28 agosto 2009

Abortion Giant Joins Attacks Against Nicaragua

By Aracely Ornelas

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) One of the world’s largest abortion advocates joined the onslaught against Nicaragua’s decision to ban abortion in two recently published Spanish language reports. Ipas, known for distributing the manual vacuum aspirator – a device used to perform early term abortions, particularly in countries where it is illegal – is claiming that Nicaragua is violating women’s human rights.

The Ipas reports claim that the abortion ban is unconstitutional and a "setback" for human rights. Nicaraguan lawmakers, on the other hand, say the ban is a step forward since the law which permitted “therapeutic” abortion violated the country’s understanding of its international obligations. Nicaragua is party to the American Convention on Human Rights which states in Article 4 that life shall be protected by law "from the moment of conception."

The Nicaraguan representatives who initiated the abortion ban say that the new law also makes the penal code more consistent with the constitutional framework which was amended to explicitly recognize the right to life of every citizen after the death penalty was abolished.

Pro-life advocates point out that Ipas’ definition of “therapeutic abortion” proves that the lawmakers’ position is right: the former law allowed a loophole for ever expanding access to abortion. Indeed, one report’s glossary of terms expands the definition of saving "the life and health of the mother" as also including pregnancies resulting from particular circumstances, such as rape or incest. And while the reports say that "therapeutic abortion ban excludes many women who need it to save their lives," the Nicaraguan government insists that the ban does not prohibit medical procedures to save a woman's life. Critics also note that the reports ignore the two most successful methods of reducing maternal mortality: increasing skilled attendants at birth and improving the availability and delivery of optimum pre-natal and post-natal healthcare for mothers and their children.

Recent health data also show that the ban may be saving more women’s lives. Statistics from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA), released since the ban was implemented, indicates a reduction in maternal mortality by 58% between 2008 and 2009. Despite the indications of progress in reducing maternal mortality, the Ipas reports use “reducing maternal deaths” as a cornerstone of their argument against the ban. In doing so, they join various UN agencies and non-governmental organizations who are pressuring the government to overturn the ban on the grounds that liberal abortion laws are necessary to reduce maternal mortality.

The Ipas reports also paint a dire picture for doctors in Nicaragua, asserting that abortion ban violates the right to free exercise of medical professionals claiming that the ban "forces doctors to violate ethical principles of their profession to prevent an abortion while endangering the life or health of women."

The Association of Nicaraguan Doctors countered this claim stating that, "There is no situation, in current medical practice, where human life from the moment of conception, should be intentionally destroyed by abortion in order to save the life of the mother. A physician must do everything possible to save the lives of both patients – mother and child. Death should never be inflicted on any of them. "

UN Committee Asserts Special Rights for "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity"

By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) A UN human rights committee recently told UN member states they must grant broad new human rights on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity.” By making sweeping changes to their national laws, policies and changing practices and attitudes within families and cultural institutions, or else they will be in “violation” of their obligations under international law.

The document, called “General Comment 20,” was released on July 2nd by the committee responsible for monitoring compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Going well beyond putting an end to criminal penalties against homosexuality or stopping violence and unjust discrimination, it claims that two new anti-discrimination categories exist even though sovereign states have repeatedly rejected these same categories in open UN debates.

In those debates, nations expressed concern that since the terms “sexual orientation and gender identity” are not recognized or defined in international law, the new category could be used to impose limitations on freedoms of speech, religion and conscience as well as marriage laws and school curricula. Indeed, the committee asserts that changes must include “a State’s constitution, laws and policy documents,” as well as “measures to attenuate or suppress conditions that perpetuate discrimination” including “employment in educational or cultural institutions,” as well as “families, workplaces, and other sectors of society.” Measures must remain in place until such a time “when substantive equality has been substantially achieved.” No definition of or standards for measuring “substantive equality” are provided.

The non-discrimination article says that states party to the treaty agree to “guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political identity, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

The committee asserts that “a flexible approach to the ground of ‘other status’ is thus needed” and “‘other status’ as recognized in article 2, paragraph 2, includes sexual orientation.” “Gender identity,” the general comment goes on to state, “is recognized as among the prohibited grounds of discrimination; for example, persons who are transgender, transsexual or intersex.”

The idea that gender identity and sexual orientation are “recognized as among the prohibited grounds of discrimination” is one of the most hotly contested issues in UN social policy debates. Liberal governments have repeatedly attempted to gain consensus on the issue but have so far been defeated. No binding UN document includes sexual orientation or gender identity among protected non-discrimination categories.

For support of its re-definition, the committee cites the Yogyakarta Principles , a highly controversial 2007 manifesto authored by activists and UN human rights officials which re-interprets 29 existing human rights to include homosexuality. The unofficial document asserts that nations who are party to UN human rights treaties are already obligated to grant broad homosexual rights or else they are in violation of international law.

The committee of appointed “experts” has no enforcement capability. However, nations report to the committee which then publishes reports on whether the government is properly implementing the treaty. Their views are increasingly used by sympathetic jurists, government officials and activist to pressure their governments to change laws and policies.

Scientist: Pope Was Right About AIDS

Says Abstinence, Fidelity More Effective than Condoms

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 27, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project is affirming that Benedict XVI's position was right in the debate on AIDS and condoms.

Edward Green stated this in an address at the 30th annual Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples in Rimini, sponsored by the lay movement, Communion and Liberation.

Green, an expert on AIDS prevention, said that "as a scientist he was amazed to see the closeness between what the Pope said last March in Cameroon and the results of the most recent scientific discoveries."

He affirmed: "The condom does not prevent AIDS. Only responsible sexual behavior can address the pandemic."

Green continued, "When Benedict XVI said that different sexual behavior should be adopted in Africa, because to put trust in condoms does not serve to fight against AIDS, the international press was scandalized."

The Pope made this statement in a meeting with journalists en route to Africa last March.

The scientist affirmed that the Holy Father spoke the truth. He noted, "The condom can work for particular individuals, but it will not serve to address the situation of a continent."

Change habits

Green added: "To propose the regular use of the condom as prevention in Africa could have the opposite effect."

He explained the phenomenon of human behavior called "risk compensation," whereby a person "feels protected and thus exposes himself more."

The researcher and medical anthropologist asked: "Why has an attempt not been made to change people's customs?"

"The world industry has taken many years to understand that measures of a technical and medical character are of no use to solve the problem," he added.

Green highlighted the successful policies that have been implemented in Uganda to battle AIDS, programs based in the "ABC" strategy: "Abstain, Be faithful, and, as a last resource, use a Condom."

He reported: "In the case of Uganda, an impressive result has been obtained in the fight against AIDS.

"The president was able to tell the truth to his people, to young people, that on occasions some sacrifice, abstinence and fidelity are necessary.

"The result has been formidable."

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On the Net:

Rimini Meeting: www.meetingrimini.org/default.asp?id=825

Admittedly liberal Washington Post article by Edward Green admitting the Pope is probably right:

The Pope May Be Right

By Edward C. Green
Sunday, March 29, 2009; Page A15

When Pope Benedict XVI commented this month that condom distribution isn't helping, and may be worsening, the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, he set off a firestorm of protest. Most non-Catholic commentary has been highly critical of the pope. A cartoon in the Philadelphia Inquirer, reprinted in The Post, showed the pope somewhat ghoulishly praising a throng of sick and dying Africans: "Blessed are the sick, for they have not used condoms."

Yet, in truth, current empirical evidence supports him.

We liberals who work in the fields of global HIV/AIDS and family planning take terrible professional risks if we side with the pope on a divisive topic such as this. The condom has become a symbol of freedom and -- along with contraception -- female emancipation, so those who question condom orthodoxy are accused of being against these causes. My comments are only about the question of condoms working to stem the spread of AIDS in Africa's generalized epidemics -- nowhere else.

In 2003, Norman Hearst and Sanny Chen of the University of California conducted a condom effectiveness study for the United Nations' AIDS program and found no evidence of condoms working as a primary HIV-prevention measure in Africa. UNAIDS quietly disowned the study. (The authors eventually managed to publish their findings in the quarterly Studies in Family Planning.) Since then, major articles in other peer-reviewed journals such as the Lancet, Science and BMJ have confirmed that condoms have not worked as a primary intervention in the population-wide epidemics of Africa. In a 2008 article in Science called "Reassessing HIV Prevention" 10 AIDS experts concluded that "consistent condom use has not reached a sufficiently high level, even after many years of widespread and often aggressive promotion, to produce a measurable slowing of new infections in the generalized epidemics of Sub-Saharan Africa."

Let me quickly add that condom promotion has worked in countries such as Thailand and Cambodia, where most HIV is transmitted through commercial sex and where it has been possible to enforce a 100 percent condom use policy in brothels (but not outside of them). In theory, condom promotions ought to work everywhere. And intuitively, some condom use ought to be better than no use. But that's not what the research in Africa shows.

Why not?

One reason is "risk compensation." That is, when people think they're made safe by using condoms at least some of the time, they actually engage in riskier sex.

Another factor is that people seldom use condoms in steady relationships because doing so would imply a lack of trust. (And if condom use rates go up, it's possible we are seeing an increase of casual or commercial sex.) However, it's those ongoing relationships that drive Africa's worst epidemics. In these, most HIV infections are found in general populations, not in high-risk groups such as sex workers, gay men or persons who inject drugs. And in significant proportions of African populations, people have two or more regular sex partners who overlap in time. In Botswana, which has one of the world's highest HIV rates, 43 percent of men and 17 percent of women surveyed had two or more regular sex partners in the previous year.

These ongoing multiple concurrent sex partnerships resemble a giant, invisible web of relationships through which HIV/AIDS spreads. A study in Malawi showed that even though the average number of sexual partners was only slightly over two, fully two-thirds of this population was interconnected through such networks of overlapping, ongoing relationships.

So what has worked in Africa? Strategies that break up these multiple and concurrent sexual networks -- or, in plain language, faithful mutual monogamy or at least reduction in numbers of partners, especially concurrent ones. "Closed" or faithful polygamy can work as well.

In Uganda's early, largely home-grown AIDS program, which began in 1986, the focus was on "Sticking to One Partner" or "Zero Grazing" (which meant remaining faithful within a polygamous marriage) and "Loving Faithfully." These simple messages worked. More recently, the two countries with the highest HIV infection rates, Swaziland and Botswana, have both launched campaigns that discourage people from having multiple and concurrent sexual partners.

Don't misunderstand me; I am not anti-condom. All people should have full access to condoms, and condoms should always be a backup strategy for those who will not or cannot remain in a mutually faithful relationship. This was a key point in a 2004 "consensus statement" published and endorsed by some 150 global AIDS experts, including representatives the United Nations, World Health Organization and World Bank. These experts also affirmed that for sexually active adults, the first priority should be to promote mutual fidelity. Moreover, liberals and conservatives agree that condoms cannot address challenges that remain critical in Africa such as cross-generational sex, gender inequality and an end to domestic violence, rape and sexual coercion.

Surely it's time to start providing more evidence-based AIDS prevention in Africa.

Edward C. Green is a senior research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health & Director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Project

Heart & Chen Study: Condom promotion for AIDS prevention in the developing world: is it working? (2004)

27 agosto 2009

Phil Steele's College Football Preseason Power Rankings

Phil Steele is the best in the biz, without question.

Copied from: http://philsteele.com/fbsinfo/2009/09FBSpowerratings.html

1. Florida 140
2. Texas 138.22
3. Oklahoma 138.21
4. USC 136.89
5. Alabama 135.48
6. LSU 135.4
7. Oklahoma St 134.96
8. Mississippi 133.96
9. Virginia Tech 131.64
10. Ohio St 130.76
11. Georgia Tech 129.95
12. Penn St 129.94
13. Georgia 129.41
14. Oregon 128.83
15. Kansas 128.75
16. California 127.98
17. Boise St 127.74
18. Utah 127.3
19. TCU 127.28
20. Florida St 127.14
21. Iowa 127.08
22. Notre Dame 126.96
23. North Carolina 126.24
24. Texas Tech 125.88
25. Oregon St 125.76
26. Miami, Fl 125.68
27. Nebraska 125.52
28. Pittsburgh 125.49
29. Michigan St 123.96
30. BYU 123.86
31. West Virginia 123.48
32. Cincinnati 123.12
33. Rutgers 122.87
34. Arizona 122.31
35. USF 121.84
36. Boston College 121.6
37. Auburn 121.58
38. Tennessee 120.84
39. NC State 120.47
40. Vanderbilt 120.34
41. Clemson 119.68
42. Arkansas 119.48
43. Arizona St 119.35
44. Wake Forest 118.8
45. UCLA 117.28
46. Illinois 116.96
47. Kentucky 116.96
48. Baylor 116.95
49. Connecticut 116.94
50. Missouri 116.91
51. Minnesota 116.85
52. Stanford 116.74
53. Maryland 116.7
54. South Carolina 116.61
55. Virginia 116.52
56. Houston 116
57. Colorado 115.57
58. Wisconsin 114.8
59. Michigan 114.43
60. Northwestern 114.23
61. East Carolina 114
62. Tulsa 114
63. Southern Miss 114
64. Navy 114
65. Purdue 113.85
66. Nevada 113.22
67. Louisiana Tech 113.21
68. Louisville 112.38
69. Air Force 112.04
70. Troy 111.91
71. Rice 111
72. Texas A&M 110.65
73. Kansas St 110.57
74. Mississippi St 110.3
75. Central Michigan 110.1
76. Colorado St 109.74
77. Buffalo 109.64
78. Syracuse 109.26
79. Ball St 109.25
80. Fresno St 107.13
81. UTEP 107
82. Western Michigan 106.98
83. Northern Illinois 106.94
84. Temple 106.83
85. Washington 106.09
86. UNLV 106.04
87. Duke 105.7
88. Ohio 105.7
89. Florida Atlantic 105.67
90. Middle Tennessee 105.33
91. FIU 105.26
92. Memphis 105
93. Bowling Green 104.83
94. ULM 104.78
95. New Mexico 104.78
96. Eastern Michigan 104.5
97. Arkansas St 104.41
98. Louisiana 104.12
99. Wyoming 104.04
100. Akron 104.04
101. UCF 104
102. Marshall 104
103. Iowa St 103.91
104. Indiana 103.68
105. Toledo 103.61
106. Kent St 102.63
107. Hawaii 102.48
108. SMU 102
109. UAB 102
110. San Jose St 101.62
111. Utah St 99.85
112. Army 99.17
113. Miami, Oh 98.36
114. San Diego St 98.25
115. Washington St 97
116. North Texas 95.88
117. Tulane 95
118. WKU 92.3
119. Idaho 91.3
120. New Mexico St 90.8

Bishops Ready Faithful for New Mass Translations

Comparison Chart Denotes Changes

WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 26, 2009 (Zenit.org).- In a few months time, the customary chorus of perfectly synchronized voices at Mass promises to be disrupted: A new translation is almost ready and various texts said by the congregation are set to change.

To prepare U.S. Catholics for the word shifts, the nation's bishops have offered a side-by-side comparison chart of the liturgical changes.

And though the new translation is bound to cause some tongue tripping -- and probably make Mass-goers more alert -- the bishops' site is aiming to minimize discomfort by already publishing some of the changes.

So, for example, catechists, parents and ordinary faithful can begin to prepare "And with your spirit" as the response to the priest's "The Lord be with you." (The answer will no longer be "And also with you.")

Form B for the Penitential Act is also getting a makeover. It will now go: Priest: "Have mercy on us, O Lord." People: "For we have sinned against you." Priest: "Show us, O Lord, your mercy." People: "And grant us your salvation."

In one of his weekly columns posted on his diocesan Web site, Bishop Arthur Serratelli, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad hoc Committee for the Review of Scripture Translations, explains why the Church is making these changes.

"Because the words used in liturgy bring God’s revelation into our present moment and because they lift our prayer to God in worship, there is always a special care to choose the right words," he wrote. "But there is a second reason why the Church cares so intensely for the proper words used at liturgy. As Pope Paul VI stated, the liturgy is 'the primary source of the divine life bestowed on us, the first school of the spiritual life.'"

Different look

Changes that promise to take longest to become familiar are those that affect prayers said by the congregation at Mass: the Confiteor, Gloria and Nicene Creed will have a more faithful translation.

"I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault […]" the faithful will now pray at the beginning of Mass.

And in reciting our common faith, Mass attendees will say the Nicene Creed this way: "I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages."

The changes are a "marked improvement over the translations with which we have become familiar," Bishop Serratelli wrote in another of his weekly columns. "They are densely theological. They respect the rich vocabulary of the Roman Rite. They carefully avoid the overuse of certain phrases and words.

"The new translations also have a great respect for the style of the Roman Rite. Certainly, some sentences could be more easily translated to mimic our common speech. But they are not. And with reason. […]

"Liturgical language should border on the poetic. Prose bumps along the ground. Poetry soars to the heavens. And our liturgy is already a sharing of the liturgy in heaven."

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On the Net:

Examples of coming translation changes: www.usccb.org/romanmissal/examples.shtml.

My thoughts: I am very glad these changes are being made. I know Pope Benedict has had this in mind for a while. These changes more accurately reflect the language of the Latin, and the Spanish & Italian Masses I've attended, and, I assume, the language of the Mass throughout the world.

26 agosto 2009

Pope: Church Needs a Few Good Confessors

Sends Message to Italy's National Liturgical Week

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Church needs "wise and holy spiritual teachers" who are able not only to hear confessions, but also to educate consciences.

The Pope said this in a letter sent by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on the occasion of Italy's 60th National Liturgical Week, being held in Barletta with the theme: "Celebrate Mercy: 'Let Yourselves Be Reconciled With God.'"

The letter is addressed to Bishop Felice de Molfetta of Cerignola-Ascoli Satriano, president of Italy's Center of Liturgical Action.

The Pontiff noted that this year's focus on the sacrament of reconciliation to be "a particularly opportune choice" given the meeting marks "35 years after the new Rite of Penance came into force for the Church in Italy, and in happy coincidence with the Year for Priests."

"The objective of your meeting consists in understanding the whole penitential process of Christian life, in which the sacrament is integrated as an intense moment, always in an ecclesial context," the letter continued. "It will be interesting to verify if, beyond the change in the rite, an adequate theological, spiritual and pastoral mentality has been formed."

Quoting a message sent to the participants in the recent 20th course on the Internal Forum, the letter stated: "These days, the correct formation of believers' consciences is without a doubt one of the pastoral priorities because, unfortunately, as I have reaffirmed on other occasions, to the extent that the sense of sin is lost, feelings of guilt increase which people seek to eliminate by recourse to inadequate palliative remedies. The many invaluable spiritual and pastoral tools that contribute to the formation of consciences should be increasingly developed. [...]

"Like all the sacraments, the sacrament of Penance too requires catechesis beforehand and a mystagogical catechesis for a deeper knowledge of the sacrament: 'per ritus et preces.' … Catechesis should be combined with a wise use of preaching, which has had different forms in the Church's history according to the mentality and pastoral needs of the faithful."

Benedict XVI's letter continued: "Along with an adequate formation of the moral conscience, maturity of life and celebration of the sacrament, it is necessary to foster in the faithful the experience of spiritual support."

"Wise and holy 'spiritual teachers'" are needed, it added, urging priests to keep "ever alive within them the knowledge that they must be worthy 'ministers' of divine mercy and responsible educators of consciences."

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On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-26682?l=english

25 agosto 2009

The Pope, Obama and the Mideast

Interview With French Philosopher on the Call for a "New Beginning"

PARIS, AUG. 24, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI and U.S. President Barack Obama are both calling for a "new beginning" in the Middle East. Their common use of the same term brought French philosopher Henri Hude to analyze the proposal that both men have made to bring about peace in one of the world's most troubled spots.

The Pope's call (given in the context of his May pilgrimage to the Holy Land) and Obama's call (given in his speech in Cairo the following month) are the subject of an essay Hude wrote for Humanitas, a journal published by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

Hude is the director of the Center of Ethical Research at the Academy of Saint-Cyr. He spoke with ZENIT about his essay and why certain appeals for "tolerance" are getting nowhere in the Middle East.

ZENIT: Why draw a parallel between Benedict XVI's and Barack Obama's addresses?

Hude: Humanity needs to initiate "a new beginning," not only in the Middle East. Benedict XVI and Barack Obama affirm this and use the same expression. It is their first and final word. The goal toward which this "new beginning" points is universal peace. Both point in this direction, without suggesting a utopia. According to both of them, this "new beginning" is only possible if religion is seriously taken into consideration. Consequently, both pay special attention to the cultural and spiritual conditions of universal peace. Their points of view on the future -- different, but intertwined -- suggest a possible positive reconstitution of the global spiritual and temporal panorama.

ZENIT: In your opinion, what is the essential contribution of their parallel interventions?

Hude: Their saying that religion can be a factor of peace. Barack Obama believes that religions can live harmoniously by subjecting themselves to the norm of a philosophy that ensures the equality and liberty of opinions and traditions within a political constitution geared to bringing together the whole of plurality in unity, without annulling it. "E pluribus Unum." And, given this condition, his contribution to society is very positive.

In my opinion, Benedict XVI expresses better how this theoretical model can operate without falling into utopia or manipulation. Benedict XVI speaks less about religion in general, addressing instead methodically and with realism and respect, the different particular relations that exist between Christianity and the Enlightenment, the Enlightenment and Islam, and Christianity and Islam. Of course, he also considers Judaism.

ZENIT: You are including the Enlightenment or the philosophy of light as a religion?

Hude: Of course. And this is true as well for the Enlightenment in its present stage, [which is] entirely relativistic. We say to ourselves that it would be simpler to mutually recognize our "opinions" without seeking an "absolute truth" ... but it's not so simple, given that if there is no absolute truth, this itself becomes the absolute truth and [thus] there continues to be an absolute truth. And this last "ultimate truth" is not purely a practical rule for tolerance, but a specific metaphysical belief linked to a whole system of authorizations and prohibitions. If an absolute truth can arise from each individual spirit, we are squarely within polytheism or pantheism. Consequently it is altogether reasonable that the Enlightenment poses problems to religions on tolerance, religious liberty and religious wars, but only if they include themselves, in conditions of equality, in the problematic contrivance that they pose. So reflecting more deeply on the Reason of Lights, we see that it is also one of the possible concepts of the Absolute, of Divinity, along with all the others.

ZENIT: What is the value of these "parallel points of view" in regard to the work of evangelization?

Hude: Evangelization is only possible if Christians are proud of their faith and don't feel guilty about it. Benedict XVI exonerates Christians, but also Muslims and Jews. A soul that feels guilty does not dare to speak publicly about its faith. Why?

Benedict XVI answers this: "Indeed some assert that religion is necessarily a cause of division in our world; and so they argue that the less attention given to religion in the public sphere the better" (Address before the Al-Hussein Mosque). And the argument to prove this is the existence of religious wars, which would be inevitable.

Barack Obama and Benedict XVI address this problem frankly and profoundly. From here stem two very different but in part convergent ideas of religion as an essential factor of peace. This idea tends to exonerate Christians in regard to being reproached in this way and also keeps them from reproaching themselves .

ZENIT: What is the greatest difference between the two approaches?

Hude: The North American president focuses on religions politically, though he is not without religious sensibility, and helps the progress of public reflection making it evident that he discerns clearly the complexity of the problem. However, he hardly rises above a warm, though somewhat vague, pacifist interreligious rhetoric, whose efficacy in religious spirits will be mitigated in its scope and will often be affected by its degree of secularization. Of course, the dissolution of religions in the secularist and relativistic environment, which Obama does not desire, would automatically be the solution to the problems that their existence poses; but in the same way, the dissolution of secularism would also be a possible solution to the problems it poses to religions ... How can we get beyond these pseudo-solutions?

For his part, the Pope focuses meticulously on religions and reflects on the relative difficulty of their political coexistence -- which is an undeniable fact -- in the first place as a religious problem, which manifests itself seriously deep inside the religious conscience of each one. He does not start from the exigencies of democratic politics or world peace posed as absolutes, but from the search for the will of God in each situation. It is also for this reason that his political philosophy is more profound and penetrates to a greater degree in the specific effective conditions of peace.

ZENIT: But, then, what does the appeal for interreligious peace mean if it is not made only in the name of the spirit of Lights?

Hude: That's a good question. This appeal must not include in itself anything contrary to the fundamental conviction of each party. Otherwise, it would seem to be an appeal to apostasy. That is why a totally honest dialogue is necessary.

Imagine, for example, that God had revealed that Holy War was a religious duty -- I am not addressing here the roots of this question; this is simply a hypothesis for discussion -- in that hypothesis, what reaction would you see in a "real believer" in reproaching God for not being politically correct? The appeal for peace formulated in the Western style would be incomprehensible. Instead, it could be effective and not disloyal to point out to this type of believer that, in the new conditions of the world, a Holy War, especially employing terrible means, would be totally counterproductive, which would only lead to the weakening of religion and the increase of what he considers an irreligious concept of liberty and peace. This was the bitter experience of European Christianity in the 16th and 17th centuries. This, of course, is just an example.

Hence, an appeal for "tolerance" is altogether superficial if it consists in giving theists a lesson from a polytheist or pantheist point of view. Imagine if Muslims were asked to consider Allah as one of the gods of the relativistic Pantheon: It would be a joke in bad taste and they would take it very badly. Moreover, the same would be the case for a Christian. Because, according to the faith, who is a descendant of Abraham? Someone who believes he was called by God to make a decisive break with pantheism and polytheism. For this reason, the secularist preaching on a vague relativistic tolerance doesn't promote a serious and profound dialogue at all. It only tends to dissolve religions, reducing them to silence because of guilt, or making them rebel violently against the very idea of tolerance. In order to establish a serious and peaceful dialogue, a person with these ideas would have to begin by saying: "I am a polytheist -- or pantheist -- and I consider my belief to be the true one. Let's discuss it, if you wish." The appeal to profound dialogue implies the truth and accepts the tragedy of dissent on the essential.

ZENIT: But how can we live together in peace if we are separated by dissent on the essential, which we refuse to relativize?

Hude: What allows for coexistence is esteem and friendship through what is common to moral seriousness in a virtuous life. This is how consensus was built in the United States between philosophers and believers since independence. Precisely this consensus was turned to ashes with the decision on abortion. Barack Obama would like to reconstruct it, but how?

If the spirit of the Enlightenment abandons the Kantian duty in favor of hedonism and ethical relativism, "enlightened" democracy is no longer structured around a liberty that rises but around one that falls; then there is no longer a common ground between it and religions or a serious Enlightenment. In this aspect, the moral problems of life are crucial. If the spirit of lights gives up the rigorous need of duty, it is degraded to an intolerant laxity that leads to the clash of civilizations.

ZENIT: Why are there religious wars?

Hude: It is necessary to understand this expression in the broadest sense. The wars between ideologies stemming from the spirit of lights or between a religion and a specific ideology are also religious wars in a broad sense. The Pope warns that religious wars exist in a broad sense, but that they are not necessarily very religious. "[T]he ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends, [is] the real catalyst for tension and division" (Address before the Al-Hussein Mosque). One could invoke here the testimony of the philosopher Montaigne in his "Essays," who lived in France in the time of religious wars. If, with the action of General Petraeus in Iraq, the affairs of the United States improved so much, it is because that action was based precisely on a much finer analysis of the character of this conflict that has a religious dimension, as explained by Professor Ahmed S. Hachim. Moreover, Benedict XVI praised the Jordanian leaders for ensuring that the "public face of religion reflects its true nature" (ibid.).

[Translation by ZENIT]

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On the Net:

Hude's complete essay (in Spanish): http://humanitas.cl/html/biblioteca/articulos/0909000.html

A Win and a Loss for US Pro-Lifers

ROME, AUG. 24, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A report on Vatican Radio lamented that the U.S. state of Oklahoma is denying health care workers the right to live by their consciences.

A judge last week overturned a state law passed in 2008 that required a pregnant woman seeking an abortion to see an ultrasound and hear a doctor's description of her baby (his or her size, heartbeat, development of internal organs, arms and legs, etc.).

The judge, Vicki Robertson, also overturned provisions in the law that protected health care providers' right to refuse in conscience to take part in an abortion.

Officials are considering whether to appeal the judge's decision.

Meanwhile, a court in South Dakota last week affirmed that a woman has a right to know that an abortion "terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

Both cases are part of the pro-life movement's efforts to ensure that women are guaranteed fully informed consent when they seek an abortion.

"Fully informed consent is a bedrock principle of medical care," said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, "and this principle is especially applicable to abortion."

24 agosto 2009

Attack on Obama riles Beck's advertisers

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer
Mon Aug 24, 10:18 am ET

NEW YORK – Glenn Beck returns to Fox News Channel on Monday after a vacation with fewer companies willing to advertise on his show than when he left, part of the fallout from calling President Barack Obama a racist.

A total of 33 Fox advertisers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., CVS Caremark, Clorox and Sprint, directed that their commercials not air on Beck's show, according to the companies and ColorofChange.org, a group that promotes political action among blacks and launched a campaign to get advertisers to abandon him. That's more than a dozen more than were identified a week ago.

While it's unclear what effect, if any, this will ultimately have on Fox and Beck, it is already making advertisers skittish about hawking their wares within the most opinionated cable TV shows.

The Clorox Co., a former Beck advertiser, now says that "we do not want to be associated with inflammatory speech used by either liberal or conservative talk show hosts." The maker of bleach and household cleaners said in a statement that it has decided not to advertise on political talk shows.

The shows present a dilemma for advertisers, who usually like a "safe" environment for their messages. The Olbermanns, Hannitys, O'Reillys, Maddows and Becks of the TV world are more likely to say something that will anger a viewer, who might take it out on sponsors.

They also host the most-watched programs on their networks.

"This is a good illustration of that conundrum," said Rich Hallabran, spokesman for UPS Stores, which he said has temporarily halted buying ads on Fox News Channel as a whole.

Beck can bring the eyeballs. With the health care debate raising political temperatures, his show had its biggest week ever right before his vacation, averaging 2.4 million viewers each day, according to Nielsen Media Research.

He was actually on another Fox show July 28 when he referred to Obama as a racist with "a deep-seated hatred for white people." The network immediately distanced itself from Beck's statement, but Beck didn't. He used his radio show the next day to explain why he believed that. He would not comment for this article, spokesman Matthew Hiltzik said.

ColorofChange.org quickly targeted companies whose ads had appeared during Beck's show, telling them what he had said and seeking a commitment to drop him. The goal is to make Beck a liability, said James Rucker, the organization's executive director.

"They have a toxic asset," Rucker said. "They can either clean it up or get rid of it."

It's not immediately clear how many of the companies actually knew they were advertising on Beck's show. Sometimes commercial time is chosen for a specific show, but often it is bought on a rotation basis, meaning the network sprinkles the ads throughout the day on its own schedule. Sometimes ads appear by mistake; Best Buy said it bought commercial time for earlier in the day, and one of its ads unexpectedly appeared in Beck's show.

One company, CVS Caremark, said it advertises on Fox but hadn't said anything about Beck. Now it has told its advertising agency to inform Fox that it wanted no commercials on Beck.

"We support vigorous debate, especially around policy issues that affect millions of Americans, but we expect it to be informed, inclusive and respectful," said spokeswoman Carolyn Castel.

Besides the unpredictability of the opinionated cable hosts, the rapid pace of today's wired world complicates decisions on where to place ads, said Kathleen Dunleavy, a spokeswoman for Sprint. She said she was surprised at how fast the Beck issue spread across social media outlets and how quickly advertiser names were attached to it.

UPS' Hallabran said the decision to pull commercials "should not be interpreted as we are permanently withdrawing our advertising from Fox." He said the company wants to reach viewers with a wide spectrum of opinions.

Except for UPS Stores, there's no evidence that any advertisers who say they don't want to be on Beck's show are leaving Fox. Network spokeswoman Irena Briganti said the companies have simply requested the ads be moved elsewhere and that Fox hasn't lost any revenue.

She wouldn't say whether Fox was benefiting from any anti-anti-Beck backlash, with companies looking to support him. Some Beck supporters have urged fans to express their displeasure at companies for abandoning their man.

Beck supporters have suggested that retaliation might have something to do with ColorofChange.org's campaign. One of the group's founders, Van Jones, now works in the Obama administration and has been criticized by Beck. But Rucker said Jones has nothing to do with ColorofChange.org now and didn't even know about the campaign before it started.

Beck's strong ratings — even at 5 p.m. EDT he often outdraws whatever CNN and MSNBC show in prime-time — make it unlikely Beck is going anywhere even as the list of advertisers avoiding him approaches three dozen.

But it could mean advertising time becomes cheaper on his show than such a large audience would normally command. Some of his show's advertisers last week included a male enhancement pill, a law firm looking to sue on behalf of asbestos victims, a company selling medical supplies to diabetics and a water filter company.

Rucker said ColorofChange.org has contacted about 60 companies regarding Beck, and is heartened by the response.

"It's causing a certain conversation around Beck, which I think is important," he said.


On the Net:



Beck clip on http://www.youtube.com/

20 agosto 2009

World Congress Speaker Calls for “Monogamy Men” to Take Back the Culture

C-FAM Volume 12, Number 36 | August 20, 2009

By Austin Ruse

(WASHINGTON, DC – C-FAM) Patrick Fagan, family scholar at the Family Research Council, told the World Congress of Families last week in Amsterdam that there are two competing cultures of sexual morality and that both have a profound effect on culture and public policy. Fagan called one culture “monogamous” and the other “polymorphous” and he warned that one is “snatching” children from the other.

Fagan told the audience that “the culture of the traditional family is now in intense competition with a very different culture. The defining difference between the two is the sexual ideal embraced [by each].” He described an “elegance in the simplicity of the ideals behind the two cultures: monogamy and polymorphous serial polygamy, or ‘polyamory' for short. “

Fagan said the “constitutional state was the product of monogamous culture [while] the expanding social welfare state is increasingly the product of polyamorous culture. The constitutional state is built upon a sense of the sacred and gives religion a public place even as it protects the freedom of religion [or no religion] for all… The social welfare state today is more comfortable with atheism or at least the removal of religion from the public discourse and the total privatization of religion and the sacred.”

On the life issues, Fagan said that in monogamous culture “all human life is sacred and protected, be it the pre-born, the handicapped or the elderly” while in polyamorous culture about one-third of the pre-born are killed by their mothers and the handicapped and the elderly are unwelcome and increasingly vulnerable to early elimination.”

Fagan warned that while monogamous culture is fertile and expanding and polyamorous culture is in below replacement fertility, that polyamorous culture is still expanding through their control of three areas of public policy: “education of children, sex education, and adolescent health.” Fagan said that through such control polyamorous culture “snatches children away from their parents and away from monogamous culture in ways analogous to the Ottoman Turks of the 14th century who raided boys from Christian nations to train them aS their own elite warriors, the Janissaries.”

Fagan said “this snatching is almost complete when these three program areas result in adolescents accepting and engaging in sexual intercourse” and that “every time the polyamorous programs and media succeed in drawing teenagers into sexual activity they have captured another Janissary.”

Fagan described efforts monogamous culture has used to fight back, especially the rise and success of abstinence education, but also explained the way polyamorous culture rose up and crushed it. He also pointed out that the campaigns against home schooling are an effort by the dominant polyamorous culture to stop parents from protecting their children.

In the end, Fagan called upon “monogamy men” to fight back. He said the only answer is for them to fight for control “over what is his and his family’s just due, what his taxes fund, and what he can use in raising his children, control over the three big programs of childhood education, sex education and adolescent health programs.”

Amnesty International Slams Nicaragua for Abortion Ban

C-FAM Volume 12, Number 36 | August 20, 2009

By Samantha Singson

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) Amnesty International is slamming yet another Latin American country for its pro-life laws. In a recently released report , Amnesty has called Nicaragua's total ban on abortions a "cruel, inhuman disgrace" and charged that the new law has led to an increase in maternal deaths. As in the cases of Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Peru, Amnesty's latest report on Nicaragua incorrectly argues that international law requires countries to permit abortion, and, according to critics, it misrepresents the facts which actually show a decrease in the maternal death rate.

The Nicaraguan law restricting abortion under any circumstances passed the National Assembly unanimously in 2006 and has been a lightning rod for criticism from abortion advocates around the globe. The new Amnesty report “The total abortion ban in Nicaragua: Women’s lives and health endangered, medical professionals criminalized” accuses the Nicaraguan government of implementing a "discriminatory" law that they charge will increase maternal mortality. Amnesty also blasts the ban's criminal penalties asserting they will force health care professionals into "legal jeopardy."

Claiming that Nicaragua is violating international law, Amnesty cites the non-binding recommendations of United Nations treaty monitoring bodies – the committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee Against Torture – as evidence of the country's international law obligations to permit abortion.

UN critics point out, however, that no UN treaty even mentions abortion and that members of the committees charged with overseeing state compliance to the treaties have taken it upon themselves to attach a "right to abortion" under long-established rights like the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the right to privacy and the right to be free from discrimination.

Amnesty claims that Nicaragua's prohibition on abortion is discriminatory because of its negative consequences for women and girls as only "women and girls are compelled to continue a medically dangerous or unwanted pregnancy or face imprisonment" or "suffer the mental anguish and physical pain of an unsafe abortion, risking their health and life in the process."

One of Amnesty’s chief assertions is that the ban will prevent medical professionals from treating women in some cases because they fear criminal prosecution as their actions could be seen as helping a woman terminate a pregnancy. According to other news reports, the Nicaraguan government has repeatedly made clear that the existing medical code will be respected, which allows lifesaving treatments that could indirectly cause an abortion. Even though Amnesty admits that the ban has not led to any criminal prosecutions, the group blasts the Nicaraguan government speculating that the ban will result in "delays in diagnosis and treatment, to the detriment of Nicaraguan women and girls seeking medical care."

Since Amnesty released its Nicaragua report, the organization is being asked to account for their findings. Matthew Hoffman, a reporter for LifeSiteNews.com investigating Amnesty’s claims about the Nicaraguan ban, found that the organization had actually falsified the date the criminal code was changed in "an apparent attempt to cover up the fact that maternal mortality actually fell in 2007, the year after exceptions in the penal code for 'therapeutic abortions' were abolished."

19 agosto 2009

The Return of Blasphemy Laws

Political writer Christopher Caldwell on immigration, Islam, and the future of free speech in Europe.

Interview by Jeremy Lott | July 2009 issue

Christopher Caldwell is a political writer whose work has appeared in, among other publications, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The American Spectator. He writes a weekly column for the Financial Times and serves as a senior editor for The Weekly Standard.

CWR interviewed Caldwell in May about his first book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe (Doubleday). A correspondent for the New York Times called Reflections “a dense and important book about whether Europe’s identity…can absorb or survive a fast growing Muslim population.”

CWR: How long did it take you to write this book?

Christopher Caldwell: I started writing about immigration and these ideas in the early 90s. I got interested in [immigration in] Europe in the late 90s. I feel very lucky that I was working on it for a few years before September 11, which gave me a reference point, because I think that changed an awful lot about the way Europe dealt with immigrants.

CWR: You’re interested in immigration in the US, but what was it about immigration in Europe that was attractive to you?

Caldwell: I love the drama of the immigration story, the multidimensionality of it. All the stories I like tend to be about society rather than politics, but the parts of society that have political overtones or implications. Immigration has a lot of those wherever it happens. It’s cultural forces clashing, it’s the economy, and family life, and things happening at the level of a neighborhood, and that interested me. My Spanish is not that hot and I don’t know as much about Mexico as I know about France or Germany, and it occurred to me that the problems of immigration that interested me in California and around here were more dramatic in Europe, and it was, in that way, a more interesting story.

CWR: How much travel did you do to research this book?

Caldwell: At the height of working on this book, I was going to Europe at least once a month, or about 15 times a year. Sometimes I had other business there, but on every trip I would do something immigrant-related. In fact, on every single trip I would go to immigrant neighborhoods in whatever country I happened to be in, and I would usually talk to politicians who were involved in it, sociologists, other academics. There was a lot of travel. When I sat down to write the book, I sort of stopped the traveling and called up all the research and then did all the writing.

CWR: Why the nod to Edmund Burke in the title?

Caldwell: It wasn’t my idea; it was my agent’s idea. My idea for the title of the book, which is now the subtitle, was “Immigration, Islam, and Europe.” I like titles that tell you what’s in the book. Nobody else liked that; neither my editor nor my agent. So we came up with Reflections on the Revolution in Europe as a provisional title.

There are two things I like about it. I like the allusion to Burke a lot. What I take out of Burke is that tradition can be a positive, generative force, that it’s not just an obstacle to smart people and their ideas. Another thing that was really valuable about it when I was working on the book was that it didn’t commit me to a polemical thesis, and I could just gather stuff. It was useful in that way, so I was happy with it even though it’s not mine.

CWR: How does immigration in Europe differ from immigration in America?

Caldwell: There are a few big dimensions. One is Europe has more asylum immigrants than we have. That is, we have proportionally more labor immigrants. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is the law, one is the welfare system. If you come to the United States and you don’t find work, you’re toast and you go home. It’s not that way in Europe. There’s much more a safety net for newcomers. I haven’t been able to look at Europe-wide statistics for this, but in certain areas of Amsterdam, for instance, you have a situation where a majority of the first-generation immigrants are not in the labor market, which is a really amazing, amazing thing.

That has all sorts of consequences. I think it’s the labor market that really socializes immigrants most. It’s work, but also it takes away immigrants’ idle time, leisure time, which is where they consolidate their old-world culture in the new world. But also you hear things about immigrants in Europe in man-on-the-street conversation that you don’t hear about immigrants in the United States, complaints about their work ethic and that sort of thing. So I’d say the main policy difference is that we have more labor immigrants.

Also—I don’t know if you’d call it an ethical or a spiritual difference, and this is something that is really at the heart of the book and what I talk about when I talk about the revolution in Europe—we are a country of immigrants. That sounds like such a stupid, empty cliche sort of slogan, but it has a deeper meaning, which is one of the great things and one of the terrible things about the United States: we are willing to be changed by whoever comes in the door.

To say we are a country of immigrants is to say that we understand that 50 years from now we’re not going to be quite the same country we are now. Some people are unhappy about that, but it’s part of our history. We understand that there’s at least a strong possibility that we’ll be a different kind of country 50 years from now. Europeans are not really comfortable with that yet, and that’s the sort of revolution I’m talking about. That’s going to happen whether they get comfortable with it or not.

CWR: A crucial difference that you bring out in the book is also that a large percentage of the immigrants in Europe are Muslims. You have historical forces colliding.

Caldwell: That’s right, and I think I mention that the Latin American immigration, while it may have looked extremely foreign when it first began, has proven, as we’ve been assimilating Latin American immigrants, to be not that foreign. The Mexican working class culture is Catholic. They have more stable marriages than Americans, they have closer attitudes toward family than the American one, but their work ethic is recognizable to us. The Muslim ethic—although it should go without saying that not everyone from a Muslim background will live fully the life of the Muslim faith—and that cultural sphere have very different attitudes, particularly toward family formation.

In the United States we tend to look at how Muslims differ from Europeans in terms of foreign policy—all these people from the French suburbs who are out marching against the Iraq War, and things like that. That’s interesting and that’s important, but I would say that in most countries in Europe (Britain may be an exception), it’s gender relations. It’s the incompatibility of these traditional Islamic family roles and sex roles with feminism which is the big clash in most of these countries. I don’t know if you can say that Europe is more feminist than the United States. I mean, if you look at something like abortion laws, our abortion laws are certainly much more liberal than theirs…

CWR: If you look at attitudes, though, Europeans are much more accepting of abortion than Americans.

Caldwell: Yes. I think you can say that it’s not just that they’re more accepting of feminism, it’s that they’re less accepting of pre-feminist ways of living for women. There are very, very few Sarah Palins in European politics. You very often hear government statements, and I quote a few of them in my book, that “our goal is that everyone be in the workplace.” There’s not even any lip service to traditional family models, so I think that anyone from a traditional culture is going to clash with that.

CWR: How does the Catholic Church factor into the immigration debate in Europe?

Caldwell: I don’t follow internal Catholic Church politics too much, but one thing that comes up a lot in conservative Catholic talk in Europe is the issue of reciprocity. There are a lot of complaints, particularly in Italy: there you have a situation where the Saudis are allowed to build the largest mosque in the world in Rome, but a Christian can’t practice his faith in Saudi Arabia. You hear that in conservative Catholic circles.

I would say that, for the most part, organized Catholicism and individual Catholics have tended to focus on the Christian ethics of this encounter with immigrants, not on the cultural clash of it. I would say that there’s a great deal of Church charity toward immigrants. They’re very supportive of these communities where they feel beleaguered.

I do think there’s a difference between Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II. I think the present Pope does look at Europe and at Christendom as being a cultural sphere. Again, I don’t want to pose as a theologian, but in some of his writings he’s constantly stressing, I don’t know if you’d call it a hidden Christianity, but a Christian undercurrent in all sorts of Western modes of thinking that don’t think of themselves as Christian. You know, like secular humanism and socialism and that sort of thing. I gather that he is skeptical that you can recreate those using different religious wellsprings.

CWR: You point out that the Pope said Turkey should not be admitted to the Europen Union.

Caldwell: That has to do with Turkey’s Muslim roots—at least, that was the explanation he gave. He’s been a little more diplomatic since then on that subject. He made a trip to Turkey in December 2006, right around the time the European Commission had to decide on whether to allow Turkey to move forward in its negotiations to move into the EU. I don’t think conciliatory is the right word, but he said a lot of smart, admiring things about the achievements of Turkish culture. But I didn’t notice any drawing back from anything he had said. This, by the way, was two or three months after the Regensburg speech.

CWR: Who is Tariq Ramadan?

Caldwell: There have been many books devoted to that subject, some of them by Tariq Ramadan himself. He is a Swiss citizen. He is the grandson, on his mother’s side, of Hassan al-Banna, who was the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which is a strain of Salafi radicalism. When it was founded, it was a very anti-colonial movement, but it is a Muslim fundamentalist political organization that still exists and is generally thought of as extremist. Ramadan is the son of Sayyid Ramadan, who is another Muslim political figure. Tariq Ramadan grew up in Switzerland. He became a teacher of some sort. He’s not really a university professor but he’s a very uplifting inspirational speaker. I see him as being very much in the tradition of American revivalist preachers. But he has been accused of using double-language, of saying things that are interpreted one way by his radical followers and another way by his Western fans.

CWR: Code words...

Caldwell: It’s not like the Yasser Arafat thing, where he’d say one thing in Arabic and another thing in French, or send out two different press releases. It’s just that he uses certain words that are open to interpretation. The one that I mention in the book is “resistance.” He calls on everyone to offer “resistance” to global capitalism, and if you read his books you find that he uses the word “resistance” in a very similar way to the way he uses the word “jihad.” One of the puzzles to me is why it’s so important to supposedly moderate Muslim thinkers to keep the word “jihad” in common circulation. Generally, if you notice you’re using a word that really offends people and you don’t agree what the word means, then you stop using it. I find that a bit odd about the way the word “jihad” is used.

CWR: How is he using it?

Caldwell: The particular usage I’m talking about is that he uses the word “resistance” and “jihad” to mean primarily a struggle inside the individual Muslim’s conscience, inside the individual’s head, and only secondarily does it mean doing things like firing guns and throwing bombs. But I think that there is something disingenuous about that, because not only do Westerners understand this word in its more contentious sense but, I think, most Muslims around the world who hear the word understand it that way, too.

CWR: He was denied entrance into the US, correct?

Caldwell: Yes.

CWR: He was going to teach at a university.

Caldwell: Notre Dame.

CWR: How far apart are immigrant Muslim and native European birth rates?

Caldwell: It depends on the community you look at and how long they’ve been there. I don’t know the exact numbers. In the 1990s, there was a lot of very careful research done of North Africans in France, and it found that when they arrived the birth rates were something like seven children per woman, and that they’ve come back down but are still nowhere near the average for French women, which is about two. Certain immigrant groups have converged absolutely on the European birthrate, like the so-called African Indians who came to Europe from Uganda and Kenya in the late 60s and early 70s. They have the same birthrates as other English people. The Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who’ve been there for much longer don’t, and part of that has to do with the importing of spouses. Families have one foot in the West and one foot in the other culture.

CWR: So that gap tends to narrow over time, but are you saying that…

Caldwell: It’s not certain that it will permanently close.

CWR: One of the things that Philip Jenkins argues in his book God’s Continent is that Muslim immigration to Europe is causing many native Europeans to think of themselves as Christians in some sense, at least culturally. Have you seen evidence of this?

Caldwell: Yes. I’ve never heard anybody talk about it. I guess people think of themselves more as “Franco-French,” they’ll say that. There’s an excellent political scientist at Birkbeck College at the University of London whose name is Eric Kaufmann, and he has used studies of declared religiosity across Britain, and perhaps across Europe as well. He has found that in areas of high immigrant concentration people of Christian background are more likely to call themselves Christians, and that’s true even if you control for other things like socio-economic status.

So, yes, if you have a bunch of Muslims moving into your neighborhood, you tend to say “I am a Christian” more, but this is an interesting, hard-to-measure factor, because religions are not all structured the same way. There’s not a perfect symmetry between religions. This may be a function of our own prejudice, but we tend to think of the son of a couple of Muslims as a Muslim whether he embraces the tenets of the faith or not. Christianity has to do with profession of the faith. You’re a Christian if you believe Christ is your savior. It’s a perfectly normal thing to hear someone say, “My parents were Baptists, but I’m not a Christian.” That makes more sense in Christianity than it does in Islam, at least as we understand it.

CWR: One other thing you talk about in the book is European attempts to criminalize any dissent.

Caldwell: I think that a very important moment was the criminalization of Holocaust denial, which I think turned out to be a mistake. Now, denying the Holocaust adds no interesting perspective to our historical understanding of anything. It is a worthless point of view, but to get the government involved in policing opinions has been a very slippery slope. What has happened, and this has been particularly the case in France, is that organized lobbies for other people have begun trying to get their own tragedies recognized as beyond criticism. You see that with the Turkish massacres of the Armenians, you see it with the slave trade. There was an effort to prosecute Bernard Lewis, who is probably the leading scholar of 20th century Turkey who will ever live, for declining to use the word genocide in the context of the Turkish massacres.

That’s one angle in which speech is narrowing. But another one is simply intimidation. I mean, people are really scared—and this is more specific to Islam—scared to talk about a lot of this stuff. I mention in the book the British artist Grayson Perry, who does a lot of pornographic imagery of the Virgin Mary and things like that—in perfect safety. Someone asked him why he wouldn’t do the same thing about any Islamic religious icons, and he said, if you want the truth, it’s because I’m afraid someone will cut my head off. So there is a chilling effect with that. The Salman Rushdie fatwa, the Danish cartoonist—these things lead to a sort of self-censorship.

The third angle comes out of the idea that if you don’t make Muslims mad they will not press their agenda. And so you have calls for the restoration of blasphemy laws, not to protect the state religion, but to protect Islam from being insulted. You’ve seen that in the Netherlands. In Britain you have a law against incitement to religious hatred, which came into effect about two years ago. It was supposed to have been defanged, but I think that it still leaves people wondering what they’re allowed to say and what they’re not.

CWR: When the EU expanded, that opened up the route of travel for several former Eastern Bloc countries. What effect has the movement of Poles and others had on the rates of religious participation?

Caldwell: It’s been amazing. There’s a place I often stay when I’m in Paris, it’s on the Rue Saint-Honoré, and there’s a church on that street called Notre Dame de L’Assomption. I have been reading and writing about the empty churches in Europe for a long time, and I was there on a Sunday and I noticed the church was filled to overflowing. There must have been 200 people outside. I figured there must be some sort of state funeral in there or something. There wasn’t—there was just a Sunday Mass, and I walked up and I noticed that there were people outside the church speaking Polish and there was a statue of the late pope, John Paul II, outside the door. It was just an ordinary Sunday Mass.

People in other places where Poles have come, Ireland for instance, remark that churches that hadn’t been full in years were now very lively. That immigration seems to have been badly hit by the economic downturn, because the Poles think that if they’re going to be unemployed, they’d rather be unemployed at home. So whether that’s going to leave a permanent footprint I don’t know, but it’s been a major change.

Jeremy Lott is author of The Warm Bucket Brigade: The Story of the American Vice Presidency and In Defense of Hypocrisy. His blog is www.jeremylott.net.

Catholics, Civil Rights, and the Holy Name

Jonathan J. Bean, Ph.D. | Ignatius Insight | August 17, 2009

During the nomination hearing for Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) asked whether there was a "right to privacy" that might include abortion or birth control. Sotomayor answered that there was a string of precedents establishing the "right to privacy," all the way backto a 1920s-era case that gave parents control over their children's education.

Although she did not mention the case by name, Sotomayor was referring to an issue and decision (Pierce v. Society of Sisters) that deeply divided the nation: The issue was simple: could you be Catholic and "100% American"? The Ku Klux Klan answered with a resounding "No!" as it reincarnated itself to attack American Catholics nationwide. The Klan was so powerful that it secured passage of an Oregon law banning all private schools, and there were bill to do the same in other states. Fortunately, the Court ruled that children were not "mere creature[s] of the State" and struck down efforts to criminalize parochial schooling.

My new book, Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader (University Press of Kentucky, in association with the Independent Institute, 2009) emphasizes the role of Christianity (and Judaism) in the classic tradition of civil rights. This "classical liberal" tradition is neither Left nor Right but was deeply influenced by Judeo-Christian notions of natural law. Naturally, Catholics played a role in upholding the "natural rights" of men and women.

Race and Liberty in America discusses how the Catholic Church married interracial couples, a private act that was illegal in dozens of states until the Loving decision of 1967 declared marriage a "natural right." My entry on Loving includes a statement by U.S. Catholic bishops in support of the plaintiffs. The bishops cited language from the Vatican II Council:

The Church was "committed to the proposition that 'with regard to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent.'"

This was not the first time Catholics stood for the natural right of life and the liberty of marriage or reproduction. During the 1920s, the sole Catholic Supreme Court Justice, Pierce Butler, dissented from the infamous case legalizing sterilization of "inferior" individuals and races (Buck v. Bell, 1927). "Progressive" justice Oliver Wendell Holmes spoke for the majority when he wrote that "three generations of imbeciles are enough." Holmes invoked the principle of compulsory vaccination as precedent for forced sterilization. Holmes pontificated:

It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough..."

When the anti-Catholic Klan was most powerful, its members attacked Catholics as "inferior" and less than "100% American." The Klan secured immigration quotas limiting migration from Catholic countries. Along with the efforts to ban Catholic schools, the Klan discouraged public schoolsfrom hiring Catholic teachers. The situation became so heated that New York Governor (and future president) Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a law that prohibited discrimination on the basis of religion in public school hiring. (FDR's position on Catholics and Jews left much to be desired but he knew how to land on the right side of a political issue).

In 1924 the Klan flexed enormous political power before crumbling in the midst of a sex scandal and exposé of its corruption. Race and Liberty in America shows how President Calvin Coolidge undercut the KKK by refusing to appear at their massive D.C. rally (the Imperial Wizard was not pleased). Instead, Coolidge chose to address a parade of 100,000 Catholics celebrating the Holy Name Society. Coolidge's speech advocated religious and racial toleration--a clear blow at the anti-black, anti-Catholic Klan. He spoke of Christian toleration again by addressing the graduating class of Howard University, the historically black college in Washington, D.C.

In a word, Catholics were at the center of many civil rights struggles, including the struggle to be recognized as equal to other Americans. With the help of classical liberalism, they secured their rights to free association (schools) and all the "privileges and immunities" of citizenship. In turn, they fought for the "natural" right to marry whomever we please by drawing upon natural law--a doctrine rooted in Catholic thought. Race and Liberty in America illustrates the power of classical liberal belief in individual freedom, God, and color blind law. Protestants, Catholics, and Jews all contributed to this anti-racist tradition, from 1776 to the present day.

As the Professor-Policeman-President story fades, we might remember that this country has overcome deep-seated hatreds based on religion. Can we do the same with race? Yes, we can. However, rather than concede "rights talk" to the Left and Right, we Americans need to rediscover a tradition that emphasizes our respect for individual dignity. That tradition is deeply rooted in Christian concepts of man and God.

Letter to the editor of the Journal News. - Fr. Andrew Carrozza

August 18, 2009

To the editor:

In an editorial letter to the Journal News on August 18th, Adam Rothman, a member of the Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Board of Directors, states that “Planned Parenthood is a leader in delivering factual information about human sexuality and sexual health to students, young adults, parents, and professionals” and laments “that, after 93 years, many people are misinformed about the wide range of services and programs offered, which millions of women, men, and teens rely on every day to lead healthy productive lives.” I maintain that Planned Parenthood is coming under increased scrutiny, not because people don’t know what Planned Parenthood provides, but rather, because they do.

Perhaps they are aware that Planned Parenthood is a leader in handing out contraception to teens – even to junior high students – without their parents’ knowledge or permission.

Perhaps they are aware that Planned Parenthood claims it “deliver[s] factual information...about sexual health,” yet repeatedly opposes any informed consent legislation, which simply put, states that women must be informed before they choose to undergo an abortion of all the possible effects of their decision.

Perhaps they are aware that Planned Parenthood adamantly opposes any parental notification legislation which, simply put, would require parental consent when a minor requests an abortion.

Perhaps they are aware that Planned Parenthood opposes spousal notification laws, which would require a husband consent to the murder of his child. (So much for caring about men!)

Perhaps they are aware that Planned Parenthood consistently calls “post abortion stress syndrome” a myth created by pro-lifers, when countless women have testified to it, and I personally have counseled many women going through it – I assure you it is very real!

Perhaps they are aware that Planned Parenthood has claimed to be an organization concerned about providing women with accurate information to make responsible choices and live healthy lives, when in reality they were founded by Margaret Sanger, a hate-filled woman who used eugenics – the same argument Adolf Hitler used to justify his extermination of Jews – to encourage poor women to use birth control so that those with “inferior genes” would not “spawn” large numbers of children and “pollute” the gene pool with “imbeciles.”

Perhaps people are not as gullible as Planned Parenthood thinks they are. Perhaps they are finally beginning to see through its lies.

Rev. Andrew P. Carrozza, Pastor
St. Ann’s Church
854 Midland Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10704
(914) 965-1555

18 agosto 2009

Man carrying assault weapon attends Obama protest


Associated Press Writers Amanda Lee Myers And Terry Tang, Associated Press Writers – Tue Aug 18, 8:53 am ET
Source: Yahoo

PHOENIX – About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday — the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.

Gun-rights advocates say they're exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen.

Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday's event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn't need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.

The man with the rifle declined to be identified but told The Arizona Republic that he was carrying the assault weapon because he could. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms," he said.

Phoenix police Detective J. Oliver, who monitored the man at the downtown protest, said police also wanted to make sure no one decided to harm him.

"Just by his presence and people seeing the rifle and people knowing the president was in town, it sparked a lot of emotions," Oliver said. "We were keeping peace on both ends."

Last week, during Obama's health care town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., a man carrying a sign reading "It is time to water the tree of liberty" stood outside with a pistol strapped to his leg.

"It's a political statement," he told The Boston Globe. "If you don't use your rights, then you lose your rights."

Police asked the man to move away from school property, but he was not arrested.

Fred Solop, a Northern Arizona University political scientist, said the incidents in New Hampshire and Arizona could signal the beginning of a disturbing trend.

"When you start to bring guns to political rallies, it does layer on another level of concern and significance," Solop said. "It actually becomes quite scary for many people. It creates a chilling effect in the ability of our society to carry on honest communication."

He said he's never heard of someone bringing an assault weapon near a presidential event. "The larger the gun, the more menacing the situation," he said.

Phoenix was Obama's last stop on a four-day tour of western states, including Montana and Colorado.

Authorities in Montana said they received no reports of anyone carrying firearms during Obama's health care town hall near Bozeman on Friday. About 1,000 people both for and against Obama converged at a protest area near the Gallatin Field Airport hangar where the event took place. One person accused of disorderly conduct was detained and released, according to the Gallatin Airport Authority.

Heather Benjamin of Denver's Mesa County sheriff's department, the lead agency during Obama's visit there, said no one was arrested.

Arizona is an "open-carry" state, which means anyone legally allowed to have a firearm can carry it in public as long as it's visible. Only someone carrying a concealed weapon is required to have a permit.

Paul Helmke, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said people should not be allowed to bring guns to events where Obama is.

"To me, this is craziness," he said. "When you bring a loaded gun, particularly a loaded assault rifle, to any political event, but particularly to one where the president is appearing, you're just making the situation dangerous for everyone."

He said people who bring guns to presidential events are distracting the Secret Service and law enforcement from protecting the president. "The more guns we see at more events like this, there's more potential for something tragic happening," he said.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said armed demonstrators in open-carry states such as Arizona and New Hampshire have little impact on security plans for the president.

"In both cases, the subject was not entering our site or otherwise attempting to," Donovan said. "They were in a designated public viewing area. The main thing to know is that they would not have been allowed inside with a weapon."

Representatives of the National Rifle Association did not return calls for comment.

Little gems from the Health Care Bill

Copied from freerepublic.org

• Page 16: States that if you have insurance at the time of the bill becoming law and change, you will be required to take a similar plan. If that is not available, you will be required to take the gov option!
• Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure!
• Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!
• Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process)
• Page 42: The "Health Choices Commissioner" will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None.
• Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.
• Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard.
• Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.
• Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (example: SEIU, UAW and ACORN)
• Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange.
• Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans)
• Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens
• Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan.
• Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter.
• Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No "judicial review" is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed.
• Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages.
• Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives.
• Page 126: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families.
• Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll <>BR • Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll
• Page 167: Any individual who doesnt' have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income.
• Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them).
• Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records.
• Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that.
• Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected."
• Page 241: Doctors: no matter what speciality you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)
• Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc.
• Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries.
• Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs.
• Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!
• Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions.
• Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government.
• Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited for owning and investing in healthcare companies!
• Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval.
• Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on "community" input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN.
• Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing.
• Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc.
• Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals.
• Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone).
• Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia?
• Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time.
• Page 425: Goverment provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.
• Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends.
• Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT.
• Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life.
• Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.
• Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN.
• Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage.
• Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services.

17 agosto 2009

A 9-12 Manifesto?

Got this via email... I think it sums up what a lot of Americans are feeling.

The following letter was read on Glenn Beck's show and is rapidly circulating around the country.

GLENN BECK: I got a letter from a woman in Arizona . She writes an open letter to our nation's leadership:

I'm a home grown American citizen, 53, registered Democrat all my life. Before the last presidential election I registered as a Republican because I no longer felt the Democratic Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. Now I no longer feel the Republican Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. The fact is I no longer feel any political party or representative in Washington represents my views or works to pursue the issues important to me. There must be someone. Please tell me who you are. Please stand up and tell me that you are there and that you're willing to fight for our Constitution as it was written. Please stand up now. You might ask yourself what my views and issues a re that I would horribly feel so disenfranchised by both major political parties. What kind of nut job am I? Will you please tell me?

Well, these are briefly my views and issues for which I seek representation:

One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S., I'm not a racist. This isn't to be confused with legal immigration.

Two, the TARP bill, I want it repealed and I want no further funding supplied to it. We told you no, but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.

Three: Czars, I want the circumvention of our checks and balances stopped immediately. Fire the czars. No more czars. Government officials answer to the process, not to the president. Stop trampling on our Constitution and honor it.

Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over. There is more to say.

Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another expensive decision. Don't you dare try to pass this in the middle of the night and then go on break. Slow down!

Six, growing government control. I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to take care of with your real obligations. Why don't you start there.

Seven, ACORN.. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real estate deal that closes. Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audits and investigations. I do not trust them with taking the census over with our taxpayer money. I don't trust them with our taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello. Stop protecting your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.

Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money. It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person. Why do you want me to hate my employers? Why -- what do you have against shareholders making a profit?

Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it ourselves.

Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we'll be better off just getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful. Have you ever ripped off a Band-Aid? We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.

Eleven, transparency and accountability. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let's have it. Let's say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please try -- please stop manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.

Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now.

Take a breath. Listen to the people. Let's just slow down and get some input from some nonpoliticians on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency.. Stop speed reading our bills into law. I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I'm busy. I'm busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business s of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.

I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent spending.

From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington . Our president often knows all the right buzzword is unsustainable. Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don't want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we're morons.

We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be represented. You think we're so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work , pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you. You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured. They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish. We didn't ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off.. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us when he will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.

Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don't care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back. We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you. You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear? We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them. Because we will get you fired and they will not save you. If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are.. If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the whole damn congress if need be one by one. We are coming. Are we coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming. We the people are coming.