Friday, July 30, 2010

Terrorism Politics, GOP-Style

Talking Points Memo has a rundown on GOP opposition to Cordoba House, a mosque and community center which would be housed in an existing 13-story building two blocks from Ground Zero (and out of its sight) in New York City, NY.

* Newt Gingrich, from his website: "There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.... The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over."

* Sarah Palin, from one of her tweets on the subject: "Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing."

* Peter King, representing neighboring Queens and Long Island and the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee: "It's a house of worship, but we are at war with al-Qaeda," King said. "I think the 9/11 families have a right to know where the funding comes from; I think there are significant questions."

* Carl Paladino, Republican primary candidate for governor of New York: "....the Islamic fundamentalists are Fascists - women have limited rights, there is no free speech or freedom of expression, and citizens are subject to the often barbaric Sharia Law. I oppose a mosque near the site of Ground Zero, not because of race, but because of the ideology of the Islamic fundamentalists."

* Rick Lazio, Republican primary candidate for governor of New York, challenging presumptive Democratic nominee Cuomo to a debate on the sole topic of the center: "You have called those of us who oppose building this mosque racists and bigots. You should be ashamed of yourself. To get real answers I suggest that we debate this issue in an open forum to be covered by the news media. Your position on this issue is so wrong and I recognize you may not want to defend it but all the same I am asking you to do just that."

* Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor: " not only is exactly the wrong place, at Ground Zero, but it is a mosque supported by an imam who has a record of support for causes that were sympathetic with terrorism."

* Bernie Kerik, former New York City police commissioner, Giuliani friend, and current prison inmate, by tweet: "If we let them defile ground zero with a beachhead for sharia we will validate their sense of victory on 9/11 and encourage future attacks on America. No mosque at Ground Zero."

It's tempting to agree with these guys, or at least take them seriously. They are guided, no doubt, by the special connection Americans have ("NYPD" hats and shirts, "first responders," etc.) with the site of the worst terrorist attack in American history.

Or are they? TPM reports that an Islamic community center planned for Murfreesboro, Tennessee has been criticized by Tennessee's Republican Lieutenant Governor, who states "now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want to call it;" and by the campaign manager of a GOP congressional primary candidate, who contends "Here's what we're seeing. We're seeing it as -- this isn't a mosque. They're building an Islamic center to teach Sharia law." (Murfreesboro is 754 miles from Manhattan, NY.)

On Fox News yesterday, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), engaging in a shouting match (video below) with Peter King, called the GOP out for its politics of convenience. It seems twelve- 12- Republican member (including King) of the United States House of Representatives saw fit to vote for HR 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. This, DailyKos explains, "would have provided up to $7.4 billion in aid to the survivors of 9/11, including all the first responders who breathed in all manner of toxins in the aftermath of the attacks." Twelve Republicans. In the Fox News interview that gave rise to the video, Rep. King is seen as criticizing the process used to bring the measure to a vote and claiming that Democrats should have been able to pass a bill because they constitute the majority in the House. But allow Rep. Michael E. McMahon (D-NY) to explain why a bill which gained support of 94% of Democrats and 7% of Republicans did not pass (215-158):

It is customary practice in the US House of Representatives to bring non-controversial votes on the suspension calendar, as opposed to be regular order. On a suspension vote, 2/3 of those present are needed for a vote to pass; on regular order, a simple majority is needed.

However, with HR 847, the path to passage was far less certain. Under regular order, House Republicans planned to bring a Motion to Recommit that would serve to kill the bill. Because Republicans refused to agree that they would not bring such a Motion that would be a “poison pill” for the effort, House leadership decided to move the bill on the suspension calendar as a first step to pass this critical legislation.

Of course, Republicans wanted to kill a bill for health benefits for survivors of the 9/11/01 attacks. If "9/11" can be used as a mere prop by Rudy Giuliani (video way below), there is little reason Republicans would care about aiding families of those who gave their lives in the disaster the GOP continues to use for political gain.

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