The mosque issue (Five by 8 – 8/16/10)

The issue that won’t go away, how money is buying justice, would you unplug for a week, where’s Peter Sagal, and renting a bike in Minneapolis.

The Monday Morning Rouser. This was recorded just a couple of doors down from the radio station I worked at in a small Massachusetts town — Great Barrington by name — before I left there to seek my fortune in Minnesota.

1) “This issue does not appear to be going away,” a reporter for ABC’s Good Morning America intoned this morning while doing a story on the proposed mosque/community center in Manhattan. The story led all three morning TV news shows today. Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison debated a colleague from New York on the issue this morning.

“It’s directly inapplicable. Every school kid knows the Pilgrims came here for religious liberty,” Ellison said. “If a group can be stopped from their house of worship… that’ll be a setback for the idea that you can worship as you see fit in America. That’s not the Constitution that the framers wrote. If you don’t let this Islamic community center here, why say it can go forward anywhere? You can always say this is not the right time, or the right place, but Martin Luther King said you can’t put a timeline on someone else’s freedom.”

“With every right, there’s responsibility. And it’s the responsibility of Muslim leaders to recognize the hurt here,” Rep. Peter King countered.

(If the video doesn’t load, go here.)

Will the mosque/community center issue affect how you vote in November?Market Research

2) A new report this morning should reignite the debate over whether judges should be appointed or elected. The report from the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, Justice at Stake, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics, says that “so much money is pouring into state judicial races from outside groups that it’s beginning to undermine public confidence in the courts,” according to NPR.

It couldn’t have happened without a landmark Supreme Court ruling on a Republican Party of Minnesota claim that Minnesota’s ban on judicial candidates revealing their political philosophies was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court agreed. Lawyers, lobbyists, and business raised the bulk of the contributions to judicial candidates. Minnesota ranked 17th in the country for the amount of money raised for Supreme Court candidates between 2007 and 2009. But Minnesota is one of only two states where judicial candidates did not run TV ads.

3) Would you unplug for a week? A handful of volunteers agreed to give up their technology for a week. They’ve now submitted their findings… with the help of technology.

In at least one case, the New York Times reports, the effect was most pronounced on other people trying to reach the disconnected:

But for many, finding the right balance can be hard. James Cornell, 18, spent his day away from his cellphone feeling jittery, and worried that he was annoying people by not responding to them. John Stark, 46, told his friends that he wouldn’t be responding to text messages, expecting them to call him on the phone if they needed to communicate. They sent text messages to his wife instead, asking her to relay information to him.

4) Where was Peter Sagal for this week’s “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me!”? Home in bed, blogging with his morphine. He got hit by a car while riding his bike last week. A blogger on morphine bears close watching:

Anybody who goes through this ends up with a lot of thoughts to process; it’s quite literally a near-death experience (I’m pretty sure that without my helmet I’d either be dead or near it). Right now, though, instead of thinking about What I Should Be Doing With My Life Now That I’ve Got a Second Chance (chances are, I’ll waste it reading blogs, like I do now) I’m just… amazed at the system we have in place to take care of people like me when stuff like this happens. Bystanders called 911; the ambulance and police were there within moments. I was taken right to a hospital with trauma docs at the ready, who alleviated my pain and would have been ready if I had been more badly injured than I was. And of course, I’ve got a tremendous support system in my family and my colleagues and my employers and all of you…

The key phrase, though, is, “people like me.” Meaning, in this case, people with a good job and excellent health insurance. This ain’t the time to go political on anyone, but, man, I’d hate to have been lying there, on that pavement, shaking and in shock, wondering, “How am I going to pay for this?”

5) I’ve been feeling pretty guilty passing people riding their bikes for the last few weeks. There they were out there in the heat and humidity and there I was in the luxury, air conditioned, Chevy Cavalier. Now that the weather has changed, it’s the bikers’ turn to feel sorry for me and everyone else stuck in a car. In that vein, Graham Lampa has produced a video on how to rent a Niceride bike in Minneapolis.

(h/t: The Deets)

Bonus: Teenagers can’t help it. They’re teenagers.


Latest reports say the U.S. trade deficit expanded by nearly 19 percent, a bigger jump than expected. Demand for American products is weak in Europe. But what about here? How great an effort do you make to buy US-made goods rather than imports?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Both the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and University System are embarking on searches to find their next chief executives. In an era of low budgets and high expectations, the job of college president might be tougher than ever. Midmorning explores the question, “What does it take to be a creative, effective, innovative college president in the 21st century?”

Second hour: Why do we like spicy food so hot we can barely eat it? Why do we appreciate artwork more when we know it was created by a famous artist? There are many mysteries about human pleasure, and Yale professor Paul Bloom, author of “How Pleasure Works” discusses them.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: St. Olaf College political scientist Dan Hofrenning discusses the Minnesota gubernatorial election.

Second hour: From the Aspen Ideas Festival: Charlayne Hunter-Gault tells her life story, beginning as the first black woman to attend University of Georgia.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The controversy over building mosques.

Second hour: Why are so few Americans able to swim?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A new study finds walleye in the Mississippi river are consistently exposed to emerging contaminants like endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals. But the chemicals are apparently not affecting reproduction of the state’s iconic fish. MPR’s Dan Gunderson will report.

  • Pete

    What part of “Congress shall make no law” is so tough to understand? There is not exception for which religion in question. For reference see below:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  • JackU

    I’ll admit to not following the mosque issue too closely. Is there a movement in Congress to pass a law to block this?

    Pete and others: I would go here to get a sense of Madison’s view on the establishment clause and religion and the government. In particular scroll down to the section with the heading “Madison’s definition of ‘establishment'”.

  • Montana Miles

    Obama wants people treated equally under the Constitution? That from his statement. Well the Greek Orthodox Church has been waiting for nine years to rebuild and is still waiting to get the go ahead to rebuild their Church in the Ground Zero area, on land they actually own.

    Looks like the Mosque has to wait at least nine years according to your words Mr. President to get to the point of waiting, on land they actually do not own. That means they also would have to buy the land from Con Edison. Let me see now who is my electric provider?

    The words of President Obama applied on an equal basis.

  • BJ

    I saw somone refering to the federalist papers as points of law the other day on this topic (mosque) discussion. While they are great source of understanding they are simply essays advocating the ratification of the United States Constitution.

  • Montana Miles

    President Obama Hamas states the Ground Zero Mosque must be built.

    President Obama

    The United States calls Hamas a terrorist group.

    Does President Obama agree with Hamas?

    Read following article, view link . . .

  • Montana Miles

    Following article states President Obama protects 9/11 attackers from being sued!

    On May 29 – just five days before President Obama made his first state visit to Saudi Arabia – Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed a brief arguing that it would be “unwarranted” for the Supreme Court to hear cases brought by the families against five of Saudi King Abdullah’s closest relatives for financing the attacks. The group, named the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism, charges that “five Saudi princes knowingly and intentionally provided financial support to al Qaeda waging war on America.”

    Read more at:

  • Montana Miles

    Actually it is not the 9/11 attackers but those that gave them money for the attack, that according to the following link! Those are the people that Obama is defending?

    Read more at:

  • brian

    It really embarrasses me how much a stink this has caused. I wouldn’t be surprised by some protests on the fringe, but I am saddened by how wide spread they are. I expect more from our country.

    What incentive is there for a radical muslim to change his or her mind about the US when this happens? One of this community center’s main purposes is to help spread moderate islam. We should be celebrating this!

  • Bob Collins

    The Greek Orthodox Church story isn’t quite so simple. It basically was ON ground zero and is under the control of the Port Authority. For it to be constructed, the southern wall has to be built and there are to be bomb screening areas for whatever is build on the WTC site directly underneath it.

    In order for the project to proceed, the church has to exchange property with the NY Port Authority.

    The new site is on the property where the Deutsche Bank stood. It was torn down years after the WTC towers fell.

    The main problem is that it’s one of 26 interconnected projects at the WTC site.

    The mosque project is on a parcel that is PARTLY owned by ConEd.

    As for President Obama, he never said “the mosque must be built.” Here’s part of what he said. The full video is on an earlier News Cut post:

    As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. (Applause.) And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.


    we need schools and mosques