Friday, December 25, 2009

Obamacare sparking 10th Amendment rebellion, action in seven states

By: Mark Tapscott

Looks like the steadily growing list of constitutional, ethical and political outrages that constitute the Harry Reid version of Obamacare is sparking a rebellion in the states, as AP reports South Carolina's attorney general plans to investigate the vote-buying that surrounded the proposal in the Senate majority leader's office.

According to AP, South Carolina's Henry McMaster is being joined by the attorneys general of Michigan and Washington state in a suit to determine the constitutionality of the Obamacare proposal. Their initiative was prompted by a request from South Carolina's two senators, Lindsay Graham and Jim DeMint, both Republicans.

Attorneys-general in at least four other states are also considering joining McMasters, according to AP. A move by a group of states to challenge the constitutionality of Obamacare could reinvigorate the efficacy of the 10th Amendment, which reserves to the states or the people all rights not specifically granted to the federal government.

Graham has been all over cable news today visibly angry about the vote-buying by Reid that secured the votes of Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as well as possibly other senators as yet unknown.

DeMint has also been active, especially on the issue of the Reid amendment's provision seeking to bar future congresses from changing even a single word of Section 3403 on the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (IMAB).

The IMAB will become the federal health care ground zero under Obamacare if it becomes law. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has a link to DeMint's floor speech on the issue and additional information, analyses, and links.

Nelson's deal with Reid has attracted the most attention because it exempts Nebraska from paying its share of Medicaid expenses in perpetuity. Medicaid expenditures are among the most expensive federal mandates on state governments, and the Obamacare bill will significantly increase costs for all other states that don't somehow wangle a similar deal.

It also raises a constitutional issue, which McMasters explained in a statement issued earlier today:

"The Nelson provision is unusual in that there is not cut off date or phase out. Many provisions in federal law have a sunset date -- say 2, 5, 10, or even 20 years-- but this provision will continue in perpetuity. Quite obviously, this issue raises very serious concerns about equity, tax fairness as well as the constitutionality of having federal tax levies and mandates that treat one state differently from all the others.

"If the Nelson provision is not unprecedented, I feel comfortable in saying it is an exceptionally rare occurrence. States generally are treated in a similar manner. In this case, Nebraska will be treated in a widely divergent manner than any other state.

"Beginning today, I have instructed my attorneys to begin looking into the constitutionality of this provision and exploring the options that may be available to South Carolina and other states to defend taxpayers should this provision ultimately become law."

My colleague David Freddoso wonders what might happen if the governors of states bordering Nebraska - Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Iowa, and Missouri - announce that they are no longer funding their Medicaid programs and encourage those needing Medicaid services to visit the Cornhusker state.

Source: The Washington Examiner

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US campaign for academic boycott gaining strength

The following press release was issued by the United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) on 23 December 2009:

27 December 2009 marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of "Operation Cast Lead," Israel's 22-day assault on the captive population of Gaza, which killed 1,400 people, one third of them children, and injured more than 5,300. During this war on an impoverished, mostly refugee population, Israel targeted civilians, using internationally-proscribed white phosphorous bombs, deprived them of power, water and other essentials, and sought to destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian civil society, including hospitals, administrative buildings and UN facilities. It targeted with peculiar consistency educational institutions of all kinds: the Islamic University of Gaza, the Ministry of Education, the American International School, at least ten UNRWA schools, one of which was sheltering internally displaced Palestinian civilians with nowhere to flee, and tens of other schools and educational facilities.

While world leaders have tragically failed to come to Gaza's help, civilians everywhere are rallying to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people, with anniversary vigils taking place this week in New York, Washington DC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and many more cities and towns in the US and world-wide.

The United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was formed in the immediate aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, bringing together educators of conscience who were unable to stand by and watch in silence Israel's indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions. Today, over 500 US-based academics, authors, artists, musicians, poets and other arts professionals have endorsed our call. Our academic endorsers include postcolonial critics and transnational feminists Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Indigenous scholars J. Kehaulani Kauanui and Andrea Smith, philosopher Judith Butler, Black studies scholars Cedric Robinson, Fred Moten, evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, and intellectual historian Joseph Massad.

"Cultural workers" who have endorsed our call include well known author Barbara Ehrenreich, The Electronic Intifada cofounder Ali Abunimah, poets Adrienne Rich and Lisa Suhair Majjaj, International Solidarity Movement cofounder and documentary filmmaker Adam Shapiro, Jordan Flaherty of Left Turn Magazine, and Adrienne Maree Brown of the Ruckus Society.

Among the 34 organizations supporting our mission are and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the Green Party, Code Pink, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Artists Against Apartheid and Teachers Against the Occupation.
The Advisory Board of the United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) has grown to include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Hamid Dabashi, Lawrence Davidson, Bill Fletcher Jr., Glen Ford, Mark Gonzales, Marilyn Hacker, Edward Herman, Annemarie Jacir, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Robin Kelley, Ilan Pappe, James Petras, Vijay Prashad, Andrenne Rich, Michel Shehadeh and Lisa Taraki.

Israeli academics listed among the organization's International Endorsers have also joined us, including Emmanuel Farjoun, Hebrew University; Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University; Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University; Kobi Snitz, Technion; and Ilan Pappe now at Exeter.

The USACBI Mission Statement calls for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions in support of an appeal by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Individual Israelis are not targeted by the boycott.

Specifically, supporters are asked to:

(1) Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions that do not vocally oppose Israeli state policies against Palestine;

(2) Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;

(3) Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;

(4) Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;

(5) Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.

This boycott, modeled upon the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement that put an end to South African apartheid, is to continue until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Source: The Electronic Intifada

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FBI Considered "It's A Wonderful Life" Communist Propaganda

FBI Considered "It's A Wonderful Life" Communist Propaganda

by Will Chen

I love It's a Wonderful Life because it teaches us that family, friendship, and virtue are the true definitions of wealth.

In 1947, however, the FBI considered this anti-consumerist message as subversive Communist propaganda (read original FBI memo).

According to Professor John Noakes of Franklin and Marshall College, the FBI thought Life smeared American values such as wealth and free enterprise while glorifying anti-American values such as the triumph of the common man.

The FBI specifically detested the way Mr. Potter was portrayed:

The casting of Lionel Barrymore as a "scrooge-type" resulted in the loathsome Mr. Potter becoming the most hated person in the film. According to the official FBI report, "this was a common trick used by the communists."

"What's interesting in the FBI critique is that the Baileys were also bankers," said Noakes. " and what is really going on is a struggle between the big-city banker (Potter) and the small banker (the Baileys). Capra was clearly on side of small capitalism and the FBI was on the side of big capitalism.

The FBI misinterpreted this classic struggle as communist propaganda. I would argue that 'It's a Wonderful Life' is a poignant movie about the transition in the U.S. between small and big capitalism, with Jimmy Stewart personifying the last hope for a small town. It's a lot like the battle between Home Depot and the mom and pop hardware store." Source: Franklin and Marshall College and Delilah Boyd

Link to the story and the original FBI memo:

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Israel Hijacks West Bank Christmas

The Israeli occupation forces are hijacking the spirit of Christmas in the occupied West Bank, restricting tourists' movement and portraying Bethlehem as unsafe war zone.

"When tourists see the wall, they think they are going into a war zone," Adnan Suboh, who owns a souvenir shop in Bethlehem market, told the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, December 23, referring to the Israeli separation wall.

Tourists trying to enter Bethlehem to visit the Nativity church, built on the site where Jesus is said to have been born, are faced with crippling Israeli restrictions.

This includes the Israeli separation wall, a 700km-long mix of electronic fences, concrete walls, trenches, and closed military roads, as well as a series of checkpoints manned by armed soldiers.

Palestinian traders and hoteliers say this is preventing them from benefiting from the expected record number of 1.4 million visitors during the Christmas season.

Bethlehem’s top hotels expect only 30 percent occupancy during Christmas after Israel convinced many tourists that it is unsafe to stay in West Bank.

Despite being so close, few tourists ever wander West Bank markets and souvenir stalls.

"They are afraid and want to leave as soon as possible because they have been convinced they have reason to fear."

Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar. Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.

Thousands of Christian pilgrims flock to Bethlehem every year to celebrate Christmas at the historical Nativity Church.


Palestinian Tourism Minister Khouloud Daibes also criticized the Israeli restrictive tactics in Bethlehem.

"They want to reduce Bethlehem visits to just a few hours," she told the Telegraph.

"Through tourism, we can create jobs and create hope.

"Sadly, on a political level, Israel is not mentally ready to share either the responsibility or the benefits."

Daibes said the West Bank receives just five percent of total religious tourism revenues.

"The problem is they are not ready to deal with us as equal partners."

The minister warned that the Israeli measures have negative impact on peace prospects.

"We see tourism as a major aspect of development for not only the Palestinian economy but also the Israeli economy," she said.

"It could even lead to a positive environment for peace.

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Salon, Huffington Post and Daily Kos hotbeds of anti-Semitism!

Or so claims what Alternet’s Josh Holland calls a “ridiculous” new study by the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs. Holland writes:

Given how ubiquitous unsubstantiated charges of anti-Semitism have become in the debate over the Middle East conflict, I’m tempted to ignore the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs’ recent “report” supposedly exposing the liberal blogosphere as a teaming hotbed of raw Jew-hatred.

It’s easy to dismiss. It may dress itself as some sort of empirical research project, but the “study” is transparently devoid of any informational value, intellectually bankrupt and clearly the product of working backwards from a conclusion arrived at on ideological grounds.

But I won’t ignore it, because the strategic decision to pin one’s political opponents with charges of anti-Semitism only dilutes the power of that word. Then, like the boy who cried wolf, when real anti-Semitism rears its decidedly ugly head the word loses its all-important power to shame. I’m Jewish, and I don’t fear sharp-elbowed criticism of Israeli policy on websites, so it’s not in my interest to allow it to be conflated with true anti-Semitism, which is absolutely no joke.

Most of what passes for anti-Semitism in this new “report” is nothing new to readers of Muzzlewatch, and you should read Holland’s full piece where he does a fantastic job of dissecting the terrible methodology of this blatantly propagandistic report. But this is the part of Holland’s analysis I find most heart-breakingly sad and true:

It’s a slanderous report, and just to bring home the point of how dangerous it is to minimize real anti-Semitism by bitching about mean commenters on websites: I’m on various list-servs with progressives who write about Israel and Palestine — most of them Jewish — and when the report was issued our reaction was: ‘what do you have to do to get on this list — why weren’t we included?’

When you have progressive Jewish writers looking at charges of anti-Semitism as a badge of courage, it’s time to re-think your tactics.

And what other tactics do those geniuses over at the (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Institute for Global Jewish Affairs have to offer us?

In “How to Fight the Campus Battle against Old and New Anti-Semites:
Motifs, Strategies, and Methods”,
author Manfred Gerstenfeld seems to have absolutely no idea that Israel is consistently in violation of international law. He therefore consistently conflates authentic anti-Jewish hatred with virtually all criticism of Israel, making the following suggestion for embracing campus-based tactics that require a “low investment of human and financial resources and a potential high return in terms of damage to the enemy”:

  • The methods to be used in the battle against anti-Semitism on campus should include counterattack, ridicule, exposure, “name and shame,” monitoring, documentation, mobilizing lawyers for arguing, as well as legal actions. Crucial battles against anti-Semitism are often fought with one hand behind the back. This facilitates free anti-Semitic lunches for the attackers.

Of course, those tactics are already in use everywhere on campuses, just ask Daniel Pipes. Are they likely to help those of us who sincerely want to fight anti-Semitism, seeing it as linked to all forms of bigotry? Guess.

Source: Jewish Voice for Peace's Muzzle Watch

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“If everything is anti-Semitism, then there is no anti-Semitism at all.”

The (Israeli) Alternative Information Center’s Michael Warschawski has this to say on the use, and the empyting of all meaning, of the charge of anti-Semitism:

An Outrageous and Pathetic Weapon Against BDS: Stop Instrumentalizing Anti-Semitism!

Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney .

Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney .

Every time the State of Israel is confronted with substantial international criticism for its political behavior and its violations of basic international standards, it counter-attacks by using the infamous tool of accusations of anti-Semitism. One remembers the campaign on anti-Semitism launched by Ariel Sharon and his friends throughout the world, Jews and non-Jews, after the murder of Muhammad al-Dura in Gaza in September 2000, in order to create a diversion (in the very words of Roger Cukierman, then chairman of the French Jewish umbrella organization—CRIF) and to transform the victim into a victimizer and the victimizer into a victim: for more than two years, western media “exposed” the anti-Semitism of the critics of Israel instead of denouncing the massacres committed by the Israeli military in Gaza and the West Bank.Sixty five years after the end of WWII, the ashes of the victims of Nazi genocide have not yet disappeared from the sky of Poland, and the accusation of anti-Semitism remains connected to one of the bloodiest crimes of the twentieth century; as French journalist, Daniel Mermet, one of the targets of this campaign, pointed at, “no accusation can be worse, and even after you are proved not guilty of charge, the bad smell of such an accusation will be with you forever.”

The massacre in Gaza, a year ago, provoked a world-wide outrage, bigger even than in 2000-2002. The U.N. was forced to appoint an inquiry commission, and its report—the Goldstone report—is devastating for Israel. Moreover, for the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel, an international campaign calling for sanctions against Israel for its innumerous violations of international law, has been successful in drawing huge public attention and initiating a great number of mobilizations and initiatives around the world.

For the Israeli government and its friends, the time has come to take from the shelf the rusty old weapon of anti-Semitism accusations, a message that was heard loud and clear by the Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney. At the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, held in Jerusalem on 16 December, the Minister stated: “We have articulated and implemented a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism.” So far so good, but he continued: “We have defunded organizations, most recently like Kairos, who are taking a leadership role in the boycott (against Israel).”

Accusing Kairos, an umbrella organization that includes most of the Christian churches in Canada, of anti-Semitism is ridiculous and pathetic. Ridiculous, because the record of Kairos is crystal clear on that issue of BDS and it its position is not the one that Minister Kenney accuses it of, and pathetic, because it is a re-heated dish that will not work a second time.

Already in 2004, there were signs indicating that the instrumentalization of anti-Semitism by Israeli propaganda machine was losing its efficiency and even becoming counter-productive; no doubt that, five years later, only a few people will accept to be blackmailed by such an outrageous false-accusation.

Worse, however, is that this old/new maneuver by “friends” of Israel like Kenney, is a symptom of the banalization of anti-Semitism. If everything is anti-Semitism, then there is no anti-Semitism at all. But, unfortunately, anti-Semitism has not disappeared from our world, and manipulating it for goals that have nothing to do with it, is playing right into the hands of the real anti-Semites.

To Jason Kenney, one must say very clearly “stay out of our struggle against anti-Semitism, and do not try to manipulate it for causes totally foreign to the anti-racist values which are motivating it. It is too important and too serious to be instrumentalized by your political agenda.”

We are proud of the success of the international BDS campaign. Minister Kenney may disagree with it, but hands off of any accusation of anti-Semitism concerning our campaign. Anti-Semitism is a dangerous threat to the public health of our societies and so are accusations that are manipulated for a political agenda that has nothing to do with it.

Source: Jewish Voice For Peace's Muzzle Watch

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