Interest groups are spending five times as much on the 2010 congressional elections as they did on the last midterms, and they are more secretive than ever about where that money is coming from.
The $80 million spent so far by groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties dwarfs the $16 million spent at this point for the 2006 midterms. In that election, the vast majority of money - more than 90 percent - was disclosed along with donors' identities. This year, that figure has fallen to less than half of the total, according to data analyzed by The Washington Post.
The trends amount to a spending frenzy conducted largely in the shadows.
The bulk of the money is being spent by conservatives, who have swamped their Democratic-aligned competition by 7 to 1 in recent weeks. The wave of spending is made possible in part by a series of Supreme Court rulings unleashing the ability of corporations and interest groups to spend money on politics. Conservative operatives also say they are riding the support of donors upset with Democratic policies they perceive as anti-business.
"The outside group spending is primarily being driven by the political climate," said Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College who studies campaign finance. "Organized groups are looking at great opportunity, and therefore there's great interest to spend money to influence the election. You've got the possibility of a change in the control of Congress."
The increase in conservative spending has come both from established groups and from groups only a few months old. On the left, major labor groups such as the Service Employees International Union have also ratcheted up their expenditures compared with 2006 but are unable to keep up with groups on the right. (More)
COMMENTARY: CAMPAIGN ATTACK ADS REACH SCUMMY LOWS - TOP
Amid the inanity coming from your television set in 30-second bursts, there is one politician's ad that sticks out as the scummiest so far.
It is an attack ad by Josh Mandel, ironically a likable and easygoing state representative from Lyndhurst who is running against Democratic state Treasurer Kevin Boyce.
Mandel apparently wants Boyce's job so badly that he is willing to resort to bigotry to get it.
Mandel's ad calls into question the relationship between Boyce's top assistant, Amer Ahmad, and a lobbyist named Noure Alo, whose bank was awarded a $32 million investment contract by the treasurer and whose wife was hired as a receptionist by Boyce.
All of that is fair game. But the Mandel ad crosses the line when the announcer says Alo's wife got the job that "Boyce admitted they only made available at their mosque."
The ad is sprinkled with images of Boyce, who is black, Alo, who is Muslim, and a picture of a mosque.
The real message of Mandel's ad is: "Hey voter, the state treasurer is a black man. And he's a Muslim. See, here's his mosque." (More)
OIC CALLS FOR A COLLECTIVE INITIATIVE TO COMBAT ISLAMOPHOBIA AND TERROR -TOP
As the entire international community is fighting the scourge of radicalization and terrorism, the OIC firmly believes that the effort to combat terrorism must be part of an overall endeavor aiming at building a better world based on cultural diversity, a world in which human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedom are properly respected. It should be clear to all that terrorism has no religion because it aims to spread enmity and destruction throughout civilized societies.
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
Since I was elected to the post of secretary general of the OIC, the world’s largest inter-governmental body after the United Nations, I have been working hard to make clear to all Muslims and our friends in the West, especially in the United States, that the OIC is a unique institution with a very modern, up-to-date Charter and a Ten Year Program of Action. This Program is propelled by a vision of moderation and modernization that emphasizes socio-economic development, multi-lateralism, human rights and cultural dialogue as key items on its agenda.
The OIC voices the consensual views and attitudes of the Muslim world, coordinates the joint actions of its Member States in all domains of activity, and reflects the true and real image of Islam, based on tolerance, peace, pluralism and acknowledgement of diversity. The OIC advocates dialogue with other faiths and civilizations and above all seeks to achieve a historic reconciliation between the Muslim world and West. (More)
CAIR-CHICAGO BACKS VOTER REGISTRATION - TOP
What do these two things have in common: Rahm Emanuel's official entry into Chicago's mayoral race and the probability of the Bears making it to Super Bowl XLV?
Answer: Both topics are taking up space and time in the heads of plenty of people who are eligible to vote in the Nov. 2 election but probably won't because "I didn't know" how/when/where or when the deadline to register was and, of course, "What's the point?"
We all have other things on our minds. I totally get that. I'm personally focused on procuring good Chihuahua-size Halloween costumes. But while watching the posturing of all the would-be Chicago mayors these last few weeks has been tons of fun, that's all anyone with an interest in local politics seems to want to talk about, which means the Nov. 2 elections are being totally eclipsed by next February's election for mayor.
Which is exactly why I blew in a call to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners last week to ask how things are shaping up.
My first conversation was with spokesman Jim Allen.
"It's quiet -- and it's alarmingly quiet," he said. "People have leap-frogged to February. Given the significance of the issues confronting the country right now and the major offices on the ballot, our concern is that too many voters have put November 2nd on the back burner."
My next call went to the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties advocacy organization which, in partnership with the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, has been doing extensive community outreach to get people registered to vote. Spokeswoman Amina Sharif was as struck by the lack of interest as I am.
"I don't understand why people aren't passionate about getting out to vote," she said. "So many major things are happening right now . . . but people are just fed up and it makes them apathetic to vote." (More)
CAIR-MI: LETTER: MUSLIMS FACE ABUSE ACROSS U.S. - TOP
Nolan Finley's column, "Islam must turn the other cheek," (Sept. 12), was contradictory and short sighted, to say the least.
Islam is not responsible for the "lunatic fringe" that is protesting our nation because of the now canceled Quran burning of Terry Jones. A fringe by definition anyway means outside of the majority mainstream. American Muslims have overwhelmingly acted responsibly in the face of hatred spewed against us on cable television programs and radio talk shows and by bigots who desecrate our mosques and the Quran.
What is most disappointing about Finley's column is that it failed to acknowledge the toxic environment that has been stoked up domestically, not abroad, by media hounds that are competing to see who can show the most bigotry toward Islam and Muslims. Within recent months, a mosque was bombed in Florida, several mosques have been vandalized across the country and a Quran was burned at the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing with apparent fecal matter smeared on pages that were ripped out of it.
Perhaps Finley should spend more time addressing the intolerance of those who are misrepresenting other religions right here in America instead of simply addressing a group of fringe protesters half way across the globe. (More)
CAIR-MI: MUSLIM-AMERICANS ARE ALSO OUTRAGED ABOUT 911 ATTACKS - TOP
In a guest opinion by Robert Bickmeyer, he says the Park 51 Community Center shouldn’t be built because it is a symbol of “Islamic triumphalism.”
He implies that because some Muslim majority countries suppress minority religious rights, Muslim-Americans should therefore be inclined to accept
second-class citizenship within their homeland for the actions of nations thousands of miles away.
The main points of the article are premised with the idea that Muslim-Americans are “the other” group and not truly Americans but begrudgingly accommodated for by the rest of America. A visible Muslim presence two blocks from ground zero then triggers the false assumption that all 1.5 billion adherents of the world’s second largest faith, Islam, share in some part of the collective guilt of the tragedy of 9/11. This false assumption then makes it all too easy for such individuals to seek to limit the rights of these “other” Muslims.
In the name of “hallowed ground” and “sensitivity,” Muslim-Americans are asked to validate the false premise that all Muslims share partial blame, and are representatives of the heinous act. This is a false narrative Muslim-Americans choose not to propagate. If the Park 51 opposition could understand that Muslims died in 9/11; were first responders who risked their lives to save fellow Americans; and were equally attacked because they were Americans by the extremist who committed 9/11, the opposition would understand how their position against the Park 51 Community Center is highly insensitive and discriminatory.
This also begs the question, who is the abandoned Burlington Coat Factory “hallowed ground” for? Is it hallowed ground for the strip clubs, liquor stores and other business establishments within the same vicinity? (More)
CAIR-CT: U.S. MUSLIMS ASK: WHEN WILL THE BLAME GAME END? - TOP
When will the blame game end?
That's the question many Muslim Americans are asking, as controversies simmer over the role of Muslims in American public life, such as where they can pray, and how Islam is depicted in textbooks.
Many U.S. Muslims say the battles are not just about the right to practice their religion, but also about a lingering sense that they are, and will always be, held responsible for terrorist acts committed in the name of Islam.
Whether fellow Americans see them as distinct from Islamic terrorists will no doubt shape the future of generations of American Muslims.
Thus, for many Muslims, life in the U.S. requires maintaining a delicate balance between asserting their constitutional rights, getting along with fellow citizens, and distancing themselves from acts of terrorism without seeming to accept blame for them. . .
Mongi Dhaouadi, president of the Connecticut chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said he fought a decision by the president of the Hartford City Council to uninvite two imams from praying before council meetings after citizens protested.
"You're caving in to people who say all Muslims are complicit in 9/11, and you're giving legitimacy to that view," said Dhaouadi. "We can't accept this." (More)
GROUND ZERO IMAM, WIFE GET DEATHS THREATS - TOP
The wife of an imam planning an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero said today that she and her husband have received death threats.
"For the record, my life is under threat," Daisy Khan said during a town hall debate on Islam broadcast on ABC's "This Week" news program.
Khan, who's married to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, said her husband's life also is under threat but, "We do not walk around with bodyguards because we love this country." (More)
CAIR-SAN DIEGO: PEDIATRICIAN TAKES PRIDE IN HER AFGHAN CABDRIVER FATHER - TOP
Some may be quick to dismiss a brown man with a thick accent as another immigrant cabdriver. Look deeper, and what emerges is a college student whose dreams were lost to war and tragedy.
In the morning, before my father and I go our separate ways to work, we chat amiably. "Good luck on your day." "Hope business is good." And our one response to everything: "Inshallah." God willing.
I get into my mini-SUV and head off to the hospital, groaning about the lack of sleep, the lack of time, but also knowing that I am driving off to what has always been my dream.
My father gets into his blue taxi, picks up his radio and tells the dispatcher he's ready. Then he waits. He waits for someone wanting to go somewhere. He waits to go home to my mother, the woman he calls "the boss." Maybe today will be a good day. He will call her up and tell her he is taking her out tonight. He can do that now that we're all grown up; now that he doesn't have to save every dime for the "what-ifs" and the "just-in-cases."
There is very little complaining in his car. His day starts off with a silent prayer, then a pledge: Hudaya ba omaide hudit. God, as you wish. Then he hums or sings. Some songs are about love and some about loss. They are all about life. He sings. He smiles the whole time.
My father is the type of person who is content to listen, but I love it when he speaks. There is wisdom there, although he does not intend there to be. (More)
CAIR-CT: CONFERENCE IN OLD LYME HOPES TO SOW SEEDS OF PEACE BETWEEN ISRAEL, PALESTINE - TOP
Najwa and George Saadeh, who along with their daughter Marian live in Beit Sahour in Palestine, have experienced firsthand the effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Their 9-year-old daughter Christine was fatally shot at an Israeli checkpoint in Bethlehem, making the Saadehs one of countless parents who have lost their children to the conflict.
The family, now members of the organization Parents' Circle for bereaved Jewish, Christian, and Muslim parents of children killed in the conflict, will talk about life in Palestine during the sixth annual Tree of Life conference on Nov. 6 and 7 at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.
The church's Tree of Life Educational Foundation organizes the interfaith conference to promote peace between Israel and Palestine. This year, the conference will focus on young advocates of nonviolent coexistence.
"I hope our Tree of Life Conference will help us understand that true peace must be grounded in human rights, and that faith communities can play a vitally important role in the peace process," the Rev. David W. Good, senior minister of the church, said. . .
Speakers on the second day of the conference, from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m., are Jane Hilal, water and environment unit director of the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem; Taiseer Maray, a Syrian Druse, who is founder and director of Golan for Development; Maya Wind and Sahar Vardi, who have been imprisoned for their refusal to serve in the Israeli army (IDF); Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace; Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Mark Braverman, traveling ambassador for the Tree of Life Educational Fund; and eight young people who took part in the March 2010 Tree of Life Journey to Syria, Jordan, Israel, and the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Golan Heights. (More)
'BOSNIAKS' BRING PIECE OF HOME TO BOISE IN NEWLY OPENED MOSQUE - TOP
Vacant and neglected for four years, a former church building on the corner of Cloverdale and Lake Hazel roads in Southwest Boise now glows bright white and green from new paint.
The Islamic arches along the porch are about as common here as the rolling thunder of the Bosnian language. Today both are a part of the West Boise neighborhood.
The new home of the Islamic Community of Bosniaks - a term that means Bosnian Muslim - was dedicated this summer, around the same time a proposed Islamic Center two blocks from the World Trade Center site turned into a national debate about religious freedom, private property rights and the proper way to honor the dead.
For the 260 families in the Boise Bosniak community, the mosque represents a small piece of home - a home many can never return to.
"It's mostly Bosnian, but everyone is welcome," said secretary Denis Miljkovic. "Whoever brings a good heart, a good attitude."
Despite the controversies seen elsewhere, the new mosque's mostly Christian neighbors have been more welcoming.
Southwest Ada County Alliance spokeswoman Betty Bermensolo said she hasn't heard any negative comments about the Bosnian Islamic Center.
"There's a fear of the unknown that's always going to be there, unless people go in and give (the Bosnians) a chance to enlighten them," Bermensolo said. "They're trying to practice their religion and be safe in this country. That's what we're all about." (More)
LEGITIMACY OF ISLAM AT HEART OF MURFREESBORO MOSQUE SUIT - TOP
My God is better than your God.
That's the dispute at the heart of recent hearings in a lawsuit aimed at derailing the new Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. What started as a zoning issue has turned into a fight over theology and the role of government in recognizing religion.
Mosque opponents say that Islam is not a real religion. They argued in a Rutherford County courthouse last week that the world's second-largest faith, with its 1.6 billion followers, is actually a political movement.
Opponents say local Muslims want to replace the Constitution with an Islamic legal code called Shariah law. Joe Brandon Jr., a Smyrna attorney representing a group of mosque opponents, argued that the proposed mosque is not a house of worship. He said the Rutherford County Planning Commission erred on May 24 when it approved the mosque. (More)