Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Other Catholic Higher Education

Since most Catholic colleges won’t do their job, bring the faith to secular schools.

By Gerard V. Bradley
September 16, 2009, 4:00 a.m.

There are about 225 Catholic colleges and universities listed in The Official Catholic Directory. More than a hundred others have gone out of business over the last generation. I am confident that scores more will disappear — close their doors, merge, or officially declare themselves to be secular — over the next couple of decades. And even among today’s 225 institutions, most are no more than nominally Catholic. That will not change in the coming years.

This remarkable institutional meltdown is mightily affecting the Church. At precisely the time of life when young people are shedding their childlike faith and need to develop a mature, more critical, but more profound adult commitment, they leave home and encounter a brave new world of ideas and experiences untethered to Catholicism.

The meltdown also affects America. The intellectual formation of the nation’s 65 million Catholics has a profound influence on our culture and our politics. It is therefore worth asking: What happened to America’s Catholic colleges and universities? And what’s next?

Is it a simple case of supply contracting to match a shrinking demand? Not really. In this case, there has been a more complex, and largely reverse, dialectic. The reason is that demand for this particular good — a genuine Catholic education — must be stimulated by suppliers, in league with other Catholic authority figures. Unlike food and clothing and health care, this product satisfies no natural need. Nor does it respond to some culturally contingent requirement, as do cell phones or a bachelor’s degree from some — any — accredited institution. A genuine Catholic education is more like an orchid: Both its beauty and people’s appreciation of it must be assiduously cultivated. So when the supply of Catholic education plummeted in the late 1960s, so did demand. Many suppliers went out of business. That further decreased demand, so more suppliers quit. Four decades of this, and production of genuine Catholic education is a now a fringe, boutique enterprise.

It didn’t have to happen. America’s Catholic higher-education complex should have taken off when the baby boomers came of age. There were already hundreds of schools, and the mid-1960s brought a teeming cohort of potential patrons. Moreover, unlike most of their parents, these boomers were destined for college. Tragically, instead of reaping the reward of this bounty, the colleges began to shed their Catholic character — for a mix of reasons, good, misguided but understandable, and just plain bad.

One good reason has to do with the fact that dozens of these colleges were little more than finishing schools for better-off Catholic girls. Given that many of the top colleges, Catholic and not, were still male-only, and that these girls were mostly destined by cultural fate to be homemakers, the decent liberal education they received was perhaps suited to them. But when women began to look at college the way men do, and when they became admissible at all the best schools, it was lights out for the finishing schools. Some tried to adapt to the new ethos; few succeeded.

A misguided but understandable reason was money. In the late 1960s, many Catholic schools rapidly secularized for fear that the government money they thought they needed (in the form of scholarships and other grants) would be denied to “sectarian” institutions. The Supreme Court laid this fear to rest in decisions announced in the mid-1970s, but by then the schools were pretty far gone. Another misguided reason was faulty theology. Jesuit colleges in particular were captured by an alleged “spirit of Vatican II.” This wind blew them to the belief that a true Catholic education was one immersed in the nitty-gritty of contemporary thought and praxis. But since the contemporary world was largely pagan, so was the effect upon the colleges.

A just plain bad reason was rejection of the Catholic faith. Catholic intellectuals (among other Catholics) rebelled against the truths of Catholicism beginning in the 1960s. Many declared themselves no longer Catholic; others settled into permanent dissent. The ones in charge of colleges took their institutions with them.

The vast majority of America’s Catholic colleges and universities today are small, academically undistinguished, and struggling to make ends meet. They subsist — barely — on tuition income. They no longer have a market to themselves. Instead they compete with the whole array of private colleges and cheaper — much cheaper — public ones. They are losing ground. Today few college-age Catholics wish to be formed intellectually according to the truths of the faith. Few wish to be intellectually formed at all. They attend college for the same reason most kids do: to get a degree that will help them get a better job. How many 18-year-olds really understand the great intrinsic (that is, non-instrumental) value of a liberal education? How many grasp the sublime value of a distinctively Catholic liberal education?

Today’s young people are not much to blame. They see that Wall Street philosophy firms are not paying much these days (or any days), and they do not want to be unemployed poets. Of course the benefits of a genuine Catholic education lie elsewhere than in the job market, but they are largely invisible and long-term. Furthermore, acquiring a real education of any sort is very hard work. Who would be such a chump as to pay a premium for the privilege? When all you can get at a “Catholic” school is some pious platitudes wrapped around the same product that is discounted elsewhere, a savvy shopper makes the easy call.

The truth is and has always been that demand for Catholic education has to be stimulated from the top down. The challenge is that people who scarcely grasp a product’s benefits must be persuaded to buy it at a high price. This is not impossible. The history of advertising shows that people can be persuaded to pay for products they had not wanted and that do them no real good. (Remember Pet Rocks?) In the case of Catholic education, people — kids and their parents and potential donors — have to be persuaded by credible spokesmen that the Catholic faith, which they should hold dear, requires a major investment for its transmission and flourishing. This sales job calls for exertion and authoritative testimony to a subtle but unsurpassably valuable payoff.

It is not going to happen. Some of yesterday’s promotional tools are (thankfully) no longer in use. Young women are not “finished” any more; the best colleges no longer discriminate against Catholic applicants; bishops no longer preach against, much less forbid attendance at, non-Catholic colleges. (Justly so, given the sorry state of today’s “Catholic” colleges.) Lamentable but no less consequential is the waning of “feeder” parochial high schools, and the whole cultural devaluation of religious education for anyone who is not going into specifically religious work. And, as I said, the competition from cheaper public institutions is fierce.

The flagship Catholic institutions could arrest (up to a point) this decline in demand. Notre Dame and Georgetown could flourish today as bastions of a genuinely Catholic education. Their large, loyal, and generous alumni base protects them financially. They do not compete with public universities, at least not nearly as intensely and precariously as do the vast majority of Catholic institutions. If these leadership schools preached the gospel of Catholic education in and out of season, they could stimulate demand for it all the way down the academic food chain. High-school seniors denied admission to Notre Dame would still want what Notre Dame has to offer, and would likely seek it at another Catholic institution.

But the leadership schools have not stepped up to the plate. For the full story about Notre Dame, you should read my colleague Charlie Rice’s candid and powerful new book, What Happened to Notre Dame? Rice has taught at Notre Dame for almost 40 years and has long been an affectionate but acute critic of the school’s secular drift. His key point is expressed succinctly by Notre Dame philosophy professor Alfred Freddoso. In his introduction to Rice’s book, Freddoso writes that Notre Dame “is a university as universities go these days, and it is in some obvious sense Catholic. What it is not — and has not been since I have been here — is a Catholic university, i.e., an institution of higher learning where the Catholic faith pervades and enriches, and is itself enriched by, the intellectual life on campus.” Freddoso observes that “Notre Dame today is something like a public school in a Catholic neighborhood.”

The heart of a Catholic university — of any university — is its intellectual life: most importantly, the teaching and learning within its classrooms, and then the research and publishing of its faculty. If the truths of the Catholic faith do not suffuse these endeavors, the university simply is not Catholic. The difference between Notre Dame and other industry leaders (such as Georgetown and Boston College) lies in the comparative quality of the “Catholic neighborhood.” At Notre Dame, it is good.

Encouragingly, a handful of small colleges have kept the faith. Among them is Belmont Abbey College, of Charlotte, N.C., under the courageous leadership of its president, Bill Thierfelder, and its chief academic officer, Ann Carson Daley. Saint Vincent’s College, of Latrobe, Pa., is also on track, under the direction of Jim Towey (formerly President Bush’s assistant for faith-based social services and, for many years prior to that, legal counsel to Mother Teresa). The leadership team at Mount Saint Mary’s, in Emmitsburg, Md., is very strongly committed to its Catholic character, as is that at Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kans., where Stephen Minnis is president. These and the few other genuinely Catholic schools should be cherished, supported, and patronized. But they are a tiny slice of the whole pie of American higher education. And they are not likely to multiply.

We need a new paradigm for delivering Catholic higher education. It is time to go where the Catholic students are. More than 80 percent of them attend non-Catholic institutions, where the Church’s mission has long been limited to pastoral care: On campus or at nearby Newman Centers students attend Mass, go to confession, and meet other Catholics. We must ratchet this menu of options up — way up — to include serious and sustained intellectual formation. The goal should be to establish, at or near every college with a substantial Catholic student population, a free-standing center devoted to intellectual formation, to the cultivation of the Catholic mind.

This is the other Catholic higher education.

— Gerard V. Bradley is professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, and a former president of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

ACORN Watch: A "Sting"-ing Indictment of Media Hypocrisy

By Michelle Malkin
September 15, 2009

Undercover journalism is only acceptable when it fits a liberal agenda. That is the message from "professional" reporters and left-wing activists outraged about three successful video stings targeting President Obama's old friends at the left-wing tax-subsidized outfit ACORN.

Conservative documentarian James O'Keefe and writer Hannah Giles, working for the website, posed as a pimp and prostitute during visits to ACORN offices in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Brooklyn. ACORN housing officials and tax advisers offered them brazen suggestions on how to lie on their applications, disguise their income, obscure their child sex-ring business and hide cash from abusive johns. ("When you buy the house with the backyard, you get a tin," an ACORN counselor in New York told Giles, "and you bury it down in there, cover it and put the grass over it.") [Transcript]

In a video made by undercover conservative activists, an employee of the anti-poverty and housing rights group ACORN (right) advises a woman posing as a prostitute about how to avoid paying taxes and secure a home loan. (CBS)

Summing up the ACORN Housing Corporation philosophy, another Brooklyn ACORN official told the undercover pair bluntly: "Honesty is not going to get you the house."

ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson blasted the investigation as "gotcha journalism." Echoing ACORN's defenders, MSNBC anchor Norah O'Donnell fretted on Tuesday that Giles and O'Keefe's methods "might be viewed as entrapment. That some conservative activists used hidden cameras to get this stuff on camera."

O'Donnell has apparently forgotten the inglorious history of news "entrapment" by her betters at NBC News.

This is the network that surreptitiously rigged GM pickup trucks in staged crash tests in 1993 to show that the vehicles were unsafe—and failed to inform viewers that the simulations used incendiary devices to ignite the explosions. Jane Pauley admitted in a nationally televised apology that "NBC's contractor did put incendiary devices under the trucks to ensure there would be a fire if gasoline were released from the gas tank. NBC personnel knew this before we aired the program, but the public was not informed because consultants at the scene told us the devices did not start the fire. We agree with GM that we should have told the viewer about these devices."

This is the network that pioneered the "To Catch a Predator" series—an investigative sting operation to nab Internet pedophiles. Until last year, the journalists worked with activist group Perverted Justice, whose members posed as children in web chat rooms to lure alleged pedophiles to a residential home.

This is the network that sent out an intrepid NBC News reporter in a canoe to cover treacherous New Jersey flooding in 2005—only to be shown up by passers-by who sloshed in front of the camera and demonstrated that the water was only a few inches deep.

This is the network that tried to arrange Islamophobia stings at NASCAR events in 2006 to try to "expose" racism among Southerners. The network worked with a Muslim activist who sent a recruitment notice across the Internet:

"I have been talking with a producer of the NBC Dateline show, and he is in the process of filming a piece on anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discrimination in the USA. They are looking for some Muslim male candidates for their show who would be willing to go to non-Muslim gatherings and see if they attract any discriminatory comments or actions while being filmed. … NBC is willing to fly in someone and cover their weekend expenses. The filming would take place all day on Saturday and Sunday."

The same sting tactics were adopted by ABC News' Primetime Live news show in Alabama and Texas.

"Professional" undercover journalists see their work as serving the public and national interests, exposing wrongdoing, and blowing the whistle on illicit activities that would not otherwise see the light of day. But this is exactly what the ACORN stings have done.

Taxpayers deserve to know how ACORN and its vast web of nonprofit, tax-exempt affiliates are using their money (40 percent of the group's revenue comes from the government). The flagship group trains publicly funded ACORN tax advisers and mortgage counselors across the country.
In fact, ACORN is now managing apartments in Bedford-Stuyvesant, N.Y., for the newly completed Atlantic Avenue Apartments. Yet, ACORN Housing Corporation has a long history of abusing federal housing funds and AmeriCorps grants for political activities.

Head-in-the-sand ABC News anchor Charles Gibson claimed he "didn't know" about the ACORN scandal this week and snarked that "maybe this is just one you leave to the cables."

Giles and O'Keefe's investigations (and there are more to come, according to's Andrew Breitbart) have exposed not one but two protection rackets:
ACORN's—and the ostrich media's.


- Michelle Malkin [email her] is the author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s review. Click here for Michelle Malkin's website. Michelle Malkin is also author of Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild and the just-released Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies.

Obama’s “Diversity Chief” and the End of Talk Radio

By John Perazzo
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Two months ago, Georgetown University affiliate professor of public policy Mark Lloyd was appointed to be the Diversity Chief of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). At the time, Lloyd was also Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). A quick overview of this legislative advocacy group’s perspectives and agendas reveals a great deal about who Lloyd is and what he believes. Most notably, LCCR condemns the American criminal-justice system as a thoroughly racist institution; it avidly supports President Obama’s quest for socialized medicine; it contends that racism permeates the housing market and the money-lending industry; it views the U.S. as a sexist nation that discriminates against women, particularly in terms of workplace compensation; it supports the League of United Latin American Citizens’ vision of immigration reform, where illegal aliens would be permitted, en masse, to pursue a pathway to citizenship; it favors voting rights for ex-felons; and it contends that the existence of poverty in America is due to “the gates of economic opportunity” being “mostly closed to minorities, women, and others by both governmental and private action.” In short, it views America as a cesspool of racism and discrimination. Lloyd himself embraces each of the foregoing positions.

During various periods of his career, Lloyd has served as a consultant to the Bill Clinton White House and to two of the major funders of far-left causes: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and George Soros’s Open Society Institute. Lloyd was also a senior fellow at John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, which has served as perhaps the most influential think tank advising the Obama administration on matters of policy. As evidenced by these affiliations, Lloyd is clearly a creature of the political far left.

Since Lloyd took the reins of the FCC, conservative critics have accused him of planning to drive conservative talk radio from the airwaves. Some charge that he wishes to restore the Fairness Doctrine, a 1940s-era regulation that required radio and TV broadcasters to provide airtime to opposing viewpoints and was repealed in 1987. As the Heritage Foundation correctly observed years ago, the Fairness Doctrine, far from encouraging free expression of diverse views, actually inhibited such discourse:

“By requiring, under threat of arbitrary legal penalty, that broadcasters ‘fairly’ represent both sides of a given issue, advocates of the doctrine believe that more views will be aired while the editorial content of the station can remain unaltered. But with the threat of potential FCC retaliation for perceived lack of compliance, most broadcasters would be more reluctant to air their own opinions because it might require them to air alternative perspectives that their audience does not want to hear.”

Staking claim to that same ideological turf, Lloyd assures us that he has no intention of repealing the Fairness Doctrine, a position consistent with the one that Barack Obama has stated publicly. So it sounds like Lloyd and Obama are content to let the marketplace decide who wins the battle of competing ideas in the broadcast media, right?

Wrong. “[T]he market solution,” Lloyd laments, “has clearly failed to meet audience demand.” Lloyd elaborates on this theme in “The Structural Imbalance of Talk Radio,” a lengthy report commissioned jointly by the Center for American Progress and the Free Press, which Lloyd co-authored. This publication states that because “91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive,” the stations and networks that air such shows are failing to abide by Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1934, which “requires commercial broadcasters to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of issues of public importance.”

Lloyd dismisses the most commonly cited theory as to why conservative talk radio is so much more popular than liberal/left formats -- the contention that “station owners are merely providing the programming that the market forces demand.” Says Lloyd:

“Although talk radio audiences tend to be more male, middle-aged, and conservative, research by Pew indicates that this audience is not monolithic … It is difficult to argue that the existing audience for talk radio is only interested in hearing one side of public debates, given the diversity of the existing and potential audience.”

In Lloyd’s calculus, a more accurate assessment is that “the imbalance in talk radio programming today” is a result of “the elimination of clear public interest requirements such as local public affairs programming, and the relaxation of ownership rules, including the requirement of local participation in management.”

Specifically, Lloyd contends that when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 “removed the national limit on the number of radio stations that one company could own,” it triggered the development of a “wave” of “conglomerates” consisting of “several hundred stations apiece.” Says Lloyd:

“The number of locally-owned, minority-owned, and female-owned stations was constrained—and the very different programming decisions these owners make were less visible in the market.”

Lloyd asserts that this development has had a profound effect on the mix of political perspectives advanced on talk radio. He writes that “stations owned by racial or ethnic minorities [or by women] are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows, and [are] more likely to air progressive hosts or shows” – because conservative programming “is so far out of step with their local audiences.” Moreover, says Lloyd: “Stations controlled by owners who run just a single station [are] statistically less likely to air conservative talk and more likely to air progressive hosts or shows.”

“Ultimately,” Lloyd maintains, “these results suggest that increasing ownership diversity, both in terms of the race/ethnicity and gender of owners, as well as the number of independent local owners, will lead to more diverse programming, more choices for listeners, and more owners who are responsive to their local communities [i.e., the concept of ‘localism’] and serve the public interest.”

In other words, “diversity” and “localism” go hand-in-hand, and both can be used as pretexts for shifting the political balance of radio programming leftward. President Obama himself has cited localism as a key consideration for the issuance of broadcast licenses. On September 20, 2007, Obama submitted a written statement supporting localism at an FCC hearing held at the Chicago headquarters of Jesse Jackson’s Operation Push.

Under localism’s dictates, the degree to which radio stations conform their programming to government-mandated guidelines for ideological “balance” will determine whether or not they are able to successfully renew their broadcast licenses. And Lloyd wishes to decrease the term of a broadcast license from eight years to three years. In other words, every three years broadcasters will have to be prepared anew to make the case that they have been complying with the dictates of localism and diversity.

According to Seton Motley of the Media Research Center, Lloyd “is fundamentally opposed to virtually any private ownership of media…. The original sin in communications, in his opinion, is when … President [Thomas] Jefferson relinquished … the Post Office control of the telegraph. When they relinquished control to a private entity, that was the original sin of communications because that turned over communications vehicles to the private sector outside of the scope of government control.”

This assessment of Lloyd’s views about private broadcast ownership is consistent with what Lloyd writes in his book Prologue to a Farce: Communications and Democracy in America, where he suggests that private broadcasters should pay an annual licensing fee in an amount equivalent to their total yearly operating costs. That money, in turn, should be redistributed to public broadcasting stations (which supposedly are more in tune with their audiences’ needs), thereby ensuring that the operating budgets of such stations will be just as large as those of their privately owned counterparts.In short, stations that are successful and profitable would be required to turn over an enormous portion of their earnings to competitors that are failures in the marketplace. Writes Lloyd:

“Federal and regional broadcast operations and local stations should be funded at levels commensurate with or above those spending levels at which commercial operations are funded. This funding should come from license fees charged to commercial broadcasters.”

Lloyd views governmental control over the airwaves as a potentially potent “means of social change” because of radio’s capacity, if harnessed properly, to give all Americans “a political voice” and access to “information that they can trust.” By contrast, he views conservative talk radio largely as a source of misinformation. To combat that misinformation, he advocates the abrogation of free speech, as evidenced by this excerpt from Prologue to a Farce:

“It should be clear by now that my focus here is not freedom of speech or the press.... This freedom is all too often an exaggeration.... At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies.”

Lloyd’s campaign to greatly diminish the influence of conservative talk radio, if not to eliminate it altogether, is based heavily on the tactics of Saul Alinsky, the late community organizer who painstakingly laid out a detailed blueprint for revolutionary social change. Citing Alinsky repeatedly as his primary inspiration, Lloyd outlines a strategy that conceals its ultimate objective by masking its radical ends under the rubric of “diversity,” “localism,” and “the public interest.”

But like Alinsky, Lloyd also understands that there is a time and place for open defiance and aggression rather than stealth; for what he terms “a confrontational movement … committed to active and sustained protest against the present order.” By Lloyd’s reckoning, no tactic, however unethical, is off-limits if it stands a good chance of yielding the desired result. Thus he fondly recalls the late Ted Kennedy’s 1987 “campaign to prevent the Supreme Court nomination of the ultra-conservative jurist Robert Bork” as a source of “inspiration and guidance.” In case you’ve forgotten, Kennedy, who vehemently opposed Bork’s constructionist judicial philosophy — the idea that the Constitution is not a “living document” subject to endless reinterpretation — went to the Senate floor to deliver what ranks among the most disgraceful pack of slanderous lies ever uttered by an American politician:

“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens …”

Though Lloyd professes a desire to flood the airwaves with a wide diversity of political opinions, he is a devoted admirer of none other than Venezuela’s Communist President Hugo Chavez – a steadfast opponent of free-speech rights for his political adversaries. At a June 10, 2008 National Conference for Media Reform, Lloyd gushed:

“In Venezuela, with Chavez, is really an incredible revolution -- a democratic revolution. To begin to put in place things that are going to have an impact on the people of Venezuela. The property owners and the folks who then controlled the media in Venezuela rebelled -- worked, frankly, with folks here in the U.S. government -- worked to oust him. But he came back with another revolution, and then Chavez began to take very seriously the media in his country.”

But what has Chavez actually done for free-speech rights in his country? In a March 1, 2009 televised address, he said that “if it weren’t for the attack, the lies, manipulation and the exaggeration” of the private media networks, the Venezuelan government would enjoy the support of at least four-fifths of the population. Thus he ordered his governors and mayors to draw up a “map of the media war” to determine which print and broadcast outlets were “in the hands of the oligarchy.” By July, Chavez had shut down 34 radio stations in the name of “democratizing” the media. On September 5 his spokesman announced that “another 29 [stations] will be gone before long.” It is expected that by the time Chavez is done, he will have forced more than 100 broadcasters to cease operations altogether.

During Chavez’s recent campaign for a constitutional amendment to remove term limits for elected officials, a statistical analysis found that more than 93 percent of the Venezuelan state news channel’s coverage of the proposed amendment was favorable.

Such unquestioning allegiance to the agendas of a far-left president is essentially the direction in which America’s major television networks are likewise headed. Talk radio offers conservatives an oasis of sanity in an otherwise scorching desert of leftist media drivel. Yet Lloyd, like his hero Chavez, would transform talk radio into just another echo chamber for the left – under the righteous-sounding banners of “diversity,” “localism,” and “the public interest.”

- John Perazzo is the Managing Editor of DiscoverTheNetworks and is the author of The Myths That Divide Us: How Lies Have Poisoned American Race Relations. For more information on his book, click here. E-mail him at

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wary of an Israeli Attack, Putin Arms Iran

By Kim Zigfeld
September 15, 2009

Last Monday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, perhaps the most closely guarded human being on the face of the Earth, went missing for almost an entire day.

His government did not confirm his whereabouts until nearly a week later [1]. Bibi had been in Moscow, slipping off under a cloak of absolute secrecy for an emergency powwow with the Russian government.

Vladimir Putin

What was so urgent that the matter could only be handled in person by Israel’s ultimate leader? There is only one topic these days that is earth-shaking enough to justify such a visit. That matter is Iran, a nation engaged in a furious effort to obtain nuclear weapons it can use to achieve the extermination of the Jewish race and the obliteration of the state of Israel, to say nothing of gaining primacy in the Middle East and a chokehold on international oil supplies.

A week before Netanyahu disappeared, the international news wires began burning with speculation [2] about the cargo of a ship called the Arctic Sea, which was crewed by Russians and suddenly disappeared en route to Algeria, supposedly carrying a load of timber from Finland.

Two days before Netanyahu disappeared, the Times of London [3] solved that maritime mystery. There were no logs in the hold of the Arctic Sea. Instead, there were log-shaped S-300 Russian anti-missile missiles [4], and their destination was not Africa but Iran. Desperate to interrupt the Russian effort, Israeli security forces who had the ship under surveillance leaked the plot. Russian forces swooped in to cover up the outrage before the world could find the smoking gun, making a lame attempt to put the whole thing off as a hijacking.

Iran wants these weapons for just one reason: to shoot down Israeli cruise missiles fired at Iranian nuclear installations in an effort to interrupt [5] the Islamic dictatorship’s feverish preparation of a nuclear bomb.

Just weeks ago, rumors began circulating that Vladimir Putin’s KGB had begun sharing intelligence [6] directly with the Hezbollah terrorist organization. At the time, the obscurity of the sources reporting this information combined with the seeming insanity of such a policy made the reports appear questionable to many. But now, with a secret delivery of high-technology weapons to Iran, such reports become chilling to contemplate.

Russia achieves a great deal by sowing terror in the Middle East. First and foremost, such terror ripples through international oil markets and drives up the price of Russian crude — the only thing keeping the Putin regime afloat these days after the Russian stock market collapsed in the wake of the global economic crisis. In August, Russia’s budget deficit increased a horrifying 40 percent, [7] and a jolting 15 percent currency devaluation is predicted before the end of the year.
On top of that, Russia gets to poke a finger in the eye of its hated enemy, the United States, giving aid and comfort to America’s most dangerous foes. Indeed, let’s not forget that Russia is menacing the U.S. itself [8] with nuclear attack on a regular basis. This policy is not limited to the Middle East, of course. For instance, Putin just hosted a visit from Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, selling him a large tranche of missiles [9] as well. (In return, Chavez recognized Russia’s conquest of Ossetia and Abkhazia.) And Russia gets to claim leverage over the region, blackmailing its way into the bargaining rooms of the world’s democracies.

So it hardly came as any surprise when Russia announced on Thursday [10] that it would veto any efforts by those democracies to impose sanctions on Iran for flouting world supervision of its nuclear program. The day before, the U.S. ambassador to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, Glyn Davies, had warned that Iran had developed a “possible breakout capacity” by reaching critical mass on nuclear material and scientific development so that assembling a bomb is possible in a tactical timeframe.

No wonder the Iranians are in quite a hurry to get their hands on Russian missiles to ward off an Israeli military strike — with the Obama administration dithering, Israel can have no confidence that American diplomacy will defuse the crisis, and that means Iran can have no confidence its infant nuclear arsenal will survive without Russian protection.

Announcing Russia’s refusal to help rein in Iran, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated: “Iran is a partner that has never harmed Russia in any way.” One must wonder whether Lavrov would accept American military aid to the Chechen terrorists who stormed the Dubrovka theater and the school in Beslan on the grounds that Chechens had never done anything to Americans. It seems doubtful that he would do so, but hypocrisy of this kind has never been any sort of brake on Russian (or Soviet) foreign policy in the past.

Russia’s hatred of America is so intense, and its economic mismanagement and failure so profound, that it has become quite desperate. It is a neighbor of Iran and no friend of Islam (as any Chechen can testify). Just as American weapons given to the mujaheddin of Afghanistan yesterday are used against Americans today, so too Russian weapons flowing into Iran may come back with interest some day. But this is Russia’s only card to play in the geopolitical game of cold war that the Kremlin’s clan of KGB rulers simply cannot walk away from, regardless of the cost to the people of Russia or the world.

And, to be sure, there is a joker in the deck that both Iran and Russia can hope to rely on. That joker is named Barack Obama. Obama’s shamefully weak [11] performance in Moscow and his even more feeble attempt to confront the fundamentalist rulers of Iran have confirmed for America’s enemies that we are ruled by someone who will not take decisive action to interrupt their schemes, much less to protect American values.

So, in the end, Obama may be more dangerous to America than the leaders of Russian and Iran combined.

Article printed from Pajamas Media:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] nearly a week later:,2933,549528,00.html

[2] burning with speculation:,8599,1919342,00.html

[3] Times of London:

[4] S-300 Russian anti-missile missiles:

[5] effort to interrupt:

[6] begun sharing intelligence:

[7] horrifying 40 percent,:

[8] menacing the U.S. itself:

[9] large tranche of missiles:

[10] announced on Thursday:

[11] shamefully weak:

The Ugly Face of Student Resistance

Between the leftists and the hedonists, is there any room on campus for ordered liberty?

By David French
September 15, 2009, 4:00 a.m.

After a generation-long attempt at social engineering on college campuses, it appears that leftist thought reformers have met with a rather decisive student response. Mandatory “civility” and “tolerance” codes have been derided and rejected in practice. Efforts to re-engineer relationships between the sexes into the bloodless transactional model favored by so many feminist activists have foundered. There has been no wave of student protest against either of America’s two “imperialist” wars. And not even a force as powerful as Barack Obama in his political prime could lead this new generation of students to emulate their baby-boomer parents in political activism and passion.

Should conservatives take heart at this nascent student rebellion? Should we cheer the demise of “tolerance” in student culture and mock professors’ increasingly desperate calls for a new generation of student activism? Not when the source of student apathy is the primacy of their personal party schedule, and the face of the resistance is a gaggle of drunken, slobbering students stumbling back to the dorm after their fourth night of binge drinking in a week.

Millions of college students have answered political correctness with hedonism, defying feminist and multiculturalist scolds with hoisted beer glasses and libraries full of Girls Gone Wild DVDs. If this is the current state of student rebellion (and it is), then it’s terrible news for our culture and a disaster for conservatism. It is the rejection of one form of vice (leftist thought control) for other, equally destructive vices that will have enduring, negative effects on our civil society.

On August 26, 2009, North Carolina State University hosted a preview screening of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, a movie inspired by the life of Tucker Max, Duke Law School grad, blogger, and hero to mindless hedonists everywhere. The event was protested by campus feminists and packed to capacity with adoring fans, men and women alike. Jay Schalin of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy described Max’s rebellious role well:

Perhaps the unintended consequence of feminism is that the best qualities of men have been cast aside for the worst. No longer is the ideal the “strong, silent type” who upholds decency and the law. No longer is the ideal the men who jumped into the icy waters to attack the Nazi stronghold at Normandy during World War II, nor the unflappable, resilient leader who refuses to be unnerved under pressure. Nor is it even the countless honorable men who do unpleasant jobs everyday to put food on the table for their families.

In its place, the feminist movement has sought to impose a new male ideal — one that is less aggressive, more emotional, and subservient to women. But a large portion of the newer generation of college males have been so alienated by these feminist constraints that, without the traditional model in place, they have adopted the worst part of their own natures — sexual predation, abusive and juvenile humor, and contempt for basic standards of civility — as the new masculine ideal.

And while campus feminists reject this masculine response, many campus women seem to feel differently. Schalin continues:

It would also appear that many young women are buying into this new concept of masculinity as well. There were far more women in the audience — between one-third and one-half — than there were protestors on the sidewalk. Many of them were dressed for attention (Max leeringly told one young woman wearing a revealing outfit “now that’s how you dress for a movie like this”), and several prefaced their questions to him with comments such as “I love you,” and “I want to be you.”

With the latest research showing that four in ten college students are binge drinkers, and with the “hookup culture” continuing unabated, it may be time for conservatives to recalibrate their campus critiques. Yes, we should continue to decry (and challenge) speech codes, thought-reform programs, and threats to free association, but we need to challenge with equal vigor the warped alternatives presented by the Tucker Maxes of the world. For conservatives, it would be a hollow victory indeed if we decisively defeated the ideologues only to make the world safe for the Thursday-to-Sunday party circuit.

The answer to both totalitarianism and hedonism is, of course, ordered liberty — the connection of freedom to moral responsibility and a sense of duty. Ordered liberty rejects the de jure limits to freedom so favored by the campus Left. No speech codes. No compelled speech. No mandatory thought reform. But ordered liberty also rejects hedonism. Writing for the Acton Institute, Michael Joyce rightly highlighted Pope John Paul II’s thoughts on proper American self-government:

John Paul identified several critical features of American self-government: that it is rooted in a view of human nature governed by self-evident truths that are fixed forever in the human person by “nature’s God”; that the political consequence of human truth is an irrefutable case for self-government, so long as our freedom is shaped and ordered by moral and civic virtue; and that we come to be fully human, fully moral, and fully free only within “natural units or groupings” — family, neighborhood, church, and voluntary association — which we form to pursue the higher purposes of life.

Sadly, even as campus feminists protest Tucker Max, they often work for outright bans of some of the last campus advocates of ordered liberty. As a result, Christian and social-conservative organizations are forced to fight an exhausting two-front battle — a legal fight against speech codes and expansive “nondiscrimination” policies imposed by the faculty and administration, and a moral fight against the hedonism lived by the bulk of their fellow students.

There is no doubt that, as the advocates of ordered liberty charge the ramparts of campus culture, there will be cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them. After all, if there is one thing that a feminist and a hedonist can agree on, it’s that traditional virtues are a real buzzkill.

— David French is a senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund and director of its Center for Academic Freedom.

Monday, September 14, 2009

ACORN Exposed

By Matthew Vadum on 9.14.09 @ 6:08AM
The American Spectator

ACORN's relentless death march continued last week as undercover sting videos surfaced in which the group's employees counseled reporters posing as a pimp and a prostitute on how to set up a house of ill repute using tax dollars.

The sensational undercover video showed ACORN Housing employees in the group's Baltimore office trying to help the two journalists set up a brothel. The pair told ACORN employees that underage girls from El Salvador were ready to enter the U.S. and start working as child prostitutes.

The video, first shown on Andrew Breitbart's new website Big Government, was featured that day on Glenn Beck's TV program. Hannah Giles, who portrayed the prostitute in the video, told Beck she got involved in the project "to expose ACORN."

"I saw them as a thug organization that was getting my tax dollars," said Giles.

'UNDERCOVER': James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles show off the not-so-subtle costumes they wore during their ACORN stings.

But guess who might be facing prosecution for exposing the group best known for its never-ending voter registration fraud scandals? You guessed it -- the conservative journalists involved in the undercover reporting of course!

Obama supporter Patricia Jessamy, Maryland State's Attorney for Baltimore City, released a statement saying the video might violate the state's anti-wiretapping law that was used against Linda Tripp after she recorded telephone conversations with President Clinton's Oval Office paramour Monica Lewinsky. The law requires consent to the recording by both parties in a conversation.

Always ready to smear conservatives, left-wing journalist Joe Conason said on the Sept. 10 "Lou Dobbs Tonight" that the filmmaker who portrayed the pimp may not be making himself available to the media because he feared prosecution for unlawful recording, as if the First Amendment's press protections don't apply in the state of Maryland.

Fox News contributor, former Judge Andrew Napolitano, said that's bunk. The Maryland statute does not apply to videotape recordings -- only to phone calls or other electronic "communications," Napolitano said.

Meanwhile, the radical group and crime syndicate that is a longtime ally of President Obama went into damage control overdrive after the videos showed ACORN officials advising the pretend prostitute and her procurer about how to get taxpayer funds, launder money, commit tax fraud, and commit who knows how many other crimes.

When ACORN learned of the video Thursday it fired the workers, called Fox News racist for airing the footage, and threatened a lawsuit.

Stuart Katzenberg, lead organizer for ACORN's Maryland branch, said that the employees were canned because they "did not meet ACORN's standards of professionalism." Sonja Merchant-Jones, head of Baltimore City ACORN, said that the workers were low-level part-time workers unsupervised by senior staff at the time.

Another video showing a similar scenario surfaced the next day. This time it was a slightly different undercover operation in which Washington, D.C. ACORN employees were only too willing to participate in the prostitution scam. ACORN promptly cashiered those employees too, screaming it was a victim of a "smear" campaign.

Marcel Reid, who is officially chairwoman of the D.C. chapter of ACORN, said that Katzenberg took over as lead organizer for Maryland and the District of Columbia after ACORN's national board expelled her last November for asking uncomfortable questions about the group's finances.

While Reid is chairwoman in name, she has been barred from the D.C. office since her expulsion from the board. She co-founded a reform group called ACORN 8.

When in charge of D.C. ACORN, Reid said she had no authority over ACORN Housing employees working in the D.C. ACORN office. Employees of ACORN Housing, a nonprofit legally separate from ACORN, share office space in ACORN offices across the country.

After Reid was booted out, Katzenberg became head organizer for Maryland and D.C. He was a key campaign official for Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) and ACORN Maryland went all-out last year to get Edwards elected.

It is also unclear why national ACORN officials such as chief organizer and CEO Bertha Lewis have gotten involved in spin-doctoring this latest corruption crisis. ACORN frequently likes to point out that ACORN Housing, which has taken in tens of millions of dollars in government grants, is a separate and distinct legal entity.

But that wasn't the end of ACORN's worst public relations week ever.

In addition to ACORN's underage illegal alien sex slave scandals, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Friday it was severing ties with ACORN regarding next year's decennial census.
Census Director Robert M. Groves sent a letter to ACORN national president Maude Hurd explaining that "ACORN's affiliation with 2010 Census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 Census efforts."

Employing polite euphemism, Groves wrote that "recent events concerning several local offices of ACORN have added to the worsening negative perceptions of ACORN and its affiliation with our partnership efforts." Officials at the Census Bureau "no longer have confidence that our national partnership agreement is being effectively managed through your many local offices."

Just months earlier former ACORN organizer Gregory Hall warned of the dangers of allowing the group to be involved in the upcoming census while the Obama administration lied about the extent of ACORN's involvement in next year's national head count.

The administration had said the idea ACORN would be involved in any Census count was "baseless." A response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch revealed that ACORN was given the opportunity to "recruit Census workers" to participate in the count and "organize and/or serve as a member on a Complete Count Committee," which, according to Census documents, helps "develop and implement locally based outreach and recruitment campaigns."

Next it was revealed that ACORN founder Wade Rathke didn't have a problem with domestic terrorists trying to kill delegates at the Republican Party's national convention in 2008, according to former radical community organizer Brandon Darby.

After Darby worked with the FBI to stop a left-wing terrorist bomb plot at the RNC convention in Minnesota, Rathke denounced him for breaking the radicals' code of silence. In January Rathke suggested on his blog that it's better to let innocents die than squeal on your comrades in the struggle. It's "one thing to disagree, but it's a whole different thing to rat on folks," wrote the former organizer for the ultra-left Students for a Democratic Society, the same group that gave birth to Bill Ayers's Weather Underground.

This is the same Wade Rathke who orchestrated an eight-year coverup of his brother's nearly $1 million embezzlement of ACORN funds. When that conspiracy was unearthed last summer, Rathke was given the bum's rush from the organization he founded in 1970. He remains unapologetic about the scandal, claiming that if it had been disclosed when it happened the "right wing" would have used it to discredit ACORN.

As an added bonus, ACORN's name was thrown about as an epithet by speakers and other participants at the 9/12 national tea party rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Saturday.

Who knows what the coming weeks will bring.

topics:ACORN, Andrew Breitbart

Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Art Review 'Monet’s Water Lilies'

Serenade in Blue

The New York Times
September 11, 2009

Devotees of late Monet can rejoice. The Museum of Modern Art is putting all three of his beloved waterlily paintings on view for the first time since 2001, along with a relatively recent acquisition and two guests.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Monet’s Water Lilies, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art; above, a relatively small “Water Lilies” study.

Beginning Sunday, you can immerse your senses in “Water Lilies,” the triptych with the 40-foot-plus wing span, and “Water Lilies,” the wide-angle, single-panel mural. On one wall the triptych rumbles forth its rich panoply of blues, greens, lavenders, creams and pinks, like a full-bodied symphony. Opposite, the lone panel responds, a glissando of violins, with a pale, silvered reiteration of the same palette shimmering into silence.

Both were worked on, again and again, with many others, during the last dozen years of Monet’s long life, when the final phase of his innovative Impressionistic style opened the path to abstract painting after World War II. At his death in 1926, at 86, they remained in his studios at Giverny, France, near his elaborate aquatic gardens, their radical nature perplexing and even repulsing some of his most dedicated admirers.

Were they unfinished? Did the frequent lack of signature signify a final ambivalence about their worthiness? Did their blurry, edgeless forms and sometimes clumsy paint handling simply reflect Monet’s eye problems?
Hardly. Over his last years Monet had assiduously negotiated an agreement with the French state to accept a large group of them as a gift to the nation, to be displayed in specially constructed galleries (with curved walls) in the Orangerie in Paris. The main liaison in this transaction was his dear friend Georges Clemenceau, prime minister of France, 1906-9 and 1917-20.

In the Modern’s show the two big paintings are exhibited with the two other more manageable, easel-size late Monets from the collection. The fierce “Japanese Footbridge” from around 1920-22 is startling: its fiery oranges, browns and deep greens seem conversant with van Gogh, late Bonnard, Ensor and even Soutine. “Agapanthus,” 1914-26, meanwhile, moves to dry land and a grassy green Art Nouveau swirl of the leaves and tiny, clustered mauve blooms of this plant, also known as the Lily of the Nile.

"Agapanthus" wades into a grassy green Art Nouveau swirl of the leaves and tiny, clustered mauve blooms of the plant also known as the Lily of the Nile. Measuring around six and a half by six feet, "Agapanthus," is nonetheless a study, probably painted en plein air and then taken back to the studio to help in the execution of larger works that were in many ways less finished and descriptive.

Photo: The Museum of Modern Art

“Agapanthus,” which entered the museum’s collection in 1992, measures around 6 ½ by 6 feet. It is nonetheless a study, probably painted from life and then taken back to the studio to help in the execution of larger works that were in many ways less finished and descriptive.

This was also probably the case with two slightly smaller canvases on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both are bluntly painted close-ups of waterlilies, quickly dashed off patches of the vistas of the larger paintings, with a nocturnal mien. Their unembellished urgency conveys Monet’s obsession with his subject in unusually direct terms.

In front of nearly all the paintings here, and the triptych especially, the eye hovers and zooms over the surface like a dragonfly, exploring its horizontal recessions and watery depths, its intimations of reflection and mist and lily pad. Paralleling this experience is the consciousness of artifice and method: the incessant signs of Monet’s hand. His brushwork is modest, notional, almost scriptlike. As with our dragon-fly gaze, it too skips across the surface — and skips and skips and skips again. Paint is applied in quick thatches of short lines of every orientation and every shade of blue; in trails of horizontal ellipses (the pads) that move from turquoise to bright green to dark green as they progress across the canvas, in and out of the shade; and in soft, cloudy pileups of mostly white figure eights (mist). It is all about accumulation: the layering of color, the build-up of texture.

As in the old days before the museum’s most recent renovation, the waterlily paintings are sequestered in their own gallery some distance from the onward march of modernism according to MoMA. This always felt right: isolation emphasizes the meditative, immersive quality of these works, which are really a world unto themselves.

In addition these paintings are too adamantly ahead of their time to fit quietly into any linear chronology. After the Modern reopened in 2004, it was actually a bit jarring to encounter the triptych in a room between galleries devoted to Russian Constructivism and Mondrian’s crisp scaffoldings of line and color, even though the works dated from the same period.

Even today, as revered and familiar as they are, the basic data of the biggest canvases can be difficult to compute. They were made in the first quarter of the 20th century by an octogenarian who had already played a central role in one of Western painting’s great revolutions 50 years earlier. And well past the second quarter of the 20th century these paintings were still challenging contemporary artists. Put another way, as Monet was setting up for this last project — using quite a bit of his wealth and the services of six gardeners to get his garden up to speed — Cubism, Constructivism and Futurism were just beginning to reverberate across the globe. And yet here he was, working on a scale and in a manner that postwar advocates of Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists would come to call “all-over painting,” “action painting” and “American-type painting.”

In the triptych, the eye zooms in on the surface like a dragonfly on a mission, exploring its horizontal recessions and watery depths, its intimations of reflection and mist and lily pad.

Photo: The Museum of Modern Art

Yet nothing had really changed. Monet was simply following his early work to its logical conclusion, giving little or no thought to abstraction. Right to the end he remained engrossed in the challenge of looking and painting, painting and looking, never wavering in his dedication to the task of translating his perception of the visible world into oil on canvas, bringing the natural and the artificial into hand-wrought balance. Perhaps he knew that painting, like poetry or music, was one of the few human endeavors that stood any chance of equaling some of nature’s experiential richness, if you just kept at it long enough.

This exhibition has been organized by Ann Temkin, curator of painting and sculpture. It is in many ways a model of its kind: a small, tightly-focused, collection-based display that more museums should do and that many, in these lean times, probably will be doing more often. It is accompanied by a slim booklet with an essay by Ms. Temkin that encapsulates Monet’s career and zeroes in on the late paintings and their importance in accessible layman’s terms. Ms. Temkin does not push the envelope of the accepted view of these works as postwar painting’s precursors. No mention is made, for example, of the importance of Japanese screens on Monet’s sense of scale, frontality and infinite space extending far beyond the canvases’ edges.

But her essay has a refreshing openness. It charts the growing admiration of Alfred H. Barr Jr., the museum’s founding director, for late Monet, and quotes his carefully worded letters to trustees who might pay for them. And it provides fascinating details. Regarding the growing stature of Monet’s late works in the 1950s, to which the Modern’s attention contributed: The museum bought its first large waterlily painting — at 18 feet across, the widest painting to enter the collection up to that point — in 1955, for the equivalent of $11,500. A mere three years later it paid the equivalent of $150,000 for the triptych, acquiring it as a replacement for the first work, which was destroyed in a fire at the museum.

Arriving at the museum in poor condition, the triptych was extensively restored and put on new stretchers. Dorothy Miller, one of the museum’s early curators, gave Monet’s original stretchers to three young New York painters: Ellsworth Kelly, Jack Youngerman and Fred Mitchell. Those were the days.

“Monet’s Water Lilies” is on view Sunday through April 12 at the Museum of Modern Art, (212) 708-9400,

Slide Show
In Bloom