Showing posts with label John McCain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John McCain. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

McCain is shocked, shocked. . . .

Republicans: "But what about us?"

America: "We'll always have . . . no, never saw you before in my life."

THAT'S PRETTY MUCH where John McCain and Sarah Palin find themselves -- if the journalistic consensus is to be believed -- pretty much doomed to lose, perhaps badly, to a Democratic candidate who would have been pretty much unelectable a presidential election or two ago.

It's not that America has become much more liberal. It's that the GOP has messed things up that badly of late.

And now, McCain and Palin have been reduced to playing Captain Renault -- only not nearly so well as Claude Rains -- in the waning days of their allegedly doomed campaign. After all, when you have precious little to say for yourselves, what's a little hypocrisy to get in the way of slinging mud at Barack Obama, as pointedly noted by The Associated Press:

Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin accused the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday of protecting Barack Obama by withholding a videotape of the Democrat attending a 2003 party for a Palestinian-American professor and critic of Israel.

The paper said it had written about the event in April and would not release the tape because of a promise made to the source who provided it.

McCain and Palin called Rashid Khalidi a former spokesman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a characterization that Khalidi has denied in the past. Both candidates said guests at the party made critical comments about Israel.


McCain also has ties to Khalidi through a group that Khalidi helped found 15 years ago. The Center for Palestine Research and Studies has received more than $800,000 from an organization that McCain chairs.

On Wednesday, McCain said 1960s radical Bill Ayers had attended the same party in 2003. McCain and Palin have criticized Obama for his ties to Ayers and questioned what the videotape of the party might show.

"Among other things, Israel was described there as the perpetrator of terrorism rather than the victim," Palin said at a rally in Ohio. "What we don't know is how Barack Obama responded to these slurs on a country that he professes to support."

In a story published in April, the Times said Obama spoke out at the event on the need for common ground on the Israel-Palestinian issue. Obama has said during the campaign that his commitment to Israel's security is "nonnegotiable."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How about Josephine the Plumber?

Josephine the Plumber is fine with Barack Obama's tax plan. She makes only 67 percent of what Joe the Plumber does and won't get above the Democrat's $250,000 soak 'em threshold.

Tough bounce, John the Panderer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Robbing Peter to play politics

I think some of my fellow Catholics would vote for the devil himself if he said he was "pro-life."

The past couple of elections, we've come close. And the pattern seems to be holding among orthodox Catholics in 2008.

"AHA!" some of you are saying. "This Favog crank is a pro-abort Obama fanatic! A real Catholic in Name Only type."

You haven't
read this blog much, have you?

NO, I AGREE with the much-maligned Catholic bishop of Scranton, Joseph Martino, that a Catholic faces some high hurdles indeed before he (or she) can vote for an abortion supporter with a clean conscience. What troubles me greatly, though, is "conservative" Catholics' assumption that means they can vote for John McCain.

Because the same reasons that keep a believing Catholic from blithely voting for the abortion enthusiast, Barack Obama, also keep him from blithely voting for the candidate who supports an unjust war, backtracks on his formerly unequivocal opposition to torturing "enemy combatants," remains silent when supporters cry out for Obama's death . . . and supports embryonic stem-cell research.

Embryonic stem-cell research. The increasingly superfluous "science" you can't carry out without murdered fetuses or cannibalized embryos. McCain's support of that little shop of horrors is kind of like condemning the Holocaust while bathing with a fresh bar of
Jew soap.

But that doesn't stop all manner of my fellow Catholics from robbing Peter to play politics . . . badly. I think
this slice of life from the Scranton Times-Tribune pretty much sums up the mess Catholics have politicked themselves into. The scene . . . in line outside an arena, waiting to get into a rally featuring GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin:

The line outside Riverfront Sports has dwindled to a a few hundred. Reporters at the scene said it appears that everyone who wants to attend the Palin rally will be able to get in.

One man walked the length of the line shouting out "reminders" to those waiting that " loaded firearms are not allowed inside."

Two vans full of students from St. Gregory's Academy in Elmhurst were juggling and performing as they waited to go through security.

17-year-old Ian Costello, a student from Oklahoma, said that he believed much of the student body was supporting the McCain/Palin ticket.

"McCain, definitely. Everyone is for McCain."

Matthew Schultz, a rhetoric teacher at St. Gregory's, said he had two reasons for bringing the students to the rally.

"To show support for Sarah Palin with regards to her pro-life stance. As Catholics, we support our bishop in his stances. I'd like the boys to see some rhetoric in action."

When asked about some of the anti-Obama outbursts from people at previous Palin/McCain rallies, Mr. Matthews said " It's not what a gentleman or a Christian should do."
I WONDER WHAT Schultz's opinion is of politicians who work the yahoos into a homicidal frenzy? How "pro-life" might that be?

The boisterous crowd, estimated at around 4,500, interrupted her speech several times with chants of, "Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!"

There were no incendiary outbursts from the crowd about Mr. Obama during Mrs. Palin's speech, as there have been during other recent McCain-Palin rallies.

However, someone did shout out, "Kill him!" during Republican congressional candidate Chris Hackett's remarks before Mrs. Palin took the stage.

The outburst came during a round of booing from the crowd after Mr. Hackett said Mr. Obama should come to Pennsylvania and learn what the state's values are.
AT LEAST the McCain-Palin-loving Catholic schoolkids got "to see some rhetoric in action."

And the rest of us got to see how the tomfoolery some Catholics put up with in the name of voting "pro-life" buries that cause
under a mountain of hypocrisy and does real, lasting damage to the Church's witness. It does violence to the gospel, and to those who have staked their lives upon it.

It comes down to this: God don't like ugly.

Catholic moral theology posits that we may not do evil in the hope good might come out of it. That applies to voting for abortion enthusiasts.

That also applies to backers of cutting apart frozen human embryos to fix what ails us former embryos . . . who support unjust wars . . . and countenance expressions of hate and homicide from newly minted mobs they've whipped up in the name of acquiring ultimate political power.

"Catholic" schools that can't grasp that aren't worth a dime's tuition, and a Church that compromises its witness for a sack of empty promises may yet prevail against the gates of hell . . . but it's going to be close.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's a minute to midnight. Americans,
do you know where your economy is?

The first two paragraphs from this Associated Press story Saturday night would have Alfred Hitchcock reaching for the night light and his wubbie:
President Bush and financial leaders from nations rich and poor pledged Saturday to intensify their efforts to unblock a frozen financial system before it does more damage to an increasingly shaky global economy.

While there were no concrete offers of new moves, Bush vowed anew that his administration was doing everything possible to halt the biggest market disruptions since the Great Depression. The finance ministers spoke in unusually somber terms about the need for action.
DO YOU understand what was said here?

Finance ministers of nations worldwide speak in "unusually somber terms" about the need to do something to stop the global financial meltdown. Nevertheless, no one has committed to do anything along those lines, at least in any concerted manner.

I think those in charge of the global credit markets and stock traders around the world understand what has -- or more accurately, hasn't -- gone down during the Washington meetings. And I think we can guess what might happen Monday morning if the finance ministers don't do something big by Sunday night.

Don't know about you, but I'm getting damned nervous.

My parents both grew up dirt poor during the Great Depression. I've heard all the stories. I know the indignities they suffered seven decades ago. I know the opportunities lost forever to those children long ago -- the dysfunction bred and the repercussions still rippling through myriad lives after all these years.

I don't want to go there. America doesn't want to go there . . . again.

Bush started the day shortly after daybreak with a Rose Garden appearance with finance ministers from the world's richest countries and later made an unexpected evening visit to the headquarters of the 185-nation International Monetary Fund a few blocks from the White House.

With Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, he participated for about 25 minutes in a discussion with the Group of 20, which includes rich countries and major developing nations such as China, Brazil and India.

Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said that the president told the finance ministers that he was doing all he could to involve other countries in efforts to resolve the crisis. According to White House spokesman Tony Fratto, Bush acknowledged the problems began in the U.S., with a meltdown of the market for subprime mortgages in the summer of 2007. The president felt it was important to take the rare step of coming to such a meeting because the problems were spreading globally.

"It doesn't matter if you're a rich country or a poor country, a developed country or a developing country—we're all in this together," Bush said, according to Fratto. "We take this seriously, and we want to work with you."

In response, the G-20 countries issued a joint statement in which the finance officials pledged to work together "to overcome the financial turmoil and to deepen cooperation to improve the regulation, supervision and the overall functioning of the world's financial markets."

The financial turmoil also dominated discussions at weekend's annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank. The IMF strongly endorsed a five-point plan put together a day earlier by the so-called Group of Seven wealthy powers, in which the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada jointly pledged to use all means possible to prevent major financial institutions from failing and to keep pumping money into the banking system to unfreeze lending and get credit—the lifeblood of the economy—flowing again.

"The depth and systemic nature of the crisis call for exceptional vigilance, coordination and readiness to take bold action," the IMF said in its joint statement. That statement, in an unusual move, repeated verbatim all of the commitments made in the G-7 statement that had been released on Friday.
IT SEEMS to me -- with government ministers and private-sector economists all stresing the need for urgent, global action to stave off le deluge -- all world powers can muster are piecemeal patches and pretty words. How will that save us from the financial apocalyse predicted by the head of the IMF on Saturday? From MSNBC:
The International Monetary Fund warned Saturday that debt-ridden banks were pushing the global financial system to the brink of meltdown and wealthy nations had so far failed to restore confidence.

The IMF's policy setting panel said the economic crisis is so deep and widespread that it will require a willingness to take bold action.

The Group of 20 nations, which includes the world's wealthiest nations and the largest developing countries such as China, Brazil and India, issued a joint statement late Saturday night stressing their resolve to work together to overcome the current financial turmoil.

"Intensifying solvency concerns about a number of the largest U.S.-based and European financial institutions have pushed the global financial system to the brink of systemic meltdown," IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.

The IMF endorsed a plan of action adopted Friday by the G-7 economic powers to protect the financial system and get credit flowing again.

Bush huddled with economic chiefs from the G-7 — Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada — and officials from the IMF and World Bank, and said top industrial nations grasped the gravity of the crisis and would work together to solve it.

"In an interconnected world, no nation will gain by driving down the fortunes of another. We are in this together. We will come through it together," Bush said. "There have been moments of crisis in the past when powerful nations turned their energies against each other or sought to wall themselves off from the world. This time is different."

"I'm confident that the world's major economies can overcome the challenges we face," Bush said, adding that Washington was working as fast as possible to implement a $700 billion financial bailout package approved a week ago.

Yet there was no concrete offer of new moves when Bush spoke on a Rose Garden stage just after daybreak, flanked by representatives from nearly a dozen nations and international organizations.
EVERYBODY HAS a plan. What we need is implementation. No implementation, no chance of a solution.

And no solution leads us to a place we really don't want to go.

At least that's what the experts who forecast our present predicament say. Like this one:

Nouriel Roubini, the professor who two years ago predicted the financial crisis, said world financial officials should orchestrate interest-rate cuts of at least 1.5 percentage points to help avert a depression.

A temporary guarantee of all bank deposits, unlimited liquidity for solvent financial institutions and fiscal-stimulus measures are also needed, the New York University professor of economics said in a commentary e-mailed today to Roubini Global Economics subscribers.

"It will take a significant change in leadership of economic policy and very radical, coordinated policy actions among all advanced and emerging-market economies to avoid this economic and financial disaster," said Roubini, 50. From late 2006, he highlighted the dangers flowing from a likely U.S. housing crisis.

The economist urged immediate action as officials from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Group of Seven nations meet in Washington this weekend. Stocks tumbled around the world today as the yearlong credit crisis deepened, sending Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average to its worst weekly drop in history. The MSCI World Index was set for its biggest weekly decline since records began in 1970.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 9,000 for the first time since 2003 yesterday. More than $4 trillion has been erased from global equities this week.

"At this stage the risk of an imminent stock-market crash -- like the one-day collapse of 20 percent plus in U.S. stock prices in 1987 cannot be ruled out," said Roubini. "The financial system is breaking down, panic and lack of confidence in any counterparty is sharply rising and investors have totally lost faith in the ability of policy authorities to control the meltdown."
AT LEAST that's what the Bloomberg News story said Friday. As for what people will say today, who knows?

All I know is it doesn't look good from here, as I sit in the studio typing this. You have to wonder . . . and I do.

What particularly worries me is that, after four decades-plus of cultural chaos and familial breakdown, our society is in a worse position to deal with an economic collapse that it was in the 1930s -- and it was a close call even then. We just have no idea what would happen now, and I'd just as soon not tempt fate, if you don't mind.

I'D REALLY just as soon not find out what happens if the economy implodes just as GOP presidential nominee John McCain has unleashed the right's angry demons against Democrat Barack Obama . . . and everybody else who happens to get in the way.

And it's not like the "nutroots" left is any better. Or any less angry. Just different.

I don't want to find out what happens if our financial system -- and, soon after, our entire economy -- falls apart at the same time as we do.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Kool-Aid v. Kool-Aid

The Catholic Kool-Aid drinkers for the Party of Mammon, Greed and War have scored a great triumph, repudiating and purging from the Franciscan University of Steubenville a Catholic Kool-Aid drinker for the Party of Abortion.

IN REVIEWING this report from, Jesus must be so proud of the Catholic Church in America:

A pro-life former law professor Nicholas Cafardi, the former dean of the Duquesne University Law School, has quit his position on the board of trustees for Franciscan University of Steubenville. Cafardi's decision comes after he received criticism for endorsing pro-abortion presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Cafardi recently issued an endorsement for Obama and claimed the pro-life movement is dead -- drawing a strong rebuke from pro-life advocates.

Franciscan University issued a statement saying Cafardi did not represent the views of the college, but it appears Cafardi has resigned on his own without pressure from university officials.

Catholic writer Deal Hudson, who has been following the controversy, tells about the latest events.

"Dr. Terrence Henry, president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, has just told me that he received a letter of resignation yesterday from [Cafardi]," he said.

"Fr. Henry stressed that Dr. Cafardi's resignation from the board of Franciscan University was voluntary and had in no way been requested by the University," Hudson added. "Henry added that he was 'grateful' for Cafardi's letter."

"Cafardi's continued presence on the Franciscan University board became an issue several weeks ago when he publicly endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president," Hudson said.

Cafardi became the second prominent Catholic attorney to endorse Obama, following Doug Kmiec of Pepperdine University -- who has been the subject of significant criticism from pro-life advocates.

Cafardi based his endorsement on two points - claiming the pro-life movement has "permanently" lost the abortion battle and saying voting for Obama can be justified on other political issues.

But Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, disagreed.

"If you think the battle against abortion has been lost permanently, then you are asserting that the battle for America and civilization itself have been lost," Pavone says. "So don't trouble yourself one way or another about this election."
CAFARDI IS CORRECT when he says pro-lifers have utterly lost the abortion battle in this country. Pro-lifers have lost because -- either unable or unwilling to do the dirty work of impacting the culture for the cause of life -- they put all of their eggs (and cultural capital) in the Republicans' basket.

And 30 years later, abortion has been eliminated to the point where it's a wonder doctors aren't shooting healthy, full-term babies as they pop out of the womb. As a matter of fact, the "culture of life" has so triumphed -- thanks to the loving and savvy action of Catholic pro-lifers all over the United States -- that parents and guardians in Nebraska now are using a recently-enacted "safe haven" law to dump their unruly teen-agers in hospital emergency rooms.

That's not necessarily reason to vote for Obama, but it is reason not to judge a man, or his conscience, because his erstwhile compatriots' utter ineffectiveness in championing life has led him to a radically different political conclusion.

NOW, WHAT ABOUT John McCain's support for war, war and more war, more tax cuts for the rich and embryonic stem-cell research? Is anybody being forced off the Steubenville board for endorsing a candidate who supports, in order, Mass Death, Avarice and Homicide?

And what about supporting a candidate who sends out his "Joe Six-Pack" running mate, Sarah Palin, to demonize the opposition and work crowds up into
this kind of hateful, racist frenzy, as noted by Dana Milbank of The Washington Post?

Barack Obama, she told 8,000 fans at a rally here Monday afternoon, "launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist!" This followed her earlier accusation that the Democrat pals around with terrorists. "This is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America," she told the Clearwater crowd. "I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country." The crowd replied with boos.

McCain had said that racially explosive attacks related to Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are off limits. But Palin told New York Times columnist Bill Kristol in an interview published Monday: "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more."

Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."


The reception had been better in Clearwater, where Palin, speaking to a sea of "Palin Power" and "Sarahcuda" T-shirts, tried to link Obama to the 1960s Weather Underground. "One of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," she said. ("Boooo!" said the crowd.) "And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,' " she continued. ("Boooo!" the crowd repeated.)

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Palin also told those gathered that Obama doesn't like American soldiers. "He said that our troops in Afghanistan are just, quote, 'air-raiding villages and killing civilians,' " she said, drawing boos from a crowd that had not been told Obama was actually appealing for more troops in Afghanistan.

"See, John McCain is a different kind of man: He believes in our troops," she said.

EXCOMMUNICATE the politically incorrect board member, and turn a blind eye to folks who'd kill Obama and sling racial slurs at TV sound men. Turn a blind eye toward those who organize the lynch mob, egg on the devil within then remain silent as the hate approaches critical mass.

Catholics should remember one thing from history: You might think it's better to hitch your wagon to Generalissimo Francisco Franco to defeat the lefties, but that choice comes at a price. And with its own set of pathologies.

The devil always gets his due.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

This is not going to end well

Today, the United States is a nation on the brink. Of what, we do not know.

The economy is in turmoil. People are losing their homes. Retirees are losing their retirements. Workers are starting to lose their jobs in large numbers.

WE'RE ALSO going to have a national election in a month. One one side, to paint with the broadest of brushes, we have a young apostle of "hope" who speaks in generalities and has given rise to what approaches a personality cult among some of his younger supporters.

On the other, we have a man whose overarching political philosophy seems to be winning by any means necessary. Never before much of a culture warrior, he has become a strident advocate of social and class conflict as an animating feature of his campaign. Never before much of a partisan, he and his surrogates now paint the Democrat as "dangerous" and a consort of "terrorists."

IN THE TRENCHES, amid the ranks of schoolkids and "Joe Six Packs," we have examples of fascistic hero worship and demagogic demonizing of The Other.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, particularly on the beleaguered Republican side, we see the long knives being pulled from beneath cloaks. The partisans want blood, and blood they shall have.

One must wonder whether party bosses have made fateful decisions. The calculation that, if their side cannot win, the nation will be made as ungovernable as possible for the opposition.

The dagger, however, is double-edged. Will anyone be able to govern?

I CANNOT POINT to a study here, or to anything other than my middle-aged gut. But my gut tells me that Peggy Noonan was onto something this morning on Meet the Press.

We find ourselves at a perilous moment historically. And widespread recklessness is afoot:
MR. BROKAW: And, Peggy Noonan, as you know, the McCain campaign has signaled pretty strongly they’re going to strain—change their strategy. We have a quote from The Weekly Standard. Bill Kristol, who is the editor, is, of course, in the College of Cardinals, he’s the Pope when it comes to writing about what’s going on in the conservative movement. He says in The Weekly Standard, “More important is the negative message. The McCain campaign has to convince 51 percent of the voters they can’t trust Barack Obama to be our next president. ... Character is a legitimate issue. Obama hasn’t shown much in the way of leadership or political courage, and he’s consorted with dubious figures. It’s fair to ask whether Barack Obama is personally trustworthy enough to be president, and the McCain campaign shouldn’t be intimidated from going there.” We already heard on this broadcast, Senator Palin yesterday, raising the association that he had with William Ayers, who is a former member of the Weathermen, a very radical group from the ‘60s and ‘70s, who is now a school reformer in Illinois. Is this a smart strategy, in your judgment, for the McCain campaign?

You know what, this has been a long campaign. We are in the last month. It is still close. Whoever’s rising or, or, or falling, it’s really close. And some part of me fears they’re going to open up the gates of hell on this one. It seems to me there is trench warfare out there. The left—there’s a huge middle in America, but there’s a left. They think they’re going to win, and they’re getting meaner than ever. The right fears they’re going to lose, they’re getting meaner than ever. I would hate to see this descend into this, this—“I’ll kill—I’ll tear your throat out” kind of stuff. I think that would be harmful. I think we are at a unique and dangerous...

But, Tom...

...moment in history, and it’s the last thing we need. And I don’t speak as a sissy; I’m trying to speak as an adult.

Yeah. David.

There’s a danger, Tom, that it backfires.

Yeah. Yeah.

I mean, clearly John McCain is worried. They’re, they’re on defense. The best proof of that, Tom, is, is what is Sarah Palin doing this afternoon? She is in Omaha, Nebraska. Now, when a Republican vice presidential candidate has to go to defend one congressional district—they vote their electors by congressional district--30 days out, it tells you they’re worried. And so what, what I see happening in the McCain campaign, with all this talk about William Ayers, is this sort of a sense of desperation. It could get carried away, and it’s irrelevant to people in mainstream America, in middle America. You know, William Ayers, what do they care about—how is that going to put gas in the tank or get somebody a job? I think it runs the risk of coming off as irrelevant.

But just to show you how...

And it runs the risk of being demoralizing.


Forgive me, David. But in a serious national way, don’t do that.

MR. BROKAW: Although, before we go on with this, maybe what the McCain campaign is reading the last draft of the latest Time magazine-CNN poll—and this shows up in a number of polls—Senator Obama still shows vulnerability on the question of what kind of president he would be. Fifty percent of those polled said Obama gives a great speech, but doesn’t have other qualifications; 46 percent disagreed with that statement. But that’s in a poll in which Senator Obama did very well overall.


MS. NOONAN: Can I make a point, also, that I think part of the reason this is going to get so rough in the next month, trying to get my, my hands around this thing, is that we live in the age of political strategists. We live in the age of the guys on the plane. We live in the age of the BlackBerry guys saying, “Let’s get them this way. Let’s get them this way.” It exists on both campaigns, the instinct, “Hey, we have nothing to do now but go to, to the jugular.” I have the sense sometimes lately that these guys on the plane think history is their plaything. History is not their plaything. This is big. This is a nation having two ground wars and an economic recession—we hope just a mild recession. This is not a time for playfulness and mischief. It ain’t right.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Slouching into that good night

We're teetering on the edge of some bad juju here in America, and the woman above could be vice-president.

If that weren't depressing enough. . . .

Don't worry, be happy.

Remain calm, all is well. Yes, we can!

"We're gonna spread happiness! We're gonna spread freedom! Obama's gonna change it, Obama's gonna lead 'em."

Or so we have been informed by a choir of brainwashed children singing hosannas to the Man Who Would Be Dear Leader.

FOR THE LIFE OF ME, I can't figure out why the Europeans don't think much of us anymore. Really, where did this Der Spiegel opinion piece come from?

There are days when all it takes is a single speech to illustrate the decline of a world power. A face can speak volumes, as can the speaker's tone of voice, the speech itself or the audience's reaction. Kings and queens have clung to the past before and humiliated themselves in public, but this time it was merely a United States president.

Or what is left of him.

George W. Bush has grown old, erratic and rosy in the eight years of his presidency. Little remains of his combativeness or his enthusiasm for physical fitness. On this sunny Tuesday morning in New York, even his hair seemed messy and unkempt, his blue suit a little baggy around the shoulders, as Bush stepped onto the stage, for the eighth time, at the United Nations General Assembly.

He talked about terrorism and terrorist regimes, and about governments that allegedly support terror. He failed to notice that the delegates sitting in front of and below him were shaking their heads, smiling and whispering, or if he did notice, he was no longer capable of reacting. The US president gave a speech similar to the ones he gave in 2004 and 2007, mentioning the word "terror" 32 times in 22 minutes. At the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations, George W. Bush was the only one still talking about terror and not about the topic that currently has the rest of the world's attention.

"Absurd, absurd, absurd," said one German diplomat. A French woman called him "yesterday's man" over coffee on the East River. There is another way to put it, too: Bush was a laughing stock in the gray corridors of the UN.

The American president has always had enemies in these hallways and offices at the UN building on First Avenue in Manhattan. The Iranians and Syrians despise the eternal American-Israeli coalition, while many others are tired of Bush's Americans telling the world about the blessings of deregulated markets and establishing rules "that only apply to others," says the diplomat from Berlin.

But the ridicule was a new thing. It marked the end of respect.

"Well," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva began, standing outside the General Assembly Hall. Then he looked out the window and said: "He decided to talk about terrorism, but the issue that has the world concerned is the economic crisis." Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the president of Argentina, said that the schoolmasters from Washington had dubbed the 1994 Mexican crisis the "tequila effect" and Brazil's 1999 crisis the "Caipirinha effect."

Are we now experiencing the "whiskey effect?" But President Kirchner was gracious and, with a smile, called it the "jazz effect."

Is it only President George W. Bush, the lame duck president, whom the rest of the world is no longer taking seriously, or are the remaining 191 UN member states already setting their sights on the United States, the giant brought to its knees? UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon referred to a "new reality" and "new centers of power and leadership in Asia, Latin America and across the newly developed world." Are they surprised, in these new centers, at the fall of America, of the system of the Western-style market economy?
OH, JUST WAIT. It gets better:
This is no longer the muscular and arrogant United States the world knows, the superpower that sets the rules for everyone else and that considers its way of thinking and doing business to be the only road to success.

A new America is on display, a country that no longer trusts its old values and its elites even less: the politicians, who failed to see the problems on the horizon, and the economic leaders, who tried to sell a fictitious world of prosperity to Americans.

Also on display is the end of arrogance. The Americans are now paying the price for their pride.

Gone are the days when the US could go into debt with abandon, without considering who would end up footing the bill. And gone are the days when it could impose its economic rules of engagement on the rest of the world, rules that emphasized profit above all else -- without ever considering that such returns cannot be achieved by doing business in a respectable way.

With its rule of three of cheap money, free markets and double-digit profit margins, American turbo-capitalism has set economic standards worldwide for the past quarter century. Now it is proving to be nothing but a giant snowball system, upsetting the US's global political status as it comes crashing down. Every bank that US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is currently forced to bail out with American government funds damages America's reputation around the world.

Of course, it is not solely the result of undesirable economic developments that the United States is in the process of forfeiting its unique position in the world and that the world is moving toward what Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, calls a "post-American age." Washington has also lost much of its political ability to impose its will on other countries.

The failed leadership of President Bush, whose departure most of his counterparts from other countries are now looking forward to more and more openly, is not solely to blame. Nor are his two risky wars: the one in Iraq, which he launched frivolously in the vain hope of converting the entire region to the American way of life, and the other in Afghanistan, in which Bush now risks the world's most powerful defense alliance, NATO, suffering its first defeat.

But it's hard to forget how this president's mentors celebrated the power to shape world affairs the United States acquired in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the East-West conflict. There was talk of a "unipolar moment," of "America's moment," even of an "end of history," now that all other countries apparently had no other choice but to become smaller versions of America: liberal, democratic and buoyed by an unshakeable confidence in the free market economy.

The Bush administration wanted to cement forever this unique moment in history, in which the United States was undoubtedly the strongest power on earth. It wanted to use it to clean house in chronic crisis zones around the world, especially the Middle East. Far from relying on the classic, cumbersome and often unsuccessful tools of multilateral diplomacy, the Bush warriors were always quick to threaten military intervention -- just as quick as they were to make good on this threat.

The strategists of this immoderately self-confident administration formulated these principles in the "Bush doctrine" and claimed, for themselves and their actions, the right to "preemptive" military intervention -- with little concern for the rules of alliances or international organizations.

The superpower even claimed privileges over its allies, even offending some of its best friends during Bush's first term. Bush withdrew the American signature from a treaty to establish the International Criminal Court, he refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to combat climate change and he withdrew from an agreement with the Russians to limit the number of missile defense systems.

Washington sought to divide the world into good and evil -- and did so as it saw fit.

Now, in the wake of the crash on Wall Street, the debate in the UN reveals that the long-humiliated have lost their fear of the giant in world politics. Even a political dwarf like Bolivian President Evo Morales is now talking big. "There is an uprising against an economic model, a capitalistic system that is the worst enemy of humanity," Morales told the UN General Assembly.

The financial crisis has uncovered the world power's true weakness. The more the highly indebted United States has to spend to stabilize its own economic system, the more trouble it has performing its self-imposed duties as the world's policeman.
The new US president will only have been in office for a short time when a document titled "Global Trends 2025" appears on his desk. The report is being prepared by analysts at the National Intelligence Council. Its chairman, Thomas Fingar, has already released a preview, and reading it will not exactly be enjoyable for proud American. "Although the United States will remain the most important power, American dominance will be sharply reduced," says Fingar.

According to the preview of the report, the erosion of American supremacy will "accelerate in the areas of politics and economics, and possibly culture."

The century that just began is unlikely to be declared the American century again. Instead, "Asia will shape the fate of the world, with or without the United States," says Parag Khanna, a young Indian-American political scientist whose book "The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order" has attracted a great deal of attention in the United States.

There is much to be said for Khanna's assertion. Beijing is already funding a large share of the gigantic American trade deficit, while at the same time selling many consumer goods to the United States. In other words, it benefits from the US's weakness in two ways. And politically speaking, the newly self-confident Chinese will no longer allow themselves to be domineered by the West. Reacting to worldwide criticism of political oppression in Tibet, the Chinese encouraged their nationalist youth to assault Western institutions and refused to allow themselves to be lectured on human rights.

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has acknowledged that the "world's largest debtor nation" cannot simultaneously shape the course of the world. The challenges America faces have multiplied, especially in recent times.

WELL, HOW DO YOU like that, America? You really must read the whole thing -- particularly since it's all true.

And particularly since it's all our own damned fault.

Sometime during the last few decades, we Americans ceased to be a serious people. The past eight years, particularly, have exposed a country unserious about public and private morality, unserious about effective self-governance and seriously incapable of cultural . . . seriousness.

But we did get the world to buy into a serious Ponzi scheme. We should be so proud.

We've made a grand hash of things, and now we stand ready to elect as our leaders either an unstable McCrank and his comely-but-ditzy sidekick or the Dalai Obama and his gaffe-prone lesser incarnation.

ONCE, the United States was a country of great products and audacious feats. That time is past.

It's now last call for the American Century as a nation slips off the barstool -- a little hazy, a little discomfitedly buzzed -- and prepares to slouch off gentle into that good night.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A drinking game for Mormons

Here's a drinking game that our Mormon (and strict Southern Baptist) brothers and sisters can participate in with a clean -- and sober -- conscience.

Here's what you do: Download Sarah Palin's interview with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric from the
CBS News website. Then, procure a fifth of Seagram's, Early Times, Jack Black, Stoli . . . or, hell, just mix up a big pitcher of "jungle juice" (Everclear and Kool-Aid).

NOW, ALL YOU NEED to do is gather around the laptop, play the interview and take a drink every time Palin makes a lick of sense.

If someone insists on taking pictures to upload to his or her Facebook page, I guarantee that no one will be worried about his pastor -- or any potential employer -- stumbling across them on the Internets.

Here's another Palinapalooza sample from the CBS Evening News:

Katie Couric: Why is it much more challenging there? Can you explain that?

Sarah Palin: The logistics that we are already suggesting here, not having enough troops in the area right now. The… things like the terrain even in Afghanistan and that border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where, you know, we believe that-- Bin Laden is-- is hiding out right now and… and is still such a leader of this terrorist movement. There… there are many more challenges there. So, again, I believe that… a surge in Afghanistan also will lead us to victory there as it has proven to have done in Iraq. And as I say, Katie, that we cannot afford to retreat, to withdraw in Iraq. That's not gonna get us any better off in Afghanistan either. And as our leaders are telling us in our military, we do need to ramp it up in Afghanistan, counting on our friends and allies to assist with us there because these terrorists who hate America, they hate what we stand for with the… the freedoms, the democracy, the… the women's rights, the tolerance, they hate what it is that we represent and our allies, too, and our friends, what they represent. If we were… were to allow a stronghold to be captured by these terrorists then the world is in even greater peril than it is today. We cannot afford to lose in Afghanistan.

SEE, NOT A THING in there that would cause Demon Alcohol to pass through pious lips.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain-Tambo '08

My God, the Republicans nominated Shelly Tambo for vice-president!

Not only that, when the second fiddle of the McCain-Tambo '08 ticket goes before the TV cameras without a script in front of her, it's tough to tell Tambo's real interviews from Tambo impersonators' gag interviews. It can get right confusing.

I DON'T UNDERSTAND. If the GOP and Sen. John McCain wanted to recruit a No. 2 from the ranks of Alaska moose-shooters, why not go for Maggie O'Connell? Or even Maurice Minnifield?

Honestly, I thought it was bad enough when, in her first TV interview, Tambo said she had foreign-policy experience because the Brick served both Stolichnaya AND Absolut. But this latest interview with CBS Evening News anchorwoman Katie Couric is just too much.

I think I'd need to polish off at least one bottle of Stoli -- maybe two -- before anything she said would start to make any sense to me.

THEN AGAIN, after a bottle or two of fine vodka, I wouldn't much care. Which would pretty much put me on a par with McCain and the Republican Party leadership, now, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hanoi Hiltoning John McCain

If John Kerry got "Swift Boated" in 2004, is John McCain about to get "Hanoi Hiltoned" this year?

It would appear, so far as presidential politics goes, the Vietnam War is a gift that keeps on giving. To Republicans and Democrats alike.

BRAVE NEW PAC has come out with an ad and Internet video featuring a former Naval Academy classmate of McCain's who, as it happens, occupied the cell across the corridor from the GOP presidential nominee in the infamous North Vietnamese prison.

"I think I can say with authority that the prisoner of war experience is not a good prerequisite for a president of the United States," Phillip Butler says in a 30-second ad by the political action committee. The TV commercial is based on the PAC's much longer YouTube video featuring Butler.

Brave New PAC aired the ad on national cable for a couple of days, reports Talking Points Memo, to see whether "Hanoi Hiltoning" McCain has legs:

Robert Greenwald's Brave New PAC goes up on national cable with a new 30-second spot starring fellow McCain POW Phillip Butler, who says he knows from personal experience that a POW background is not desirable in a commander-in-chief.

"John McCain is not somebody that I would like to see with his finger near the red button," Butler says in the spot.


As for the buy itself, it's a modest one. The spot is running on national cable today (and ran yesterday, too). It's funded by Brave New Films and Democracy For America, the independent group run by Jim Dean, who's Howard Dean's brother.

The ad is really a flare -- an effort to see if this controversial line of attack catches the attention of the national media.

"If it takes off and this storyline gets some pickup, then that'll give us some incentive to go raise more money for it," Brave New PAC spokesperson Leighton Woodhouse tells me.

I DON'T KNOW WHY the ad wouldn't "have legs."

Actually, what Brave New PAC proposes in 2008 is thin gruel compared to what George W. Bush's backers actually did to McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary. Pro-Bush forces, after all, went so far as to suggest McCain was some kind of Manchurian Candidate.

All the Democrat-leaning PAC contends with the latest videos is that McCain was a touchy hothead before he was taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese, and that "the POW experience" certainly does not enhance one's physical or mental health.

To tell you the truth, I was wondering when the Dems would get around to publicly saying what I had been thinking for some time now.

And if there are others like me. . . .

Monday, September 15, 2008


Some of Barack Obama's "nutroot" supporters are finding the presidential election to be an unexpectedly sticky wicket.

AND IN POLITICS -- unlike the sexual revolution -- when you make a "mistake," you damned well are going to get "punished" with a good ass-kicking.

the Financial Times audience revisits the cast of Change You Can Believe In in New Hampshire, as the Lightworker discoveres how difficult finding an abortion provider can be when you need to terminate your political base amid a particularly nasty electoral freak-out:

Mr Obama signalled that he was heeding calls for a more aggressive approach with a punchy stump speech that combined cool anger about the country’s problems with mockery of John McCain’s claims to be the man to fix them.

The crowd hooted with derision as the Illinois senator sarcastically picked apart his opponent’s claims to be an agent of change. “He’s saying, ‘watch out George Bush, with the exception of tax policy, healthcare policy, education policy, energy policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove-style politics, we’re really going to shake things up in Washington.”

He avoided direct attacks against Sarah Palin, Mr McCain’s running mate and the catalyst of Republican resurgence. But his supporters showed less restraint.

“You want to know the honest truth? I think she’s like a bad actor from a B-list sex movie,” said Paula Vanbuskirk, an Obama-supporting independent, whose contempt for the Alaska governor and self-styled “hockey mom” was shared by almost everyone questioned by the Financial Times.

If it was Mr McCain’s intention to ignite a fresh “culture war” between middle America and east coast liberals by nominating Ms Palin, the evidence in Manchester suggested he has succeeded in spectacular fashion.

“I just do not trust the American people,” said Eleanor Shavell, 58, a computer programmer, who, along with several others, joked she would move to Canada if Mr Obama loses. “I cannot believe that 80 per cent of this country thinks we’re headed in the wrong direction yet 50 per cent are supporting McCain and Palin. I guess it’s like at school, there’s always got to be a bottom 50 per cent.”
[Emphasis mine -- R21.]
METHINKS MS. SHAVELL might be making a bit of a rash assumption about who's on the back side of the Bell Curve.

Really, how bright can a political party be when it knows what its opponents are going to do, how they're going to do it and -- like Wile E. Coyote or Yosemite Sam -- they walk right into the trap anyway.

Muttering the whole time about those "stupid varmints."

Eye-rack. Track. Hell-bent. Exactly, Charlie.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ve haff veys to deal vith Christianists

I cannot and will not vote for Barack Obama. I cannot and will not vote for a candidate as devoted to abortion -- indeed, infanticide -- as the junior senator from Illinois and his "nutroot" enthusiasts.

On the other side of the political coin, my default position is that I also will not vote for the Party of Unrelenting War, Torture and Social Darwinism . . . and its latest shill for neoconservative geopolitical madness, Sen. John McCain.

At least that was my default position.

EVERY TIME I surf over to blogs such as Crunchy Con and read the latest ravings of Fourth Reich enthusiasts for the Democratic ticket -- stuff like this below -- it makes it just a little more likely that I might hold my nose, pray for the best and vote McCain-Palin:

If Sarah Palin crashes and burns this campaign season, it will be a pity for many reasons, not least because we will no longer have the opportunity to read clarifying missives like the one Mark Steyn received today from a reader in Washington state:
This abortion prohibitionist hag won't cut it among women with brains. And BTW she is a good example of reproduction run amok. 5 kids; 1 retard. I wonder if the bitch ever heard of getting spayed.
AND THE SOLE REASON I would vote for a party I otherwise loathe would be to spite Nazi monsters like Mark Steyn's correspondent in Washington state.

HAT TIP: Crunchy Con.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What we've come to

If you click on this Drudge Report ad, it takes you here, to an "urgent" survey by the NewsMax magazine and website.

OF COURSE, NewsMax doesn't really give a damn what you think about blowing a country to Kingdom Come just because we can. No, NewsMax is all about the marketing, baby:
I understand that as a voter in this poll I will be signed up for FREE breaking news alerts. I can unsubscribe at any time. Votes with invalid emails will not be counted. Poll results will be provided in a future email to you.
I THINK I PREFER the Sun's cheap ploy for attention among Great Britain's knuckle-draggers . . . large, uncovered female breasts on Page 3. Yes, bodacious tatas in your morning newspaper might well be a near occasion of sin, but at least they're not playing on nationalistic tendencies to bloodlust.

But hooters aren't something the conservative chattering classes would see as fit viewing for Bubba in Bentonville. No, no . . . let's stick to figuring out the next Middle Eastern nation to blow up good.

It's kind of like what Americans do nowadays instead of cockfighting. Or pit-bull fights . . . especially since Michael Vick's in the federal pen.

That's us Americans. Staying classy all the way to Armageddon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shooting craps for life in the Culture of Death

In the bitter cold of December 2000, as the disputed Bush-Gore election turned red hot at the U.S. Supreme Court, I was working in the peculiar world of Catholic radio. Pope FM, if you will.

Our little FM station was an affiliate of EWTN radio, and I recall that as the legal battle raged between George Bush and Vice-President Al Gore -- as the presidency hung in the balance -- the network aired a special rosary for life. It never was billed as a prayer for Bush's victory (and legally it couldn't be) but we all knew the score: This was a rosary for the "pro-life" Bush to prevail over the "pro-abortion" Gore.

At least that's what the entire Pope FM staff was praying for. Me included.

I DON'T THINK I ever thought politics could change America's "Culture of Death" into a "Culture of Life." I did, however, think the election was all about federal policy and potential Supreme Court nominations. I thought government could be used to fight a "holding action."

I thought Roe v. Wade could be rolled back, and I thought maybe the Republicans, through political action, could somehow hinder the nation's cultural disintegration so that maybe -- maybe -- revival might come to our culturally and religiously devolving land before it was Too Late.

We were pro-life, true-believing, orthodox Roman Catholics. We stood for Jesus, saving babies, the Pope and EWTN. And it was a given that we'd vote G-O-P in the name of G-O-D.

So in that bleak midwinter, there we sat in our dilapidated little studios in a shabby little strip mall in a ramshackle part of town -- there we sat in the Pope FM conference room reciting the rosary with EWTN, praying for the triumph of a man who ultimately would do little to roll back the tide of fetal homicide in America.

Praying for the installation of a president who would, however, go on to do awesome things in the fields of pursuing an unwise and unjust war, rolling back civil liberties in the name of national security, and in turning CIA "spooks" and Army "grunts" alike into torturers whom -- in a more civilized age -- it would have been necessary to try at Nuremberg.

In a more civilized age, it would have been necessary to try Bush and much of his administration at Nuremberg.

If we really cut to the chase here, I guess what we were after -- at least what I was after -- was forestalling America's judgment by a just deity. Call it what it was: lawyering up and gunning for a cosmic stay of execution.

"Look, Jesus! We voted Republican . . . you know, GOP -- God's Own Party. Well, yeah, we're all driving 2.5 cars and living in too-big houses and bitching about taxes . . . but. . . ." BZZZZZZZZZT . . . as the lights dim all across the New Jerusalem.

MY GOD, look what we did. The economy's even in the tank. It was the original Rickroll.

Looking upon our civic wreckage from a biblical crime-and-punishment perspective is especially interesting -- not to mention ironic. In our political quest to avert -- or at least defer -- divine judgment, we instead may have brought it about.

Because if George W. Bush is not God's judgment upon a wicked people, I don't know what is.

And now -- in the name of salvation through better jurisprudence -- some would have us again do what we did in 1980 . . . and 1984 . . . and 1988 . . . and 2000 . . . and 2004, only expecting different results this time with the GOP's presumptive nominee, John McCain.

Am I saying vote for Barack Obama, the Democrat -- the pro-abort?

NO. To tell you the truth, I suspect there is no morally justifiable choice between McCain and Obama. Maybe the sheer catastrophic potential of someone with McCain's penchant for both wrongheadedness and hotheadedness being in charge of American foreign policy is enough "proportionate reason" to vote for Obama.

Then again, maybe not.

All I know is this one thing: I won't get fooled again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

'We are all Georgians now'

John McCain "knows" wrong. He doesn't "speak for every American," like he told Georgia's nutwagon president, Mikheil Saakashvili.

John McCain doesn't speak for me. Not even close -- at least not how he thinks he speaks for me,
as reported by Agence France Presse:
Republican White House hopeful John McCain Tuesday stepped up a fusillade against Russian "aggression" and declared that today, "we are all Georgians."

Addressing voters in Pennsylvania, McCain said he had spoken by telephone earlier with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who he said wanted to thank the American people for their support.

"I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, today, we are all Georgians," said the Republican, a hardliner against Russia who wants the mighty nation expelled from the Group of Eight club.

Both McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama have condemned Russia's incursion into Georgia following the Saakashvili government's abortive attempt to rein in the breakaway, pro-Moscow region of South Ossetia.
I'LL GIVE SEN. HOTHEAD this: We are all Georgians now. And how that is isn't anything like McCain thinks it is.

Today, in the United States and across the West -- but especially in America -- we are all Georgians in that we are stupid fools who were insane enough to elect even bigger and stupider fools to lead us. The stupid fools in power have gone on to do staggeringly stupid and foolish things -- like start a foolish war in Iraq when there was no just cause for doing so.

Our stupid and foolish leaders also have spent the 17-plus years since the fall of the Soviet Union poking the Russian bear with a stick and humiliating a proud nation that, increasingly, doesn't need to take that kind of s*** anymore.

Meanwhile, Georgia's stupid and foolish president, Saakashvili, launched a stupid and foolish all-out assualt on South Ossetia, killing Russian soldiers in the process.

Some say he stepped into the bear's trap. Be that as it may, Saakashvili still poked Un-Gentle Ivan in the eye and dared the bear to do something about it.

This did not go well for Georgia. In fact, "Geor" is lying, bloodied, over here. "Gia" is somewhere over yonder. But you really don't want to look.

Yes, "we're all Georgians" now. Rub-a-dub-dub, all dopes in a tub. And how do you think we got there?

This past week, Georgians got theirs. We'll get ours soon enough. From somebody.