Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque Shows Religious Intolerance, but Not Against Islam

The media chest thumping about the proposed Cordoba mosque to be built 2 blocks from Ground Zero in New York City is reaching a fever pitch. Most articles I've found show a clear support for allowing the mosque to be built. I have to agree. It's on private property. It's being funded privately. There is no legal reason I can see for stopping it from being built. Indeed, plans have been approved by New York City already.

These same New York officials seem to feel differently about Greek Orthodox Catholics, though. What is barely being covered by the mass media is the fiasco surrounding the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church, destroyed when the south tower fell on it in 2001. The St. Nicholas parish council has been trying to get permission to rebuild it ever since. For some reason, the New York Port Authority has said no.

So, YES to Muslims, NO to Greek Orthodox Catholics.

Do you sense religious discrimination here? I do.

To be fair, there are other issues involved. Reading between the rhetoric, it seems like an issue of land use. It was originally proposed to move the site one block over because the Port Authority wanted to use the land, or at least the land underneath it, as part of a security screening point to be installed as part of the area rebuild. Now, the Port Authority is back-pedaling. A Port Authority spokesperson told Fox News, “The church continues to have the right to rebuild at their original site, and we will pay fair market value for the underground space beneath that building.”

My suspicion is that with the costs of the rebuild, and the current economic crisis, the city has decided to play hardball. I wouldn't be surprised to find an eminent domain clause being used to force the sale of the land at a rock-bottom price in the very near future, leaving the parish without a church or land to build it on.

So much for the First Amendment.

Somehow, given our “politically correct” climate, I doubt this nonsense would have happened if it had been a mosque that was destroyed instead of a Greek Orthodox church.

You can read more about it from both Fox News and the New York Times.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Michelle Obama's Spain Trip – Smoke and Mirrors

By now, you've probably heard many of the Right Wing pundits on radio and the web thumping their chests and pontificating about how terrible our First Lady Michelle Obama is being for taking a trip to Spain. “How dare she!” they rant, “When our economy is so terrible.” Sorry folks. I don't buy it. I don't even care. If I had the money to travel to take a vacation with my kids to Spain right now, and the First Lady has the money, the last thing you'd see of me for the next week is my backside as it enters the plane.

Was it smart, from a PR perspective? No way. Was it intolerable and, dare I say it, un-American? Same answer. No way.

Many Left Wing pundits and followers may be screaming, “Who's to blame for feeding it to the media, this way?” Outside of the European press, who first reported it, I'd say nobody. What I wonder, though, is if someone within the White House administration, or the upper-ups of the Democratic party, didn't leak it, first.

Now that I've got you totally confused, let me tell what the rants about her trip have amounted to: smoke and mirrors. However it got leaked, the Far-Right has bought into it, hook, line and sinker. They've been screaming about Michelle Obama going to Spain and completely lost two much more important things that happened at the exact same time: unemployment rose in July, and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) downgraded the forthcoming economic outlook for America

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis released a statement on the July 2010 Employment figures. Her report stated that the monthly unemployment rate has not changed — remaining at 9.5% — while the economy has had a net job gain of 71,000 in the private sector. Overall, employment declined by 131,000. How that big of a change doesn't effect the reported unemployment rate I can only guess. What we need to keep in mind is that the unemployment rate only reports the number of American's filing for unemployment benefits, not those that have lost their benefits because they've been out of work for too long, and are still unemployed.

I believe these figures has quite a bit to do with the FOMC lowering their economic outlook. I admit, the way the FOMC announced this bad news was hard to follow. They came out and and told people they were reinvesting certain funds to cope with the problem, rather than just say, “There's a problem.” To fully understand what they are doing to fix the situation may require a degree with at least a minor in economics. In one of the most interesting “spin doctoring” I've seen, the FOMC's statement said, “the pace of economic recovery is likely to be more modest in the near term than had been anticipated.” That's PollyAnna-speak for, “Things aren't going as well as we thought.”

To read more about un-employment rates, go to: Democracy Now and My Bank  Tracker.

You can find more about the Fed's actions at Business Week, NPR, and The Washington Post.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Return of the American Whiner

Hey everyone! It's been a long time, hasn't it? Sorry about that. Of course, it's been so long I'm probably just talking to my computer. Or rather typing to it. I doubt very many of my original readers will be finding this post anytime soon.

Of course, that's never been anything different, has it? Bloggers really aren't “talking” to people. They're writing stuff and hoping people will read it. Just like I am right now. It's kind of twisted if you think about it.

After two years of silence on the socio-political front, I've decided to come back. Part of it is that I find myself in a position to start kibitzing about the current local and national socio-political scene again.  For a long time I've simply not had the time or energy to publicly vent my spleen. My life situation has changed a bit now so, I should be able to write again.

The other reason I'm back is that I'm not sure how much longer I can keep silent. I'm seeing a lot of really stupid things going on in the world. I'm seeing as many threats to what I consider the “American way of life,” and the U.S. Constitution coming from within our own government as we've seen foreign terrorists threaten us from without. I don't think there's some huge conspiracy behind everything that's going on, mind you. I just think that we're entering a perfect storm of events and legislation that could undermine our way of life and freedoms.

How do people threaten the Constitution without changing it? By passing laws that ignore or undermine it's original intent. Remember, laws are only as effective as the people who are in charge of enforcing them. If the people in power choose to ignore them, and we as American citizens allow them to by continuing to vote for them, it doesn't matter what's written down. Only governments and political leaders that are held to the standards of the law by the people they govern will act in accordance with those laws. If we let the law be twisted or ignored by our own government, either through inaction or silence, we will be as guilty as they are.

The time to be silent if over. The time for action is now.