Saturday, November 30, 2002

Kingfishery and Kingcakery - Landrieu and Terrell are campaigning hard for the senate run-off. I'm a Landrieu supporter, so maybe this is wishful thinking, but it seems to me that Landrieu is coming off as more sympathetic and competent in the last few weeks of this runoff period. Let's see if this translate at the polls. Much will depend on the turnout. For the latest on the campaign, take a look at the most recent Times-Picayune article that can be found here.

Lagniappe - I've already missed a day! So much for resolutions!! Actually, I would have posted, but I just forgot. I guess it's just getting back into the habit. Well here I am today, posting at least this little bit. I've got more in store, though, so be ready!

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Kingfishery and Kingcakery - While I'm not so keen on the negative campaigns being run by both Mary Landrieu and Suzie Terrell - they're equally repugnant in my view - I think that Suzie Terrell has dug a grave for herself by attacking Mary Landrieu's religious convictions. Regardless of one's political position on the abortion issue, judging another's religious faith commitment doesn't sit well with voters. First, we people of faith recognize that religion is personal, private, and protected. We also tend to be loathe to judge the value of another's faith, lest our "weakness" in faith be likewise judged, and especially since such judgment is reserved ultimately and exclusively for the Higher Power - and not some holier-than-thou like Suzie Terrell. It is not for us sinners to cast stones. Suzie Terrell took a cheap shot, and we all recognize it as such. What's worse for her is that, in my mind, she also came off as presuming to play God with Mary Landrieu. Archbishop Hannan MIGHT get away with something like this, but Suzie Terrell's credentials in the faith don't even approach the authority that Hannan carries with him. From the political perspective, what we do know is that Terrell has certainly lost a few votes because of the presumptousness and smugness, not to mention the "spiritual" meanness, of her statement. Shame on Suzie.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Andres Oppenheimer has a great analysis of what I have termed Mexico's "Paradox of Dependence and Nationalism" in the context of the 21st Century reality. Oppenheimer discusses Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Jorge Castañeda's recent call for Mexico to resolve this "paradox" by trashing the outdated revolutionary anti-US rhetoric and by embracing positively Mexico's affinity for and bond with the United States. While I applaud Castañeda's attitude, what he proposes may be psychologically undesirable if not impossible for Mexican society. Subordinate and dependent states, in order to maintain some semblance of identity distinct from the regional hegemon, often times have only rhetoric to work with. The reality is also that Mexico is "not" the US, and sometimes the only way to make this distinction is simply by espousing the "anti-US" line. This anti-US rhetoric is not really to be "against" the US, but to be distinct from and independent of the US. Even still, Castañeda's comments mark an incredible change in the rhetoric of Mexico's independent history and its relationship with the US.

Lagniappe - Well, it has been almost two weeks since my last post. What good is a weblog if it's not kept up?? I have resolved to post something every day - at least a couple of sentences or a quick link to something interesting, if not a really substantive entry. I do need to give myself an out if I find that I am unable to get myself to a computer with internet access, which does happen on occasion. However, those moments are generally infrequent and so I should be able to post entries for at least 330 of the 365 days of the year. Let's see how good I am at keeping resolutions!

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

The Weak in (National) Review - Speaking of National Review (see my previous Lagniappe post), I'd like to comment briefly on the creeping hopes of the pro-life movement as expressed in Georgia lawyer Adam G. Mersereau's Guest Comment for the online version of the magazine. The point of his whole article is typical of conservative misreading of the abortion issue in American society. He thinks that the real issue dogging the hopes of conservative pro-lifers, even in the current favorable political environment, is this silly notion that people will be skittish about outlawing abortion because doing so would go against the core conservative advocacy of less government regulation of an individual's private life. Let me set Mersereau straight. The skittishness that he detects among the general American public regarding outlawing abortion is not the issue of government intrustion into private life. Rather, it is the issue of criminalizing something that many people, even pro-lifers, have a hard time criminalizing. This fact is oh-so-clear if one just pays quiet attention to this aspect of the debate. For example, in Louisiana's current Senate runoff race, Suzie Terrell is painting herself as a strong anti-abortion candidate, in part to counter the fact that her name appeared on a Planned Parenthood Conference program as one of its leaders/organizers/sponsors. But, in spite of Terrell's wish to pass herself off as a strong anti-abortion candidate in a relatively conservative state - even advocating a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion - she refused to follow through logically on her position when asked how women who might have "illegal" abortions in violation of the constitution should be treated/punished. Why? Here's why ... Note: I'm the father of two lovely little girls, ages 4 and 2 months. I cannot even fathom terminating a pregnancy knowing the joy that my children bring me. That's me. But sometimes I look in the mirror and ask myself this very simple question: "If either of my daughters were ever to come to me, with tears flowing and seemingly inconsolable, and tell me that she had an abortion, would I look at her as a murderer and a criminal? Would I look at her as if what she had done were no different than if she had walked up to an unsuspecting child on the playground and slit his throat? Would I feel the legal obligation to turn her in to the law for prosecution on a murder charge?" My answer: "Absolutely not!!!" And I think that my reaction is probably typical even for most pro-lifers. So, what does this honest reflection tell me? Well, for one, it tells me that I don't equate abortion with murder. Two, it tells me that no matter what my moral position is on the issue, I cannot accept criminalizing it. Three, it tells me that I can be anti-abortion morally, but pro-choice legally - and that there is no inconsistency with this position. This is the rub for conservatives on the issue. This is why there is general skittishness in the American public about outlawing abortion. It's not because of some silly "government-off-my-back" attitude. It's not even, to demythologize the more radical pro-choice stance on abortion, really about protecting a woman's right to control her own body to the exclusion of consideration of the fetus/unborn child. Nor is it about the moral question of whether abortion is right or wrong. It's just simply about not making the woman who has an abortion a criminal under the law. Simple as that. Any pro-lifer who says his/her own daughter should be held as a criminal (much less a murderer) for having had an abortion will at least be consistent in his/her position, though (in my opinion) one terrible, horrible, insensitive heel of a parent, unworthy of even being called a loving parent.

Lagniappe - A month since my last post. My how time flies and events change. It seems that Democrats are in some disarray and Republicans are gearing up for at least two years of unfettered policymaking. A quick read of the pages of National Review - at least the online version - reveals a bit of hopeful glee that the conservative agenda will transform US society and culture. We'll see. Conservatives are used to saying how unfair and discriminated against they are, how much the "liberal" media and just about anything else has misunderstood and mistreated them. Well, now, that whining isn't going to get very far anymore. If Republicans and their conservative agenda can't seem to carry through over the next two years, the "beseiged" line simply won't work. I'm actually looking forward to watching the Republicans first muddle through the startling reality of absolute, hegemonic control over all three branches of government, and then bumbling about trying to figure out how to govern in the midst of such power. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I can tell you right now, it ain't cake for single party dominant governments to rule, especially in a political culture that values the "balance" of power - and even has a soft spot for the accountability of "gridlock." Good luck, Bushies. As they say, be careful what you ask for, you just might get it! We liberals will be watching closely - and, you can bet your bottom dollar, we will be savoring the role of loyal opposition to the ruling party and the immunity that it provides.