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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

America’s Quiet Muslims - National Review Online

America’s Quiet Muslims - National Review Online



NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE          www.nationalreview.com           PRINT
If America is going to fare better than Europe in halting the development of a de facto sharia society, the unabashed efforts of Muslims who understand the unique value of America’s legacy of liberty will be crucial. Estimates indicate that more than half of American Muslims are quietly appreciative of constitutionally guaranteed individual rights. The challenge lies in persuading them to take a public stand.
The stage is now set for all freedom-supporting Muslims to step up and counter the Islamic Circle of North America as it rolls out its $3 million campaign to convince Americans that the goals of sharia law and the objectives of the United States Constitution are one and the same. As enunciated in a fatwa by the Islamic Fiqh Council of North America, which interprets Islamic law for this continent, Muslim authorities claim there is “no inherent conflict between the normative values of Islam and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights” (emphasis added). The proclamation also asserts that “secular legal systems in Western democracies generally share the same supreme objectives, and are generally compatible with Islamic Shari’ah” (emphasis added).
The ICNA campaign to soften sharia for American consumption is based on dizzying historical spin, as demonstrated by Zulfiqar Ali Shah (also known as Al Fokkar Ali Shah and Tho Al Fokkar Ali Shah), the former president of ICNA and current executive director of the Fiqh Council of North America. His showcase essay, “Founding Father’s [sic] of America’s Indebtedness to Islamic Thought,” makes the specious argument that John Locke, the authority behind much of the Founding philosophy, had a “political outlook [that] closely resembled the Islamic teachings.”
For evidence, Shah sprinkles into his fable some odd incidentals, like the assertion that the inquisitive Locke owned a copy of the Koran and had friends who were Muslims or Muslim sympathizers — as if these happenstances could prove that Locke was “greatly influenced by Muslim philosophers.”
Shah fabricates whole cloth out of scraps of conjecture extracted from John Locke: Resistance, Religion, and Responsibility, by Professor John Marshall, an outlier in the Lockean-scholarship camp. Shah tries to use Marshall’s material to support his claim that Locke rejected the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. According to Shah’s tortured construction, rejection of belief in the tripartite God implies sympathy with broader Islamic teaching. Yet Marshall noted that there was “no sign that Locke ever felt able to assert that there could not be three infinite persons of the Godhead in only one infinite space,” and he remarked that Locke’s observations were not “invested with Socinian purpose.”
Still, from the report of Locke’s investigation of Socinianism, an anti-trinitarian doctrine, Shah bootstraps the notion that Locke was “an outright Socinian” and “denounced fundamental Christian dogmas such as Trinity, Jesus’ divinity, Original Sin, Ecclesiastical authority, biblical inerrancy and salvation through the redemptive death and crucifixion of Christ.”
Tellingly, Shah steers clear of the salient themes of Locke’s essays on government, natural law, and liberty. For where Locke directly contradicts sharia tenets is in his very principled defense of ordered liberty, popular sovereignty, rights of conscience, and a civil government whose purpose is the protection of individual life, liberty, and property. These foundational components of the Declaration of Independence are all on a collision course with arbitrary clerical judgments, theocratic statism, discrimination against women, and disregard for basic civil and religious rights.
In the light of these truths, Shah’s most dishonest avowal comes at the conclusion of his essay on the purported debt that the Founders owe to Islam, where he declares that “the American dream [of] ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’ is a summarized version of the five objectives of Islamic Shari’ah . . . incorporated by John Lock [sic] in his Treatises.”
Shah (under the variant “Zululfokka Shah”) is also listed as a scholar associated with the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America. This committee of Islamic sharia experts, “established in response to the growing need of an Islamic jurisprudence specific to Muslims in the West,” has issued a 47-page manifesto (analysis and translated excepts here; also, an efficient overview by scholar Andrew Bostom here). Presented at a conference in Houston in 2008, the document teaches highest allegiance to Islamic law and reveals fundamental disregard for the American Constitution as Muslims are instructed on the fine points of living and governing under infidel systems, applying man-made law, and working as judges or lawyers.
To the Muslim who must act as a judge applying law other than sharia, the document encourages defiant judicial activism, directing him to “rule by [sharia] in every case brought before him, or at least as close as he’s able.” Muslim judges ruling under infidel law are admonished “to increase the good and decrease the bad as much as possible.” If a Muslim judge follows the AMJA document’s injunction to “in his heart hate the man-made law,” it is certain that his judgments will reflect sharia standards, not the will of the American people expressed as law made by their elected representatives.
The ICNA campaign to whitewash this activist and anti-constitutional Islamist agenda must be challenged by thoughtful Americans as the town halls that will be part of the campaign are convened. Even more important, previously reticent Muslims should recognize the urgency of confronting hard-line Islamist leadership.
America’s Muslims have the most to lose and so command the highest credibility in this cultural debate. They must stand now to defend America’s guarantees of individual liberty and equal rights. Western Europe offers ample evidence of what life is like as pockets of sharia societies spread.
Zuhdi Jasser, Irshad Manji, and other courageous Muslims have assumed national leadership roles in the defense of American freedoms. For all Muslims who have been inspired by their example, now is the time to confront the totalitarian goals of those who work to impose sharia by subterfuge.
Karen Lugo is co-director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and founder of the Libertas-West Project.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Obama's Big Spending Vision Gives Romney an Edge

I guess I try to apply logic to a totally illogical situation.  Anyone interested in the future of America as the world's leading country in almost anything we can measure would not vote for more of the same !!  Anyone interested in what they can personally get from the current overspending administration will, without any concern about the future of America, will vote for more of the same.  This division of voters is a failproof recipe for disaster !!  Please read the story on the link below and let us know what you think.


Obama's Big Spending Vision Gives Romney an Edge

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Real Cost of Living: $150,000 Minimum

The Real Cost of Living: $150,000 Minimum




March 7, 2012
The divide between the 1 percent and the 99 percent has ignited a national debate about the income gap, especially since Occupy Wall Street protesters descended on lower Manhattan last fall.  But how much money does it take to feel financially secure these days?
The answer, at least according to a new survey of Americans by WSL/Strategic Retail, is $150,000. That level of income is more than three times the national median of $49,445 for 2010, and it’s enough to put a household into the top 10 percent nationally.
RELATED: Down and Out on $250,000 a Year
The survey asked respondents to choose which of four categories best described them: I can’t even afford the basics; I can barely afford the basics and nothing else; I can afford the basics plus some extras; and I can afford the basics, the extras, and I’m able to save too. It is only at that $150,000 level that the survey found the vast majority of consumers, 88 percent, saying they could buy what they need, afford some extras, and still be able to save a bit.
Even as the economy improves and consumer confidence builds, more than half of Americans – 52 percent – feel like they can just afford the basics, and many with six-figure incomes still feel like they are just scraping by. The survey found that 18 percent of American households earning between $100,000 and $150,000 said they could only afford the basics, with another 10 percent saying they sometimes can’t even afford those staples.
“We clearly have what used to be upper middle income – 75 to 150k – folks who are saying, it just isn’t so,” says Candace Corlett, president of WSL/Strategic Retail. “A quarter of them are saying I can barely afford the basics.” So while six-figure incomes used to represent affluence, that’s no longer the case.
Of course, as The Fiscal Times has written before, in many parts of the country, an annual income of $250,000 could easily leave a typical family in the red once all their expenses and taxes are factored in.
The buying power of the average paycheck has shrunk along with home values.  The WSL Strategic Retail survey found that $150,000 is the minimum for the average household to be able to afford the basics and a few extras, with a little left over to sock away for a rainy day.  Of course, that $150,000 is based on average costs for housing, food, clothing, etc.--perhaps a place like Peoria, Illinois.  If it takes that kind of money to have a decent middle class life in Peoria, what would it take to match it in the New York Metropolitan area, Phoenix, or Chicago?
We used Bankrate's cost of living comparison calculator to measure the difference between Peoria and other cities and chose 5 of the top 10 cities with the highest cost of living, according to Kiplinger. We added Chicago to represent the middle of the country. 
1. The New York metropolitan area was the most expensive. Equivalent income: $337,311.87. Percent increase to maintain standard of living: 124.87%.
2. Honolulu: Equivalent income: $258,099.19.  Percent increase to maintain standard of living: 72.07%.
3. San Francisco: Equivalent income: $255,409.43.  Percent increase to maintain standard of living:70.27.%
4. San Jose: Equivalent income: $243,260.85. Percent increase to maintain standard of living: 62.17%
5. Washington, D.C. area: Equivalent income: $218,127.70. Percent increase to maintain standard of living: 45.42%.
6. Chicago area came in with a 21.36% increase to maintain the standard of living. Equivalent income: $182,045.06.
The struggling economy has clearly created a recession mindset among consumers. When asked how long the recession will continue, 80 percent of people say three years or more, Corlett says – up from 43 percent back in 2010. “They may not literally mean the government’s definition of a recession, but they certainly mean a recessionary mindset for them,” Corlett says.
Those financial pressures have made consumers much more cost-conscious. Three-quarters of women now say it’s “important to get the lowest price on everything they buy,” up 12 percentage points from 2008 and 22 percentage points from 2004. To that end, more are using coupons (68 percent vs. 61 percent in 2010) and buying only when items are on sale (45 percent vs. 38 percent in 2010).
And, perhaps unsurprisingly, young people – those between the ages of 18 and 34, who have long been the prized target for marketers – were more likely than other age groups to say they don’t have enough money to cover their basic needs. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed put themselves in that group, compared with 17 percent of those aged 35 to 54 and 13 percent of people 55 or older.
An IRS breakdown of U.S. incomes, released the day after the consumer survey, provides a reminder of why people, even those with six-figure incomes, may be feeling poorer. For tax year 2010, adjusted gross incomes reported to the IRS rose 5.2 percent to $8 trillion total – the first increase after a couple of years of declines. But while tax filers making more than $250,000 saw their total incomes climb almost 14 percent, those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 gained just 1.5 percent.