadists and the problem of the attempts by almost all “peaceful” Muslims to impose their draconian sharia on the rest of us.

 In just the past month or so we have had the Boston Marathon bombings, the hacking to death and dismemberment of a British soldier in London, the stabbing of a French soldier, and the rioting in Sweden of “youths” – all carried out by violent Muslims – and yet no mention of this essential, underlying connection by liberal politicians or by the liberal press.

This political correctness not only makes no sense, but it will kill us.  It is illogical because Islam preaches violence against women and homosexuals, the death by stoning of adulterers, ‘honor’ killings and many other practices which liberals should abhor.

The following piece was written by a well-known champion of womens’ rights, who is an escapee from a Muslim country:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: The Problem of Muslim Leadership

Another Islamist terror attack, another round of assurances that it had nothing to do with the religion of peace.

By AYAAN HIRSI ALI  May 27,2013  Wall St Journal

I've seen this before. A Muslim terrorist slays a non-Muslim citizen in the West, and representatives of the Muslim community rush to dissociate themselves and their faith from the horror. After British soldier Lee Rigby was hacked to death last week in Woolwich in south London, Julie Siddiqi, representing the Islamic Society of Britain, quickly stepped before the microphones to attest that all good Muslims were "sickened" by the attack, "just like everyone else."
This happens every time. Muslim men wearing suits and ties, or women wearing stylish headscarves, are sent out to reassure the world that these attacks have no place in real Islam, that they are aberrations and corruptions of the true faith.

But then what to make of Omar Bakri? He too claims to speak for the true faith, though he was unavailable for cameras in England last week because the Islamist group he founded, Al-Muhajiroun, was banned in Britain in 2010. Instead, he talked to the media from Tripoli in northern Lebanon, where he now lives. Michael Adebolajo—the accused Woolwich killer who was seen on a video at the scene of the murder, talking to the camera while displaying his bloody hands and a meat cleaver—was Bakri's student a decade ago, before his group was banned. "A quiet man, very shy, asking lots of questions about Islam," Bakri recalled last week. The teacher was impressed to see in the grisly video how far his shy disciple had come, "standing firm, courageous, brave. Not running away."
Bakri also told the press: "The Prophet said an infidel and his killer will not meet in Hell. That's a beautiful saying. May God reward [Adebolajo] for his actions . . . I don't see it as a crime as far as Islam is concerned."

The question requiring an answer at this moment in history is clear: Which group of leaders really speaks for Islam? The officially approved spokesmen for the "Muslim community"? Or the manic street preachers of political Islam, who indoctrinate, encourage and train the killers—and then bless their bloodshed?

In America, too, the question is pressing. Who speaks for Islam? The Council on American-Islamic Relations, America's largest Muslim civil-liberties advocacy organization? Or one of the many Web-based jihadists who have stepped in to take the place of the late Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born al Qaeda recruiter?
Some refuse even to admit that this is the question on everyone's mind. Amazingly, given the litany of Islamist attacks—from the 9/11 nightmare in America and the London bombings of July 7, 2005, to the slayings at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009, at the Boston Marathon last month and now Woolwich—some continue to deny any link between Islam and terrorism. This week, BBC political editor Nick Robinson had to apologize for saying on the air, as the news in Woolwich broke, that the men who murdered Lee Rigby were "of Muslim appearance."

Memo to the BBC: The killers were shouting "Allahu akbar" as they struck. Yet when complaints rained down on the BBC about Mr. Robinson's word choice, he felt obliged to atone. One can only wonder at people who can be so exquisitely sensitive in protecting Islam's reputation yet so utterly desensitized to a hideous murder explicitly committed in the name of Islam.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Woolwich murder, it was good to hear expressions of horror and sympathy from Islamic spokesmen, but something more is desperately required: genuine recognition of the problem with Islam.

Muslim leaders should ask themselves what exactly their relationship is to a political movement that encourages young men to kill and maim on religious grounds. Think of the Tsarnaev brothers and the way they justified the mayhem they caused in Boston. Ponder carefully the words last week of Michael Adebolajo, his hands splashed with blood: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day."
My friend, the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, was murdered in 2004 for having been insufficiently reverent toward Islam. In the courtroom, the killer looked at Theo's mother and said to her: "I must confess honestly that I do not empathize with you. I do not feel your pain. . . . I cannot empathize with you because you are an unbeliever."

And yet, after nearly a decade of similar rhetoric from Islamists around the world, last week the Guardian newspaper could still run a headline quoting a Muslim Londoner: "These poor idiots have nothing to do with Islam." Really? Nothing?
Of course, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists or sympathetic to terrorists. Equating all Muslims with terrorism is stupid and wrong. But acknowledging that there is a link between Islam and terror is appropriate and necessary.

On both sides of the Atlantic, politicians, academics and the media have shown incredible patience as the drumbeat of Islamist terror attacks continues. When President Obama gave his first statement about the Boston bombings, he didn't mention Islam at all. This week, Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson have repeated the reassuring statements of the Muslim leaders to the effect that Lee Rigby's murder has nothing to do with Islam.

But many ordinary people hear such statements and scratch their heads in bewilderment. A murderer kills a young father while yelling "Allahu akbar" and it's got nothing to do with Islam?
I don't blame Western leaders. They are doing their best to keep the lid on what could become a meltdown of trust between majority populations and Muslim minority communities.

But I do blame Muslim leaders. It is time they came up with more credible talking points. Their communities have a serious problem. Young people, some of whom are not born into the faith, are being fired up by preachers using basic Islamic scripture and mobilized to wage jihad by radical imams who represent themselves as legitimate Muslim clergymen.
I wonder what would happen if Muslim leaders like Julie Siddiqi started a public and persistent campaign to discredit these Islamist advocates of mayhem and murder. Not just uttering the usual laments after another horrifying attack, but making a constant, high-profile effort to show the world that the preachers of hate are illegitimate. After the next zealot has killed the next victim of political Islam, claims about the "religion of peace" would ring truer.

Ms. Hirsi Ali is the author of "Nomad: My Journey from Islam to America" (Free Press, 2010). She is a fellow at the Belfer Center of Harvard's Kennedy School and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.


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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

No Time to Expand the IRS

Yesterday the IRS official in charge of the punitive audits, the harassment and the deliberate mishandling of conservative applications (and the fast-tracking of the applications of Obama supporters) announced she was taking the “fifth” in her congressional testimony.
Time to Go for the Kill

By Peter Ferrara  5.22.13  American Spectator

 The IRS scandal means House Republicans can defund Obamacare for good.

 The IRS scandal provides Republicans and conservatives with the opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare now. The House Republican majority should refuse to fund the expansion of the IRS necessary to manage Obamacare. Without that funding, and hiring thousands of additional agents, the IRS cannot even begin to manage Obamacare.

President Obama may throw a fit. He may refuse to sign funding bills to keep the federal government open. No matter. Let him close his government down if he wants. Nobody wants the IRS playing political games with their health care and health records, like it did with the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and Equal Protection of Tea Party and conservative organizations. Contribute to the Republican Party? Attend a Tea Party protest? Good luck getting your Obamacare health insurance tax credit application approved. Good luck finding a doctor the government will pay to do that operation your kid needs.
Obama can flail away all he wants. The public will now back the Republicans in this fight, just as it did in the sequester battle. But won’t the public feel that the Republicans would be irresponsible to just refuse to fund Obamacare, leaving the health system in chaos?

That is why the Republicans need to back up their IRS Obamacare chokehold with legislation proposing free market, Patient Power health care reforms to replace Obamacare. (A comprehensive, free-market health reform plan to replace Obamacare has already been proposed by John Goodman and myself in our NCPA paper, “Health Care for All Without the Affordable Care Act.”)

 Going for the Jugular of Obamacare
President Obama sold Obamacare to the 40% of the nation that supports it on the grounds that it would provide universal health insurance. But the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scores the legislation as still leaving 30 million uninsured 10 years after full implementation.

It will be much worse than even that, however. In fact, for the reasons I explain below, it is quite possible there will be more people uninsured after Obamacare goes into effect than before. That is the exposed jugular of Obamacare. Those who’ve been supporting it have done so because they believe in universal health care. If Obamacare is going to make the problem worse rather than better, for all of its costs, then public support for replacing it with a better plan will explode. As I will also explain, the free market, Patient Power plan that Republicans should now advance would assure universal health care for all, with no individual mandate, and no employer mandate, at a cost savings of at least $2 trillion over the next 10 years, as compared to current law.
The employer mandate under Obamacare doesn’t just require employers to provide health insurance to their employees. Employers must provide the health insurance that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius specifies that they must buy, to satisfy the employer mandate requirement. That will include, of course, every politically correct benefit and coverage, which will make the required insurance very expensive, in the range of $15,000 to $20,000 for a family plan. But under Obamacare, employers can just pay a fine of $3,000 per employee, and forego the much higher cost of the mandated health insurance altogether. Even many employers who currently provide health insurance will see this as a better deal, and terminate coverage, especially since they will no longer be free to choose their own coverage. Kathleen Sebelius will be choosing it instead, forcing the costs of their current coverage up.

This is why even the Washington Establishment CBO reported in February that “in 2019, an estimated 12 million people who would have had an offer of employment-based coverage under prior law will lose their offer under current law.” CBO estimated that the number losing their employer-provided health insurance could rise as high as 20 million.
But that is surely an underestimate as well. As the response of dropping employer coverage grows, competitive pressure for more and more employers to do so and avoid Obamacare’s costs will rise, spreading the practice further. Former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin estimated in a study for the American Action Forum that 42 million workers will lose their employer-provided coverage under Obamacare. Given the strong incentives for doing so, it could be two or three times higher.

Other employer practices for avoiding the costs of Obamacare will further increase the number of uninsured. The employer mandate only applies to full-time workers, defined as those working more than 30 hours a week. But already we see a marked trend in the labor market of millions of workers suffering cutbacks to 29 hours a week, another practice that may well accelerate as more employers do it, and it consequently becomes more accepted in labor markets. The employer mandate also does not require any coverage for dependents of their workers. So expect to see many more uninsured as employers drop their family coverage. Employers will not even pay any employer mandate penalty for these practices.
We will see dramatic steps to avoid the costs of Obamacare in the individual health insurance market as well. The penalty for failing to comply with the individual mandate is only $2,000, so the savings for avoiding the costly Obamacare health insurance will be even greater. Moreover, even this penalty is not enforceable under Obamacare. When an amendment to remove the power of the IRS to garnish wages or seize assets to enforce the penalty was put to a vote, Congress did not want to go on record authorizing such measures. So we can expect millions more in the individual health insurance market to become uninsured as well.

In addition, everybody will know that under Obamacare’s guaranteed issue regulation, insurers must accept everyone who applies for coverage no matter how sick and costly they have become. Moreover, under Obamacare’s community rating regulation, insurers cannot charge those sick applicants any more than they charge others. So everyone can just wait until they get sick with a costly illness to get coverage, at no extra cost, meaning millions more uninsured.

Of course, that will drive up the cost of health insurance even more, just as it would for fire insurance if homeowners could wait until their homes caught on fire to call for coverage, at no extra charge. That is why health insurance experts are estimating that Obamacare will double and triple premiums for many workers and small businesses, particularly for coverage for young and healthy workers. That will cause millions more to drop coverage, the lower cost young and healthy in particular. A market survey conducted for American Action Forum found that 17 percent would drop coverage if premiums rose just 10 percent, 35 percent would drop coverage if premiums rose 20%, and 45% would drop coverage if premiums rose 30 percent.
Of course, if the low cost young and healthy drop out, that will just drive up premiums for the remaining sicker even more. That will mean still more healthy people dropping their coverage. The resulting financial death spiral would quite likely drive some insurers out of business altogether, meaning still more uninsured. This all could quite possibly mean more uninsured under Obamacare than before.

Universal Health Care Without Obamacare
But the NCPA study referenced above shows how health care for all can be assured, with no individual mandate, no employer mandate, and a savings of at least $2 trillion as compared to Obamacare.

To assure health care for the poor uninsured, Medicaid would be reformed with block grants sending the federal funding to the states, just as was done for the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program in 1996. Those AFDC block grants reduced the cost of that program by 50% from where it would have been otherwise under prior trends. CBO has scored Medicaid block grant legislation already drafted and introduced by Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN), as designed by the Carleson Center for Welfare Reform, as by itself saving $2 trillion over the next 10 years.
States could provide the poor with health insurance vouchers to buy the private health insurance of their choice in the market, where competition would drive down costs. The poor could use those vouchers to choose Health Savings Accounts, with proven, market incentives to drive health costs down further. When the Bush Administration granted Rhode Island a waiver allowing the state the same flexibility as with block grants, the state signed the poor up with managed care institutions ensuring their access to health care.

Such reform would greatly benefit the poor, because Medicaid so badly underpays doctors and hospitals that the poor on the program face grave difficulties finding timely, essential care. They are documented in studies to suffer worse health outcomes as a result, including premature death. But with private, market health insurance, they would enjoy the same health care as the middle class, because they would have the same health insurance as the middle class. The Rhode Island reforms were documented to improve health care access for the poor over Medicaid as well.
To assure health care for the sick uninsured who have become too costly to buy health insurance for the first time in a private, competitive market, states would receive federal assistance to set up High Risk pools. Those who could not buy insurance in the private market because they were already too ill would go to the High Risk pool to get coverage. They would be charged premiums based on ability to pay, with state subsidies covering remaining costs. Such High Risk pools have been established in 30 states, and have worked well at quite modest costs, because few people actually become too sick to buy private health insurance in the market.

These High Risk pools would also provide the solution for pre-existing conditions as well, because those who could not get private coverage for those conditions could go the High Risk pool.
The law has long provided that those with health insurance cannot be cut off from such insurance after they become sick. Indeed, that is prohibited under common law fraud. That prohibition was federalized under the Kennedy-Kassebaum legislation of 1996. If the law needs to be updated to close any loopholes, it should be.

The NCPA-healthcare-for-all-without-Obamacare plan also provides for a Consumer Choice Tax Credit that would expand the same tax benefits of employer-provided health coverage to everyone. Everyone would be eligible for a refundable tax credit of $2,500 to $3,000, which would go to employers that provided health coverage as well as to individuals who obtained health coverage on their own. This would replace both the Obamacare health insurance tax credits, and the current employer health insurance tax benefits, at an additional savings of a trillion dollars or more over 10 years. The NCPA plan even provides that for those who fail to use this tax credit to buy health insurance, the subsidy per person would go to the local government where they reside to be used for indigent care.
Consequently, everyone would be assured of health care when they need it. Those who already have coverage would be assured they could keep it. Those who were too poor to buy health insurance would receive assistance to buy it. Those uninsured who became too sick to buy health insurance for the first time in the market would be able to get essential coverage from the High Risk pools. That provides a solution for pre-existing conditions that cannot be covered in the private market as well.

Additional provisions in the federal legislation for this NCPA plan can provide for the interstate sale of health insurance, creating a national, competitive market that can further drive health costs down. It can provide for medical malpractice reform as well, for a complete health cost strategy. And the hundreds of bureaucracies created for Obamacare can also be abolished, for further savings.
Unlike Obamacare, this truly American health reform plan greatly expands Patient Power and choice, providing better health care, while reducing costs through market competition, incentives, and choice.




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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The IRS Scandal -- a Basic Primer

I thought it important that the facts of the most serious political scandal of the last 35 years be clearly stated.

The IRS Scandal -- a Basic Primer

By Jonathon Moseley  May 18, 2013  AmericanThinker

Confusion about the IRS scandal is distracting from its importance, so that thinking conservatives should be prepared to debate the issue. Some basics matter. Conservatives may need to share a summary such as this article to help convince moderate friends.

Callers to C-SPAN badly misunderstood these details when Jenny Beth Martin, Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, appeared on C-SPAN television last week. I interviewed Keli Carender of Tea Party Patriots on the radio on May15, who helped clarify some of the pushback and distractions from liberals.

First, don't let people forget: the IRS scandal is not about conservative accusations. The Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury issued a report finding that the Internal Revenue Service sharply discriminated against conservative organizations. This is confirmed by Treasury's Inspector General.

Second, a group's political beliefs and positions ought to be totally irrelevant. Tax exemption must be based on what an organization does, not what it believes or what positions it supports. Whether a group teaches the Constitution or teaches union tactics doesn't matter, it is educating either way. Therefore, the IRS should not have been looking at the name of the organization, whether liberal or conservative, but on the substance of the organization.

Third, many people don't realize that nearly all liberal political organizations are tax exempt. There has been a lot of distraction and diversion focused on whether or not the IRS should have scrutinized tea party groups. However,, NARAL Pro-Choice America, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood (which has been active in partisan election campaigns), Media Matters, etc., are all tax exempt. Organizations on the Left similar to tea party groups have had tax exempt status forever.

Fourth, don't allow people to wander away from the central point that the scandal is about a double standard -- not whether people believe political organizations should be tax exempt. Conservatives seeking tax exempt status were treated very differently from similarly-situated liberal organizations. Sure, some liberal groups were scrutinized. But conservatives were treated differently.

IRS official Lois Lerner fast-walked the tax-exempt application of Barack Obama's half-brother, the best man at President Obama's wedding. Abon'go "Roy' Malik Obama got tax-exempt status in a bureaucratic breakneck speed, in only 30 days, in May 2011, even though it is unclear what if anything the Barack H. Obama Foundation actually does or has done since being approved.

When a conservative organization Media Trackers couldn't get approved after 8 months, it changed its project to the liberal-sounding name "Greenhouse Solutions." With the new name, the exact same project was approved within 3 weeks.

Liberal groups -- even with very political activities -- were systematically approved, and quickly, with relatively little burden or scrutiny, as reported by USA Today.

Groups supporting Israel were discriminated against. In August 2010, a pro-Israel group "Z Street" filed a Federal lawsuit when an IRS staff member admitted that all Israel-related groups were singled out by the IRS for extra scrutiny. There will be a hearing this July 2013, after the case was transferred to the Federal district in Washington, D.C.

The IRS demanded that a Pro-Life group promote abortion in order to get tax-exempt status. No liberal group has such a requirement. NARAL and Planned Parenthood are not required to promote abstinence, adoption, or Pro-Life Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

It is the law that the IRS must answer within 270 days for 501(c)(3) organizations, yet the IRS delayed conservative organizations for more than 540 days.

Fifth, there are many different types of tea party organizations. Some tea party organizations are Political Action Committees (PAC's) which are directly involved in election campaigns. Others focus purely on training tea party organizers and members on how to be effective in organizing events and lobbying on legislation. Some purely educate about the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Federalist Papers, etc. Others lobby on pending legislation.

So when the public hears about tea party organizations applying for tax exempt status, they often imagine only campaigning for or against a candidate. That is not tax exempt. Some tea party groups qualify. Some don't.

Sixth, many have questioned whether the IRS wasn't doing the job it should have done by asking questions of tea party groups seeking tax exempt status. No one objects to the IRS obtaining basic information and asking reasonable questions. The problem is that the IRS bombarded tea party and conservative groups with multiple waves of a huge number of very intrusive questions. And the wave after wave of questions seemed aimed at never getting around to finishing the process or persuading groups to simply give up and abandon their application.

Seventh, many don't recognize what 'tax exempt' means. It means that if someone donates to a tea party group, the donations are not taxed as income. Otherwise, any political organization would have to pay income taxes on donations.

A tax-exempt organization may still have to pay taxes on other income, such as sales of products or services. Some C-SPAN callers imagined that people in such groups don't pay income taxes. Of course, people running or working in tax-exempt groups pay income taxes on their salary the same as everyone else.

There are four important categories:

1. A 501(c)(4) organization is tax-exempt (they don't pay income taxes on donations). A 501(c)(4) organization is allowed to lobby for or against legislation, but is not allowed to advocate for or against a candidate. A 501(c)(4) also can do anything a 501(c)(3) can do.

2. A 501(c)(3) organization is both tax-exempt and tax-deductible. That is, contributors can deduct their donations from their income taxes. It is much more difficult to qualify for 501(c)(3) status. A 501(c)(3) cannot lobby for or against legislation (except to an insignificant extent) and may not engage in any partisan' (campaign) activity. A 501(c)(3) can educate the public on policy, issues, the advantages and disadvantages of various political policies and topics like the Constitution, concepts of our Founding Fathers, etc. or train citizens.

3. A Political Action Committee (PAC or Super-PAC) intervenes directly in partisan campaigns and does not qualify as tax exempt.

4. A 527 organization is a recent development, which also intervenes directly in partisan campaigns and does not qualify as tax exempt.

Eighth, many are not aware of the difference between 'political' and 'partisan.' Tax exempt organizations are allowed to engage in public discussion and lobbying of 'political' issues affecting society. That is very different from 'partisan' activity. 'Partisan' means influencing a campaign -- that is, advocating for or against a candidate in an election (not necessarily just discussing policy or issues).

An example is the liberal Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, tax deductible foundation. Its head Melanie Sloan earns $230,000 per year. CREW does nothing but slander conservative Republicans and a few Democrats who get out of line with mostly false accusations.

Christine O'Donnell won the Republican primary for United States Senate from Delaware. This was learned at 8:00 PM on September 14, 2010. By about 11:00 AM on September 15, 2010, CREW started attacking Christine O'Donnell and publicly declaring that Christine belongs in jail not in the Senate.

Advocating for or against a candidate is the test of 'partisan' (campaign) activity that is prohibited for a tax-exempt organization. CREW ignored Christine until she won the GOP Primary. But within hours CREW started attacking her. CREW explicitly referenced her status as a candidate, and specifically that she does not belong in the Senate. Melanie Sloan explicitly said that the voters should know all this when they go to vote in November 2010.

I noticed this pattern and conceived, developed, planned, and drafted the complaint against CREW to the IRS, which ChristinePAC later filed with the IRS in July 2011. Yet two years later, the IRS has done nothing. Melanie Sloan's parents are big donors to former Delaware Senator Joe Biden and CREW attacks conservatives. Don't expect the IRS to hold liberals responsible for anything.


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