Sunday, 28 September 2008

Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism On Schools

Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2008
By Stanley Kurtz

Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001. The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.

The CAC was the brainchild of Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground in the 1960s. Among other feats, Mr. Ayers and his cohorts bombed the Pentagon, and he has never expressed regret for his actions. Barack Obama's first run for the Illinois State Senate was launched at a 1995 gathering at Mr. Ayers's home.

The Obama campaign has struggled to downplay that association. Last April, Sen. Obama dismissed Mr. Ayers as just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood," and "not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis." Yet documents in the CAC archives make clear that Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama were partners in the CAC. Those archives are housed in the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago and I've recently spent days looking through them.

The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was created ostensibly to improve Chicago's public schools. The funding came from a national education initiative by Ambassador Walter Annenberg. In early 1995, Mr. Obama was appointed the first chairman of the board, which handled fiscal matters. Mr. Ayers co-chaired the foundation's other key body, the "Collaborative," which shaped education policy.

The CAC's basic functioning has long been known, because its annual reports, evaluations and some board minutes were public. But the Daley archive contains additional board minutes, the Collaborative minutes, and documentation on the groups that CAC funded and rejected. The Daley archives show that Mr. Obama and Mr. Ayers worked as a team to advance the CAC agenda.

One unsettled question is how Mr. Obama, a former community organizer fresh out of law school, could vault to the top of a new foundation? In response to my questions, the Obama campaign issued a statement saying that Mr. Ayers had nothing to do with Obama's "recruitment" to the board. The statement says Deborah Leff and Patricia Albjerg Graham (presidents of other foundations) recruited him. Yet the archives show that, along with Ms. Leff and Ms. Graham, Mr. Ayers was one of a working group of five who assembled the initial board in 1994. Mr. Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit. No one would have been appointed the CAC chairman without his approval.

The CAC's agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers's educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Ayers taught at a radical alternative school, and served as a community organizer in Cleveland's ghetto.

In works like "City Kids, City Teachers" and "Teaching the Personal and the Political," Mr. Ayers wrote that teachers should be community organizers dedicated to provoking resistance to American racism and oppression. His preferred alternative? "I'm a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist," Mr. Ayers said in an interview in Ron Chepesiuk's, "Sixties Radicals," at about the same time Mr. Ayers was forming CAC.

CAC translated Mr. Ayers's radicalism into practice. Instead of funding schools directly, it required schools to affiliate with "external partners," which actually got the money. Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn).

Mr. Obama once conducted "leadership training" seminars with Acorn, and Acorn members also served as volunteers in Mr. Obama's early campaigns. External partners like the South Shore African Village Collaborative and the Dual Language Exchange focused more on political consciousness, Afrocentricity and bilingualism than traditional education. CAC's in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students. They found no evidence of educational improvement.

CAC also funded programs designed to promote "leadership" among parents. Ostensibly this was to enable parents to advocate on behalf of their children's education. In practice, it meant funding Mr. Obama's alma mater, the Developing Communities Project, to recruit parents to its overall political agenda. CAC records show that board member Arnold Weber was concerned that parents "organized" by community groups might be viewed by school principals "as a political threat." Mr. Obama arranged meetings with the Collaborative to smooth out Mr. Weber's objections.

The Daley documents show that Mr. Ayers sat as an ex-officio member of the board Mr. Obama chaired through CAC's first year. He also served on the board's governance committee with Mr. Obama, and worked with him to craft CAC bylaws. Mr. Ayers made presentations to board meetings chaired by Mr. Obama. Mr. Ayers spoke for the Collaborative before the board. Likewise, Mr. Obama periodically spoke for the board at meetings of the Collaborative.

The Obama campaign notes that Mr. Ayers attended only six board meetings, and stresses that the Collaborative lost its "operational role" at CAC after the first year. Yet the Collaborative was demoted to a strictly advisory role largely because of ethical concerns, since the projects of Collaborative members were receiving grants. CAC's own evaluators noted that project accountability was hampered by the board's reluctance to break away from grant decisions made in 1995. So even after Mr. Ayers's formal sway declined, the board largely adhered to the grant program he had put in place.

Mr. Ayers's defenders claim that he has redeemed himself with public-spirited education work. That claim is hard to swallow if you understand that he views his education work as an effort to stoke resistance to an oppressive American system. He likes to stress that he learned of his first teaching job while in jail for a draft-board sit-in. For Mr. Ayers, teaching and his 1960s radicalism are two sides of the same coin.

Mr. Ayers is the founder of the "small schools" movement (heavily funded by CAC), in which individual schools built around specific political themes push students to "confront issues of inequity, war, and violence." He believes teacher education programs should serve as "sites of resistance" to an oppressive system. (His teacher-training programs were also CAC funded.) The point, says Mr. Ayers in his "Teaching Toward Freedom," is to "teach against oppression," against America's history of evil and racism, thereby forcing social transformation.

The Obama campaign has cried foul when Bill Ayers comes up, claiming "guilt by association." Yet the issue here isn't guilt by association; it's guilt by participation. As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle. That is a story even if Mr. Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago.

—Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.


The presidential race: all change

But change is not a destination. The Wall Street crash sharpens the question, ‘Where to?’

No matter who wins the U.S. presidential election, there will be change. In fact, in this campaign year, there has been nothing but. The 2008 presidential race kicked off earlier than ever, the day after the 2006 mid-term election. That was the first of a whole year of unprecedented campaign events.

The first African-American and woman candidates to run for the highest office are the obvious. A few others: More states moved up their primaries than ever before, producing ‘Super-Duper Tuesday’ (remember that?) in a breathless pace of campaigning for a large field of candidates. We saw a record number of dizzying debates within the two political parties that included the first-ever YouTube electronic participants, and niche debates on specific concerns of the gay community, Hispanics, the Black Caucus debates, a religion forum or two, and a Values Voters Summit.

Modern culture breeds short attention spans, so that all seems like the distant past already.

Other distinctions may be forgotten, like how often the pundits were wrong in predicting the outcome of all of the above. They scrambled afterward to figure it out more often than not. Ubiquitous media delivering news content on endless cycles must keep up, but they just barely did or do. So much has been new in this election year that each day’s news cycle risks being outdated by the time the story makes print. Good opportunity for cable TV and online sites.

The inevitability of Obama

We forget that the inevitability of Hillary Clinton turned into the inevitability of Barack Obama…quickly. Question: Who knew anyone could possibly defeat the powerful Clinton political machine? Answer: Whoever was paying attention to the powerful network and on-the-ground organization Obama was quietly putting in place from the earliest days of the campaign.

Remember when the Rev Jeremiah Wright burst onto the national news with his controversial sermon tirades, and Obama defended him before he denounced him? In between those two press conferences, he held the riveting one in Pennsylvania on “Race in America”, when everyone (or at least the press) was thrust into a wrenching national debate. Seemed it would stay with us for the duration.

But we either healed or moved on, because more was changing all the time. Hillary Clinton pulled close in the final primaries and proved more challenging to Obama than even his campaign counted on. The press really missed that one.

We certainly remember Obama’s world tour starting in the Middle East and wrapping up with adoring throngs in Europe, where he’s been enormously popular and where he polls far higher than his opponent. Since when do we take polls in Europe on the U.S. presidential elections? That may be another first. It didn’t go over so well in the U.S.

Meanwhile, where was John McCain? Trying to find news coverage of McCain’s travels and appearances became like playing “Where’s Waldo?” He was stumping across the bread-and-butter, blue collar states steadily while Obama was in Europe. News of McCain was scant. But McCain knew that would change.

When the media played the “veepstakes” game, they got that wrong, too. Joe Biden was an unlikely pick until Russia invaded Georgia, and his foreign policy experience stopped a vulnerable gap in Obama’s candidacy. But as one network pundit saw it, “the party of ‘change’ picked a candidate for vice-president who came to Washington when Nixon was in the White House”, so would the “change” message lose some authenticity?

It has endured as Obama’s slogan and promise, mainly because he has inspired the hope of healing and unifying the country on the sheer strength of his convincing rhetoric. But on the night of his highly anticipated acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, on a grandiose set that re-created the White House in a stadium of about 80,000 people (certainly another first), he dropped the charm offensive and finesse that carried him that far, and launched an attack on John McCain.

Stealing his thunder

If there was any thunder in it, the next morning McCain stole it. At an arena in Dayton, Ohio, McCain introduced Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate and stunned the nation. Obama’s speech (and convention) was all but forgotten, instantly. Until that moment, few outside of Alaska had ever heard of her, though pro-life media had done stories on her in April after Governor Palin gave birth to a Down’s Syndrome baby and returned to work, taking him to the office with her. There was a minor uproar in a small circle of feminists at the time, but it didn’t hit the major media radar.

Her speech in Dayton went off the Richter scale. Suddenly, the lone celebrity of the U.S. elections had a rival, a woman, and she rocked the Republican base and social conservatives like nobody since Ronald Reagan. She threw the media into a tailspin, most of it more like a frenzy. And that was on day one.

The first woman named to the Republican ticket was change that didn’t fit the feminist mold, mostly set by Sixties feminists and liberal elites, and the level of rage unleashed against Palin has been virtually unprecedented. It probably infuriates her enemies even more that she doesn’t care about liberal, elite opinion.

Waiting to hear Palin’s speech at the Republican convention heightened the drama and intensified the pressure on her. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani primed the crowd with a rousing speech about their Democratic opponents. For the first time, it seemed, criticisms could be leveled at Obama without being accused of being racist. “Change is not a destination just as hope is not a strategy,” Giuliani said, and the crowd roared.

Obama no longer owned the “change” mantle, though he wore it and hung around McCain’s neck the mantra that he represented “four more years of Bush”. It wasn’t working outside Obama circles.

Palin’s speech was as far outside the Washington elite circle as possible for a qualified candidate. “She brought it to Barack Obama,” Charles Krauthammer said just afterward. What did she bring? A charming, but forceful and unapologetic offensive on the politics of rhetoric. “In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers,” she said, late in the speech. “And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.” The crowd went wild.

Afterward, veteran newsman Chris Wallace said “This was the single most compelling Republican argument I’ve heard,” and the base was suddenly electrified. It was also change the Democratic party didn’t count on.

But the pragmatic thing about “change” is that it’s undefined and malleable and applicable to any shift whatsoever. So Obama shifted. At the top of the Democratic ticket, he was suddenly running against the new celebrity at the bottom of the Republican ticket. Gender became what race had been earlier in the year, but with a major change in that public debate: the language used about Palin has been vitriolic and hateful. Usually, that level of rancor is saved for the “comments” section of blogs and websites.

In fact, double standards have entered the race in a new way. Consider this last line of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog post called “The Palin/McCain ticket”: “[The] fact that so many in the GOP have embraced her as their party’s future suggests they don’t care a whit about substance but are enthralled by the package.”

Never mind that style over substance has fueled Obama’s ascendancy, which has admittedly not even bothered his most ardent supporters. And he’s running for president.

From narrative to definition, please

Recently, Globe and Mail writer Rex Murphy ran a piece that asks “How’s Barack Obama’s narrative going?” He analyzes the message of “change” and how it has…changed. Recall, he says, that Obama wrote this of himself: “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” Murphy artfully describes the candidate by his own terms. “If there was any meaning to that fortune-cookie poeticism that ‘we are the ones we have been waiting for,’ it was that his campaign was a feedback loop. People saw what they came to see. Mr. Obama was the slate; the crowds brought their own chalk… “People project their best wishes on him, they fill in the blank of a very attractive and plausible outline. His is not, emphatically, a charisma of deeds. For what has he done, save run for president? He is an accommodating vessel – cool, smart, biracial and ‘unfinished.’ This is the Gatsby quality of him…Like Gatsby, he is a receptacle of others’ glamorous invention.”

But that has changed, too, in recent weeks. “Of late, the flash supernova of U.S. politics is seen ‘competing’ with a second-on-the-ticket female governor of a remote state,” Murphy observes. “There’s more than a gap between the ‘audacity of hope’ and ‘lipstick on a pig.’ The mouth that spoke the first phrase should not be capable of the second.”

It is revealing, this change. “He has shrunk into a combative partisan… A candidacy that leached so much of its energy and drive from the imagination of others, Gatsby-like, is shedding its gift. The narrative stage is over. It’s all tactics from here on in.”

With the US in an epic financial crisis just over a month out from the elections, tactics are crucial, but they’re not everything. Perception and emotion have tremendous power in political and financial decisions, and whoever is seen as the most capable leader during these nearly unprecedented times will prevail. The promise to “change” the system is not enough….define it, people are now asking.

Since voters tend to have a short memory, there’s usually an ‘October surprise’ to brace for, revelations of some scandal or fatal flaw. The Wall Street crisis pretty much took care of that. But before this gets posted, that may change, too.

Sheila Gribben Liaugminas is an Emmy Award winning journalist who reported for Time magazine for more than 20 years. Until recently, she hosted the popular national radio shows The Right Questions and Issues and Answers on Relevant Radio. She blogs at

Friday, 26 September 2008

Pope Paul VI on Contraception: Mormon physician

"Humanae Vitae": A Compelling Argument
Mormon Physician Comments on Paul VI's Encyclical

By Robert Conkling

ROME, SEPT. 25, 2008 .- For a non-Catholic, Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae" is not important because it is the Church speaking, but rather because it offers a compelling argument, says Mormon physician Dr. Joe Stanford.

Stanford, a family physician and a researcher in the Creighton Model FertilityCare system and NaPro Technology, was a speaker at the 27th annual meeting of the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals, held this summer in Rome.

Stanford, a professor in the department of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah, spoke to ZENIT about his take on "Humanae Vitae," as well as the role faith plays in his medical practice.

Q: Have you read "Humanae Vitae"?

Stanford: Yes. I first read "Humanae Vitae" in 1991 and several times since then. I think it is an inspired document. I think it captures fundamental aspects of human nature. He [Pope Paul VI] really hits the nail on the head regarding the dark side of contraception, sterilization and abortion and their effects on society.

Although I do not think divorce, promiscuity, teen pregnancy are exclusively the result of contraception, I also think these are not unrelated to contraception. I think contraception is a heavy part of the fuel behind the sexual revolution and many of the problems in society we are facing.

I think "Humanae Vitae" is basically a prophetic statement.

Q: If more physicians read "Humanae Vitae," do you think their approach to women or the problems married couples face might be different?

Stanford: Yes, but a qualified yes. I think you have to read "Humanae Vitae" with an open mind, which really means with an open heart. You have to be willing to really consider what Pope Paul VI says and not just judge it. In medical training, the culture is so steeped with acceptance of standard medical practices, that to question it is very difficult. And I do not mean just difficult from a peer pressure point of view, although that is part of the difficulty. But it is difficult to even come around to a different way of thinking when you have always been immersed in one way of thinking.

I am not Catholic, so for me it was not an issue of reading the document because it was the Church speaking. It became an issue because many of the Catholic physicians I have come to know and respect -- [Dr.] Tom Hilgers being one of them -- and who have become moral mentors for me in medicine -- told me "Humanae Vitae" was a moral guide in their life. So I wanted to know what the document said and what it means.

So, for me it was not an ecclesiastically binding document. If you are not Catholic, you might be inclined to think "this is for Catholics." Having said that, if you really consider "Humanae Vitae" on its own merits, I think Pope Paul VI really does make a compelling argument that can penetrate the heart and can make a difference.

Q: Is it fair to say then that faith plays a part in how you practice medicine?

Stanford: It definitely does. It is how I see people. I see patients as children of God. That is my faith. And I see my duty to them to be the best, most compassionate and skilled physician I can be, while still respecting patients' views. Part of my faith, too, is to respect where patients' are coming from and not demand that they see things my way. Most of my patients now come to me because they want the perspective I provide.

That is a real joy. But I still see patients who do not share my views and come to me and we have to negotiate. I have to inform them where my moral boundaries are -- for example, that I will not prescribe oral contraceptives -- but without judging them. I respect their ability to make their own choices, but I have to tell them I have certain parameters and boundaries that I operate within.

So, yes, faith is integral to how I practice. It does not mean that I tell patients, "This is my faith and you have to see it my way." I inform them who I am and that this is the reason for what I do.

Q: There is a medical ethic in vogue today which, if followed, would have physicians believe they must check their faith at the door of their office, examining room or in their teaching. Is this a contradiction to who you then become as a physician?

Stanford: Absolutely. In the end it does not work. It is sort of a myth to say you can check who you are at the door of the examining room, to sort of become a sort of blank slate. Ultimately, you have some values. When I talk to colleagues about this they say I cannot impose my judgments on patients. In one sense I agree with that. But in another sense, it does not mean that I do whatever patients want.

An example I reply with is what if someone comes in and states, "Doctor, I need morphine and I want you to prescribe that to me." Of course you do not just do it, because there is an assessment required as to whether it is appropriate.

Usually when asked in that way one is predisposed to think it may not be appropriate and for good reason. It is no different with any other medicine. You have to make a judgment. The important distinction is that you are not judging the person or telling him or her what to believe.

As a physician we have to always decide what we think is in the patient's best interest, within the moral boundaries we set for ourselves, which we describe to patients.

In reality, every physician actually does that whether they acknowledge this or not. Unfortunately, some physicians relax those boundaries and compromise who they are. But they are still presenting somebody they really are in the examination room.

There is no such thing as a physician like a vending machine, because people do not walk in to see a doctor, press a button and out comes what they want. Physicians are professionals. You have boundaries and you have to define what those boundaries are and make judgments appropriately.

Q: You are a researcher with an interest in natural family planning, specifically focusing on the Creighton Model FertilityCare system and NaPro Technology. Is it unusual to have physicians like yourself challenging standard medical approaches to couples' reproductive potential?

Stanford: That is a very good question. I think to some extent it has always happened. There have always been free thinkers out there who are guided by their own moral compass and try to do what is right for the patient, for good medicine and for good moral medicine.

In some sense this is not new. What is different with respect to NFP, FertilityCare and NaPro Technology is an attempt to bring in the service of systematic science in an ethical-moral framework. That is a marriage I think makes sense. A lot of people may disagree. But I think it makes immanent sense.

What we are trying to develop is a cadre of practicing physicians and scientists who will actually do science within that ethical framework. To make sure that what we are doing is the best we can do and not just do what we have read in a journal or figured out ourselves and tried on some patients. We go that far but then we test it further with our colleagues and use data to evaluate whether what we are doing really is the best way. We then might ask is there another angle we have not thought of?

So, a systematic way allows for two tracks: One is getting many physicians together who are interested in this area of medicine and trying to make it work. That is relatively new, but not completely new. Other groups have done that. What is relatively unique is trying to make this as scientific and systematic as possible. We want to create science that is better than the mainstream medicine and science.


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Trig: An Advocate for All of Us

Trig Palin is just like the rest of us in every way that matters
September 23, 2008

Palins and TrigBy now most of us have gotten to know something about Trig - Trig Palin, that is, son of Sarah Palin the Republican V.P. candidate, a child born with Down syndrome, received enthusiastically into the heart of the Palin family, and a stumbling block to those who believe Down syndrome babies, when detected early in pregnancy, should be aborted.

It's been a year since I last wrote about the new eugenics and the war on Down babies now underway in the American healthcare system. Trig has me thinking about it all again.

In a recent must-read op-ed ("Trig's Breakthrough", Washington Post, September 10, 2008) former Bush policy advisor and speechwriter Michael Gerson but it beautifully:

The wrenching diagnosis of 47 chromosomes must seem to parents likeTrisomy 21 the end of a dream instead of the beginning of a life. But children born with Down syndrome -- who learn slowly but love deeply -- are generally not experienced by their parents as a curse but as a complex blessing. And when allowed to survive, men and women with an extra chromosome experience themselves as people with abilities, limits and rights.

They experience themselves, that is to say, much like the rest of us.

Gerson goes on to note, of course, that when prenatal testing for Down syndrome turns up positive, the healthcare establishment, with few exceptions becomes stridently eugenic, pressuring parents to abort their Down babies. Notes Gerson:

Unlike what is accorded African Americans and women, civil rights protections for people with Down syndrome have rapidly eroded over the past few decades. Of the cases of Down syndrome diagnosed by prenatal testing each year, about 90 percent are eliminated by abortion. Last year the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended universal, early testing for Down syndrome -- not just for older pregnant women. Some expect this increased screening to reduce the number of Down syndrome births to something far lower than the ACOG Logo5,500 we see today, perhaps to fewer than 1,000.

His observations dovetail with recent and disturbing research suggesting that 2 healthy babies are miscarried for every 3 Down syndrome babies that are detected and prevented from being born. Are these innocents -- whose untimely deaths through miscarriage would appear to be causally connected to the amniocentesis used to detect the presence of a Down child in the womb -- simply to be understood as collateral damage in the war to eliminate Down children?

It would seem quite true then that, if Ms. Palin becomes Vice President of this great country, the disabled will indeed have -- as she promised in her acceptance speech in Minneapolis -- "an advocate in the White House."

And that advocate's name will be Trig Palin.

And yet, Trig will be much more than that.

Trig will be an advocate for all of us who -- like himself -- suffer from life's mishaps in ways that impact our entire being, rendering us broken in many ways, and highly imperfect as we labor to make the long trek toward that degree of perfection we can achieve in this life.

Trig PalinTrig is already forcing us to look at our humanity square in the eye, helping us to recognize -- if we are honest -- that in a very profound sense, none of us is "better" than he is, none of us more (or less) "desirable" than he is, that his, your or my worth as human beings is not predicated on someone else's calculation of his, your or my "quality of life".

As Gerson so aptly put it, "now we have met Trig, who is just like the others, in every way that matters."

And how!

Rev. Thomas V. Berg, L.C. is Executive Director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Pope Pius XII

Papal Address on Pius XII Symposium
"Not All the Genuine Facets Have Been Examined In a Just Light"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2008 - Here is the text of Benedict XVI's address today to Gary Krupp, the president of the Pave the Way Foundation, which organized a symposium on the papacy of Pope Pius XII.

The symposium was held Monday through Wednesday.

* * *

Dear Mr Krupp,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to meet with you at the conclusion of the important symposium organized by the Pave the Way Foundation. I know that many eminent scholars have participated in this reflection on the numerous works of my beloved predecessor - the Servant of God Pope Pius XII - accomplished during the difficult period around the time of the second world war. I warmly welcome each of you especially Mr Gary Krupp, President of the Foundation, whom I thank for the kind words expressed on your behalf. I am grateful to him for informing me how your work has been undertaken during the symposium. You have analyzed without bias the events of history and concerned yourselves only with seeking the truth. I also greet those accompanying you on this visit, as well as your family members and loved ones at home.

The focus of your study has been the person and the tireless pastoral and humanitarian work of Pius XII, "Pastor Angelicus." Fifty years have passed since his pious death here at Castel Gandolfo early on the ninth of October 1958, after a debilitating disease. This anniversary provides an important opportunity to deepen our knowledge of him, to meditate on his rich teaching and to analyze thoroughly his activities. So much has been written and said of him during these last five decades and not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light. The aim of your symposium has been precisely to address some of these deficiencies, conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favour of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth. When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices, in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people.

Thanks to the vast quantity of documented material which you have gathered, supported by many authoritative testimonies, your symposium offers to the public forum the possibility of knowing more fully what Pius XII achieved for the Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes. One understands, then, that wherever possible he spared no effort in intervening in their favour either directly or through instructions given to other individuals or to institutions of the Catholic Church. In the proceedings of your convention you have also drawn attention to his many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews. This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them. One need only recall Pius XII's meeting on the 29th of November 1945 with eighty delegates of German concentration camps who during a special Audience granted to them at the Vatican, wished to thank him personally for his generosity to them during the terrible period of Nazi-fascist persecution.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your visit and for the research you have undertaken. Thanks also to the Pave the Way Foundation for its ongoing activity in promoting relationships and dialogue between religions, as witnesses of peace, charity and reconciliation. It is my great hope that this year, which marks the fiftieth-anniversary of my venerated predecessor's death, will provide the opportunity to promote in-depth studies of various aspects of his life and his works in order to come to know the historical truth, overcoming every remaining prejudice. With these sentiments I invoke upon you and the proceedings of your symposium an abundance of divine blessings.


Pave the Way Foundation's Address to Pope
Working to "End the Malevolent and the Illegal Use of Religion"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2008 ( Here is the address Gary Krupp, president of the Pave the Way Foundation, gave today upon meeting Benedict XVI at the apostolic palace of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

The Pope granted an audience to the participants of the congress "Examining the Papacy of Pope Pius XII," which was organized by the foundation. The three-day symposium ended Wednesday.

* * *

You Holiness, The mission of Pave the Way Foundation is to end the malevolent and the illegal use of religion. We begin this process by establishing credible and trusted relationships through our historic gestures of good will and with the identification and elimination of obstacles between the faiths.

Some examples of our projects are that we worked for over 20 years to help the equipment acquisition of the hospital of St. Padre Pio here in Italy. We worked behind the scenes to remove obstacles and to move the fundamental agreements with the Israeli government and the Holy See. We initiated the Jewish thank you to Pope John Paul II for his efforts to achieve religious reconciliation. We brought the manuscripts of Maimonides for the first time in history from the Vatican Library to the state of Israel, and in 2007, we implemented the gift to your library of the oldest manuscripts of the Gospels of St. John and St. Luke, the Bodmer papyrus.

Your Holiness, for all of these benevolent projects I wish recognize, in your presence, one who has dedicated over 20 years behind the scenes to help us to complete this vital work: Doctor Rolando Clementoni.

In the furtherance of our mission, Pave the Way has identified the papacy of Pope Pius XII as a source of friction and misunderstanding. Accordingly, we have undertaken an independent investigation to identify significant documents and to video record eyewitness testimony. I wish to report to you that results of this investigation are stunning, and directly contradict the negative perception of the Pope's wartime activities.

All of the documented material that we have gathered, including the transcript of our just completed three-day symposium, will be turned over to your pontifical institutions and to the internationally recognized Holocaust centers for further study.

Based on their review of these new materials, and in the interest of maintaining their historical integrity and accuracy, we call upon these institutions to carefully review this new information in order to redefine the current perception on this papacy.

This year, for Catholics, Oct. 9, 2008, will be the commemoration the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII, for Jews that date is also significant as it is our holiest Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement. May this providential date usher in a new effort to correct the historical record and bring to light the truth of this papacy.

I wish to close with a passage from a book written by Ambassador Pinchas Lapide, a former Israeli consul general in Italy, and a Jewish theologian: "No Pope in history has been thanked more heartily by Jews upon his death in 1958. Several suggested in open letters that a Pope Pius XII forest of 860,000 trees be planted on the hills of Judea in order to fittingly honor the memory of the late Pontiff, because the Catholic Church under the pontificate of Pius XII was instrumental in saving the lives of as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands."

You Holiness, we humbly ask you to keep the mission of Pave the Way Foundation and its vital work to end the malevolent use of religion in your prayers, and thank you for allowing us this time today.


Carl Anderson to Senator Joe Biden

Supreme Knight's Letter to Biden
"Today, Children of All Races Are Denied Recognition as 'Persons'"

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 19, 2008 - Here is an open letter addressed to Senator Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for vice president, from the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson.

It was published today as a full-page ad in various U.S. newspapers.

* * *
Dear Senator Biden:

I write to you today as a fellow Catholic layman, on a subject that has become a major topic of concern in this year's presidential campaign.

The bishops who have taken public issue with your remarks on the Church's historical position on abortion are far from alone. Senator Obama stressed your Catholic identity repeatedly when he introduced you as his running mate, and so your statements carry considerable weight, whether they are correct or not. You now have a unique responsibility when you make public statements about Catholic teaching.

On NBC's Meet the Press, you appealed to the 13th Century writings of St. Thomas Aquinas to cast doubt on the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church on abortion.

There are several problems with this.

First, Aquinas obviously had only a medieval understanding of biology, and thus could only speculate about how an unborn child develops in the womb. I doubt that there is any other area of public policy where you would appeal to a 13th Century knowledge of biology as the basis for modern law.

Second, Aquinas' theological view is in any case entirely consistent with the long history of Catholic Church teaching in this area, holding that abortion is a grave sin to be avoided at any time during pregnancy.

This teaching dates all the way back to the Didache, written in the second century. It is found in the writings of Tertullian, Jerome, Augustine and Aquinas, and was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which described abortion as "an unspeakable crime" and held that the right to life must be protected from the "moment of conception." This consistent teaching was restated most recently last month in the response of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Statements that suggest that our Church has anything less than a consistent teaching on abortion are not merely incorrect; they may lead Catholic women facing crisis pregnancies to misunderstand the moral gravity of an abortion decision.

Neither should a discussion about a medieval understanding of the first few days or weeks of life be allowed to draw attention away from the remaining portion of an unborn child's life. In those months, even ancient and medieval doctors agreed that a child is developing in the womb.

And as you are well aware, Roe v. Wade allows for abortion at any point during a pregnancy. While you voted for the ban on partial birth abortions, your unconditional support for Roe is a de facto endorsement of permitting all other late term abortions, and thus calls into question your appeal to Aquinas.

I recognize that you struggle with your conscience on the issue, and have said that you accept the Church's teaching that life begins at conception - as a matter of faith. But modern medical science leaves no doubt about the fact that each person's life begins at conception. It is not a matter of personal religious belief, but of science.

Finally, your unwillingness to bring your Catholic moral views into the public policy arena on this issue alone is troubling.

There were several remarkable ironies in your first appearance as Senator Obama's running mate on the steps of the old state capitol in Springfield, Illinois.

His selection as the first black American to be the nominee of a major party for president of the United States owes an incalculable debt to two movements that were led by people whose religious convictions motivated them to confront the moral evils of their day - the abolitionist movement of the 19th Century, and the civil rights movement of the 20th Century.

Your rally in Springfield took place just a mile or so from the tomb of Abraham Lincoln, who in April 1859 wrote these words in a letter to Henry Pierce:

"This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it."

Lincoln fought slavery in the name of "a just God" without embarrassment or apology. He confronted an America in which black Americans were not considered "persons" under the law, and were thus not entitled to fundamental Constitutional rights. Today, children of all races who are fully viable and only minutes from being born are also denied recognition as "persons" because of the Roe v. Wade regime that you so strongly support. Lincoln's reasoning regarding slavery applies with equal force to children who are minutes, hours or days away from birth.

The American founders began our great national quest for liberty by declaring that we are all "created equal." It took nearly a century to transform that bold statement into the letter of the law, and another century still to make it a reality. The founders believed that we are "endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable rights," and that first among these is "life."

You have a choice: you can listen to your conscience and work to secure the rights of the unborn to share in the fruits of our hard-won liberty, or you can choose to turn your back on them.

On behalf of the 1.28 million members of the Knights of Columbus and their families in the United States, I appeal to you, as a Catholic who acknowledges that life begins at conception, to resolve to protect this unalienable right. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues personally with you in greater detail during the weeks between now and November 4.


Carl A. Anderson
Supreme Knight


Thursday, 18 September 2008

Saul Alinsky and Clinton-Obama

The "godfather" of American Left-Wing radicalism is author and Chicago activist Saul Alinsky, whose book Rules for Radicals, has become the handbook, the bible of Leftist activism. Of particular note is the dedication:

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins - or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom - Lucifer
- Saul Alinksy

Alinsky, who died in 1972, continues to be an influence in American politics today. For example the Wikipedia entry on Alinsky states the following under the heading "Alinsky's Influence":

Alinsky was the subject of Hillary Rodham's senior honors thesis at Wellesley College, "There Is Only The Fight...": An Analysis of the Alinsky Model. Rodham commented on Alinsky's "charm," but noted that "one of the primary problems of the Alinsky model is that the removal of Alinsky dramatically alters its composition." Later, in her 2003 biography, Living History Clinton notes that although she agreed with some of his ideas, "particularly the value of empowering people to help themselves" they had a fundamental disagreement: "He believed you could change the system only from the outside. I didn't." Once Hillary Rodham Clinton became First Lady of the United States, the White House asked Wellesley College to restrict access to the thesis for fear of being associated too closely with Alinsky's ideas.

Thirteen years after Alinsky died, some of his former students hired Barack Obama to a $13,000 a year job as a community organizer in South Chicago. In a few years he became very proficient in the Alinsky Method of community organizing and became an instructor and teacher of the Alinsky Method to other community organizers.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

I am woman; I am strong

Barbara Lilley | Wednesday, 10 September 2008

And you know what? I like Sarah Palin. She's a better role model for my daughters than Gloria Steinem.

I am trying to figure out when I stopped being a “real” woman. For the last week, every newspaper, blog and television newscast I have seen or heard has blathered on and on about John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate for the US Presidential elections. In that short period of time, there seems to be a vast divide between two camps: those who support McCain's decision and those who think that Barack Obama now has the presidency sown up and placed in his back pocket.

Much of the commentary has been an outright attack on Sarah Palin; the vitriol has come from left-wing feminist stalwarts, like Gloria Steinem, Maureen Dowd and Arianna Huffington, who seem to think that John McCain and Sarah Palin are trying to send women backwards a few hundred years in terms of equality. The fact that Sarah Palin does not support abortion and is open about her love for her husband seems to be at the heart of these venomous statements.

The thing is this, I consider myself to be a modern woman. I vote in every election. I have no problem speaking my mind. I teach my daughters that they need to “find their power” (usually when one of their brothers has done something they don't like and I tell them to deal with the situation themselves). I tell all four of my children that girls and boys can do almost anything. I do not feel that I am somehow less worthy than any man simply because I carry two X chromosomes. I believe that women have the right to vote, to work outside the home and to accomplish as much as they can in this world.

But I do not support abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, cloning or embryonic stem cell research. I feel that there are things that men can do that women simply cannot, and vice versa. The fact that I agree with many things that Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan and countless other women fought for seems to be completely discounted when I mention that I am also a firm believer in the teachings of my faith. And because of that, I am somehow considered to be less of a woman; no longer a “real” woman, because a “real” woman must believe in the right to choose, in assisted suicide, in condoms for every 14 year-old and that “intelligent design” is only for those poor saps not fortunate enough to know that we are all descended from a pile of goo.

For years, I have listened to, and sometimes engaged in, the debate between working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. I fall in the latter category. That I stay home with my four young children while my husband goes out to work has caused some consternation among family and friends over the years. I am, after all, a modern woman. I should want to contribute to our family income and to society. That says it all right there. Not working for a paycheque means that I am not a contributor to the world, and therefore, not a real woman.

Many times I have wondered how women can tear each other to shreds over the choices we make and still consider ourselves the gentler of the species. Now, once again, it is an us-versus-them showdown, and this time it is not just working mothers against the stay-homes, it is pro-choice (read: pro-abortion) in a knock-'em-down-drag-'em-through-the-mud slugfest with the pro-lifers.

As a woman born in 1968, I was raised in the late 1970s and the 1980s to believe that it is normal for young women to want to sleep with anyone and as many men as they can, to terminate unwanted pregnancies and to choose whether or not the baby I did decide to have deserved to live in the first place. In short, I was raised to believe that it was alright for me to play God with my body. Sarah Palin's decision to keep her unborn child does not signify to me that she is behind the times and less of a woman, and I fail to see how anyone could rationally take that point of view. The very essence of being a woman is our ability to bear children. As the mother of four myself, how could I look at my children and pick which one should not have lived? Should Sarah Palin now be asking that question? Does her youngest child deserve less than any other child because he was born with Down's Syndrome?

For those of us who believe that the Palins made the correct choice, Sarah Palin stands as a testimony to what a real woman looks like. One who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, one who is ready to take on the nay-sayers and prove that she does have the strength, courage and intelligence to play with the big boys. A woman who, at the end of the day, remains completely and wholly dedicated to her role as wife and mother. In short, Sarah Palin is a role model for all of us and the kind of real woman I want to be. And I'm a Canadian, not an American!

Barbara Lilley is a writer and mother of four living in Ottawa, Canada.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

On Voting for Pro-Abortion Candidates

by Dr. Jeff Mirus, September 5, 2008

It’s election season again, and we should make one more attempt to convince our fellow citizens, our fellow Catholics and even some users of that they cannot morally allow any issue to take precedence over abortion in their decision about how to vote in the U.S. presidential election. This statement may strike some readers as just another example of knee-jerk conservatism or, worse, sycophantic advocacy for the Republican Party. But it is neither. It is simply a moral fact of life. This time around, I’m taking the gloves off.

God’s Teaching and Man’s Statistics

Church teaching could not be more clear on this point. The Magisterium has stated repeatedly that direct abortion is intrinsically evil under all circumstances, and that it is immoral to vote for a politician because he supports abortion. The Church has also taught that voting for a politician in spite of the fact that he supports abortion is at least remote cooperation with evil, and so can be justified only when there is a proportionate reason. I endorse this latter point entirely. But the problem, for those who wish to take advantage of this to support pro-abortion candidates, is that there is no issue on the contemporary American political scene that is even remotely proportionate to abortion. No issue exists that can be cited as a proportionately moral reason to support a candidate that favors abortion, especially in a Presidential election.

Admittedly this is partly a prudential judgment, for it involves not only the nature of the evil involved but how widespread it is—how many people are impacted by it. The Church’s teaching authority can help us to discern that murder is a more serious evil than theft, but the Church can employ no special charism to determine how large a problem murder may be in a particular society at a particular time. If the murder rate is very low, and the theft rate high, one is certainly justified in voting for a politician who concentrates his attention on reducing theft. But abortion is not only in the most serious class of moral evils (the deliberate taking of an innocent human life), but it affects more people than any other comparably serious crime.

The number of abortions reported in the United States is over one million per year. Since abortion is notoriously under-reported, the actual numbers are substantially higher. For the sake of argument, we will suggest that there are at least 1.5 million abortions annually in the United States. By contrast, there are about 17,000 other homicides per year in our country, a number two orders of magnitude lower. In fact, abortion is in roughly the same class as far less serious (but still significant) crimes such as burglary and domestic violence assaults, which numbered about 2.1 million each in 2005.

When compared with the issues that are widely argued to be somehow proportionate, the lack of proportionality is even more astonishing. Thus, while abortion claims between one and two million lives per year in the United States, premature deaths due to inadequate health care are estimated at about 34,000 per year; the Iraq War has claimed a total of roughly 55,000 American and Iraqi lives since its beginning several years ago; and the death penalty claimed the lives of 42 persons in the United States last year, most of whom were presumably at least guilty of a serious crime. You can find all these statistics in about five minutes of research on the web. I submit, again, that no voter who is guided by reason can even begin to make the argument that there is an issue in the United States presidential election that is remotely proportionate to abortion.

False Assumptions

The argument that there are legitimate reasons to support a pro-abortion candidate is weakened still further when two common but false assumptions are brought into play. The first false assumption is that there is a moral equivalence between a candidate who places his emphasis on other issues and a candidate who is actually in favor of abortion. I stated earlier that, if the murder rate were very low and the theft rate very high, one might well vote for a politician who advances a good program for reducing theft. But what if this same candidate is determined to protect the right to murder or even seeks to expand murder's “availability”? Surely this changes both the moral equation, and the potential consequences.

The second false assumption is that abortion is so endemic to our culture that there isn’t likely to be much that any candidate can do about it; therefore, whether a President is pro-abortion or pro-life will make very little practical difference. While I would reject this assumption for symbolic reasons alone (what impact does it have on a culture to place in its highest office a person who publicly advocates murder?), the argument rests on so deep an ignorance of American political life as to be utterly ludicrous. The primary political reason abortion is both legal and extremely widespread in our culture is because we are increasingly ruled by an oligarchy of activist judges who wish to remake society in their own image. At the apex of this oligarchy is the Supreme Court, and Supreme Court justices are appointed for life by the President of the United States. Apart from all other considerations, this political fact is of capital importance in the selection of the next President, especially with the Court in many ways fairly evenly divided, and with an opportunity for the next President to appoint two or more justices.

Moreover, in the culture wars overall, our nation is fairly evenly divided. The future of abortion (along with many related grave evils) will depend on relatively small shifts in American voting patterns. Yes, it is a difficult and long struggle, but it is hardly an irrelevant struggle or a struggle with no hope of success. Persons who are very much more pro-life than would be suggested by existing rulings and laws are not in a tiny minority. On the various related issues, they are always close to half of the population, and often more than half. The person who argues that there is nothing we can do about abortion, and therefore it is perfectly moral to vote based on other considerations, is simply denying—in the midst of hotly contested circumstances—that there is at least one very important thing he can do: He can refuse to vote for those who support abortion.

Thanks, But I’m Not Personally Affected

I could go on at considerable length about the links between abortion and so much else that horribly afflicts the American people and their social fabric: the breakdown of the family, the objectification and abuse of women, contraception, rampant divorce, female poverty, ubiquitous pornography, experimentation on human persons, euthanasia and everything else that attends both irresponsible sex and increasing callousness toward the human person. But it should be enough to focus on the unmistakable fact that well over one million innocent persons are being willfully and directly murdered each year, and that this is happening not in a few inaccessible locations but all around us, in our local communities, as part of the fabric of our daily lives.

The bottom line is that to most of us the unborn child is invisible. It is not as if we have to witness the fear, the screams of terror, the bloodshed, the grief and the devastation that accompanies the murder of older persons, whom we often encounter and sometimes come to know. No, abortion is rather a case of out of sight, out of mind, for a little baby that hardly anybody wanted anyway, and we find it very easy to go on with our lives, attending to the issues that affect us personally, hobnobbing with those we find congenial, feeling secure in being part of the status quo, and thankfully aware that we’re not foolish enough to rock the boat. Indeed, with respect to abortion, the commitment to resist is very seldom the result of an emotional process; it is very seldom governed by our feelings. Very few pro-lifers are moved by feelings of solidarity with pre-born children. How could they be?

Instead, the pro-life moral and political commitment is a rational commitment: Abortion is a serious evil, it is an epidemic evil, and it is linked to a great many other evils in our culture. Therefore I will oppose it, root and branch, tooth and nail. Unfortunately, those who seek instead to justify with specious arguments their desire to vote for pro-abortion candidates make no such intellectual commitment. As we have seen, their arguments are utterly bankrupt. For where is their proportionate issue? Global warming? Tax revisions that might possibly benefit the poor? The price of gas? No, we are talking here about death, death immediately before us and on a grand scale. That is why those who justify voting for pro-abortion candidates are so obviously wrong, so seriously wrong and—let us tell the whole truth—so dangerously wrong.

Friday, 5 September 2008

America’s most public pregnancy

Brian Lilley | Friday, 5 September 2008

Some culture wars start this way: a small bombshell in an out-of-the-way place and before you know it, they're lobbing grenades.

The Palin family, before the culture war broke outWhere to begin with Sarah Palin. If you are not familiar with the name of Alaska's governor, you must have been locked in a trunk in a basement during a blizzard. For reasons both good and bad, favourable and unfavourable to the Republicans, John McCain's choice of vice-presidential running mate has put a spark back into the Republican campaign and helped lift a convention that had been thrown off course by hurricane Gustav.

How does one describe, Governor Palin's appointment? Let's start with "interesting".

Interesting is an understatement for Palin, a relative unknown who was on the short list of only a very few political observers. The initial press frenzy focused on Palin's official bio – a mother of five, married to her high school sweetheart, a hunter, a muncher of moose burgers, a member of the National Rifle Association, a former high school basketball star, a member of Feminists for Life, and a runner-up for Miss Alaska. An odd choice, but an interesting one.

Then came Saturday.

An anonymous diary entry, as posts are called at the popular liberal website Daily Kos, put forward the story that Governor Palin's fifth child Trig was not her child but that of her teenage daughter Bristol. There was no evidence, just photographs comparing waistlines and a grubby commentary. But the story spread across the net anyway, eventually leading "respectable" journalists to ask questions.

Then came Monday.

The news sent my Blackberry buzzing as I was enjoying a Labour Day lunch with visiting family members. Sarah Palin and her husband Todd had issued a statement:

"We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us. Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support."

Privacy for Bristol and her future husband Levi Johnston was a forlorn hope as a media frenzy erupted. But the culture war over Sarah Palin's daughter and the "unplanned pregnancy" was just heating up. By Monday the Daily Kos was admitting that the story about Governor Palin faking her pregnancy was pretty thin. (It has since been withdrawn from the site.) Democratic nominee Barack Obama and his running mate Senator Joe Biden were telling their staff and the media that families of candidates were off limits.

None of this has stopped the chatter, especially on the internet, where conservatives and Republicans are debating what all this means. On the one hand, there were forecasts of anger in the GOP's conservative base. Kathy Shaidle at the Five Feet of Fury blog, a McCain supporter, for instance, saw Bristol's plight as bad, bad, bad.

"This makes the Palins look really, really tacky and low class. We should want people better than ‘tacky and low class’ in the White House. I left Hamilton to get away from tacky, low-class people and their pregnant teenagers. Now they're all over my damn television. We criticized Bill Clinton for helping kids think ‘oral sex wasn't real sex’. But we're all cool with this? Kids will say, ‘"So? Whatsername's pregnant.’ When it's ‘one of us’ we're all suddenly ‘compassionate’ and ‘forgiving’ and ‘oh but that's different’?"

But Crunchy Con columnist Rod Dreher at Beliefnet was more typical. His take on the Bristol Palin story seems to have baffled critics of the religious right. They expected conservatives to fall in behind Ms Five Feet of Fury. Au contraire. Dreher is not thrilled with the pregnancy but he praised the young woman for choosing life rather than abortion.

"For me, and I think for a lot of Christians, I would rather take the risk that taking a softer line on teen pregnancy will fail to discourage some teenagers from engaging in risky sex than take a hard line that drives teens to kill their unborn children via abortion rather than live with the stigma."

This story is already fading from the front page after Governor Palin's surprisingly strong speech accepting her party's nomination. But the underlying issues of life -- when it begins, how America should deal with teen pregnancy and the ongoing struggle over abortion -- will not fade away. In fact, Sarah Palin's most appealing quality for conservative and religious Republican voters is her staunch opposition to abortion. Her biggest handicap in inviting Democrats to cross over may be her opposition to abortion.

I don't remember hearing the word abortion specifically mentioned, nor was Governor Palin's faith brought to the fore, other than through shibboleths the faithful would recognise, such as her reference to having "a servant's heart." Yet Sarah Palin's appointment re-ignites the culture wars. For just as she will energise much of the Evangelical and Catholic vote to get behind the Republican campaign, she will also energise the pro-abortion lobby so crucial to Democratic victories to work hard against the GOP.

Already much is being said, in a negative way, about Palin's decision to carry a child with Downs Syndrome to term. Remember, this is a country where 92 percent of pregnancies with a Downs Syndrome diagnosis end in abortion. Already sermons from the Pentecostal Church where Palin grew up and until only a few years ago worshipped are being investigated. And after helping stoke the furore over Barack Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright, Republicans can hardly cry foul.

The war over faith and its place in public life, the war over abortion and the sanctity of life, the war over whether a real woman can also be a Republican, all of these have been rekindled by Sarah Palin's candidacy, which makes her appointment interesting. Very interesting.

Brian Lilley is Ottawa Bureau Chief for radio stations 1010 CFRB in Toronto and CJAD 800 in Montreal. He is Associate Editor of MercatorNet.

The Significance of Sarah Palin

By Peter Wehner
Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2008

Publication Date: September 4, 2008

There is a lot to say about Sarah Palin's performance last night, but perhaps the place to begin is with this observation: Boy did Democrats choose the wrong hockey mom to pick a fight with.

1. It's always difficult to judge these things in real time, but my sense is that what happened last evening was a genuinely important political moment. It was important above all for Sarah Palin, who, under enormous pressure, delivered her speech flawlessly, with grace and style, in a way that was elegant, effective, and accessible. She is a supremely gifted political talent, both captivating and tough. And her conservatism seems organic rather than manufactured, ingrained rather than recently imbibed. After seeing her last night, you can understand why her approval rating in Alaska is at 80 percent. (What on earth is wrong with the other 20 percent?)

It's also worth pointing out that Governor Palin did what no one else, in 18 months, has been able to do: land clear and extraordinarily effective blows against America's best known community organizer, Barack Obama. Governor Palin did it with mocking good humor, charm, and devastating lines. Not bad for a former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

There are many more hurdles for Palin to clear before we can make a confident judgment about this governor whom most of us did not know just a week ago. She still faces a steep learning curve on a range of issues, and an extremely aggressive press corps. But with a single speech–think Reagan in ‘64, Cuomo in ‘84, and Obama in ‘04–Sarah Palin has emerged, at least for now, as one of the brightest stars within the political galaxy. She looks to be a natural, and she may now be the leader of a movement.

2. Last night was an important moment for John McCain, who after selecting Palin saw his judgment questioned and trashed not only by his critics but even by even by his former top aide. But McCain, who has acted on instinct throughout much of his political life, did so again with this pick. McCain seems to have seen in Palin what he sees in himself: a reformer, a person of admirable political courage and cross-over appeal.

3. Last night was also an important, and a very bad, moment for the mainstream media, many of whom were mocking in their coverage of Palin. Her selection, according to Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, evoked derisive belly laughs in news rooms all across America. Palin was Harriet Miers without the experience, E.J. Dionne sneeringly wrote in his column. She is a "bantamweight cheerleader from the West," according to that mighty intellect from the East, Maureen Dowd. Sally Quinn– whose name is known to you, if it is known to you, only because of her marriage to Ben Bradlee–called the pick an "insult to women, to the Republican Party, and to the country."

There are many honorable members of the press who didn't engage in the near obsession with Governor Palin's daughter's pregnancy (by my count the New York Times devoted four stories to this topic on Tuesday) or some of the really ugly stuff, journalists who viewed the Palin pick with skepticism but fairness. But there is no question that many members of the press were eager to pre-judge Palin as a failure and portray her as a rube, and who were clearly constructing a trap for her. She was going to be the next Dan Quayle.

Unfortunately for them, last night Palin didn't back down a millimeter and, in fact, she took the fight to the press with aplomb. In the course of 40 minutes last night, the media, already one of the least trusted institutions in American life, saw its credibility diminish even further. We may see a backlash of tremendous dimensions.

4. Last night was also an important moment for the Republican Party. For the last several years the GOP has been dispirited, lacking confidence and lacking direction. The Democratic Party was energized, self-confident, flush with cash and seemed to own the future. But with Palin's pick last week and especially with her speech last night, the GOP is suddenly revitalized. One cannot underestimate the joy and pride Republicans will have recaptured this week; as Mark Halperin of Time magazine said, an alchemy between McCain and his party is taking place at the RNC. Or, to put it another way, it is as if last evening served as a circuit breaker for the last three years, a very bad stretch that began with Hurricane Katrina and may have ended with Hurricane Gustav.

It's important to insert the caveats: last night consisted of only one speech, the national spotlight can be withering, and Governor Palin still faces lots of questions, as well as a vice presidential debate. And it's important to recall that most moments in politics that seem special and memorable at the time are ephemeral. All true. And yet one cannot help but think that what we saw last night was a woman who strode onto the national stage in a dazzling way, and who may dominate it for a long time to come.

Senator Stealth

How to advance radical causes when no one's looking
By Stanley Kurtz
Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2008

National Review Vol. LX, No. 16
Publication Date: September 1, 2008

After hearing about Barack Obama's ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Fr. Michael Pfleger, and the militant activists of ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), it should be clear to everyone that his extremist roots run deep. But the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has yet another connection with the world of far-Left radicalism. Obama has long been linked -- through foundation grants, shared political activism, collaboration on legislation and tactics, and mutual praise and support -- with the Chicago-based Gamaliel Foundation, one of the least known yet most influential national umbrella groups for church-based "community organizers."

The same separatist, anti-American theology of liberation that was so boldly and bitterly proclaimed by Obama's pastor is shared, if more quietly, by Obama's Gamaliel colleagues. The operative word here is "quietly." Gamaliel specializes in ideological stealth, and Obama, a master student of Gamaliel strategy, shows disturbing signs of being a sub rosa radical himself. Obama's legislative tactics, as well as his persistent professions of non-ideological pragmatism, appear to be inspired by his radical mentors' most sophisticated tactics. Not only has Obama studied, taught, and apparently absorbed stealth techniques from radical groups like Gamaliel and ACORN, but in his position as a board member of Chicago's supposedly nonpartisan Woods Fund, he quietly funneled money to his radical allies -- at the very moment he most needed their support to boost his political career. It's high time for these shadowy, perhaps improper, ties to receive a dose of sunlight.

The connections are numerous. Gregory Galluzzo, Gamaliel's co-founder and executive director, served as a trainer and mentor during Obama's mid-1980s organizing days in Chicago. The Developing Communities Project, which first hired Obama, is part of the Gamaliel network. Obama became a consultant and eventually a trainer of community organizers for Gamaliel. (He also served as a trainer for ACORN.) And he has kept up his ties with Gamaliel during his time in the U.S. Senate.

The Gamaliel connection appears to supply a solution to the riddle of Obama's mysterious political persona. On one hand, he likes to highlight his days as a community organizer -- a profession with proudly radical roots in the teachings of Chicago's Saul Alinsky, author of the highly influential text Rules for Radicals. Obama even goes so far as to make the community-organizer image a metaphor for his distinctive conception of elective office. On the other hand, Obama presents himself as a post-ideological, consensus-minded politician who favors pragmatic, common-sense solutions to the issues of the day. How can Obama be radical and post-radical at the same time? Perhaps by deploying Gamaliel techniques. Gamaliel organizers have discovered a way to fuse their Left-extremist political beliefs with a smooth, non-ideological surface of down-to-earth pragmatism: the substance of Jeremiah Wright with the appearance of Norman Vincent Peale. Could this be Obama's secret?

Before outlining Gamaliel's techniques of political stealth, we need to identify the views that they are camouflaging. These can be found in Dennis Jacobsen's book Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing. Jacobsen is the pastor of Incarnation Lutheran Church in Milwaukee and director of the Gamaliel National Clergy Caucus. Jacobsen's book, which is part of the first-year reading list for new Gamaliel organizers, lays out the underlying theology of Gamaliel's activities. While Jacobsen's book was published in 2001, it is based on presentations Jacobsen has been making at Gamaliel's clergy-training center since 1992 and clearly has Galluzzo's endorsement. So while we cannot be sure that Obama has read or taught Doing Justice, the book certainly embodies a political perspective to which Obama's more than 20 years of friendship with Galluzzo, and his stint as a Gamaliel instructor, would surely have exposed him.

In Jacobsen's conception, America is a sinful and fallen nation whose pervasive classism, racism, and militarism authentic Christians must constantly resist. Drawing on the Book of Revelation, Jacobsen exhorts, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! . . . Come out of her, my people, so that you do not take part in her sins." The United States, Jacobsen maintains, employs nationalism, propaganda, racism, bogus "civil religion," and class enmity to bolster its entrenched and oppressive corporate system. Authentic Christians forced to live in such a nation can "come out of Babylon," says Jacobsen, only by entering into "a perpetual state of internal exile."

Of course, many believers do feel at home in the United States, but according to Jacobsen, these inauthentic and misguided Christians have been lulled into the false belief that the United States is somehow different from other countries -- that it stands as a genuine defender of freedom and democracy. According to Jacobsen, the desire of most Americans to create a safe, secure life for themselves and their families constitutes an unacceptable emotional distancing from the sufferings of the urban poor. Jacobsen says that whenever he feels himself seduced by the American dream of personal security -- this "unconscionable removal from the lives of those who suffer" -- he rejects its pull as the deplorable "encroachment of America on my soul." To "feel at home in the United States," maintains Jacobsen, is not only to fall victim to a scarcely disguised form of political despotism; it is to betray Christianity itself.

Although Jacobsen acknowledges that the sufferings of the poor in America do not quite rise to the level of the Nazi Holocaust, he nonetheless finds a similarity: "The accommodation and silence of the church amidst Nazi atrocities are paralleled by the accommodation and silence of the church in this country amidst a calculated war against the poor." He recounts being present at the Pentagon "to fast and vigil with a group of religious resisters against the madness of nuclear build-up and militarism generated in that place" and is horrified when he sees that many in the American military actually think of themselves as Christians. For Jacobsen, this means that the church has "aligned itself with oppressive forces and crucified its Lord anew."

Jacobsen has a low opinion of the food pantries, homeless shelters, and walk-a-thons that make up so much religious charitable activity in the United States. All that charity, says Jacobsen, tends to suppress the truth that the system itself is designed to benefit the prosperous and keep the poor down. He complains: "The Christians who are so generous with food baskets at Thanksgiving or with presents for the poor at Christmas often vote into office politicians whose policies ignore or crush those living in poverty." "Most churches do not operate on the basis of healthy agitation," he says, but instead "on the basis of manipulation, authoritarianism, or guilt-tripping."

The solution, says Jacobsen, is community organizing: "Metropolitan organizing offers a chance to end the warfare against the poor and to heal the divisions of class and race that separate this sick society." "Militant mass action . . . fueled by righteous anger," he maintains, offers authentic community, and therefore "the possibility of fulfillment in a vacuous society." He continues: "If the pain and human degradation all around us doesn't stir up within us sufficient anger to want to shake the foundations of this society, then it's probably best for us to go back to playing church."

Other than the sense of community that is generated by militant struggle, what does Jacobsen offer as the cure for America's ills? He is short on detail here, but there are tantalizing hints. Jacobsen invokes the communal property and absence of private ownership that prevailed among early Christians as a possible model. Despite his initial skepticism regarding such selflessness, says Jacobsen, he has seen this sort of "radical sharing of limited resources" on a trip to a poor African church in Tanzania. Unfortunately, says Jacobsen, "the church in the United States lacks community. The American church by and large is privatistic, insular, and individualistic. It reflects American culture."

These, then, are the beliefs at the spiritual heart of the Gamaliel Foundation's community-organizing efforts. They show clear echoes of Jeremiah Wright's and James Cone's black-liberation theology, and it's evident that Obama has an affinity for organizations that embody this point of view. But a question arises. Gamaliel's goal is to build church-based coalitions capable of wielding power on behalf of the poor. These congregation-based organizations are supposed to counterbalance and undercut America's oppressive power structures. Yet if most American Christians are deluded servants of a sinful and oppressive system, how can they be molded into a majority coalition for change? Given the privatistic, insular, and individualistic character of American culture, theological frankness might backfire and drive away potential allies, exactly as happened with Reverend Wright. Thus arises the need for stealth.

It might have been all but impossible to penetrate the strategic thinking of Obama's cohorts if not for the fortuitous 2008 publication of Organizing Urban America: Secular and Faith-based Progressive Movements, by Rutgers political scientist Heidi Swarts. This is the first book-length study of the organizing tactics and political ideologies of Gamaliel and ACORN, the two groups to which Obama's community-organizing ties are closest. Swarts's study focuses on Gamaliel and ACORN in St. Louis, but given the degree of national coordination by both groups, the carry-over of her findings to Chicago is bound to be substantial. Because Swarts is highly sympathetic to the community-organizing groups she studies, she was granted an unusual degree of access to strategic discussions during her period of fieldwork.

Swarts calls groups like ACORN and (especially) Gamaliel "invisible actors," hidden from public view because they often prefer to downplay their efforts, because they work locally, and because scholars and journalists pay greater attention to movements with national profiles (like the Sierra Club or the Christian Coalition). Congregation-based community organizations like Gamaliel, by contrast, are often invisible even at the local level. A newspaper might report on a demonstration led by a local minister or priest, for example, without noticing that the clergyman in question is part of the Gamaliel network. "Though often hidden from view," says Swarts, "leaders have intentionally and strategically organized these movements that appear to well up and erupt from below."

Although Gamaliel and ACORN have significantly different tactics and styles, Swarts notes that their political goals and ideologies are broadly similar. Both groups press the state for economic redistribution. The tactics of Gamaliel and ACORN have been shaped in a "post-Alinsky" era of welfare reform and conservative resurgence, posing a severe challenge to those who wish to expand the welfare state. The answer these activists have hit upon, says Swarts, is to work incrementally in urban areas, while deliberately downplaying the far-Left ideology that stands behind their carefully targeted campaigns.

While ACORN's membership is fairly homogeneous, consisting chiefly of inner-city blacks and Hispanics, congregation-based community organizations like the Gamaliel Foundation tend to have more racially, culturally, and politically mixed constituencies. The need to overcome these divisions and gather a broad coalition behind its hard-Left agenda has pushed Gamaliel to develop what Swarts calls an "innovative cultural strategy." Because of the suspicions that blue-collar members might harbor toward its elite, liberal leaders, Gamaliel's main "ideological tactic," says Swarts, is to present its organizers as the opposite of radical, elite, or ideological. As Swarts explains, they deliberately refrain from using leftist jargon like "racism," "sexism," "classism," "homophobia," "oppression," or "multiple oppressions" in front of ordinary members -- even though, amongst themselves, Gamaliel's organizers toss around this sort of lingo with abandon, just as Jacobsen does in his book.

Swarts supplies a chart listing "common working-class perceptions of liberal social movements" on one side, while displaying on the other side Gamaliel organizers' tricky tactics for getting around them. To avoid seeming like radicals or "hippies left over from the sixties," Gamaliel organizers are careful to wear conventional clothing and conduct themselves with dignity, even formality. Since liberal social movements tend to come off as naïve and idealistic, Gamaliel organizers make a point of presenting their ideas as practical, pragmatic, and down-to-earth. When no one else is listening, Gamaliel organizers may rail at "racism," "sexism," and "oppressive corporate systems," but when speaking to their blue-collar followers, they describe their plans as "common sense solutions for working families."

Although the Gamaliel agenda is deeply collectivist and redistributionist, organizers are schooled to frame their program in traditional American, individualist terms. As Swarts puts it:

What makes [Gamaliel's] ideology liberal rather than conservative is that it advocates not private or voluntary solutions but collective public programs. They seek action from the state: social welfare programs, redistribution, or regulation. . . . But publicly [Gamaliel and other congregation-based groups] usually emphasize individual responsibility on the part of authorities.

What Gamaliel really wants, in other words, is for the public as a whole to fork over funds to the government, but they're careful to frame this demand as a call for "personal responsibility" by particular government officials.

The relative homogeneity of ACORN's membership allows it to display its radicalism more openly. According to Swarts, ACORN members think of themselves as "oppositional outlaws" and "militants unafraid to confront the powers that be." Yet even ACORN has a deeper, hidden ideological dimension. "Long-term ACORN organizers . . . tend to see the organization as a solitary vanguard of principled leftists," says Swarts, while ordinary members rarely think in these overtly ideological terms; for them, it's more about attacking specific problems. In general, ACORN avoids programmatic statements. During a 1980 effort to purge conservatives from its ranks, however, the organization did release a detailed political platform -- which Swarts calls "a veritable laundry list of progressive positions."

Although ACORN's radicalism is somewhat more frank than Gamaliel's, ACORN has an "innovative cultural strategy" of its own. ACORN's radicalism is incremental; it's happy to work toward ambitious long-term goals through a series of baby steps. For example, although ACORN has fought for "living wage" laws in several American cities, these affect only the small fraction of the workforce employed directly by city governments. The real purpose of ACORN's urban living-wage campaigns, says Swarts, is not economic but political. ACORN's long-term goal is an across-the-board minimum-wage increase at the state and federal levels. The public debate spurred by local campaigns is meant to prepare the political ground for ACORN's more ambitious political goals, and to build up membership in the meantime.

Throughout his career, Obama has drawn on all of these strategies. In Illinois's Republican-controlled state senate, Obama specialized in incremental legislation, often drawn up in collaboration with groups like Gamaliel and ACORN. His tiny, targeted expansions of government-financed health care, for example, were designed to build political momentum for universal health care. And his claim to be a "common-sense pragmatist," rather than a leftist ideologue, comes straight out of the Gamaliel playbook.

New evidence now ties Obama still more closely to both organizations. Not only was Obama a trainer for Gamaliel and ACORN, he appears to have used his influence to secure a major increase in funding for both groups -- arguably stretching the bounds of propriety in the process.

In 2005, the year after Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate, the Washington, D.C.–based Center for Community Change released a report titled "Promising Practices in Revenue Generation for Community Organizing." One of the report's authors was Jean Rudd, Obama's friend and the president of the Woods Fund during Obama's years on that foundation's board. Buried deep within the report lies the story of Obama's role in expanding the Woods Fund's financial support for groups like Gamaliel and ACORN.

Since the start of his organizing career, Obama was recognized by the Woods Fund as "a great analyst and interpreter of organizing," according to the 2005 report. Initially an adviser, Obama became a Woods Fund board member, and finally board chairman, serving as a key advocate of increased funding for organizing during that period. In 1995, the Woods Fund commissioned a special evaluation of its funding for community organizing -- a report that eventually recommended a major expansion of financial support. Obama chaired a committee of organizers that advised the Woods Fund on this important shift.

The committee's report, "Evaluation of the Fund's Community Organizing Grant Program," is based on interviews with all the big names in Obama's personal organizer network. Greg Galluzzo and other Gamaliel Foundation officials were consulted, as were several ACORN organizers, including Madeline Talbott, Obama's key ACORN contact. Talbott, an expert on ACORN's tactics of confrontation and disruption, is quoted more often than any other organizer in the report, sometimes with additional comments from Obama himself. The report holds up Gamaliel and ACORN as models for other groups and supports Talbott's call for "‘a massive infusion of resources' to make organizing a truly mass-based movement."

Support from the Woods Fund had importance for these groups that went way beyond the money itself. Since community organizers often use confrontation, intimidation, and "civil disobedience" in the service of their political goals, even liberal foundations sometimes find it difficult to fund them without risking public criticism. As the report puts it: "Some funders . . . are averse to confrontational tactics, and are loathe [sic] to support organizing for that reason. They essentially equate organizing with the embarrassment of their business and government associates." The Woods Fund is both highly respected and one of the few foundations to consistently support community organizing, so its money acts as a kind of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, providing political cover for other foundations interested in funding the hard Left. Obama apparently sought to capitalize on this effect, not only by expanding the Woods Fund's involvement in organizing, but by distributing the Woods report to a national network of potential funders.

Formally, the Woods Fund claims to be "non-ideological." According to the report: "This stance has enabled the Trustees to make grants to organizations that use confrontational tactics against the business and government 'establishments,' without undue risk of being criticized for partisanship." Yet ACORN received substantial funding from Woods, apparently aided by Obama's internal advocacy, and we now know that ACORN members have played key roles as volunteer ground troops in Obama's various political campaigns. That would seem to raise the specter of partisanship.

A 2004 article in Social Policy by Chicago ACORN leader Toni Foulkes, titled "Case Study: Chicago -- The Barack Obama Campaign," explains that, given Obama's long and close relationship to ACORN, "it was natural for many of us to be active volunteers" in Obama's campaigns. Perhaps ACORN volunteers observed the technical legalities and helped Obama merely in their capacity as private citizens. Even so, it seems at least possible that Obama used his position at a supposedly nonpartisan foundation to direct money to an allegedly nonpartisan group, in pursuit of what were in fact nakedly partisan ends.

Given Obama's political aspirations, it's notable that the focus of his Woods Fund report is its call for "improving the tie between organizing and policy making" and shifting organizing's focus from local battles to "citywide or statewide coalitions." The report boldly criticizes Saul Alinsky himself for being excessively focused on local issues, complaining that "he did not seek to fundamentally upset the distribution of power in the wider society."

The ultimate goal of all these efforts -- fundamental disruption of America's power structure, and economic redistribution along race, poverty, and gender lines -- is entirely compatible with the program outlined by Dennis Jacobsen in Doing Justice. Obama could hardly have been unfamiliar with the general drift of Gamaliel ideology, especially given his reputation as an analyst of community organizing and his supervision of a comprehensive review of the field.

Even after becoming a U.S. senator, Obama has maintained his ties to the Gamaliel Foundation. According to an October 2007 report for the University of California by Todd Swanstrom and Brian Banks, "it is almost unheard of for a U.S. Senator to attend a public meeting of a community organization, but Senator Obama attended a Gamaliel affiliate public meeting in Chicago." Given this ongoing contact, given the radicalism of Gamaliel's core ideology, given Obama's close association with Gamaliel's co-founder, Gregory Galluzzo, given Obama's role as a Gamaliel consultant and trainer, and given Obama's outsized role in channeling allegedly "nonpartisan" funding to Gamaliel affiliates (and to his political ground troops at ACORN), some questions are in order. Obama needs to detail the nature of his ties to both Gamaliel and ACORN, and should discuss the extent of his knowledge of Gamaliel's guiding ideology. Ultimately, we need to know if Obama is the post-ideological pragmatist he sometimes claims to be, or in fact a stealth radical.

-- Mr. Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.