Archive for March, 2010

The Worst Part of the “Healthcare” Bill

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

There are many objections to the health care legislation being voted on today. Some (like claims that it provides for death panels) are unjustified alarmism and others (like privacy concerns and its cripplingly high price tag) are all too valid. However, the worst aspect of the legislation is rarely mentioned: the fact that the legal justification for the individual mandate is based on a premise that undermines the entire structure of constitutionally limited government and sets the nation on a slippery slope where the government need not respect Constitutional rights. All Americans, especially Muslims, should take notice of why the reasoning behind the individual mandate threatens religious liberty in particular.

When a journalist asked Nancy Pelosi what clause in the Constitution justifies a mandate that would force individuals to purchase health insurance whether they want it or not, her initial response was a contemptuous “Are you serious?” Later her office issued an official response claiming that the individual mandate is based on the commerce clause, that is, the clause granting the government the right to regulate interstate commerce. It is certainly true that the commerce clause has been used to justify all kinds of expansion of government authority, but this interpretation takes that expansion to a dangerous new level. This argument says that the government is justified in forcing an individual to buy insurance for no better reason than that it serves the purpose of regulation of interstate commerce. What if the person has a religious objection to medical insurance? The bill includes some religious exemptions, but to whom they would apply is left to the bureaucrats. In the Smith decision, the Supreme Court already ruled that a law of general applicability cannot be deemed to violate religious freedom unless such a violation was the purpose of the law. Judge Scalia defended the use of “historic designation” to prevent needed expansion of a church on these grounds: “The issue presented by Smith is, quite simply, whether the people, through their elected representatives, or rather this Court, shall control the outcome of those concrete cases. For example, shall it be the determination of this Court, or rather of the people, whether (as the dissent apparently believes) church construction will be exempt from zoning laws? The historical evidence put forward by the dissent does nothing to undermine the conclusion we reached in Smith: It shall be the people.”

Since the purpose of this law is the regulation of interstate commerce those Muslims who object to insurance policies because they deem them to be variations on gambling and tied to usury may be forced to buy medical insurance anyway because violation of his religious liberty was not the intent of the law. (For the record, I believe those Muslims are mistaken in their understanding of Islamic law but I don’t think that I have a right to impose my understanding of Islamic law upon them, and the government certainly does not.)

The principle that the federal government may force people to buy health care in the interest of interstate commerce has awesome implications. On that premise a Muslim could be forced to buy pork or alcohol in the interest of interstate commerce. We don’t want to end up like Germany where, hypothetically, one might lose unemployment benefits for refusing to accept a job in a brothel. If the new legislation passes as expected, we will have to pray that the Court will find the individual mandate an unconstitutional intrusion.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

News and Analysis (3/19/10)

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Hard language demands negotiations within 24 months that will result “in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors”…

… Meanwhile, Israeli lobbying forces rally to ensure their high level of influence in the US government:

Khamenei’s strategy focuses on keeping elite Iranians loyal while using the suppression machinery of his regime more than ever before…

“This is not about the opposition Green Movement in Iran now,” says Ali Akbar Moussavi Khoini, a former member of Parliament. “This is about democracy and the fact that when people have access to information, they can make wise choices.

Although US officials remain skeptical, Kai Eide argues talks with Taliban leadership are the best strategy to end the 8 year conflict:

What parallels can be drawn to the US led invasion into the “Graveyard of Empires?”

News and Analysis (3/18/10)

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Americans deserve “full public access to … FARA registrations detailing AIPAC’s publicity campaigns, lobbying expenditures, funding flows,  activities of its offices in Israel and internal consultations with its foreign principals – particularly over such controversial issues as illegal settlements and US foreign aid” — Grant F.Smith:

Despite four witnesses describing the tragedy, Israel’s initial investigation proved no wrong-doing:

“Sitting back and doing nothing is very dangerous. We’ve already seen Hillary Clinton temper her comments [criticizing Israel’s government], so things can go back in the old direction if Palestinians don’t take a strong stance. Passivity doesn’t help”:

US officials fear the  electoral showdown between Ayad Allawi and Nouri al-Maliki will set back their timetable for withdrawal:

Despite a having a solider for every 8 Afghanis in Marja, Taliban forces continue to intimidate and disrupt local leadership:

Facing life in prison, the Americans argued they were headed to Afghanistan to provide medical and financial aid to their fellow Muslims:

News and Analyis (3/17/10)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

As US officials continue to undermine the peace process by pampering the Israelis …

… Iran jumps at the opportunity to boost its regional influence and prevent hostile alliances from forming:

“[O]pposition activists fear that Washington’s embrace will bring more harm than good. ‘Just leave us alone, please,’ one activist in Tehran pleaded”:

Skipping  the inconvenience of a truth and reconciliation process, Afghan officials have decided to issue a blanket immunity for war crimes committed before 2001:

“Western diplomats and United Nations officials have dismissed the fraud accusations as ‘irregularities’ and said they would not change the outcome of the elections”:

Books with the theme “that Muslims are inherently violent, that Islam is a second-rate religion and that one should be wary of Muslims in any society… do not fulfill the mission of a school, which is to educate”:

Illustrating the level of corruption plaguing Pakistan, as many as 272 million gallons of water a day is siphoned away and resold at an inflated prices:

News and Analysis (3/16/10)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

A promise to end drone attacks at the height of their impact might provide an effective bargaining chip to entice Taliban leaders to agree to reconciliation negotiations:

It is hard to believe that “AIPAC’s hard-line, rightist views of the Arab-Israeli conflict have not once influenced the ‘education’ imparted on the 480 trips (at a cost of $4,024,845) sponsored by AIEF since Jan. 2000”:

As Israel demonstrates its contempt for U.S. objections …

Uri Avnery argues it is only the timing of the announcement that has stoked the controversy (as in, “It’s worse than criminal, it’s stupid”):

As Mullah Umar claims he has been misrepresented on education for women, an umbrella group complains that the Karzai government’s view “that women are not important … has not been changed in the past eight years”:

The failed truce should  come as no suprise as the agreement did not address the insurgents’ complaints of discrimination:

Michael Furlong is accused of having step up a network of spies and assassins to develop intelligence to be used by military units to track and target insurgents:

News and Analysis (3/15/10)

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The parents of the American girl run over by an IDF bulldozer while she protested the destruction of Palestinian homes are still seeking justice:

Illegal? Unauthorized?  In any case, “it’s generally a bad idea to have freelancers running around a war zone pretending to be James Bond” — an American Government Official:

Anticipating months of political negotiations in order to create alliances:

A top priority for U.S. national security interests in the Middle East: what lessons can the Obama administration learn from their attempts to overhaul the US healthcare system?

With Egypt’s parliamentary elections months away, the authorities already have locked up hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood …

… but the editors of the Washington Post, no fan of El Baradei’s objections to the Bush administration’s interference in the work of the IAEA, are glad to see him “tilting at the rotting autocracy” of Egypt:

Dismayed at propaganda “that comes from Jewish and Israeli sources,” JNews hopes to provide “reliable… information, … authoritative and expert commentary,… and deeper and more courageous analysis”:

News and Analysis (3/14/10)

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Gallup poll indicates the Taliban are quickly losing popularity among the Pakistani and Afghani people:

As Israel continues its closure of the West Bank and restrictions in Jerusalem, a 13-year old, denied a lawyer, is forced to sign a confession in a language he doesn’t understand and faces up to 20-years in prison:

Does Israel’s strongest ally have any influence on Israeli action?

Accusations of blatant corruption and theft of millions in Iraqi reconstruction money involving mail, wire transfer, and tens of thousands of dollars stuffed in suitcases:

AP reports that “Irish police said Saturday that four people arrested in connection with the Swedish plot, including an American woman, have been freed without charge, but three others remain in custody”:

Iraqis are wary of perpetuating the 2006 compromise which awarded the prime minister’s office to a Shiite Arab, the presidency to a Kurd, and the Parliament speaker to a Sunni Arab:

“The prophet Muhammad was neither a Sunni nor a Shiite…. He was just a Muslim,” says the physician-musician. In Islam, “all you need to believe in is one God”:

News and Analysis (3/12/10)

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Besides playing a critical role in the early development of Iraqi democracy, the elections will have a regional impact affecting foreign relations across the Middle East:

“With their ranks blotted by bribery, theft, extortion, drug-running and defections to the Taliban, the police stand in stark contrast to the Afghan National Army, which U.S. officials said is well-respected”…

… Meanwhile, the US strategy to promote tribal leadership against the Taliban becomes proves to be more complicated than initially presented:

Proof that Israeli law is concerned with race, not religious persuasion:

Anticipating protests, Israeli policy preempts any attempt to demonstrate against their oppressive rule:

Though there are less than 100 Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, others are skeptical:

News and Analysis (3/11/10)

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

“”All they’re doing is showing that racism still lives in the Old Dominion. … at the same time, there’s a new Dominion. That’s what we’re going to show people.” — Imam Johari Abdul-Malik:

“We are a national government, based on Islamic principles, and we call on women to be more involved in the parliament, municipalities, and ministries. We are proud of this for this is a woman’s right” – Prime Minister Haniyeh:

Amr Moussa declares that Israeli “insults” render the negotiation impossible, “The talks have already stopped'”:

“The Israeli government is covering this up under the umbrella of combat activity, which absolves soldiers of responsibility” — Husein Abu Husein, attorney for Rachel Corrie’s family:

Foreign aid to Afghanistan has “been eroded by power shortages, wasteful contractors, security dangers and corruption”:

A drastic expansion of staff numbers will not necessarily translate into progress:

Erdogan should use “his upcoming visit to the US … to present his case and prove that Turkey is capable of handling the disputes with Armenia without US congressional intervention”:

News and Analysis (3/10/10)

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

DOJ says, “‘A woman from suburban America agreed to carry out murder overseas and to provide material support to terrorists’:

Iranian blogger says “this week’s change in U.S. policy was too little too late. ‘During the aftermath of the elections it might have had an effect. But now it’s just a symbolic act””:

Refusing to submit to additional security screenings, Senator Abbas Khan Afridi returns home a hero, unwilling to submit to what are viewed as unjust demands of the US:

All Americans, not just Muslims should be concerned about US Census questions that go beyond the Constitutional mandate of enumeration for Congressional apportionment:

“Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, Sunni Islam’s most senior religious figure, has died during a visit to Saudi Arabia”:

A “key figure in the Saudi back-channel talks described [Mullah Abdul Ghani] Baradar’s arrest as a ‘letdown’ and ‘a huge blow’ to the fledgling peace initiative”:

An inside look at Hussein’s aborted attempt to develop nuclear weapons: