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Addendum: But where's the money coming from?

The question raised about the ICC center at 51 Park Place goes further.At the request of Bob Nunz, take a look at money flowing into other projects:Here's Frank Rich in Sunday's NYTimes: "The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party" from Saturday's Times: "Financiers Largess Shows G.O.P.s Wall St. Support" (also a swift boat supporter). money is speech in our polity, they have a right to do what they do with their moola. Of course, if we had a fairer tax system, they'd have less to do it with.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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And where would the Democrats be without major contributions from wealthy individuals and lobbying groups? I read the Frank Rich piece this morning, and have been watching the Times, Washington Post et al, sputtering in outrage and disbelief: how is it possible that a substantial number of Americans do not unequivocally support the Obama agenda? And much of the reporting on the Beck/Palin rally dismissed those who attended as being, essentially, poor white trash. With photos of some unfashionably obese white folks in lawn chairs at the rally. Political organizing takes money. This is not news.

And George Sorros and Ted Turner aren't billionaires? Come on, let's stop with the false analogies that try to avoid the issue.This issue will never be addressed reasonably so long as this kind of nonsense goes on. They have a right to build their cultural center. They even have a right to have it funded by by the most anti-American groups they can find. But inquiring into that funding is perfectly reasonable and prudent. Why would you object to that unless you simply are afraid of the answer.

It all comes down to this: let the Imam speak and answer questions.

Jim S. Off topic! Sean Hannaway: okay all's fair in politics and fund raising. I don't see that Soros and Co. have been funding efforts to destroy reputations and administrations. Jane Meyer on the Koch Brothers: "The Texas branch of Americans for Prosperity gave its Blogger of the Year Award to a young woman named Sibyl West. On June 14th, West, writing on her site, described Obama as the cokehead in chief. In an online thread, West speculated that the President was exhibiting symptoms of demonic possession (aka schizophrenia, etc.). The summit featured several paid speakers, including Janine Turner, the actress best known for her role on the television series Northern Exposure. She declared, They dont want our children to know about their rights. They dont want our children to know about a God!Read more

Margaret - no it's not!!!!! Sean mentions the fact the the real issue is being avoided - I am stating what the real issue is - you may not want to hear it - let them build and I don't care from whom they receive the money, but he needs to communicate and answer questions - today we hear the the Imam's response is that the Islamic Center issue is a "November issue - thanks for telling us.

Guess you missed this in post below: "Mr. Gamal hopes to raise $70 million through tax-exempt bonds, which religiously affiliated nonprofit groups can obtain but only if they prove that the facilities will benefit the general public, with religious functions separately financed. "He wants to recruit a board of business and civic leaders Christians, Jews and Muslims to raise an additional $30 million to $40 million for the nonprofits stake in the building. Russell Simmons, the hip-hop mogul, has signed on. But controversy complicates recruiting, and donations will be squeezed by the economy and scrutinized by opponents who wonder if money will come from radical Islamist groups or hostile governments. "Mr. Gamal has told supporters that he will take no money linked to un-American values and that donations will be vetted by federal and state authorities and separate boards for the center and the mosque."

MargaretGeorge Soros wasn't trying to destroy reputations and administrations? As we used to say - What are you smoking?Have you read the nonsense posted by move.on for the last 8 years and more? The people you complain about are late-comers to the blogosphere nastiness. Bush was Satan, according to them. No, check that, Bush was Hitler. Cheney was Satan. I understand you agree with them, but that doesn't mean that objectively they didn't engage in exactly the same type of activity, if not more so.Please, before I get the, "there you go again, with the everyone does it defense," that's not my point. The point is that this, "Where do you get your money?" stuff is irrelevant unless where they get their money matters.Conservatives fund the tea party - wow, big surprise. Now, if you were able to show they got most of their money from the Aryan Nation or Nazi skinheads - now that would be a story. If the proposed center's money is coming from sources that fund terrorism, are you saying that isn't a legitimate story?

Just back from the eye doctor for my annual (hopefully) checkup.In the waiting room I picked up the first magazine -July 12 Time and the headline "The Best Laws Money Can But."All about lobbying.Maybe Cathy can tell us if there's any morality/ethic on that topic.Of course there's the think tanks sponsored by big money whose function is to spin out carefully crafted gerealizations for their ideology under the name of some faux patriotic title.And then the media, especially "fair and balanced " Fox News and the rest of the Murdoch machine.(I'm tired by the way of folks complaining about the other side"s money usage instead of acknowledging the faults of their own pets.)The problem is that our ideologically divided Supreme Court has said money is "free speech" -in any quantity.In the meantime, the coinages of intellectual honesty, objectivity and reasonable public discourse have been debased,But it;s all right not to care as long as my ideoloby triumphs. YUK.

Forgot to thank Ms. Steinfels for the thread.I also noted that the issue of big money affects the Church - not just in its charities.As in politics, it's more than "speech" but access and policy influence.A week or two ago over lunch, a friend told me that a guy she knows had been made a Knight of something or other in the Church and when she asked "How could HE be a knight?" was told, " The contribution was big enough."Twould be interesting to know on the inside how much money talks in the halls of ecclesial policy makers.

JimS.: Read around, and stop yelling. You sound like an inquisitor. We get it. You believe the imam owes you some answers. Send him a letter.Sean: There you go again.

Grant - whenever a comment does not align with the premise of a Commonweal blog, it's "there you go again", it's "irrelevant", it's "not on topic" - I can only assume from your advice to "send him a letter" you don't want to hear from him - he might ruin the two weeks of rants by you at al. -

GrantHow so? Margaret points to site criticizing the funding of some parts of the tea party movement as somehow sinister.I point out that there is nothing sinister about that at all - I never said Soros were doing anything sinister, just that they were doing the same thing she is criticizing others for. I apologize for getting a little off topic, but saying George Soros and the people he funds didn't try to destroy reputations or an administration is so outrageously false I had to respond.The point at issue isn't that someone rich is funding something (regardless of ideology), but whether someone criminal is funding something. It seems to me that's something everyone should be concerned with.

The super-rich are destroying our ability to have democratic governance so that they can manage the economy and the government for their own benefit. Libertarian and conservatives are doing a better job at it than liberals and progressives--alas!

On further reflection, I don't think Soros and Turner are into grinding the faces of the poor in the mud.More on the Koch Brothers from Jane Meyer:"As their fortunes grew, Charles and David Koch became the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America. Charless goal, as Doherty described it, was to tear the government out at the root. The brothers first major public step came in 1979, when Charles persuaded David, then thirty-nine, to run for public office. They had become supporters of the Libertarian Party, and were backing its Presidential candidate, Ed Clark, who was running against Ronald Reagan from the right. Frustrated by the legal limits on campaign donations, they contrived to place David on the ticket, in the Vice-Presidential slot; upon becoming a candidate, he could lavish as much of his personal fortune as he wished on the campaign. The tickets slogan was The Libertarian Party has only one source of funds: You. In fact, its primary source of funds was David Koch, who spent more than two million dollars on the effort. "Many of the ideas propounded in the 1980 campaign presaged the Tea Party movement. Ed Clark told The Nation that libertarians were getting ready to stage a very big tea party, because people were sick to death of taxes. The Libertarian Party platform called for the abolition of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., as well as of federal regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Energy. The Party wanted to end Social Security, minimum-wage laws, gun control, and all personal and corporate income taxes; it proposed the legalization of prostitution, recreational drugs, and suicide. Government should be reduced to only one function: the protection of individual rights. William F. Buckley, Jr., a more traditional conservative, called the movement Anarcho-Totalitarianism.Read more

JimS.: How many times are you planning to demand the imam answer your questions (whatever they are)? You seem to think he's hiding something. What? Do you even know? Who's ranting now?Sean, as you predicted, it seems to me that your "hey, they do this bad thing too!" tick is acting up again. I'm not sure what you think it gets you.

Re: Frank Rich - I propose a law, analogous to Godwin's Law, in which any commentator who uses the term "fat cats" unironically, automatically loses.

Are you a cat lover?

charientic judgments that get at an ick factor produced by, say, bodily fluids, small squishy bugs, every single episode of CSI, etc.

GrantPardon me - but your reading skills are failing you. I said there isn't a "bad thing" going on. Frank Rich and Margaret are saying a "bad thing" is going on.What they really mean, it seems to me, is that rich people who spend their own money to promote their political ideals are bad - if they are conservative.It is thus for almost any neutral principle for progressives -Public demonstrations and civil disobedience are wonderful expressions of the American spirit, unless it is the Tea Party - then it's a dangerous, racist threat to societyTolerance is a must, unless you are a "fundie" or a "tight right" CatholicFree speech is wonderful, unless you are a successful conservative voice - then we need to figure out a way to dummy you up

Sean, that's the same old poor us conservatives just doing what everybody does excuse for misuse of money - under the rubric of"free speech."I think the argument that intoleranbce is at play here is disingenuous given say the Fox mosque coverage.i also think that the issue of race is 9in play very much and to fob it off that way is just seting up straw man and hindering real discusion.

Hi Sean - your point is solid and verified by the new blog by Eduardo on the assault of a Sikh - one writer of fiction related that the difference between reality and fiction is that fiction makes sense - maybe that's why progressives are so comfortable with fiction.

Sean: Allow me to edit myself. Should have said "hey, they do this thing you think is bad, too!" Honestly, I don't know how you do it. If I were as constantly aggrieved as you seem to be, I'd stay in bed.

Grant: again, projection!!! It's always something's wrong with somebody else.

You think you have a point, Jim, I know. But you don't.

Margaret - I am a cat owner, and do find them, on occasion, worthy of bestowing affection, just as they find me, on occasion, worthy of paying notice (those times being their definitions of meal times).One of them is, to put it baldly, a fat cat, who spends many daytime hours napping (on my side of the bed) but who, when occasion arises, as when an outside door is opened, becomes a gray-and-black blur.

Thus, a member of the Cat Anti-Defamation League!

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