Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bravo, House Republicans!

By Chadwick Ciocci

Finally, a little backbone!

Although Barack Obama’s stimulus plan passed the House this week, it was met by staunch and unanimous opposition by every single House Republican- a move that every free-market capitalist, conservative and just plain opposed-to-government-waste voter should applaud.

Not only will the package create only 3 million jobs at a cost of over $800 BILLION dollars (that is, if you actually believe in Keynesian economics) but provisions of it have called for:

* BILLIONS of dollars for ACORN (remember that organization that Obama was affiliated with which is under federal investigation for voter fraud?)
* $200 MILLION to fix up the national Mall
* $50 MILLION for the National Endowment for the Arts
* $100 MILLION to reduce the danger of lead paint in peoples’ homes

This is just the tip of the ice berg. The bill includes billions of other dollars in wrong, wasteful, and inappropriate pork spending.

Even if you actually believe that government spending is the way to get us out of this recession, there is no doubting that the stimulus bill includes billions of dollars that will do absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy.

So much for the change we need…

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


By Douglas Kohn

I am sure most people that read this are in agreement that Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, was nothing more than a murderer and a thug. What has been done for years by idiot youth across college campuses is now being brought to the big screen. Benicio Del Toro is playing Che in a movie of the same name. This is a disgrace to all the Cubans who left the island in a panic and I take it as a personal affront because of my family’s involvement.

My grandfather was a principal American investor in Cuba. Having been a Colonel in the US Air Force and the Royal Air Force, he retired from the military with many international connections. He used these to become an investor in Cuba. At the peak of his wealth, he owned cigar factories, a motorcycle factory, several tobacco farms, apartment buildings in Havana as well as homes in Havana, Pinar Del Rio and Miramar. In addition to this, he had a monopoly on all of the parking meters in Havana.

What did he and other American investors do that was so terrible? He created thousands of jobs and contributed to the welfare of Cuba by increasing the island’s wealth, which at the time was substantial.

Then Castro and Guevara decided this was no good. When they took Havana from Batista, the very first thing they did was smash my grandfather’s parking meters to steal his money. They then nationalized all of his assets and froze his accounts for no reason other than their anarchism and hatred. They then murdered many of his friends. They were the lowest form of life on Earth.

As if the widespread immortalization of Che and Castro is not enough, Hollywood has to pour salt in the wounds of many people. After he lost his fortune, my grandfather died of conditions which were surely brought on by the increased stress of becoming destitute, though I cannot prove this. What I can prove however, is that my father was thrust into poverty at the age of 18 and forced to live out of a car for a year. He later returned himself to wealth by working long hours for little money to put himself through school.

Guevara was evil and anyone with a conscience should not see a movie that portrays this monster as a hero.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fordham’s Cardinal Dulles Society Gives a Voice Back to Catholicism

By Michelle Hardy

It’s a bit ironic when students at a Catholic university find themselves deprived of an outlet for promoting Catholic values. Countless Fordham students have complained of this lack of representation, but it wasn’t until now that someone decided to respond.

Brian Stong, a Fordham senior and former president of the campus’ Respect for Life club, is creating The Cardinal Dulles Society this spring. The club will hold lectures and facilitate discussions regarding the preservation of Catholic values within the college atmosphere, addressing both personal and campus-related issues of faith.

By giving an in-depth look at the core tenants of Catholicism, meetings will ask students to question how these concepts should be materialized in everyday college life. The club will also feature lectures by learned scholars from the Fordham community and beyond. Some potential topics of discussion will include faith and reason, Christian hope, the liturgy, and the real presence of the Eucharist.

Brian believes these lectures and discussions will provide a comfortable outlet for devout Catholics, as well as those simply interested in expanding their knowledge on the religion. He wishes for his club to serve as “…an intellectual society, a forum for learning the Catholic faith more seriously and discussing it seriously, as if it is something we actually believe.”

The Cardinal Dulles Society will also have several officer positions available for students interested in future involvement, including the office of president after Brian graduates this spring.

I was fortunate enough to have a discussion with the club’s founder regarding why this group was so greatly needed. Below is our conversation:

Michelle: During your time at Fordham, what have been your main concerns with how the University represents Catholic values through its actions and policy making?

Brian: We’re concerned with the lack of solid Catholic information we receive at Fordham. It seems that it’s assumed we all know about the Catholic faith, or else we wouldn’t have come here, but in reality it’s just not the case, even after some of us have gone to Catholic grade schools and high schools our whole lives (Here I’ll mention one of my good friends who was one such lifelong Catholic schooler and didn’t know who Judas Iscariot was when we were playing trivial pursuit).

This certainly isn’t Fordham’s fault, but when our theology requirements allow us to dodge learning about the Catholic faith by taking other options, it just seems that the University doesn’t care enough about sharing the beautiful and selfless faith that it holds and has prospered from. If we really believed that we have the right faith and that people can be saved by it, how come we don’t teach it? The Cardinal Dulles Society seeks to fill the gap and provide solid teaching on the Catholic faith. It is a direct response to the late Avery Cardinal Dulles’ proposal for a Catholicism 101 course that was not wholly welcomed by the theology department.

Michelle: Have there been any similar attempts to form this sort of organization in recent years at Fordham?

Brian: Not that I know of, but there has been tremendous growth in Christian life Communities (CLC), which I’m also proudly a member of, so we know that there is a growing number of seriously faithful students at Fordham who want to know more about their faith and continue building a solid foundation for it. The Cardinal Dulles society seeks to build the foundation with complete and total reverence for the traditional Catholic faith we have inherited and are proud of.

Michelle: What are some of the main topics your club wishes to address in this first semester of its existence? Are there any specific Fordham policies you wish to speak out against immediately? Any specific political issues?

Brian: In a way we want to rise above politics. Just like how the Gospels or the Pope don’t endorse a certain candidate, so would the Society seek to stay above politics. This isn’t to avoid contentious issues, but to realize that a certain political party or candidate really isn’t the answer to our problems, but rather Christ is. So we want to keep the focus on Christ.

Perhaps the point I’m trying to make is that there are certain times and places to be whiny and abrasive about politics, (been there, done that—ex pres of Respect for Life right here), and people definitely need to take a stand to real world evils, but this forum of the Cardinal Dulles Society helps teach the roots of the faith that are essential frameworks for being able to deal with modern political or university issues. For example, building a respect for the dignity of the person based on the Gospels and the Papal encyclicals can be indispensable in being able to deal with the modern real world issues of abortion, torture, war, euthanasia, nuclear armament, etc.

Michelle: What will you do to create a welcoming environment that facilitates cooperation among students of different spiritual backgrounds?

Brian: Certainly we’ll encourage people of any spiritual background to join and learn more about the core of the Catholic faith. Not surprisingly this will probably turn out to be mostly Catholics who join, but we would gladly welcome anyone so that they can see the great treasure of a faith we have and hopefully be inspired to join the Church themselves.

The club’s first meeting is planned for February 2nd at 7:30 pm, in a Keating room to be announced. Brian would also like to thank Joe Hill S.J., a Jesuit scholastic and graduate student, for assisting him in forming the club. If you have any questions about The Cardinal Dulles Society, you can contact Brian at

Monday, January 26, 2009

No More Nice Guy

By Phil Fraietta

First and foremost let me state that what happened on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 20th was a truly historic event and one that Americans of all different political beliefs should at least appreciate the history in. But, with that said, it is now time to move past the history of the inauguration and into the Presidency of Barack Obama.

It is my belief that we as conservatives have gotten “soft” for a lack of a better term. We just endured eight years of the largest expansion of the Federal Government since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and many of us still refuse to speak critically of President Bush. Now yes, it is true that President Bush kept our nation attack-free after 9/11, and did some very honorable things with respect to AIDS in Africa. But, all in all, his entire Presidency was a complete and utter failure as well as an abandonment of conservatism.

I address this refusal to criticize President Bush because I fear some fellow conservatives may give the same treatment to President Obama. We must not be afraid to play insult to history. Meaning that just because President Obama is the first African-American President does not mean we should be afraid to evaluate and critique every decision he makes as President.

We must remember what the Civil Rights Movement was intended to achieve. The goal of the Civil Rights Movement, as stated by Martin Luther King Jr., was to “one day live in a nation where [a man] will not be judged by the color of [his] skin but by the content of [his] character.” I believe the election of President Obama does not signify that we have reached this day, but rather it will be when we are able to applaud or criticize his decisions without second-guessing ourselves for fear of being called racist that we will have reached this day.

In conclusion, while the election of President Obama will always be a truly historical event, it is time we stop looking out of a historical lens and resume looking into a political lens. We owe it to ourselves as conservatives; we owe it to this great nation and her citizens; we owe it to the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, who fought so hard for racial equality, to evaluate every last decision made by President Obama without using race as a factor and to voice our opposition to every last decision that opposes the principles of conservatism.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Reporting from Israel

By Rachel Ring

These past three weeks I have been involved in a short session intensive study abroad program to Israel. As an American leaving right when the Gaza fight erupted, I was a bit apprehensive to continue with the trip, but excited too, because this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Because of my experience there, I can now say with a solid background and knowledge my opinions, and am not just some idiot in a political science wearing a Che Guevera t-shirt in class pontificating on what the Israel Palestine problem should look like and how it should be solved.

With that being said, having been to areas all over Israel, including the West Bank, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Umm al Fahm, the settlements, seeing the security wall, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the Golan Heights, I can say that I completely get why both sides fight as hard as they do. (Which, I think some people miss the point on this issue). There’s an intertwined history, there’s a religiosity on both sides, there’s a victimhood syndrome that paralyzes both sides into not negotiating and cooperating. And let’s face it; to keep the status quo in Israel and the territories is easier for everyone, because then no real changes have to be made. Settlements won’t have to be uprooted, lines won’t be drawn, and there will not be a huge social upheaval when both sides don’t get their way 100%.

Besides the places I saw, I also had the privilege of meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials (on levels that I could never dream of meeting as a college student in a conflict resolution course in the USA, such as the equivalent of the secretary of state for the Palestinians and an Israeli foreign minister taking time off during wartime to speak to students). I saw two common themes in these meetings, one is that Israel’s prime concern is its security, and it is achieved both through police force and by land acquisition, and on the other side I saw that Palestinians just want their own state and economy. However, how they want to achieve it, and how the Palestinians manage their own people and affairs is a huge deterrent to ever getting the borders finally drawn and being free of “occupation”.

Furthermore, Palestinian leaders (and this is a trend throughout the Arab world) tend to have a bit of a revisionist history when it comes to the past and present. There’s a constant blame the “big bad Zionist Israel” theme, with no sense of responsibility for the way that the Palestinians have been dealt with in the peace process. Fatah (or the PLO remnants) is not some nice, moderate group. Sure, they act like it now, because they realized that Israel would crush them if they didn’t, but this is not the core attitude or belief of the group. Hence, why Israel doesn’t trust them, and Fatah’s dual identity problem is one of the reasons why Hamas has flourished.

Lastly, Israel is not some golden angel in this argument either. While I do believe Israel has the right to exist, is a viable state and will continue to prosper, the settlements are a travesty and need to go. Settlement building needs to be stopped immediately, and the settlers need to be relocated. While I understand the religious fervor for the land, there could be negotiated ways to set up Jewish sites to visit or worship at, but the religious settlers are a small part of the settlement population (Just like the Muslims want in Jerusalem). The rest of the settlers are “quality of life” settlers, and receive tax breaks and benefits from the government to populate in the less expensive West Bank settlements. This is clearly a flawed policy and not a plan for peace, which should be Israel’s ultimate goal, especially to get the borders drawn before the demographics get out of hand against Israel, when they will face a huge problem in trying to keep the Jewish democratic state a viable option.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Russia-Georgia Revisited

By Douglas Kohn

20 years ago, America and the West were triumphant in the grand ideological conflict which pitted them against Soviet Communist barbarism. As the Soviet Union collapsed, America and Russia would be cooperating on a global scale in many areas. Russia could finally become a proper European country, not one driven to dominate the continent. America could go back to being, in the words of Jeane Kirkpatrick, “a normal nation in a normal time.” Such was the optimism of the age as new openness brought increasing contacts between the ex-socialist stalwarts of Russia and Eastern Europe, China and India.

Alas, although there is a long list of common enemies and interests between Russia and the West, it has not come to pass. This was greatly the fault of the Clinton Administration, failing to show Russia the respect it deserved. We made a ‘peace’ with Russia nearly as dishonorable as the one made at Versailles. George H. W. Bush came to an unwritten understanding that NATO would not be expanded into Russia’s backyard.

Now NATO has three very weak countries right on Russia’s border. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania all have large minorities of ethnic Russians living within their borders. Russia placed Estonia under cyber siege in 2007. All of these countries have populations under 4 million people. American law now dictates that our military is obligated to defend them.

A look at Russia’s history shows that they have always been overly concerned with encroachment on their borders and sphere of influence. This fear goes very far back to the time of the Mongols. Russian expansion was partially defensive in nature.

Now there are large movements in Washington to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Neoconservatives believe that if Georgia had been in NATO this summer Russia would not have invaded. This may be true, but are we really willing to risk going to war for Georgia, a small country that probably provoked Russia in some way? There is no justification for bringing either one of these countries into NATO. NATO expansion has rules. It is not allowed to take in countries that have existing border disputes. There are no definite US interests at stake by the fact that Russia has recognized the independence of Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkazia and South Ossetia. It is a situation that has to be watched, and certainly on a diplomatic level we should not let Russia do whatever it wants, but we should not be endangering US troops.

Friday, January 16, 2009

On Israel

By Douglas Kohn

I cannot pretend to be completely unbiased in my analysis of Israel’s problems in the Middle East. I have family living in the city of Herzliyah in range of Hezbollah rockets. My family was intrinsically involved with the Zionist movement for many years. I myself have my issues with the Zionist organizations that I have been in contact with as I am paranoid of what I consider elements of dual loyalty. This, in and of itself, does not mean they are wrong on all issues.

There are two important interests the United States has with regard to Israel. America’s interests are served both by a strong, stable and mighty Israel and by an Israel at peace, or at least non violent stalemate with its neighbors. Part of this can only be accomplished by cajoling the Israelis into taking certain action that could be either politically hard to swallow or could possibly endanger its geopolitical viability. This means a solution that will have to be found that can best be palatable to the virulently ideological side of America’s Zionist sympathies and with careful regard to America’s overall position in the region.

The bottom line is that many Israeli settlements are going to have to go. This is difficult to swallow because the center of Jewish history is in Judaea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank. This must be done without America seeming to criticize or come down hard on Israel. The mere appearance of a loss of American support could have even more difficult consequences for the region. Here is a compromise that I believe will be most palatable.

The United States currently gives Israel $3 billion a year almost all in jets. A simple proposal, rather than telling the Israelis we are going to cut this aid if they do not freeze settlement activity, would be to offer just the opposite. The best compromise is for the United States to offer double or triple this amount of money in exchange for the withdrawals. This allows Israel to withdraw from the territories out of strength rather than weakness.

A miniature Cold War is brewing in the region with Iran if it is not totally underway. Our Arab allies are no less paranoid of Iran and its proxy groups than Israel is. As I have said before, Saudi Arabia is no less important an ally in the region than Israel. I believe it is more so. The Arab regimes have been cooperating with Israel on a scale unseen since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in order to restore some semblance of order to the region. America can achieve a settlement. It is important to think of it this way. It is just a settlement, not necessarily a formal peace.