Monday, September 29, 2008

We are the center of the universe or Copernicus overturned

Wow. The things you get in an e-mail. This article was sent to me by my brother. Not only is the world economy falling apart, but now there are those questioning 450-year-old astronomical principles.

I can't say I understood all of it, but this I got.
In it [De revolutionibus orbium coelestium], Copernicus (among other things) put forth the concept that the Earth is not unique and does not occupy any sort of special position within the solar system. A generalization of this principle—the earth does not occupy a favored position within the universe—has, along with Einstein's equations, become the founding assumption of modern cosmology.

In the upcoming PRL paper, the authors postulate that we are indeed in a special location within the universe, specifically, "near the centre of a void where the local matter density is low." This isn't exactly a small void—it would need to be on the order of the size of the visible universe to get the new model to work. Still, the earth would be near its center, which is a vaguely pre-Copernican notion and, as a side effect, the model does away with dark energy.
I think it's time for me to bury my head in the sand and deny any of this is happening.

Going after Ganley

I liked Matt Cooper's column on Declan Ganley and the campaign against him. Cooper sums up why what's being done to Ganley is wrong.

First he nails the nationality slur.
It cannot be denied that Ganley was born of Irish parents, that he was schooled in Galway and that, as an adult, he has lived there for many years. He even entertained many Fianna Fail figures in his home. To attempt to deny his Irish identity is an insult to Irish people who have emigrated, and to the children of those who emigrated, especially when they came back to live in this country.
Then he got to the actual core issue – did Ganley use Yankee dollars to 'buy' the 'No' result in the Lisbon referendum?
It may well be that Ganley is at the forefront of a giant American conspiracy and has taken people for fools. But his detractors seem to have missed the point wilfully. It wasn’t Ganley’s money — or where he got it from — that won the day for the No campaign. It was the failure of the Yes campaign — in other words almost the entire political, business and media establishment — to convince the Irish electorate that the benefits of ratifying the Lisbon treaty outweighed the downsides.
Yup. It wasn't Ganley who 'won the day', but the establishment that lost it. And they lost simply because a majority of the people didn't trust them.

For this reason, the current strategy strikes me as extremely risky for the 'Yes' side. Rather than engage with Ganley as a civilized member 'of the opposition' they're going for him as if he's some form of enemy agent, a duplicitous traitor.

I don't know, maybe this will work, but if all these accusations turn out to be groundless (or never anything more than conspiracy theory) will this help overturn the 'No' vote? No, but it could convince some of those who voted 'Yes' that there is actually something dangerous to this whole process, that the forces of Europa will crush you if you dare oppose them. That's not how to win trust.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I know that for many people this makes no sense. I know they're right. But, I could really care less what happens between Obama & McCain on November 4 so long as I get the right result in Flushing today.

The Mets HAVE to win. It's on NASN. The last scheduled game at Shea and the Mets have to win. They have to win because after the game there's a big ceremony to mark celebrate the 44 years of baseball in Shea Statdium. They have to win because a loss will probably mean the season is over.


UPDATE: It seems FAILURE was an option.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Your license fee at work

I love how RTE takes time to pat itself on the back today: "RTÉ.ie is Ireland's top media website".

You know, I bet I could have the top rated web site if I had access to all that taxpayer-funded (oh, sorry) license-payer-funded content. What I want to know is why my license fee going to build the "top media website"?


Now, as to the bailout, well …

Who knows? I've spent hours each evening reading up on this as much as I can and tuning into the Bloomberg channel for the hearings and analysis and I'm none the wiser. Okay, not 'none the wiser', but still unsure. I guess if it's absolutely necessary then it's absolutely necessary.

It seems incredible to me that the simple home mortgage, which I and most people understand full well, was somehow transformed into a complex web of incomprehensible investment and insurance products that somehow failed to include the reality that at the root of these products were loans to individuals that had to be repaid or homes that had to be sold off where there were defaults. A whole load of houses that nobody wants, that's what the government is about to buy. And, well above the market rate for houses nobody wants.

It reminds me of the time (I can hear you - here we go again - the old guy's getting nostalgic) it reminds me of when the Space Shuttle exploded. Next day or a week or a month later (I can't recall now) I, along with my other classmates, was sitting waiting for our Physics class when in burst our teacher in an agitated state. He started ranting about the O-Ring and how "could they be so careless, so stupid". I think he promised to hunt down any of us who was ever involved in an oversight of such basic physics. (Rubber becomes brittle at low temperatures - duh!)

Anyway, that's what I was getting at. The Shuttle was a complex machine with thousands of smart people involved in its construction and maintenance, but still one basic rule of physics was ignored with catastrophic consequences. Same goes for all these mortgage-backed securities et al. Somewhere on Wall Street they forgot that if you lend money to a lot of people who are considered a poor risk you might end up with a lot of bad debts on your hands.

New Visas

It wasn't quite what I expected, but the Irish government will be issuing 5,000 visas to Americans who want to come to Ireland to work. It wasn't what I expected because I thought the working visa deal would be an equal swap, but the American government is making 20,000 visas available to Irish people.

Now before you rush off to apply for your visa you should know that the Irish economy is heading downhill fast, so you might want to defer that decision for a couple of years. Also, if you have at least one Irish grandparent you don't need to apply for one of these visas because you're automatically entitled to live here without restriction.

Not a conservative

I hope this bank bailout plan puts paid to the widespread misrepresentation of President Bush as a conservative. Bush is not a conservative. Not in foreign policy with his radical Wilsonian idealism (see the Bush Doctrine); not in fiscal matters with huge deficits and, now, the $700bn bailout (read nationalization) of the banks' bad debts; not with the prescription drug plan or the expansion of the federal government's role (& budget) in education.

Honestly, I have trouble seeing what - other than the two Supreme Court appointments - President Bush has done that fits the label "conservative".

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tough times in Brussels for the Irish

Life is uncomfortable for Irish diplomats and journalists thanks to our 'No' to Lisbon says Jamie Smyth. Many EU governments and their MEPs are annoyed, diplomats in Brussels are annoyed even apolitical friends are annoyed. Meetings and dinner parties are just not what they used to be.

You know, I don't feel bad for Smyth (and, in fairness, I don't think he's looking for our sympathy) or the Irish diplomats & MEPs in Brussels. A comfortable life for Ireland's representatives in Brussels does not figure among my concerns. I understand that there may be a price to pay; the Irish delegation may find it hard to wrangle concessions out of our EU partners thanks to the 'No'. Fair enough, that's life. The sovereign Irish people have voted and as our representatives they should stop badmouthing those who sent them there and fight our corner.

I often get the sense that life in Brussels feeds a groupthink mentality among the MEP's, diplomats and bureaucrats. Nobody questions their basic assumptions - such as 'progress' means further centralization or faster, faster, faster. The 'No' votes from the Dutch & French were answered with a slight of hand effort to override their votes. Our 'No' has been met only by anger. There doesn't seem to be any real attempt to understand what has gone wrong or how their Brussels-centered perspective may be out of kilter with the great unwashed across the EU.

Political institutions aren't that different than stock markets or banks. Trust is a big part of what makes them work. Trust and confidence. Without those the institutions are nothing more than tyrannical bureaucracies waiting to be toppled. Unless the EU finds a way to explain itself better to the people across the EU it runs the risk of being blown away through a new wave of nationalism, particularly if the economy gets very tough. The EU will be a scapegoat and all those people who damned Ireland for having the temerity to vote 'No' will find themselves unloved and unemployed at the center of an empty shell.

This was a real opportunity for Brussels to learn lessons, to scale back ambitions and amp up the efforts to be accountable. I expected we'd be flooded with people from Brussels trying to understand why the Irish voted the way they did. Didn't happen, though. Instead of trying to understand all they've done is try to browbeat us into changing our minds. That is not how to win trust and confidence.

Crisis of confidence

You think investors are jittery? You think there's unease in banking circles? You sense a little political uncertainty about the economy?

Well, those who play the market, extend credit or walk the halls of the Treasury Department are sailing on calm seas compared with Met fans today. (Don't believe me? Go to MetsBlog and read some of the comments).

Just as the Mets had fans dreaming of a redeeming October full of glory after an uplifting 2+ months during which they played great baseball and reclaimed 1st place the bottom has fallen out. The past ten days have been hell. Now they're looking into the abyss - again.

The sudden reversal of fortune combined with last year's late season meltdown has Met fans breakfasting on bowls of Diazepam after sleepless nights spent chomping Rolaids. Lunch and Dinner - if you dare to risk it - are strictly liquid at this stage.

Season ends Sunday.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not "the house that Ruth built"

This is really annoying me. If you own an old manor house and you tear it down and rebuild it around the same basement and garden is it the same house? Seems pretty obvious that it's not, but that logic hasn't been applied to Yankee Stadium.

The New York press, actually the press across America, keeps referring to the last game ever in "the house that Ruth built". Well, "the house that Ruth built" was essentially demolished after the 1973 season and rebuilt (they like to call it a refurbishment, but there was practically nothing left of the first building). For two years the Yankees played at Shea Stadium and in '75 they went to play in what was then often called "new Yankee Stadium".

It's bad enough the American press is playing along with this Yankee propaganda, but the English press has now joined in. Uggh.

At least I'm not completely alone.
There will be no last-minute federal bailout of Yankee Stadium. The National Register of Historic Places has declined, more than once, to consider the big ballpark in the Bronx for landmark status - an honorific, it turns out, that would not have guaranteed protection from demolition.

And the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, which could have stopped this year's scheduled tear-down of the 85-year-old walls, repeatedly has rejected landmark designation because of the Stadium's 1974-75 "unsympathetic renovation."

… In 1999, South Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano wrote to President Clinton about NHL status for the Stadium, only to be informed by the historic-places director at the time that, "while the contribution of the New York Yankees to baseball and America is of national importance in many respects, the National Park Service is unable to conclude that Yankee Stadium retains the high degree of architectural integrity required . . . "

A 1986 landmark survey, which examined several professional baseball stadiums, already had concluded that the Stadium's mid-1970s remodeling "compromised the integrity of the Stadium."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Here's the quid. Now for the quo?

From the new year 20,000 one-year working visas will be made available to Irish people who want to work in America. This strikes me as being of no help whatsoever to those who are already working illegally, but it's a start.

What I want to know is where are the visas for Americans who want to work in Ireland? I thought this immigration deal was going to be one of those quid pro quo deals where there would be an equal number of opportunities for Americans who would like to work in Ireland. This sounds strangely like the old Ireland, not the new Ireland. Has the economic downturn caused a complete reversion in thinking and shredded all confidence in the future?

The Bogeyman

I admire Declan Ganley, but it's clear that large sections of the Irish media don't like or trust him. He's a devout Catholic teetotaler - Strike One. He's a successful businessman with some strong political views on the EU - Strike Two. And, he's the CEO of a company that sells telecom equipment to US Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau - STRIKE THREE.

I mean, good Lord, could he be any more perfect as the ultimate bogeyman for the left-leaning Irish media and the pro-Lisbon Dail parties? Oh yeah, he's married to an American - Strike Four - if a fourth strike is needed.

The government is going to change the law to help silence Ganley and yesterday European Affairs Minister Dick Roche - he's sounding more bitter each day, isn't he? - said that Declan Ganley is "class A+ hypocrite".
“Declan Ganley is calling for more openness and transparency in Europe yet the contract which was awarded to him by the US Department of Defence in September 2004 did not entail public procurement procedure whatsoever,” Mr Roche said.

“The emerging details of Declan Ganley’s business links with the US military raises the question once again as to what his motive was in opposing the Lisbon treaty with such a well-financed campaign. The Irish people have a right to know who is pulling his strings.”
Is Dick Roche always so concerned with transparency in the American public procurement procedure? Really, what issue is it for Dick Roche how the American government awards contracts?

More importantly, there's more than a hint of anti-American hysteria in Roche's comments. I fully expect to see Brian Cowen slap him down or I'm going to write to my Congressional representatives to ask them to raise the issue with the Irish government. It's bad enough that the lunatic left talks about the American government this way without the Irish government joining in. I'm sick of it, actually.

Anyway, I checked and I don't see any contracts coming anywhere near the €200m that the Irish Examiner claims that Rivada Networks has secured with the "US Military". In fact, for the years 2004-2008 the total for all Federal contracts with companies called Rivada is around $40m or about €28m.

If Rivada has contracts totaling €200m most of them must be with state governments, which should ease the concerns of all those who see the "neocons" behind everything. Maybe a little light (that is, a bit of googling) can help the media and the government to see that the bogeyman's not so scary after all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I forgot to mention that I was on the Wide Angle on Newstalk on Sunday. It was a pretty quick segment - about 8 minutes or so - so I don't have a lot to say. The other guest was Rebecca Wolfe, formerly of Democrats Abroad, was very nice and good at answering questions too. Karen Coleman was courteous and professional. She didn't really rush either of us even though she was stuck for time.

I don't know if I'll do it again. It's just too far to drive into Dublin and park on a Sunday morning/afternoon.

Change the name on the shirt

Now that the AIG has a majority shareholder maybe the new owners will insist on a change in the initials on Manchester United's shirts. No more AIG, but from now on USA.

"Too big to fail"

I wish I had a dollar for each time I heard the phrase that phrase recently. Well, if a bank (or now an insurance company) is "too big to fail" then it was too big. As one who hates the idea of the government getting involved in the economy I'm forced to admit that if the government is going to underwrite these big companies then it would probably be a better idea if they were forced to remain small by law.

I'm way short of an expert on banking law, but it's clear as day that legislation is a better than simply using $85bn of taxpayers' money to bail out these financial behemoths. So, I don't know how they're going to do it, but Congress has to find a way to insure that in future no company is "too big to fail". And/or at the very least the management team of a company that's "too big to fail" should be criminally negligent if they allow their company to get into such a situation.

It's "unfair"

Fr. Sean Healy, Director of the Conference of Religious in Ireland, says that it's
profoundly unfair that a person on a lower income has to pay substantially more for a treatment compared with a person on twice that income.

Dental treatment worth €1,000 costs a person on a lower income €800 after tax relief, he said, while a person on a higher income pays €590 net. Other schemes involving tax relief such as pensions and medical expenses also benefited the better paid.
Well, is it "fair" that a person earning €1,000 and paying tax at the higher rate pays €410 whereas the person on the lower rate pays only €200? The higher earner pays more for the education his children receive, the health care his family requires, the protection of the police, etc. Is that "fair"? It isn't, but it's the system we have.

Given the unfairness of the tax system it is right (forget "fair") that tax relief on medical bills be at the rate the each taxpayer pays his taxes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

€1bn for meters

Is this really good value for money? The government is going to install new electricity meters in every household in the country. This whole process is going to take "four years at a cost of almost €1 billion".

On the one hand this is all too appropriate because if there's one symbol that I think best sums up the Green Party it's the meter. They're the metermaids of Irish politics. They want to measure every aspect of Irish living so that they can chide us and tax us for not being adherents to their doctrine.

On the other hand, this is a further sign that Fianna Fail is losing control. The economy is heading for tough times. Serious cutbacks will be required and at a cost of €1bn they're allowing the Green Party to enable themselves to preen in front of their Green colleagues across Europe because '"Ireland is leading the world" with the introduction of smart meters'.

What the Green Party doesn't seem to understand is that all these new meters are a significant cost on the Irish economy. The Green Party never worries about spending other people's money and they're none too keen on economic growth, which means the €1bn is actually a lot more expensive than it would be if we could count on a period of strong growth over the next four years. However, growth is going to be difficult to come by and the junior partners in government are not all that unhappy about that.

So, we're leading the world in stupid economics. Who wants to lead that race? Not me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dirty politics

There's no doubt that Presidential elections are dirty and that dirty politics can pay dividends. So far the McCain campaign is outplaying Obama's by 4 touchdowns. Obama's been knocked off balance by McCain's VP nominee - when truly he'd have been better off ignoring her as much as possible - and throughout this week Obama has looked unsteady and tetchy coming under assault from the McCain team. None of the shots has been outrageously cheap or ugly, but they're just enough to be getting under Obama's skin.

Obama's being lured into a trap. The strategy, clearly, is to wipe the 'cool' off Obama's image with the voters. They're begging the Obama team to respond in kind. First Obama fumbled with his "lipstick on a pig comment" and now they've rolled out a new attack ad.
The advertisements — among the most pointed attacks to be put out by Mr. Obama — depicted Mr. McCain as he looked when he was first elected to Congress in 1982 and mocked his declaration that he does not use a computer or send his own e-mail messages, attempting to undermine the new argument from Mr. McCain that he is the candidate of change.
Might have been a good idea for Obama's campaign team to find out why McCain doesn't use a computer. This is from Forbes from 2000 (via Instapundit).
In certain ways, McCain was a natural Web candidate. Chairman of the Senate Telecommunications Subcommittee and regarded as the U.S. Senate's savviest technologist, McCain is an inveterate devotee of email. His nightly ritual is to read his email together with his wife, Cindy. The injuries he incurred as a Vietnam POW make it painful for McCain to type. Instead, he dictates responses that his wife types on a laptop. "She's a whiz on the keyboard, and I'm so laborious," McCain admits.
Now Obama's mocking McCain for his war injuries. That might not be a winner.

So now McCain just has to wait a day or two to let that ad settle into the voters' minds and then he can roll out his own ad with this same story about how he can't use a keyboard due to the injuries he suffered in Vietnam, which again hammers home the message about his character that dominated the convention.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea waves crashing

It seems like we'll all hear Galveston's sea waves crashing this weekend. Brendan Loy says that Galveston could be in for a very rough ride starting tonight and that the wind is not the big issue.
High winds are not going to be the primary issue. But, as I wrote below, the storm surge will still be enormous. Coastal residents, do not treat this storm like a typical Category 2! The Gulf of Mexico is about to temporarily reclaim a large chunk of prime Texas real estate.

Palin on ABC

I watched as much of ABC's interview with Sarah Palin as I could find. From the clips I saw I'm not overly impressed nor overly worried. Now, to me, the job of President is mostly about security and foreign policy.

She was definitely shaky at times, not seeming to know what the "Bush Doctrine" is or to have understood why the interviewer was asking about carrying out attacks inside Pakistan. Okay, there are holes in her knowledge right now. I doubt anyone would be too surprised by that. With a little prodding she was able to provide her views on preemption and I was left with the feeling that she's competent and will learn what she needs to learn if she finds herself in the top job.

I wasn't too pleased with view that Georgia & Ukraine should be admitted to NATO. This is right out of the McCain playbook, I know, but really she should ponder this one a bit. I said before that I didn't think the United States should be so keen to poke Putin in the eye. And, he's since proven he's serious about South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Palin does love talking about energy and she was right to press her point that energy is a big part of national security. I think I was going to agree with her, but ABC cut her off too quickly. {I would like to have heard her views on Russian oil exploration at the North Pole. I would bet she knows her stuff on that topic.}

Overall my impression is that ABC edited the interview so badly that it was hard to come to any firm conclusion on Sarah Palin.

Lies. It's all lies, I tell you.

Didn't we go to war over less than this? Today's Daily Telegraph claims that baseball was invented in Surrey, England and not in America.
A diary has been found which describes the game being played by a teenager in Guildford in 1755.

Previously it had been thought that the game developed in America in the 1790s.

But this new proof indicates that the British can claim to have invented yet another of the world's great games, formerly considered as American as apple pie.

The handwritten entry was discovered in the diary of lawyer William Bray. It documents a game with friends on Easter Monday 1755, when he was still a teenager.
Well, it's obviously a forgery. Who could believe such a tale? Where's Paul Revere when you need him?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Today is September 11 and ...

It's an important day. A day Americans remember thanks to the horrific events 7 years ago today. They're unveiling a monument at the Pentagon dedicated to those who died there on September 11. So, how can it be that there's so much discussion about lipstick, pigs, etc.?

It's great that Obama and McCain are jointly marking the anniversary in New York today. I guess it's great. I actually think it would be better if they had spent an hour (or better yet, two hours) discussing/debating September 11: what caused it, in hindsight what was the right response, and what should America be doing to avoid a repeat. A grown-up discussion between the two men who want to lead America hosted by Brian Lambe.

Allianz Stadium

The NY Daily News says that Allianz is the leading contender to win the naming rights of the new football stadium for the NY Giants & NY Jets. This has upset Holocaust survivors, Jewish groups and fans of the two teams.

Frankly, I don't know what to make of this. I don't know enough of the history to assess whether Allianz's role in the Third Reich was greater than other big German companies or would all such German companies - Volkswagen, Siemens, Deutsche Bank, etd. - be equally opposed. I'm also not going to tell people what they can or cannot be offended by.

However, I would like to know if a company can ever overcome being associated with such evil. The News says that Allianz insured Auschwitz and "refused to pay off life insurance stipends to Jews and sent their policies' proceeds to the Nazis instead". The News also says that Allianz "has acknowledged its shameful past and has shelled out millions in restitution".

I know that in law a company is a legal person, but I guess to my mind it's the people who run and work for the company who are really responsible for what the company does. Without people a company is an empty shell, just a name.
Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, secretary general of the North American Board of Rabbis, agreed that although survivors' sensibilities are understandable, a naming deal is legit.

"I have found Allianz to be receptive, to be sensitive and a friend of the Jewish people today," he said.

"We need not live in the past."
The words of Rabbi Rosenbaum leads me to believe that, yes, a company can live down its past, but for those who survived the Holocaust the name Allianz - regardless of what the company is today - may simply be too stark a reminder.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


That's Jonathan Freedland's message today. He's afraid that, "The Democrats are about to lose an election they should win". He fears for "blue-state America", for young Americans, and for African-Americans. But, should the Democrats lose the reaction he fears most is the reaction among non-Americans.

If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-Cheney finger. And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift.

Until now, anti-Americanism has been exaggerated and much misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti-Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, that might well change. Suddenly Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling clique, but Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-generation chance for a fresh start - a fresh start the world is yearning for.

… Of course I know that even to mention Obama's support around the world is to hurt him. Incredibly, that large Berlin crowd damaged Obama at home, branding him the "candidate of Europe" and making him seem less of a patriotic American. But what does that say about today's America, that the world's esteem is now unwanted? If Americans reject Obama, they will be sending the clearest possible message to the rest of us - and, make no mistake, we shall hear it.
What a load of nonsense. Freedland believes that American voters should choose the candidate most desired by non-Americans otherwise America will be spurning "the world's esteem". So the voters should choose to vote not in their best interests, but in the interests of those in Germany or Peru or China?

Olympic coverage

{I know this is dated, but I only found where I'd stashed this one a few weeks ago.}

The Buffalo News's Alan Pergament says that the BBC is worse than American t.v. when it comes to playing the role of cheerleader for their nation's athletes. I know it can be jarring to find yourself watching the Olympics in another country, but sheesh, Alan, I'm not sure I can buy this: "It seems Americans are the only one concerned about objective coverage".

As it happens, all of the Olympics I saw were on NBC and their partner stations. Let me say that being worse than NBC would take some doing. Anyone who watched any of the gymnastics on NBC would have wondered if any other nations other than China & America were taking part. The swimming coverage was only marginally better.

I'll say this: the coverage on the USA Network, MSNBC & CNBC was pretty good. But the prime time coverage on NBC - the primary channel for the Olympics - was horrendous. And, yeah, the BBC annoys me too. Same goes for RTE.

No Tallaght II

Fine Gael has said 'No' to a rerun of the Tallaght Strategy. Well good for them, but this was hardly a tough decision. Back in the 80s there was some justification for adopting their 'no opposition' policy because (a) the straits were more dire and (b) they had played an active role in creating the dire straits.

Fine Gael's been in government for, what, 2½ years out of the past 20? Why should they now roll over "in the national interest" because Fianna Fail has mismanaged us into this mess. I know FF's in a heap of trouble because Joan Burton's starting to sound like a safer pair of hands.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Last Sister

My aunt has returned to Ireland after 49 years in Prince George, British Columbia. There was a nice write up about her in the Prince George Citizen before she left. She was the last of the Sisters of Mercy in the diocese.

Too often over the past 10 years or so we in Ireland only heard about priests and nuns who left here years ago when some form of scandal erupted. Yet my aunt and the vast majority of the thousands of others who went on the missions from here served the Church wholeheartedly, with passion and grace. At the same time they constituted a tremendous army of ambassadors for Ireland throughout the four corners of the globe. That my aunt and thousands like her are not being replaced by younger Irish missionaries is a loss both for the Church and for Ireland.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Smooth & gaffe prone

Funny how smooth Obama looks when he's delivering one of those big set piece speeches. And, during the primaries I read many times how he set the room alight with one of his speeches. What I don't get is how he's also a verbal klutz who can't seem to get out of his own way (verbally). Now, I know that anyone can make these slip-ups when in the constant glare of the media, but it's my impression that Obama does it more than most. In fact, if he were the Republican nominee there would be (unfavorable) comparisons with President Bush.

This weekend we had "my Muslim faith" - not a biggie, but he also referred to the Penn State football team as the Nittaly Lions, and not the Nittany Lions as they've been known until now. That's the kind of misstep that can cost you - BIG time. If he messes up at Notre Dame he can kiss the election good-bye.

Bad poll for Obama

Newstalk reports today that McCain now leads Obama by 4 percent. Not the end of the world for Obama with 57 days left until election day. However, McCain has a 10 point lead among likely voters. That's gotta be a source of some concern.

{I'm skeptical of telephone polls because those who have only a cell phone are probably younger & more likely to vote Obama. Gallup says that they're polling people who have only a cell phone, but I still doubt that the sample is representative of the nation.}

Friday, September 05, 2008

Carrie follows through

Regular commenter Carrie "threatened" to set up her own blog in a comment below. Well, she's gone and done it. You can find Carrie here, at Coyote Blue-Jay.

I didn't see her speech yet

Last night I was all set to watch Governor Palin's speech from Wednesday night, but my broadband was acting up and I couldn't download it. I have it downloaded now and will watch it later. Might watch McCain's too.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

How many goals did the father score?

And as unwed mothers are all the rage in the news, today we learn that France's Justice Minister, Rachida Dati, is both unwed and expecting. The Daily Telegraph says there's a lot of speculation as to who the father might be, but really the more pertinent question is: Has the father achieved anything in sports to rival the accomplishments of Bristol Palin's fiancee? Get the NY Post on the case.

McCain knew

Will she remain on the ticket? I have no idea (and I didn't see her speech last night). Anyway, of all the questions that have arisen about Sarah Palin since last Friday the most important is: Did John McCain vet Palin properly before choosing her as his running mate?

The jury is still out on that one, but one thing that's clear is that McCain certainly knew Bristol Palin was pregnant before he introduced her mother as his running mate. I've read quite a few comments in the press and on blogs that suggested that McCain didn't know. However, pictures of McCain and Palin from last Friday were posted on Meghan McCain's blog and there's one picture that makes it obvious that Bristol is pregnant. There's simply no way that Meghan or Cindy McCain could have missed this. Even 'Nana' McCain could have clued her son in if he was in any doubt.

Well, at least this wasn't kept from McCain. I'm assuming that McCain just figured that nobody would want to have a go at a 17-year-old girl or even her mother for what is, unfortunately, a fairly common family experience. Which only begs the question: Is he really that naive?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

So, who's Sarah Palin?

We're all learning quickly who we think this woman is.

For me the best of what I could find included this article from Time's web site on Palin and Wasilla, AK and the first chapter from her biography that I mentioned in the comments below. My own take is that Sarah Palin is not really a modern woman. She's more like one of those tough frontier women who could do whatever it took to survive in a harsh environment. That includes killing animals.

It also includes accepting that life's tough and you just have to do your best. There are no guarantees. That means working hard. That means being adaptable. It also seems to mean that if your daughter is unmarried and pregnant at 17 then she's going to have be tough herself because she's 'not going to be mollycoddled by me'. Will she be a vote winner or loser? I think a winner, but we'll see.

{By the way, the NY Post is clearly the winner with the best angle on the Palin teen pregnancy story. The Post decided to give us a load of details on the baby's father, who played on the Wasilla High School hockey team. "Despite suffering a cracked bone in his shin last season, Johnston scored 24 goals in 24 games". How any of that could be at all relevant, I don't know, but it made laugh.}

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gustav - good fortune for McCain?

So long as Gustav does NOT create a Katrina-like path of destruction today it may turn out to be a great bit of good fortune for John McCain. So long as Gustav keeps President Bush away from the convention that cannot be a bad thing for McCain.

Katrina, RTE & the Irish Times

Not everything breathlessly reported in 2005 in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina was accurate. RTE & the Irish Times might want to do a little background reading before regurgitating long-discredited nonsense like the violence in the Superdome, as I heard on the Ryan Tubridy Show this morning or that "law and order collapsed" as the Irish Times web site claims today.

The government response to Katrina was obviously lacking in many ways, but
by focusing on the part of the glass that was half-empty, the national media imposed a near total blackout on the nerve center of what may have been the largest, most successful aerial search and rescue operation in history.

"The Coast Guard, the National Guard, the military in general performed heroically," said Sen. Robert Barham, R-Oak Ridge, who monitored the Superdome operation from Baton Rouge as head of the Louisiana State Senate's Homeland Security Committee. His opposite number in the Louisiana House, Rep. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, said, "They (the Guard) did a yeoman's job." Both said they were getting very different pictures from TV than they got from the Guardsmen at the Dome, and the state fish and wildlife department, another key player in the rescue operation.

… Also hard to ignore at the Dome was another big operation: support for local first responders. This effort included many of the black local heroes among the police and firefighting squads, despite misleading media reports leaving the impression they had either fled the city or walked off the job. The majority of local police and firefighters were available, though their communications system had been wiped out. They quickly hooked up with pre-positioned Guard units, as well as an army of volunteers in everything from flatboats to airboats. "We were just handing out radios to anyone who wanted one," Dressler said.
The governments - at all levels - carried out post mortems on what went wrong and what needed to be fixed/changed for the future. It wouldn't do any harm for RTE and the Irish Times to find out where they and their colleagues went wrong in 2005.

For your hurricane updates

I find nothing is better than reading Brendan Loy's updates. I went to bed last night feeling confident that Gustav was not going to be the "storm of the century". If only the headline writers in Britain and Ireland had read Loy's posts they might have saved the apocalyptic headlines for another day.