Small towns were hit the hardest by
the tumultuous campaigning
MORNING AFTER. The candidates, the armies of campaigners, and the
mass media task forces are gone now, already descending on hapless
Indiana. Pennsylvanians are suddenly alone with the enormous job of
recovering from the F5 Primary of 2008. It's a bleak prospect. No
matter where one stands, the view is essentially the same -- a
landscape blasted and flattened by gales of rhetoric, unending
bombardments of broadcast advertising, and swirling vortexes of
promises, insults, polls, sound bites, blogs, and ugly photo-ops.
Pennsylvania. Blasted and flattened
by the primary campaign.
As with any large-scale disaster, there are additional crises emerging
as by-products of the initial catastrophe. Every single cheesesteak in
Pennsylvania has now been eaten, and there isn't any beer left to wash
it down with if you could find one. All the cheap bar-brand liquor is
gone too. And Obama staffers drank all the bottled water. Most of the
televisions in the state are ruined -- their screens permanently etched
with the ghostly image of Barack Obama after nonstop weeks of replaying
exactly the same sets of campaign pixels. Most of the arable soil is
gone, eroded away by the millions of holes created by yard signs. The
telephones have all stopped working, their little ringers blown out by
hundreds of thousands of calls from pollsters. The entire network of
fiber optic cables has also been burned out by the ruinously heavy
traffic of media and political emails. The communication satellites
that once served this part of the country are, for the same reason,
nothing but dead hulks in space.
Tragically, there seems to be little prospect of emergency aid for the
stricken state. FEMA won't help; there's still a Republican in the
White House, after all. Governor Ed Rendell is too busy celebrating his
candidate's glorious victory to recognize that it has been, for most
common folk, not a victory at all but a nightmare of infrastructure
destruction. And there are no media left here to tell the story.
We'd send them a sympathy card if there were any address to send it to.
If you know of one, let us know.
But the Flyers won. And the Sixers are still one up in their series. Maybe the good
citizens of Pennsylvania will find a way to muddle through.
We certainly hope so.
Full-on Panic Time
products. Time to HOOAARD!!!
IT MUST BE THE BANKS'
FAULT. It's getting bad out there, folks. The Second Great
Depression is just around the corner. Unemployment is over 5 percent.
Somebody who knows somebody you know is having trouble paying his
mortgage. Gas is so expensive that some people are starting to resent
their giant SUVs. Others have even been forced to trim their summer
vacation plans. And the evil corporate lobbyists who run the economy
have already started food
Farmers and food executives appealed
fruitlessly to federal officials yesterday for regulatory steps to
limit speculative buying that is helping to drive food prices higher.
Meanwhile, some Americans are stocking up on staples such as rice,
flour and oil in anticipation of high prices and shortages spreading
Their pleas did not find a sympathetic audience at the Commodity
Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), where regulators said high prices
are mostly the result of soaring world demand for grains combined with
high fuel prices and drought-induced shortages in many countries.
The regulatory clash came amid evidence that a rash of headlines in
recent weeks about food riots around the world has prompted some in the
United States to stock up on staples.
Costco and other grocery stores in California reported a run on rice,
which has forced them to set limits on how many sacks of rice each
customer can buy ..
OMG! Just imagine a worldwide shortage of rice. All those Asian people
will starve absolutely to death, and worse, we American victims of the
evil capitalist machine that's destroying the global economy won't be
able to get any more Nestle Crunch bars, which use puffed rice as a
principal ingredient. Stock up now! And don't forget this vital foodstuff:
Are you starting to get it, you opiated proletarian doormats of the
bourgeoisie? You better. Time is ticking off the clock even as you're
scratching your dumb deluded head.
And don't think the crisis begins and ends with rice. One of the
biggest problems has to do with corn. Why? Because all the farmers in
Iowa have stopped growing everything else and started growing corn to
be used in making ethanol, so our descendants won't die of heatstroke
three hundred years from now. Which is good and cool and everyhing,
because we all want to save the planet. Problem is, all the corn is
going to ethanol, not food, which means that the next thing that'll be
rationed is all the stuff we eat where corn is some kind of ingredient.
For South Americans that means they'll starve to death, of course,
because everything they eat -- from bread to beef -- won't be there
without corn. (Unless they can live on ethanol at 8$ a gallon. Maybe
they'll still die, but they'll go out singing.)
But for us Americans it's really
serious. Which of us would even want
to live without this constitutionally guaranteed staple of existence?
And that's just the beginning. Do you know what chickens eat? That's
right. Corn. We won't have this anymore, either:
We'll all slowly waste away from colds we can't get rid of because
there's no chicken noodle soup to clear our bronchia.
Are you terrified yet? They can't do
this to us. We have rights. Get to the supermarket right away and buy
every package of the stuff we've shown here, pack it away in your
fallout shelter, and then start emailing Hillary and Obama to demand
that they take all the necessary actions. We want laws. We want
programs. We want protection. We want universal junk food insurance.
screwed up. But government can fix everything.
PICK-ME-UP. Pardon me if I sound fatigued. I blogged the Pennsylvania
Primary yesterday from beginning to end. Hillary won. Obama lost.
Hillary spoke for a few minutes. Then Obama took the stage, in Indiana,
and poured on the special magic he is supposed to possess. I tried in
vain to see Hillary's victory speech. Instead, every cable news channel
seemed to be running and re-running this majestic non-concession speech
by Obama all night long.
I'll confess right away that I don't share the universal conviction
that he's a great orator. To me, he sounds like an imitation preacher.
His whole accent changes when he launches into his periodic rhythms of
self-aggrandizing gospel. I see an editor of the Harvard Law Review trying to come
off as an inspired backwoods evangelist. I keep expecting him to heal
someone. Just for the hell of it. I might be more impressed if he
didn't turn immediately into a careful attorney at a deposition
whenever there's no teleprompter to feed him his lines. But he does. In
debates, he reminds me of every lame, verbose prosecutor CourtTV has
televised in its now terminated subversion of respect for the legal
profession. In short, Obama the inspirational firebrand leaves me cold.
I guess I'm the only one who doesn't see it. Even the National Review and the Weekly Standard are larded with
praise for such performances. Is there some obligatory correctness
about all this that I've missed again? Probably.
I've honestly been grateful for the less fanciful flights of rhetoric
exhibited by Michelle Obama. She seems to come very close to saying
what she really means. I've started regarding her as her husband's
translator. What is it he's really asking?
all have to work for the government.
Uh, no. I don't agree. I don't want a president who won't let me live
my life as usual. I don't want to be conscripted into canvassing
neighborhoods and making phone calls so that the government can reach
even deeper into my life and try to fix my personal eccentricities,
undo my sins, and turn me into a better unit of a better nation. I
don't even really want change,
unless change means there aren't going to be as many instructions and
regulations printed in small type on every fucking thing I come in
I know this is a total waste of time. But I'm offering a link to an
orator who made Obama look like a game show host. By accident(?), he
also happens to rebut practically every point Obama and his wife have
ever made in their over-praised public speaking performances. It's
called The Speech.
Most of you will find it an irrelevant and possibly offensive artifact
of the past. Some of you will
find it something of an antidote to the tons of crap that have been
dumped on the American electorate in recent months. Note that it
involves a clear statement of political philosophy rather than a
superior recitation of pompous, nonspecific platitudes. He doesn't remind you of Elmer Gantry or Don King. He's making an argument to equals, not disciples. It's not even
about how much everyone should trust the speaker to save them from the
miseries of their pointless lives. It's about what people have a right to expect from the public servants who claim to be acting in their interest. Hah.
Yeah, don't watch. It's much much better to believe that nobody ever
knew anything before Obama came along.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The air is electric with excitement around here. The polls have opened
in Pennsylvania, and all the morning shows have their cameras trained
on the action. I haven't actually seen a voter yet, but I've seen a lot
of news correspondents bracing for the onslaught. The pundits have
checked in on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News to declare that Hillary should
win by 5, 6, 7, or 8 points but really needs to win by 7, 8, 9, 10, or
11 points to remain credibly in the race. That's pretty clear and
definitive, isn't it? Rudy Giuliani has already made the same joke on
both CNN and Fox News. Something about a dress. I can see I've got more
channel-hopping research to do... I'll be back in a bit.
The cable news channels are still rehashing the same stuff, so I poked
around the web a bit. Drudge is building a backdrop for the election
campaign consisting of a plunging economy, 5$/gal gas, worldwide
famine, and food rationing. That should get the blood pumping for all
the agents of change. RealClearPolitics is more sharply focused, with
stories on: Obama, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Obama, Obama, Obama,
Obama, Clinton, Obama, Obama, and Obama. Which is a lot like the
political commercials have been on Pennsylvania TV in the past couple
weeks. Obama even ran multiple ads during one of the Flyers' playoff
games this weekend. Hard to imagine that fans of "the hockey" are
his best targets for conversion, but who knows?
Late last night, there was an Obama ad on the History Channel or some
damn place explaining that we should vote for Obama because every
single newspaper in Pennsylvania has endorsed him. This is really hard
to figure having watched segments of both candidates' stump speeches
most of the morning. Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC was reporting that the
issues which matter to voters are the economy, the economy, and the
economy. Yet both Clinton and Obama keep saying that the way to fix the
economy is to raise taxes on rich people and corporations. Obama wants
to double capital gains taxes; Hillary wants to punish high gas prices
by charging oil companies a windfall profits tax. They both talk about
creating meaningful new jobs.
How does any of this allay the fears of even a moderately
self-interested voter? How does government ever "create" a real job
that isn't just make-work welfare paid for by taxpayers? How does
taking money from the rich and giving it to the government help a
single mother trying to pay the rent? How does charging oil companies
higher taxes reduce gas
prices? Taxes are part of their expenses and when their expenses go up,
gas prices go up. How does taking more money from rich people stimulate
the economy? Less money in the private sector is somehow supposed to
make the economy more prosperous as a whole?
Who really buys this crap? Apparently, all the newspaper editors in
Not much news. It seems the news channels are going to stick with
their plan of not sharing exit polls. But there is some exit info:
Obama has left Pennsylvania for Indiana. That seems a bit extreme, as
if he couldn't wait for the very first opportunity to escape from all
those small town weirdos he's been trying to placate. Are the few
crowds he might speak to in Indiana while keeping an anxious eye on the
results back in PA really worth suggesting to Keystoners who haven't
voted yet that he couldn't stand a single more minute in their company?
I'm sure his handlers know best.
Sorry I've been gone so long. Got to reading some of those Obama pieces
over at RealClearPolitics. Most of them have a very strong line of
argument: "There's this, and then there's that, and then again nobody
better forget about the other thing." There's one honestly insightful
piece in the catalogue. It's here.
I also listened to a few minutes of Rush. Unlike all his more polished
brethren, he's not mincing words at all. He's called the whole thing:
Obama gets the nomination and then gets "creamed" in the general by
McCain, although the Repubs will lose enough seats in the Senate and
House to give Democrats the votes they need to pass the legislation
they want. It's all already a done deal.
So what am I doing sitting here blogging the totally irrelevant
Pennsylvania Primary? Following orders. I don't suggest anybody else
try doing this, though. Have you ever watched what the cable news
channels put on in the daytime? Boring, annoying, sickening muck, mixed
in with repetitious you-heard-it-ten-times-before muck and a huge
dollop of where-the-F-did-that-come-from muck. An example of the last
type -- on the Fox News Channel, three women lawyers, including the
host, arguing about whether it's rape if a woman changes her mind
during sex and the guy takes a full five seconds to stop. There was no
hair-pulling, but all three of them were talking at once several times,
and you know what that sounds like. Muck.
You can see why I don't want this primary to be meaningless. I've got a
lot invested. And that's why I'm going to go ahead and share this idea
with the Hillary camp. It's still not too late to bump the margin up
to the 12 to 15 percent edge everybody seems to think would be
significant. Here's what you do. Get Hillary a phone hook-up with WIP
SportsTalk and all the chief sports correspondents at the Philly TV
stations. Have her go live on the air throughout the entire urban area,
and promise to use the full power of the federal government to
guarantee that Philadelphia will win two major sports championships
during her first term. Specifically, that means winning any two of
these: the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, the World Series, or the NBA
I swear it will work. It's obvious that Democrats believe the
government can do absolutely ANYTHING a pandering politician sets his or
her mind to. If government can prevent sunspots from warming the
planet, make Islamofascists stop hating Jews and Christians by having
big friendly meetings in Geneva, and repeal the economic laws that
cause cycles of growth and recession, then it can damn sure bulldoze
the Eagles to the NFL championship or buy enough officials to secure
the Big Kahuna for the Sixers. Philadelphians won't even care how she does it. They're that sick
of owners who won't spend the money to be best, players who thank the
loyal fans and apologize for the mysterious letdown in the do-or-die
game, again, and the permanent also-ran status of professional teams
who consistently go to the playoffs and come home losers.
The great thing is that it really is too late for Obama to respond.
He's already in Indiana, and the hoosiers he's talking to at the moment
wouldn't like it if he dissed the Colts or Pacers by making a
counter-offer. Besides, he's already blown his chance. He was right
about bitter, just wrong about who. It's not the small town folks in
western PA who are seething and clinging to futile consolations. It's
the whole damn city of Philadelphia and the rotten, useless, hopeless
teams they've clung to for decades without receiving anything in return.
The other great thing is that Philly can't be anywhere near the 115
percent of registered Democrats they normally turn out for an election.
Many of them may only have voted once so far today and can easily hit
the polls a couple more times before the polls close.
Go for it. If Limbaugh's right, you've got nothing to lose.
2:56 pm.A Sudden Mystery. According to Philly.com, this
happened at 2:28 pm:
Barack Obama eating a cheesesteak with
an army of followers at Pat's Steaks in South Philadelphia. Don't know
if he ordered "wit" or with Cheese Whiz, but who cares?
By noshing at Pat's, the Senator from Illinois gracefully sidestepped
the "When Ordering Speak English" controversy at Geno's and perhaps
sent a subtle message to one Mr. Vento.
Is he in two places at once? Or is he, perhaps, following my
suggestion from last Tuesday? Can a skillful doppelganger overcome
this kind of faux-pas?
In Philadelphia, he passed up the
hometown cheesesteak -- gloppy, artery clogging and blue-collar (yum!) -- for
a nibble of Spanish-imported, $100/pound ham.
Or is somebody making up Obama sightings to conceal his inglorious
vamoosing from the fray?
I'm looking into it.
You know, it's probably time everyone stopped giving Hillary
grief about those double-wide hips of hers. She's only packing on the
pounds for the
common people she loves so much.
and cheesesteaks are by no means the ideal diet for a woman who hopes
to be selecting the perfect inaugural ball gown in a few months. Not
for the first time this campaign season, I'm actually feeling sorry for
her. [Hill: Let's cut to the chase. Eagles and Phillies. That'd bring
home all the bacon you need. Sorry. Just a figure of speech.]
According to MSNBC, the PA Attorney General's office has "confirmed no
serious voting issues in Philadelphia." Cool! What a relief. This means
that registered Democrats are having no trouble getting into the
polling locations, voting four or five times, and then voting -- in
accordance with city tradition -- on behalf of all their dead
ancestors, relatives, friends, and imaginary acquaintances, as well as
any and all Pennsylvania-born felons serving time or completed
executions in other states of the union. In a contest as close and
crucial as this one, it's exhilarating to know that no corners are
being cut. The ever-elusive 120 percent of eligible Democrats voting in
Philly is within reach.
The naysayers thought that the retirement of Mayor Street would mangle
the city's electoral efficiency. Thankfully, nothing like that seems to
be in the cards. Here's an illustration of how it works in the wards of
the City of Brotherly Love when all is proceeding smoothly; i.e.,
Just kidding. KIDDING. It's much worse than that.
CNN is all over the urgency of keeping voting within strict
Pennsylvania laws and traditions. Take a moment to listen to the
scrupulously fair voice
of the New South as the most trusted name in news tracks the
procedures and legalities. (The Cafferty bit at the end is just a bonus
for faithful InstaPunk
All right. We've entered a dead zone of sorts. Now the cable news
channels are beginning their recaps of the day's events, prior to the
serious programs that will analyze what we don't know, which are
prefatory to the burst of election coverage that will occur when the
polls close and all the networks will announce the winner and the
oh-so-crucial exit poll results.
It's a good time for wondering. I'm wondering, anyway. Why are
Democrats such classic Freudian fruitcakes? They want, they neeeeeed,
they have to have a victory
in the competition for the presidency of the United States. They've
been so single-mindedly in pursuit of this goal for eight years that
they've even been compelled to root actively for the defeat of the
United States military in a war that crushed a murderous fascistic
dictator and offered an old-Democrat-style vision of building an
enlightened liberal nation on the ruins of a barbaric, woman-hating
cesspool of mass rape, murder, and medieval torture. That's how bad the
Democrats wanted to win the presidency.
They actually possessed a clone (admittedly imperfect but determined
and savvy) of the only successful Democrat president since FDR (that is
RE-elected), and they have chosen -- chosen, mind you -- to trade her in
for a rank neophyte with virtually no experience or accomplishments and
many dubious associations because... why?
WHY? Their record in the presidency over the past half century is an
unmitigated roll of disaster. JFK assassinated and still a figure of
epic controversy because of suspicions that his own sexual
proclivities, drug use, mob ties, and political recklessness might have
implicated him in his own murder. Harry Truman, who flat quit the
presidency because he couldn't solve the riddle of Korea. Lyndon
Johnson, the architect of the Great Society that destroyed the dignity
of African-Americans who had survived slavery and Jim Crow with
families intact only to be reduced to "underclass" by the largesse of
urban renewal, welfare, and affirmative action. And simultaneously put
to the sword an entire nation's trust in the truthfulness of a sworn
Commander-in-Chief. Jimmy Carter, who did absolutely everything wrong,
no matter what he touched, and acting humble as Uriah Heep, never had
the humility to admit a single error. Bill Clinton, who said what
everyone wanted to hear, including an intern, and totally failed to
anticipate the nature of an extreme external threat to the security of
the United States, despite a clear warning at the exact same site where
the shit finally hit the fan.
And after all of this, it is THEY who are aggrieved, cheated, betrayed,
and persecuted. They fume and rage and curse and accuse and suffer
because the American people have shown a persistent reluctance to put
them in charge of the nation's highest office. THEY are the smart ones.
So the question is this. What is so smart about a party that insists on
nominating the worst possible candidate any party has put forward in a
century? Obama is inexperienced compared to a former First Lady??!! His
wife is a sullen, resentful beneficiary of exactly the racial policies
the Democrats have assured us would heal the black-white divide. His
preacher is a prosperous mockery of what it means to be a Christian. His
parents were both avowed Marxists. His own life is a dream come true of
expensive private schooling, Ivy League college, and ultimately privileged
legal education that nevertheless left him feeling embittered about
being born in the only nation where a 34-year-old can write an
autobiography without having accomplished something notable first and
become a millionaire in doing so.
How can the Democrats possibly think we would elect such a, well, punk to be president of the United
States? (Trust us this much. We
know something about punks. And Obama is a punk. But not in a good way.)
We at Instapunk have never been fond of Hillary. But she's a known
quantity. She'll do her best to transform the Democrat Party into the
equivalent of the Brit Labor Party. Given the chance, she would
probably fail at that. That's the American Way. Then she'd retreat to
doing the best she could, given that the ideal is out of reach.
Obama is a totally unknown quantity. Nobody knows who he is. Nobody
knows how far he would go, how deep his hatreds and insecurities are.
He's the most dangerous man alive on the American political scene, and
this is the person the desperate-to-be-elected Democrat Party has
blindly chosen as their man on a white horse. It's insane.
The Democrats are insane. Do you want to know why Bill Clinton has
become a loose cannon, red-faced, explosive, and unpredictable? This is
why. He has shown the Democrats their only possible route to
competing on an equal basis for the presidency. And they'd rather
destroy him and his wife than take his advice.
Of course, Obama might still win. In that case, God help us all.
The cable newsies are starting to drop their hints and show off their
production values. CNN has a big set with a big map that makes Wolf
Blitzer look like a discount undertaker in his baggy little black suit.
MSNBC has Keith Olbermann hairsprayed to a fare-thee-well (but fat as a tick -- Lord!) and Tim
Russert who's having a hair day as bad as Cyndi Lauper always did when
she was a star. Fox News is dropping little nuggets of non-information
from its exit polls: 69 percent of "urban voters" going for Obama, 58
percent of "gun owners" going for Hillary. Late deciders going for
Hillary. College-educated going for Obama (Geez. Isn't that a sorry commentary?) White for
Hillary. Black for Obama. Color us astonished.
Lou Dobbs is being a disingenuous ass, pretending to be objective and
sympathetic to both candidates. Olbermann is trying not
to be an ass. Since somebody might actually be watching this time. Russert looks
as off-kilter as his hair; he doesn't seem to know who he should be for
or how to slant his coverage. Blitzer still -- still -- thinks he really is an
objective, impartial journalist. Right now he's talking about "possible
voter irregularities." In Philadelphia??!! Of course, the authorities
will sort it out. It's not like there are any Republicans around
to make it a case of impeachable treason against the unexpressed will
of illiterate Americans. Or whatever.
They're just twiddling their thumbs. Come 8 o'clock, they'll all leap
like sharks into their one true mission in life, telling us what we're
supposed to think about what maybe happened in Pennsylvania.
Now Bill Schneider is weighing in. He's quite ebullient. And Jeffrey Toobin is there, sounding very chirpy. Maybe Obama is
doing better in the exit polls than anyone is letting on. Wouldn't that be just fucking GREAT?
I'll be back at you when the real results start falling through the
media Pachinko machine.
8:18 pm.Exit poll overload. Race itself too
close to call. The news networks are all covering their asses
now because they don't trust their own exit polls, which historically
have over-favored Obama and under-favored Hillary. They think it's
racism. It's never occurred to them that all the media-driven polls
might reflect resentment of media rather than black people. None of the
trends is surprising, and none of the breakdowns can be fitted into a
sum that makes mathematical sense in terms of total votes. They're
going to make us wait for actual vote counts. What an odd idea.
Obama is winning the affluent, black (92 percent), young, highly
educated, and deeply crazed voters. Hillary is winning the white vote
(men and women both), seniors, union members, and under 50K a year in
income voters. Maybe Obama has close to 50 percent of Democrats based on these demographics, but which set of demographics would you rather have on your side in a general election? I'm just saying.
Interestingly, it turns out that the party which so despises the
electoral college uses exactly the same kind of vote apportionment in
its delegate assignments. Winning in Philadelphia, which aways goes
Democratic in general elections, earns far more delegates
proportionally than winning anywhere else in the state. Political
democracy, I guess, is as relative a term to Democrats as morality,
patriotism, and supporting the troops. They mean by these terms exactly
what they choose to mean, given what is most convenient at the moment.
Brit Hume has just conceded that exit polls suggest Hillary is winning
by 6 percent, although he also conceded he doesn't trust the exit polls
(as I've inferred above.)
It's going to go on like this for a while. When real vote counts begin
to add up, I'll post again.
If it matters.
Which maybe it doesn't. It's just been reported that a single mother in
Indiana saw a vision of Obama in a slice of buttered toast. Half of
South Bend is lined up at her door waiting to bear witness.
Hell, what do votes matter when you're as close to divine as Democrats
Fox News has just projected Hillary the winner. Based on exit polls.
That they don't trust. Cool. I'll still be back later.
Hillary is now leading 56 - 46 with 48 percent of the vote counted, but
85 percent of the Philly vote
counted. Which means her winning margin could still climb to 10 percent
or better. The pundits on the news channels have all had tremendously
intelligent things to say about what it all means. Here are a few
I doubt if I can improve on those. It's been more than fourteen hours
now since I started this damn fool project. I know that both candidates
will have some blah blahs of their own to add later on, but I'm done.
And so to bed.
Philadelphia Flyers just beat the Washington Capitols in the seventh
game of their playoff series, in overtime, after inexplicably failing
to play hockey for most of the three regulation periods. Did Hillary
make the deal we suggested after all? Under the table? That would be so like the Clintons, wouldn't it?
Probably nothing to it. I'm just saying. Flyers over the Capitols. The Washington Capitols.
Okay. Too keyed up to sleep right away. If you're having the
same problem, here's an excellent edition of the always brilliant Charlie Rose Show on
a topic that has nothing whatever to do with Hillary-Obama (h/t BlueSuedeViews).
Good night all.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Pope prays at Ground Zero.
RENASCENT BARBARIANS. I was
surprised this morning to discover that both the Drudge Report and RealClearPolitics.com had already
moved on from the Pope's visit. The final day of campaigning before the
Pennsylvania primary is clearly too fascinating to put aside for a
moment, even though everything that could be said about it has already
been said hundreds of times.
But I predict there will be more lasting impacts from the Pope's
mini-tour of the east coast than from the PA primary. It's just that
those impacts won't be easy to count or weigh. I'll mention a few of
them here, and I'm sure you'll think of your own as well.
Christianity. The scoffers
can't be impressed, but most Americans believe in God and recognize
goodness when they see it. Brit Hume referred yesterday to the
"beatific sweetness" of Pope Benedict. That was my own overriding
impression of the 81-year-old man, fragile, vulnerable yet strong, who
presided over a whirlwind of events that would have exhausted most
people a third his age. He seemed to be continuously present, sharing
his being with enormous crowds and individuals while also appearing to
take it all in -- the liturgy, the people, the settings, the symbols,
the meanings -- like a sponge. He knew that something deep was
happening to the Americans who witnessed him, and he knew that
something deep was happening in him. There was, quite appropriately, an
air of spring about the proceedings, the renewal of old life after a
long winter. It's not a surprise that it happens. What's surprising is
the beautiful freshness of each new blossoming.
I think Pope Benedict's visit took everyone by surprise in this way.
There are a lot of Roman Catholics in this country, and I'm sure
they're more energized by their faith this morning than they were a
week ago. There are also a lot of non-Catholic Christians in this
country, many of whom are formally and theologically opposed to the
papacy (as you can sample in the comments here), but at least a part of
most protestant truculence about the pope has to do with the fact that
he is the indisputable leader
of Christianity in the world. (Not to be flip, but he's the NY Yankees
of clerics; hence the aptness of the location of yesterday's mass.) For
all but a few gnostic cults, he is the head of an ancient and sprawling
family with many cadet and renegade branches, all of whom are
nevertheless descended from the same source.
It therefore matters to
all Christians who the Pope is, what he says, and how he interacts with
us and the world. And when he is admirable and devout in his faith, we
can all be proud of him. If
we can dispense with denominational pride and jealousy, we can also
admit that there is no single other Christian whose prayers at
Ground-Zero would mean quite so much. When he is humbled and moved and
stricken by the experience, he affirms and helps heal our own pain.
That is what happened in the pit of the Towers yesterday. He spread his
mantle over all of us and poured balm on such sores as this:
theology: A beam in the eye?
America. There's been a lot of
America bashing in the years since 9/11. From the mideast, from Europe,
and even from our own fellow citizens, much of it centered on the
nation's role as the last but most potent outpost of devout
Christianity among the world's major powers. Our exceptional "clinging"
to religion when all the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe are
virtually empty is supposed to make us backward, buffoonish, dangerous,
stupid, and even contemptible. The fact of our continuing religious
faith makes it easy to ridicule our lonely prosecution of the war on
terror as a crusade launched from a Texas trailer park
Who knows what the Pope thought before he came here? He may have had as
wrong an idea about us as we obviously had about him. Since his
election, our own mass media have continuously portrayed him as a stiff
reactionary academic, a cold and remote placeholder to fill the office
while the College of Cardinals searches for a real successor to John
Paul II. We learned differently by having the opportunity to see Pope
Benedict in action. Why were his eyes so alight throughout the masses
and meetings with real Americans? Was it because he, too, had been fed
a load of nonsense about who we are? And because he had suddenly
discovered that the river of faith flows here more powerfully and less
polluted than he had been led to expect?
The Old World may be running out of faith, but we should consider the
possibility that it isn't because they're smarter but only because
they're exhausted with life itself. We're still the hope of the world
because we still want to live, and we still believe life has meaning,
as well as individual value. That's why it's doubly important that the Pope prayed at ground Zero. He affirmed that something very terrible had indeed been done to us and that the pain of it is amplified by the fact that we do care so much about every life.
Age. The Democrats and the MSM
are readying us for an assault on John McCain's advanced age, which is
supposed to make him obsolete, weak, and irrelevant. Pope Benedict drew
huge audiences of young people who got to see a vivid example of the
fact that age can also bring wisdom, authority, perspective, humility,
and irreplaceable gravity. No, John McCain cannot be assumed to possess
all these qualities because he is only ten years younger than the Pope,
but he may merit a second look from youngsters who have never
previously been taught to respect their elders.
There is another kind of age that matters, too. The Roman Catholic
Church just proved (again) that it is still possesses mighty if
intangible power in the world, even after two millennia that have seen
the rise and fall of innumerable other institutions and empires. What
does this mean to us? That the power of a beneficent idea can survive
if it perseveres and chooses to rebuild and renew itself rather than
destroy itself in penance for the mistakes and even crimes that any
sufficiently long-lasting entity will commit. The church has not done
this by recasting itself as its own opposite or dividing against itself
into competing strains of vengeful vandals. It moves, however slowly,
to accept responsibility for its own errors, corrects them, and renews
its commitment to the core of its values. Pope Benedict could have made
token acknowledgment of the sex scandals that have so scarred the
American church and moved on. Instead, he brought the subject up with
every audience, declared the responsibility of the church to care for
the victims, and described the process for making sure it doesn't
happen again. There's a lesson here for all institutions, including
nations. Always preserve the animating idea and treat failures to live
up to that idea as failures of individual people and systems, not of
the animating idea. Never cease to aspire.
Obama. Perhaps not in
tomorrow's primary, but the papal visit is going to hurt Obama in the
general election. He, more than any other candidate, should have made
an appearance at one of the events. Christians of all denominations
have just been reminded of how much older their faith is than all of
the grievances that drive the Obama campaign, which will further
aggravate the effect of his remarks about Americans clinging to
religion because the job market is bad. Further, the striking sensory
phenomena of the Pope's visit -- the gorgeous choirs and singing, the
reenactments of ancient liturgy, the sweetness and manifest love of the
Pope himself, and the humble awe of the various audiences -- will
contrast discordantly with the YouTube rantings of Jeremiah Wright and
reverberate for months and years to come. Obama needs to be seen as a
Christian, not the muslim of his name or paternity. At a single stroke the papal visit has made it
clear that Wright -- and by implication his favorite parishioner -- is
far closer to the warrior mullahs of Iran than to the Vicar of Christ
on earth. As are the secular crusaders like Bill Maher who wish to demonstrate Obama's goodness by savaging the evils of traditional Christianity.
Maybe RealClearPolitics will get around to considering these
intangibles on Wednesday, after the most important political event in
the history of life on earth.
Archbishop of Canterbury
Planning his own U.S. Tour
of the Archbishop's more coherent recent sermons.
to unnamed sources close to the Anglican Church, Archbishop of
Atkinson is fiercely envious of the adulation Pope Benedict
received on his American trip and is planning a similar visit of his
Schedules are still preliminary, but the American leadership of the
Church of England -- The Episcopal Synod of New England Country Clubs
-- is reportedly organizing a series of Evening Prayer services that
will be held this fall, hopefully in time to help Barack Obama win
election to the presidency of the United States.
A brief mission statement for the trip has already been drafted
(subject to revision, of course) and says in part:
As the leading Christian denomination
which disavows the factuality of the immaculate conception, the
resurrection, and the divinity of Christ, the Anglican/Episcopal Church
feels an urgent duty to counteract the superstitious effects of the
Pope's visit to America and to restore the progress that was being made
by the coloniesUnited
States towards the acceptance of Islamic
culture and sharia law that has already been achieved in the United
Kingdom and other
commonwealth nations likeCanada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Through a series of workshops and liturgy-like ceremonies, the
Archbishop will instruct Americans from all walks of life about the sheer
idiocy of believing in God, the poetic nonsense of the Bible, and
the existence of anything that might be called an Afterlife. Further,
his Eminence will prove, via highly literate (and witty) charts &
graphs, that the equally ill-founded beliefs of Islam are nevertheless
superior to every form of Christianity because any attempt to refute
them leads directly to suicide bombers, beheadings, and aeroplanes
crashing into landmarks like Parliament, the Tower of London, and Boodles.
Afterwards, there will be tea, followed immediately by cocktails and
perhaps a twilight round of golf or some other gentleman's pursuit.
Orders from the Boss. Since I live in the Delaware Valley. I'll be
liveblogging coverage of the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary. All day
tomorrow. Please don't tell anyone. Starting at 8 am or so.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Funny Enough. The Pope arrived in the United States, so Bill Maher decided to blast the Catholic Church from his little HBO pillbox calling the Pope the author of the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church and a former Nazi.
I could call Bill Maher names, but that's not very instructive and Mr. Maher's comments betray a very old and very deep American prejudice against the Catholic Church. It's seen in a colonial children's game called Hang the Pope and continues on to this very hour (visit CatholicLeague.org and review the past few years' of press releases). When a Catholic Church was constructed in South Carolina in 1873, the local paper referred to it as a papist fortification for the troops of an enemy.
So, Mr. Maher is nothing new.
Had the Catholic Church taken pedophiles and homosexuals among its ranks to a dungeon in the Vatican and beaten and starved them to death you can hear the hue and cry that would go up about the barbaric institution. As it is, the hue and cry is about the complicity with and encouragement of sexual predators by the barbaric institution.
You see, any stick will do when bashing the Catholic Church.
What is the real problem? In a word incarnation.
The incarnation is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. It is in the name of Jesus Christ as Emmanuel God with us.
The ancient Greeks could not tolerate this violation their world of perfect forms coming down and being corrupted by flesh and blood. It was simply impossible.
The incarnation is also a scandal for other religions that don't like mixing the divine with the human.
Incarnation is carried across two millennia and very close to your home by the Catholic Church as it asserts that it is an institution created by Jesus Christ to perform His work on the earth among men. This work is to be performed by men. Its visible, earthly, flesh and blood leader is the Pope who is protected by the direct supervision of the Holy Spirit to speak unerringly on faith and morals and her priests are empowered to bind and loose on earth with the authority that their actions on earth will be honored and binding in heaven.
It is with this level of incarnation that the Protestants take their leave. For them it is okay that Jesus Christ is God become man, but for God to work and be among men in the form of an institution with a telephone number, an address, and a website? Impossible. For Protestants and others alike, there are just too many bad Popes; too many bad Bishops; too many bad Priests; too many bad Catholics they're just so, so, so human. Disgustingly human. And, accordingly, cannot be divine.
So the protestations against the Catholic Church are, at their root, protestations and absolute revulsion at the thought of the incarnation. God cannot be here for here is too base, too defiled, too absurd, too unjust, too unfair too human.
Consider it isn't that all the faults and all the horrors you see aren't there, it is that they are there and they are part of the message of Christianity. It is that God is here as close as He can get to man and that you can actually get close to Him as close to Him as you dare.
. Quite unbelievably, some of the conservative
bloggers are actually debating whether or not Obama gave Hillary the
finger in the clip above. Like Ed
Morrissey of Hot Air:
When is a bird not a bird? I suspect
when the Democratic frontrunner flips it. Barack Obama campaigned among
friendly crowds yesterday in North Carolina, one state he's expected to
win easily in the next few weeks. Perhaps he let his guard down, or
maybe he didn't even realize he made the gesture...
Obama has a pretty satisfied look on his face afterwards, which makes
it look a little more purposeful than not. It's subtle enough to have
deniability for anyone who might get offended, but clear enough for his
followers to enjoy the moment of disrespect towards Hillary. And who
hasn't wanted to flip off a Clinton at some time in their lives?
Is this a damaging moment for Obama? Probably not, although it's not
exactly classy. In fact, it might have a charm all its own, a warmth
and humanity that certainly doesn't come out when Obama debates.
Update: Redstate says it's
definitely the salute; Jim Geraghty needs a little more convincing.
What a crock. All you need do is listen to his patter immediately
afterward. He is deliberately saying nothing -- a series of slow,
throwaway phrases designed to give the audience an opportunity to enjoy
and extend the impact of the gesture. In this instance, he's no
sanctimonious preacher but a standup comic milking a dirty joke.
I also loved Morrissey's bottom line answer to his own question about
damage: "Probably not, although its not exactly classy. In fact, it
a charm all its own, a warmth and humanity that certainly doesnt come
out when Obama debates."
Please. Charm? A gesture that could only be considered subtle by a
junior high-school boy? Warmth and humanity? What would Morrissey call
mooning the principal from the windows of the team bus? A miraculous
moment of shared spiritual communion?
All of this against the backdrop of the Pope touring America, where
"warmth and humanity" were exhibited not by a crude gesture symbolizing
sexual penetration at a political rally but by the quick kiss of an
infant's forehead during the recessional from a solemn high mass.
Just because a lot of us may have felt like flipping Hillary the bird
from the sofa in front of the TV doesn't mean we want a presidential
candidate to do it, slyly, in public, in reaction to the first time he
hasn't been treated worshipfully by the press in attendance.
There is a difference between public and private behaviors. Yeah, most
politicians have had their unguarded moments, including Repubs like
Cheney and McCain, when a mic caught them delivering an F-word or
equivalent to the face of someone who had angered them deeply. Doing it
from a public platform and not even face to face but like a sneak at a
distance is infinitely less acceptable. What would our mass media be
talking about today if Pope Benedict had made public reference to Bill
Maher's slanders and scratched the papal nose with his middle digit? Well, they
probably wouldn't be talking about anything else, not even the midwest
Think about it. Consider the appalling amount of personal and absolutely
vitriolic abuse President George W. Bush has taken in the last seven
years. What sort of stampede of condemnation and disdain wouldn't have
followed such a juvenile response by the Commander-in-Chief to the
equally juvenile assaults he has been required to endure? (Just today,
Drudge reports that Mayor
Bloomberg is 'excited' about electing an 'adult' president. So
maybe GWB should rise to Obama's level and flip one at NYC's incredibly
pompous figurehead?) It may be unfortunate for some to think about, but
one of the principal responsibilities of the man or woman who occupies
the most powerful leadership post in the world is to be a glutton for
punishment. They are required to take everyone's meanest, dirtiest, and
most vengeful shots without responding in kind. In simpler terms, they
have to be real grownups, even more than most of us grownups can
manage. What they can't be is little shallow snots who react to a cheap
shot or two like a 15-year-old cheerleader who goes all Old Testament
on her MySpace page when a BFF steals her boyfriend.
Ed Morrissey should be ashamed of himself. Oddly enough, one of the
story links at Hot Air today might
help him put this in perspective. It's about a YouTube clip by
twenty-somethings intended to make us realize that John McCain is older
than dial telephones (not
really). Except that there's also reference to the real
average age of those who are responsible enough to vote
I may not like Hillary, but she's a grown woman. In comparison, Obama
seems like a self-obsessed Y-Gen chick.
More on Maher
Maher's Halloween costume making playful fun of the death of Steve
Do you think he maybe possibly has some issues with take-charge male
. We read Wade Pelham's post
about the long history of anti-Catholicism, and despite the opening
subhead, it just didn't seem "funny enough" to us.
We feel like Otter in "Animal House." What's called for here isn't a
nuanced theological discussion but a "really
futile and stupid gesture on somebody's part." You know. Ad
hominem. Almost nothing whatever to do with the Pope and Catholicism
and Nazis. Because what Maher said didn't have anything to do with
those things either.
Faithful readers will recall that we outed him almost exactly three
years ago as a SCAM.
Part of that outing was publishing the fact that he was the son of a
Jewish mother and a Roman-Catholic father. (He's also basically a
midget, but we'll leave that out of it for now.) So why does he have a
mindless hatred of Roman Catholics and a scarily constant paranoia
lurking in the weeds waiting to do him in?
ONE... TWO... THREE... FOUR... got it yet? Oh!!! He's a screwed up
little prick who hated his father and had a weird love-terror-victim
to his relationship with a mother expert at suffering and smothering.
It's rumored that he's going to apologize
for calling Pope Benedict a Nazi, but not for what he said about RC-ism
as a cult of child molesters. Hmmmm.
Why the one and not the other? After all, we covered the abundant
evidence of Pope Benedict's Nazi past here at this site. There's
hardly any need to back off on that count. But apologizing for
something -- anything -- makes you a kind of martyr. The persecutors
are already lining up.
"Maher is being a wimp to apologize -
and this is no joke. So
what if a few people cancel their HBO subscriptions? For every
person who cancels, there are probably ten people who subscribe to HBO
just to get Maher. Maher should tell HBO 'Screw you -
cancel me, then, and I'll just carry all my viewers over to
Showtime.' Besides, all those people who cancelled are going to
come back anyway, just as soon as they realize how much they miss
re-runs of Pornucopia: Sex in The Valley. The world needs Maher
to keep pointing out that the only difference between a religion and a
cult is the number of members."
Would Mommy be proud of her little (um, very little) baby for his
martryrdom in the name of a (quasi)religious cause? Would it make him
feel, for once, that he was standing on a point of principle as opposed
to pandering for laughs with the crudest possible jokes an untalented
Cornellian could devise in the process of trying to piss off his hated
father on national television?
Sure she would. Mommy always loved her little halfwit sociopath. It was
Daddy who always knew better than to approve a vicious pint-sized
monster just because his own cursed semen was involved.
Work it out, Bill. Maybe somebody out there actually admires you. But
even the people who slap you on the back know you're a creep they
wouldn't want anywhere near their own private lives and beliefs.
Aaaaaah. That feels better than all the religious rhetoric. A lot
better. Which almost rhymes with Otter.