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Sunday, October 14, 2012
New York Review of Books calls for criminalizing of criticism of Islam
From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer
This piece by the formerly respectable Islamic scholar Malise Ruthven is so full of errors, false claims, and inaccuracies that it is surprising that the New York Review of Books published it at all. On the other hand, as the mainstream media increasingly abandons all pretense of objective reporting and becomes ever more a propaganda arm for the Left and Islamic supremacists, it isn't all that surprising after all.
"Can Islam Be Criticized?," by Malise Ruthven in the New York Review of Books, October 11:
"Can Islam Be Criticized?," by Malise Ruthven in the New York Review of Books, October 11:
...On the motives behind the film Rushdie is surely right: researchers have revealed close connections between Nakoula, a militant Coptic separatist, and out-and-out Islamophobes such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. (Indeed, even as people in the Middle East were rioting against the film in late September, Geller was sponsoring a controversial anti-Muslim advertising campaign in the New York subway, raising questions about hate speech in the United States.)...False in every respect. Pamela Geller and I have no connections whatsoever, close or otherwise, to Nakoula, who may not be a "militant Coptic separatist" or a Copt at all. Geller's advertising was not "anti-Muslim," but against jihad attacks against innocent civilians. Ruthven's use of the manipulative and inaccurate media slogans "anti-Muslim" and "Islamophobe" is unworthy of him as a scholar, as is his willing propagation of the spurious concept of "Islamophobia," which Islamic supremacist groups use nowadays to intimidate people into thinking that there is something wrong and "racist" about resisting jihad.
Matthew Feldman, a political scientist, has used the term “Christianism” to describe ultra-right-wing anti-Muslim polemicists such as Geller and the Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones, who also supported the film, in order to highlight their similarities to their Islamist enemies. Both rely on religious feelings to mobilize much larger groups because of the esteem for their respective religions in the broader cultures in which they reside....This is even more of a howler than Ruthven's claim that we were behind the Muhammad movie: Pamela Geller, who is deeply proud of her Jewish identity, is now a "Christianist" who is relying on "religious feelings" to "mobilize larger groups"? It is astonishing that Ruthven would have the audacity to write about people that he clearly knows nothing about. In reality, the American Freedom Defense Initiative that Pamela Geller and I head up is not a religious organization, but is dedicated to defending the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law. Clearly these are "ultra-right-wing anti-Muslim" goals!
These contrasting responses suggest the possibility of a two-pronged approach to the free speech issues raised by images of the Prophet. “Insulting” the Prophet with the intent of stirring up hatred might be categorized as a form of “hate speech” comparable to anti-Semitism, racism, flag desecration, or Holocaust denial, which are forbidden by law in many countries (though not the US, where a proposed amendment protecting the US flag failed to pass by a single Senate vote in 2006), because the sacred image of the Prophet has become a fundamental part of how Muslim communities have come to define themselves. While in practice it may be difficult to draw the line between “insult” and “criticism,” if there is a distinction it must lie in intention.Who will judge intentions, once Ruthven's authoritarian law is passed? What will Malise Ruthven do if someone in power decides that something he has written about Islam was actually intended to "insult" Muslims, rather than to provide reasonable "criticism"? And why is the New York Review of Books publishing this invitation to the suicide of the free press?
Obamacare 2013: Now Playing At A State Capitol Near You
By: Austin Hill / Townhall Columnist
If elected, Mitt Romney vows to “end” it.
But regardless of who wins the presidency next month, conscientious voters need to know this: Obamacare is already costing taxpayers lots of money, and within the next few months it will cost millions of dollars more.
It’s bad enough that President Obama’s “if you like your Doctor, you can keep your Doctor”promise has proven false. And it’s bad enough that his promise to “bend the healthcare cost curve downward” has proven to be fictitious, as well (according to MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber prices for private insurance will likely increase 30% by 2016 – this, despite Gruber’s support of the President’s claims in 2009).
Now, state governments are spending taxpayer-funded time and resources figuring out how to comply with the federal mandates. The Obamacare law has imposed a deadline of November 16th, whereby the states must explain to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services what they intend to do about the establishment of their respective “healthcare exchanges” - the government organized group of standardized health insurance plans from which citizens private citizens and organizations will be permitted to purchase health plans – and the states are deciding now how to proceed.
According to the law, each state can choose one of three options when it comes to setting up an exchange:
A) the state can establish an exchange on its own; B) the state can let the federal government set up an exchange on the state’s behalf; or C) the state can choose a “hybrid” approach, and co-mingle both state and federal authorities and resources and produce an exchange together.
Back in August of this year, members of the U.S. House of Representatives heard testimony about the exchanges from Michael Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Cannon noted at the time that, given the way the Obamacare law is written, the sitting Secretary of Health and Human Services (whomever that happens to be at any given time) has broad authority to impose requirements and restrictions on a “state exchange,” regardless of whether the individual state government constructs the exchange or if the federal government does it for the state. In cases where a state seeks to set up an exchange, the federal government will ultimately determine which health insurance plans will be “allowed” to be bought and sold in that state, and what those health insurance plans will cover.
Cannon spelled-out this reality in no uncertain terms: “If what you want is a federally run health insurance exchange in your state – a government agency controlling the private health insurance market – if what you want is the federal government to control your state, the best thing you can do is establish an exchange” he told the congressional members. He also noted that once a state makes the overture towards creating an exchange, there is probably no turning back on that decision, legally speaking; the state at that point will have forfeited its sovereignty and will likely not regain it.
For states that don’t want a “federally run health insurance exchange,” Cannon had a fascinating suggestion: don’t do anything. “If the state does not establish an exchange then there might not be an exchange at all” Cannon noted. The reason for this is simply because Congress never approved any funding for the state health insurance exchanges, and given how politically unpopular Obamacare is today, Congress probably won’t approve any such funding for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, state government officials are consulting with outside “experts,” and each other, in hopes of determining how to proceed. Just last week, a task force selected by Idaho Governor Butch Otter met and heard over six hours of testimony from both private consultants, and officials from other states.
Bruce Greenstein, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, told the Idaho task force that Louisiana has chosen not to create its own exchange.“There is really no way to effectively estimate the state’s costs for creating an exchange and the provisions in the law are vague,” he said. His associate, Carol Steckel, added that “we view this law as a ‘one size fits all’ effort that cannibalizes the private insurance markets. It doesn’t work for us here in Louisiana.”
Jonathan Hurst, a policy advisor to Texas Governor Rick Perry, described the insurance exchange mandate as a “logistical and administrative nightmare,” and noted that “90 percent of the rules that will govern these things have yet to be written” (the hastily drafted Obamacare law makes reference to “future rules” that haven’t been established yet). Hurst said that Texas is not pursuing a state exchange, noting that there are “too many risks and unknowns” in the law, and a state that pursues an exchange today could be held liable for violating rules that will be established sometime later.
Perhaps most striking was the testimony heard in Idaho from representatives of KPMG, the global accounting and professional services firm. Hired by Idaho to research the costs of creating a state exchange, KPMG reported the price to be approximately $77 million to design and implement the exchange, with recurring operational costs estimated to be $10 million annually.
When asked by one of the Idaho task force members what the state would get in return for this estimated $77 million expenditure, KPMG representative Andrew Gottschalk was vague: “It’s hard to explain exactly what you get…It’s hardware, it’s software, there’s infrastructure, there’s people and staffing” he stated.
“There would likely be a call center. It’s all kinds of things… there’s a lot of stuff….but it’s hard to be specific.”
But there are two things we can be specific about. As states spend taxpayer dollars crafting programs and plans, the cost of healthcare continues rise.
Explaining Romney's Surge
By: Hugh Hewitt / Townhall Daily
Thursday night's debate between Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan went according to the super-secret plan of Karl Rove to not only defeat but deeply embarrass the Democratic Party.
Rove had previously arranged for President Obama to take two Ambien before the first debate.
Not even a maniacal, all-powerful Rove could be blamed for the Democrats decision to attempt to cover-up the details of the terrible tragedy in Benghazi or the serial malfeasances before or after the attack of 9/11 that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans --Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods. The collapse of the president in the first debate and the implosion of the vice president in the second were mere political misfortunes, but the murders in Benghazi were horrible personal tragedies and a national nightmare.
That Obama spokesperson Stephanie Cutter then politicized the deaths by blaming the attention paid to them on politics rather than on the trauma of a shocked nation left her radioactive and forever branded as the operative willing to say anything.
These are the events that changed a nation's mood and the election that is to be held after the shift.
Many will always argue that Mitt Romney would have surged into the lead in any event given the underlying economic havoc the president has wrecked upon the country, and indeed that is the fundamental premise of the University of Colorado model that has correctly predicted the result in presidential elections back to 1980.
It is the state of the state-by-state economies that drive their votes according to this model, and this model, updated and released this week, shows Mitt Romney accumulating 330 electoral college votes and romping to a victory.
Whatever the reason --terrible debate performances, a searing national tragedy brought about by terrorists and its cover-up, or economic misery on a state-by-state basis, Mitt Romney is winning, and the country will be ready to celebrate when he does. A fresh start is needed.
Most economists still don't see another recession looming, but the number who do is rising rapidly and Europe is sinking deeper into a recession that could pull us along with it.
The price of gas has topped $5 a gallon in many places in California, and the consequences of the president's feckless energy policy are everywhere coming into clear view and brining with them agony for the middle class.
Devastating cuts to the military's personnel and equipment are poised to occur under the "sequestration" and the president is cheering them on.
And of course the fiscal cliff looms and we are headed towards it in Thelma and Louise style, with the president hitting the gas and demanding the "Bush era tax cuts" fade and the country fly off the side of the canyon into who knows what.
Did I mention Obamacare unfolds in all of its maniacal bureaucratic density in the next year?
All of these factors have driven the surge towards Romney, and poll after poll shows that the country is shaking off the torpor induced by the endlessly talking, talking, talking president and the endlessly gesturing, gesturing, gesturing vice president.
Democrats are hoping that the president can work some of his old magic on Tuesday night, in effect requesting an entire nation to step up on to the stage and be hypnotized --again.
Who is going to volunteer to sleep walk through another four years?
There is a fine new satire out by Jamie Weinstein and Will Rahn of the Daily Caller. It is The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama's True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer, and it is wildly funny as only good and timely satire can be.
What it mocks are (1) conspiracy theorists who spin bizarre tales about the president, and (2) most especially the president and his inner circle, the Chicago Gang.
Knocking the nutters about is pretty easy stuff though funny, but the art is in laying open the many, many conceits of Team Obama, especially those of its world-weary senior advisors and their deep seated belief that they know what they are doing at all times.
In fact they are and have been from day one a group of bumbling, stumbling amateurs, bereft of real experience in anything outside of the ward politics of Chicago, and propped up as best as was possible by a permanent governing class and especially by an incredibly effective military, and covered for by a Manhattan-Beltway media elite that fell in love with the president's story (especially those parts that closely resemble their own.)
Having blown through all the intelligence and all the world position willed them by President Bush --Mark Steyn is especially good at recognizing how this cupboard has been stripped bare-- Team Obama is now witnessing the rolling collapse of the president's ego-driven plans that is materializing at breakneck speed, and the consequences are terrible for the country and the West it leads (or used to lead.)
"But wait," they cry, "unemployment is down to 7.8%!"
Put aside your suspicion and believe the number.
That's it? That's the re-election campaign? Unemployment down to 7.8%?
Yes, it is. That and the promise of four more years of Joe Biden's unintentional comic relief.
There are many reason behind the rise of Mitt Romney to the top of the polls, and for his continuing momentum. Chief among them is the country's desperate hunger for competence and for integrity, for candor as to the problems and transparency in the explanation of the choices ahead.
A turnaround is possible and we are lucky to have a turnaround specialist at hand.
Whatever the next two debates bring us, whatever Rove has cooked up, the essential dynamic of Election 2012 was, is and will remain the need to make a U-Turn.
We went down a wrong road in 2008, for a lot of very good and understandable reasons. But it was a huge mistake, a mistake we can begin to correct in four weeks.