Saturday, May 27, 2006

There's a right way, and they did it the right way

Speaker of the House Journal Entry

If the information we have read about the behavior of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., seems as obvious to a jury as it does to me, he deserves to be vigorously prosecuted. I do not want to do anything that will interfere with that prosecution. The issue that has concerned me, as Speaker, since Saturday night is not if the FBI should be able to search a member of Congress' office, but rather how to do it within the boundaries of the Constitution.
They did it the right way. They tried to suponea the records, but were stiffed for 9 months, so they got a search warrent from a judge, and executed the search warrent.


Happy Memorial Day

Click here for In God We Still Trust

Click on the graphic for the true meaning of Memorial Day


The $6 Trillion Giveaway


How much is a US “Green Card” worth? After all, such a card allows one to:

1. Live and work permanently in the United States of America

2. Become a US citizen after a few years.

The Central-American country of Belize allows you to purchase citizenship for $25,000. Surely, a US Green Card is worth at least $100,000.

The Senate’s amnesty plan proposes to effectively give away at least 60 million such Green Cards. In effect, that’s about 60 million * 100,000 = $6 Trillion worth of Green Cards. (Yes, that’s Trillion with a T. It has twelve zeros: 6,000,000,000,000. It’s six thousand billions.)
A very good point. They are doing it to buy Democratic votes, because they think that the majority will vote Democratic just like the blacks do, even though the Dems dont do anything for eoter group. But if we sold the Green Cards they would be bought by people that learned how to improve themselves, and they would be likely to become Republican voters.
Suppose the Senate decided to instead auction off those Green Cards on the world markets, we could almost completely wipe out our $8 trillion national debt. If we didn’t want to wipe out our debt, we could send every American man, woman, and child a check for $20,000.

Instead, the Senate is giving these Green Cards away to the 12-20 million low-skilled, under-educated, non-English-speaking, immigration-law-breaking, fraudsters, forgers, and perjurers euphemistically described as “undocumented workers.” It’s a $6 trillion giveaway only to criminals. That’s over ten times the size of the much-maligned Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. However, unlike the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, it’s not available to needy American citizens, only to proven foreign criminals. Now that’s what I call Big Government!


Gonzales Said He Would Quit in Raid Dispute

NYT Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, and senior officials and career prosecutors at the Justice Department told associates this week that they were prepared to quit if the White House directed them to relinquish evidence seized in a bitterly disputed search of a House member's office, government officials said Friday.

I dont blame him. Hastert and Peloci were idiots to complain about the legitimacy of the raid. Bush was very wise to do what neither group wanted, and seal the documents for 45 days while they could check with the Supreme Court, but giving them back just because the House complained would have been very wrong.
Mr. Gonzales was joined in raising the possibility of resignation by the deputy attorney general, Paul J. McNulty, the officials said. Mr. Gonzales and Mr. McNulty told associates that they had an obligation to protect evidence in a criminal case and would be unwilling to carry out any White House order to return the material to Congress. The potential showdown was averted Thursday when President Bush ordered the evidence to be sealed for 45 days to give Congress and the Justice Department a chance to work out a deal.

CQ blogged Until now, Gonzalez has always appeared to be a moderate, get-along-to-go-along political appointee. However, this shows that the AG has serious backbone and integrity to spare. He and Mueller both understood the stakes involved in this standoff and refused to participate in creating a political class insulated from law enforcement. Without the power to enforce and execute duly authorized subpoenas and search warrants, members of Congress could hide evidence of corruption in their offices with no fear of exposure or prosecution. It would create a taxpayer-funded sanctuary for crooks, and the top officials at Justice sent the message that they would not become accessories to that system.

Bush already knew this but wanted Hastert to come to that conclusion on his own, or at least allow Hastert the opportunity to appear to have done so. Before anyone made the kind of bold public gesture Gonzalez threatened, he simply froze the status quo for six weeks, giving time for everyone to reach their own conclusions rather than get embarrassed by a Supreme Court decision that would undoubtedly have painted Hastert and Pelosi as obstructors of justice.

Given this time out for his obstinacy, Hastert and his colleagues have busied themselves with goalpost-moving and backtracking. Before, they claimed a Constitutional privilege of freedom from search warrants and subpoenas from the executive branch, even though Congress regularly issues subpoenas without judicial approval against members of the executive branch. Now Hastert has acknowledged that Congressmen are subject to the same laws as everyone else, but have modified their complaint; now they say the issue is that Jefferson and his attorney were not allowed to be present at the search. That's a far cry from the phony Constitutional crisis they declared earlier this week, perhaps a more reasonable issue and certainly one that didn't require Hastert's intercession. He could have kept his mouth shut and let Jefferson's attorney raise that question when the evidence got submitted for trial -- just like any other defendant in a criminal case.

The denouement of this kerfuffle demonstrates two very important points. George Bush still holds the power in Washington and in the GOP, and this controversy shows that he and the people at Justice remain the adults in charge of the day care center. Hastert has severely damaged himself politically in two ways. No one in the GOP will ever give Hastert the same level of trust again after this attempt to pervert the Constitution, and Republicans will remain furious with him for taking the focus off of William Jefferson and his cash-cow business in selling his vote

Sister Toldjah blogged Get real. The statement clearly implies that the feds went about this wrong. On the contrary, Speaker Hastert, the feds did what they had to do: they obtained a legal warrant from a judge and searched Jefferson’s Congressional office accordingly. Hastert continues to make statements he can’t back up, and I wish someone in Washington would call on him to explain himself. His official statement missed the mark.

Hey, here’s an idea: if only the President would rescind his intial order for the evidence to be sealed for 45 days, then maybe Reps. Hastert and Pelosi would resign in protest. I, for one, wouldn’t object to that one bit.

OTB blogged I’m glad to see someone had some backbone in this matter. To have thrown away evidence against a corrupt congressman obtained through a legal raid backed by a judicial warrant out of political appeasement would have been outrageous. Separation of powers or no, Congress is not above the law.

Michael Galien blogged I believe Gonzales, Mueller and McNulty did the right thing here (threatening to resign). The search of Jefferson's office was, in my opinion, justified. When you're so deep in an investigation, when you got so much evidence to back it up, you need to stand tall. One might only wonder what would have happened if the Justice Department would have given in to the pressure from Congress. What impression would they have made.


Friday, May 26, 2006

House offices searched after gunfire report

CNN Police were searching the Rayburn building in the Capitol complex Friday after reports of gunfire in a garage in the building.

Someone was obviously confused. It was the Senate that passed S.2611 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. Also regardless of how tempting it might be to want to shoot a few Senators, I believe the proper thing is to just make sure that House blocks the stupid things they passed, and politically go after the Senators, at least those in Class I (i.e. are up for election this year) that voted for S 2611, i.e. Democrats Daniel Akaka, Jeff Bingaman, Maria Cantwell, Thomas Carper, Hillary Clinton, Kent Conrad, Mark Dayton, Dianne Feinstein, Edward Kennedy, Herb Kohl, Joseph Lieberman, Robert Menendez, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, and Paul Sarbanes, Republicans Lincoln Chafee, Mike DeWine, Bill Frist, Richard Lugar, and Olympia Snowe, and Independent James Jeffords. Normally I would urge going after Robery Byrd and Debbie Stabenow, who are up for election this term, but they did vote Nay on S.2611. He is not up for election this time, but we need to pull Specter's chairmanship.
"At 10:30 this morning, we received a report of shots fired inside the Rayburn garage," Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a public information officer for the Capitol Police, said.


Mexico must approve any fence?????

Michelle Malkin reveals that the dishonest Senators inserted a requirement at the last minute that Mexico must be consulted before any fence is built. This is outrageous. There is a lot that the House needs to remove, but this is definitely one of the big ones.

Republicans who voted for the Mexican consultation requirement: Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Chafee, Coleman, Collins, Craig, Graham, Hagel, Lugar, Collins, McCain, Specter, Stevens, Warner, Martinez, Murkowski, Snowe, and Voinovich.

Bernard blogged This is political correctness run amuck and is consistent with the unadulterated crap going on in the United States Senate. Interesting that S-2611 passed because 62 Senators didn’t consult first with the majority opinion of America’s likely voters!

Slublog blogged I guess 'greater understanding' is more important than secure borders.

Bizzy blogged Put down whatever you’re drinking. Keep sharp objects out of arm’s reach. Someone who has been working here illegally for the past 5 years and who, because of family size, would have been entitled to the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for each of those 5 years could receive a tax handout of over $20,000 — plus interest. You can start drinking again. You are forgiven if you change your choice of beverage to one with some punch to it. I hope the House can retain its sanity; the Senate has lost theirs.

Riehl blogged The American people need to hold the appropriate individuals, including the President, responsible. For now, the battle moves to the House by pressuring them to hold firm in conference. If they don't, I predict an entirely new political movement forming in this country, one that reaches across party lines and results in some significant number of these political hacks being thrown out.


George Galloway opens his mouth

Independent Online The Respect MP George Galloway has said it would be morally justified for a suicide bomber to murder Tony Blair.

While taking out a blowhard like Galloway would just be good sense.
In an interview with GQ magazine, the reporter asked him: "Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber - if there were no other casualties - be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?" Mr Galloway replied: "Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it - but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq - as Blair did."

Sister Toldjah blogged Would someone please explain to me again why anyone in Britain would elect this serial idiot to represent them in the first place? Is this not something he can be censured for in front of the Parliament at the very least? I don’t know the way things work in the British gov’t, but there’s got t be a way there for the Parliament to condemn this bonehead.

Blue Crab blogged Galloway is a slime ball with a severe case of moral leprosy. As more and more of his humanity falls away, the true soul of this foul creature emerges. Twisted and decayed, more and more is revealed with each public appearance or interview. He even gazes lovingly into the eyes of Fidel Castro and embraces. One presumes the kiss was French.

Marc blogged With any justice we will one day see Galloway behind bars where he belongs.

Done with mirrors sarcastically and mockingly blogged Well, as long it's logical and explicable, why not?


Thursday, May 25, 2006

IRS to Refund $15 Billion of Telephone Taxes to Consumers

TaxProf Blog reports The Treasury Department and IRS announced this morning that after losing in five circuit courts of appeals,

This shows how much even a Republican government likes tax revenue. It took five loses in circuit courts of appeal to convince them to stop trying to collect this "temporary" 1898 "luxury" tax from the Spanish-American War.
the Government is throwing in the towel and will no longer seek to enforce the 3% excise tax on long-distance telephone calls enacted during the Spanish-American War of 1898 as a "luxury" tax on wealthy Americans who owned telephones. The IRS will will issue $15 billion in refunds to consumers for long-distance telephone service taxes paid over the past three years

Glenn Reynolds blogged It's a nice reminder of how long "temporary" taxes can last, and of how taxes targeted at "the rich" often turn out to reach others.


Bush orders FBI-Congress documents sealed

Instapundit blogged Bush orders FBI-Congress documents sealed

President Bush stepped into the Justice Department's constitutional confrontation with Congress on Thursday and ordered that documents seized in an FBI raid on a congressman's office be sealed for 45 days.
Could Al Qaeda have slipped mind-altering drugs into the DC water supply? What's gotten into these people? Or has some sort of deal been cut? Whatever it is, I don't think I like it.
Actually I think he did a very smart thing. I believe the FBI was acting in a constitutional manner. They tried for a long time to get him to respond to a suponea, and when he did not they got a warrent from a Federal Judge to do what they did. I think the House is stupid for thinking they are above the law. But Bush did not do what the House wanted, and return the documents seized. He had them sealed for 45 days giving both sides an opportunity to go to the Supreme Court to see what they say.


AP Unveils Deal to Tie Stories to Blogs

ABC News reports The Associated Press announced two agreements Tuesday one that will tie its news stories to the rapidly growing world of blogs and another that will help guide readers to newspaper Web sites. Under the first, Technorati Inc., the leading search engine for blog postings, will provide links to blogs that cite AP stories.

This sounds useful. I have used this service some WaPo articles.
.... Technorati will search blogs for postings that include links to AP stories. Links to those postings will be available along with the original AP stories on 440 member Web sites served by AP Hosted News, a service that uses AP servers to display AP content on member sites. There also will be a box featuring the "Top Five Most Blogged About" AP stories.

Clicking on the links takes the reader to a Technorati page listing the relevant blogs.... Bouryal said the AP hopes members will apply the Technorati service to their own stories, not just AP material. The Washington Post and Newsweek, both owned by Washington Post Co., already have similar arrangements with Technorati.
But WaPo makes the links directly available on its page


Abbas stuns Hamas with talk of referendum

Yahoo! News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he will call a national referendum on accepting a Palestinian state alongside
Israel if Hamas does not agree to the idea within 10 days.
This is interesting
Abbas' surprise announcement was a political gamble that could either help resolve the Palestinians' internal deadlock or lead them into a deeper crisis with the militant Hamas group.
I suspect it would just deepen the conflict.
Such a vote would effectively ask Palestinians to give implicit recognition to Israel by accepting a Palestinian state on land occupied by Israel in 1967.
I dont think that Israel would accept withdrawing to the 1967 borders, because they were not defensible borders, but this would be a good start to negotiations.


Man is too short for prison

Yahoo! News A judge said a 5-foot-1 man convicted of sexually assaulting a child was too small to survive in prison, and gave him 10 years of probation instead.

Did he just sexually assault tall children?
His crimes deserved a long sentence, District Judge Kristine Cecava said, but she worried that Richard W. Thompson, 50, would be especially imperiled by prison dangers.
If you are too short to do the time, then don't do the crime.


What it means to be a true journalist

WaPo reported Steve Capus, president of NBC News, said, "In this age when any fool with a laptop can call themselves a journalist, I believe it is important to demonstrate to Americans what it means to be a true journalist."

It means that the fool's laptop is the property of a media company.


Official Secrets

WaPo editorialized Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, asked this weekend whether he believes he can prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, made a statement that should chill the bones of every American who values a vigorous press: "It depends on the circumstances." Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Mr. Gonzales explained, "There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility. That's a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation. We have an obligation to enforce those laws." But presenting the administration's radical new strategy as mere deference to Congress is profoundly dishonest.

The administration is seeking to convert a moribund World War I-era espionage law into an American version of Britain's Official Secrets Act. Mr. Gonzales is correct that the law, which bans the transmission of national defense information to anyone not cleared to receive it, would -- if read literally

That is the way to read a law; see what it says, rather than what you wish it said.
make criminals out of journalists who publish such material.
Put their asses in jail


Congress is not above the law

WaPo The FBI raid on Rep. William Jefferson's congressional office was an aggressive tactic that broke a long-standing political custom.

Which needed to be broken. Congressmen need to understand they are NOT above the law, and that laws they pass apply to them as well.
But while it might violate the spirit of the Constitution, it might not violate the letter of the document or subsequent rulings by the Supreme Court, legal analysts say.
I feel certain it did not, but take it to the Supreme Court if you want.
The issue could turn on whether a court finds that the items seized from Jefferson's office were related to such protected legislative activities as writing, researching and voting on bills. Other things could be fair game for the prosecution, analysts said.


Grassley's Top Ten Flaws

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa outlined the top 10 flaws in the Immigration bill:

  1. $2,000 Fine -- Under the bill, an illegal alien can go from illegal to legal by paying a small fine of $2,000. Often, illegal aliens will pay more than five times this amount to a smuggler to get across the border. Also, the $2000 fine may not have to be paid until year eight, which allows the illegal alien to live, work, and play in the United States for years free from deportation. This imposes a financial burden on the American taxpayer for health, education, and infrastructure costs that aren’t reimbursed for five or ten years.
    The fine should be imposed immediately, and should be multiplied by the number of years they were here illegally.
  2. Taxes -- Under the bill, illegal aliens get an option to only have to pay three of their last five years in back taxes.
    They should have to pay all of their back taxes, with penalties and interest, just like American citizens.
    Law-abiding American citizens do not have the option to pay some of their taxes. The bill would treat lawbreakers better than the American people. The bill also makes the IRS prove that illegal aliens have paid their back taxes. It will be impossible for the IRS to truly enforce this because they cannot audit every single person in this country.
  3. Security Clearances in 90 days – Under the bill, the Department of Homeland Security must perform background checks on illegal aliens in the United States. It also encourages the federal government to complete the background checks on 10 million illegal aliens in 90 days. This is a national security concern because Homeland Security will be pressured to complete these checks without doing a thorough job.
  4. Work Requirements – Under the bill, illegal aliens must prove they’ve worked in the United States for three of the last five years. It also says they have to work for six years after the date of enactment of the bill. However, there is no continuous work requirement for amnesty.
    They should be allowed two weeks off for vacation, but otherwise continuous employment.
    They could work for 30 days, take off 30 days, work for 30 days. The bill also says that illegal aliens have to prove that they’ve worked in the United States for three of the last five years by showing IRS or Social Security records, or records maintained by federal, state, or local governments, employers, unions or day labor centers. However, the bill also allows illegal aliens to ask anybody to attest that they have been employed. This invites fraud, and the government cannot realistically investigate all these cases.
  5. Confidentiality – Under the bill, if an illegal alien applies for amnesty, the federal government cannot use information provided in the application for anything but adjudicating the petition.
    Bad idea
    For example, if illegal aliens write in their applications that they are related to Osama Bin Laden, then our government cannot use that information. In fact, it says that the Secretary of Homeland Security can only share that information if someone requests it in writing. This provision severely handicaps national security and criminal investigators. Also, if a federal agent does use information provided by an illegal alien in an application for amnesty the agent would be fined $10,000. This is five times more than the alien has to pay to get amnesty.
  6. Social Security to illegal aliens -- Under the bill, illegal aliens are not prohibited from getting credit for the money they’ve put into the Social Security system if they’ve worked in the U.S. illegally.
    Very bad idea.
    Illegal immigrants who paid Social Security taxes using a stolen Social Security Number did not do so with the expectation that they would ever qualify for Social Security benefits. (The Ensign amendment would have taken care of this, but it did not pass.)
  7. Employers get a tax pardon for hiring illegal aliens -- Under the bill, employers of aliens applying for adjustment of status “shall not be subject to civil and criminal tax liability relating directly to the employment of such alien.”
    Very bad idea.
    Businesses that hired illegal workers would now get off scott-free from paying the taxes that they owe the government. This encourages employers to violate our tax laws and not pay what they owe the federal government. In addition to not having to pay their taxes, employers are also off the hook for providing illegal aliens with records or evidence that they have worked in the U.S. The employer is not subject to civil and criminal liability for having employed illegal aliens in the past, or before enactment.
  8. Family Members of H-2C Visa Holder need not be healthy -- Under the bill, spouses and children of H-2C visa holders are exempt from a requirement proving that they meet certain health standards. The visa holder is required to undergo a medical exam, but their family members are not which potentially puts Americans at risk.
  9. Mandatory Departure isn’t really Mandatory -- Under the bill, the Secretary of Homeland Security “may grant” Deferred Mandatory Departure to illegal aliens in the 2-5 year category. The Secretary “may” also waive the departure requirement if it would create substantial hardship for the alien to leave.
  10. No Interview Required. – Under the bill, illegal aliens in the 2nd tier who are required to leave the country can re-enter the United States on a visa. However, the bill does not require these individuals do not have to be interviewed. The bill doesn’t give discretion to our consular offices to require an interview. The 9/11 hijackers weren’t subject to appear in person. Today, the State Department requires most applicants to submit to interviews, and waives them only for children and the elderly.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Keep 'America' in Michigan schools

Detroit News reported Censoring the word "America" from our own schools is something Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden would never have thought possible. Michigan has done it without a whimper. In perhaps a well-intentioned, but pernicious example of political correctness, the Michigan Department of Education is attempting to ban the "America" and "American" from our public schools. Even though the word "America" appears in the department's own civics and government benchmarks, the department's style protocol for the Michigan Education Assessment Program requires that "America" and "Americans" be expunged from our testing and grade level expectations. Last week, the department ordered that our hard-working teachers not utter the words.

That is absolutely stupid.
The Department of Education asserts that "Americans" includes Mexicans, Canadians and others in the Western Hemisphere, so referring to U.S. residents as Americans is inappropriate. In the department's view, "America" happens to include South, Central and North America.
Americas does refer to all of them, but America does not.
Accordingly, when referring to the colonial period, the state bureaucracy requires teachers to refer to "the colonies of North America" or "North Americans." After the American Revolution, the nation is called the United States (not of America).
The proper name is United States of America.
The state's edict would be laughable if it were not so disgraceful. Instead of focusing on better teaching methods and educational resources to help our hard-working teachers and parents, the Department of Education spends its energy on confusing, misleading, historically inaccurate and counterproductive wordplay.
Anything other than teaching students what they need to know.
One can only imagine how teachers struggle to meet the semantic dictates of an educational bureaucracy gone awry. According to the department, before the American Revolution, George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were North Americans. But so were the French colonists in the Louisiana Territory, the Spanish settlers in Mexico and the British colonists in Canada -- not to mention the Native Americans.

After the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers no longer qualified as North Americans, but apparently the British, Spanish, French and Native Americans did. What people in the United States are to be called after the Revolution is not clear, so long as they are not referred to as Americans.

Although the style protocol does not require educators to change formal titles such as "America the Beautiful," the students will apparently now believe the song is about a hemisphere and not a nation. The American Revolution is now the North American Revolution.
Little did the writers of the Contract with America in 1994 realize that they were making an agreement with Mexico and Canada. The Voice of America obviously is broadcasting the inspirational messages of Brazil and Belize across the globe.


Is Speaker Hastert Illiterate?

Hot Air On Tuesday the FBI raided the office of Rep. William Jefferson, (D-LA). He’s the Congressman caught on tape accepting a bribe. He’s also the Congressman who used a post-Katrina a href="">military search and rescue squad to get…something…from his own home in New Orleans. The FBI had requested documents from him for weeks, he hadn’t cooperated, so they raided him.

The House, led by Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert, has gone ballistic. Hastert’s screaming about Constitutional separation of powers (the FBI is under the executive branch), and even demanding that it return whatever it took from Jefferson’s office. The Democrats are right there with him, in a rare and ill-advised show of unity.

And they’re all nuts. As Right Wing News notes, the Constitution speaks clearly on this issue.

Moreover, trying to use the Constitution as a shield in this case is pure bunk. If you look at Article 6, Section 1 of the Constitution, it says:

“They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.”
It’s sad that private citizens have to enlighten our rulers, but bribery is a felony. That being the case, Jefferson isn’t protected here. Read the Constitution–it is written in English, fellas. Furthermore, the Justice Dept got a federal court order before conducting the raid, so you have two branches involved in rooting out corruption in the third. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Sheesh. Makes me wonder (along with the entire blogosphere), what else are all those House members terrified the FBI might find?

Ramesh Ponnuru blogged I'm with JPod on the question of the wisdom of Hastert's intervention. In fact, I'm sort of attracted to the idea of regular, random raids of congressional offices. Maybe it can be part of the next ethics-reform bill?

Yahoo News reported "In the interest of upholding the high ethical standard of the House Democratic Caucus, I am writing to request your immediate resignation from the Ways and Means Committee," wrote House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in the one-sentence correspondence. The Louisiana Democrat was defiant. "With respect, I decline to do so," he wrote back to Pelosi."I will not give up a committee assignment that is so vital to New Orleans at this crucial time for any uncertain, long-term political strategy."
In other words I might be able to get some more graft for myself or my friends.
Earlier, House Speaker Dennis Hastert demanded that the FBI surrender documents it seized and remove agents involved in the weekend raid of Jefferson's office, under what lawmakers of both parties said were unconstitutional circumstances. "We think those materials ought to be returned," Hastert said, adding that the FBI agents involved "ought to be frozen out of that (case) just for the sake of the constitutional aspects of it."
What is unconstitutional about it? They had a warrent, and Congress is not above the law; their immunity is very limited. Why do they expect they have oversight responsibilities over the other two branches, but they are immune from action by the other two branches?
Gulf Coast Pundit blogged With all the screaming going on over on Capitol Hill, it makes you wonder how many more are trying to hide similiar situations. Our so-called lawmakers are claiming they are above the laws of the land.

ogresview blogged One problem -- the executive branch didn't do this -- both the judicial branch AND the executive branch agreed that there was evidence of a crime that had been committed -- a felony -- and that a sitting Congressman had committed the crime. It's called checks and balances and it appeared to work just right so far.

If this search is ruled invalid, then Congress will be utterly, completely, above the law. If a Congressman commits a murder in his offices, are the police allowed to investigate? Those who oppose this search are saying that yes, the Congressman's office are literally completely above the law and could not be searched.

When two branches of government agree that a felony may have been committed, by what right does Congress attempt to obstruct that investigation?


Extremism Isn't Islamic Law

WaPo reported during the early history of Islam, the Agreement of Hudaibiyah between Muhammad and his rivals stipulated that any Muslim who converted out of Islam would be allowed to depart freely to join the non-Muslim community. Nevertheless, throughout much of Islamic history, Muslim governments have embraced an interpretation of Islamic law that imposes the death penalty for apostasy. It is vital that we differentiate between the Koran, from which much of the raw material for producing Islamic law is derived, and the law itself. While its revelatory inspiration is divine, Islamic law is man-made and thus subject to human interpretation and revision.....

All of humanity, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, is threatened by the forces of Islamist extremism. It is these extremists, masquerading as traditional Muslims, who angrily call for the death of Abdul Rahman or the beheading of Danish cartoonists. Their objective is raw political power and the eventual radicalization of all 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide. Western involvement in this "struggle for the soul of Islam" is a matter of self-preservation for the West and is critical given the violent tactics and strength of radical elements in Muslim societies worldwide.

The 1.3 billion Muslims need to stand up now and demand that the radical Islamists cease hijacking their faith, and they need to come up with some way to bring it into the 21st Century.
Muslim theologians must revise their understanding of Islamic law, and recognize that punishment for apostasy is merely the legacy of historical circumstances and political calculations stretching back to the early days of Islam. Such punishments run counter to the clear Koranic injunction "Let there be no compulsion in religion" (2:256).

People of goodwill of every faith and nation must unite to ensure the triumph of religious freedom and of the "right" understanding of Islam, to avert global catastrophe and spare millions of others the fate of Sudan's great religious and political leader, Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, who was executed on a false charge of apostasy. The millions of victims of "jihadist" violence in Sudan -- whose numbers continue to rise every day -- would have been spared if Taha's vision of Islam had triumphed instead of that of the extremists.

The greatest challenge facing the contemporary Muslim world is to bring our limited, human understanding of Islamic law into harmony with its divine spirit -- in order to reflect God's mercy and compassion, and to bring the blessings of peace, justice and tolerance to a suffering world.

The writer is a former president of Indonesia. From 1984 to 1999 he directed the Nadhlatul Ulama, the world's largest Muslim organization. He serves as senior adviser and board member to LibForAll Foundation, an Indonesian- and U.S.-based nonprofit that works to reduce religious extremism and terrorism.

Gus Van Horn blogged What the Islamic world needs instead of some fatwa mandating tolerance is what the Christian world got during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment and still has to a lesser extent today -- a recognition that there exists a law independent of alleged divine fiat and claims of inspired knowledge. Moslems need to accept in some meaningful way that their own lives on this earth are valuable in and of themselves, and so recognize that the surest way to protect their lives is to live in accordance with natural law. Most importantly, they must permit natural law to supercede religious law as unprovable and open to the wildest of interpretations. And if they love their lives, they will, because they will understand how the "divine law" espoused by others can ruin their lives or end them altogether.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Israel captures Hamas commander

BBC reported Israeli forces have captured the leader of Islamic group Hamas' military wing in the West Bank in a raid in Ramallah. Israel accuses Ibrahim Hamad, 41, of masterminding a string of suicide bombings, including attacks on cafes and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.... Mr Hamad was made leader of the Izzedine al-Qassam brigades in the West Bank in December 2003 and Israel says he is behind the deaths of scores of Israeli citizens and five Americans..... A family member quoted by AP said Mr Hamad has been wanted by Israel since 1998, and has been imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority for his anti-Israeli activities. He was released by the PA in 2002, during a major Israeli military offensive in the West Bank.... The Israeli army officer who led the capture is quoted by Israeli army radio saying that Hamas would have trouble replacing Mr Hamad. "What made him special was his creativity in finding very complex ways to attack Israelis," the colonel, who was only identified by his first name, Amir, said. BBC correspondent Caroline Hawley in Jerusalem says it is not clear why the army moved against Hamad.

This is just a guess, but perhaps the reason was they did not like the a string of suicide bombings, including attacks on cafes and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, or maybe it was because of the deaths of scores of Israeli citizens and five Americans
Mike Pechar blogged Excuse me! I'd suggest that the BBC hire a new correspondent to report from Jerusalem.


National ID Card

WaPo reported As many as 26.5 million veterans were placed at risk of identity theft after an intruder stole an electronic data file this month containing their names, birth dates and Social Security numbers from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee, Secretary Jim Nicholson said yesterday....The theft represents the biggest unauthorized disclosure ever of Social Security data, and it could make affected veterans vulnerable to credit card fraud if the burglars realize the value of the data, one expert said. "In terms of Social Security numbers, it's the biggest breach," said Evan Hendricks, publisher of the Privacy Times newsletter and author of the book "Credit Scores and Credit Reports." "As long as you've got that exact Social, most of the time the credit bureaus will disclose your credit report, and that enables the thief to get credit."

Instapundit blogged
This kind of thing is why I'm not impressed with calls for a National ID. Of course, it's also why I'm not impressed with credit bureaus.

Actually this example is one that would encourage a National ID card, IMHO. If people had to have an ID card with their photo, fingerprint, and other such biometric information on it, and if swiping that card through an inexpensive reader and checking it against a national database could verify other information that would be in the magnetic stripe and the database, but would not be known to forgers, identify theft would be significantly reduced. But if all one needs to know is a social security number, and then get that printed on a paper card, with no other biometric data on it, identify theft is much easier.


Searching Congressional Offices

Instapundit blogged Members of Congress are complaining about the FBI raid on Rep. William Jefferson's office.

Of course they are complaining. They fear they may be next.
he separation of powers argument seems to be pretty weak to me: The actual scope of Congressional immunity under the speech and debate clause is quite narrow (narrower, oddly, than the judically-created immunities enjoyed by judges and prosecutors) and certainly doesn't include immunity from search in a bribery case. At any rate, members of Congress who are offended by an unannounced late-night raid on an office might profitably be asked what they think about late-night unannounced raids on private homes, which happen all the time as part of the Congressionally-mandated War on Drugs. If anything, it ought to work the other way. I think if you searched 435 randomly selected American homes, and 435 Congressional offices, you just might find more evidence of crime in the latter. . . .


Saved by a Soccer emblem based on the Third Crusade

The Sun Online - News: Great save by Pompey A Briton escaped being killed by Muslim fanatics — because they thought his Portsmouth Football Club sticker was an Islamic emblem. Terrified Tony Restall, 56, was ambushed by Arab fundamentalists in strife-torn Yemen. The bandits, armed with AK-47 rifles, dragged him and his armed guard out of their car and threatened to either execute or take them hostage. Then they spotted Pompey fan Tony’s club sticker in a window and thought the moon and star symbols meant he was a practising Muslim.... “But they spotted my Portsmouth FC sticker and the mood changed. They thought I was Muslim as the star and moon are Muslim symbols. “I was able to convince them that, although I was Western, I was helping Muslims in the area.”.... Portsmouth FC based their badge on the city’s 900-year-old coat of arms. The crest used the symbol of King Richard’s chancellor William de Longchamp, who adopted a crescent moon and star in honour of the Third Crusade.

I am very happy he was saved, and I think it is particularly interesting that the emblem that saved him was based on the Third Crusade


Bush's faith worries Albright

CNN reported U.S. President George W. Bush has alienated Muslims around the world by using absolutist Christian rhetoric to discuss foreign policy issues, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says.

Actually Bush has not been too accomodating to some Muslims as far as I am concerned, but I do thank God that we have a President that is strong in his faith when we are confronted with the threat the Islamists present.
"I worked for two presidents who were men of faith, and they did not make their religious views part of American policy," she said, referring to Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both Democrats and Christians.
That is because their faith was as wishy washy as they were.
"President Bush's certitude about what he believes in, and the division between good and evil, is, I think, different," said Albright, who has just published a book on religion and world affairs. "The absolute truth is what makes Bush so worrying to some of us."
And the wishy-washy truth is what makes Democrats so worrying to some of us.
Kim Priestap blogged So, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes bold proclaimations of his Islamic faith, which includes the destruction of Israel, Madeleine Albright doesn't say much. However, when President Bush makes public references of his faith, Ms. Albright feels the need to speak up. Thank God Secretary Albright is no longer involved in the governing of this country

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred blogged oddly, Ms Albright mentions no concern about wahabbi influence

Blue Crab blogged Well, aside from the fact that Maddy is implying that Bush's faith is much more worrisome than, say, people espousing religious dogma as justification to kill civilians in terrorist bombings, I can't really see what use her analysis is. Ok, she's worried. Great. I worry about a lot of things, too. Like our troops deployed in a war zone. And weirdly strong former government officials who do their level best to undermine those troops by attempting to undermine the elected leadership of the country by giving negative interviews while in foreign countries. But, hey, maybe that's just me.

Becky blogged To any true believer of fundamentalist Christianity, the clear message in these statements will be that President Carter and President Clinton were Christians in name only, so they were acceptable, but because President Bush is actually living his Christianity, that makes him dangerous. Fundamentalist Christians are suspicious of what they see as the "intentional discrediting" of President Bush, known to be a born-again Christian, as part of an orchestrated effort to turn the world against all of fundamentalist Christianity. Albright's new book, "The Mighty and the Almighty," will certainly further fuel their fears.

Bombtruck blogged This is from the same woman who pursued air strikes over Kosovo with little to no restraint in her vendetta against the Serbs, who thought North Korea could be trusted in any capacity on nuclear weapons, and who served quite possibly the most morally-devoid president to ever sit in the White House. BTW, the fact that Clinton and Carter didn't use any faith in their governance and left America weakened security-wise in the face of islamic terror should be quite telling as to whose policies are really 'worrisome'. Sometimes the World calls for a little moral and political certainty, and if she doesn't understand that yet she should really learn to keep that ignorance to herself.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Good Luck

Atlas Shrugs blogged Here is a soldier stationed in Iraq, stationed in a big sand box. He asked his wife to send him dirt (U.S. soil), fertilizer and some grass seed So he can have the sweet aroma and feel the grass grow beneath his feet.?When the men of the squadron have a mission they are going on they take turns walking through the grass and the American soil to bring them good luck.

I like this photo, and the idea behind it.


Coin image omits 'In God We Trust'

Star-Telegram A Keller school district parent said political correctness has run amok at her daughter's elementary school, where the principal chose to omit the words "In God We Trust" from an oversize coin depicted on the yearbook cover.

This is absolutely obscene
Janet Travis, principal of Liberty Elementary School in Colleyville, wanted to avoid offending students of different religions,
What religion does not worship God?
a district spokesman said. Students were given stickers with the words that could be affixed to the book if they so chose.
Oh that was nice. Did the school district pay to have the stickers printed?
Debi Ackerman of North Richland Hills said she is offended by the omission. It's yet another example of a politically correct culture that is removing Christian references from all public places, she said.
Not just Christian, in this case. They may have different names for Him, but most religions worship God.


Corps' Levee Work Is Faulted

Los Angeles Times A wide range of design and construction defects in levees around New Orleans raise serious doubts that the system can withstand the pounding of another hurricane the size of Katrina, even after $3.1 billion in repairs are completed, a team of independent investigators led by UC Berkeley's civil engineering school said Sunday.

Why is the Federal Government rebuilding levees to protect land that is 10 to 15 feet below sea level from flooding? If Louisiana wants to waste money on it, let them, but we should not be building anything there. Even if the levees hold perfectly, if a hurricane goes over New Orleans the rainfall alone will fill up that bowl.
The findings undermine assurances by the Bush administration and the Army Corps of Engineers that the federal levee repair program due to be completed in June will provide a higher level of protection to New Orleans, which sustained 1,293 deaths and more than $100 billion in property loss from Katrina.


Lawmaker Hid Bribe in Freezer

NYT reported The F.B.I. accused Representative William J. Jefferson, Democrat of Louisiana

Two different reasons to suspect he is dishonest.
, on Sunday of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a Kentucky businessman and stashing $90,000 from the scheme in his home freezer in Washington.

Is this what they mean by cold hard cash?


Prosecution of Journalists Is Possible in NSA Leak

WaPo Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales raised the possibility yesterday that New York Times journalists could be prosecuted for publishing classified information based on the outcome of the criminal investigation underway into leaks to the Times of data about the National Security Agency's surveillance of terrorist-related calls between the United States and abroad.

It's about time.
"We are engaged now in an investigation about what would be the appropriate course of action in that particular case, so I'm not going to talk about it specifically," he said on ABC's "This Week."


Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Dangerous Prayer of Blessing

The Anchoress has a very interesting post, and I would encourage everyone to read the whole thing, but I will quote just a few parts of it. It starts with a blessing [which is] is dangerous because it takes you (and me) out of the equation and dares to allow God to work what and as He will.

May all your expectations be frustrated.
May all your plans be thwarted.
May all your desires be withered into nothingness.
That you may experience the powerlessness and the poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
That sounds like a terrible prayer if you are praying it, for example, for a dying loved one, for parents of a sick child. But is it, really? In fact, it sums up the whole idea of “not my will, but thine be done…” it is precisely what Jesus taught us, but we forget that.

We’re so into “feel good” Christianity and “Expect a Miracle” thinking (and there is much to feel good about, in Christianity, and many miracles to expect) that we forget the hard truth - that beneath all of that we’re supposed to be disposed toward surrender, we’re supposed to be getting out of the Creator’s way (and our own) so that He may increase as we decrease. We pray “thy will be done…” but I think many times we don’t mean it. We say it because we know we “should,” but it’s bittersweet. “Okay, Lord, you’re going to do it your way, so I’ll acquiesce…but, please, please, can’t you do it my way? Think about it, Lord! My way is pretty good, too, isn’t it? And you want me to be happy, don’t you? Get back to me, Lord! Love ya! Mean it! Call me!”

Later in the post she refers to Conservatives who have abandoned Bush on the matter of immigration: I’m thinking of another group demanding “what it wants, when it wants it,” my friends who have taken the uncompromising stand on illegal immigrants, the stand that says “ship them all out, no amnesty, not even for folks who have been here a long time and been productive…and by the way, Bush sucks. He sucks about everything, now, because he didn’t say yes to us.”

She then relates it to the story of Moses And damn you, Moses, leading us out of slavery and into the desert. When we were slaves in Egypt, at least we had melons and meat. You suck, Moses - we can’t see the sense in what you’re doing and we don’t like it. You’re slow of tongue, you’re stupid, you’re letting us down, you’re breaking faith and you should put someone else in charge. You’ve only given us 75% of what we want! Yeah, the Red Sea parting was nice, but what have you done for us lately? And you’ve been too long on that freaking mountain, too. Let’s melt some gold!

A lot to think about.


Saudi textbook

WaPo Saudi Arabia's public schools have long been cited for demonizing the West as well as Christians, Jews and other "unbelievers." But after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis -- that was all supposed to change.

Maybe it did change; maybe it got worse.
A 2004 Saudi royal study group recognized the need for reform after finding that the kingdom's religious studies curriculum "encourages violence toward others, and misguides the pupils into believing that in order to safeguard their own religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the 'other.' " Since then, the Saudi government has claimed repeatedly that it has revised its educational texts.... A review of a sample of official Saudi textbooks for Islamic studies used during the current academic year reveals that, despite the Saudi government's statements to the contrary, an ideology of hatred toward Christians and Jews and Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi doctrine remains in this area of the public school system. The texts teach a dualistic vision, dividing the world into true believers of Islam (the "monotheists")
Judiasm and Christianity are also monotheistic.
and unbelievers (the "polytheists" and "infidels"). This indoctrination begins in a first-grade text and is reinforced and expanded each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text instructing students that their religious obligation includes waging jihad against the infidel to "spread the faith." Freedom House knows this because Ali al-Ahmed, a Saudi dissident who runs the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs , gave us a dozen of the current, purportedly cleaned-up Saudi Ministry of Education religion textbooks. The copies he obtained were not provided by the government, but by teachers, administrators and families with children in Saudi schools, who slipped them out one by one.
We should send people into the schools to see for certain what is being taught, and if these accusations are true, the schools should be closed, and the teachers deported.
CQ blogged The Saudis intend on teaching hatred, bigotry, and religious intolerance to its children. With this kind of indoctrination in its schools -- as well as in its academies in other nations, including the US -- it is no wonder that so many of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis and that Saudis continue to take part in Islamist efforts around the world. The House of Saud has long been split between pro-Western and anti-Western factions, but these textbooks reveal that the anti-Western faction appears ascendant where it counts.

If the Saudis do not cease their brainwashing of children in an effort to transform them into bigots and worse, the US and other Western nations should take steps to close their academies within our borders. They can raise their children to commit suicide and murder, but we should bar them from doing the same to our own children. When they quit teaching the next generation to hate us, then we may consider them our friends, but it's impossible to embrace them while they corrupt their children against us.

Blue Crab Boulevard blogged Read the whole thing - it's pretty bad. The lessons get progressively more offensive and intolerant as the grades progress.

Howie blogged Mr. al-Fascidullah surprised, “Very good! Ok students, we are out of time, It’s time for another special film presentation in the Gym. Today’s movie is titled, Ten Reasons Allah Wants You to Martyr Yourself… Oh, And don’t forget Blood money for a free infidel is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is 'of the book' or not 'of the book. Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel. It will be on the test! Dismissed.”

Jonathan Adler blogged The bulk of her article provides selections from various texts to prove her point. As Glenn comments, this is further evidence that "the Saudis are not our friends." Unfortunately, the U.S. government has long tolerated outrageous conduct by the Saudi government, something I first blogged about here and here.

Dean blogged I keep hearing they're getting better. Then I read things like this Washington Post story. They aren't that. They aren't even close to that. It's a huge problem.

Maj P blogged Sun Tzu tells us that if you know yourself and your enemy, you're good to go. I'm not sure we're even at the fifty-percent mark on those tasks. We need to wise up.

Ranting Profs blogged Although this piece moves over it pretty quickly, one reason we need to be concerned about this is that the Saudis spend an enormous amount of money proseltyzing around the world -- not in an effort to convert unbelievers to Islam, but in an effort to move indigenous forms of Islam over to Wahhabism. One author I read called it the largest "propaganda effort in history." And one way they do that is by offering these texts in countries all over the world, in a variety of languages.


German Mistrust of Muslims and Islam Grows

Deutsche Welle reports Experts fear new conflicts after a study published this week showed most Germans doubt the Western and Islamic worlds can peacefully coexist.

The Dutch may be ignoring the problem, a la Chamberlain, but at least the Germans are not.
Mistrust of the 3 million Muslims living in Germany appears to be growing. In spite of official attempts to promote dialog among religions,
If Islam could be reformed, and brought into the 21st century, dialog would be possible, but the Islamists want to take everything back to the middle ages.
distrust of Islam continues to grow, with 60 percent of Germans expecting tension between traditional German society and immigrants from Muslim countries, according to an Allensbach study commissioned by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. "Germans are increasingly of the opinion that a lasting, peaceful coexistence with the Islamic world will not be possible," the researchers said in the survey, released Wednesday. Some 56 percent of Germans said they believed a "clash of cultures" already exists,
It is not a "clash of cultures" or even a "clash of civilizations", but rather a clash between civilization and a lack thereof.
partly a result of recent incidents that received a large amount of media attention, according to the survey's authors Elisabeth Noelle and Thomas Petersen.


Boys saved from slavers

Sunday Times A senior member of an Islamic organisation linked to Al-Qaeda is funding his activities through the kidnapping of Christian children who are sold into slavery in Pakistan. The Sunday Times has established that Gul Khan, a wealthy militant who uses the base of Jamaat-ud Daawa (JUD) near Lahore, is behind a cruel trade in boys aged six to 12. They are abducted from remote Christian villages in the Punjab and fetch nearly £1,000 each from buyers who consign them to a life of misery in domestic servitude or in the sex trade.

Damn Muslim Pedophiles should be converted to eunichs.
Khan was exposed in a sting organised by American and Pakistani missionaries who decided to save 20 such boys and return them to their homes. Using a secret camera, they filmed him accepting $28,500 (£15,000) from a Pakistani missionary posing as a businessman who said he wanted to set up an operation in which the boys would beg for cash on the streets.


Religious Liberals Gain New Visibility

WaPo The religious left is back. Long overshadowed by the Christian right,

I know the Christian right follows Christ. What does the "religious left" do, pretend to have faith, but are they so tightly linked to the Secular Humanist Left that they are afraid to say who they worship?
religious liberals across a wide swath of denominations are engaged today in their most intensive bout of political organizing and alliance-building since the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s, according to scholars, politicians and clergy members. n large part, the revival of the religious left is a reaction against conservatives' success in the 2004 elections in equating moral values with opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.Religious liberals say their faith compels them to emphasize such issues as poverty, affordable health care and global warming. Disillusionment with the war in Iraq and opposition to Bush administration policies on secret prisons and torture have also fueled the movement.
So they like some sort of faith, but they are not strong on defense, so when the Islamoterrorists challeng them to accept Islam rather than being attacked, they would be more likely to do it.


For soldiers, gratitude and praise from an Iraqi mayor

Rocky Mountain News An Iraqi mayor stood before troops lined up on the lawn at Fort Carson on Friday morning and said only two words in English. But those two words brought the crowd to its feet. "Thank you." It was a telling gesture from Tal Afar Mayor Najim Al Jibouri, who spoke for about 20 minutes in his native tongue praising the 3rd Armored Cavalry for saving his city from certain ruin. It was his first trip to the United States, arriving via Washington, D.C., then coming to Colorado Springs with his wife and son. The mayor was invited as a part of a welcoming ceremony at Fort Carson for those who had just finished another tour in Iraq.

Al Jibouri, dressed in a black suit with a lavender tie, said he was glad to be back among them. "Are you truly my friends?" he asked through a translator. "Yes. I walk a happier man because you are my friends. You are the world to me. I smell the sweet perfume that emanates from your flower of your strength, honor and greatness in every corner of Tal Afar. The nightmares of terror fled when the lion of your bravery entered our city."

That is an interesting way of expressing a feeling which clearly came from his heart.