The summer season is the time of year when many folks take to the highways for a little vacation. Some who are more intrepid will choose an overseas destination. I suppose that is what our friend Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf must be doing. He has been on a trip sponsored by the U S State Department and it is a trip with a mission. His trip is aimed at improving relations between the United States and the Muslim world. ( Thought that was NASA’s mission.) Of course, he has been enjoined to do no fund-raising for the Park 51 Project. Probably doesn’t need to. I expect that the $100 million plus for that effort is already in place.
One thing I have read about this trip stood. This is not Imam Rauf’s fist American sponsored trip. As I recall, it is the fourth. Two were during the Bush Administration and this is the second since Obama took office. He’s getting plenty of frequent flier miles on these trips alone. These trips were arranged by Bush adviser Karen Hughes as part of a Muslim outreach. So we seem to have opportunity infatuation no matter what he says. Oh wait, the State Department says that his somewhat inflammatory comments( in 00105, 06 I presume) were taken out of context.
Just a bit more Islamic outreach. If you liked the Imam’s taxpayer-funded trips you will be thrilled to learn that we are also paying for the renovation of mosques. A Washington Times article in April reported on our ambassador to Tanzania participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony for celebrating the refurbishing of a 12th century mosque there. And, and there was money provided to save the legendary 7th century Amr Ebn El Aas mosque in Cairo. Who was the namesake for this structure? He was the Muslim conqueror of Christian Egypt. The site was where he camped before doing battle with the country’s Byzantine rulers. A mosque on the site of a Muslim conquest. Does that sound familiar?
- State Department sponsors Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s visit to Qatar (nowpublic.com)
- If Feisal Abdul Rauf was fine before, he’s fine now (washingtonmonthly.com)
- Funny How Bush Officials Don’t Remember Working With Imam Rauf (alan.com)
- Karen Hughes doesn’t remember Park51 organizer, would like him to move “mosque” (salon.com)
…… rather a prayer space, they say. Why? According to the leaders of the ” Park 51″ project, changed from an original name of ” Cordoba House,” it cannot be a mosque because it space for musical performances and a restaurant. But an AP article datelined Albany and written by Michael Gormley said that the center will contain a mosque. Confusion runneth rampant it seems. Glad we got that cleared up. But, call me a skeptic if you will, but at this stage of the project one can say there is space for any number of things that may or may not come to fruition.
Doubtful that anyone opposed or in favor the 13 story facility will change their opinion based on that information. So what are some of the things being said about the facility scheduled to be built at 45 Park Place. Some say that it shows great tolerance, some bring up our constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion ( insert the name of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg here) some say that a Muslim facility should not so near to the site of the former World Trade Centers.
So , on a site fist occupied in 1858 by a structure built for a New York shipping tycoon, at its last fateful incarnation it was occupied by a simple Burlington Coat Factory store. The site was purchased for $4.5 million in cash just over a year ago, at which time the current process began. Certainly what is now being proposed was planned long before that date.
No doubt there are very well-intentioned people on both sides of this issue. Personally, I would prefer that the Muslim group that says it wants to rebuild the community would begin that process somewhere a bit distant. Governor David Paterson tried that approach and was unsuccessful. Of course, there is no way that one can have the feelings that many New Yorkers have about the structure because we have not experienced what they have. But, having said that, I wonder if all of those affected by 9/11 are opposed. I would guess that they are not . So, once again we have quite a convoluted situation.
Two final observations. Newt Gingrich has been quoted as saying that ” there should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York as long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” That certainly appeals to many although I really don’t see its relevance. One thing with which I do agree is that freedom of religion is not the issue. Another quote, this from Mayor Bloomberg. ” I always believed that government should not be involved in deciding who you pray to, what you say or where you say it.” But Mr Mayor, government is already quite involved in one of those areas, the where. ASk the religious groups who have trouble getting permission to build in certain locales due to zoning laws, etc. Conclusion, freedom of religion provides no guarantee of being able to build a house of worship anywhere one chooses, Confuses things even more, huh? The discussion about this center will doubtless proceed. A suggestion, follow the money.
Back during those nearly forgotten pre- Obama days of the 2008 presidential campaign, I did a post entitled Vote Early and Often. At the time I included a qualifier that I was just kidding. Perhaps I was just ahead of schedule and I did not live in Port Chester, NY.
Port Chester is a small village about 30 minutes from New York City. Over the years no Latino had ever been elected as a trustee ( assume that would equivalent to a city council member) even though the village is about half Hispanic. Pay close attention to this next line. Most voters were white and white candidates always won.
Enter the feds, as represented by the U S Dept of Justice ( think Eric Holder) and federal judge Stephen Robinson. Judge Robinson said that the Voting Rights Act was being violated and something had to change. He rejected a proposal to break the village into 6 voting districts, one being heavily Hispanic. This next just amazes me. Vill;age officials suggested a method known as cumulative voting. This system gave each resident 6 votes to apportion as they chose. Even more amazing this system is already used for the Peoria, Il city council, the Amarillo, Tx school board and the Chilton County , Al county commission.
This whole approach just astounds me. It seems very easy to manipulate plus the fact that it seems designed to achieve certain pre-ordained results. Can’t believe it isn’t being used in Cook County. Their system is probably more sophisticated.
An outfit called FairVote was hired as a consultant. The organization is a nonprofit election research and reform group. I looked up this organization and lo, and behold one of their advisory members is non other than Jesse Jackson,Jr. and one of their staunchest supporters is Harvard law professor and civil rights activist Lani Guinier. But, the organization takes great pains to state that it does not support, endorse or oppose any political party or candidate. Not sure if I buy that or not.
Anyway, back to Port Chester. When their wacky election took place, there were three Hispanic candidates in the race. One of those folks managed to come in fourth, so I suppose the effort was a success. What further in=terested me was that with all the efforts to get people to vote and vote the turnout, based on the numbers did not seem so good. Of course, how do measure voter turnout , multiply eligible voters by six? Almost getting into Land of Oz stuff here.
I learned one more tidbit. FairVote has a chapter in North Carolina , so I may get an opportunity to vote multiple times myself.
I would wager that you are not having nearly as busy ( or soon to be busy) summer season as our friends the Clinton family. How about officiating at a wedding ( Bill) , planning and organizing etc. the wedding of the year ( Bill, Hilary and Chelsea) buying a new mansion and of course Hilary’s day job of traveling hither and yon on various foreign affairs missions. Almost forgot, somehow in advance of all this Bill squeezed in a trip to South Africa for some of the World Cup. Whew! Gotta be a tough life, being a Clinton and maintaining schedules like that.
Hard to know where to start. How about with the most confusing item listed above? For me, that would be the former President officiating at a wedding. The nuptials will be between New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, yes that is his name and an aide to Hilary, Huma Abedin. That “lavish ceremony” took place yesterday. As WCBS TV put it I guess Clinton was the officiator-in-chief. What qualified him to perform the ceremony I have no clue.
The next actually scheduled big event is daughter Chelsea’s wedding on July 31 to investment banker Marc Mezvinsky in Rhinebeck, NY, some 100 miles from New York City.The Clintons must have gotten the Obama ok for this union because both the president and his wife have not spoken well of the profession of the future Clinton son-in-law. Bet the guest list for this soiree will be interesting.
And in an effort to help the depressed real estate market, the Clintons are closing in on the purchase of what can only be called a mansion with some 7,000 square feet and a purchase price of a cool $11 million. So it’s good bye modest Chappaqua in northern Westchester County and hello Bedford Hills. Less than 10 miles away, it is still a move up no matter how it is viewed. Besides, with neighbors like Richard Gere, Martha Stewart and Glenn Close, they will be a perfect fit.
Sure hope that Mr Mezvinsky is aware of the truism that when you marry someone you marry their family as well.
Now that the White House has traded Gen Stanley McChrystal for Gen David Petraeus ( formerly known by liberal Democrats as Betray us, compliments of Moveon.org ) what does it all mean? Oh and other assorted and sundry Democrats named Reid and Clinton chimed in with their unflattering comments as well.
First of all, Obama had to fire McChrystal. I believed that even before I heard it from Glenn Beck or my informal survey of several retired military friends. It brings to mind, just a little, mind you, of Truman firing McArthur. But no Obama has not risen to Truman’s level with the firing even though Wolf Blitzer says that now he is the commander-in-chief. No, Wolf, he held that title from day one of his inauguration. now if you mean he finally acted like the commander-in-chief, you would be much more accurate.
There are many interesting things about this action, some of which will not materialize until some time has passed. Just a few. Petraeus actually is replacing a guy who reported to him in his role as CentCom Commander. So, does that not leave us a general short? Petraeus cannot do justice to the job in Afghanistan and run CentCom at the same time. ( Imagine moving from Tampa to Kandahar?) So, one would think that someone needs to be promoted, right?
Ok, next up, why in the world did a four star general even agree to an interview with Rolling Stone magazine? You have to figure that nothing good will come from it and possibly something very, very bad. And so it did. That would be like, oh I don’t know, say a Rush Limbaugh interviewing with them only worse. So, an obviously smart and capable military man does this for what reason? At some point, when things have settled down, I hope that he is forthcoming with his reasons.
Finally, was it just 2-3 years ago when Senators Obama and Biden at different times and in different public settings blasted Gen Petraeus for his lack of competency in Iraq? Indeed it was, Obama at a Senate hearing in which he gave the general no time to respond and Biden in an interview with Tim Russert.
If you are Obama, would it not be a nightmarish scenario to have McChrystal make the rounds of the talk shows or maybe even write a book? Can you say, bete noir? After all, McArthur had his triumphant parade in New York City.
The President has announced his nominee for the Supreme Court seat of the retiring John Paul Stevens. What a shock, he has picked another woman and thus according to him this will make the court look more like the country than ever before. But would Solictor General Elena Kagan actually do that? Perhaps we should take a closer look.
Now, upfront we should note that these descriptions are not meant as criticisms of the nominee, but as observations in light of what the President said. Ms Kagan is Jewish which will mean the Court would have 6 Catholics and 3 Jews. She is single and in fact has never been married. Unlike Justice Sotomayor whose humble upbringing was repaetedly stressed, Ms Kagan is the polar opposite. She is, as the New York Times puts it, “a creature of Manhattan’s liberal, intellectual Upper West Side; hardly a typical upbringing. She served on the faculty of the Chicago University Law School with guess who? Yep, Barack H Obama. How about that for irony or wonder if this is fulflling a long range goal since Kagan was on the nominee short list last time around.
So, maybe the Court will not really look more like America but just seem to . What is interesting is somethinmg that Rush brings up. Not sure if I agree wholeheatedly but it sounds very plausible. He maintains that Obama is in fact nominating himself. It has been noted that they served on the law school faculty together and it seems that her record or lack of same mirrors that of the President before he was elected. She has as her judicial hero the late Thurgood Marshall and adheres very strongly to his philosophy that the Court should exist almost solely for the benefit of the “despised and disadvantaged,” whomever the Court perceives those to be. She is reputed to be post partisan, a consensus builder, as was the president. Perhaps more telling is how she views the Constitution. And how is that? Kinda hard to say, given the paucity of the written record. But, hazarding a guess, I would use the words living and changing in there somewhere along with oh, maybe the framers didn’t really do all that great a job but we have surely improved it.
But, in all lilklihood, she will be confirmed even if all Republicans vote no, which they will not. But what will be interesting is if the topic of same-sex marriage comes up. Ms Kagan is actually on the record here. And her view is not that of the typical liberal. That just might liven up the proceedings a bit.
The food police are feeling their oats , so to speak, and it is not a pretty sight. We have nefarious things afoot in the Empire State and that is not even the worst of it. First, there is A.10129 that has been introduced in the New York legislature by Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz. The bill would ban the use of salt in any restaurant in the state and provide for a fine of $1000 per violation.
Item#2, also from New York. For the second straight year Gov Paterson has included a proposed soda tax in his budget. Now, read very carefully his reason.” Someone has got to contribute to the $7.6 billion the state spends every year to treat obesity.” His proposal dovetails nicely with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s call for a 1 cent tax per ounce on soft drinks. Paterson also hinted that other products such as burgers and candy bars could be tax targets.
And, just down I-95 in Philadelphia, the city budget for fiscal year 2011 includes a 2 cents per ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages. Approval is pending.
Finally, researchers writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine are suggesting taxation as a weapon in the obesity fight. They estimate that an 18% tax on pizza and soft drinks could cause a decrease of as much as 5 pounds annually in the weight of the average American adult. Presumably this would happen by reduced consumption due to the tax.The team, which was led by Kiyah Duffy of UNC has strong allies in the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control director, Dr Thomas Frieden.
What does all this activity bring to mind? Why, the campaign against smoking, of course. Don’t be at all alarmed if somewhere, either New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco gets this tax passed. If one city does it, others will be sure to follow. Then,the door is open to tax on multiple items;candy, cookies, any fast food, even sugar itself. And, it is all in the name of health. So, that wouls make it good and right, right?
Well, guess what the Obama Administration is up to now. Why, its college football. Specifically it is the Bowl Championship Series that is in place to decide a national champion. We need not be surprised since President-elect Obama made reference to this issue in 2008. The phrase was “throw my weight around a little bit.” Now, we have a letter from Utah senator Orrin Hatch and ominous sounding words from Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs, Ronald Weich.
Mr Weich is apparently considering an investigation into the possible violation of antitrust laws by the BCS.Mnay fans and critics are unhappy with the system now in place, but Senator Hatch may be the most vocal and influential. His ire was raised when the University of Utah was denied a spot in the championship game last year, after going undefeated. This year, two other teams, Boise State and TCU fell into the same group.
Yes, there is a lot of money involved in the BCS, primarily from television. Perhaps, the system could use some tweaking to make it more fair. I have often wondered, even before there was a BCS, why a playoff was not in place. My alma mater Appalachian State plays in the what is now known as the Football Championship Subdivision for schools a bit less high-powered. This division has had a playoff system in place for some time. It would seem that the big boys could make use of a similar system, incorporating a number of the existing bowl games.
What I do not want to see is the feds once again jumping into the middle of an issue and completely mucking things up, no mater their intentions. Shame on you Senator Hatch, a Republican no less, providing the administration an opening, which they seem to relish.
Besides, I think that Eric Holder and the Justice Department have much bigger things on their plate. Maybe a terrorist trial and whether to have it in New York City,hmm?
Sports and politics- not a good combination.
Wondering which one does not belong in the list? Sorry, they all do and that is the problem, for me, at least. Let us begin in order with old friend, sodium chloride. As a child, I was an inveterate salt user, the more the better. As time went on, Mrs THT and I , on our own with no government impetus, began to reduce our salt intake. In fact, we rarely use it anymore. For those who make such a decision, more power to them.
But today, government just has to help us do those things since we cannot do it alone. So, much as rush predicted the city of New York, through its Public Health Department is on the attack against the evil condiment. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing a plan to lower the salt content in restaurant foods by 25% and even links the dangers of salt with the dangers of asbestos. Can’t say I saw that one coming. Think that voluntary cutbacks will be the end of this, think again. Or, better yet, just remember the camel’s nose under the tent analogy.
For item# 2 we head to the left coast, where Arnold is dealing with a massive budget deficit. So, suppose it is coincidence that there is a talk about legalizing marijuana. ( NCIS fans have learned from Gibbs not to believe in coincidences.) Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Democrat from San Francisco (what a shock) has introduced a bill to legalize the weed and the state’s public safety committee has approved it. Even the sponsor does not expect passage but does look for the measure on the ballot in November. Studies indicate the state could make as much as a billion dollars annually on taxes, fees ,etc. And public sentiment in favor is running better than 80%. Seems that it is just a matter of time.
On to #3. Seems that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has published some 70,000 copies of a pamphlet entitled “Take Charge, Take Care.” the booklet is aimed at heroin users, offering information on how to prepare drugs carefully and to care for veins so a sto prevent infection. Assistant Commissioner Daliah Heller says the goal is to promote health and save lives. DEA special agent-in-charge John Gilbride calls the handout disturbing. I’m with you Mr Gilbride.
In a gross oversimplification it seems that if you like heroin but not salt, New York City is a good option. As for the marijuana, no comment necessary. Regulate salt, wonder what follows?
Located 50 miles north of New York City on the banks of the Hudson River is the United States Military Academy. Founded in 1802, the Academy has graduated over 50,000 cadets into the service of our country. We know many of the names. Grant, Lee, Eisenhower, Pershing, and McArthur are just a few of the honored alumni. Six members of Congress have direct connections to the Academy. Four were faculty members and three Republican congressmen; Geoff Davis and Brett Guthrie of Kentucky, and John Shimkus of Illinois are graduates, as is Sen Jack Reed, D, R I.
I wonder if any of these congressmen or senators will any comments about Chris Matthews referring to Obama’s trip to West Point as maybe going to the enemy camp. Matthews has sais much with which I disagree and I will long remember the”tingles” comment. But to make even a passing reference (which he sort of backs away from) to West Point as the enemy camp for the country’s commander-in-chief, just totally baffles me. The more i think of it, the more irritating it becomes. I have to wonder, does Matthews really believe that statement? I have no doubt that there are a number of left leaning journalists who probably do. We support the troops, just not their mission. Yeah, right.
He has since apologized and for that I applaud him. Let us hope that it can become a bit of a learning experience. Say, engage brain before operating mouth, maybe. Do you think a little road trip to see the place for himself would be agood thing? Nah, probably not.
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