Sunday, August 28, 2005

Lagniappe: Katrina! - Open letter to Hurricane Katrina: Bring it on, baby! We're ready for you!

Details and damage reports after the storm. For now, over and out!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Cuaderno Latinoamericano: Pat Robertson, Hugo Chavez, and the Christian Doctrine of Assassination? - The news of Pat Robertson's assinine comment calling for the assassination of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez (and his even more assinine joke of a defense/apology of his comments) has been all over the news. I'm coming to it late because work has been all-consuming this past week. Given the recent media attention surrounding this gaffe, there is really no need for me to elaborate more on it except to say Robertson is an ass and an embarrassment to Republicans. Based on the pretty solid denunciations of Robertson coming even from among his fellow Christian conservatives, I think we can thank God that a vast majority of Americans (Christian and otherwise, liberal and conservative) have a better-informed conscience than this "Christian" charlatan. I don't see how people can tolerate this guy, much less support him.

Ex Cathedra: Archbishop Hughes and Fair Wages - As a relentless critic of Archbishop Hughes and the Archdiocese of New Orleans, I would be guilty of the sin of omission if I did not cheer the Archbishop for his editorial on the dignity of the worker and the need for fair wages. Best of all is Hughes's clear directive at the end of his editorial that all agencies of the Archdiocese pay their workers at least $1.00 above the current mandated minimum wage. He writes:

The Church's social teaching requires us, as employees, as voters, as parents, as sisters and brothers in Christ, to give serious attention to this critical issue. While no one particular proposal can lay sole claim to translating the Gospel teaching into practice, the proposal to raise the minimum wage is an important way to make concrete the Church's teaching that workers should be able to realize a family living wage. I am, therefore, asking our schools, agencies and parishes to ensure that they are paying full-time employees at least a dollar above the minimum wage.
That's not to say that $6.15 an hour really affirms the dignity of the worker; but it's a clear step in the right direction. And I know a lot of conservative Catholic entrepreneurs in this city of New Orleans who defend as low a wage as the market will allow (and some who even bristle at the very idea of a mandated minimum wage) will be chastened by the Archbishop's words. Good for you, Archbishop Hughes! I'm with you all the way on this one.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Liberal Lighthouse: Raspberry on "Profiling" - A while back, I engaged in a rather interesting exchange with some folks at Kira Zalan's blog on the very subject of "racial/ethnic" versus "behavioral" profiling. You can see the full extent of this exchange here on Kira's comment board for her relevant post. Here's what I posted in my very first comment on the subject:

18. Jimmy | August 9th, 2005 at 9:49 pm

“The profilers are trained to look for signs of suspicious behavior (body language), which provides effective clues of whom to question.”

If this is how profiling is to be conducted, then I’m all for it. By that measure, profilers should be searching people of all races and ethnicities who are acting suspiciously. But there are some potential flaws to this: (1) I would imagine the well-trained terrorists know how to give out the “correct” unsuspicious body language; and (2) innocent folks of particular ethnicities that are most often associated with terrorism might be unable to avoid acting suspicious out of understandable nervousness at being profiled. The result: suspicious-looking innocents will be searched while the cool-as-cucumber terrorists walk by without a second glance.
My comment generated a rather bizarre set of responses because I didn't want to restrict "behavior" profiling to "dark-skinned Muslims" based on the notion that color-blind behavior profiling would do more to protect us from terrorism (and be more fair) than a "color first, behavior second" profiling scheme. In any case, if you're really interested in this exchange, you can read it for yourselves.

But the real reason why I bring this up now is because I just finished reading a column by William Raspberry who echoed the very sentiments that I was trying to convey in the discussion on Kira's blog. Here's the most relevant section of Raspberry's column:
The other, more serious problem is that the pro-profilers are fighting the last war. If someone had stopped 19 young Muslim men from boarding four jetliners four years ago, Sept. 11 wouldn't have happened. Therefore, security requires that we make it difficult for young Muslim men to board jetliners. It's as though white people come in all sizes, ages and predispositions, while young Arab men are fungible.

Random checks at least have the virtue of rendering us all equal. I can talk with any fellow passenger about the absurdity of having to remove my loafers, because that fellow passenger has been similarly inconvenienced. But with whom does a young Arab (or Turk or dreadlocked college student) share his humiliation?

And make no mistake, it is humiliating. Stop me once because someone fitting my description or driving a car like mine is a suspect in a crime and I shrug and comply. Stop me repeatedly because of how I look and I respond with less and less grace.

Am I arguing against all efforts to protect America from terrorism? Of course not. But since Americans look all sorts of ways, a more sensible way of deciding who gets extra attention is behavior.

The profilers say this is just political correctness gone mad. McCarthy puts it bluntly: "Until we stop pretending not to see what the terrorists who are attacking us look like, we may as well give them an engraved invitation to strike again."

Well, we do know what they look like. They look like the 19 hijackers of Sept. 11, but they also look like Richard "Shoe Bomber" Reid, John Walker Lindh, Jose Padilla and -- don't forget -- Timothy McVeigh.

Profile that.
Profile that, indeed. For my part, I would add to Raspberry's sensible critique that post-9/11 will most likely see terrorists who DON'T fit the racial profile carrying out the next wave of attacks. Why? Because the terrorists aren't stupid. They know that young dark-skinned men who look like they could be Muslims of middle-east origins will have a harder time now getting by security. But they also know that the more that skin-color/appearance becomes the prime measure of profiling, the more likely it is that the terrorist who doesn't fit this racial/ethnic profile can slip by unnoticed.

Raspberry is right that either random searches or searches based on suspicious behavior regardless of race/ethnicity will make it not only more palatable to the traveller but can also help to build bridges of mutual trust between different racial and ethnic groups. And I would add to this that color-blind searches based on behavior or done randomly will also make it infintely harder for terrorists to think that they can use the racial/ethnic profiling preference to their advantage.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Liberal Lighthouse: 9/11/2005 -- Where's Osama? - Michael Tomasky has a powerful piece [subscription required] in the September 2005 print issue of The American Prospect (Vol. 16, No. 9) as we approach the 4th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon. For those of you who won't be able to access the full article, here are some of its best parts, starting with its opening paragraphs:

This September 11 will mark the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. The media will focus on the ceremonies at the former World Trade Center site, the Pentagon, and other cities and towns around the country that will honor the dead. The Bush administration, meanwhile, will do its best to remind Americans that today’s George W. Bush -- except for the Watergate-era Richard Nixon, the most unpopular two-term president, at this point in his tenure, since scienti?c polling began in the 1940s -- is the same man who led the country through tragedy.

In truth, the anniversary should be the occasion for a thoroughgoing discussion of how America has combated terrorism in the last four years. And on that front, even the disaster Bush has created in Iraq takes a back seat to one overwhelming fact: By the time night falls on September 11, Osama bin Laden will have been at large for 1,461 days.

America vanquished world fascism in less time: We obtained Germany’s surrender in 1,243 days, Japan’s in 1,365. Even the third Punic War, in which Carthage was burned to the ground and emptied of citizens who were taken en masse into Roman slavery, lasted around 1,100 days (and troops needed a little longer to get into position back in 149 B.C.).
Five paragraphs later, Tomasky notes in discussing the Bush Administration's rush to war in Iraq and its abandonment of the hunt for Osama in Afghanistan/Pakistan:
Whatever the apologists say, the truth is simple: The administration held back troops from Afghanistan so that it could send 150,000 to Iraq. That, and nothing else, is the reason bin Laden is still at large.
Then, Tomasky ends his piece by imagining how the right-wing would be reacting to a Gore Presidency with Osama still at large under the exact same conditions and levies a parallel and fully justified condemnation of Bush:
But listen closely to the silence: Outside of magazines like this one and a handful of liberal Web sites, the subject is rarely discussed.

Just imagine bin Laden having been at large this long in President Al Gore’s administration. In fact, it’s impossible to imagine, because President Gore, under such circumstances, wouldn’t have lasted this long. You probably didn’t know, until you read this column, the number of days bin Laden has been at large. But I assure you that if Gore had been president, you and every American would have known, because the right would have seen to it that you knew, asking every day, “Where’s Osama?” If Gore hadn’t been impeached, it’s doubtful he’d have survived a re-election campaign, with Americans aghast at how weak and immoral a president had to be to permit those 2,700 deaths to go unavenged this long.

To be sure, the difference is partly a Democratic failure -- they’re afraid of the right-wing noise machine, pure and simple. That’s a failure of nerve, and it’s an appalling one.

But the moral failure belongs to Bush and his subordinates and their amen chorus of slatternly propagandists and so-called intellectuals, who made great political advantage of 9-11 but spit on the grieving families by pretending that there is no imperative in seeing justice done for their losses. They may be able to control the dialogue, but they can’t control the facts -- and the facts condemn them all.
Let's remember this come 9/11/2005. Thanks, Michael Tomasky, for keeping the light shining on this obvious and sobering truth.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano: Thomas Shannon, State's New LA Affairs Chief - Andres Oppenheimer introduces the Bush Administration's new chief of the U.S. Government's Latin American policy thus:

Thomas A. Shannon, President Bush's pick to become the head of the State Department's Latin American affairs office, is a low-profile career officer who is likely to conduct a less strident U.S. foreign policy in the region. But, from what some Republicans say, he may speak softly and carry a big stick.

Shannon, whose current job is White House chief advisor on Latin American affairs, was nominated this week to replace Ambassador Roger F. Noriega -- a political appointee -- as assistant secretary of state for Western hemisphere affairs.

''We are likely to see a change in style, in favor of greater moderation, multilateralism and quiet diplomacy,'' says Michael Shifter, a Latin American expert with the Inter-American Dialogue, a middle-of-the-road Washington, D.C., think tank. ``He understands the need for a different style to be effective.''
As a student of Latin American International Relations and US-LA Relations, I think Shannon's appointment is a much better and more pragmatic choice to take on this job than either of his two predecessors (Roger Noriega and Otto Reich). Shannon, as a career State Department officer, will understand the nuances of the Latin American reality much better and will certainly be much less ideologically-driven in his approach to the region. Noriega and Reich seemed to have difficulty getting "unstuck" from pre-Cold War mentalities that defined US-Latin American relations. This should not be the case for Shannon.

To the extent that Shannon can keep Bush and the higher ranking foreign policy politicos of his Administration from meddling in his work, I think he could do a decent job in repairing relations and advancing positive connections with the region. But I have to say that the current Rumsfeld tour of Latin America bodes ill for this possibility.

Good luck, Shannon. You're most certainly going to need it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Ex Cathedra: The New Orleans Archdiocese, Project Lazarus, and the Metropolitan Community Church - A couple of days ago, the Times-Picayune reported that the Archdiocese was terminating its lease with the Metropolitan Community Church of New Orleans. According to the Archdiocese's spokesman, Fr. William Maestri [he's all over the place, isn't he?], here's the reason:

Archdiocesan spokesman the Rev. William Maestri confirmed that doctrinal differences with the Metropolitan Community Church triggered the eviction.

"This particular group blesses gay unions, which we do not support," Maestri said.

After learning of the Metropolitan Community Church's teachings, the archdiocese had to act, Maestri said. Continuing the lease might create the impression that the Catholic church is either indifferent or in support of the teachings of that church, "which we are not," Maestri said.
Now, the Archdiocese can do what it likes with its property as far as I am concerned. But there is something in Maestri's language that rubs me the wrong way. Doesn't anyone find it a bit disingenuous when Maestri claims that if the Archdiocese continued the lease it might create a wrong impression of the Church's stance regarding gay marriage or the blessing of gay unions? I think it is patently obvious where the Catholic Church stands on this issue; and I find it absurd to think that what the MCC (a non-Catholic Church) does on property it leases from the Church somehow would reflect Catholic Church support for or indifference to the practice of blessing gay unions.

The way that I see it, Maestri's rationale is simply a poor excuse for the Archdiocese's uncharitable intolerance of the happiness of gay couples in the context of their committed relationships.

[ASIDE: Archbishop Alfred Hughes used the exact same reason for his refusal to attend Loyola University's Law School Commencement ceremony because the Landrieu family, some members of which supposedly have supported pro-choice legislation, was being honored. As if, by attending a graduation ceremony, Hughes would be confusing the faithful about whether or not the Catholic Church supports abortion. I mean, really, if any Catholic really would have viewed the Archbishop's attendance at the Commencement ceremony in this way, shame on them. I rather think the faithful would have interpreted Hughes's attendance as the "love the sinner" part of the "love the sinner, hate the sin" mantra we so often hear.]

For any truly compassionate person, this rationale offered by Maestri [and the Archbishop] must come across as lame, if you ask me. It's got a not-so-pleasant smell about it, rather like a carton of milk about one or two days past its expiration date; and it makes the Catholic Church look very disingenuous, if not dishonest.

The Times-Picayune's columnist James Gill captures the unseemliness of the Catholic Church's rationale when he writes in his usual irreverent and acerbic way:
The Catholic Church's views on homosexuality are not exactly a secret. There would be no turning a blind eye if a priest were caught solemnizing a gay marriage. The church may have been morally ambivalent on the sexual molestation of children, but it has remained steadfast on the important issues.

But, in all seriousness, Gill's got a point; and the flimsiness of the rationale offered by Maestri in defense of the Church's actions only drives the point home further that the Catholic Church, in spite of its pretenses to love, forgiveness, and charity towards the sinner, really can be mean-spirited to good-hearted people.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Liberal Lighthouse: Pork, and I mean PORK! - We all know that George W. Bush is about as fiscally conservative as Michael Moore is socially conservative. But this example of Pork Legislation [From The New Republic] the size of Mount Rushmore just takes the cake for Republican pretenses to thriftiness:

Don Young's Way conjures images of a quaint little street akin to a "lane" or a "drive," a modest tribute to a beloved public servant. But the planned bridge connecting Anchorage, Alaska, with the sparsely populated section of land across the Knik Arm Channel will be anything but modest. Named in honor of the House Transportation Committee chairman who helped push the project through Congress as part of last week's transportation bill, the two-mile span will rival the Golden Gate Bridge in length, and the $229 million in federal funding approved for it is expected to be just the tip of the iceberg. The bill, in which Alaska received almost $1 billion in pork-barrel projects, also included $220 million for another huge bridge connecting the city of Ketchikan (population 8,000) with nearby Gravina Island (population 50).

Left out of the $286 billion transportation bill, however, was $400 million in funding for another namesake bridge, of sorts, in Washington, D.C. In 2001, the Kennedy Center announced plans for a massive plaza to be built over the Potomac Freeway, which would link the isolated performing arts center with the National Mall. Congress had supported the idea but failed to provide the funding on which the project hinged. According to The Washington Post, Kennedy Center Trustee James V. Kimsey "said he understood that Congress had to make tough choices with the war in Iraq and the president's demand for a tight budget." If he believes that, we know of a bridge in Brooklyn that's for sale. Or, better yet, a couple in Alaska.
NOTE: For the Ketchikan/Gravina Island bridge, that's a per capita expenditure of $27,329. Just let that sink in for a while and try not to get too angry when that homeless person on the street corner asks you for a dollar so that he can eat.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano: The Millenium Challenge Corporation - From an article published by the Council on Hemishperic Affairs:

In 2000, the United Nations launched an effort to eradicate worldwide poverty by 2015, adopting eight objectives called the Millennium Development Goals. In 2004, President Bush, in attempting to address these goals, founded the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which is in charge of allocating grants to a list of carefully selected developing nations. However, after almost two years of operation, the MCC has accomplished surprisingly little. Founding CEO, Paul Applegarth, who suddenly announced his resignation on June 15, left the post on August 8, and only a temporary replacement, Charles O. Sethness, has so far been selected. Although Applegarth’s reasons for departing the position were to spend more time with his family, Andrew Balls, of the Financial Times, reported that his resignation “resulted from falling confidence within the Bush Administration that the flagship aid programme was fulfilling expectations.” The question now remains whether this new approach to development aid can live up to its lofty goals or if it will end up being just another Bush administration scheme to further its conservative policy objectives in Latin America as well as in other parts of the developing world.
Along with the just about every other promise made by the Bush Administration to support the dignity and welfare of the world's poorest, it's all nothing but empty puffery.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cuaderno Latinoamericano: Oppenheimer Report -

"My conclusion: This is a stupid policy, which the Bush administration should ask Congress to change as soon as possible. It is denying Americans the opportunity to know more about radical movements from the people who know them best, and is hurting U.S. efforts to make key friends abroad. If there are not more moderates in the world, it may be because the United States shuns them." Andres Oppenheimer, 8/11/05

Oppenheimer is talking about the U.S. entry-visa policy on former radicals from Latin America who have long ago come to their senses. Read the whole article to find out why his conclusion makes sense.

Ex Cathedra: Msgr. Clark's Fall from Grace and the Problem with Hardline Orthodoxy - Catholic Priest, Msgr. Eugene V. Clark, a hardline voice on behalf of Catholic orthodoxy, has been caught with his pants down in an unseemly adulterous relationship. Click here for the story.

Catholic blogger, Amy Welborn, has written a very moving article about how she, as an Orthodox Catholic, is reacting to the scandal and what it means for the Church and the faithful, and in particular for the Orthodox community that held Msgr. Clark in such esteem and that embraced him as a "voice in the wilderness" for Orthodoxy. Welborn doesn't defend Msgr. Clark, but she also doesn't strike an outraged or condemnatory tone towards the man. Welborn's piece is commendable for its humility; but the fact of its humility is also quite a departure from the cocksure infallibility characteristic of Orthodoxy's advocates and defenders.

In the comments section of her blog, I wrote the following, which represents my thoughts on Msgr. Clark's fall from grace and how it reflects what I see as the preeminent problem with Catholic Orthodoxy as practiced and promoted by its hardline advocates today:

I think the issue, the crushing disappointment, has less to do with recognizing the reality of the failings and sins of our clergy and Church leadership. I think we all are aware of that at a fundamental level. Nor is it really that such failings, when they come to light, are "faith-shakers" for us who are sure of our faith. Rather, it is the hubris and the lack of humility about our sinfulness coming from the "hardliners" (your term, not mine) that rubs the wrong way. Orthodoxy has the aura, whether deserved or not, of being cruelly rigid and unsympathetic, if not even unforgiving.

Some of the faithful who abide by the often difficult road of Orthodoxy take comfort in the stern, unyielding, and uncompromising leadership of the "hardliners" and appreciate when these hardliners take on "heterodoxy" (i.e. the propensity towards sinfulness) with such public vigor and certitude of moral superiority. Often times, it is the struggling "heterodox sinner" who bears the full weight of such "tough love" and is made to feel his sinfulness ever so poignantly by the outspoken and hardline defenders of orthodoxy.

And when one of the hardliners falls, it is not the "hardline" itself that is at issue, but a sense that, perhaps, maybe, the "softies" who are less quick to the "tough love" trigger finger with the struggling faithful need to be given a bit more public weight and validity in the pastoral work of the church.
In light of my recent interest in commenting on the behavior of our local prelates, I sincerely hope that local hardline advocates of Orthodoxy in the New Orleans Archdiocese learn a little lesson in humility from the Clark scandal, especially in terms of the manner in which it throws its stones at members of its own pastoral community.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ex Cathedra: Catholic Church Hypocrisy? - I present, you decide.

In the Catholic Blogosphere (also known sometimes as St. Blog), as well as in the Catholic media, there have been untold expressions of outrage and offense hurled forth from the lips of the Catholic faithful (not to mention the Catholic hierarchy) about the recent Subpoena issued to U.S. Archbishop William J. Levada in the sacristy just before the start of his farewell mass. Archbishop Levada is departing for a new job in the Vatican as ex-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's (now better known as Pope Benedict XVI) replacement at the Head of the Vatican Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. For some background and the basic nuts and bolts of the incident and its aftermath, you can check out this story published by Catholic News Service. Here's the relevant bit of the story that I want to follow-up on:

Shortly before the Mass, Archbishop Levada was served with a subpoena ordering him to be deposed in relation to clergy sex abuse lawsuits filed by some 250 plaintiffs against the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., which the archbishop headed from 1986 to 1995.

Maurice Healy, director of communications and outreach for the San Francisco Archdiocese, confirmed Aug. 8 that the subpoena had been served in the cathedral sacristy before the Mass, but he criticized the timing of the move.

He said the archbishop, who "walks to work" and is a "very public person," could have been served with the subpoena on several other, less public occasions.

Healy said remarks made by several plaintiffs' attorneys in Portland following the Vatican announcement of Archbishop Levada's new post had convinced him that the lawyers wanted to "seize the opportunity created by his appointment to embarrass the church."

The Los Angeles Times reported that Cookie Gambucci, who served the subpoena, said she told the archbishop she would serve it to him on the altar if he did not accept it before the Mass. Gambucci said Archbishop Levada accepted the subpoena but told her, "This is a disgrace to the church."

Healy said the archbishop was misquoted and had said not to Gambucci but to an aide, "This is a disgrace to the legal profession."
First, let me start by declaring that I believe presenting a subpoena in such a manner at such a time is very impolitic and inconsiderate both to Archbishop Levada and to the Catholic faith community. But when one considers how the Catholic Church and its Archbishops themselves do precisely these sorts of very crass, impolitic, and inconsiderate public publicity stunts to hurt and embarrass members of the Catholic faith community, the hysterical reaction and outrage spewing from the lips and keyboards of Catholics against the Levada subpoena seems to me a bit misplaced and possibly a tad hypocritical. Let me give you the evidence of one particular case, and then you can be the judge.

At recent Commencement Exercises at Loyola University of New Orleans, a Catholic Jesuit University, a prominent local Catholic family -- the entire family -- was honored for its distinguished record of public service. This family, the Landrieus, consists of a former New Orleans Mayor, Moon Landrieu, current U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (Moon's daughter), and current Louisiana State Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu (Moon's son). All are Democrats. However, this Archbishop of New Orleans, Alfred Hughes, publicly snubbed this Catholic family by refusing to accept an invitation to attend Loyola's Commencement Ceremony and issuing a public statement to that effect, simply because the Landrieus were to be honored at this ceremony and he takes issue with what he perceives are the pro-abortion stances taken by Mary and Mitch during their political careers. As the above-linked article in the Archdiocesan Newspaper, the Clarion Herald states:
Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes did not participate in commencement exercises at Loyola University New Orleans last week because the university's law school chose to grant an honorary degree to the entire family of former mayor and state appeals court judge Moon Landrieu, which includes his daughter, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who has voted to support abortion rights.

Archbishop Hughes announced May 5 he had decided to decline an invitation to participate in the university's graduation ceremonies because "not all members of the (Landrieu) family have been faithful to the church's teaching regarding public policy" on abortion.
The response to Archbishop Hughes's insensitive and inconsiderate public effort to denigrate and hurt the Landrieu family received mixed reaction, but the orthodox pro-life wing of the Catholic Church praised Hughes for his stand. As one letter-writer to the Clarion Herald stated:
It was disappointing to learn that Loyola will be presenting an honorary doctorate to the Landrieu family as part of the university's graduation exercises. Archbishop Hughes has decided to boycott the graduation because of Mitch and Mary Landrieu's public support of abortion rights. This decision by the archbishop is a powerful affirmation of Church teaching.
Through all this, the Landrieu family kept their dignity and kept their peace; and Loyola kept its honor and principles and went through with their ceremony which honored the Landrieus. Then, not letting the issue rest, the Clarion Herald, published a guest editorial by Susan Mire which sought once again to defend Archbishop Hughes's decision to boycott in a very public and pronounced way the Commencement ceremony which honored the Landrieus and also to issue another condemnation of Mary and Mitch Landrieu's perceived stance in support of abortion. [As if the tastelessness and insensitivity of reopening these old wounds weren't enough, the sickening condescension of Mire toward the Landrieus really made the article nothing more than a pile of spiteful, vengeful garbage.] Here's how Mire opened her piece:
The early days of summer vacation can provide a time for reflection. I have been pondering the ongoing turmoil in our public life regarding Catholic politicians and their public support of abortion.

We had our own situation regarding Archbishop Alfred Hughes' decision not to attend Loyola University's graduation last month because the university honored the entire Landrieu family for its lifetime of public service. Archbishop Hughes received both local and national press, some of it quite unfavorable. The average person might think the archbishop was intolerant.

But my work with women who have had abortions or who are involved in crisis pregnancies has taught me that most people are unaware of the true dynamics of abortion and the mind set of those who enable it to continue.

Archbishop Hughes is engaged in the care of souls. His decision to bypass the Loyola graduation showed his regard for the souls of the unborn, the women and men who have experienced abortion, the Landrieu family and the Loyola family. Yes, he actually cares for the Landrieu family and the Loyola family, as those of us who disagree with them also should care.
There's so much one can say about this piece, and I've already had a bit of a say on this editorial previously. But let me point out something now that I didn't touch upon earlier. When Mire, in her opening salvo, ponders whether people might think the archbishop was "intolerant" in his public boycott of Loyola's commencement ceremonies, I would clarify for her that it was not so much his "intolerance" that was the issue as much as it was his insensitivity and disrespect for the family in taking his complaint with the Landrieus to the public in such a visible way. A good pastor who has an issue with the moral behavior of a member of his flock doesn't broadcast to the world his displeasure without at least attempting to take up the matter with the member first.

Stung once again by this public effort to defend the Archbishop's behavior and to condescendingly reproach the Landrieus as if they were misbehaving children requiring some "tough love," the Landrieu family, via Verna and Moon Landrieu, responded:
Believing that the controversy would fade, we have resisted writing even as articles and letters continue to appear in the Clarion Herald praising the archbishop for his courage in rebuking Loyola University for honoring our family. However, the latest article in the June 29 Clarion Herald by Susan Mire - CATHOLIC POLITICIANS AND THEIR SUPPORT FOR ABORTION - is so erroneous and hurtful that it cannot be ignored.

We believe Ms. Mire is a well-intentioned, devout Catholic. We also know she is terribly wrong when she writes: "... Senator Landrieu and Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu have, for whatever reason, consistently advocated for abortion throughout their political careers." Neither Mary nor Mitch nor any member of our family is for abortion or has advocated for abortion.

Hurtful also is the condescending manner in which she assures us that the archbishop cares for "those who have experienced abortion, the Landrieu family and the Loyola family." As further consolation she comforts us with the thought that "God loves politicians, those named Landrieu and others."

After 46 years in politics, we are no strangers to calumny or criticism, but we do expect better from a devout Catholic.

Some believe that the action of the archbishop was courageous. To the contrary, it was unwise, unnecessary and harmful. The archbishop knows us personally from our participation on archdiocesan boards and committees as well as from social activities. Had he simply called us before he issued his public statement and told us that he found our family unworthy of the honorary degree, we would have solved whatever problem he thought he had, with harm done to no one. Instead, he went public (locally and nationally) thereby damaging Loyola, provoking criticism of himself and inflicting serious pain on our family. How sad! The 56 members of our family became collateral damage in an unnecessary ecclesiastical conflict.

As Catholics our faith will survive and we will move on in hope, but we do wonder about the scars left on our 37 grandchildren.
[Emphasis added.]
And here is where we return to the Levada story and the potential hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and its faithful who were so offended by the outrage perpetrated on Archbishop Levada and the Church by the manner of the delivery of the subpoena. From where I sit, I would guess that this subpeona was issued in such a dramatic manner and with such publicity so as to bring attention to the subject of the subpoena: the sexual abuse scandal and the Church's complicity in covering up this moral outrage. And maybe there was the intent to bring a bit of humiliation and dishonor upon Levada in the process, all in terms of taking a stand in defense of the defenseless; but frankly, I don't see how this is any different than what Hughes did (and continues to do through his surrogates) to the Landrieu family.

Let's revisit a piece of the Levada story cited above in light of the Hughes/Landrieu story:
The Los Angeles Times reported that Cookie Gambucci, who served the subpoena, said she told the archbishop she would serve it to him on the altar if he did not accept it before the Mass. Gambucci said Archbishop Levada accepted the subpoena but told her, "This is a disgrace to the church."

Healy said the archbishop was misquoted and had said not to Gambucci but to an aide, "This is a disgrace to the legal profession."
Now, let's just think about this. By my reading, when Levada says "This is a disgrace to the legal profession," one would assume he means that what is disgraceful is not the FACT of his being issued a subpoena, nor really the subject of the subpoena, but rather the timing and dramatic effect of its delivery calculated as a publicity stunt with the intent to embarrass him at a celebratory moment of his and the Catholic Church's life. I wonder if the similar behavior by Archbishop Hughes would receive such strong words. Would Levada look at Hughes and how he treated the Landrieus and say of him: "This is a disgrace to the church"? If he were consistent, he would do just that. At another level, as the aggrieved party to Hughes's impolitic and calculated-to-harm behavior, Moon Landrieu would have every right to follow the lead of Bishop Levada and issue a similar statement to the press that his family's shoddy treatment by Hughes and the manner in which Hughes chose to take issue with the family, a good Catholic family, represented a "disgrace to the Church."

It appears that the Landrieus have much more class and dignity than Levada by not stooping to his level of maligning the "offending" profession, simply because members of that profession did their job in a way calculated to have the most dramatic public and political effect in support of their cause and convictions. If Hughes can get away with such shenanigans as a member of the Priestly profession sticking up for his pro-life principles and be hailed by Catholic faithful as a model of principled behavior, then the officials who resorted to the shenanigans of delivering Levada his subpeona when and how they did should also be hailed by the Catholic faithful as models of principled behavior in carrying out their professional duty to prosecute those religious implicated in the sex abuse scandal and its coverup by Chuch leaders, leaders like Hughes and Levada.

Lagniappe: New Posting Category for the Blog - Given a review of some of my recent posts, I've decided to add a new category for my blog posts: EX CATHEDRA. In this section, I'll comment on topics related to religion, faith, and in particular my faith and church: Roman Catholicism and the Roman Catholic Church. Some may consider my choice of category title as heretical given that it is a phrase used to refer to Papal Infallibility. But, what the heck! Its literal translation is "From the Throne" and my ruminations on the subject of religion, faith, and church, though undoubtedly very fallible, can be considered proclamations issued from the throne of HUCKUPCHUCK bloggerdom. Next up, my first posting under this heading.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Lagniappe: Media and Missing Persons Coverage - Lately, there have been some to-do's about the Media's preference in its Missing Persons coverage for focusing almost exclusively on white females. I began to think about this and came up with a simple experiment. Try it on yourself and begin with this question.

If you identified off the top of your head all of the missing persons stories picked up by either local or national media that stick in your mind, who would they be?
Feel free to answer in the comments section before reading further, lest you be biased by reading my personal answer to the question.

Now ...

For my part, I can remember clearly Jon Benet Ramsey, Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy, the Runaway Bride, Natalee Holloway, the little girl that was found in California with that strange religious fanatic, the little girl up north recently discovered with a sexual predator, a girl in Florida that went missing under the noses of Social Services, and ... I can't remember any more.

Of these cases, only one involved a missing minority, and all were female.

Even though I'm sure I'm missing some people here, I must admit that it does seem very unidimensional. Without attributing any sinister motives or intentions to anybody, it does seem like there is a pattern in the media coverage of missing persons that prefers white females.

Maybe it's a "so what" thing; but it does give pause.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The "Weak" in (National) Review: NRO Editors on Intelligent Design - Well, I'll be! With all the brains (i.e. intelligence) supposedly on display at the conservative standard-bearer National Review, I never would have imagined that I would be reading an editorial that says this:

So a local school board's failure to teach evolution becomes, literally, a federal case: a violation of the Court's version of the separation of church and state.

Whatever the outcome of the debate over evolution, it should be conducted at the local level.
I understand the point here, which is that the editors are taking issue with the courts deciding that the "absence" of evolution in the curriculum is somehow a religious statement in and of itself. But if they aren't teaching evolution in life science classes, then, what are they teaching? One hopes that they are teaching something! But it's the bigger implication underlying this point that astonishes me. If I am reading the editors correctly, they are suggesting that local school boards should be at liberty to decide what to teach in public schools, that there should be no educational standards whatsoever. [In fact, they say as much at another point in the editorial when they write: "There are no national standards that require evolution, or any other subject, to be taught in a certain way in the public schools. Nor should there be."] So that, if the local school board decides simply not to teach evolution, to ignore it altogether, so be it. I can't imagine what the editors of National Review would say if a local school board decided not to teach algebra or U.S. history, or, conversely, if a school board should decide to teach the fundamentals of witchcraft and wizardry or some version of world history predicated on the literalist biblical idea that the earth has only been around for some 4,000 years.

All I can say is that if the local school board in po-dunk city, USA, wants its children to be uncritical intellectual neanderthals, well, I guess, so be it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Cuaderno Latinoamericano: TeleBush vs. TeleChavez? - Rep. Connie Mack (R) of Florida has proposed that the U.S. Government create and fund a state-sponsored TV broadcast (similar to TV Marti) to counter Venezuela's TeleSur Network, which was funded and sponsored by the Venezuealn government as a pro-Chavez network in that country. Is this a good idea? Andres Oppenheimer thinks not. Already, the global press is cynically referring to this initiative proposed by Mack as TeleBush, with the not-so-far-fetched notion that this broadcast will be nothing more than a U.S. Bush Administration propaganda machine against Chavez. Furthermore, why would the U.S. want to do this in a country where press freedom and alternative TV networks are still functional? Personally, I think it is a boneheaded move strategically, and will only strengthen Chavez in power and confirm the already-embraced idea of the U.S. as the bully of the Western Hemipshere.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Lagniappe: Bolton Heading to the UN - Well, John Bolton is now Bush's guy at the United Nations, thanks to his recess apointment. For liberal Democrats and sensible Republicans who opposed Bolton, the good news is that, by his own admission, Bolton, as a part of the UN, is himself now "irrelevant."