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09/10/2009 15.20
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I was not expecting the first commentary on today's seismic shocker from a major newspaper anywhere to come from the Times of London, least of all to take this form, but it says it for all persons of common sense:

Absurd decision on Obama
makes a mockery of the Nobel peace prize

by Michael Binyon

October 9, 2009

The award of this year’s Nobel peace prize to President Obama will be met with widespread incredulity, consternation in many capitals and probably deep embarrassment by the President himself.

Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America’s first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world.

Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace.

The pretext for the prize was Mr Obama’s decision to “strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”. Many people will point out that, while the President has indeed promised to “reset” relations with Russia and offer a fresh start to relations with the Muslim world, there is little so far to show for his fine words.

East-West relations are little better than they were six months ago, and any change is probably due largely to the global economic downturn; and America’s vaunted determination to re-engage with the Muslim world has failed to make any concrete progress towards ending the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

There is a further irony in offering a peace prize to a president whose principal preoccupation at the moment is when and how to expand the war in Afghanistan.

The spectacle of Mr Obama mounting the podium in Oslo to accept a prize that once went to Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Mother Theresa would be all the more absurd if it follows a White House decision to send up to 40,000 more US troops to Afghanistan.

However just such a war may be deemed in Western eyes, Muslims would not be the only group to complain that peace is hardly compatible with an escalation in hostilities.

The Nobel committee has made controversial awards before. Some have appeared to reward hope rather than achievement: the 1976 prize for the two peace campaigners in Northern Ireland, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, was clearly intended to send a signal to the two battling communities in Ulster. But the political influence of the two winners turned out, sadly, to be negligible.

In the Middle East, the award to Menachem Begin of Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt in 1978 also looks, in retrospect, as naive as the later award to Yassir Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin — although it could be argued that both the Camp David and Oslo accords, while not bringing peace, were at least attempts to break the deadlock.

Mr Obama’s prize is more likely, however, to be compared with the most contentious prize of all: the 1973 prize to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for their negotiations to end the Vietnam war.

Dr Kissinger was branded a warmonger for his support for the bombing campaign in Cambodia; and the Vietnamese negotiator was subsequently seen as a liar whose government never intended to honour a peace deal but was waiting for the moment to attack South Vietnam.

Mr Obama becomes the third sitting US President to receive the prize. The committee said today that he had “captured the world’s attention”. It is certainly true that his energy and aspirations have dazzled many of his supporters.

Sadly, it seems they have so bedazzled the Norwegians that they can no longer separate hopes from achievement. The achievements of all previous [deserving] winners have been diminished.

NB: I first posted the 'news' on the preceding page, to which Cowgirl had an immediate reaction.

The AP's initial commentary from its chief White House correspondent is equally skeptical - yet another surprise, as heretofore, MSM have been unhesitating and even cheerleading participants in the chorus of Hallelujahs to their hero-idol-icon.

Analysis: He won, but for what?

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 (AP) – The awarding of the Nobel Peace Price to President Barack Obama landed with a shock on darkened, still-asleep Washington. He won! For what?

For one of America's youngest presidents, in office less than nine months — and only for 12 days before the Nobel nomination deadline last February — it was an enormous honor.

The prize seems to be more for Obama's promise than for his performance. Work on the president's ambitious agenda, both at home and abroad, is barely underway, much less finished. He has no standout moment of victory that would seem to warrant a verdict as sweeping as that issued by the Nobel committee.

And what about peace? Obama is running two wars in the Muslim world — in Iraq and Afghanistan — and can't get a climate change bill through his own Congress.

His scorecard for the year is largely an "incomplete," if he's being graded.

He banned torture and other extreme interrogation techniques for terrorists. But he also promised to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a source of much distaste for the U.S. around the world, a difficult task that now seems headed to miss his own January 2010 deadline.

He said he would end the Iraq war. But he has been slow to bring the troops home and the real end of the U.S. military presence there won't come until at least 2012, and that's only if both the U.S. and Iraq stick to their current agreement about American troop withdrawals.

He has pushed for new efforts to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. But he's received little cooperation from the two sides.

He said he wants a nuclear-free world. But it's one thing to telegraph the desire, in a speech in Prague in April, and quite another to unite other nations and U.S. lawmakers behind the web of treaties and agreements needed to make that reality.

He has said that battling climate change is a priority. But the U.S. seems likely to head into crucial international negotiations set for Copenhagen in December with legislation still stalled in Congress.

And what about Obama's global prestige? It seemed to take a big hit last week when he jetted across the Atlantic to lobby for Chicago to get the 2016 Olympics — and was rejected with a last-place finish.

Perhaps for the Nobel committee, merely altering the tone out of Washington toward the rest of the world is enough. Obama got much attention for his speech from Cairo reaching out a U.S. hand to the world's Muslims. His remarks at the U.N. General Assembly last month set down new markers for the way the U.S. works with the world.

But still ... ?

Obama aides seemed as surprised at the news as everyone else, not even aware he had been nominated along with a record 204 others. Awoken by press secretary Robert Gibbs about an hour after the vote was announced, the White House says the president responded that he was humbled to be only the third sitting U.S. president to win.

The award could be as much about issuing a slap at Obama's predecessor, former President George W. Bush, as about lauding Obama.

[A Fox commentator said Obama becomes the third American honored by the Nobel jury 'simply for not being Bush' - Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and now, Obama.]

Bush was reviled by the world for his cowboy diplomacy, Iraq war and snubbing of European priorities like global warming. Remember that the Nobel peace prize has a long history of being awarded more for the committee's aspirations than for others' accomplishments — for Mideast peace or a better South Africa, for instance.

In those cases, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see the effort through, sometimes at critical moments.

Obama likely understands that his challenges are too steep to resolve — much less honor — after just a few months. "It's not going to be easy," the president often says of the tasks ahead for the United States and the world.

The Nobel committee, it seems, had the audacity to hope that he'll eventually produce a record worthy of its prize.

One must note, as the AP writer does, that the deadline for submission of nominations for the 2009 prizes was February 1, 2009, a bare 12 days after Obama was sworn in as President - when he had not yet even made those speeches that the awards committee cited him for!

And why do you think those faceless Nobel jurors in Oslo completely ignored John Paul II and Ronald Reagan in their consideration of Peace prizes in the crucial years that preceded the fall of the Berlin Wall? Because one was Catholic - tut-tut! that would never do! The Dalai Lama was OK, Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, as well, but certainly not the Pope, any Pope!- and the other was avowedly conservative, never mind how obviously successful his domestic and foreign policies were! And never mind that John Paul II actually was one of the major architects of the fall of Communism, as opposed to other winners who simply represented potential good and even fought notable battles in doing so.

And here's one from a Obama-rah-rah boy:

What did Obama do
to win the Nobel Peace Prize?

by Gideon Rahman

October 9, 2009

In an earlier version of this article, posted late last night, I expressed some scepticism about the Nobel Peace Prize, even suggesting that it might be pointless.

Now that Barack Obama has been awarded the peace prize, I would like to withdraw this criticism. The prize is clearly an award of huge significance, awarded after only the deepest reflection, and won only by demi-Gods!

I am a genuine admirer of Obama. And I am very pleased that George W Bush is no longer president. But I doubt that I am alone in wondering whether this award is slightly premature. ['Slightly'?]

It is hard to point to a single place where Obama’s efforts have actually brought about peace - Gaza, Iran, Sri Lanka? The peace prize committee say that he is being rewarded for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy”.

But while it is OK to give school children prizes for “effort” - my kids get them all the time - I think international statesmen should probably be held to a higher standard.

[And if it comes to that, dozens, if not hundreds, of world leaders in the past 100-plus years of the Nobel Prizes deserved the prize just as well for years, if not decades, of making speeches about their noble intentions for world peace. Heck, the faceless Oslo jurors should award themselves the Peace Prize, for who could possibly have 'nobler' aspirations for world peace than they ???]

It is also very odd timing. In the next couple of weeks, Obama is likely to yield to the wishes of his generals and to send many thousands more troops to Afghanistan. That will mean he is a wartime president, just as much as Bush or Lyndon Johnson. If Afghanistan ends up being Obama’s Vietnam, giving him the Nobel Peace Prize will look even sillier in a few years time.

[Perhaps the Oslo Five actively intended to 'control' and almost compel Obama to strategic inaction henceforth, i.e., let's see him dare send more troops to Afghanistan now, or even consider strong sanctions against Iran, with the onus of the Peace Prize holding him down! Or for that matter, let's see him dare do anything remotely 'warlike' if he must to protect and defend the country and Constitution as he swore to do?]

The Vatican appreciates
the award to Obama

Fair and balanced, here's the statement made by Vatican press director Fr. Federico Lombardi, translated from

The awarding of the Nobel peace prize to President Obama is greeted with appreication in the Vatican in the light of the commitment demonstrated by the President to promote peace in the international field, nad specially, recently in favor of nuclear disarmament.

It is to be hoped that this important recognition will encourage this difficult but fundamental commitment for the future of mankind, so that it may bring the expected results

Not that the Vatican could officially say anything else! My fear is that Cardinal Bertone will see fit to send a congratulatory telegram to Obama in the name of the Holy Father, or God forbid!, that Benedict XVI himself would go out of his way to write a personal letter of congratulations.

But back to the statement by Fr. Lombardi, obviously from the Vatican Secretariat of State: Adding the bit about nuclear disarmament was rather unnecessary, gratuitous and disingenuous, not to say outrageous, considering that Obama wants the US to disarm even as it has been unable to stop North Korea and Iran from developing their own nuclear arsenal! Leaving the world to the mercy of relentless terrorists is a contribution to world peace????

P.S. I have calmed down now, and on second thought, I must apologize to have been taken in by the 'award' mentality that prevails in worldly affairs. None of it should mean anything, as the only reward that does is favor with God.

Reuters weighs in:

Obama Peace Prize win
has Americans asking why?

Fri Oct 9, 2009 10:00am EDT
By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK, Oct. 9 (Reuters) - The award of the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday to U.S. President Barack Obama had many puzzled Americans scratching their heads.

"It would be wonderful if I could think why he won," said Claire Sprague, 82, a retired English professor as she walked her dog in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. "They wanted to give him an honor I guess but I can't think what for."

Itya Silverio, 33, of Brooklyn, was also surprised. "My first opinion is that he got it because he's black," she said. "What did he do that was so great? He hasn't even finished office yet."

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who won the peace prize himself in 2002, said Obama's win showed the hope he had inspired worldwide.

"It is a bold statement of international support for his vision and commitment to peace and harmony in international relations," Carter said in a statement.

When told of Obama's win Robert Schultz, 62, a retired civil servant and Vietnam veteran, asked: "For doing what?

"The guy hasn't solved any conflict anywhere so how can he win the peace prize? But if we don't reelect him the next go around we will all look like idiots because the world has anointed him," said Schultz, who lives in a suburb of Dallas.

Some said the choice could damage the Nobel committee's credibility and that of the award.

"It looks less like an objective award than it does a political endorsement," said William Jelani Cobb, a history professor at Spelman College in Atlanta and author of a forthcoming book on Obama.

"Guantanamo is not closed yet and it makes it difficult for him to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan," he said, referring to the U.S. prison in Cuba where some detainees have been held for years without trial.

Haag Sherman, director of Houston-based investment firm Salient Partners, said it politicizes the award.

"Largely left leaning U.S. leaders have been recent recipients of that award. It will clearly be viewed as political by the right," he said. "It illustrates that the U.S. is still the prevalent power in the world and that the world really is seeking engagement with the United States."

Opera singer Carissa March, 30, said she was surprised but the win might help Obama achieve some of what he had started.

"Although he's trying to open up talks with nations we haven't spoken with we haven't had enough time to see if it's worked," she said.

"Sometimes when things like this happen it forces people to view things more positively so hopefully other leaders around the world will take (the talks) a little more seriously and open up more."

In Chicago, retiree June Latrobe, 68, was also nonplused. "In all candor he hasn't done anything yet," he said.
Many seemed happy even if they weren't sure why Obama won.

"How wonderful, I think that's fantastic," said David Spierer, 48, from New York who works in medical sales. "I know what he's doing but what has he done? Change is coming but you don't win a Nobel Peace Prize for the future."

"Obama won? Really? Wow," said David Hassan, 43, of Pine Brook, New Jersey. "He deserves it I guess, he's the president. He's a smart guy and I guess he's into peace."

And a second broadside from the Times of London:

Pointless Nobel prize reveals
how Obama is lost in his own mystique

by Bronwen Maddox

Scrap the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s an embarrassment and even an impediment to peace. President Obama, in letting the committee award it to him, has made himself look vain, a fool and dangerously lost in his own mystique.

Where do you start, in the daftness of it? Anointing a leader whose character the panel admires, but who is only a fifth of the way through his term of office and has not yet clinched any peace? The fey, fanciful lack of criteria, which does no favours to the rigorous awards in science that, unfortunately, share the same brand name?

No, start with two hard-edged points. The Peace Prize has begun to distort and damage crucial negotiations. And Obama’s acceptance of the supposed honour is a misjudgment that will give power to his critics.

Of course, there are plenty of cases — Northern Ireland, endlessly — where the advances that the prize celebrated then dissolved. Peace is not an eternal state, unshakeable once achieved. I’d put this at the heart of my queasiness about the notion of any peace prize.

But others disagree, saying that effort should be rewarded as much as solid triumph. Even so, given how muddy such efforts always are, what a jumble of motives and ugly arm-twisting before the final, tidy handshake, the Nobel committee seems naive in lauding a purity that is never there.

The real damage is done, however, by making the award to a player actively engaged in conflict resolution, which can tip the balance of power in those talks.

The worst of recent cases was the 2005 award to Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The award was odd, many thought: he had presided over a record of failure by the United Nations nuclear watchdog to detect or stop proliferation.

But British and US officials working to combat Iran’s nuclear ambitions, who had long accused him of being protective of Iran, felt that the Nobel award then reinforced him in his belief that he should resist Western pressure.

In Obama’s case, two huge decisions loom: whether to put more troops into Afghanistan, and whether to mount (or even to threaten) airstrikes against Iran, if it won’t drop its nuclear work. He would surely not (we must hope) be swayed in such deliberations by the thought of jeopardy to his Swedish garland.

Yet if the Nobel Peace Prize were worth anything, then it could influence, if not constrain, people trying to broker deals.

But it isn’t worth anything. What on earth was Obama thinking when the call came through? Really, that it was an honour, not a highly partisan tribute? That it would waft him above the rancour of US politics, in which he is a hero to half the country and a communist to the rest?

Hardly: his critics will just accuse him of having communist Swedes on his side. And they will rightly ram home the point he has missed — that the US President’s stature dwarfs that of this committee.

In the election last November, Obama won the world’s most impressive and valuable prize. The Nobel, in contrast, is as effusive and misplaced a compliment as the “my son” that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi bestowed on him last month. The only blessing of Obama’s acceptance is that he may have killed off the prize for good.

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09/10/2009 16.06
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Sorry.. me once more.

I'm still furious. My poor colleagues at work were scared to death of me today, after the decision was announced on the radio - with big excitement and joy!! I couldn't spare them of a furious rant!

[SM=g8126] [SM=g8126]

I had told them earlier, that, in case Obama was chosen, I'd take the next flight to Oslo (only 1:15 hrs. from Munich) and shoot the committee members, and everybody else in Norway, while I'm at it.

But then… one of my best friends lives near Oslo. So, I'll be merciful.

I wrote an email to the committee, instead:

Please let them have a piece of your mind. Mine was not very pretty!!


Thanks for the suggestion, Heike! I have sent out mine now. Not that it will change their preposterous attitudes at all, but I hope Osol is stormed by e-mail and all sorts of other mail for this!


[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 09/10/2009 16.25]
09/10/2009 19.22
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Herta Müller wins
Nobel Prize in Literature


October 8, 2009

The other generally subjective - i.e., ideological and political - prize awarded by the Oslo jurors is the Nobel prize for Literature, at least for the past two decades. This year's winner was anounced earlier yesterday, and appears to be unexceptionable. I must admit I never heard of her before yesterday. Her life story is remarkable, and her writing may well be, and I can sincerely say Congratulations in this case, and looking forward to reading her.

Herta Müller, the Romanian-born German novelist and essayist who writes of the oppression of dictatorship in her native country and the unmoored existence of the political exile, won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.

Ms. Müller is a relative unknown outside of literary circles in Germany.

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy described Ms. Müller as a writer “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.” Her award coincides with the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communism in Europe.

Ms. Müller, 56, emigrated to Germany in 1987 after years of persecution and censorship in Romania. She is the first German writer to win the Nobel in literature since Günter Grass in 1999 and the 13th winner writing in German since the prize was first given in 1901.

She is the 12th woman to capture the literature prize. But unlike previous winners like Doris Lessing and V. S. Naipaul, Ms. Müller is a relative unknown outside of literary circles in Germany.

She has written some 20 books, but just 5 have been translated into English, including the novels “The Land of Green Plums” and “The Appointment.”

At a packed news conference on Thursday at the German Publishers & Booksellers Association in Berlin, where she lives, Ms. Müller, petite, wearing all black and sitting on a leopard-print chair, appeared overwhelmed by all the cameras in her face.

She spoke of the 30 years she spent under a dictatorship and of friends who did not survive, describing living “every day with the fear in the morning that in the evening one would no longer exist.”

When asked what it meant that her name would now be mentioned in the same breath as German greats like Thomas Mann and Heinrich Böll, Ms. Müller remained philosophical.

“I am now nothing better and I’m nothing worse,” she said, adding: “My inner thing is writing. That I can hold on to.”

Earlier in the day, at a news conference in Stockholm, Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said Ms. Müller was honored for her “very, very distinct special language” and because “she has really a story to tell about growing up in a dictatorship ... and growing up as a stranger in your own family.”

Just two days before the announcement, Mr. Englund criticized the jury panel as being too “Eurocentric.” Europeans have won 9 of the past 10 literature prizes.

On Thursday Mr. Englund told The Associated Press that it was easier for Europeans to relate to European literature. “It’s the result of psychological bias that we really try to be aware of,” he said.

Ms. Müller was born and raised in the German-speaking town of Nitzkydorf, Romania. Her father served in the Waffen-SS in World War II, and her mother was deported to a work camp in the Soviet Union in 1945. At university, Ms. Müller opposed the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu and joined Aktionsgruppe Banat, a group of dissident writers who sought freedom of speech.

She wrote her first collection of short stories in 1982 while working as a translator for a factory. The stories were censored by the Romanian authorities, and Ms. Müller was fired from the factory after refusing to work with the Securitate secret police. The uncensored manuscript of “Niederungen” — or “Nadirs” — was published in Germany two years later to critical acclaim.

“Niederungen” and other early works depicted life in a village and the repression its residents faced. Her later novels, including “The Land of Green Plums” and “The Appointment,” approach allegory in their graphic portrayals of the brutality suffered by modest people living under totalitarianism. Her most recent novel, “Atemschaukel,” is a finalist for the German Book Prize.

Even in Germany, Ms. Müller is not well known. “She’s not one of these public trumpeters — or drum-beaters, like Grass,” said Volker Weidermann, a book critic for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper. “She’s more reserved.”

Ms. Müller also has a low profile in the English-speaking world, although “The Land of Green Plums” won the International Dublin Impac Literary Award in 1998.

Writing in The New York Times Book Review in 2001, Peter Filkins described “The Appointment” as using the thuggery of the government as “a backdrop to the brutality and betrayal with which people treat one another in their everyday lives.”

Lyn Marven, a lecturer in German studies at the University of Liverpool who has written about Ms. Müller, said: “It’s an odd disjunction to write about traumatic experiences living under a dictatorship in a very poetic style. It’s not what we expect, certainly.”

Michael Naumann, Germany’s former culture minister and the former head of Metropolitan Books, one of Ms. Müller’s publishers in the United States, praised her work but said she was “not a public intellectual.”

She has, however, spoken out against oppression and collaboration. In Germany, for example, she has criticized those East German writers who worked with the secret police.

A spokeswoman for Metropolitan, a unit of Macmillan that released English translations of “The Land of Green Plums” and “The Appointment” in the United States, said the publisher would reissue hardcover editions of those books. Northwestern University Press, which published the paperback version of “The Land of Green Plums,” said it was reprinting 20,000 copies.

In Germany, Ms. Müller’s publisher, Carl Hanser Verlag, was also scrambling to reprint more copies of “Atemschaukel,” as well as other titles from her backlist.

Asked whether winning the prize while relatively young could hurt her work, Ms. Müller said: “I thought after every book, never again, it’s my last. Then two years pass, and I start writing again. It doesn’t feel any different after I’ve won this prize.”

The awards ceremony is planned for Dec. 10 in Stockholm. As the winner, Ms. Müller will receive 10 million Swedish kronor, or about $1.4 million.

Meanwhile, one of my favorite authors of all time, Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru - versatile, end;ess;y inventive, thoroughly entertaining, highly literate novelist, as well as prolific essayist on literary criticism and contemporary affairs (and failed presidential candidate in peru against Alberto Fujimori who ended up being conviced for corruption after two terms) - continues to be snubbed by the Nobel people.

His Guerra del Fin del Mundo alone (about a failed religious populist revolt in Colombia - it is can't-put-down-compelling as literature and as fiction, from the first word to the last) would have won anybody else the Nobel Prize. Not to menti0on that he has written two of the most hilarious, absolutely entertaining works of literature ever in Tia Julia y el escribidorand Pantaleon y las visitadoras. Sheer genius! His novels constitute the history of post-Columbian Latin America told in a variety of ways in luminous, powerful literature.

It was his misfortune to have risen to literary fame alongside Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the Nobel jurors, it seems (like critics of Benedict XVI), do not believe that greatness can strike twice in succession or contemporaneously in the same territory!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 09/10/2009 19.29]
09/10/2009 19.50
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A Fitting Prize, in a Way
By the Editors

Oct. 7, 2009

I am posting this not so much because I share its point of view but because it is able to give factual perspective, at a glance, to the issue.

Well, that didn’t take long. But it was almost inevitable: the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama. As “the world” hated Pres. George W. Bush, “the world” loves President Obama.

What do we mean by “the world”? We mean the editors of Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and the Guardian. The faculty at Brown University. The secretariat of the United Nations. We mean Lord Malloch-Brown, not Václav Klaus.

When President Bush visited Iraq for the last time, a foe of his threw a shoe at him. The shoe-thrower was taken to be “the world.” Hugo Chávez even made laughing reference to him recently at the U.N. Many Iraqis admire and appreciate President Bush. They do not count as “the world.”

Very much counting as “the world” is the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. They practically define it. Every year since 1901, the peace prize has been given by a committee of five Norwegians. They are appointed by the Norwegian parliament, the Storting.

The Nobel Peace Prize always reflects the consensus of Norwegian politics. And that consensus is, in a word — a word the Norwegians might well choose — “progressive.” Others might call it left-wing.

In any case, the Nobel Peace Prize almost never disappoints the editors of Le Monde, the faculty at Brown, etc.

The committee has said, “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. In the past year Obama has been a key person for important initiatives in the U.N. for nuclear disarmament and to set a completely new agenda for the Muslim world and East-West relations.”

That is true (at least in part). The Nobel Committee appreciates Obama for his repudiation of all things Bush.

The new president has frozen out America’s allies in Eastern Europe, causing great consternation among them. He has put “daylight” between America and its No. 1 Middle Eastern ally, Israel.

He kept almost mum when Iranian democrats massed in the streets to demand a more decent life — the American focus is on negotiating with the regime.

He gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, the U.N. official who presided over Durban, that hate-Israel jamboree.

He yukked it up with Chávez, giving him a soul-brother handshake and calling him “mi amigo.” He went along with an invitation to Cuba to rejoin the Organization of American States — this despite that fact that the OAS is supposed to be for democracies, not police states.

He had America rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council, which, under Bush, we bowed out of: because it was dominated by such lovely regimes as the ones in Cuba, Zimbabwe, China, Syria, and Sudan; because it existed almost solely to defame Israel.

All these moves of Obama, the Nobel Committee appreciates immensely. This is an American president in their own image, the kind of president they will cheer and honor.

For them, Obama is a dream president, just as Bush was a nightmare president. He is the first “post-American president,” as John Bolton and others have said. For “the world,” that is a dream president.

Our Declaration of Independence speaks of “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” A decent respect is not a need for approval. Besides, who is mankind? Merely the Nobel Committee and the shoe-thrower, or Bush-loving Iraqis, too?

We might ask another question: Whose approval would President Obama rather have: that of the Nobel Committee or that of the Rotary Club in Butte?

In recent years, the Nobel Committee has done everything possible to express its abhorrence of Bush and his ways.

In 2001, they gave the peace prize to Kofi Annan and the U.N. The message, in part, was: “America, you’d better not respond to 9/11 by yourselves, or too aggressively.”

The next year, they gave the prize to Jimmy Carter, and, here, the chairman of the committee was refreshingly candid: saying that they were honoring Carter in order to give Bush “a kick in the leg,” or, in our own parlance, a black eye. A more honorable president might have refused that award, if given for the purpose of bashing the current president.

Another black eye came in 2005, when the committee gave the award to Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

ElBaradei has said explicitly that his goal — his only “brief,” as he has put it — is to prevent military action against Iran. Accordingly, he has repeatedly downplayed that country’s nuclear progress. And the IAEA has repeatedly looked foolish, and blind. In Beijing the other day, ElBaradei said that the number-one threat to peace in the Middle East is . . . Israel, and its nukes.

In 2007, the Nobel Committee went with Al Gore and the U.N.’s global-warming people. And now, in 2009, Obama.

This award will cause people — will cause “the world” — to say that America is back in the fold, back in the good graces of “the world.” After a season apart, under the cowboy Bush, America is a citizen of “the world” once again. In the Nobel Committee sense of “the world,” we are. [Whereby Israel, Poland and Czechoslovakia do not count as part of 'the world'. What happened to 'Obamnultilaterralism' in their cases???? ]

The committee would never have given the award to Ronald Reagan, much as he did for peace, and much as Mrs. Reagan may have wanted it for him. (The committee did award Gorbachev, however.) Years ago, National Review made the editorial quip that the Nobel Peace Prize, every year, should be given to the Defense Department: because the American military was the world’s foremost guarantor of peace.

A few days ago, there was a rumor that Harry Wu, the anti-Communist dissident from China, would win the peace prize. That was terribly unlikely. Would the committee ever honor Oscar Biscet, the Afro-Cuban political prisoner who is a symbol of hope, defiance, and decency in that country? A virtual impossibility.

President Bush gave a Medal of Freedom to Biscet (in absentia, of course); Obama gave one to Mary Robinson. That neatly illustrates the difference between those two presidents, and between types who win the Nobel prize and those who don’t.

Alfred Nobel, a great man, wanted his prize to go to “champions of peace,” men and women who genuinely contributed to peace in the world. He deplored the “absurd and futile efforts of windbags who are capable of thwarting the best of aims.”

Can Barack Obama really make a contribution to peace, the way the Reagans of the world genuinely do? Reagan got no peace prize, but he made a huge positive difference, and the world, along with “the world,” should know that Oslo doesn’t always know best.

[In fact, that Oslo is nothing more than a huge echo chamber echo of relativistic bluster and hot air!]

Sooner or later, someone was bound to do the obvious, as Spengler does now, to lay his claim to the next Nobel Prize for Physics!

Peace’d Off
by David P. Goldman

Friday, October 9, 2009, 12:58 PM

A friend notes the following gem in Gregory Mankiw’s blog:

From the Associated Press (with some light editing):

Pfuffnick’s Nobel Economics Prize triumph hailed by many

LONDON — The surprise choice of first-year grad student Quintus Pfuffnick for the Nobel Prize in Economics drew praise from much of the world Friday even as many pointed out the youthful economist has not yet published anything in scholarly journals.

The new PhD candidate was hailed for his willingness to tackle difficult problems, his commitment to improving the economic system, and his goal of bringing efficiency and equality into harmony.

Professor Paul Krugman of Princeton, who won the prize in 2008, said Pfuffnick’s award shows great things are expected from him in the coming years.

“In a way, it’s an award coming near the beginning of the first year in grad school of a relatively young economist that anticipates an even greater contribution towards making our economy a better place for all,” he said. “It is an award that speaks to the promise of Mr Pfuffnick’s message of hope.”

He said the prize is a “wonderful recognition of Pfuffnick’s essay in his grad school application.”

I don’t see why folks are upset about Obama getting the Peace Prize. That means there’s hope for the rest of us.

I hereby promise to reconcile waves, particles, electromagnetic and gravitational forces, as well as General Relativity and Quantum Theory.

There. I’ve said it. Can I have my Nobel Prize for Physics now, please?

And if you have not yet 'discovered' The Anchoress (Elizabeth Scalia) at First Things,
turn to her for an amazing instant round-up of 'conservative' reaction on this news-du-jour, but more especially, for her essay last Wednesday, Oct. 7, on the now Nobel-anointed Messiah of hope.

(More properly the Messiah of hype, to take off from someone who used the term 'audacity of hype' mocking Obama's campaign biography Audacity of Hope.

Betcha no one among the Oslo Five who unanimously conferred the prize on Obama for being the 'symbol of hope' never even heard of Spe salvi! Since they so easily mistake hype-hope (or hip-hope) for the real thing. We should really evangelize them with Pope-hope, Christian hope.

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Catholic Spain has a new herald:
Juan Manuel de Prada

From acclaimed author to staunch apologist for the Church and the pope, including in L'Osservatore Romano.
His is one of the many stories of conversion from unbelief to the Christian faith, in Europe, speaking out
against the tyranny of the 'progressives'

ROME, October 12, 2009 – A new book out in Italy is a collection of interviews with converts to the Catholic faith, some of whom are prominent: from Jean-Claude Guillebaud of France to Janne Haaland Matlary of Norway, former deputy foreign minister of her country and an author of books that have been translated into various languages, one of which has a preface written by then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The collection of interviews, published by Lindau, was written by Lorenzo Fazzini and is entitled: Nuovi cristiani d'Europa. Dieci storie di conversione tra fede e ragione [New Christians of Europe. Ten stories of conversion, between faith and reason]".

And one of these converts is a contributor to L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

He is the Spanish writer Juan Manuel de Prada, photographed here with the promotional cover of the 2003 novel that definitively sealed his success: "La vida invisible."

In his latest book, de Prada, 39, has collected the combative articles that he has written in defense of Catholicism, not only for the Spanish newspapers ABC and XL Semanal, but also for L'Osservatore Romano, where he has been a contributor since 2007.

In just five months, five editions of the book have been issued in Spain. For one month, de Prada has also been one of the main voices of COPE, the most important Spanish Catholic radio broadcaster.

Last October 2, L'Osservatore Romano translated and reprinted the preface to his book. In it, de Prada recalls how and when his "life changed direction."

It was the spring of 2005, and John Paul II had just died. De Prada found himself in Rome, and he "suddenly" wanted to adhere definitively to that "ancient freedom" which is the religious and cultural treasure of the Catholic Church: a freedom that is "the antidote to all the tyrannies of the world."

The book, in fact, is entitled: La nueva tiranía. El sentido común frente al Mátrix progre (The new tyranny: Common sense against the 'progressive' Matrix).

The "progressive Matrix" is de Prada's name for the grand deception that he sees at work in the dominant culture in Europe: "The dictatorships of the past stifled personal freedom. The modern ones induce man to worship himself, and thus deny his own nature."

And again, he writes:

"The battle that is joined today tends to restore to men their authentic nature. If it succeeds – if the Matrix is dismantled – men will discover that they do not need to build towers in order to reach heaven, for the simple reason that heaven is already within them, even if the new tyranny seeks to strip it from them."

De Prada dedicated his book to his friend Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of OR.

The following is a translation of de Prada's preface to La nueva tiranía.

The original text is included on the Spanish edition of this page of www.chiesa.

In fact, I cannot forget the first bylined article by De Prada in OR that I noticed because it was the one in which, for the first time, the Vatican, through the pages of the OR, debunks the widespread media-fed myth that Benedict XVI's red shoes are made by the designer house Prada - and the fact that the man who wrote the article was surnamed De Prada. Here is my translation posted in the PRF of that June 2008 article entitled 'Liturgical vestments according to Ratzinger'.

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Another Sort of Learning
By James V. Schall, S.J.

Oct. 9, 2009

Twenty years ago, Ignatius Press published my Another Sort of Learning. My initial “short” subtitle to this book was: “How to Get an Education Even If Still in College.” The actual subtitle turned out to be much longer. In fact, it was the wittiest subtitle I have ever written, and I am pretty good at subtitles. I shan’t repeat it here.

This book is designed to bypass the colleges without denying their existence. I have always thought that anyone can get an education if he can read, something I learned from both Samuel Johnson and my friend Anne Burleigh.

Reading has the great advantage of making an end run around academic correctness, wherein little theoretic order is to be found. Reading can take us to things that no one in the schools tells us about. The problem is, as always, “What to read?”

My book does not argue for a “great books” approach. I just read Alex Beam’s A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books. Beam does not think highly of this famous tradition.

Frederick Wilhelmsen acidly commented that the “great books” usually produce skepticism in the minds of their readers. The “great books” programs, Wilhelmsen thought, were poor substitutes for philosophy proper. But I am a fan of Thomas Aquinas College where they do great books right, as Ralph McInerny frequently points out.

When I wrote Another Sort of Learning, I myself suspected this skeptical bent of great books programs, however designated. I have no doubt that what are called the “great books” should be read. I read Plato and Aristotle every semester with increasing awe.

But the reading of great books does not do the trick, if I might call it that. What does the trick are books that tell the truth. And usually these books are very difficult for a student to come by. They are “notes from the underground,” to steal a phrase from Dostoyevsky.

Thus, Another Sort of Learning contains many book lists. Most of the works recommended are relatively short. It is not all that difficult to get at the truth, once you know where to begin. Universities are not a total waste of time, but most graduates earn degrees while reamining confused about the ultimate things. About these latter things, little is to be found in most universities. Still, graduates have their whole lives ahead of them, if they can read.

The second chapter of my book is called “Why Read?” It is a good question to answer for oneself. The third chapter, probably the most important one, is called: “What a Student Owes His Teacher.” Many students have told me over the years that they had never thought of that question before.

Briefly, the student owes the teacher his willingness to be taught, provided we recall that teaching does not mean telling a student what the professor thinks. As Aquinas says, teaching brings both professor and student to see the same truth.

The next chapter is on “Grades,” followed by one called “On Teaching the Important Things.” Later on there is a chapter called “What Is a Lecture?” and one that always surprises students because it treats of another thing they have never thought much about, “On the Seriousness of Sports.”

In the middle of the book stands “Schall’s Unlikely List of Books to Keep Sane By.” Of course, that word “sane” or “sanity” is a word that recalls Chesterton. I include a chapter about him: “On Doctrine and Dignity: From Heretics to Orthodoxy.” No students are more surprised than those who come across Chesterton for the first time.

No one ever told them before that the very purpose of the mind is to make dogmas, to state the truth. Generally, they have been told that the mind exists because there is no truth, that truth is “dangerous.” And I suppose it is in a way.

But the spirit of Another Sort of Learning is one of adventure, of discovering the incredible riches of used book stores, of Belloc’s walks, of Samuel Johnson’s conversations, of the content of the Old and New Testaments, all of which are almost a complete mystery to today’s university students.

Far be it for me to call it an iconoclastic book. But that is what it is. In every academic institution in the land, we find students who suspect that they need “another sort of learning” if they are to find what Josef Pieper called “the truth of all things.”

It is a worthy, indeed at times a lonely, pursuit. Yet it is also a delight and a joy, as I hope those who have found this book over these twenty years will attest.

James V. Schall, S.J., a professor at Georgetown University, is one of the most prolific Catholic writers in America. His most recent book is The Mind That Is Catholic.

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I had a good laugh at this wonderfully tongue-in-cheek report!

Flash! Obama fails to win
Nobel prize in economics

LONDON, Oct. 12 (MarketWatch) -- In a decision as shocking as Friday's surprise peace prize win, President Obama failed to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Monday.

While few observers think Obama has done anything for world peace in the nearly nine months he's been in office, the same clearly can't be said for economics.

The president has worked tirelessly since even before his inauguration to wrest control of the U.S. economy from failed free markets, and the evil CEOs who profit from them, and to turn it over to wise, fair and benevolent bureaucrats.

From his $787 billion stimulus package, to the cap-and-trade bill, to the seizures of General Motors and Chrysler, to the undead health-care "reform" act, Obama has dominated the U.S., and therefore the global, economy as few figures have in recent years.

Yet the Nobel panel chose instead to award the prize to two obscure academics -- Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson -- one noted for her work on managing collective resources, and the other for his work on transaction costs.

Other surprise losers include celebrity non-economist and filmmaker Michael Moore; U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; and Larry Summers, head of the U.S. national economic council.

It is unclear whether the president will now refuse his peace prize in protest against the obvious slight to his real achievements this year.

But, of course, the overall effects (and design) of Obama's economic policies are no laughing matter. This is a man who is on record as saying that the United States Constitution does not provide for 'distributive justice' [socialist code for 'redistribution of wealth'], that the civil rights movement neglected this aspect and therefore failed to work for this, and that he is out to 'fundamentally transform America' - not by amending the Constitution, of course, but by passing laws and regulations that would effectively transform a capitalist society to a socialist one.

Equally clever as the WJS item:

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Two great articles in the FIRST THINGS blogs today:

The one by Spengler (David Goldman, associate editor), he informs us, was something he wrote for his Spengler column in Asia Times, which refused to publish it! That has to be a first in media Obamania, to refuse to publish a longtime columnist's piece - especially since Spengler had started criticizing Obama back when he was still a candidate, and that his critiques are always supported by objective fact, as this one is.
(Scroll down - it comes after the Mideast interview)
It is entitled 'Obama in Nightmare Alley' and examines the US President's narcissistic personality (and also incidentally confirms the widespread rumor earlier that Obama's first campaign autobiography, Dreams of My Father, was, in fact, ghost-written by unrepentant Weather Underground bomber and Chicago crony Bill Ayers).

The one by the redoubtable Anchoress (Elizabeth Scalia)
is a look at the reasons Bush-haters cite for why they hate Bush, and shows how Obama is doing virtually the same things, but they don't 'hate him' for it.

In scrolling down to that Oct. 12 entry, you will not miss her two later entries about the spiritual pleasures of praying the Liturgy of the Hours, and what she cites from nuns telling their experience of genocide and other horrors at the current Synodal assembly.

And it would be worth your while to check out the daily English summaries of the Synodal interventions on

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Pope names NIH director
to Vatican think tank

By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 14 — Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, to the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Collins, 59, is the geneticist who led the Human Genome Project, the international research project that mapped out the body's complete genetic code in 2003. Among his other accomplishments, he was part of the team that in 1989 identified the gene causing cystic fibrosis.

An evangelical Christian, Collins is also prominent for his efforts to reconcile scientific knowledge with religious faith.

His best-selling book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006), argued for the compatibility of Darwin's theory of natural selection with the existence of a creator God.

Rejecting both creationism and intelligent design, Collins espoused "theistic evolution" as an explanation for the existence of the universe and life.

Collins' well-known religious views reportedly aroused criticism from some fellow scientists after President Obama chose him to head the NIH in July.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences was founded in 1603 and claims to have been the "first exclusively scientific academy in the world." Its 80 members, who include many Nobel laureates and other luminaries including the physicist Stephen Hawking, meet for a plenary session at the Vatican every two years.

I am glad someone came out with this. I had every good intention of putting something together about Francis Collins - there's lots of great stuff about him on the Web - when I read his appointment two days ago (along with another US scientist, by the way) but have not gotten round to it.

The following story comes out of Cardinal Kasper's news conference at the Vatican today to present his new book Harvesting the Fruits. Basic Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue. As usual, the headline writer attributes Kasper's personal statement to the 'Vatican'.

I have not checked it out, but I don't think that in modern times, the Vatican - i.e., the Holy See as a state, which, in the secular view, is idnetical to the Roman Catholic Church - has ever publicly commented on the private actions of anyone (outside of priests and prelates who are being investigated for questionable actions or outright offenses). Personal sins are a matter for the confessional not for the media.

Vatican renews appeal
for ‘sobriety’ in Berlusconi’s Italy

By Flavia Krause-Jackson and Flavia Rotondi

ROME, Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Italy needs a return to “sobriety” in its political life, a top Vatican official said, renewing his criticism of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the sex scandals surrounding him.

The official, Cardinal Walter Kasper, in May was the first Vatican official to speak up when Berlusconi became embroiled in a scandal that prompted his wife to seek a divorce. Kasper told daily La Stampa on May 6 that the premier’s behavior was “strange.”

In an interview with Bloomberg today, Kasper said, “there needs to be greater sobriety in politics.”

Berlusconi courted controversy by attending the birthday party of a teenage girl in April. In June a self-proclaimed escort said she had sex with the premier on the night of Barack Obama’s election. Berlusconi said June 23 he’s “never paid a woman” for sex.

The Vatican has avoided making direct statements about Italian politics since the scandals involving Berlusconi surfaced, preferring to express its views through its media outlets including Church newspaper Avvenire.

Dino Boffo, Avvenire’s editor-in-chief, stepped down last month after Berlusconi family-owned daily Il Giornale accused him of homosexual harassment and of being “hypocritical” in demanding explanations about the premier’s ties to women.

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Forgive me for 'indulging' myself, but for the benefit of those who do not live in the USA and may still be getting the European media's starry-eyed view of Barack Obama, here is an account of what Obama's nine months of appeasement and apology and even occasional grovelling have 'earned him so far'....

And this, without even mentioning the domestic debacle that has seen his popularity dip to 49% today compared to 78% when he took office in January. By a great majority, Americans are asking why the administration is so obsessed with a super-expensice healthcare reform that the nation clearly cannot afford now, when they are not doing anything about creating jobs - which the polls identify as the public's #1 concern.

Debacle in Moscow:
Obama’s foreign policy
is amateurish and wrapped in naïveté

By Charles Krauthammer

Oct. 16, 2009

About the only thing more comical than Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize was the reaction of those who deemed the award “premature,” as if the brilliance of Obama’s foreign policy is so self-evident and its success so assured that if only the Norway Five had waited a few years, his Nobel worthiness would have been universally acknowledged.

To believe this, you have to be a dreamy adolescent (preferably Scandinavian and a member of the Socialist International) or an indiscriminate imbiber of White House talking points.

After all, this was precisely the spin on the president’s various apology tours through Europe and the Middle East: National self-denigration — excuse me, outreach and understanding — is not meant to yield immediate results; it simply plants the seeds of good feeling from which foreign-policy successes shall come.

Chauncey Gardiner [the 'hero' of Jerzy Kozinski's brilliant 1971 satirical novel Being There about, among other, things, how emptiness triumphs so easily in today's media-manufactured world - he was a simple unlettered man whom everyone took to be a genius and became a worldwide celebrity whose advice was sought by the US President even, simply because he answered every question put to him in terms of gardening, which is the only thing he really knew] could not have said it better. Well, at nine months, let’s review.

What’s come from Obama holding his tongue while Iranian demonstrators were being shot and from his recognizing the legitimacy of a thug regime illegitimately returned to power in a fraudulent election? Iran cracks down even more mercilessly on the opposition and races ahead with its nuclear program.

What’s come from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking human rights off the table on a visit to China and from Obama’s shameful refusal to see the Dalai Lama (a postponement, we are told). China hasn’t moved an inch on North Korea, Iran, or human rights. Indeed, it’s pushing with Russia to dethrone the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

What’s come from the new-respect-for-Muslims Cairo speech and the unprecedented pressure on Israel for a total settlement freeze? “The settlement push backfired,” reports the Washington Post, and Arab-Israeli peace prospects have “arguably regressed.”

And what’s come from Obama’s single most dramatic foreign-policy stroke — the sudden abrogation of missile-defense arrangements with Poland and the Czech Republic that Russia had virulently opposed? For the Eastern Europeans it was a crushing blow, a gratuitous restoration of Russian influence over a region that thought it had regained independence under American protection.

But maybe not gratuitous. Surely we got something in return for selling out our friends. Some brilliant secret trade-off to get strong Russian support for stopping Iran from going nuclear before it’s too late?

Just wait and see, said administration officials, who then gleefully played up an oblique statement by Pres. Dmitry Medvedev a week later as vindication of the missile-defense betrayal.

The Russian statement was so equivocal that such a claim seemed a ridiculous stretch at the time. Well, Clinton went to Moscow this week to nail down the deal. What did she get?

“Russia Not Budging on Iran Sanctions: Clinton Unable to Sway Counterpart.” Such was the Washington Post headline’s succinct summary of the debacle.

Note how thoroughly Clinton was rebuffed. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov declared that “threats, sanctions, and threats of pressure” are “counterproductive.” Note: It’s not just sanctions that are worse than useless, but even the threat of mere pressure.

It gets worse. Having failed to get any movement from the Russians, Clinton herself moved — to accommodate the Russian position!

Sanctions? What sanctions? “We are not at that point yet,” she averred. “That is not a conclusion we have reached. . . . It is our preference that Iran work with the international community.”

But wait a minute. Didn’t Obama say in July that Iran had to show compliance by the G-20 summit in late September? And when that deadline passed, did he not then warn Iran that it would face “sanctions that have bite” and that it would have to take “a new course or face consequences”?

Gone with the wind. It’s the U.S. that’s now retreating from its already flimsy position of just three weeks ago. We’re not doing sanctions now, you see. We’re back to engagement. Just as the Russians suggest.

Henry Kissinger once said that the main job of Anatoly Dobrynin, the perennial Soviet ambassador to Washington, was to tell the Kremlin leadership that whenever they received a proposal from the United States that appeared disadvantageous to the United States, not to assume it was a trick.

No need for a Dobrynin today. The Russian leadership, hardly believing its luck, needs no interpreter to understand that when the Obama team clownishly rushes in bearing gifts and “reset” buttons, there is nothing ulterior, diabolical, clever, or even serious behind it.

It is amateurishness, wrapped in naïveté, inside credulity. In short, the very stuff of Nobels.

Something Mr. Krauthammer failed to cite was Obama's deliberate decision not to meet the Dalai Lama. David Hart summarizes the mostly-ignored story in this post


For those who missed it, when the Dalai Lama arrived in Washington this past Monday for, among other things, a scheduled audience with the president, it was disclosed that his visit to the White House had been cancelled.

And this decision had been taken — there was no attempt to hide this fact — in order to please the Chinese government, which has of late been making a concerted effort to see that the Dalai Lama is made a persona non grata in the halls of power in countries around the world.

The damage the president’s decision does the cause of Tibetan independence — which is scarcely even a pipe dream in any event — is entirely unquantifiable, admittedly.

But this is the first time since 1991 that an American administration has declined such a meeting, and by waiting till the arrival of the Tibetan delegation in Washington to make the announcement, the White House succeeded in making the rebuff as public as it could possibly be.

Other governments around the world, enduring similar pressure from the Chinese government to refuse the Dalai Lama access to their heads of state, have now been given considerable cover by Obama, the world’s most popular political figure and (so we are always told) “leader of the free world.”

And no doubt it has given the superintendants of Chinese prisons a pleasantly dispiriting tale to relate to the Buddhist monks and nuns in their custody.


And yet, the American media - along with the European media, to whom the Dalai Lama has been a revered icon two decades longer than Obama - have virtually ignored all this.

If George W. Bush had done what Obama did, he would have been damned to hell a million times over by all his critics. And yet, last year, Bush not only met with the Dalai Lama but went to Congress to witness them grant the Dalai Lama the Congressional Medal of Honor. Of course, no one gave him any credit for it.

Americans have started to take off their Obama-blinkers. When will the Obamanic media do so? When will honesty, fairness and objectivity come back to journalism, if at all?

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Asked what his views were on giving up his title as bishop, Bishop Broadhurst said: “Who cares. Soon I’ll be in a wooden box in front of the altar. What matters is the bigger picture. God matters, the truth matters. We as individuals don’t matter. We think we matter but we don’t.”

Bishop Broadhurst: The kind of Anglican for whom Benedict XVI's opening is primarily intended.

Anglican bishop refutes
former Canterbury prelate's
criticism of Benedict XVI

by Richard Kerbaj

Oct. 24, 2009

A senior Church of England bishop has attacked the former Archbishop of Canterbury as a “moaner” for complaining about the timing of the Pope’s offer to Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England to join Rome.

The Bishop of Fulham, the Right Rev John Broadhurst, told The Times that the Church of England, including the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had been aware for years of the Vatican’s plans to admit disaffected Anglicans.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury knew that this was happening, but didn’t know when,” Bishop Broadhurst said.

Asked about complaints by Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, about the Pope not consulting widely enough and seeking Dr Williams’s advice before announcing the plan, he said: “Well, he’s just moaning. Rowan is big enough and old enough to speak for himself.”

Bishop Broadhurst, chairman of the Forward in Faith traditionalist group and a campaigner against women priests, said Rome’s offer must be viewed as a positive step in the name of religious unity.

“I think that a major chance for realignment is sitting around, and I think that’s what God wants,” he said.

Yesterday Bishop Broadhurst appeared poised to lead a mass exodus of clergy to the Catholic Church.

He told The Times that the Pope’s willingness to reach out to the traditionalists was a lifeline to an institution that had been “struggling for its existence for the last ten years”.

His views are in line with those of several other traditionalist clergymen — the former Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, and the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Rev John Hind — who welcomed Rome’s offer.

Last week the Holy See announced its intention to set up personal ordinariates, or extra-geographical Catholic dioceses, to bring into the fold former Anglicans who accept the Petrine ministry of Rome and oppose women bishops.

Bishop Broadhurst met his group’s Australian and American leaders yesterday to discuss Rome’s offer. “We have to decide what we do,” he told The Times yesterday after Mass at St Augustine’s Church in Kilburn, northwest London.

“I want my organisation to collectively come to a decision. And I will make my decision in consultation with them. I will be encouraging them to very seriously consider the implications of what the Holy Father has offered.”

Anglican bishops who cross over would probably have to relinquish their title.

Asked what his views were on giving up his title as bishop, Bishop Broadhurst said: “Who cares. Soon I’ll be in a wooden box in front of the altar. What matters is the bigger picture. God matters, the truth matters. We as individuals don’t matter. We think we matter but we don’t.”

Everyone seems to be beating up on Archbishop Williams For a failure of leadership in the Anglican Communion. He did choose to straddle the fence, after all, instead of deciding unequivocally one way or the other whether the Church of England would officially adopt the liberal trend to ordain women and homosexuals as priests and bishops.

Pope’s coup may rid
Archbishop of Canterbury
of turbulent priests

by Ruth Gledhill

Oct. 26, 2009

Rowan Williams must be starting to wonder if he has any friends left. He is like the academic boy at school who no one wants to play with because he doesn’t understand the rules of fisticuffs.

In Rome, he has been regarded with great respect. His theology and learning mean he is considered a Catholic, albeit a liberal one. He has now learnt that respect counts for nothing when souls are at stake.

The cardinals in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could not stand by when Anglican bishops came pleading for clemency after the General Synod vote in July to proceed with the consecration of women bishops without legal provisions for the opponents.

Now, as if reversing at a stroke the iconoclasm of the Reformation, the Pope has with one decree smashed 40 years of ponderous ecumenism that was going nowhere.

Dr Williams’s predecessor, Lord Carey of Clifton, is urging him to protest at the “appalling” injustice done him by Rome’s failure to consult before the tanks were parked on his lawn. [Gledhill is obviously enamored of the unfair and misleading metaphor she used for her commentary soon after the Vatican decision was made known.] But perhaps Dr Williams should instead offer up a prayer of thanks for his salvation.

The Church of England, and the Anglican Communion, has been in danger of crumbling away along the faultline between Reformed and Catholic. Liberal bishops are exasperated by Dr Williams’s failure to advocate the causes of women bishops and gay priests with enthusiasm. Evangelical leaders are frustrated, the latest disappointment being the cancellation of a long-scheduled meeting with Dr Williams at Lambeth Palace.

Anglo-Catholics, long sidelined, suddenly find themselves sought after by Rome [They sought out Rome!] and courted once more by an Anglican Communion desperate not to lose them.

Dismayed by the lack of leadership, some critics of Dr Williams had been calling for his resignation. With one gesture, breathtaking in its brilliance, the Pope might just have rid him of this turbulence.

[I don't know whether to be glad Gledhill has found a way to say something positive of Benedict XVI, for a change, or remain cynical because she is only using it as a way to twist the dagger in Williams's back.]

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 27/10/2009 16.38]
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German court fines Bishop Williamson
12,000 euros for denying Holocauct


A German court has fined British bishop Richard Williamson €12,000 ($17,800) for denying the Holocaust in an interview he gave to Swedish television last year that caused outrage around the world.

The Regensburg district court said Williamson, a member of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), an ultra-traditionalist Catholic splinter group, was being fined for incitement and that he had two weeks to appeal against the ruling.

Williamson's German lawyer, Matthias Lossmann, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper that Williamson had been ordered to pay €12,000. The report said Williamson looks set to fight the ruling. "There are certain things that must be contested," it quoted Lossmann as saying.

The court has jurisdiction because Willamson gave the interview in Germany, where denying the Holocaust is a crime. Speaking on the sidelines of a consecration ceremony in the town of Zaitzkofen, the bishop had claimed that historical evidence indicated there were no gas chambers during the Nazi period, and that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews had been murdered, not the figure of 6 million generally accepted by historians.

Meanwhile, the Vatican began talks on Monday with the SSPX with the aim of re-integrating it fully into the Church. Vatican officials and SSPX leaders discussed "doctrinal differences still outstanding" between the group and Rome, a Vatican statement said.

The traditionalists reject many of the reforms of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, which modernized the Catholic Church. The SSPX has several hundred thousand members and insists that it represents the true faith.

Last January German Pope Benedict XI tried to start bringing SSPX back into the fold by lifting the excommunications of four of its bishops, including Williamson. That decision coincided with reports about Williamson's comments on the Holocaust and prompted international criticism of the Pope.
29/10/2009 01.45
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From 'The Australian' to God's ears, I pray!
I couldn't think of a more appropriate Benedict XVI loyalist
to head the Congregation of Bishops!

All roads lead to Vatican
for Cardinal Pell

by James Madden

October 28, 2009

CATHOLIC circles in Rome and Australia are abuzz with speculation that Pope Benedict XVI will shortly appoint Australia's Cardinal George Pell to a prestigious job in the top echelons of the Roman Curia.

Cardinal Pell's experience as Archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne, and his service on a range of Vatican organisations, is seen as an ideal background to take on a senior Vatican job.

Cardinal Pell, who was ordained in 1966, served as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge.

He is also a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and president of the Vox Clara Committee, which advises the Vatican on English translations of liturgical texts used at Mass.

One possible senior job becoming vacant in Rome is the powerful position of Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, which helps advise the Pope on the appointment of new bishops across the world.

Its Prefect, Cardinal Battista Re, who has held the job since 2000, reached the retirement age of 75 this year.

Priests in Australia believe the frontrunners for the role of Archbishop of Sydney in the event of his promotion to Rome, would be Canberra's Archbishop Mark Coleridge, 61, or Cardinal Pell's auxiliary bishop, Anthony Fisher, a Dominican priest who at 49 is the youngest bishop in the country.

Both are highly qualified scholars. Bishop Fisher, who was in charge of overseeing World Youth Day, has a doctorate in bioethics from Oxford and Archbishop Coleridge holds a doctorate in scripture from Rome.

Cardinal Pell, 68, has a doctorate in history from Oxford.

Inside the Roman Curia, Prefects of Congregations - the Pope's "kitchen cabinet" of about nine - are drawn from different parts of the world church. Some of Pope Benedict's present group are from Italy, India, Brazil, Poland, Argentina, Slovenia and the US. The last Australian to hold a senior Vatican office was Cardinal Edward Cassidy, who is now retired in NSW.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 29/10/2009 01.50]
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From the blog of the Archbishop of New York, this dismaying news! I posted this first in the ISSUES thread where it belongs primarily, but I am also posting it here to help insure it is read.


October 29, 2009

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-Catholicism.

It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.”

“The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:

•On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone.

Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency.

Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.”

Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”

Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse.

To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here).

In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students.

Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

•On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child.

Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible.

However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.

•Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans.

Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.”

Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.

•Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times.

In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.

True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm -- the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives -- is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-Catholicism is confined to the pages of the New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues.

I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-Catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory.

Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday.

Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.)

Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.

It is beyond outrage that the New York Times should refuse to publish any submission by the Archbishop of New York, no less.But at this point, does one really expect any basic fairness and decency in the mainstream media any more?

In defiance of all fundamental standards of journalism, the Times and its ilk have stopped publishing objective news stories in favor of anyhing-goes tendentious, editorializing and typically one-sided vanity pieces by their journalists.

They should at least accommodate legitimate replies to the obvious errors of commission and omission in these reports that need to be refuted, or at least, balanced with the target side's perspective.

If the Times will not even do that for the Archbishop of New York, how much less will it accommodate any Tom, Dick and Harriet who would need to present his/her side of any story that ignores or distorts it?

Perhaps Archbishop Dolan, and all persons of good will who still uphold elementary decency and fairness, can take some comfort from the fact that the so-called mainstream media (at least the major newspapers and TV network news) are fast losing their credibility with the American public and are well on their way to becoming the fringe media, rather than MSM.

Meanwhile, there's Fox News and the Catholic blogosphere. More than ever, let us invoke the Holy Spirit on those who have so lost every trace of ethical consciousness in their blind commitment to the intolerant ideology of secularism at all costs.

C]More examples:

Catholic League president cites
more anti-Catholic media bias

by Bill Donohue

Oct. 29, 2009

Last Friday on the Washington Post blog, “On Faith,” English atheist Richard Dawkins said the Catholic Church was “surely up there among the leaders” as “the greatest force for evil in the world.”

He labeled the Eucharist a “cannibal feast,” adding that “possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite.” He also blamed the Church for sending missionaries “out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans” regarding condoms.

The Church’s outreach to Anglicans, he said, makes it “a common pimp,” noting that those who convert “will be joining an institution where buggering altar boys pervades the culture.”

On Saturday, a Los Angeles Times editorial said that “Church leaders, including Popes, have changed their thinking over the years about everything from usury to the culpability of Jews for the Crucifixion….”

It concluded, “You don’t have to be Catholic (or Anglican) to realize that society as a whole would be better off if the Church’s views of women and gays underwent a similar evolution.”

On Sunday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recalled that when she was in grade school, “Nuns were second-class citizens then and – 40 years after feminism utterly changed America — they still are.”

She called Pope Benedict XVI the “uber-conservative Pope,” a.k.a. “God’s Rottweiler,” who was once “a conscripted member of the Hitler Youth.” She also accused the Church of enabling “rampant pedophilia.”

On Monday, James Carroll in the Boston Globe called the outreach to Anglicans “a cruel assault,” “an insult to loyal Catholic liberals” and “a slap at women and homosexuals.” He characterized the outreach as a “preemptive exploitation of Anglican distress.”

These deranged comments — all voiced in America’s premier newspapers —demonstrate that anti-Catholicism is the most virulent expression of bigotry in the U.S.

It also shows why these newspapers, quite unlike the Catholic Church, are dying. As for the writers, they need to go to church. Either that or check into an asylum.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 30/10/2009 20.22]
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Since I really don't have the time to keep abreast of what others besides the Pope and the Vatican are saying and doing, this item about Archbishop Williams comes secondhand through Damian Thompson's commentary.

Archbishop Rowan Williams admits
future of Anglicanism is 'chaotic'

Nov. 12, 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted that the future of Anglicanism is “chaotic and uncertain”. One can’t help asking: And whose fault would that be, Your Grace?

Of course, many of the problems of the Anglican Communion are insoluble, by Dr Rowan Williams or anyone else. But his attempts to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds – firmly backing women bishops while pleading with opponents to stay; privately expressing support for gay unions while disciplining churches that bless them – don’t help at all.

Dr Williams was preaching at All Saints, Margaret Street; the sermon, which you can find here,
is gentle and reflective. It was also intended, I think, as an appeal to members of an Anglo-Catholic parish to stay in the Church of England. Hence the following:

We need to tell the stories of the Saints to remind ourselves what is possible and within any Christian family. We need to tell the stories of those who have made God credible to us.

And within our Anglican family we need to go on telling a few stories about those who have shown us that it is possible to lead lives of Catholic holiness even in the Communion of the See of Canterbury!

“Even” in communion with Canterbury, eh? That’s presumably a deliberately wry aside, but it won’t do much to quell the nagging doubt in the C of E that the Archbishop himself has quietly given up on Anglicanism, to the extent that he has more faith in Roman Catholicism as a historic institution, even if he can’t sign up to some of its conservative tenets.

And then this:

God knows what the future holds for any of us for any of our ecclesiastical institutions, but we can at least begin with what we can be sure of; that God has graced us with the lives of Saints; that God has been credible in this fellowship with these people.

This church with its very particular place in the history of the Church of England is one small but significant facet of that great mystery and that great gift. And at times when the future seems more than usually chaotic and uncertain, it doesn’t hurt simply to give thanks.

There’s no doubt that Dr Williams is referring to the chaotic and uncertain future of the Anglican Communion. But it doesn’t hurt to give thanks, he adds. Is that supposed to be reassuring?

As it happens, I don’t think St Margaret’s is the sort of Anglo-Catholic parish where many worshippers will leave, but there are other churches where the decision is on a knife-edge. This talk of a “chaotic and uncertain future” will act as a further incentive to convert to a Church whose leader would never, under any circumstances, send out such a hesitant and downbeat message.

By the way, you should also read this sermon
that +Rowan delivered at St Mary’s, Bourne Street, a ritualist Anglo-Catholic parish where many worshippers will be tempted by the Pope’s offer. It contains this passage:

I dare say that there have been moments in the history of St Mary’s Bourne Street when people have remarked on the individuality of the people who worship here, and that’s a wonderful thing. If people in this congregation have been allowed to become more richly and quirkily themselves by experiencing the extraordinary, ordinariness of grace then that is something to be glad of.

To my mind, describing people as “richly and quirkily themselves” is pretty close to calling them loveable nutters. You could blame +Rowan’s tin ear, or his never-to-be-underestimated gift for patronising the faithful.

Either way, if I was a regular at St Mary’s I’d be checking the fine print in the Apostolic Constitution.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 13/11/2009 15.17]
13/11/2009 16.14
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Thanks to The Anchoress at First Things for directing me to this most unusual - indeed, exceptional - blog entry by a group of Hillary Cinton fans who have had the manly spunk to admit a mistake in judging someone they disliked primarily for ideological reasons - and I pray that things may develop in such a way that people like me who see through Barack Obama's phoniness, barefaced lies and opportunistic expediency, will one day, and soon, be able to make a similar turnabout because the big BO will have decided to do what is good for the nation and the world first, tather than what he thinks is good for him and his political fortunes!

At the time I copied the post, there were already 764 comments mostly as passionate as the entry itself...

Thank you,
former President George W. Bush

We know absolutely no one in Bush family circles and have never met former President George W. Bush or his wife Laura.

If you have been reading us for any length of time, you know that we used to make fun of “Dubya” nearly every day…parroting the same comedic bits we heard in our Democrat circles, where Bush is still, to this day, lampooned as a chimp, a bumbling idiot, and a poor, clumsy public speaker.

Oh, how we RAILED against Bush in 2000…and how we RAILED against the surge in support Bush received post-9/11 when he went to Ground Zero and stood there with his bullhorn in the ruins on that hideous day.

We were convinced that ANYONE who was president would have done what Bush did, and would have set that right tone of leadership in the wake of that disaster. President Gore, President Perot, President Nader, you name it. ANYONE, we assumed, would have filled that role perfectly.

Well, we told you before how much the current president, Dr. Utopia, made us realize just how wrong we were about Bush.

We shudder to think what Dr. Utopia would have done post-9/11. He would have not gone there with a bullhorn and struck that right tone. More likely than not, he would have been his usual fey, apologetic self and waxed professorially about how evil America is and how justified Muslims are for attacking us, with a sidebar on how good the attacks were because they would humble us.

Honestly, we don’t think President Gore would have been much better that day. The world needed George W. Bush, his bullhorn, and his indominable spirit that day…and we will forever be grateful to this man for that.

As we will always be grateful for what George and Laura Bush did this week, with no media attention, when they very quietly went to Ft. Hood and met personally with the families of the victims of this terrorist attack.


The Bushes went and met privately with these families for HOURS, hugging them, holding them, comforting them.

If there are any of you out there with any connection at all to the Bushes, we implore you to give them our thanks… you tell them that a bunch of gay Hillary guys in Boystown, Chicago were wrong about the Bushes… and are deeply, deeply sorry for any jokes we told about them in the past, any bad thoughts we had about these good, good people.

You may be as surprised by this as we are ourselves, but from this day forward George W. and Laura Bush are now on the same list for us as the Clintons, Geraldine Ferraro, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and the other political figures we keep in our hearts and never allow anyone to badmouth.

Criticize their policies academically and intelligently and discuss the Bush presidency in historical and political terms… but you mess with the Bushes personally and, from this day forward, you’ll answer to us.

We hope someday to be able to thank George W. and Laura in person for all they’ve done, and continue to do. They didn’t have to head to Ft. Hood. That was not their responsibility.

The Obamas should have done that. [In fairness, they eventually did, at the official funeral ceremony.]

Thank goodness George W. is still on his watch, with wonderful Laura at his side.

We are blessed as a nation to have these two out there…just as we are blessed to have the Clintons on the job, traveling the world doing the good they do.

And we are blessed to have Dick Cheney, wherever he is, keeping tabs on all that’s going on and speaking out when the current administration does anything too reckless and dangerous.

Cheney’s someone else we villainized and maligned in the past who we were also wrong about. There has never been a Vice President, including Gore, Biden, or Mondale, who was more supportive of gay rights than “Darth Cheney”. There has never been a Vice President more spot-on right about the dangers facing this country from Islamic terrorism.

We live in strange, strange times indeed.

We are now officially committed fans of George W. and Laura Bush. We are fans of Dick Cheney. Our gratitude for them makes us newly protective of them, and the continued role they play in this country.

After the primary battle of 2008, we never thought we’d go back to Texas for anything, but sometime in 2010 we want to find some event in Dallas the Bushes will be at so at least one of us can go up to them, tell them we are deeply sorry for ever thinking ill of them, and thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their service to America.

We’re sure they will just stare at us and wonder why these gay Chicagoans are crying, but we don’t think we can get through a meeting with them without being emotional.

What they did at Ft. Hood for those families humbles us. Every day, the Bushes are most likely doing something just like it behind the scenes.

We hope if any of you encounter them you will let them know this is deeply appreciated beyond partisan lines.

We will never look at the Bushes, the Bush presidencies, or their legacies the same again… and someday when his presidential library is built, we will be so proud to visit there and tell anyone will listen about November 10th, 2009, the day we finally appreciated former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura.

Thank you for your service, Mr. President. We’re sorry we didn’t appreciate you while you were in office, but we thank Heaven we’ve wised up and can see the good you are out there doing, under the radar, today.


NOTE: Because some of you wanted to re-read it again and have emailed us to ask for it, here’s what we said to President Bush on January 20th, at the beginning of The Golden Age of Hope and Change and Unicorns.

It’s actually really interesting to read the comments from way back then, to see either how mad at us people were that we dared to say anything nice about Bush or how pleased others out there were that Hillary Dems weren’t being evil to the man as he left office.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 13/11/2009 16.16]
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This is truly a rare story! I didn't come across it till just now.

From Hinduism to Catholicism:
After a series of dreams about Mary,
a Hindu couple join the Church

by Katie Bahr

Arlington, Virginia

The Krishnans on the day they received the sacraments of baptism, communion, confirmation and matrimony; at right, with the image of Mary and the candles Uma saw in her dreams.

It was three years ago when Uma Krishnan says she first dreamed of the Virgin Mary. It was January 2006 and she was living in Singapore with her husband, Kumar, and her son, Karthi. In her dream she saw a “very humble lady” surrounded by candles.

She and Kumar were devout Hindus and they knew the lady in Uma’s dreams was not a Hindu god. They knew little of Christianity, but they thought this lady might be the Blessed Mother. Still, because they came from a long tradition of Hinduism in India, they didn’t give the dream much thought.

Later that year Kumar got a job that took him to San Diego. A few months later, he found a new job in McLean. Uma and Karthi joined him that December.

This past April, Uma began to have more dreams of Mary.

One night she dreamed she was walking into a church she’d never seen before. Once inside, she turned right and found a little room where there were red candles and a statue of Mary.

The second night, she was in the same room, but this time she saw a big cross made of palm leaves.

Another night, she dreamed she was in a boat. On her right was a black woman with dark hair and on her left, a lady wearing a blue scarf and holding a Bible. The woman in blue showed Uma some verses to read to make her worries disappear. In her dream, Uma read the Bible verses and both women disappeared.

Uma and Kumar talked about the dreams and, by the fourth night, they decided to visit a church to see what was happening.

Kumar typed “St. Mary Church Fairfax” into Google and entered the address from the first result into his GPS device. The address was for St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax.

When they got to the church, Uma was shocked. On the outside, it looked just like the church she had dreamed about the first night. When they went inside and turned right, there was a small chapel with red votive candles, a statue of Mary and a cross. It was just like her dreams. Uma started to cry.

“The moment was so touching,” Kumar said. “We were not even Christians and we were not even worshipping when we got such a thing. We were Hindus and we didn’t exactly know how to pray, but we just sat there and said, ‘Thank you. Thank you for all these visions and thank you for bringing us here. We don’t know what to do, you tell us, you guide us, show us what has to be done.’”

After the first visit to the church, a few days passed and Uma and Kumar didn’t return. Instead, they went to their Hindu temple.

Uma had another dream. She saw the statue of Mary on the outside wall of the church. Mary’s arms were out and there was a bright light coming from behind. In Uma’s mind, the statue seemed to be saying, “Come back to me.”

When Uma told Kumar, they decided to go to St. Mary of Sorrows that day. It was a Wednesday, and this time, they went into the main meeting room, where the Charismatic Prayer Group gathered. They shared their story and prayed with them.

After that, Uma and Kumar began to attend Mass and the Charismatic Prayer Group every week.

Uma’s dreams continued, but the couple also started experiencing strange “spiritual disturbances.” Uma would have nightmares, and during the day, alone at home, she would hear strange laughing, heavy breathing or footsteps. Sometimes she would feel a pressure on her neck and would have trouble breathing.

The disturbances were so bad that Uma was afraid to be alone. Kumar would drop her off at St. Mary of Sorrows when he went to work in the morning and she would stay at the church all day.

Frightened, Uma and Kumar talked to Father Stefan Starzynski, St. Mary of Sorrows parochial vicar.

Starzynski told them the disturbances might be coming because they were moving away from Hinduism. He told them not to worry and that they’d be okay if they just went toward the one, true God.

“Even as Hindus they were coming to the prayer groups and the healing Masses and praying the rosary every day, so I think something was trying to stop them from entering the Faith fully,” Father Starzynski said.

Kumar and Uma decided to get rid of all of their Hindu belongings and devote themselves entirely to Catholicism.

Because of their circumstances, the parish had a team of four parishioners teach the couple a condensed version of the traditional yearlong Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program. Uma and Kumar went to the program every Saturday to learn about the sacraments and to discuss the Bible.

“It sounded like Mary was calling them to us and I felt like we had a responsibility to them,” said Father Starzynski. “They told me they wanted to become Catholic and they were so excited and eager that I thought this was an opportunity to be flexible.”

By the end of August, the group decided the family was ready to become Catholic. Sept. 12, Uma, Kumar and Karthi were baptized and the couple received the sacraments of confirmation, Communion and marriage.

In the days leading up to the ceremonies, Uma and Kumar feel they received lots of help from Mary.

Though they had a very limited budget and hardly any time to plan, Uma and Kumar wanted to have a nice wedding ceremony. They only had $400 to spend on a wedding dress for Uma, but their son found a perfect dress for $399.

Then, after deciding wedding photographers would be too expensive, a photographer from the parish offered his services for free.

Before the baptism and wedding day, Uma had another dream. This time Mary was standing outside the historic St. Mary of Sorrows Church, with a big smile on her face. She was holding two wedding rings and three rosaries — red, orange and yellow.

The couple decided to use those colors in Uma’s bouquet and on the wedding cake, all donated by fellow churchgoers.

On the actual day, the whole parish was invited to see Uma and Kumar receive the sacraments. A reception was held in the hall of the historic church, decorated with red, orange and yellow flowers.

“Even though we hadn’t planned things, God had planned for us,” Kumar said. “He planned everything so perfectly and he took care of everything, right down to the photographs. It was like he has predicted this marriage for us. We are so glad and so thankful and so lucky to be here.”

Father Starzynski said Uma and Kumar’s conversion story shows that God works in mysterious ways. He felt honored that he could be there to help the family.

“I think it speaks to how beautifully God can work and does work,” he said. “It makes you think, are we flexible enough to understand the ways God may work that are outside the box that we have constructed?”

Since they received the sacraments, Kumar and Uma say the disturbances and nightmares have stopped. Uma feels stronger and is able to stay home by herself with no fear.

“We feel like the Holy Spirit in her has just given her this total protection,” Kumar said.

The couple says they are constantly impressed with the parish community.

“I feel like I’ve been wandering all over the place and that I’ve come home,” Kumar said. “I never heard of such good people, such good Catholic people.”

And through it all, Uma’s dreams of Mary continue.

“Whether it’s good or bad, we want to share them with everybody so everybody knows about it,” Kumar said. “Some may take it badly, but we want to share it. We are very fortunate. I feel lucky, I feel honored and I feel blessed.”

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/11/2009 22.45]
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The Spectator has a fairly comprehensive article this week about the Empty Suit in the Oval Office on
but I am only using the British magazine's cover to illustrate the latest and best Obama-as-he-is article I have found lately - as it reflects many of the developments - or more properly, non-developments - in the life and times of the Messiah of Hype. Whom I have to keep track of, more or less, in NOTABLES, as he happens to be, empty suit or not, 'the most powerful man in the world'.

But I have to wait for the periodic wrap-up putdown like Mark Steyn's because otherwise, in the November 2009 version of the no-longer-monolithic 'lamestream media', there is enough daily fodder now to feed an 800-pound gorilla one could field a complete new forum everyday with the material.

The Superbower talks big
and carries a small twig

Whenever Obama’s not talking about himself,
it’s like he’s wandered off-message.

By Mark Steyn

Nov. 21, 2009

My radio pal Hugh Hewitt said to me on the air the other day that Barack Obama “doesn’t know how to be president.” It was a low but effective crack and I didn’t pay it much heed.

But, after musing on it over the last week or so, it seems to me frighteningly literally true. I don’t just mean social lapses like his latest cringe-making bow, this time to Their Imperial Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan — though that in itself is deeply weird: After the world superbower’s previous nose-to-toe prostration before the Saudi King, one assumed there’d be someone in the White House to point out tactfully that the citizen-executives of the American republic don’t bow to foreign monarchs.

Along with his choreographic gaucherie goes his peculiar belief that all of human history is just a bit of colorful backstory in the Barack Obama biopic — or as he put it in his video address on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall:

“Few would have foreseen on that day that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent.”

Tear down that wall . . . so they can get a better look at me!!!

Is there no one in the White House grown-up enough to say, “Er, Mr. President, that’s really the kind of line you get someone else to say about you”? And maybe somebody could have pointed out that Nov. 9, 1989, isn’t about him but about millions of nobodies whose names are unknown, who lead dreary lives doing unglamorous jobs and going home to drab accommodations, but who at a critical moment in history decided they were no longer going to live in a prison state.

They’re no big deal; they’re never going to land a photoshoot for Vanity Fair. But it’s their day, not yours. It’s not the narcissism, so much as the crassly parochial nature of it.

Is it the only template in the White House speechwriters’ computer?

“Few would have foreseen at the Elamite sack of Ur/Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow/the assassination of the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand/the passage of the Dubrovnik Airport Parking Lot Expansion Bill that one day I would be standing before you talking about how few would have foreseen that one day I would be standing before you.”

Some years ago, when Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian and ensuing episodes of her sitcom grew somewhat overly preoccupied with the subject, Elton John remarked: “Okay, we know you’re gay. Now try being funny.”

I wonder if Sir Elton might be prevailed upon to try a similar pitch at the next all-star White House gala: Okay, we know you’re black. Now try being president.

But a few days later Obama dropped in on U.S. troops at Osan Air Base in South Korea for the latest episode of The Barack Obama Show (With Full Supporting Chorus). “You guys make a pretty good photo op,” he told them.

Hmm. Do I detect a belated rationale for the Afghan campaign?

Probably not. The above are mostly offences against good taste, but they are, cumulatively, revealing. And they help explain why, whenever the President’s not talking about himself, he sounds like he’s wandered vaguely off-message.

The other day, for example, he told Fox News that “if we keep on adding to the debt . . . people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession.”

That’s a great line — but not from a guy who plans to “keep on adding to the debt” as a conscious strategy.

This is the president who made “trillion” the new default unit of federal budgeting, and whose irresponsibility is prompting key players around the world to consider seriously whether it’s time to ditch the dollar’s role as global reserve currency.

But Obama’s much vaunted “bipartisanship,” to which so many “moderate” conservatives were partial a year ago, seems to have dwindled down to an impressive ability to take one side of an issue in his rhetoric and another in his actions.

Which brings us to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11. He’d been brought before a military commission, and last December indicated he was ready to plead guilty, and itching for the express lane to the 72 virgins.

But that wasn’t good enough for Obama, who in essence declined to accept KSM’s confession and decided to put him on trial in a New York courthouse.

Why? To show “the world” — i.e., European op-ed pages and faculty lounges — that America would fight terror in a way “consistent with our values,” and apparently that means turning KSM into O. J. and loosing his dream team on the civilian justice system.

But, having buttered up Le Monde and the BBC and many of his own lefties by announcing that Mohammed would get a fair trial, Obama then assured NBC that he’d be convicted and was gonna fry.

So it’s like a fair trial consistent with “our values” except for the one about presumption of innocence? If the head of state declaring you guilty and demanding the death penalty doesn’t taint the jury pool, it’s hard to see what would.

The KSM circus is not, technically, a “show trial”: He could well be acquitted. But, even if he is, he’s unlikely to be strolling out a free man like Frank Sinatra beating the rap in Robin and the Seven Hoods and standing on the courthouse steps to sing “My Kind of Town (Manhattan Is)” — although I wouldn’t entirely rule it out.

In a world in which the self-confessed perpetrator of the bloodiest act of war on the American mainland in two centuries is entitled to a civilian trial, all things are possible. The other day, the attorney general, Eric Holder, promised us that it would be “the trial of the century” — and he said it like it’s a good thing. Why would you do that?

So how’s it playing with its intended audience? Alas, the world moves on. Not being George W. Bush may be enough to impress the 2009 Nobush Peace Prize committee in Oslo, but it’s old news everywhere else. America’s enemies have figured out that the Superbower is their best opportunity since the Seventies; and for America’s friends, the short version of the hopeychangey era to date is last week’s cover story at the London Spectator showing an empty suit in the Oval Office over the headline “The Worst Kind of Ally.”

Hang on, wasn’t that title retired with Bush? Well, no. Apparently, he routinely called up prime ministers hither and yon and kept them in the picture and up to speed.

Obama doesn’t have time for any of that: When he stiffed Poland on missile defense, he got Hillary to phone it in. The Poles, bless ’em, declined to take her call. In Delhi, meanwhile, they’re horrified by Obama’s performance in China.

America’s enemies smell weakness, and our allies feel only the vacuum of U.S. leadership. About himself, the president speaks loudly. For America, he carries a small twig.

Mark Steyn is a conservative writer, so his article may not be all that surprising, but UK's The Spectator is not, and the German Der Spiegelmost certainly isn't either.

Nonetheless, signs of Obamania crumbling even among his once most enthusiastic rah-rah boys overseas are piling up even as his personal popularity and job approval numbers have gone below 50% in the United States itself.

Thank God the saying "You can fool some of the people all the time, or all the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time" appears to still attest to common sense in this world!

Obama's nice guy act gets him
nowhere on the world stage

By Gabor Steingart


When he entered office, US President Barack Obama promised to inject US foreign policy with a new tone of respect and diplomacy. His recent trip to Asia, however, showed that it's not working. A shift to Bush-style bluntness may be coming.

There were only a few hours left before Air Force One was scheduled to depart for the flight home. US President Barack Obama trip through Asia had already seen him travel 24,000 kilometers, sit through a dozen state banquets, climb the Great Wall of China and shake hands with Korean children. It was high time to take stock of the trip.

Barack Obama looked tired on Thursday, as he stood in the Blue House in Seoul, the official residence of the South Korean president. He also seemed irritable and even slightly forlorn.

The CNN cameras had already been set up. But then Obama decided not to play along, and not to answer the question he had already been asked several times on his trip: what did he plan to take home with him? Instead, he simply said "thank you, guys," and disappeared.

David Axelrod, senior advisor to the president, fielded the journalists' questions in the hallway of the Blue House instead, telling them that the public's expectations had been "too high."

The mood in Obama's foreign policy team is tense following an extended Asia trip that produced no palpable results. The "first Pacific president," as Obama called himself, came as a friend and returned as a stranger. The Asians smiled but made no concessions.

Upon taking office, Obama said that he wanted to listen to the world, promising respect instead of arrogance. But Obama's currency isn't as strong as he had believed. Everyone wants respect, but hardly anyone is willing to pay for it. Interests, not emotions, dominate the world of realpolitik.

[Not that the Bush administration failed to respect other nations. It listened, but made its decision on what it believed to be, first and foremost, in the interests of the United States, which is the constitutional duty of elected US officials, after all. And mutatis mutandis, of every elected national leader anywhere.]

The Asia trip revealed the limits of Washington's new foreign policy: Although Obama did not lose face in China and Japan, he did appear to have lost some of his initial stature.

In Tokyo, the new center-left government even pulled out of its participation in a mission which saw the Japanese navy refueling US warships in the Indian Ocean as part of the Afghanistan campaign.

In Beijing, Obama failed to achieve any important concessions whatsoever. There will be no binding commitments from China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A revaluation of the Chinese currency, which is kept artificially weak, has been postponed.

Sanctions against Iran? Not a chance. Nuclear disarmament? Not an issue for the Chinese.

The White House did not even stand up for itself when it came to the question of human rights in China. The president, who had said only a few days earlier that freedom of expression is a universal right, was coerced into attending a joint press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao, at which questions were forbidden.

Former US President George W. Bush had always managed to avoid such press conferences.

A look back in time reveals the differences. When former President Bill Clinton went to China in June 1998, Beijing wanted to impress the Americans. A press conference in the Great Hall of the People, broadcast on television as a 70-minute live discussion, became a sensation the world over.

Clinton mentioned the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, when the government used tanks against protestors. But then President Jiang Zemin defended the tough approach taken by the Chinese Communists. At the end of the exchange, the Chinese president praised the debate and said: "I believe this is democracy!"

Obama visited a new China, an economic power that is now making its own demands. America should clean up its government finances, and the weak dollar is unacceptable, the head of the Chinese banking authority said, just as Obama's plane was about to land.

Obama's new foreign policy has also been relatively unsuccessful elsewhere, with even friends like Israel leaving him high and dry.

For the government of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, peace is only conceivable under its terms. Netanyahu has rejected Obama's call for a complete moratorium on the construction of settlements. As a result, Obama has nothing to offer the Palestinians and the Syrians.

"We thought we had some leverage," says Martin Indyk, a former ambassador to Israel under the Clinton administration and now an advisor to Obama. "But that proved to be an illusion."

Even the president seems to have lost his faith in a genial foreign policy. The approach that was being used in Afghanistan this spring, with its strong emphasis on civilian reconstruction, is already being changed.

"We're searching for an exit strategy," [And Obama kept saying during the campaign that unlike Iraq, Afghanistan was 'the necessary war'!] said a staff member with the National Security Council on the sidelines of the Asia trip.

An end to diplomacy is also taking shape in Washington's policy toward Tehran. It is now up to Iran, Obama said, to convince the world that its nuclear power is peaceful. While in Asia, Obama mentioned "consequences" unless it followed his advice.

This puts the president, in his tenth month in office, where Bush began -- with threats. "Time is running out," Obama said in Korea. It was the same phrase Bush used against former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, shortly before he sent in the bombers.

There are many indications that the man in charge at the White House will take a tougher stance in the future. Obama's advisors fear a comparison with former Democratic President Jimmy Carter, even more than with Bush.

Prominent Republicans have already tried to liken Obama to the humanitarian from Georgia, who lost in his bid to win a second term, because voters felt that he was too soft.

"Carter tried weakness and the world got tougher and tougher because the predators, the aggressors, the anti-Americans, the dictators, when they sense weakness, they all start pushing ahead," Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker in the House of Representatives, recently said. And then he added: "This does look a lot like Jimmy Carter."

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

What I am still waiting for the MSM to acknowledge is two things that are very obvious to anyone who has been following Obama's statements in the past ten months.

One is his facility for habitual lying in many ways - from half-truths to distortions to historical revisionism to outright false statements. His public statements are a constantly changing kaleidoscope of what is politically expedient - and almost always, lies in some form - at a given moment and for a particular audience.

The second is his apparent ignorance of many basic things - in far worse ways than George W. Bush, who at least always mocked himself as a C student - such as the language spoken by Austrians.

But even worse is his apparent ignoring of fundamental law, for someone who touts his Harvard law degree. Like pre-judging a case he himself said he did not have the facts about [denouncing a Cambridge police officer for doing his duty in the case of a black Harvard law professor who was an friend of Obama].

And lately, saying to the world he has no doubt the 9/11 conspirators will be found guilty and executed after he and his attorney-general made the ill-conceived decision to have them tried in a civilian court in New York for sheer grandstanding purposes, and absolutely not one practical reason that can be given in defense of the decision.

So Mr. Almighty and All-Knowing Harvard law graduate Obama, what ever happened to the judicial principle that every man is presumed innocent until proven guilty? Your flunky, the attorney-general, made the same pre-judgment to the US Senate, in an attempt to justify the civilian trial.

Remember Obama's sanctimonious reason for the civilian trial is "to show the world American justice at its best". Then he and his AG start out by violating the most basic foundation of that justice!

It turns out the Times of London ran a similr story one day earlier, but reins in its headline - residual Ombamania? - and appreciably soft-pedals its criticisms even though its commentary more comprehensive than Spiegel's because it also covers Obama's domestic ineptitudes:

Barack Obama dream fades
as China visit fails to bring change

Even his allies feel let down by the President’s
lack of progress both in Asia and at home

by Tony Allen-Mills in New York

Nov. 22, 2009

Gazing serenely from the Great Wall of China last week, President Barack Obama appeared to be making the most of one of the supreme perks of White House occupancy — a private guided tour of Asia’s most spectacular tourist destination.

White House aides exulted that perfectly choreographed pictures of this moment would make front pages around the world. Yet an experience Obama declared to be “magical” turned sour as he returned home to a spreading domestic revolt that is fanning Democratic unease.

It was not just that the US media have suddenly turned a lot more sceptical about aPpresident with grand ambitions to reshape politics at home and abroad — even one previously friendly newspaper noted dismissively: “Obama goes to China, brings home a T-shirt.”

Nor was the steady decline in the president’s approval ratings — which fell below 50% for the first time in a Gallup poll last week — the main cause of White House angst. Obama remains more popular than either Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton a year after their elections, and both presidents eventually cruised to second terms.

The real problem may be Obama’s friends — or rather, those among his formerly most enthusiastic supporters who are now having second thoughts.

The doubters are suddenly stretching across a broad section of the Democratic party’s natural constituency. They include black congressional leaders upset by the sluggish economy; women and Hispanics appalled by concessions made to Republicans on healthcare; anti-war liberals depressed by the debate over troops for Afghanistan; and growing numbers of blue-collar workers who are continuing to lose their jobs and homes.

Obama’s Asian adventure perceptibly increased the murmurings of dissent when he returned to Washington last week, having failed to wring any public concessions from China on any major issue.

For most Americans, the most talked-about moment of the trip was not the Great Wall visit but his low bow to Emperor Akihito of Japan, which the president’s right-wing critics assailed as “a spineless blunder” and excessively deferential.

While some commentators acknowledged that behind-the-scenes progress may have been made on issues such as North Korea, financial stability and human rights, even the pro-Obama New York Times noted in an editorial yesterday that “the trip wasn’t all that we had hoped it would be”.

Nor have the president’s domestic policies proved everything Congressman John Conyers wanted. The prominent liberal black Democrat startled colleagues last week by launching a direct assault on Obama’s handling of healthcare reforms, which were facing an important Senate vote last night.

Asked on Thursday if Obama had provided sufficient leadership on so divisive an issue, Conyers responded tartly: “Of course not ... bowing down to every nutty right-wing proposal about healthcare ... is doing a disservice to the Barack Obama that I first met.”

Tension over healthcare and what many Democratic legislators now view as neglect of economic issues reached an unexpected breaking point when members of the Congressional Black Caucus — previously regarded as unshakeable Obama loyalists — staged a startling rebellion over what they regarded as a lack of economic support for the AfricanAmerican community.

A vote on proposed financial reforms had to be shelved at the last minute as black caucus members threatened to oppose it as a protest against broader economic policy. The revolt came as new reports showed that one in seven Americans were struggling to pay for food; that mortgage delinquencies are continuing to rise with almost 2m homeowners more than three months overdue on their payments; and that unemployment rose to 10.2% in October.

While many Democrats remain unswervingly loyal to Obama — and would rather blame President George W Bush for most of America’s ills — there has been no escaping a damaging sense of disappointment in liberal circles that a historic presidency is failing to deliver on its promises.

Others are disturbed that the president’s promises to clean up Washington’s “politics as usual” have dissolved in a familiar murk of cronyism and political patronage.

Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association, noted last week that the age-old tradition of presidents handing out ambassadorships as rewards for campaign donors had continued undiminished under Obama, who has so far rewarded more than 40 of his key fundraisers with plum diplomatic jobs.

“There is a bit of disappointment, largely because expectations were raised by the ‘change’ theme of Obama’s campaign,” said Johnson.

Perhaps most depressing of all for a small number of influential Washingtonians was the little-noticed resignation of Gregory Craig, Obama’s former White House counsel, who is widely believed in legal circles to have been made a scapegoat for the administration’s difficulties in resolving the future of Guantanamo Bay.

Craig was a key campaign aide to Obama and played the role of Senator John McCain in rehearsals for television debates. Charged with implementing the president’s instruction to close the terrorist prison at Guantanamo, he fell foul of Obama aides who had failed to predict the wave of public hostility to the prospect of Al-Qaeda inmates being shipped to American soil.

Elizabeth Drew, a presidential biographer and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, described the effective dumping of Craig as “the shabbiest episode of Obama’s presidency”.

Drew blamed the “small Chicago crowd” that surrounds the president for undermining Craig’s position with a series of anonymous leaks — notably suggesting that the lawyer was “too close to human rights groups”.

This kind of White House infighting is par for the course in most presidencies — but Obama was not supposed to be the kind of man who jettisons old friends at the first hint of trouble.

All this provides the Republicans with an unexpected propaganda bonanza. “We don’t need to slam Obama — his own folks are doing it for us,” one gleeful conservative declared.

The Republicans’ own divisions — magnified now that Sarah Palin, the defeated vice-presidential candidate, is crossing middle America with a new conservative manifesto under her arm — are nonetheless going largely unexamined as the Democrats implode.

Last week Republican governors meeting in Texas talked openly of winning all the states due for midterm elections next year.

The news is not all bad for Obama — America remains enchanted with his family [??????], and many Democrat insiders are convinced that the party’s internal squabbling will melt away at the first hint of real economic recovery.

“Do Democrats have to worry about turnout and voter intensity? You bet,” said Peter Hart, a leading pollster. “But it’s nothing that lowering unemployment by two points can’t solve.”


Israel — Obama wanted: A freeze on settlement building as a precondition for the resumption of Palestinian peace talks.

He got: An Israeli brush-off. Construction of a new Jewish housing complex began last week.

Iran — Obama wanted: A deal to ship low-enriched uranium to Russia to curb Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons.

He got: Another brush-off. Tehran reneged last week.

China — Obama wanted: Concessions on climate, currency rates, trade and human rights.

He got: A bland statement with no firm commitments and no mention of internet censorship or Tibet.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 25/11/2009 03.35]
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'Avvenire' interim editor
confirmed as Boffo's successor

Translated from

Nov. 24, 2009

Marco Tarquinio, who has been interim editor of Avvenire for 84 days, has been appointed the new editor of the daily newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference (CEI).

This was announced today by the newspaper's administrative council under the presidency of the Bishop of Albano, Mons. Marcello Semeraro.

Born in 1958 in Umbria, Tarquinio studied in the universities of Assisi and Perugia and has been a professional journalist since 1988, starting with La Voce, the Umbrian Catholic weekly. He is married, with two children.

He subsequently joined the secular press, working for various pbulications, and rising to become political editor and editorial writer for Il Tempo. In 1994, he was asked by Dino Boffo to join Avvenire, where he edited Roman news and became deputy editor in 2007.

When Boffo resigned last summer after a major media 'scandal', Tarquinio was named interim editor on September 3.

In announcing Tarquinio's permanent appointment, Mons. Semeraro released this statement:

Entrusting the editorship to Marco Tarquinio, the publishers, after deep reflection, wished to show appreciation, in the first place, for the great professional experience that the newspaper has aqcuired in recent years, becoming a primary reference for the Catholic world in Italy and an authoritative voice for the society and culture of our nation.

Marco Tarquinio has confirmed with intelligence and passion the editorial line of Avvenire as a daily newspaper which offers original reporting of the news before interpreting the facts, inspired by the primacy of truth and unaffected by the homologizing motivations that often distort information in our country.

Thus, at a distance of 40 years, it has confirmed the intuition of Paul VI who proposed and was a tenacious supporter of a national daily newspaper that is, in principle, "by Catholics but not only for Catholics".

In my name and that of the administrative council of Avvenire, I extend to Marco aTarquinio our best wishes for his new resposiblity. We are certain that with his professional experience, the refinement of his analyses, and his direct and incisive style, he will contribute to a new momentum for Avvenire.

04/12/2009 03.32
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Stranger things you cannot imagine. Wait for the surprise ending!

Obama aunt anguished by separation -
but she is most thankful to one man


BOSTON, Dec. 2 (AP) - President Barack Obama's aunt buried her face in her hands and sobbed as she described her anguish over no longer having contact with him and his family after the revelation she had been living illegally for years in the United States in public housing.

Zeituni Onyango (zay-TUH'-nee awn-YAHN'-goh) told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that she is troubled that her immigration woes have made her a political liability to her nephew.

Onyango, the half sister of Obama's late father, said she has exiled herself from the family after attending Obama's inauguration because she didn't want to become fodder for his foes. Obama and his family have not reached out to her either, she said.

"Before, we were family. But right now, there is a lot of politics, and me, I am not interested in any politics at all," said Onyango, whose appeal for asylum from her native Kenya is before an immigration judge in Boston.

The Obamas are her only family in the United States, she said.

"It is very sad when such a thing happens. There are people, outsiders, you know, they come in between, they divide a family," she said last week. "It's not easy."

Onyango, 57, is protective of Obama and said she never asked him to intervene in her case and didn't tell him about her immigration difficulties.

"I carry my own cross," she said. "He has nothing to do with my problem."

The White House said Obama has had no involvement in his aunt's case and believes it should run its ordinary course.

Onyango helped care for the president's half brothers and sister while living with Barack Obama Sr. in Kenya. She moved to the United States in 2000 and applied for asylum in 2002, but her request was rejected and she was ordered deported in 2004.

However, she did not leave the country and continued to live in public housing in Boston. She had been a health care volunteer but not since her status became public. She refused to discuss how she affords to live now or who is paying for her attorney.

Onyango said she previously had no trouble visiting Obama when he was a state senator in Illinois or after he became a U.S. senator, though she declined to discuss details of how often she had contact with Obama and his family.

Her tiny apartment in a modest subsidized public housing complex for seniors and the disabled is adorned with photographs of her with Obama at the Illinois Statehouse, the president's official portrait, his family, the inauguration, her children and African wildlife.

She is disabled and learning to walk again after being paralyzed for more than three months because of an autoimmune disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Her status as an illegal alien was revealed in October 2008, days before Obama was elected. Obama said he did not know his aunt was living in the U.S. illegally and said he believes the law should be followed.

A judge agreed to suspend Onyango's deportation order in December and reopened her asylum case. A hearing will be held in February, when Onyango can present her reasons for seeking asylum. The judge will then decide if she will be deported.

Her attorney, Margaret Wong, said Onyango first applied for asylum because of violence in Kenya, an East African nation fractured by cycles of electoral violence every five years. People who seek asylum must show that they face persecution in their homeland on the basis of religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group.

Immigration experts say Onyango's relationship to the president could strengthen her claim that she would be subjected to danger at home.

Onyango declined to discuss the details of her case, citing the pending appeal.

She became angry when discussing Obama's half brother who wrote a semi-autobiographical novel about the abusive Kenyan father he shares with the president. She called Mark Ndesandjo, who lives in China, an opportunist eager to capitalize on his famous brother.

Ndesandjo, who wrote "Nairobi to Shenzhen," did not grow up with Obama. He has said he wrote the book in part to raise awareness of domestic violence. But Onyango said she was Ndesandjo's baby sitter while living with his father and never witnessed any abuse.

"He was only strict and argumentative, motivating one to do the best," she said, acknowledging that in those days in Kenya, "It was politically correct to slap children to discipline them just as it was done elsewhere in the world."

She said Ndesandjo's claims against a man who died 27 years ago are unfair. The senior Obama had problems with alcohol and was difficult to live with sometimes because of his frustration over years of political persecution, but he wasn't a child abuser or wife beater, Onyango said.

She also denounced persistent allegations that Obama is not a natural-born American citizen, saying that she is angered by the "outrageous, absurd, calculated conspiratory claim" that he was born outside the United States and is ineligible to be president. She recalled receiving a letter and photos from Obama's father announcing his son's birth in Hawaii.

Onyango reserved special words of kindness for former President George W. Bush for a directive he put in place days before the election requiring federal agents get high-level approval to arrest fugitive immigrants, which directly affected Onyango. The directive made clear that U.S. officials worried about possible election implications of arresting Onyango.

She said she wants to thank Bush in person for the order, which gave her a measure of peace but was lifted weeks later.

"I loved President Bush," Onyango said while moving toward a framed photo of Bush and his wife standing with Barack and Michelle Obama at the White House on inauguration day. "He is my No. 1 man in my life because he helped me when I really needed that help."

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 04/12/2009 03.35]
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