Morning Links

Monday, August 23rd, 2010
Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

157 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Rhayader | 

    Money quote from a commenter on the Philly blogging license story: “Are kid lemonade stands next?” A day late and a dollar short.

    After dutifully reporting even the smallest profits on their tax filings this year, a number — though no one knows exactly what that number is — of Philadelphia bloggers were dispatched letters informing them that they owe $300 for a privilege license, plus taxes on any profits they made.

    Aaaaand that’s the end of that little slice of tax filing honesty. Throw it in the pile with the others.

  2. #2 |  Mattocracy | 

    Fuck, this thread is going to be another bitch-fest about first amendment rights vs. property rights around the ground zero mosque.

  3. #3 |  Marc | 

    If you travel out of the country and return, you will be greeted by a nice “Welcome” infomercial about 45 minutes before you land. It is government infomercial that welcomes you to the great USA with smiling Americans all saying welcome. For the first minute. Then it gets to the good stuff, for 15 minutes it goes over all the ways the American government will throw you in jail or send you back home or fine you for coming to America.

    I don’t know why tourism is down, must be the economy.

  4. #4 |  hamburglar007 | 

    Mattocracy,

    Seeing how the developer who owns the property seems to be fine with the mosque, neither would seem to be an issue. Oddly enough, no one seems to have much of an issue with the OTB or topless bar in the same area.

  5. #5 |  Jet | 

    Lenore’s blog, Free Range Kids is a great daily read. In fact, today she linked to a story on CNN about a 3 year old who walked to the local fire department and got help for her father, who was having an adverse reaction to medication.

  6. #6 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I wish there were a place I could bet on a horse while watching strippers pray. But the taxes would probably kill the joint.

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    Re: Philly business license for bloggers.

    I see a first amendment challenge!
    If the city looks at the selling of ad space, then the owner of the blog can relocate to a blog service that sells the ad space irrespective of the blogger. Thus, the business end is entirely the blog service getting recovery for its costs, and the blogger is merely a citizen.

    If the city is trying to get any for-profit activity to require a license, then it will have to go after everyone who sells anything on e-bay or amazon, every garage sale, baby sitting, etc etc. If they are not already doing that (which I doubt that they are, even in Philly), then an attempt to go after bloggers would an unreasonable attack on free speech rights.

    Any 1st Amd experts care to comment?

  8. #8 |  hamburglar007 | 

    Boyd,

    Go to Vegas.

  9. #9 |  SJE | 

    I hope those who consider the WTC site to be “sacred” are willing to pony up the $$$ to buy the site, since it is going to be used for a private business and not converted into a giant park

  10. #10 |  Roho | 

    I don’t see the problem. They’re not restricting her right to speech – she’s welcome to say whatever she likes as long as she pays for her free speech license, and passes the background check and waiting period (one blog post per month). When you think about it, a BOID card is just good common-sense legislation.

  11. #11 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Lenore Skenazy: “I’m afraid that I, too, have been swept up in the impossible obsession of our era: total safety for our children every second of every day. The idea that we should provide it and actually could provide it. It’s as if we don’t believe in fate anymore, or good luck or bad luck.”

    Where microcosm and macrocosm meet.

    The “relationship” between the State and the individuals it dominates is identical to Skenazy’s description of the relationship between parents and their children.

    This is most definitely not your father’s America. I pity the youth of today, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

  12. #12 |  Cynical in CA | 

    @ #1 | Rhayader

    Time to move it all into cash.

  13. #13 |  John Jenkins | 

    “first amendment rights vs. property rights”

    Given that both of those counsel in favor of allowing the mosque, I am not sure why they would be at odds.

  14. #14 |  rob sama | 

    Feisal Abdul Rauf, let’s see:

    “For America to score even higher on the “Islamic” or “Shariah Compliance” scale, America would need to do two things: invite the voices of all religions to join the dialogue in shaping the nation’s practical life, and allow religious communities more leeway to judge among themselves according to their own laws.”

    Source.

    Yeah, a real moderate, that guy. Just let local muslim men beat their wives because it’s ok under SHaria. Don’t worry about those pesky US laws…

  15. #15 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “City of Philadelphia forcing bloggers to purchase a $300 business license.”

    The use of the word “forcing” in conjunction with a government action is redundant.

    Every single thing a government does is by force. It can be no other way.

    “Government is not reason or eloquence, it is force.” — George Washington

    Not that I needed support from a historical quote to prove my point, but what they hey, no extra charge.

  16. #16 |  Brian | 

    It’s notable, yet not surprising, that Philadelphia’s definition of a business (as opposed to a hobby) is precisely the opposite of how the IRS defines it. So you have a situation where someone could be required to pay business fees, then get audited and fined for trying to deduct them at tax time.

  17. #17 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    #14,
    Oversimplification post oversimplifies.

  18. #18 |  J sub D | 

    Under the law, “plans will be developed” to reverse a 10-year national decline in foreign tourism, the senator explained. The law is to be funded by new taxes on tourism businesses and a $10 fee assessed against each foreign visitor.

    As I understand the thinking,* unlike tobacco and alcohol, raising the price of visiting the United States actually increases demand.

    * I acknowledge using the broadest definition possible of the word here.

  19. #19 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Taxation is without end. The view of the state is that your very existence is owed to the state, so every aspect of your life is taxable.

    Sure, the Beatles wrote a song about it and taxation has been around as long as dirt. But, a little compassion is in order for the government on this one: If taxes aren’t closely managed and collected, we run the risk of incurring massive debts that will enslave us all and ultimately lead to historic financial crisis!

    What? The debt is how big?! Well then, WTF are we even collecting taxes for?!

  20. #20 |  The_Chef | 

    Not sure why rob is getting critiqued…

    I don’t want any sort of religious laws legitimized under civil proceedings.

    Though, one could argue that many of the fundamental property rights laws we advocate for are codified in religious law and have existed since the founding of the country. After all “Though shalt not steal” presupposes private property.

    Discuss?

  21. #21 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    This is most definitely not your father’s America. I pity the youth of today, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

    One of those generations will earn your respect, not pity. Not every generation will be as big pussies as current.

  22. #22 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I think the irony of free-range parenting is that many see it as lazy parenting (i.e. letting your kid do whatever they want instead of actually supervising them) and think that micromanaging and microsupervising your child is being more responsible. The reality is quite the opposite. In order to responsibly afford your child more autonomy, you must give them the tools to handle such autonomy. That means being a diligent parent who teaches his/her kids to think critically. Free-range parenting WITHOUT providing kids the skills to act independently would indeed be reckless. I guess some people just find it hard to believe that parents such as my wife and I can actually teach our kids how to act responsibly before they leave for college.

  23. #23 |  The_Chef | 

    *Thou

    Damn my fingers are getting away from me this morning.

    /need more coffee.

  24. #24 |  Carl Drega | 

    Just for the record, Philly doesn’t care about bloggers (if they even know what one is), they are demanding their pound of flesh because anyone who does any business in the city must operate under a “business privilege license”. I know people who have done work in the city for as little as two days in a year, and were required to buy the license.

    Ordinarily, they would never learn of a blogger’s activities, or anyone else’s who doesn’t have a business address. This person tried to comply with city law however by properly filing taxes and the taxing authority ratted her and countless others out to the licensing office for their shakedown. It had nothing to do with her being a blogger. The city would do this with lemonade stand if the stand owner filed a tax return. They do it with everyone.

    The answer is to not file tax returns.

  25. #25 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Chef-

    I can’t speak for anybody else (and I myself didn’t give rob a thumb’s down) but I don’t find his quote or link persuasive because he’s taking one quote out of context and then extrapolating it into something the author clearly never intended. This has become a common technique among opponents of the so-called 9/11 mosque. First, Abdul Rauf is simply arguing that Muslims can peacefully lead a life according to the tenets of their religion under the current political framework. In other words, they don’t need to forcefully impose Islamic rule (as they have in Iran) in order to live happily in the U.S. That’s the OPPOSITE of arguing for Sharia law. Second, his comment about “allow[ing] religious communities more leeway to judge among themselves according to their own laws” is not asking for our civil judiciary system to legitimize honor killings or anything like that. As I read it, he’s basically asking that religious communities (which would apply not only to Muslims but also Amish, Fundamentalist Mormon, and other fringe groups) be granted some autonomy. You can debate whether or not that’s a good idea but it’s a far, far cry from calling for the imposition of Sharia law or asking courts to apply such law.

  26. #26 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Chef,
    Can’t answer for everyone, but I agree that I do not want government via religion. However; morality, religion, and most laws are intertwined with the US being most aligned with Judaeo–Christian beliefs, not Islamic or other. This is why I barked at PW’s broad claim that the US Gov is not

    In the post you referenced, there are several terms mentioned that are not defined, making discussion more difficult. Defining “moderate” and “extremist” would be a start. Playing a wife-beating card is for t-ball.

    No, I’m not in favor of turning America into an Islamic country with local religious elder councils judging my home improvement project. I also don’t care about scoring higher on an Islamic Compliance card any more than I do about complying with the Socialists, Communists (who really need a hug and a win right now), Republicans, Democrats, or Canadian Health Care Fans.

    But, I don’t view these groups as “extremists” as the word has been defined by the two most recent US Administrations. Nor do I consider Rauf an extremist.

  27. #27 |  The_Chef | 

    I’m not going to disagree with you ClubMed,

    However, I have heard much of the same rhetoric from imams in Europe calling for some sort of autonomy to impose their religious rules. This has not ended well for some people because some of the more … extreme followers see the religious law as the only one they are beholden to.

    I’m not saying that some degree of autonomy is a bad idea, but I’d be very careful in simply giving them carte blanche.

  28. #28 |  qwints | 

    I second the endorsement of [i]Free Range Kids[/i].

    @rob sama, the chapter you quote from starts with:

    “Many American Muslims regard America as a better ‘Muslim’ county than their native homelands.” It continues to explain why the American system of government is far superior to the governments in most Muslim nations – its recognition of inalienable rights, its democratic nature and its separation of powers. He spouts the typical religious drivel about our system being based on “God’s law” rather than recognizing its source in enlightenment philosophy, but overall he does a good job of identifying what’s right with the American system. He comes off as Rick Warren rather than Fred Phelps.

    All that said, his comment about allowing religious communities leeway is not explained in the surrounding paragraphs (on page 86) and your interpretation is not a horribly perverse one. On page 110, however, he says

    “Separation of church and sate, as described above, will not be violated if we establish separate Muslim, Jewish, or Christian personal status courts to render judgments for Muslim, Jewish, or Christian couples seeking to have their case heard under such laws and to have these decisions ratified by the secular state courts.”

    He goes on to give an example of how churches can marry couples according to religious law and suggests that churches should similarly be able to issue divorces. He further states “It would not be a violation of church-state separation if American Muslims dying intestate would have their estates automatically disbursed according to Islamic law.” Perhaps most troubling is his suggestion to have

    “a subsidiary entity within the judiciary that employs religious jurists from diverse religious backgrounds to comment on the compliance of certain decisions with their religious laws and to provide guidance to their religious communities on how kosher or Shariah compliant these decisions are.”

    This is a horrible idea, but it’s not a radical or violent idea.

    tl;dr version: While Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf advocates an increased role for religion in public life, he admires the American system and does not suggest exempting the Islamic community from the law generally. He does explicitly endorse the notion of religious law influencing the marriages, divorces and probate proceedings of the religious community.

  29. #29 |  SJE | 

    Muslims, Christians, Jews, and even Jedi worshippers etc can ALREADY operate under their own legal code in the USA: its called private contract. For example, if you marry in the Roman Catholic Church, you implicitly enter into both a church based, and civilly recognized contract. You can void the civil contract (i.e. get a divorce), but the RC Church does not have to recognize it. This only works because the right of the church to determine its recognition of marriage does not trump the civil legal system, and so an abusive wife can leave her husband whatever the church says, and a muslim can convert to whatever he or she wants. As long as this is the case in the USA, I have no problems.

  30. #30 |  Mario | 

    On the “world’s worst mom,” I think things are pretty clear:

    I’d love to see hordes of kids gathering for meetings, staging protests, and burning their baby kneepads…

    And just how would these kids manage to set fire to their kneepads, is what I want to know. I can only conclude that this crazy woman is advocating children play with matches!

    Heaven help us!

  31. #31 |  Bob | 

    City of Philadelphia forcing bloggers to purchase a $300 business license.

    That is just fucking ridiculous.

    Solution: Don’t declare the income on your taxes. Which fucks the city even more, of course, and will drive it to “crack down on tax offenders”. End result? People moving from the city in droves.

    In reality, this is a symptom of a much larger problem. The fact is, cities just aren’t able to support themselves on tax revenue because the Federal Government takes it all. Then, the amount the city gets back if they jump through all the right hoops simply doesn’t cover the loss.

    Cities are a critical infrastructure that need to be better funded, but squeezing the peeps that live there for nickle and dime shit ain’t the way to get there.

  32. #32 |  Dave W. | 

    Re the tax on tourism:

    The comment is a bit flip. The lighthouse problem (which is what this tourist tax is) has been a thorny one for economists:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lighthouse_in_Economics

    You can take the Coase-ian view, but it is not self-evidently correct.

  33. #33 |  Bob | 

    “Well, the night the column ran, someone from the Today show called me at home to ask, Did I really let my son take the subway by himself? ”

    Geeze, at least slip a 9mm in the kid’s backpack and teach him how to run a “Three Card Monte” so he has a fighting chance.

    This is why people won’t let me near their kids. They’re afraid I’ll be a bad influence.

  34. #34 |  Jet | 

    @Mario: iirc, playing with matches is one of the 5 dangerous things Gever Tully advocates letting your children do.
    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/gever_tulley_on_5_dangerous_things_for_kids.html

    Oh, the humanity!

  35. #35 |  Charlie O | 

    Kudos to Lenore Skenazy. This country has been raising a generation of pussies for years. I traveled all over Japan, by myself, at ages 9 and 10. We lived Hayama, near Zushi. I had to travel to the US Naval base in Yokosuka often. I rode the Japanese trains and buses all the time. Sometimes even up to Yokohama and Tokyo. Alone. No one ever thought twice about. Not my parents, not other adults. Not the authorities, US Navy or civilian. The only time I had a problem was when I arrived at the main gate in Japanese taxicab on the way to Naval Hospital with a bloody rag held to my eye. (I wear glasses and was playing catcher to my friend who was pitching. Missed the pitch and took a fastball to the eye.) The Marine sentry pulled us out of the cab and called an ambulance for the rest of trip. Kinda stupid since we’d already ridden twenty miles in the cab and was like three minutes to the hospital from the main gate.

    The number one reason I refuse to watch local news broadcasts is because of the incessant fear mongering. Watching local news will have anyone believing there is a murderer or child molester behind every bush and signpost in America. It has resulted in a nation of pussies and parents quaking in the shoes with fear.

    It goes to almost every aspect of our current society. American kids are so overprotected it’s sickening. If you had told me to wear a bicycle helmet when I was 10, I would thought you were psycho. (and a big pussy.)

  36. #36 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Chef, I think the point you raise is a valid one that is worthy of discussion (I myself am particularly troubled by what has gone on up in Canada with respect to enforcing Sharia law). However, I think that discussion is immaterial to the whole 9/11 mosque issue and certainly few if any of the anti-Mosque crowd are relying on so nuanced an argument. Just as there’s a fine line between stupid and clever, there’s a fine line between legitimate concern and fearmongering, and I think most Agitator readers are astute enough to recognize the difference.

  37. #37 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    City of Philadelphia forcing bloggers to purchase a $300 business license.

    This is rather inaccurate. They’re not forcing all bloggers to do this, only those that do it for money. Which isn’t to say this is a good idea, but it’s not something specifically targeting bloggers. It’s just ridiculous that every other business in the city has to do it.

  38. #38 |  The_Chef | 

    ClubMed,
    Agreed. Which is why I think the discussion is important, but all the right-wing WARGARRRBLE over this is the WRONG response.

    I’m simply saying that I’ve noted a bit of a slippery slope in the way in which Muslim organizations have lobbied for a degree of autonomy and then used it to legitimize what we would define as violations of Person and Property.

    I have no problem if they want to do the whole marriage/divorce/probate kind of things. But past history has shown that it didn’t stop there in other countries.

  39. #39 |  The_Chef | 

    There is an ad in the sidebar for an “International Muslim Matrimonial Site”…

    BWHAHAHAHA

  40. #40 |  bbartlog | 

    Sympathies for Lenore Skenazi. I let my daughter (7 years old) walk (or bike) to the local park and swimming pool, about half a mile distant. Couple of months ago she was stopped by guy out walking his dog, who called the police. Turned out he was a retired cop himself. I was walking the younger kids home from the park myself, so I caught up with the guy and my daughter before the police showed up. Had a nice conversation trying to get him to tell what dangers exactly were supposed to be looming over my daughter. Nothing came of it (other than cop wanting my name and address), but it’s a crapshoot; if some blowhard cop had been in a mood to cause trouble for me I guess things could have gone differently.
    She also is allowed to play with matches, lighters, candles, knives, drills, big kid scissors, glue, stoves, mixers, fire extinguishers, jigsaws, axes, and the lawnmower (with shoes). The miter saw, bench grinder, and bunsen burner too, but only with supervision.

  41. #41 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Travelling into the US “For the first minute. Then it gets to the good stuff, for 15 minutes it goes over all the ways the American government will throw you in jail or send you back home or fine you for coming to America.”

    Yeah, fear is a big tool of the travel merchants these days.
    From the moment you step into the airport, you’re treated like a suspect.
    On the train up to DC , last month, they kept warning us “the conductor”
    was gonna pass through and check our ID’s.
    I kept thinking, why the fuck is the conductor doing ID checks–
    doesn’t he have a train to drive?

  42. #42 |  Bob | 

    “This is rather inaccurate. They’re not forcing all bloggers to do this, only those that do it for money. Which isn’t to say this is a good idea, but it’s not something specifically targeting bloggers. It’s just ridiculous that every other business in the city has to do it.”

    The part that’s stupid is that it isn’t targeting businesses. It’s targeting individuals that happen to have non-job related income reported. This is completely ass backwards and narrow minded.

    Prediction: The first guy who has his 1099 for his savings account flagged as ‘business income’ will inspire a viral story heard round the internet.

  43. #43 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    I thought that blogs or websites, regardless of the amount of profit, are technically interstate commerce, which is regulated by the feds, not the state, city, etc. Now, if the advertisers are based in the same state, then there might be a leg to stand on.

  44. #44 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Besides, isn’t the ad company the one in business and the blogger just a customer, per se?

  45. #45 |  Elemenope | 

    Not for nothing, but the 14th Amendment seems to me like an insurmountable impediment for anyone seeking to set up a system of religious courts for marriage/divorce/probate, since most religious rules in those arenas do not provide for equal protection for both genders.

  46. #46 |  The_Chef | 

    Which I’m sure the ACLU would challenge in court if anything like that happened.

    And that’s the rub, it would pit 1st against 14th.

    That could be amusing to watch all the hubub over.

  47. #47 |  qwints | 

    I think most people are o.k. with people who choose to give up certain freedoms when they join a religion as long as they are free to leave that religion. Excommunication and shunning are harsh practices, but they have to be legal for freedom of association to mean anything. Thus Muslims can say you have to get married and divorced according to Muslim law or we won’t recognize you as a Muslim (as can Catholics). That’s how our system works right now for marriage – as long as you meet the state’s minimum guidelines (e.g. age and consent) you’re free to impose additional requirements for whom your church will marry. Those who object can criticize the religion and go somewhere else. Divorce/inheritance settlements can be suggested by religious courts with the same consequences but they should never be enforced by a real court because of their involuntary nature.

    Elemnope, you are exactly right that religious courts do not provide the necessary due process and equal protection for them to function as courts of law regardless of whether that would be an unconstitutional establishment of religion. It’s clear however, that these suggestions sound like the reasonable religious right and not the crazy/radical brand of religion.

  48. #48 |  qwints | 

    @ The_Chef, as long as the Lemon test is good law this is an easy question. Religious courts would clearly be an excessive entanglement of the government with religion, and would probably also have the primary effect of advancing religion. I don’t think it would be a free exercise issue.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_v._Kurtzman

  49. #49 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #45 | Elemenope — “Not for nothing, but the 14th Amendment seems to me like an insurmountable impediment for anyone seeking to set up a system of religious courts for marriage/divorce/probate, since most religious rules in those arenas do not provide for equal protection for both genders.”

    Not to quibble, but how do you explain child custody and child support laws? Not much “equal protection” for fathers, I’m afraid.

  50. #50 |  qwints | 

    Cynical, the law in practice (which may have a bias against men) is different from the letter of the law (which is gender neutral.) It’s very difficult to prove up that kind of institutional discrimination. Courts routinely strike down custody decisions that explicitly discriminate against a protected class.

  51. #51 |  The_Chef | 

    @qwints

    Oh I agree, but the way many of those mechanisms function is within the group. That is to say, the “religious courts” only apply to those that opt-in to the system. The problem is that many of those societal groups are so … community based or closed in order to keep people involved and part of the group that functioning outside of them is difficult for those that want out. So rather than attempt to function outside of that society under those laws, even if they are unjust, the individual will capitulate.

  52. #52 |  Cappy | 

    “To the city of Philadelphia, it’s a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.”

    Don’t forget, Vinny the Chin wants his cut as well.

    Is there any difference between what the city is demanding and what the mafia demands?

    None, ‘cept the legalities.

  53. #53 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    A law means nothing except the way in which it is practiced/enforced.

  54. #54 |  Marty | 

    I probably shouldn’t post, since I don’t have my ‘comment permit’. I understand this is being implemented to address financial shortfalls in govt and to weed out obnoxious trolls, but my comments earn me nothing more than ridicule, so I can’t afford to do anything but remain an outlaw.

  55. #55 |  HD | 

    FWIW, Philly, and every other city in the US does this for anyone who declares a home office on their income tax, whether author (blogger, magazine, or book), consultant, or craftsman. If you get a 1099 from someone else, which they HAVE to declare to the IRS, and you declare a home office or business, it will eventually get back to the city and they will eventually ask you for a business license.

    Having to have a business license doesn’t strike me as being particularly evil, anymore than requiring a construction permit and following building codes. I’m ok with business licenses in general – I don’t want my neighbor running an unlicensed and unregulated day care center or all night general store. You can revoke my libertarian credentials.

    I do have a problem with the IRS sharing this information back with the city, I thought my tax info was supposed to be private, not shared with any Joe Blow in City Hall.

    Also FWIW, if you write a nice letter to the nice folks at City Hall explaining why the business license is more than you made last year on your blogging income, and that you accept no clients at your home office, they’re like as not to waive the license requirement. Worked for me.

    I don’t know if this was covered in TFA, as the link won’t open.

  56. #56 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Gracias qwints.

  57. #57 |  Marty | 

    ‘Having to have a business license doesn’t strike me as being particularly evil, anymore than requiring a construction permit and following building codes. I’m ok with business licenses in general – I don’t want my neighbor running an unlicensed and unregulated day care center or all night general store. You can revoke my libertarian credentials.’

    your credentials don’t need to be revoked, sounds more like you already turned them in…

  58. #58 |  jrb | 

    Don’t forget, Vinny the Chin wants his cut as well.

    Is there any difference between what the city is demanding and what the mafia demands?

    None, ‘cept the legalities.

    I disagree. There’s active competition in the mafia. You might be able to pay Fat Tony instead of Vinny the Chin. And Fat Tony’s rate may be much less than Vinny the Chin’s.

  59. #59 |  Joe | 

    Profile of Feisal Abdul Rauf. That this guy could be portrayed as an extremist says far more about the people screaming about the mosque than it does about him.

    I also disagree with the Iman on this position: “The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets.”

    You can make arguments about Dresden. That does not make you an extremist. I think the arguments about Hiroshima are weaker, but again, Iman is not the first person who has made these arguments. But I have heard Bin Laden make such arguments to justify attacks by al Qaeda.

    I agree Rauf is not an extremist, although I did find this comment a couple of weeks after 9/11 offensive: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.” I did not care for Ron Paul’s blow back comments either.

    That you refer to opposition to the Cordoba House and its location as “screaming” says a lot about you Radley. You can be for the project, that is your right and privilege. But not everyone opposed is “screaming” or alternatively racist, bigotted, or wrong.

    Should the state block it legally? No. Do the promoters have the right to build the project? Yes. Is there a legitimate concern about its location and the fact that Radical Islam caused that big hole two blocks away (and the building that they are tearing down to construction the project just happened to get hit by debris from the attack)? Yes.

    If Iman Rauf came forward and said that he unconditionally opposed 9/11 terrorists and condemned them (and such a statement would be front and center displayed in this facility) and took some steps to voluntarily make this center more equmenical to other faiths (such as Jews, Christians and other persons of any or no faith), as a memorial to all innocents who died that day, I suspect much of this criticism would go away. And I would not request that from any Islamic Center, just one being built within the debris range of a major Islamic attack. And again, I am asking him to voluntarily try to meet with people who are rightfully concerned about the symbolism and intent of this project. If Iman Rauf is such a schmoozer as portrayed in the NYTs, I suspect he would win many of his critics over.

    And all that could be done without screaming Radley.

  60. #60 |  Frank Hummel | 

    #3 | Marc

    Thanks for summarizing that Welcome video. Traveled overseas 3 times in the last year but never paid attention to it. I bet at least 90% of the passengers in those aircraft didn’t either.

  61. #61 |  Joe | 

    If this was truly a center dedicated to bridge building, a memorial condemning the actions of the terrorists with with Jewish, Christian and other faith symbols at the entraceway would make a heck of a statement.

    Note I am not screaming or even using lots of !!!!! or capitalized text.

  62. #62 |  Ben | 

    Joe,

    Rauf and Paul’s comments about 9/11 were accurate, whether you liked them or not.

  63. #63 |  Mannie | 

    #40 | bbartlog | August 23rd, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I let my daughter (7 years old) walk (or bike) to the local park and swimming pool, about half a mile distant. Couple of months ago she was stopped by guy out walking his dog, who called the police. …

    Obviously, the danger to small children is from the Police.

  64. #64 |  Elemenope | 

    Not to quibble, but how do you explain child custody and child support laws? Not much “equal protection” for fathers, I’m afraid.

    I would agree, and my instinct (uninformed by a legal education as it is) would be that the current state of family law in many states bear some serious equal protection problems that courts and legislatures should address.

  65. #65 |  Elemenope | 

    Note I am not screaming or even using lots of !!!!! or capitalized text.

    While that definitely makes the comment easier on the eyes (and the brain), it doesn’t really patch the weaknesses present in it. I don’t think anyone thinks that he path to religious comity is to make places of worship into interfaith kumbaya houses. Imagine the absurdity of telling the Catholic Church that a great way to atone for the thousands of years of oppressing Jews would be to put synagogues in their churches, or to bring it more sharply to the current point, to put synagogues in churches near locations where pogroms occurred.

  66. #66 |  Joe | 

    Ben, there is no justifying the events 9/11. We are not accessories to the crime. Whether you want to argue otherwise or not.

  67. #67 |  Joe | 

    Ben, what United States’ policies made us accessories to 9/11? Defending Muslims in the Balkans from the Serbs? Stationing troops in Saudi Arabia at the request of its government? Supporting Israel? What exactly did we do to justify being attacked in that manner?

    You do not equivocate about attacks like that. They are not the same as Hiroshima.

  68. #68 |  Andrew S. | 

    Joe-

    Looks like you’re already getting what you’re asking for:

    We will include a September 11th memorial and quiet reflection space where people of different faith traditions and beliefs, sacred and secular, can find quiet time and solace. Park51 will also include general spaces and world-class facilities for all New Yorkers to benefit from, whether that’s a Hebrew class meeting weekly or a yoga studio looking for space on a regular basis. We’ll have an auditorium to engage large audiences, and sophisticated classroom space as well.”

  69. #69 |  Joe | 

    Elemenope, you mean like Muslims in Spain demanding to pray in the Alhambra (which was converted to a Catholic cathedral after the reconquista)?

    I agree it is inappropriate to ask houses of worship conform to other people’s faiths, but this particular project is promoted as a center of understanding and bridge building and tied to the 9/11 Islamic attacks. It is not even just a mosque, but a 13-15 story social center too (like a YMCA). So why not such symbolism in this facility? They need not include it in the mosque itself (which is dedicated to prayer).

    BTW–I have seen YMCAs that have Jewish and Muslim symbols in them to promote ecumenicalism.

  70. #70 |  Andrew S. | 

    Ben, what United States’ policies made us accessories to 9/11? Defending Muslims in the Balkans from the Serbs? Stationing troops in Saudi Arabia at the request of its government? Supporting Israel? What exactly did we do to justify being attacked in that manner?

    Nobody involved here, including Imam Rauf, said anything about justification.

    But if you don’t think that our foreign policy is a reason for 9/11 occurring, you’re either fooling yourself or lying to yourself. Can you honestly say you don’t think our foreign policy had anything to do with it? What’s left, the ridiculous “they hate us for our freedom”?

  71. #71 |  BamBam | 

    #19, I have been saying for years that the beauty of human existence and taxes are that the possibilities are endless, as human behavior is infinite. How much are people willing to put up with before revolting? I will add your statement “people owe their existence to The State” into my 1 minute speech on taxes.

    The other point I make is that Government, The State, etc. is simply other humans running it, and somehow a bill got proposed and voted into law, and upheld by a long chain of people with the spearhead being State Agent X, usually Officer Friendly. They are all responsible for judging the morality of their actions and will be held accountable for it somehow, some way, some day.

  72. #72 |  Joe | 

    Andrew S., a quiet reflection place could mean a lot of things, but perhaps Iman Rauf should privately meet with some of the leaders of 9/11 families who are opposing his project and explain and reassure them why his center will be a positive force of peace and will honor (not denigrate) their memories or the horrors of that day.

    I mean, he is a big schmoozer.

  73. #73 |  Joe | 

    They do not hate us for our freedoms Andrew S., they hate us because we are opposed to the spread of radical Islam.

    I am talking al Qaeda here. Europeans have pretty liberal policies and they hate them too. I wonder why Theo Van Gogh got it in the chest? Was that really bad U.S. foriegn policy too?

  74. #74 |  BamBam | 

    I agree Rauf is not an extremist, although I did find this comment a couple of weeks after 9/11 offensive: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.” I did not care for Ron Paul’s blow back comments either.

    The truth hurts … empires are resented for their actions, usually violent, against people in their own land. To think that these actions should have no consequences and people should thank you for it and ask for more is intellectually and morally dishonest.

  75. #75 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”

    Honesty in the face of crisis doesn’t get one elected, so we continue course and generate more crisis.

  76. #76 |  Mattocracy | 

    Islamic Terrorists don’t hate us because we’re free. They hate us because we have troops in their country and stick our noses in their domestic politics. When the UN does this kind of stuff with us, the same people bitching about this mosque get really upset about it.

  77. #77 |  Joe | 

    And I do recognize United State foreign policy is often misquided and wrong. But all of that said, it does not justify or excuse 9/11.

  78. #78 |  Tyler | 

    The more I read about the Islamic center, the more I worry that the *mosque* is going to get bombed by some nutcase, and less that some nutcase from the mosque is going to set off a bomb.

  79. #79 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Ben, what United States’ policies made us accessories to 9/11? Defending Muslims in the Balkans from the Serbs? Stationing troops in Saudi Arabia at the request of its government? Supporting Israel?

    How much of the above is the role of government? And, we’ll just ignore the positive spin on each of the above labels.

  80. #80 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    it does not justify or excuse 9/11.

    Joe, you have successfully defeated a premise no one on this board supported.

    The Swiss sure get hit with terrorism a lot.

  81. #81 |  Andrew S. | 

    #77 | Joe | August 23rd, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    And I do recognize United State foreign policy is often misquided and wrong. But all of that said, it does not justify or excuse 9/11.

    Please show where anyone involved here, including Imam Rauf, has said that our foreign policy justified or excused 9/11. Please. I’ll be waiting.

  82. #82 |  Ben | 

    Joe,

    Andrew and BamBam have already said what I was going to respond with. An explanation is not a justification. If you truly believe that our foreign policy was one of the (if not THE) primary reasons for 9/11, then you’re being willfully blind and ignorant.

  83. #83 |  Ben | 

    CORRECTION: If you truly believe that our foreign policy was NOT one of the (if not THE) primary reasons for 9/11, then you’re being willfully blind and ignorant.

  84. #84 |  Joe | 

    Islamic Terrorists don’t hate us because we’re free. They hate us because we have troops in their country and stick our noses in their domestic politics.

    What country would that be? Kuwait. Saudi. We should have stayed out of it and let Iraq keep Kuwait? Perhaps we should have backed the Egyptians when they tried to take out Israel in 73? Be specific. I recognize we can go back through the history of the middle east and the gulf, going back before FDR, and second guess what has happened there. Of course mistakes have been made. But not doing anything is a decision too and that can cost you. If only ignoring the rest of the world was so easy. And given the oil resources, there is no ignoring that region.

  85. #85 |  qwints | 

    Joe,

    They have talked to 9/11 families and continue to do so.
    See, e.g. http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2010/08/organizers_of_muslim_center_wa.html

    The center will have both a mosque as well as facilities for community activities. Rabbi Joy Levitt has said that the center is intended to be a Muslim equivalent of the Jewish Community Center

    See
    http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/week-transcript-karzai-khan-levitt/story?id=11454631&page=3

    Iman Rauf and other American Muslims have repeatedly condemned the 9/11 attacks.

    See
    “Fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam.”
    http://www.islamfortoday.com/60minutes.htm

    and
    http://www.cair.com/americanmuslims/antiterrorism/fatwaagainstterrorism.aspx

    Does this affect your opinion Joe? I thought you had a solid point regarding the promoters seeking funding based on it being a “Ground Zero Mosque”, but these other points are simply wrongheaded.

  86. #86 |  Andrew S. | 

    Joe, if you’re going to continue respond to points that nobody else is making, I’m not sure what the point of continuing the discussion is.

  87. #87 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    United State foreign policy is often misquided and wrong.

    I wonder if it accomplishes exactly what it REALLY intends. Sure seems to be working for the US Government where business is awesome.

  88. #88 |  Joe | 

    Andrew S. Iman Rauf used the term “accessory.” An accessory is one who aids or contributes a crime as a subordinate. An accessory does acts which faciliate others in the commission of a crime.

    An accessory shares in the blame of the crime, whether the actual harm was intended or not.

  89. #89 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ #84 | Joe |

    We can go back forth about justification for wars and the like, but had we no troops in Saudi, Kuwait, Turkey, Qatar, UAE, etc, the chances of 9/11 happening would have drastically reduced.

    But back to the original topic at hand, Feisal Abdul Rauf doesn’t owe anyone any explanation. We get it, it offends you greatly along with a lot of other people. But when so many people are flat out calling for government intervention to stop this mosque construction, we aren’t complaining about people exercising free speech. We’re complaining about others trying to eliminate property rights for other people.

    If that doesn’t apply to you, fine, awesome. But let’s not pretend there aren’t a lot of screamers out there screaming about issue. They are drowning out all the civil discourse that other rational, yet concerned citizens may have. It’s not fair to you Joe and I wish it wasn’t like that.

    All of these comment threads always come down to someone accussing the other side of promoting ideas that they really aren’t. Everyone knows where everyone else stands at this point. I got my part in and I am officially withdrawing from this discussion, not that anyone here really gives a fuck what I do. Later.

  90. #90 |  Ben | 

    Joe, if our foreign policy is one of the primary causes of 9/11 happening, shouldn’t that mean that our government bears some modicum of blame?
    And having said that, that STILL doesn’t equal “justifying” or “excusing” the attacks.

  91. #91 |  Philly Girl | 

    HD, the Business Privilige Tax applies to anyone for-profit business in Philadelphia. The tax is applied whether you make a profit or not and a call or letter to City Hall will get you nowhere!

  92. #92 |  billy-jay | 

    Regarding the mosque:

    Whose business is it? I don’t have an opinion one way or the other. The fact that someone lost a loved one in the WTC attacks doesn’t give them any say over it, either.

  93. #93 |  CC | 

    (((Muslims, Christians, Jews, and even Jedi worshippers etc can ALREADY operate under their own legal code in the USA: its called private contract)))

    Unless they contract for some land to build a mosque on.

  94. #94 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Okay, I’m going to say it. Most kids today are pussies. Kids rarely want to go on roller coasters. On my son’s swim team most kids never swim anything above 200 meters…the idea of swimming the 1,500 never occurs to them. Why? Almost all the other kids are afraid to try these things. Never mind that statistically roller coasters at major theme parks are quite safe or that his team mates will swim in practice for 1.5 hours nearly continuously.

    We scare them about strangers, when in reality they are more at risk of parents, other family members, friends of the family and care givers. We terrify them about riding their bikes, wear a helmet, knee pads, and gloves. We frighten the about online predators. And we petrify them with various sorts of allergies. Everywhere they turn we present them with a danger and greatly exaggerate the risks involved.

  95. #95 |  Joe | 

    I heard Michael Medved defending Iman Rauf as not being an extremist (which he is not) yet still voicing opposition to the Islamic Center being located where it is proposed. He was hoping that outreach to Iman Rauf could be made to address that issue. And I did not hear him scream once. Imagine that.

    And I did not call for restricting Iman Rauf’s property rights Mattocracy. If others are doing that, I oppose it. But to say that bigotry is the only basis to oppose such a project is nonsense too.

  96. #96 |  Elemenope | 

    An explanation is not an excuse. The habit of conflating the two is what has destroyed any meaningful ability for public discourse on why 9/11 occurred.

  97. #97 |  Joe | 

    Elemenope. I get that you are for the Cordoba House. I am against it in this location as described. If the facts change I am willing to reconsider my objection. Let’s agree to disagree on that. I think we are both in agreement the government should not block the center or favor it.

    Here is budget/deficit spending with and without the Iraq War. This is something to discuss.

  98. #98 |  qwints | 

    Your point, Joe?

    I don’t think you’ll find significant support for the stimulus bill/TARP among the commenter here. That doesn’t change the fact that the center is being built in an old Burlington Coat Factory that you can’t see from the World Trade Center site.

  99. #99 |  Joe | 

    qwints, it also doesn’t change the fact that the landing gear from one of the highjacked planes crashed on that site.

    But hey, why discuss it anymore? I understand your position. You understand mine. We disagree. It is America. I would buy you a beer. Here is a virtual one. Enjoy it. It’s homebrewed extra strong bitter (no pun intended, I just like the hops) and delicious. I would offer one to the Iman too, but it is Ramadan and he doesn’t drink. So tonight I offer a virtual glass of cane juice for his Iftar. L’ chaim. Fee sihetak.

    Let’s get back to criticizing dishonest criminal prosecutors and foreinsic whores experts.

  100. #100 |  qwints | 

    Fair enough Joe, I’d buy you a Stone Arrogant Bastard. Try it if you’re ever in California, it’s delicious. Point made.

  101. #101 |  JOR | 

    US foreign policy is both immoral and stupid, and retaliation and resistance can be perfectly just, but the 9/11 attacks were completely unjustifiable mass-murders. Even in purely explanatory terms, I don’t think it’s correct to say that US foreign policy was accessory (and for the record I think it would be just as stupid to claim that Japanese imperialism was “accessory” the the destruction of Japanese cities by aerial bombardment). I can understand people who make the argument, and I think there’s some truth to it (but it’s more subtle and sophisticated than “al Qaeda is attacking us because they don’t like US treatment of Muslims”; no, they have their own horrifying political aims and their own reasons for fighting the US, but they DO draw on common sympathy of ordinary Muslims for those abused or massacred by the US and its puppets/allies). For that matter, their stated reasons are pretty inconsistent. They don’t like the way the US poisoned and starved hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, even though Iraqis were subject to a government that al Qaeda types considered an anti-Islamic abomination, which shits all over their rationalizations for attacking American civilians (if it’s okay for American civilians to be attacked because their government is anti-Islamic and evil, then it was okay for Iraqi civilians to be attacked). And of course in practical terms, the 9/11 attacks lead to some awful blowback on a certain couple Muslim countries… GG, soldiers of Allah.

  102. #102 |  Elemenope | 

    Joe, my point wasn’t about the Cordoba House (I agree we’ve done that one to death). I meant more generally, any time anyone suggests that American Foreign Policy may have had a hand in encouraging the attacks, everyone starts a chorus about how nothing justifies and excuses the attacks. This bothers me greatly because that’s not what the point is in any way about; seeking an explanation (and finding a likely, logical candidate) is not the same thing as excusing or justifying those heinous crimes.

    It happened to Ron Paul (who, admittedly, wasn’t quite as clear about the distinction as he needed to be), is happening with Mr. Rauf, and tends to happen pretty much any time the topic comes up.

  103. #103 |  Joe | 

    qwints, I drink Stone’s Arrogant Bastard. It is excellent. I quite enjoy the statement on the back label. It should be the official beer of the Agitator (provided they send some love to Radley either in money or beer trade).

  104. #104 |  MassHole | 

    “it also doesn’t change the fact that the landing gear from one of the highjacked planes crashed on that site. ”

    So what? That’s the most ridiculous argument you’ve made yet.

    What other addresses in lower Manhattan should be rezoned based on the hurt feelings of someone with no ownership or financial interest in them?

    You are not looking at this in a rational manner. It’s a piece of real estate, not some sacred shrine. If you want it to be, see if you can talk Silverstein Properties into donating the WTC site (good luck!). Otherwise, move on.

  105. #105 |  Joe | 

    MassHole, we are done discussing this topic. It is beer time. Your round. And none of that Sam Adams pseudo micro brew. Find some real stuff in New England.

  106. #106 |  Charlie O | 

    Joe,

    Trying to follow you inane logic and argument, I can only come the conclusion in your world, 2 + 2 = 4,511.

  107. #107 |  Elemenope | 

    While that Arrogant Bastard brew sounds yummy, there’s no call to rip on Sammie Adams. Sure, it isn’t a microbrew, but since when has quantity automatically dictated quality (either proportional or its inverse)?

    Personally, I’m a Newcastle guy.

  108. #108 |  Waste93 | 

    Matt,

    Going to disagree with you. Radical Muslims don’t dislike us because we have troops over in the Mid East, they hate us because we aren’t Muslim. Or more specifically the right kind of Muslim. If we didn’t have troops in Saudi and Kuwait they would say it is because we support Israel. If we didn’t support Israel it would be some other reason. The reason for this as by claiming they reacting defensively, this falls under one of the reasons for an authorized jihad according to the Koran.

  109. #109 |  Joe | 

    Yeah Charlie, me and 70% of voters out there. Not that being with the majority always makes you right, but wisdom of crowds and all that stuff. See you in November. But let’s enjoy the beer and not spoil the buzz will ya? Your round.

    Some of SA stuff is okay Elemenope. I was teasing. There are fine mini micros in New England though. Of course, Newcastle makes a nice nut brown ale, but I question the wisdom of clear bottles due to potential for skunking (do to light reaction with the hops in the beer).

  110. #110 |  PW | 

    This would be pretty funny if it wasn’t so damn tragic.

    http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local-beat/Increased-Violence-at-Pot-Grow-Busts-Puzzles-Cops-101274459.html

    “Authorities are trying to determine what’s causing an increase in violence that has left five suspects dead during raids of marijuana gardens across Northern California during the past several weeks.”

    Something tells me that they’ve looked everywhere BUT the one place that holds the answer to this mystery: the mirror.

  111. #111 |  Joe | 

    What other addresses in lower Manhattan should be rezoned based on the hurt feelings of someone with no ownership or financial interest in them?

    Acutally I am against re-zoning MassHole. I doubt you could do it now anyway.

    But it is beer time. Where is that round of yours? Iman Feisal is ready to break his fast with an O’Douls.

  112. #112 |  Elemenope | 

    Something tells me that they’ve looked everywhere BUT the one place that holds the answer to this mystery: the mirror.

    Oddly enough, the article (and the LEOs interviewed) did talk about more aggressive police tactics being part of the cause, though they sandwiched that with bullshit about Mexican cartels and “increased aggression” on the part of growers.

    On the other hand, wasn’t there a story last week about some pot farmers in Canada who had tame black bears as guard animals? Apparently they were so tame that when the raid happened, the bears just chilled and didn’t confront the police at all (though one thought that a police cruiser was a pretty cool seat).

  113. #113 |  MassHole | 

    Well Joe, I didn’t realize you were the arbiter of when discussions begin and end here. My mistake.

    I’m a dunkel weiss man myself. I can walk to the Sam Adams brewery though.

  114. #114 |  Joe | 

    MassHole, trust me, when I am saying it is beer time, my advice is good and sound.

    I agree with you about dunkelweiss. I was suprised that Trader Joe’s has a pretty decent one at a good price.

  115. #115 |  Joe | 

    Iman Feisal just called and said he would prefer a Kosher Coca Cola. The one that uses cane sugar. To be ecumenical and because it tastes better than that nasty HFCS.

  116. #116 |  croaker | 

    @41 This is why Rio got the Olympics and Chicago got the Finger.

  117. #117 |  Joe | 

    An excellent comment from an Althouse reader(but best enjoyed with your favorite beverage in hand):

    Big Mike said…
    @Madman, I think that if there was a competent poll taken it would come out pretty much like:

    65% – Agree that the First Amendment gives the Muslim group the right to build their mosque near the site of the Twin Towers, but regard it somewhere between thoughtless and inflamatory, and wish they’d build it elsewhere. (I’m in this category, and so is Karen Hughes, and, apparently, so are about 75% of the Althouse commentators.)

    3% – Think it should be illegal to build a mosque in lower Manhattan. How they reconcile this with the First Amendment is left unstated.

    1% – Think it should be illegal to build a mosque anywhere.

    10% – Think that we should be tolerant of the mosque, demonstrating that we are bigger and more noble than the Taliban and al Qaeda. Though whether the Taliban and al Qaeda would actually interpret it that way is something they don’t seem to want to deal with.

    20% – Are in favor of anything that pisses off Christians and other “bitter clingers.”

    1% – Think that we should have capitulated to al Qaeda on 9/12/2001. If not sooner.

    8/23/10 12:16 PM

  118. #118 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Beer? meh.

    My nights out are much more interesting since I switched to tequila only.

  119. #119 |  Joe | 

    Boyd, tequila works too.

  120. #120 |  matt | 

    Far more then 1% of the population thinks that Mosques should be completely banned…

  121. #121 |  Joe | 

    matt, your in that 20% group that has the next round to buy.

  122. #122 |  David | 

    Re: “assigning blame” for 9/11:

    If I kick somebody in the nuts and he responds by grabbing a shotgun and shooting my entire family dead, he’s a crazy person, he should be locked up as a murdering son of a bitch, and you’d have to be stupid to claim I somehow murdered my family by proxy when I kicked the crazy guy in the balls. That doesn’t mean I should continue walking around kicking people in the nuts.

  123. #123 |  Elemenope | 

    Think that we should be tolerant of the mosque, demonstrating that we are bigger and more noble than the Taliban and al Qaeda. Though whether the Taliban and al Qaeda would actually interpret it that way is something they don’t seem to want to deal with.

    This point confuses me the most. [Sips beer.] Why are we caring about what the Taliban or al-Qaeda thinks of the decision? [Swig] They’re perfectly free to misinterpret our intentions. If they want to declare victory or some such, or view it as a capitulation of some sort [draughts mightily], why should that delusion have any purchase in our analyses?

    It’s like caring what a conservative imam thinks about us drinking beer. They may idiotically think we do it to spite Allah, but the beer still tastes mighty good.

  124. #124 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    *blinks*

    You need a *licence* for that sort of business? In the UK, for stuff avoiding finance/food/health, unless you’re turning over >70k GBP a year, you don’t even need to register for VAT (Although you can often save by doing it anyway).

    Of course, by the time it’s complicated your tax life, you might as well register a company and avoid the risk of being a sole trader since you’ll need to keep accounts anyway. (Costs £20 to form a company with the online form, and you need to submit a yearly account)

  125. #125 |  Joe | 

    Elemenope, [swig] I agree. This very cold beer is delicious! [swig]

  126. #126 |  BSK | 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwaNRWMN-F4

    Looks like some of the opponents, at least the most vocal ones, are far more “extremist” than the Imam appears to be.

  127. #127 |  Donald | 

    With regard to the story about Philadelphia, things will never get better as long as mofo’s have this attitude “cash-strapped cities can’t very well ignore potential sources of income”

  128. #128 |  Joe | 

    Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf says US killed more “inocent” Muslims than al Qaeda.

    Because it is all about bridge building. And if you are going to raise $100 million for your Islamic center overseas, you have to keep your target audience happy. And he is traveling on the U.S. tax payers dime.

    But no screaming.

    I am having another dunkelweizen now.

  129. #129 |  Joe | 

    If Iman says that stuff in Australia, what does he say to Arabic speaking audiences?

    Acutally the quote is curious, Iman Rauf says the U.S. has killed more Muslims than al Qaeda has killed innocent non Muslims. What constitutes being innocent is not defined. So the United States is responsible for deaths in Iraq for enforcing the sanctions of Saddam’s government (and Saddam denying aid to presumably Kurish and Shiite children)? Really, was the US wrong to enforce the embargo on Saddam?

    Excuse me, I am having another dunkelweizen.

  130. #130 |  JOR | 

    “Acutally the quote is curious, Iman Rauf says the U.S. has killed more Muslims than al Qaeda has killed innocent non Muslims.”

    He’s absolutely correct about that.

    “So the United States is responsible for deaths in Iraq for enforcing the sanctions of Saddam’s government (and Saddam denying aid to presumably Kurish and Shiite children)?”

    If the US just decided to randomly blockade Iraq for no reason, would they be responsible for the results? If so, why aren’t they responsible for the results of it just because they did it as deliberate terrorism (i.e. to pressure Iraqis into turning against their government)?

    If the Soviets had nuked us way back during the Cold War, would the US government have been the ones really responsible for the ongoing suffering of Americans because they fled to all those tax-built secret bunkers to save their own skins, and left the rest of us to the mercy of the apocalypse?

    Maybe they would be, but surely culpability isn’t zero-sum.

  131. #131 |  BSK | 

    What about all the citizens killed in Iraq and Afghanistan? I believe the number is in the hundreds of thousands. Obviously, because of the nature of both wars, it is sometimes hard to determine who is a citizen and who is an enemy combatant. But unless the numbers are off 30-fold or more, it’s still pretty assured that we have killed more innocent Muslims than Al Qaeda has killed innocent Americans.

  132. #132 |  BSK | 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_toll_of_the_Iraq_War

    Joe, you seem pretty content to simply ignore the truth on some of these issues. Just because we don’t like the truth or it paints America in a bad light does NOT mean that the Imam is wrong.

    I’m not necessarily saying that these casualties indicate America is “wrong” to wage these wars or that we intended to kill as many citizens as we did, but the fact remains is that over 100,000 civilians are dead as the direct result of our actions in just two countries. Al Qaeda has killed there share of Americans, but no where near 100K. That’s simply the facts.

    (This ignores the Afghan death toll, which is significantly lower and harder to estimate, because the comments won’t let me post multiple links.)

  133. #133 |  rob sama | 

    I fail to understand why my initial comment generated the response it did. The purpose of having separate Sharia courts for muslims is so that they can adjudicate things which would be considered crimes within larger liberal society, things such as beating one’s wife. And Vice versa as well, treating adultery as a punishable offense when society respects a person’s right to sleep with whom they please.

    What was shocking to me was to see Radley take a puff piece from none other than the New York Times, and treat it as if it were a serious and balanced piece of journalism. There is clearly more to this guy than what the times presents. Don’t believe me? Try Christopher Hitchens.

    I don’t dispute their right to build a mosque on land they purchased, though I do think it is in bad taste. However, that is a far far cry from saying that the Imam involved is a stand-up guy. He isn’t. And a serious discussion would at least attempt to acknowledge that.

  134. #134 |  Joe | 

    The US has not killed “over 100,000″ in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 100,000 number was bandied about in Iraq and proven to be false. Not even close.

    What I thought was odd about the Iman’s statement is it leaves out the thousands of innocent Muslims that al Qaeda has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    But hey, Christopher Hitchens (while sparing no scorn for those on the right deserving it like Newt Gingrich) points out the good Iman is actually not so good.

    Is Hitch screaming? I do not think so. I agree that we need not have Gingrich’s OTT rhetoric, and certainly no calls for government intervention (which is counter productive), when sober and rational speech would do.

  135. #135 |  Joe | 

    BSK, obviously a lot of people died in Iraq. But it is not the US that caused the majority of those deaths. Many thousands of Iraqis died as a result of suicide bombings (your wikipedia source lists over a 1000 such attacks), criminal attacks and other infighting in Iraq. Nor am I going to blame Bill Clinton and US policy for abuses done by Saddam when the arms embargo was being enforced.

    There is plenty of blame to direct to the U.S. for its failures, but gross body counts need to be analyzed.

  136. #136 |  BSK | 

    So, Joe, what do you think the number that is directly attributable to the US is? You want to split hairs and then act as if that dismissed the whole notion. Even if we ignore the indirect deaths, something you seem to insist upon, there are still thousands of deaths that can be directly attributed to the US. It’s also unclear as to whether you are referring to Muslims or non-Muslims killed at the hands of Al Qaeda, since you mention both and offer no attempt to clarify which comparison you are making.

    I still find it pretty ignorant for you to say we have no culpability in deaths that happened as a result of our policies or actions, even if it wasn’t American servicemen pulling the trigger or pushing the button. By that logic, Osama hasn’t killed anyone in America, given that he didn’t pilot those planes or build any bombs. You can’t apply the definition of “accountability” differently to different groups just because it suits your agenda.

    Rob-

    I think the issue is that there is no clear evidence that your interpretation of the quote is what the Imam meant. Maybe he wants a court to adjudicate over issues of spousal abuse and maybe he just wants a court that can determine what food is legitimately halal or anything in between. You jumped to the most extreme possible interpretation and application of what he spoke of and I think most people, rightfully, thought that was in poor form for intellectual discussion.

  137. #137 |  BSK | 

    There are also serious issues with the double-talk with which our government/media refers to some of the combatants we fight. We use the term “insurgents” or “terrorists” to label those still attacking US and coalition forces as an attempt to take legitimacy away from the groups and their actions. However, those terms also imply that the individuals are not official members of recognized armed forces. Yet we want to consider their deaths in that way. Now, I’m not arguing that these individuals ought to be considered “innocent civilians” as there is nothing innocent about their actions. But we can’t on one hand say they are not military personnel when they attack us and on the other hand say they are not citizens when we kill them. We need to use more consistent and accurate terminology or there is little ability to cut through the propaganda to get to the truth.

    I’m not saying this should necessarily have any impact on our approach to responding to these groups/individuals (I think there is a lot more that draws that into question). But I do think it is duplicitous of us to make up definitions as we go along as they suit our political agendas.

  138. #138 |  rob sama | 

    BSK: You’re on crack. Courts are not requires to determine a Halal label any more than they are required to determine a Kosher one. I am not jumping to conclusions, because Shaira courts are starting to pop up in Britain now. It is not a benign suggestion to say that special courts should be set up for people depending on their religious background. It is antithetical to everything that this country stands for. If you can’t see that then I don’t know what to day…

  139. #139 |  BSK | 

    rob-

    My point is that the Imam made no specific comments about the courts being used to adjudicate issues of spousal abuse.

    The quote you offered says: “allow religious communities more leeway to judge among themselves according to their own laws.”

    Why am I the one on crack because I don’t imagine things in the quote that aren’t there? There are lots of ways that can be interpreted, but you are upset that YOUR interpretation is not the one most widely accepted. And I’m the one on crack?

    Mind you, I’m not necessarily advocating that his ideas be realized, only that his quote does not indicate explicitly what are you saying it does. Why don’t we actually deal with the facts as presented and not gross interpretations of them.

  140. #140 |  BSK | 

    Looking at all the areas of life that Sharia law applies to, it is just as likely that the Imam was speaking about “judging among themselves” with regards to a poor tax, prayer, inheritance, marriage/divorce, food, gambling, dress, and much, much more as he was to spousal abuse.

    I do not think it would be appropriate for our government to, in any way, meet the Imam’s request and lend credence to the application of laws that are in direct conflict with the Constitution (I wouldn’t be so bothered if they violated other laws that weren’t necessarily Constitutionally based). I don’t support turning areas of our country into mini-theocracies, no matter what religion would hold court. I think an interesting argument COULD be made that justifies such entities assuming entirely voluntary membership and opportunities to exit freely, but that is not the topic of conversation right now.

    The fact remains, is there is no evidence that the Imam was advocating that Muslims be permitted to abuse their wives because of what is in their religious law. FWIW, I have not found anything explicitly codified in the Koran or Sharia law that permits or encourages spousal abuse, though I am not an expert in such matters. What happens in practice does not necessarily indicate what is written into the books.

  141. #141 |  qwints | 

    Rob, there are absolutely courts that determine whether food is kosher or not.

  142. #142 |  Joe | 

    qwints is right. Usually it comes up under consumer protection (saying somethng is Kosher and it turning out it is not). Because real Kosher costs more. The more recent version of this scam is claiming something is organic and it turns out it is not.

  143. #143 |  Joe | 

    But in Canada, the courts there will let Muslims work out their own issues (e.g., Muslim men oppressing Muslim women who step out of line).

  144. #144 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    The UK “Shariah Courts” only handle civil cases and arbitration. The ability of adults in the UK to settle civil cases and do arbitration via a mutually agreed body is something which has been true for, literally, centuries.

  145. #145 |  Joe | 

    Leon Wolfeson, you good with that on family law matters too? Arbitration on a civil case is fine. Arbitration on family law matters, not so much.

  146. #146 |  Joe | 

    Family courts have their problems, but they generally frown on drowning female family members in the pool for shaming the family.

  147. #147 |  Joe | 

    <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-08-24/ground-zero-mosque-vs-balloon-boy-media-frenzy/"Only $90K raised so far?

    Is Iman Feisal the August 2010 balloon boy?

    I guess David Frum is right.

  148. #148 |  Joe | 

    Link fixed

  149. #149 |  Joe | 

    Only $90K raised by Iman Feisal?

    So where is the $99,910,000 coming from?

  150. #150 |  BSK | 

    Where in the Koran does it say that, by Sharia law or any other standard, drowning or abusing one’s wife is permissible? Seriously, where is that written?

    Just because folks do it and try to justify it with the Koran does not mean it is IN the Koran and/or that other followers of Islam will replicate such horrific behavior.

  151. #151 |  Joe | 

    BSK–the Koran is actually kind of progressive, from a 7th century perspective. And the Prophet Mohammed did not hate women, or treat women in his life badly for the time (although the Aisha marriage age difference seems questionable even for back then).

    But with the rise of Wahabbism and Salafism in Islam has changed that. And while that sort of strict fundamentalism is not common in the United States, it is growing here, in Canada and is becoming almost a norm elsewhere, especially in Europe.

  152. #152 |  BSK | 

    Joe-

    I understand that is the reality in practice in many places, and it is regrettable and deplorable that that is the case. Regrettable because, as you said, for a long time Islam was at the forefront of providing/protecting woman’s rights (up until about the 19th/20th century, depending on where you were). And deplorable because any such treatment of woman (or anyone else for that matter) is never justified, whether it is a religious text or anything else that is being used as the justification.

    But the reason to make distinct what the Koran and Shariah law actually says and what is practiced in certain countries is because much of the animosity towards Muslims is premised on, “There books says to kill woman for breathing! How can we accept them!”-type arguments. But the books do not say that, at least not that I’ve seen. So while there is reason to object to the practices, and probably legitimate concern about the potential for such practices to spread, it is unfair to act as if those believes are inherent to the religion and, thus, applicable to all those who follow it. While we may rightfully be weary of how Shariah law could/would be practiced here in America based on its practice elsewhere, I’d rather let the Muslims here proved that they should be restricted in this way rather than assume they will and restrict them from the get go.

    Again, I’m not saying that Shariah law should become codified in the American legal system or otherwise legitimized. But I don’t think it’s fair to say that everyone who believes in following Shariah law or advocates its adoption is a raving wife beater, even if so many elsewhere are.

  153. #153 |  BSK | 

    I should add, when I say we wait and see what Muslims pursuing Shariah Law do here before we attempt to restrict Shariah Law, that obviously existing laws regarding spousal abuse and the like should be rigorously enforced. If a Muslim says he wants to practice Shariah Law, we should not assume that means he wants to beat his wife because there is nothing in the Koran that links the two. Should he prove to be a wife beater, than throw his ass in jail. Should every Muslim looking to practice Shariah Law prove to be a wife beater, than I think it is reasonable to consider restrictions on the practice. Just wanted to clarify.

  154. #154 |  Elemenope | 

    That Arrogant Bastard Ale is delicious! Damn expensive, but sharp and tasty. Perhaps *slightly* too sharp (I still prefer Newcastle), but a good brew nonetheless.

    Thanks for the tip.

  155. #155 |  Joe | 

    BSK, The Koran is a series of revelations over time. What started off moderate became increasingly harsher (the Medina vs. Mecca revelations). So if you read it and find parts that are very moderate, those tend to be the earlier translations. Islamic scholars interpret authority accordingly (later is controlling). But the Koran is just a general outline. Then the Hadiths, or the written history of the Prophet, along with the Sunnah, or the custom and practice of the Prophet and his early followers, are a huge part of Sharia. You have to understand it all to understand Sharia.

    Salafists believe the history of first three generations of Muslims are instructive on how everyone should live. They believe any deviation (not in technology but custom and practice) is a deviation against Islam. Hence the 7th century views of how women should act.

  156. #156 |  rob sama | 

    BSK,

    Sharia law says all kind of nasty things, including death sentences for apostates. The point is, this country was founded precisely on the idea (among others) that the church is not the one who creates or adjudicates laws. If you think that’s a bad premise on which to found a society, then fine. You may keep with the company of the ground zero imam. I do not, and I especially do not take kindly to the suggestion that local religious groups ought to be allowed to live under a separate set of laws than the rest of us. Hence I see this imam as a menace. He has a right to be here and to build his mosque, but he is not a good guy. Which is why I was so surprised to see Radley post that link the other day.

  157. #157 |  BSK | 

    rob-

    I never said I agree with the premise. In fact, I expressed that I disagree. I did note that, especially within a libertarian context, there is an interesting argument to be made for a group of people to be self-governing, assuming certain stipulations based on affiliation and barriers of exit.

    Now, as to the Imam, it all depends on how you interpret his statements. You interpret them to be a pronouncement in favor of Muslims being allowed to beat their wives without punishment, which is a rather extreme interpretation. At the other end of the spectrum is the interpretation that he’s simply advocating for local, group-based governance, speaking specifically about religious groups being allowed to govern themselves. Again, I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it’s far less scary when it’s put that way. Who’s to say which of us is right? Obviously, we don’t know, because the Imam did not elaborate on his statement enough for either of us to know for sure. As such, we should discuss what he actually said instead of what he might have meant.

    Joe-

    Thanks for the info. It seems we still run into the problem of practice vs theory with an admittedly scary legacy of practice. Yet, I still think, absent any direct evidence that folks here want to beat their wives (or engage in any other such crimes), they should be free to pursue, practice, and express their religion freely.

Leave a Reply