(Video) National Popular Vote and the attack on the electoral college

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

vote03

The Electoral College is one of the more obscure features of our government, yet it plays a crucial role: it elects the president, not the popular vote. When people in a state go to the polls, they’re really voting for slates of electors pledged to a particular candidate. The electors have traditionally honored the voters’ wishes (with the occasional individual exception for a protest vote), but the fact remains that they could choose someone other than “the People’s choice.” It also means that, occasionally, a candidate could win enough electoral votes to win the presidency while not winning the overall popular vote, as happened in 2,000 in the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

The fact that the winner of the popular vote might not win the race has annoyed a lot of people, especially on the Left (1), and they have proposed something called the “National Popular Vote,” a compact among the states comprising 270 electoral votes (the number need to win) to award them to whomever wins the national vote, regardless of individual state results. Not surprisingly, given the source, this represents an end-run around the system established in the Constitution, rather than an honest attempt to amend it.

In the video below from Prager University, attorney and author Tara Ross explains how the Electoral College works, why it was set up this way, and why NPV is a very bad idea:

Footnote:
(1) Because, you know, the Electoral College is “unfair!” “Unfairness” meaning “I didn’t get what I want!”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

California: SEIU demands increase in minimum wage, jobs be damned

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

Depression-era unemployment

“But at least we raised the minimum wage! Obama!!”

Fresno is fifth-largest city in California, the largest that’s not on the coast, and the largest in the Central Valley, that agricultural cornucopia that’s being destroyed by drought and environmentalist idiocies.

But don’t get me started on that.

Anyway, just by its position and population Fresno is important to the state’s economy, particularly our agricultural sector. (Where do you think your raisins come from?) But, like much of the Central Valley, it’s suffered more than the rest of California from the 2008 recession and the pathetic recovery: unemployment in the Fresno area in 2014 was still over 11%, well above California’s statewide average of 7.1% at the end of that year.

So, when your city is suffering from a lack of jobs, what’s the first thing you think of to increase opportunities for work?

That’s right! You demand an increase to the cost of labor!

On Wednesday, according to the Fresno Bee, over 150 people joined other workers around the country marking Tax Day by marching in rallies organized by unions as they demanded the current federal minimum wage of $7.24 an hour be raised, as well as the California $9 minimum wage.

Standing in front of a McDonald’s, the protesters–comprised of home and child care workers, county and state workers, students and community leaders, but no fast-food workers–chanted, “Hold the burgers, hold the fries. Make our wages super-sized.”

Union members from the Services Employees International (SEIU) helped lead the way; one member, Beau Reynolds with SEIU Local 100, told the Bee, “We’re here to stand up. We’re here to join forces and we are here to demand better. To demand better wages, to demand better benefits and to demand the right and respect that all working families deserve.”

Notice that none of those protesting in front of McD’s actually work there: they’re just there in service of SEIU’s political goal, which is to get a general increase in the minimum wage, which would include the union’s members, leading in turn to higher dues-revenues for the union to spend on politics. (And union bosses’ salaries…)

But the fast-food workers on the inside? The ones inside who didn’t march, the supposed beneficiaries of SEIU’s fight for economic justice? Apparently they know what happens when you raise labor costs too high:

"Welcome to the future"

“Welcome to the future”

In other words, when government raises the cost of doing business —and labor is a cost!— business owners have just a few choices: pass the cost to the consumer and risk losing their custom; reduce profits to perhaps unacceptably low levels; reduce labor costs by cutting back hours, letting people go, and not hiring; or just getting out of the business. They’re already learning this in progressive Seattle, and it looks like the Fresno McDonald’s workers understand basic economics, too, unlike SEIU.

Or maybe SEIU just doesn’t care that fast food workers can be replaced with kiosks, as long as they themselves get their cut.

Either way, they’re not helping Fresno county’s unemployment problem.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

The Indiana #RFRA, Memories Pizza, and the Left’s Fascist Orgasm

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

satire left tolerance liberal fascism

(Credit: Michael Ramirez)

 

“I know there is an authoritarian Left in this country, and I fear it.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan to Richard Nixon (1970)

(Preface: I should clarify something from the start — I am not a religious person. Born and raised Roman Catholic, I haven’t been to a Mass for anything other than a wedding or funeral in over 35 years. While I respect the Church (and most other faiths) and the opinions of the faithful (Well, most of them), I feel no need or urge to go to church on Sundays or offer up my voice in prayer; the existence or not of God is not of great importance to me, though I don’t doubt that God exists in some form. Neither atheist nor agnostic, perhaps the best description for me is “apatheist.” I just don’t care.

What I do care about passionately, however, is the promise of the American Revolution, the political and social settlement represented in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the freedom of all decent people to live their lives as they see fit without fear of being picked on or persecuted for who they are. What I write below should be read in that context.)

What happened in Indiana over the last week was an utter, damnable disgrace, and a good portion of this nation should be ashamed of themselves for acting like a digital lynch mob.

How did this start? A bit over a week ago, the Indiana legislature passed a bill, similar to a federal act and laws in 19 other states, allowing defendants in lawsuits, including those brought by non-governmental actors, to offer religious belief as a defense when accused of discrimination. It was not a “safe harbor” or anything that precluded a suit or encouraged discrimination. A court still had to determine whether the professed religious defense was outweighed by a pressing state need. Its only purpose was to provide a possible shield to those who felt their religious beliefs were being trampled. (Further essential reading.)

The reaction to the bill made one wonder if Indiana hadn’t opened death camps for gays.

The hysteria generated by progressive reactionaries and other fools who I’m sure didn’t read the bill was appalling to behold. Monumental hypocrites such as Apple’s gay CEO Tim Cook roundly denounced Indiana for bigotry against gays and for denying their rights… while Apple makes iPhones in Communist China and sells them in Iran, where gays are regularly murdered by the state for being gay. Other ignoramuses called for the NCAA basketball tournament to be moved from Indiana next year, or ran to the microphones to condemn Indiana while pretending their own state’s RFRA didn’t exist..

Eventually the pressure from the howling horde of progressive corporate execs, the MSM, and “activists” proved too much for the cowardly lions in the Indiana legislature and their jelly-spined governor, and they amended the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to gut its provisions. The mob had won, and the democratic will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives was left beaten and bleeding in a back alley. If that were the end of it, it would be bad enough.

But it wasn’t.

During the week of furor over Indiana’s RFRA, a “reporter” at ABC’s Channel 57 affiliate in Indiana,  Alyssa Marino, went looking for devout Christians mouth-breathing, hate-filled homophobes who would refuse service to homosexuals.

And she found them at Memories Pizza

You can read Scott Ott’s report on how the media created the Hell that was about to descend on the O’Connors, owners of “Memories.” But I want to point out one especially egregious example,  a tale of two headlines:

headlines

(h/t @TDelovely)

The top is the first headline to run over Marino’s story, and below is the “corrected” version. See the enormous difference between the two? The first claims the O’Connors declared a blanket denial of service to gays. Pretty despicable, right? The later limits that to catering a gay wedding. (And who would order pizza for a wedding, anyway?) But, here’s the kicker: Marino’s question to Crystal O’Connor was wholly hypothetical! There was no gay couple seeking pizza for their wedding. Marino has simply walked in and asked a question along the lines of “What would you do if…?” O’Connor then made the mistake of answering honestly: gays would be welcome to eat at the restaurant, presumably also to get takeout or delivery, but that her business would decline to cater a wedding because it would require them to participate in an activity that went against their Christian faith. Again, a hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question. The hypothetical gay couple could then go to another pizza parlor for catering, which would profit.

Simple, right?

No. This was the crime of “wrong thought,” and for that the O’Connors became vragi naroda, “enemies of the people.” Thanks to the media and the firestorm ignited on the Internet, Memories Pizza’s social media presence was attacked, and threats of violence, arson, and even death were received. It got so bad the O’Connors closed their shop and went into hiding. While through the efforts of Dana Loesch and her crew at The Blaze TV, the O’Connors more then recouped their losses (1), one has to ask: Did they really deserve this for simply holding an opinion not popular with our media and urban elites?

Of course not! What happened to Memories Pizza and to the Indiana government was disgusting: Thinking they had found their new Emmanuel Goldstein, the ignorant, reactionary Left began with a ritual Two Minutes Hate and ran with it until it became nearly a sexual ecstasy of rage. The state government was intimidated, a couple was left in fear for their lives, and the rights of people to freedom of conscience and freedom of association were torn apart in a political Bacchanalia.

There is a sickness in our body politic, one brought about by the authoritarian Left the late Senator Moynihan cited at the start of this article. One key component of the American settlement is the idea of political and religious tolerance, that we can all hold different beliefs –and we don’t have to like those beliefs or even each other– but not be punished for them. Our English forebears, Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, experienced just that sort of oppression and came to a New World to escape it. Later it was the Jews fleeing persecution in Europe; a letter from President Washington to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island eloquently describes that idea:

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

(…)

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

Emphases added. Washington, I’m almost certain, would be nauseated by what happened this last week.

What the authoritarian Left is doing strikes at the heart of the American settlement by refusing to honor the “liberty of conscience” we have long made room for in this land. Remember the conscientious objectors of the Vietnam War era (and earlier wars), who refused to engage in combat because of religious objections? Then, the Left lionized them as heroes. Would they now be spat upon because they used religion as a defense? It was for moments like these, when the power of the State impinges on the deeply felt religious beliefs of people, whether in matters of war or simply participating in a wedding, that Congress passed nearly unanimously and President Clinton signed the federal RFRA, and the states followed with their own.

But the Left leaves no room for dissent, unless it is dissent they approve of. All others are not just disapproved of, but must be actively harassed and punished until they publicly recant and think right thoughts, like some Maoist “struggle session.”

I’m going to close with a long quote from attorney Kurt Schlichter, who served many years in the Army, including Kosovo, where he saw first hand what happened when the consensus of tolerance broke down:

Which brings us to America in 2015. It’s becoming a nation where an elite that is certain of its power and its moral rightness is waging a cultural war on a despised minority. Except it’s not actually a minority – it only seems that way because it is marginalized by the coastal elitist liberals who run the mainstream media.

Today in America, we have a liberal president refuses to recognize the majority sent to Congress as a reaction to his progressive failures, and who uses extra-Constitutional means like executive orders to stifle the voice of his opponents. We have a liberal establishment on a secular jihad against people who dare place their conscience ahead of progressive dogma. And we have two different sets of laws, one for the little people and one for liberals like Lois Lerner, Al Sharpton and Hillary Clinton, who can blatantly commit federal crimes and walk away scot free and smirking.

Today in America, a despised minority that is really no minority is the target of an establishment that considers this minority unworthy of respect, unworthy of rights, and unworthy of having a say in the direction of this country. It’s an establishment that has one law for itself, and another for its enemies. It’s an establishment that inflicts an ever-increasing series of petty humiliations on its opponents and considers this all hilarious.

That’s a recipe for disaster. You cannot expect to change the status quo for yourself and then expect those you victimize not to play by the new rules you have created. You cannot expect to be able to discard the rule of law in favor of the rule of force and have those you target not respond in kind.

Read the whole thing.

The Left is discarding the rule of law for the rule of force, substituting the power of the mob for the “immunities of citizenship,” and while you may think it silly to compare America to Kosovo, it may also be that Col. Schlichter has simply reconnoitered farther down the road they want us to walk and seen where it ends.

“I know there is an authoritarian Left in this country, and I fear it.”

And we should, still.

Footnote:
(1) Fair disclosure: I was one of the donors and was honored to do so.

RELATED: The Power Line podcast has an excellent discussion of the Indiana situation, and RFRAs in general, with law professor John Yoo.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

What if Iran already has nukes hidden in North Korea?

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

nuclear-explosion

That’s the not so subtle implication of Gordon Chang’s article in The Daily Beast. Much of the article explores the illicit nuclear proliferation network (parts confirmed, others suspected) between Iran, China, North Korea, and (formerly?) Pakistan, dating back nearly fifteen years. But the key portions follow:

In October 2012, Iran began stationing personnel at a military base in North Korea, in a mountainous area close to the Chinese border. The Iranians, from the Ministry of Defense and associated firms, reportedly are working on both missiles and nuclear weapons. Ahmed Vahidi, Tehran’s minister of defense at the time, denied sending people to the North, but the unconfirmed dispatches make sense in light of the two states announcing a technical cooperation pact the preceding month.

(…)

The North Koreans have also sold Iran material for bomb cores, perhaps even weapons-grade uranium. The Telegraph reported that in 2002 a barrel of North Korean uranium cracked open and contaminated the tarmac of the new Tehran airport.

(…)

The relationship between the two regimes has been long-lasting. Hundreds of North Koreans have worked at about 10 nuclear and missile facilities in Iran. There were so many nuclear and missile scientists, specialists, and technicians that they took over their own coastal resort there, according to Henry Sokolski,  the proliferation maven, writing in 2003.

Even if Iran today were to agree to adhere to the Additional Protocol, it could still continue developing its bomb in North Korea, conducting research there or buying North Korean technology and plans. And as North Korean centrifuges spin in both known and hidden locations, the Kim regime will have a bigger stock of uranium to sell to the Iranians for their warheads. With the removal of sanctions, as the P5+1 is contemplating, Iran will have the cash to accelerate the building of its nuclear arsenal.

So while the international community inspects Iranian facilities pursuant to a framework deal, the Iranians could be busy assembling the components for a bomb elsewhere. In other words, they will be one day away from a bomb—the flight time from Pyongyang to Tehran—not one year as American and other policymakers hope.

(Emphasis added)

Think about it. Pretend for a minute you’re one of the Muslim fanatics who rule Iran. Maybe you’re part of the faction that sees it as its duty to bring about the Islamic “end times.” You definitely want to crush the Jews and destroy Israel. You hate America as the Great Satan and see Iran’s Islamic Revolution as the one hope for truly making Allah’s religion supreme. To protect the revolution and fulfill Allah’s goals, you’ve decided Iran needs nuclear weapons.

But the Great and Little Satans (America and Israel) stand in your way. They don’t want you to have these weapons. They are infidels and enemies of Allah. So, to buy yourself the time to make them, you enter into negotiations — not to give anything away, but merely to delay. And, so far, it’s worked. The infidels are weak and anxious for an agreement, so they keep playing along, no matter how outrageous your demands.

And yet there are risks. What if the Zionist Entity (Israel) loses patience and attacks? That might set back your program. What if a new president takes charge in America, one who isn’t afraid to use his nation’s awesome resources to weaken your regime by supporting the opposition, as Reagan did with Poland, or through the direct use of armed force, as they did to Saddam? That could wreck your nuclear dreams, if not overthrow you altogether. How do you guard against that?

Well, like any well-run operation, you have a disaster back up plan. In this case, an offsite nuclear program, parallel to the one in Iran. One so offsite that  it is in another country, an allied nation with a nuclear program of its own and that hates America, too, and is obsessed with security.

A place like North Korea.

This is all speculative, of course, but it is also plausible. It’s what any reasonable person would consider doing in a similar situation. And, while the mullahs are aggressive antisemitic religious fascists, they are not stupid.

Keep your eye out: Iran has been playing hardball in the negotiations, demanding so much that even Obama and Kerry must have been tempted at times to walk out. The deadline for an agreement is coming up: If Iran suddenly and to everyone’s relief makes major concessions, I think the North Korean backup scenario goes from “likely” to “almost certain.”

Sleep well.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

San Francisco raises minimum wage, kills beloved local bookstore, residents shocked

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

Didn't pay attention

Didn’t pay attention

Call it a “teachable moment?”

Due to the new increased minimum wage law in San Francisco, a beloved bookstore and mainstay of the Mission District has been forced to close its doors for good.

The minimum wage for San Francisco workers, currently at $11.05 an hour, soars to $15 an hour in July 2018. The store’s projected labor costs, reported ABC7 News, impelled Borderlands Bookstore to write its final chapter.

The store owner had this to say:

In November, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed a measure that will increase the minimum wage within the city to $15 per hour by 2018. Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in principal and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco — Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage. Consequently we will be closing our doors no later than March 31st.

But the best line came from one of the stunned customers:

“You know, I voted for the measure as well, the minimum wage measure,” customer Edward Vallecillo lamented. “It’s not something that I thought would affect certain specific small businesses. I feel sad.”

Evidently Mr. Vallecillo and the other voters of the Special City were asleep during their economics lessons — assuming that’s even taught anymore. Let’s review, shall we?

Labor is a cost, because the business owner has to provide wages and, often, benefits that cost him more money. When a government mandate increases that cost, the business owner has three choices: pass the cost along to the customer, who may decide it’s too much and stop shopping there; cut employee hours and stop hiring to save on labor costs, thus costing potential jobs and putting a burden on workers still employed; and, finally, just decide it’s not worth it anymore and close up shop. In the low-margin bookseller business, Borderlands’ owner chose the last course as the only one viable.

(Aside: It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the Leftists on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering a bill to prevent owners from doing just that. Can’t let the Kulaks get away with acting as if they own their own property, after all.)

In a functioning, literate polity that teaches its young fundamental lessons of civics and economics, an informed electorate could have looked at that proposal and said, “Nah, that’s going too far.” Instead, we have voters who feel good about themselves  for voting themselves more consequence-free stuff, and then feel sad when the consequences arrive.

Maybe they’ll learn something from the experience.

Nah.

RELATED: This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the consequences of ill-thought policy regarding the minimum wage. Seattle voted a high minimum, and now businesses are considering leaving. Some companies are considering replacing now-expensive minimum-wage workers with computerized kiosks. Los Angeles wants to raise the minimum to $13.25. Can’t wait to see how many entry-level jobs are lost thanks to that, or how many low-skill young workers looking for their first job are priced out of the market because of it. More from Ron Radosh, and more posts on the minimum wage.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Obama: “Don’t criticize Islam because Christians did terrible things, too!”

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

satire does not equal 02

Sigh. While speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama warned against insulting religions, just because one has the right to do so. In the process, he engaged in some intellectually lazy moral equivalence:

“Humanity’s been grappling with these questions throughout human history, and unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place — remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ,” Obama said.

“…So it is not unique to one group or one religion; there is a tendency in us, a simple tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. And God compels us to try.”

Obama advocated starting with “some basic humility.”

First, let’s all take a moment to clean up after the spit-take we all experienced when Barack “I’m the 4th greatest president, ever” Obama advocated some basic humility. Better, now?

The President was speaking in the context of the horrific murder of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’adh Yusuf al Kasasibah by burning him alive. And Obama, always supposing himself to be the only reasonable man in the room wanted to warn others, “Hey, Christians have done some nasty things, too, so let’s not go overboard in reaction.”

This is called a tu quoque error, Latin for “you, too,” or arguing the accuser is a hypocrite for being just as guilty as the accused. Not only is this an error of relevancy –what happened centuries ago has no bearing on the atrocities committed by ISIS nor our condemnation of them– in this case Obama is showing an all too common ignorance of both history and the religions he presumes to lecture about.

Put bluntly, when a Christian commits “terrible deeds” while invoking the name of Christ, he is acting against Christ’s teachings. On the other hand, when a Muslim does something similar, he is often acting in accord with the teachings of the Qur’an, the hadiths, and the recorded deeds of the life of Muhammad. Writing at Victor Davis Hanson’s site, Bruce Thornton puts it so when criticizing another example of historical and theological ignorance:

This point makes [Harvard Professor Kevin Madigan’s] argument a false analogy, for there is nothing in traditional Islamic theology that provides a basis for making violence against heretics and non-believers un-Islamic. The professor wants to argue away these inconvenient truths about traditional Islam by arguing that the faith can evolve away from them, just as Christianity did. But again, whereas historical Christian violence could find no scriptural justification, and much to condemn it, Islamic violence and intolerance––and of course slavery and Jew-hatred––are not the result of fringe or extremist misinterpretations. Rather, they are validated in the Koran, the Hadith, and 14 centuries of Islamic theology and jurisprudence, all regularly and copiously cited by today’s jihadists and theologians.

Thus the doctrine of jihad against infidels––the notion that such aggression is a justified form of the defense of Islam and necessary for fulfilling Allah’s will that all people become Muslims––is the collective duty of those dwelling in the House of Islam. The Koran instructs, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth.” Nor can there be any “tolerance” or “mutual respect” for those who reject Islam, especially Jews and Christians: “O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” The professor’s dream of a “broad-minded form” of Islam would require an extensive reinterpretation or rejection of some of Islam’s fundamental tenets.

That whole article is worth the time to read.

While I was raised in a Catholic household, I’m not a religious person. And while I have a great deal of respect for (most) religions, I have none for the kind of shallow, intellectually indolent and sanctimonious ignorance Obama displayed in his remarks. The fact is, while Judaism, Christianity, and Islam arose in roughly the same region and have some similarities, what is valued as right and good and a religious duty in Islam is far different than in the former two faiths, as anyone who takes more than a superficial glance at them can see.

If we’re to fight this war successfully, we have to understand accurately the beliefs of those fighting on the other side. Sadly, we’ll have to wait for the next president to have any hope of that in our leadership.

PS: Regarding the Crusades, whatever wrong happened during them, let’s not forget that they originated in a Western counterattack against the Muslim conquest of two-thirds of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, including Christendom’s holiest sites.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

ISIS murders captured Jordanian pilot. Update: fatwa issued justifying burning

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

Lt. al Kasasibah at the moment of his execution

Lt. al Kasasibah at the moment of his execution

(Photo courtesy of The Long War Journal)

They burned him alive:

In what is perhaps its most brutal execution video to date, the Islamic State burned alive a Jordanian pilot who was captured in late December 2014 after his warplane was purportedly shot down over Syria.

The Islamic State murdered First Lieutenant Mu’adh Yusuf al Kasasibah, the Jordanian pilot, at the end of a lengthy 22-minute-long video that was released by the group today, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

“The video shows media footage of Jordan’s involvement in the U.S.-led coalition against IS [Islamic State] and then shows al Kasasibah discussing Jordan’s operations in a news-style monologue bearing a black eye,” according to a summary by SITE.

“Afterward, the video goes back and forth between shots of al Kasasibah surrounded by fighters and shots of aftermath of bombings. At the end of the video, al Kasasibah stands inside of a cage and is burned alive by fighters,” SITE noted.

Kasasibah, who is dressed in the same orange shirt and pants worn by other prisoners who have been executed by the Islamic State, cries out in horrible pain as he is burned alive.

Jordan has threatened to retaliate against jihadist prisoners in their custody, speaking up their trials and (presumably) their executions. In the politics of the Arab Middle East, they almost have to go through with this, or be seen as weak and unwilling to protect or take revenge for their own soldiers. That is not a good thing to have happen.

Jihad Watch points out something not mentioned in The Long War Journal’s article: the Islamic justification for this atrocity offered by ISIS. The video opens with a quote from Qur’an 9:14:

“Fight them, and Allah will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame, help you over them, heal the breasts of Believers.”

…a verse cited by other jihadists, including here in the US.

More germane, though, is the cited example of Muhammad himself, from the earliest biography of him, by ibn Ishaq in the 8th century:

…there is this story from Muhammad’s conquest of Khaybar: “Kinana b. al-Rabi`, who had the custody of the treasure of B. al-Nadir, was brought to the apostle [Muhammad -pf] who asked him about it. He denied that he knew where it was. A Jew came (T. was brought) to the apostle and said that he had seen Kinana going round a certain ruin every morning early. When the apostle said to Kinana, ‘Do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?’ he said Yes. The apostle gave orders that the ruin was to be excavated and some of the treasure was found. When he asked him about the rest he refused to produce it, so the apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr b. al-Awwam, ‘Torture him until you extract what he has,’ so he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle delivered him to Muhammad b. Maslama and he struck off his head, in revenge for his brother Mahmud.” (Ibn Ishaq 515).

In other words the man was burned alive to make him give up his tribe’s gold. Islam declares Muhammad to be the perfect man, whose words and deeds provide an example for all time. Thus ISIS could cite this story as precedent.

It would be nice if, for once, all these Islamic groups so concerned about their religion being misunderstood (CAIR, ISNA, ICNA, &c.) would preach publicly about why ISIS and other jihadists have it wrong, using citations from the Qur’an and hadiths to prove their case. Simply saying “we condemn this” is not enough, and, until they do, we have to assume that the self-proclaimed “caliph,” who is said to hold a PhD in Islamic Studies, may well know what he is talking about and that his followers are acting with his approval.

Is there no one who will stand up to ISIS and destroy these monsters?

In the meantime, God rest poor Lt. Kasasibah and his family.

UPDATE: From Raymond Ibrahim, word of a fatwa (a ruling in Islamic law) justifying the manner of the murder of Lt. Kasasibah. An excerpt from his analysis:

The main point of the fatwa is that “the Hanafis and Shafi‘is [two of Sunni Islam’s four orthodox schools of jurisprudence] permit burning” people. The fatwa also cites the tafsir, or exegesis, of Muhalab ibn Safra concerning a statement attributed to the prophet of Islam: “Fire does not punish them but Allah.” According to the tafsir, Muhammad’s assertion is not a ban on burning people but rather meant to demonstrate humility—pointing out that only Allah can truly torment.

Next the fatwa quotes Hafiz ibn al-Hajar who comments that “the deeds of the companions [of Muhammad] evince the permissibility of burning, and the prophet put out the eyes of the men of Urayna with heated iron, and Khalid bin al-Walid burned some of the people who apostatized.”

Again, if Muslim leaders in the West are concerned about their religion being misinterpreted, where are their learned criticisms when ISIS (or al Qaeda, or any other jihadist group) cites Islamic texts for the justifications?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Welcome to tax season, now prepare to give your #Obamacare subsidy back

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This item has been sitting in my files for a while (1), but, since we’re deep into tax season, it’s still relevant — especially so for people relying on that federal subsidy to help pay for their “affordable” health care:

As many as 3.4 million people who received Obamacare subsidies may owe refunds to the federal government, according to an estimate by a tax preparation firm.

H&R Block is estimating that as many as half of the 6.8 million people who received insurance premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act benefited from subsidies that were too large, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“The ACA is going to result in more confusion for existing clients, and many taxpayers may well be very disappointed by getting less money and possibly even owing money,” the president of a tax preparation and education school told the Journal.

While the Affordable Care Act fines those who don’t have health insurance, it also provides subsidies for people making up to four times the federal poverty line ($46,680).

But the subsidies are based on past tax returns, so many people may be receiving too much, according to Vanderbilt University assistant professor John Graves, who projects the average subsidy is $208 too high, the Journal reports.

If, like a lot of people, you’re used to getting some sort of a refund, you probably already have an idea of how much you expect and how you plan to spend it. Imagine then how happy these many millions of people will be when they’re told they’re either getting less of a refund, or that they in fact owe money. And, on top of that, their subsidy for the next year will almost certainly be lower, so even more of their money will go to the insurance companies by force of law for coverage that probably isn’t as good as they had before, or at least isn’t what was promised.

That, my friends, is a recipe for angry voters. And, oh, there’s a presidential election warming up, too. Fancy that.

If anything good comes of this fiasco, it will probably be the hard-learned lesson that government is poorly equipped to do more than a certain few tasks and running a huge, massively complicated healthcare system isn’t among them.

Call it another “teachable moment.”

Footnote:
(1) Ancient by Internet standards — a whole month!

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Journalism Dean: “There are limits to free speech”

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

freespeech

It’s a measure of how craven and corrupt our political culture has become that even the Dean of a journalism school in a nation founded on free speech and freedom of the press should say “there are limits, however:”

Charlie Hebdo has gone too far.

In its first publication following the Jan. 7 attack on its Paris office, in which two Muslim gunmen massacred 12 people, the once little-known French satirical news weekly crossed the line that separates free speech from toxic talk.

Charlie Hebdo’s latest depiction of the prophet Mohammed — a repeat of the very action that is thought to have sparked the murderous attack on its office — predictably has given rise to widespread violence in nations with large Muslim populations. Its irreverence of Mohammed once moved the French tabloid to portray him naked in a pornographic pose. In another caricature, it showed Mohammed being beheaded by a member of the Islamic State.

While free speech is one of democracy’s most important pillars, it has its limits.

So says DeWayne Wickham, Dean of the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Wayne State University. In a very limited sense, he’s right: I cannot go yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater (1), for example (2). Nor can I incite to violence by, for example, standing before a crowd and telling them to go now and beat up a certain person or persons.

But that’s it. All other political speech is within bounds, regardless of whom it offends. You cannot have a free society unless the it includes the right to freely criticize those in authority — and not just criticize, but to satirize and mock, too. If I as a Catholic want to question Original Sin and the need for Divine Grace, or that Jesus was not Divine until adopted by God, then the Church might well denounce me as a heretic and excommunicate me, but the law cannot punish me for my beliefs, nor should I fear physical violence. If I want to be truly outrageous and place the Crucifix in a beaker of urine, I would be a jackass, but I still should not have to fear either legal sanction nor physical violence.

And the same is true of any religion. If I want to question Muhammad’s status as a prophet, or even if he existed at all; if I want to argue that his earliest biography shows he was a bandit, a warlord, and a torturer; and if I want to criticize Sharia, Islam’s divine law, for calling for the execution of homosexuals, that is my right as a free man — even if I want to draw questionably funny satirical cartoons.

This is the right of any human being and well-within the “limits” of free speech.

Let’s be honest. It’s not a regard for the proper limits of free speech that motivates Mr. Wickham. If he or one of his students offended some Amish who then complained, I’m willing to bet he’d be on his soapbox screaming about “free speech” and “freedom of the press.”

And that leads us to the truth. Amish might shun you. Catholics won’t invite you to Bingo Night. A Buddhist would probably just decide you’re an annoying illusion and don’t really exist.

But all too many Muslims would be quite willing to kill you for insulting their Muhammad. Just ask the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, or Theo van Gogh.

The limit to Dean Wickham’s freedom of speech is his fear of punishment, and thus he is not free at all.

via Michael Walsh

PS: It’s great to see ST back in business. :)

Footnote:
(1) Popehat argues there are serious flaws with that particular justification for censorship.
(2) When it’s not true, that is.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

(Video) Who are the real racists: liberals or conservatives?

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

Liberal tolerance racist

If you’re a conservative, or just someone who thinks everyone should be treated equally, you’ve probably been called a racist at one point or another. And if, like most people, you’re a decent person, you’ve probably been taken aback and left wondering if maybe, subconsciously, you did hold beliefs and attitudes that were racist.

Stop wondering. You’re not. In fact, as Derryck Green of Project 21 explains in this Prager University video, it’s the American Left that harbors the racist attitudes, rooted in the assumption that Blacks just can’t compete, the infamous “soft bigotry of low expectations:”

So, relax. You’re not racist for believing we can all be held to the same standards. Far from it.

via Legal Insurrection

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)