Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Smears mean no black man in White House
The decisive issue next week is Barack Obama. Can a Kenyan American become president? Despite the polls, I don’t think so.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Anger, fear will linger after Election Day
The key word for those who hate and fear the possibility of an Obama presidency is “Afro-centric.” I don’t know where they picked it up — maybe they heard it on the Fox network or read it on one of the Web pages about the ineffable Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But it means the destruction of “our America” as we know it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Palin, McCain stir up storm of ugly racism
‘South Pacific” is a morality play for our time. Sarah Palin is the Ensign Nellie Forbush — an All-American girl as racist, this time a racist with her eye on the White House. She can stir up crowds to shout “Kill him!” at the mention of the presidential candidate of the other party a couple of weeks before the national election.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008s

China will pick up the tab for our debts
China will pick up the tab for most of the $700 billion of the rescue fund approved finally last week just as it has picked up the (almost) trillion-dollar tab for the Iraq war. China is the banker that serves up the gold to pay for most of this country’s trillion-dollar debt. The Chinese have replaced the Arabs as the leading lender of money to our impoverished nation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why I was wrong about debate outcome
I was wrong about the first McCain/Obama debate. A third of the way through the event, I said to one of my guests, “My guy is getting creamed!” Note that I did not say, “My candidate is being beaten into the ground.” I don’t have a candidate. Priests, like columnists, are not supposed to endorse a candidate. But one of the candidates is from my state and my city, and we shared a pulpit once. So of course I hope he wins. But that doesn’t mean I endorse him. As I have said repeatedly in this column, I think he will lose because the country is not ready for a smart, attractive, charismatic man — if he has skin slightly darker than a Sicilian’s.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain doesn’t grasp cause of finance crisis
There are a lot of ironies in the fire as a Republican administration, the most conservative since Herbert Hoover, strives to invest $700 billion to create a socialist financial system. The current president uses the same style of intense concern that was typical in his advocacy of the Iraq War, apparently the only tone he has available for a crisis.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Next chapter for radical right: Burn books

Let’s fill some trucks with books, drive them downtown and burn them in front of the Chicago Public Library. Let’s drive other trucks to the regional libraries and burn them, too . . . I mean the books, not the libraries, though libraries are the source of the problem. If it weren’t for the libraries, it would be hard for innocent young people to be corrupted by the filth pouring out of the country’s printers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is racism more important than income?

The sudden new vitality in the “born again” political moments has raised the question of the resurgence of “culture wars” — the allegedly polarizing struggle between the religious right and the liberal left over such issues as gay marriage and abortion and evolution. In fact, the culture wars are mystical, indeed mythological, and they exist only in the interstices of the news cycle –that is to say Never-Never Land. They consist of press releases and statements made by the leaders of activist movements to fill up vacant space and time when nothing else is appearing on the cable networks.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Amazing grace at work in Dems’ Denver hugfest The moment during the Democratic convention was astonishing. In my imagination I fell on my knees and muttered the Bible prayer appropriate when one has witnessed a miracle: “Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace!” (“Now, O Lord, you may dismiss your servant in peace!”) Simon, the holy man in the temple, had seen Mary and Joseph enter the temple with Baby Jesus in their arms and recognized in him the presence of the future kingdom of Israel. Grace had flooded in with the modest threesome. Ever since then, pious Catholics react the same way when God hits them over the head with a surprise that is like a cosmic baseball bat. Such as the decree on religious freedom at Vatican II.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Georgia crisis shows that McCain is scarySomeone is going to have to explain to me the rage of the commentariat and the McCain campaign’s rhetoric about Georgia. Will they please tell me how the American invasion of Iraq is different from the Russian invasion of Georgia? Both invaded countries are small and powerless against a giant. Both invasions violate the boundaries of a sovereign nation. Both attacking powers claim that they are trying to protect the lives of their own citizens. Both have little international support for their actions. Neither war measures in on international norms for a just war. Both have imposed death and destruction on the inferior country. Both focus on oil-rich regions of the world. Most of the world sees reckless imperialism at work. When phony arguments about weapons of mass destruction are abandoned, both Russia and the United States take over smaller and defenseless countries because they can do it. Both probably presage sustained guerrilla wars and ethnic cleansing. The United States is hung up in another Vietnam, Russia in another Chechnya.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

American warmongers excel at talking a good game ‘Speak Softly,” said President Roosevelt (T), “and carry a big stick.” Sounds like good strategy for a country ready to take on the whole world. Yet for much of its history this country has been just the opposite. Many Americans believe the military power of the country is absolute and the leaders of the country can win any war they choose to enter if they are only resolute enough to push through to victory. In fact, often the bluster is hollow. Wars are lost, we are told, because Democrats surrender. The insistence that “we’ve never lost a war” persists as a slogan, though often it is the Republicans like Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon who surrender.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Enough of the Games: Olympics are phony “All the Olympics are a little unnatural, of course, they are genial intervals of make-believe,” writes Charles McGrath, the Irish-American litterateur in residence at the New York Times, “when the world pretends to be a happier and friendlier place.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Article takes an unfair shot at Obama The typical article written about Chicago politics by a journalist from somewhere else tells us as much about this city as does the too-long-by-an-hour “Dark Knight.” You come into the city, talk to some of the approved journalists and political outsiders (the so-called independents), clip stories from newspaper archives, and begin to write. Thus American Pharaoh, a biography of Mayor Daley Pere. The metaphor of a sacred king of Egypt for Da Mare would be hilariously funny if it were not so grotesquely irrelevant.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

America’s leaders violated one of the Commandments

T.S. Elliot summarized the issue, “When good does evil in its struggle against evil, it becomes indistinguishable from its enemy.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Yorker misses point

Taint funny! There are two audiences for the New Yorker magazine — exiles from the so-called Big Apple and new immigrants who have moved into it. The former are people who used to live in New York and have had to move out of it, either across the Hudson River or the East River or the Narrows and are desperate to stay in touch with the politically and culturally correct fashions from Manhattan Island. The latter are the hayseeds who have moved onto the island and do not want to be perceived as hayseeds. Either way, they are snobs. Despite its occasional excellent journalism, its mean-spirited cartoons and turgid short stories are aimed at snobs who want to imagine that they are au courant in the mores of The Island.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Don’t heed promises of easy fuel solution Sometimes Sen. Phil Gramm is not all that wrong about American protests over high pump prices to sustain their behemoth autos as they soak up the oil reserves of the world. Ever since President Jimmy Carter, warnings have been issued about the risks of dependence on foreign oil.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

America’s unique lamp beside the doorLast weekend, Americans indulged in phony patriotism, accompanied by fireworks and trumpets and pompous voices trying to sound like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln. Little attention was given to the people who Americans have oppressed — the aboriginal people, the African slaves, the hated Asians, Jews and Catholics. Nor was there any mention of the many unjust wars that Americans have fought.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Bush used phony patriotism to start war The Russians call World War II “The Great Patriotic War.” The current longest of our wars could well be called the same thing. It is a war that originated in the orgy of patriotism (“U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”) that followed the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and has been sustained by the patriotism of those who support it (“Our soldiers are defending American freedom”) and false promises of some latter-day prophets (“We are winning the war in Iraq.”) It is likely to be revived by the Iranian attack that the McCainites see as their main chance of winning the election.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Russert a model for ideal bishopThe obsequies for Tim Russert were a wonderful showcase for the Catholic heritage. They were the celebration of our memory of a man who exemplified the role of a Catholic layman and also a demonstration of how Catholics cope with death.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Caught between a shamrock and a hard place Most Europeans don’t like the EU. They don’t want to leave it, and they don’t want to destroy it. But they are offended by the busybody behavior of the Brussels bureaucracy as it interferes with their daily lives in their own countries. The last Polish government, headed by Opus Dei members, tried to get traction with the public opinion by attacking the EU and blaming it for Poland’s troubles. It didn’t work.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fall election hinges on race

The end of the longest primary last week was high drama. Some might want to compare it with the work of the great Greek playwrights, such as Euripides and Sophocles, for hubris and catharsis and purification. It is difficult, however, to see how characters such as Harold Ickes, Howard Wolfson and Terry McAuliffe would fit into such a drama. They might be better suited for a Swedish film by Ingmar Bergman or, even better, a surrealistic Italian play by Luigi Pirandello such as “Six Characters in Search of an Author” or perhaps “Right You Are, If You Think You Are.”

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Church needs to revive its stalled reform VATICAN CITY — “You will encounter traffic when you exit to the crypt.” The young and very bright preceptor warned as we left the underground tomb of the first pope and entered the crypt of St. Peter’s, where most of the popes are buried. We were almost swept away by a crowd of Polish pilgrims, singing loudly (and on key) as they marched to the tomb of John Paul II. He is their great folk hero, and their enthusiasm is justified.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Faith turns ordinary men into great leadersVATICAN CITY — I went down several levels of archaeological history at the tomb of St. Peter on a recent morning in search of Peter, whom we Catholics believe was the first pope. Only Peter didn’t know he was pope and didn’t know there was a Catholic church, either. All that would come later. The Peter of the Gospels was no great star. He was a loud-mouth braggart, and he denied Jesus in a moment of crisis. Why did the early Christians commit their devotion to one so undistinguished? Why did Christians try to make a hero out of a man who, yes, gave his life for his cause, but was really not so heroic? Why do Catholics link their respect for their leaders, a respect that often seems idolatrous to others, with such a patently unprepossessing man?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Image of Obama the pol misses the point

Rev. Wright said it: Barack Obama says what he says because he’s a politician.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How daydreamers caused Iraq nightmare As the Bush administration winds down, people will reflect on the strange ideas that have emerged during this disastrous era in our country’s history. We also will wonder about the arrogant ignorance that shaped the tragedy of the last eight years. It is imperative to consider where the ideas came from that will live after Jan. 20, perhaps through the McCain years.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why media fix on Wright and ignore Hagee I fail to see that the envious and bitter attacks of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright should have created the crisis in Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign when the remarks of Pastor John Hagee have not created a similar crisis in Sen. John McCain’s campaign. Why is McCain somehow not responsible for Hagee while Obama is responsible for Wright? I suggest the difference is that the senator from Illinois is a Kenyan American and the senator from Arizona a white American.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blaming Catholics for bigotry is real biasCatholic racism in Pennsylvania? Seventy-two percent of Catholic Democrats in the heavily Catholic state of Pennsylvania voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton, according to the MSNBC exit polls, and more than half of them said they would not vote for Sen. Barack Obama if he won the nomination. The finding gave me a chill. On the other hand, most Obama voters said they would vote for Clinton if she should win the contest. Is Catholic racism rearing its ugly head again?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A reasonable response to sex abuse scandal No one except the hard-line haters of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and British atheists such as the ineffable Christopher Hitchens can find fault with the pope’s response to the sexual abuse scandal in the United States.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bush’s victory: Blame the Democrats
The argument in the Capitol last week was about victory. Legislators such as Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham believe, against all the evidence, that victory in Iraq is possible. They insist like puppets that “the surge has been a success” and see signs of victory. The president proclaims that we are winning the war. Gen. David Petraeus says that the progress is fragile and reversible, that there is not yet light at the end of the tunnel, victory is not right around the corner and the champagne is still at the back of the refrigerator.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Outpouring of hate greets Obama column I was swept away last week by an avalanche of hate mail, far more than I usually receive (and favorable mail usually outnumbers the contentious)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Greeley: Obama target of sick minds When Chicagoans who know Sen. Obama read the columns about him turned out by the national punditocracy, we tend to gasp and shake our heads in bemusement. He has become an ink blot for sick minds, very clever sick minds. Call up and see what I mean. My favorite recent outbursts of hate come from Thomas Sowell, an African-American conservative economist, and from Naomi Schaefer Riley, the “assistant taste editor” of the Wall Street Journal (which title may be an oxymoron). Both write about Obama’s connection with the Trinity United Church of Christ.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

McCarthy’s shadow spreads over the land The ghost of the late Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy is abroad in the land. “Tail gunner Joe” was a master of the art of guilt by association.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An immodest proposal: polygamy for powerful I wish to advance a modest (and tongue-in-cheek) proposal to diminish if not eliminate the pandemic of adultery among the hardworking, hard driving, sexually greedy business leaders and public officials whose wives must undergo the public humiliation of standing by their erring husbands. I propose that civic and religious leaders make available to such men on application (countersigned by their wives) a license for polygamy.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Democrats find themselves in lose-lose situation
Once again the Democrats seem determined to steal defeat from the jaws of victory.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

King David’s downfall holds lessons for U.S.

The first reading in Sunday’s liturgy suggests a better way to select a leader than the one in which we are presently engaged. All you really need is a prophet, one with a proven record of speaking truth. Then you send him out to wander through the land to search among prominent families. If your prophet finally uncovers such a family and there are many sons, then you must demand that a missing son be brought in. Any really good prophet will know that the handsome kid, who plays a guitar, sings beautiful songs and writes poetry is the one to be anointed. It would save time, money and effort. One would be spared a score of debates, almost as many election night cliffhangers, and the resultant lunatic spins of the professional spin masters — to say nothing of editorials masquerading as news stories, madcap outbursts on blogs, and masses of vicious e-mails from true believers.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Church failed to adapt in new era

Immigrant Catholicism flourished until 1965. The churches were filled with worshippers, the rectories were filled with priests, the schools were filled with students. Novitiates and seminaries were filled with vocations. New parishes, new schools and new high schools sprung up all around Cook and Lake counties.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

When did public figures vote to lose privacy?
During the farce of the “impeachment” of President Clinton by the Newt Gingrich, lame-duck Congress, I urged the position that public people, especially presidents of the United States, had the same right to personal privacy as did every other American. The reason is that their privacy is everyone’s privacy. If salacious tabloids and keyhole-peeping gossip columnists can violate the privacy of public people, there is nothing to prevent them from going after the privacy of any one of us. I argue the same position about the unfortunate young women who have become media starlets, taking a stand against those who would destroy their careers and their lives by trolling the cesspools of Hollywood and against the hard-eyed readers who revel in their torments.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why is N.Y. Times playing gotcha with Obama? I find myself wondering why the New York Times Newspaper (as Jimmy Breslin calls it) is out to get Barack Obama. He is a celebrity, of course, which means that he is a legitimate target for destruction. But why is the Times so eager to take him down?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Celibacy isn’t cause of sex abuse A couple of weeks ago I challenged the conventional wisdom of some Catholic liberals that celibacy is the cause of sexual abuse of children and young people by priests. I pointed out that it was also a problem for married Protestant clergy. What was unique for Catholics was the cover-up by church authorities — a strategy that worked for a long, long time. Celibacy does not cause abuse, and marriage is not a cure for it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fall election will be about IraqThe election next fall will be about the war in Iraq. This is the issue that most clearly distinguishes Democrats from Republicans.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What were Clintons thinking?
Andrew Greeley: Did the Clintons know what they were doing? I believe that they were unaware what they’re doing to themselves by their vicious negative campaign against Sen. Barack Obama. They and their colleagues set out to destroy him by innuendo, distortion and smear.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Politically correct votes absurd
In Chicago, we have a long line of judges to vote for. Because most voters know very little about any of the people on the list, we tend to check the names from our own ethnic lists. I suspect that the Irish were the first to start this process. If we stand before a judge, it’s always reassuring to be able to say, “Hey, doesn’t my mother know your mother?”

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Will voters learn from experience?

Was there ever a more experienced candidate for the presidency than James Madison? He had drafted the Constitution and written most of the Federalist Papers and had served as secretary of state in Thomas Jefferson’s cabinet. Yet he was not a successful president. He split the country over the War of 1812 — New Englanders called it “Mr. Madison’s war.” He and his wife had to flee Washington to escape the British forces, who then set fire to the White House. His war was the first war that this country ever lost, despite the pretense that Andrew Jackson’s victory at New Orleans after the peace treaty had been signed had reversed the defeat.