The Ground Zero Mosque controversy continues to stir up new revelations.
Now we learn that tax dollars have been used to build mosques around the world (see column below).
And yesterday, Fox News reported that the Ground Zero Mosque imam has rejected an offer by New York Governor David Paterson to help move the mosque to another location. What does this tell us about the imam’s alleged commitment to interfaith bridge building? About his “sensitivity”?
A CNN poll this week revealed that 68% of American voters now oppose the Ground Zero Mosque! Driven by new revelations and increasing media coverage, this is an increase of nearly 10 points in the past 30 days. For example, since April Brigitte Gabriel has conducted nearly 200 radio and TV interviews about the Ground Zero Mosque! The rising opposition of public opinion certainly contributed to Paterson’s decision to try to mediate a solution and get the mosque moved.
You can help fuel this rising opposition by signing our petition if you haven’t yet done so AND forwarding this email to everyone you know!
Tax dollars to build mosques
U.S. underwrites fundraising tour for Islamic shrine at Ground Zero
By THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Washington Times
7:46 p.m., Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, addresses a gathering as groups planning a proposed mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan to be named Cordoba House showed and spoke about their plans for the center at a community board meeting in New York Tuesday, May 25, 2010. Community members both for and against the plan spoke during the meeting. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
The State Department is sending Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf - the mastermind of the Ground Zero Mosque - on a trip through the Middle East to foster "greater understanding" about Islam and Muslim communities in the United States. However, important questions are being raised about whether this is simply a taxpayer-funded fundraising jaunt to underwrite his reviled project, which is moving ahead in Lower Manhattan.
Mr. Rauf is scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar, the usual stops for Gulf-based fundraising. The State Department defends the five-country tour saying that Mr. Rauf is "a distinguished Muslim cleric," but surely the government could find another such figure in the United States who is not seeking millions of dollars to fund a construction project that has so strongly divided America.
By funding the trip so soon after New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission gave the go-ahead to demolish the building on the proposed mosque site, the State Department is creating the appearance that the U.S. government is facilitating the construction of this shameful structure. It gives Mr. Rauf not only access but imprimatur to gather up foreign cash. And because Mr. Rauf has refused to reveal how he plans to finance his costly venture, the American public is left with the impression it will be a wholly foreign enterprise. This contradicts the argument that a mosque is needed in that part of New York City to provide services for a burgeoning Muslim population. If so many people need the mosque so badly, presumably they could figure out a way to pay for it themselves.
Americans also may be surprised to learn that the United States has been an active participant in mosque construction projects overseas. In April, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Alfonso E. Lenhardt helped cut the ribbon at the 12th-century Kizimkazi Mosque, which was refurbished with assistance from the United States under a program to preserve culturally significant buildings. The U.S. government also helped save the Amr Ebn El Aas Mosque in Cairo, which dates back to 642. The mosque's namesake was the Muslim conqueror of Christian Egypt, who built the structure on the site where he had pitched his tent before doing battle with the country's Byzantine rulers. For those who think the Ground Zero Mosque is an example of "Muslim triumphalism" glorifying conquest, the Amr Ebn El Aas Mosque is an example of such a monument - and one paid for with U.S. taxpayer funds.
The mosques being rebuilt by the United States are used for religious worship, which raises important First Amendment questions. U.S. taxpayer money should not be used to preserve and promote Islam, even abroad. In July 2009, the Office of the Inspector General published an audit of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) faith-based and community initiatives that examined whether government funds were being used for religious activities. The auditors found that while USAID was funding some religious activities, officials were "uncertain of whether such uses of Agency funding violate Agency regulations or the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution" when balanced against foreign-policy objectives.
For example, our government rebuilt the Al Shuhada Mosque in Fallujah, Iraq, expecting such benefits as "stimulating the economy, enhancing a sense of pride in the community, reducing opposition to international relief organizations operating in Fallujah, and reducing incentives among young men to participate in violence or insurgent groups." But Section 205.1(d) of title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations prohibits USAID funds from being used for the rehabilitation of structures to the extent that those structures are used for "inherently religious activities." It is impossible to separate religion from a mosque; any such projects will necessarily support Islam.
The State Department is either wittingly or unwittingly using tax money to support Mr. Rauf's efforts to realize his dream of a supersized mosque blocks away from the sacred ground of the former World Trade Center, which was destroyed by Islamic fanaticism. This ill-considered decision will raise the ire of millions of Americans and illustrates the limits of what the denizens of Foggy Bottom know about diplomacy.
Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.
"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."
In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.
"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."
Using data collected in 1929 by the Conference Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cole and Ohanian were able to establish average wages and prices across a range of industries just prior to the Depression. By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect. They then compared those figures with actual prices and wages as reflected in the Conference Board data.
In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity.
Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.
"High wages and high prices in an economic slump run contrary to everything we know about market forces in economic downturns," Ohanian said. "As we've seen in the past several years, salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high. By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market's self-correcting forces."
The policies were contained in the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which exempted industries from antitrust prosecution if they agreed to enter into collective bargaining agreements that significantly raised wages. Because protection from antitrust prosecution all but ensured higher prices for goods and services, a wide range of industries took the bait, Cole and Ohanian found. By 1934 more than 500 industries, which accounted for nearly 80 percent of private, non-agricultural employment, had entered into the collective bargaining agreements called for under NIRA.
Cole and Ohanian calculate that NIRA and its aftermath account for 60 percent of the weak recovery. Without the policies, they contend that the Depression would have ended in 1936 instead of the year when they believe the slump actually ended: 1943.
Roosevelt's role in lifting the nation out of the Great Depression has been so revered that Time magazine readers cited it in 1999 when naming him the 20th century's second-most influential figure.
"This is exciting and valuable research," said Robert E. Lucas Jr., the 1995 Nobel Laureate in economics, and the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. "The prevention and cure of depressions is a central mission of macroeconomics, and if we can't understand what happened in the 1930s, how can we be sure it won't happen again?"
NIRA's role in prolonging the Depression has not been more closely scrutinized because the Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional within two years of its passage.
"Historians have assumed that the policies didn't have an impact because they were too short-lived, but the proof is in the pudding," Ohanian said. "We show that they really did artificially inflate wages and prices."
Even after being deemed unconstitutional, Roosevelt's anti-competition policies persisted — albeit under a different guise, the scholars found. Ohanian and Cole painstakingly documented the extent to which the Roosevelt administration looked the other way as industries once protected by NIRA continued to engage in price-fixing practices for four more years.
The number of antitrust cases brought by the Department of Justice fell from an average of 12.5 cases per year during the 1920s to an average of 6.5 cases per year from 1935 to 1938, the scholars found. Collusion had become so widespread that one Department of Interior official complained of receiving identical bids from a protected industry (steel) on 257 different occasions between mid-1935 and mid-1936. The bids were not only identical but also 50 percent higher than foreign steel prices. Without competition, wholesale prices remained inflated, averaging 14 percent higher than they would have been without the troublesome practices, the UCLA economists calculate.
NIRA's labor provisions, meanwhile, were strengthened in the National Relations Act, signed into law in 1935. As union membership doubled, so did labor's bargaining power, rising from 14 million strike days in 1936 to about 28 million in 1937. By 1939 wages in protected industries remained 24 percent to 33 percent above where they should have been, based on 1929 figures, Cole and Ohanian calculate. Unemployment persisted. By 1939 the U.S. unemployment rate was 17.2 percent, down somewhat from its 1933 peak of 24.9 percent but still remarkably high. By comparison, in May 2003, the unemployment rate of 6.1 percent was the highest in nine years.
Recovery came only after the Department of Justice dramatically stepped enforcement of antitrust cases nearly four-fold and organized labor suffered a string of setbacks, the economists found.
"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."