July 15, 2010

NYT: Ground Zero Mega Mosque With Undisclosed Funding Is ‘Planned Sign of Tolerance’

911MomFor about seven weeks, the New York Times has ignored fast-breaking developments in the saga of the proposed 15-story mosque planned for the site of a currently standing historical structure that suffered collateral damage in the 9/11 attacks.

A Times search in descending date order on “ground zero mosque” (not in quotes) shows that the last time the paper directly covered the story was in a May 25 item (May 26 print edition) by Javier C. Hernandez with a saccharine title (“Vote Endorses Muslim Center Near Ground Zero”). When’s the last time that a Catholic cathedral was called a “Christian Center”? Hernandez himself never referred to the proposed building as a mosque; three others quoted in the story did.

On June 6, a group led by Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and others that included many family members of 9/11 victims held a protest against the mosque in Lower Manhattan. Roughly 5,000 attended, as seen in the pictures carried at this BizzyBlog post (some of what little press coverage there was ridiculously claimed that the crowd was only a few hundred). The Times search above, along with on Geller’s name (in quotes) and “ground zero protest” (not in quotes), demonstrate that the paper gave it no coverage. But on June 3, it did give over 1,000 words to letter-writer Richard Bernstein, who ripped Geller for “Demonizing Adherents of Islam” and strangely decided that publishing her age was important (from here, Pamela, you look at least 20 years younger).

On Tuesday, the folks at the Old Gray Lady finally decided that the controversy was worthy of renewed coverage (“Planned Sign of Tolerance Bringing Division Instead”). It would appear that the wake-up occurred because the number of bad guy vs. good guy story lines has reached a critical mass, and now includes politicians who are weighing in.

Let’s see, there are “Muslims against Christians, Tea Partiers against staunch liberals, and Sept. 11 families against one another.” There are also Democrats, genuine Republicans, and a mayor who was a Republican of convenience but is now an independent involved. You don’t need a scorecard to see on whose side the sympathies of Mr. Hernandez, who also wrote Tuesday’s story, reside:

… what began as a gesture of combined good faith by Muslims and non-Muslims has turned into a familiar game of New York City political football.

The bellicose discourse was on full display on Tuesday in an auditorium at Hunter College in Manhattan as the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission considered whether to grant one of the buildings that would be torn down for the project, at 45-47 Park Place, status as a protected landmark. The entire center would occupy 45-51 Park Place.

Let’s pause for just a moment. It should be noted that there was once considerable sentiment for protecting “45-47.” It seems to have vanished into thin, politically-correct air.

Resuming the story:

In a city where the memorial to those killed on Sept. 11 is only now taking shape, it is perhaps not surprising that the idea of a mosque near the ruins of the World Trade Center would stir such passion.

Sally Regenhard, whose 28-year-old son, Christian, a firefighter, died on Sept. 11, said in an interview that the center would amount to “sacrilege on sacred ground.”

… In recent days, politicians have called for an investigation of the group’s finances and expressed concerns about the views of its leader, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has held services in a small mosque in TriBeCa since 1983.

… With a November election approaching, politicians have latched onto the issue as a high-profile platform to attack their opponents.

On Tuesday, Rick A. Lazio, a Republican running for governor, urged the landmarks commission to protect the building, constructed in the late 1850s in the Italian Renaissance palazzo style; this would effectively halt the plans for the Muslim center. The commission expects to vote on the issue in August.

“This is about getting questions answered,” Mr. Lazio told reporters. “This is about transparency. This about the safety of the people of New York.”

…. Representative Peter T. King, a Republican, joined Mr. Lazio in calling for an investigation into the financing of the project. But Andrew M. Cuomo, Mr. Lazio’s Democratic opponent and the state’s attorney general, has rebuffed those requests.

The limits of excerpting prevent me from including Mayor Bloomberg’s particularly odious position.

Hernandez never told readers that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has refused to disclose the sources of their funding, or that there is plenty of controversy (HT to Pamela’s Atlas Shrugs blog) about the legitimacy of Rauf’s claims to be moderate.

All in all, it comes off as mean non-Muslims being unfair to peace-loving people who just want to practice their faith and mean no harm to anyone.

This contentious story quote story from “Yvonne Haddad, a professor at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University,” leaves me with lots of doubt:

“But building mosques makes a statement that ‘we are here and we are here to stay,’ and some people would like to wish them away.”

When’s the last time anyone building or advocating a chapel, church, cathedral, or temple whose mission is supposed to be private religious worship made such an in your face statement?

Berwick and Kagan DQ Themselves

I haven’t commented in the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan or the recess appointment of Donald Berwick to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, largely because the reasons they are disqualified to serve are so evident, and partly because others have done a good job of enumerating them.

In each case, the nominees have disqualified themselves with their own words.

Kagan demonstrates her clear ineligibility to serve in this exchange with Senator Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma:

Coburn: Do you believe it is a fundamental, pre-existing right to have an arm to defend yourself?

Kagan: Senator Coburn, I very much appreciate how deeply important the right to bear arms is to millions and millions of Americans. And I accept Heller, which made clear that the Second Amendment conferred that right upon individuals, and not simply collectively.

Coburn: I’m asking you, Elena Kagan, do you personally believe there is a fundamental right in this area? Do you agree with Blackstone [in] the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defense? He didn’t say that was a constitutional right. He said that’s a natural right. And what I’m asking you is, do you agree with that?

Kagan: Senator Coburn, to be honest with you, I don’t have a view of what are natural rights, independent of the Constitution. And my job as a justice will be to enforce and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

Coburn: So you wouldn’t embrace what the Declaration of Independence says, that we have certain God-given, inalienable rights that aren’t given in the Constitution that are ours, ours alone, and that a government doesn’t give those to us?

Kagan: Senator Coburn, I believe that the Constitution is an extraordinary document, and I’m not saying I do not believe that there are rights pre-existing the Constitution and the laws. But my job as a justice is to enforce the Constitution and the laws.

Coburn: Well, I understand that. I’m not talking about as a justice. I’m talking about Elena Kagan. What do you believe? Are there inalienable rights for us? Do you believe that?

Kagan: Senator Coburn, I think that the question of what I believe as to what people’s rights are outside the Constitution and the laws, that you should not want me to act in any way on the basis of such a belief.

Coburn: I would want you to always act on the basis of the belief of what our Declaration of Independence says.

Kagan: I think you should want me to act on the basis of law. And that is what I have upheld to do, if I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed, is to act on the basis of law, which is the Constitution and the statutes of the United States.

As Joe Farah at WorldNetDaily noted: “This woman apparently thinks our rights descend from our Constitution, which is crazy,” said Farah. “The Constitution is there to protect our unalienable, God-given human rights – not to define our rights or to invent them.” Bingo. Ring the gong.

Meanwhile, in today’s Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger also lets Dr. Berwick nuke himself:

Dr. Berwick’s ideas on the design and purpose of the U.S. system of medicine aren’t merely about “change.” They would be revolutionary.

One may agree with these views or not, but for the president to tell the American people they have to simply accept this through anything so flaccid as a recess appointment is beyond outrageous. It isn’t acceptable.

“I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do.”

“You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices you need to make to keep affordability within reach.”

“Please don’t put your faith in market forces. It’s a popular idea: that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can.”

“Indeed, the Holy Grail of universal coverage in the United States may remain out of reach unless, through rational collective action overriding some individual self-interest, we can reduce per capita costs.”

“It may therefore be necessary to set a legislative target for the growth of spending at 1.5 percentage points below currently projected increases and to grant the federal government the authority to reduce updates in Medicare fees if the target is exceeded.”

“About 8% of GDP is plenty for ‘best known’ care.” (currently it’s about 16% — Ed.)

“A progressive policy regime will control and rationalize financing—control supply.”

“The unaided human mind, and the acts of the individual, cannot assure excellence. Health care is a system, and its performance is a systemic property.”

“Health care is a common good—single payer, speaking and buying for the common good.”

“And it’s important also to make health a human right because the main health determinants are not health care but sanitation, nutrition, housing, social justice, employment, and the like.”

“Hence, those working in health care delivery may be faced with situations in which it seems that the best course is to manipulate the flawed system for the benefit of a specific patient or segment of the population, rather than to work to improve the delivery of care for all. Such manipulation produces more flaws, and the downward spiral continues.”

“For-profit, entrepreneurial providers of medical imaging, renal dialysis, and outpatient surgery, for example, may find their business opportunities constrained.”

“One over-demanded service is prevention: annual physicals, screening tests, and other measures that supposedly help catch diseases early.”

“I would place a commitment to excellence—standardization to the best-known method—above clinician autonomy as a rule for care.”

“Health care has taken a century to learn how badly we need the best of Frederick Taylor [the father of scientific management]. If we can’t standardize appropriate parts of our processes to absolute reliability, we cannot approach perfection.”

“Young doctors and nurses should emerge from training understanding the values of standardization and the risks of too great an emphasis on individual autonomy.”

“Political leaders in the Labour Government have become more enamored of the use of market forces and choice as an engine for change, rather than planned, centrally coordinated technical support.”

“The U.K has people in charge of its health care—people with the clear duty and much of the authority to take on the challenge of changing the system as a whole. The U.S. does not.”

In each instance, read the whole thing.

Positivity: New York archbishops remember Yankees owner’s generosity and papal visit help

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:27 am

From New York:

Jul 14, 2010 / 08:26 pm

The present and former Archbishops of New York have commented on the death of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, remembering his “generosity” and his help in securing Yankee Stadium for two papal Masses.

Steinbrenner died of a heart attack on July 13 at the age of 80.

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. George Steinbrenner today. My sincere condolences go to Mrs. Steinbrenner and the entire Steinbrenner family,” commented Archbishop Timothy Dolan. “When I was a young boy and budding baseball fan growing up in Saint Louis, everybody knew of the great New York Yankees. Even when they were your opponent, they were a team to be admired and respected.”

In a Tuesday statement, he recalled his “joy” at being invited to Steinbrenner’s box for the April 2009 grand opening of the new Yankees Stadium and also for a World Series game in October.

“They were experiences I’ll never forget. Mr. Steinbrenner and his family were very warm and welcoming to me, the new kid in town,” commented Archbishop Dolan, who was installed in New York in April 2009.

“I’ve since learned that such acts of kindness were very much in keeping with the Steinbrenner tradition,” he continued, noting that Catholic agencies in New York and Florida were often “the beneficiary of his and the Steinbrenner family’s generosity.”

He noted that the Steinbrenners and the New York Yankees responded to the January earthquake in Haiti with a $225,000 donation to Catholic Relief Services. He then praised Steinbrenner’s “tremendous goodness” in arranging Yankee Stadium as a papal Mass venue for Pope John Paul II in 1979 and for Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.

Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop Dolan’s predecessor, in a Tuesday statement noted that he had recently written Steinbrenner to wish him a happy 80th birthday.

“I thanked him once again for his extraordinary kindness and generosity to the Archdiocese of New York on the occasion of the Pastoral visit of Pope Benedict XVI to our City two years ago,” the cardinal wrote. “Thus it is with the deepest sadness that I learned this morning of the passing of this great New Yorker.”

He praised the Yankees owner as a “marvelous leader” and “an exemplary citizen.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.