Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Lagniappe: Discovered!! - Well, well, ... it seems that some of my friends who also double as the graduate students that I advise at Tulane have discovered my blog! Hey, chic@s, now that you've found me out, I expect you all to leave me some nice comments -- and even some challenging critiques in the midst of the heaps of praise and plaudits you're sure to throw my way.

Just know that I'm not attempting to hide anything -- I don't post anonymously (I think it's cowardly to do so) and I've set up the blog to be easily found via a simple Google search of my name. And I kind of like the fact that you all can get to see perhaps a different (or less cautious) side of me. Just another vehicle to humanize me even further.

But ... Now that I've got some new fans, I expect the dialogue to kick up a notch (as Emeril likes to say). You may be on to me, but I'm also on to you!!! And if you don't chip in your two cents every now and then, I'll be extremely disappointed.

Let the blog fun begin!!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Lagniappe: The Complexity of Archbishop Hughes and the Simplicity of Jesus Christ - Recently, New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes wrote a pastoral letter on Catholics and political life. Naturally, as one might expect, he starts his letter off with a New Testament scriptural reference. He relates the Gospel story of Jesus responding to the efforts of the "Pharisees and Herodians" to catch him in a bind by asking him if it were lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. You know, the whole "give to Ceaser what is Ceasar's, but give to God what is God's" dictum.

Then Archbishop Hughes launches into a lengthy missive on how good Catholics should act politically and what should be the moral stance of Catholics with regard to their public obligations as good citizens.

Again, as one might expect, Archbishop Hughes focuses on the primacy of the defense of life as the single most important concept that should guide Catholic civic life. Abortion is wrong, and should be opposed unequivocally, he says. So is euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research, etc. But when it comes to war and capital punishment, Hughes contends, he gives comfort to those Catholics who support the taking of life through war or capital punishment by painstakingly explaining the ethical wiggle room that the Catholic Church allows regarding these anti-life activities. Hughes uses some high-faluting rationalization he calls "human prudential judgment" to justify support for such anti-life activities.

What I find so ironic and sad is that Hughes is, essentially, acting just like those word-parsing and language game-playing Pharisees and Herodians he refers to in the opening lines of his letter. I've got one thing to say to Archbishop Hughes: Jesus's message concerning life was much simpler than his "human prudential judgment" cerebral parsing. When, on another occasion, these same pharisees, these tricky experts in Church doctrine and Church law, these experts in high-faluting theological rationalizations, tried to trip up Jesus with the same mental games regarding the identification of the greatest Commandment, Jesus' reply was simple: "The greatest commandment is this: love God above all things, and love your neighbor as yourself." Pretty damn simple and clear to me. If Archbishop Hughes wants to pretend to be more like the Jesus he supposedly represents, I don't see how he can claim that this simple mandate in any way, shape, or form, permits for the killing of one's neighbor in war or by capital punishment. If this is how Hughes interprets the mandate of "loving one's neighbor," then he's god one sick understanding of the meaning of love. And that's a shame, because we have the greatest example of love in the very Jesus Christ himself. What did Jesus do to show his love? He didn't kill, or support killing, or even try to rationalize killing under the special circumstances of "human prudential judgment." No, he just gave up his life. He let himself BE killed. That's the simplicity of the Christian example when it comes to the subject of LIFE. The theologically complex Archbishop Hughes ought to keep this more in mind.

Liberal Lighthouse: Bush Lies - You know you're in trouble when the pro-Iraq War editors of The New Republic call Bush an outright liar with regard to this war's current reality.

All politicians stretch truth to present accomplishments in the most appealing light. What President Bush has told the country over the past week about the deeply troubled Iraq occupation, however, is different. While an increasingly strong insurgency murdered 250 Iraqis last week, he portrayed the occupation as gliding to success. Last week, Bush told the Manchester Union-Leader, "I'm pleased with the progress." The template the administration is using for its portrayal of Iraq is the one the Johnson administration perfected during Vietnam: To win reelection, Bush is lying."
Read the whole editorial. It's blunt and it's true.

Lagniappe: Bush, Leadership, and Credibility - Does George W. Bush ever listen to himself? This from Bush: "You can't lead this country if your ally in Iraq feels like you question his credibility." I wonder what Dubya would say if anyone took out the word "Iraq" and substituted, say, Germany, France, Russia, Mexico, Chile, and practically every other country of the world. My best guess is that Mr. Unilateral and Anti-Sensitive would say something like, "I don't need the approval of France, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Chile, etc., to be the leader this country needs. In fact, the true sign of a leader is precisely when he questions the credibility of his allies if what they are saying deserves question." The denseness and stupidity of this President is embarrassing and pathetic.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Kingfishery & Kingcakery: The Anti-Family Marriage Amendment - As one of the 22% of Louisianians (and, by the way, one who is a happily married heterosexual) who voted against this abominable amendment, I must admit that I was absolutely stunned speechless when I saw the election results.

This is not the Louisiana that I know and have known my entire life. Louisiana is a state that has felt poignantly the pangs of discrimination and has made tremendous strides to overcome the barriers to full civil rights for its citizens. I thought that having a woman (Democrat) and an Indian-American man (Republican) as the run-off candidates for governor last fall was a sign that this state had reached some new threshhold with regards to beating back the legacy of racial and gender discrimination that defines the state's past. But this recent vote on the anti-family constitutional amendment regarding marriage gives painful pause.

However, being a proud Louisianian and unwilling to abandon my (naive?) belief in the fairness and humanity of my fellow Louisianians, I still want desperately to believe that the majority of the people in this state don't really want what this amendment signifies. The only explanation that I can think of to rationalize this depressing election result, and still keep up my spirits somewhat, is that the people of Louisiana were purposely confused about the issue. I don't think Louisianians fully understand the implications of this vote. From the people I know (genuinely good people at heart) who expressed some sympathy for this amendment, the feeling is that this vote had nothing to do with civil rights and was simply more like the harmless expression of support for a resolution endorsing traditional marriage. I know for a fact that there was very little education of the electorate about the full discriminatory nature of this amendment and its far-reaching legal ramifications. In fact, what little attention was paid to this amendment here in the local media outlets basically viewed the whole process as a sympathy/non-sympathy vote on the idea of marriage more than a fundamental alteration of the state's foundational guiding charter.

When the impact of this amendment hits heterosexual unions not covered under the definition of marriage as defined by this amendment (and, believe me, there are a lot of "shacking up" situations and non-traditional heterosexual partnerships in this state), then folks are going to wake up. But I know that this is a weak rationalization. And though it makes me feel a little better, a little hopeful, it still can't beat back the depressing funk that I've been in since I read the newspapers Sunday morning.

The only consolation that I have is the certitude that the march towards civil rights for all people is inexorable and will bear fruit in the future. And I remain certain that, one day, gay people will be able to marry in the state of Louisiana.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Kingfishery & Kingcakery: Ivan the Terrible - Writing from Houston. Managed to get the family onto safer ground to weather out Ivan. Couldn't bring the house with us, though we did carry our pictures. What a worry! Keep the Gulf Coast in your prayers.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Lagniappe: Here's a Funny! - Five members of a Christian prayer group sat around one evening after their weekly meeting having coffee and eating cookies. The subject turned to politics and the upcoming Presidential election. After a while, it became clear that each of the five friends had a different political party affiliation. There was a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Socialist, and a Constitutionalist. Each argued passionately and heatedly in defense of his party's platform and with firm conviction in his political ideology. Furthermore, each claimed that the core principles of Christianity, which they all espoused faithfully, supported his own position. Thus religion mixed with politics, and the discussion went round and round with not one of the friends conceding any ground to the others. After a while, when the debate seemed frustratingly hopeless, the friends decided to do what they always did when confronted with such difficulties: they would offer the debate up to God in prayer in the hopes of receiving His divine revelation and resolution. On this solution to wrapping up the debate, all could agree. So, the friends gathered in their prayer circle and raised up their hands and voices to God in prayer. After about ten minutes of earnest praying, a burning bush appeared in the middle of the prayer circle. Nestled in the center of the burning bush was a stone table, in which the following message was seared:

"My beloved and faithful children, your positions are all equally valid in My eyes."
(signed) God, (D-Paradise)

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Lagniappe: The Zell Miller/GOP Convention Conundrum - First off, let's get it straight out in the open. I'm no fan of Zell Miller.

BUT, as a Democrat, I must say that it tickles me to no end that one of my own fellow card-carrying party members is being touted as the GOP's best offering to the Republican Convention. Sure, lots of GOP notables have spoken, but no one has elicited the swooning praise given to Miller by the multitude of GOPers commenting on the Convention -- not McCain, not Giuliani, not Schwarzenegger, not even Cheney. If a Democrat delivering a speech at the Republican GOP is the best the GOP can put forward, what does this say about the GOP lineup? It would be supremely ironic if the general consensus is that Miller, a DEMOCRAT, was the best thing going at the REPUBLICAN Convention.

I guess I should be proud that we Democrats are so impressive we can carry the weight of TWO parties these days.

Blog Banter: The Honest Conservative's Take on Zell Miller - Read this:

Zell Miller's address will, I think, go down as a critical moment in this campaign, and maybe in the history of the Republican party. I kept thinking of the contrast with the Democrats' keynote speaker, Barack Obama, a post-racial, smiling, expansive young American, speaking about national unity and uplift. Then you see Zell Miller, his face rigid with anger, his eyes blazing with years of frustration as his Dixiecrat vision became slowly eclipsed among the Democrats. Remember who this man is: once a proud supporter of racial segregation, a man who lambasted LBJ for selling his soul to the negroes. His speech tonight was in this vein, a classic Dixiecrat speech, jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric. As an immigrant to this country and as someone who has been to many Southern states and enjoyed astonishing hospitality and warmth and sophistication, I long dismissed some of the Northern stereotypes about the South. But Miller did his best to revive them. The man's speech was not merely crude; it added whole universes to the word crude.
From Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish for September 2, 2004. And there's more, too. Go read it. The whole thing.