Monday, July 27, 2009

Who's paying for that pilgrimage?

Well, kids, Spot’s gone off for his annual fishing trip, leaving me in charge of this here blog. I’ve been a bit short on the additions to the blog lately, causing Spot some consternation as to whether I’d be up to the task of holding down the fort while he heads off on his frolic and detour.

Let’s just say I’ll give it a try.

First up, local Republicans are apoplectic about the privately financed trip to Mecca taken by our nation's first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison. The state party has demanded that Congress look into the matter. The party's official party organ favorite blog hammers on the story endlessly. Why, one even local dimwit concluded that traveling to the Middle East on someone else's dime proves that the Congressman is a terrorist.

But it seems to me that Ellison's problem is that he went to Mecca, not Israel and that the group paying for it was a Muslim nonprofit rather than a Christian nonprofit. Because if it's a shadowy Christian nonprofit bent on exerting political influence by sending elected officials on junkets, it seems to be just fine:
On at least three occasions in recent years, Sen. Ensign traveled to Asia and the Middle East on what he described as official policy trips, paid for entirely by the International Foundation, one of the network of little-known nonprofits that make up the Family. Sen. Coburn, meanwhile, traveled to Beirut in 2005 on the Family's dime, with the explicit mission of setting up Lebanese political prayer groups, just like the one that covered for Ensign. The following year, Coburn humbled himself in prayer at a special Family event in the British Virgin Islands, a Christian mission of earthly rewards also undertaken, at Family expense, by fellow C Streeter Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Penn., who also sacrificed himself for God with a Family-paid trip to Aruba.

Because Jesus wants you to go to Aruba. Really.

There have been complaints about the Family's assistance given to Senator Ensign's recent travel. For reasons that I'll go into later this week, it's questionable whether those complaints will ever go anywhere, but one can hope.

In the meantime, you can track your congresscritter’s travel here. Not very up-to-date, but there's a pattern to who pay for Collin Peterson's travel that is particularly interesting.

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