Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Random NOLA

Here is my next addition to Random NOLA, which is a blog posting category that features a photo that I've taken from places around the city of New Orleans that make up a part of my day. They won't be pre-arranged. And I'm going to try to make them pictures of inconspicious scenes, but potentially identifiable to the attentive native. In other words, don't expect to find pictures of the Superdome or the St. Louis Cathedral or other such easily identifiable places. Where possible, I'll also try to keep street signs out of the picture, too. The goal is not only just to share a brief, random part of the path of my day, but also to see if true NOLA-philes can figure out exactly where in the city this scene is located. So, without further ado, here's the next "Random NOLA" Photo. Click on the picture to enlarge it. Give it your best shot and put your guess in the comments section:

Torture Nation

I think it is now patently clear that the United States, under Bush-Cheney, became a torture nation. Whether one seeks to justify the behavior or condemn it, I really don't think it is beyond any reasonable question that the behavior took place, that it was carefully planned and executed, and that it constitutes torture.

Frankly, I am horrified.

We have become what we supposedly despise.

And Peggy Noonan would just like to put on the blinders and simply walk right by it.

Catholics who fashion themselves as adherents to the Church's pro-life orthodoxies would do well to read Mark Shea on the subject.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Christian Nation

By Christopher Taylor**

Recently, while in Turkey, President Obama had this to say about America (courtesy Atlas Shrugs):

"We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. uh uh We consider ourselves uh uh a nation of US citizens"
All together now: ARRRRRRRRRRRGGHH!!

This is where I diverge not just from most conservatives, but many Christians as well. While awkward and silly, he's right in two senses.

First, he's speaking to an Islamic nation, albeit a fairly moderate one. Many, perhaps most Muslims around the world have been raised and taught that religion and government are one, that there is no "secular" portion of society, and that there's absolutely no separation, not even a distinction between church and state. The religious leaders in Muslim nations are government, they command and control everything in your life from what food you eat to where you travel to what taxes are levied. For these Muslims, the concept of a nation not ruled by a religion is alien and perhaps even inconceivable. President Obama wants these people to know - just like President Bush did before him - that America is not run by Christians the way Islamic nations are run by Muslims. That much is a fact. In the sense that Muslims understand church and state, America has not ever been a Christian nation.

Second, it is indisputable that the founding fathers and the bulk of this nation's history was heavily influenced by and seen through a Christian worldview. That much is simple history. However, we're beyond that point now and are post-Christian: the general worldview of the nation is decidedly not Christian. In many ways it is anti-Christ, as in "in the place of" Christ, rejecting the Gospel and the Bible and God not just as neutral but even for some pernicious and destructive.

So he's not entirely wrong here. Where he's wrong is that many, perhaps most people in America do think of the country as a Christian nation not only because of its heritage, but because the majority religion in the country is Christianity. He's wrong to say that we simply think of ourselves as "US citzens." But the gnashing of teeth over his statement about a Christian nation is simply foolish. The United States is not Christian. To whatever extent it ever seemed to be, we're not any longer.

We should remove "In God We Trust" from the money, we should remove "under God" from the pledge of allegiance, we should remove the Bible from oaths. To keep them in is a lie and hypocrisy. The US is under God, as are all nations, but the country doesn't recognize that, doesn't act like it, and rebels continually against it.

God have mercy on us.

**Christopher Taylor is a conservative blogger and will be contributing a conservative perspective at The Huck Upchuck on occasion.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thoughts on April 15

The day that Abraham Lincoln died.

The day that the Titanic sunk.

The day that taxes are due.

My birthday. What a day!

As I observed in my Facebook status update for today: I am discovering that the middle age birthdays are kinda non-entities -- you're too old to think of them with joyful anticipation, too young to think of them anxiously as making death more imminent. The result: a regular day like any other -- no parties, no laments.

Though I did go with my oldest daughter to see Verdi's La Traviata at the Mahalia Jackson Performing Arts Center today. That was unexpected and a nice way to end the day. I have to say, though, that I thought La Traviata was a bit slow and boring at points. I much prefer Bizet's Carmen and Mozart's Don Giovanni to Verdi's La Traviata.

Tomorrow starts the SECOLAS Conference. It lasts throughout the weekend. Which means I probably will get only minimal time on the blog -- perhaps only just to post Christopher_Taylor's weekly contribution to The Huck Upchuck. We'll see.

Now, seeing as I have to get up early to DJ my early morning Classical Music show on WTUL, it's off to bed. Peace.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Obama at Georgetown

No, I'm not going to talk about the content of his speech today. Suffice it to say that I thought it was quite good. Sober, intelligent, and confident.

What I really want to say, though, is how proud I am once again of my Alma Mater, Georgetown University, for welcoming Obama to the campus to make his speech.

Of course the anti-abortion Catholic zealots are incensed and outraged that a Catholic University would even acknowledge our country's President, much less give him space to make a speech on the economic situation of our country.

But in spite of this, Georgetown is sticking with the best of its Jesuit tradition for engagement with issues and ideas, even from those with whom the institution's Catholic identity might conflict.

I've been thinking about this in reference to the whole Notre Dame "scandal" and it makes me wonder why the anti-abortion Catholic zealots simply don't demand that Catholic Universities ask on their admissions applications where their prospective students stand on the whole abortion issue and insist that any prospective student who answers this question "incorrectly" should be automatically rejected out of hand. If Catholic Universities and Colleges aren't places where pro-choice politicians can speak about matters unrelated to abortion, then they shouldn't be places where faculty or students who support such politicians should be allowed to matriculate. If these zealots want to "purify" Catholic institutions of higher learning of the "rot" of what they think are abortion apologists, then they should be prepared to effectively shut down just about every single Catholic University and College in this country. After all, significant majorities of faculty and students at Notre Dame and at Georgetown welcome Obama to the campus. How would that be for cutting off your nose in spite of your face?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

TEA Party on April 15?

Should I join the angry throngs in the culturally-bereft conservative suburbs of Metairie? Nah. Screw that. It's my birthday and I'll be chillin' with a brew and my family. I'd much rather be enjoying the day than giving myself an ulcer.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Investment Advice in a Failing Economy

By Christopher_Taylor**

With the stock market plunging around the world and banks collapsing, many people are looking for a better place to put their money, a superior investment. I can give you one right now, a secret that only a handful of people have been able to take advantage of. With this investment scheme you will make not just double, not just triple, not even a hundred times as much back as you invest, but thousands, even tens of thousands. What is this scheme?

Buy a congressman.

“Remember that AIG’s largesse — $9,342,839 in individual, PAC, soft money and 527 contributions since the 1989 election cycle — is dwarfed by the $170 billion in support the firm has gotten. That’s $18,195 for every dollar contributed. It certainly seems like subsidizing the pols led to quite a good return, as it did for Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, General Motors and others.”
I've long been amazed at how much a company who contributes a few thousand dollars per person (there are specific limits on how much a person or company can legally donate to a politician in the US) gets back from their congressman in terms of earmarks and contracts. Donate a few grand, get back millions in federal funding. That's such a good deal, such a powerful investment, it is worth donating the thousands to every single guy you can. If only one of them wins and throws you back a fat contract or a bailout, you've made back the kind of money that even Hillary Clinton can only dream of, even with her astounding cattle futures investment.

What congressmen do is take care of their contributors, taking care of them to an absurd degree of benevolence, far beyond the benefit they've gotten from campaign contributions. But wait, it doesn't stop there. Remember the campaign, how desperately the legacy media sold out any semblance of credibility, objectivity, and reliability to get their guys elected? I suggested that some believe that was out of a hope that they'd be saved through this effort and was mocked by a commenter for saying such a thing. Senator Cardin (D-MD) thinks otherwise:
“With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.

‘This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat,’said Senator Benjamin Cardin.

A Cardin spokesman said the bill had yet to attract any co-sponsors, but had sparked plenty of interest within the media, which has seen plunging revenues and many journalist layoffs.

Cardin's Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.”
What is the one force in a free market that can save a largely obsolete, fading and disliked industry? Government intervention. Yet, as Dan Reihl snarks:
“Congress can't make newspapers non-profit. For most practical purposes, they already are.”
This would allow newspapers to continue, being treated as non profits for "educational" purposes without needing to actually generate a profit. It would prop up the businesses even if they lose customers and cannot show an actual earning to investors and their board members. The bill wouldn't actually save newspapers, it would just allow them to continue dying slowly rather than collapsing abruptly like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. People would continue to move away from newspapers for their information, advertisers would continue to abandon the papers for other media, but the papers could technically limp along longer. And for a while, their influence - already overemphasized by a small group of influential people in the country - could continue.

Having problems figuring out where to put your money? The only sector in the world that thrived in the great depression was the federal government. Get yourself a congressman and you'll see amazing returns on your investment. Until the economy totally collapses, at least.

**Christopher Taylor is a conservative blogger and will be contributing a conservative perspective at The Huck Upchuck on occasion.

A Conservative Viewpoint on The Huck Upchuck

I'd like to introduce to the readers of The Huck Upchuck an experiment in ideological blogging pluralism. As some of you may know, I tend to frequent a fair number of blogs that represent the full range of conservative thought and ideology. Some of these blogs are just downright partisan hackery; but there are a number of respectable and honest ones out there. One of the best of these latter blogs is produced by a blogging buddy of mine, Christopher Taylor. His excellent blog Word Around the Net has been a longtime member of my Con Blogger blogroll. Christopher and I disagree on just about everything when it comes to politics and ideology; but we have come to respect one another's sincerity and honesty in expressing oppositional viewpoints. In the spirit of this healthy opposition, Christopher recently approached me and asked if I would contribute a weekly posting to his blog that represents a liberal's perspective on the issues of the day. I thought it was a great idea, so much so that I asked Christopher if he might be interested in a kind of inter-blog exchange of posts whereby I would send something his way to post on his blog and he would send something my way to post on my blog. We exchanged our first postings at the end of last week with the promise of uploading these posting sometime this week. I am happy to reproduce below Christopher's first posting for the Huck Upchuck. Please feel free to critique Christopher's ideas (he has thick skin and a strong backbone, and can take whatever you think to dish out to him); but please keep your criticisms focused on Christopher's ideas and not on Christopher himself. And, who knows, perhaps you might find yourself agreeing with him. In any event, I am pleased to be able to bring to you some different perspectives on The Huck Upchuck. I'll put Christopher's first contribution up in the next posting. Let's see how it goes!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lusher Morning Meeting and the "Leap With Me" Song

Want to see what happens every morning at my kids' school? Check out this clip, produced by Lusher Mom and family friend Beth Aguillard (Beth's two daughters are friends with and are each in the same grades as my two daughters):

VIDEO: New Orleans Lusher Elementary LEAP test song

I get to as many morning meetings as possible and I was certainly at this one. I'm not in the video, but I was just to the left of the camera watching the performance. What you can't really make out in the video is why the crowd breaks out into a hearty laugh when Ms. King and Ms. Robin turn their backs to the audience at the end of their little choreographed dance routine. The backs of their black jackets read in hot pink letters "Leap" (On Ms. King's back) and "Test" (On Ms. Robin's back). It was a very cute number. And something like this happens just about every day at morning meeting. Mr. Hughes, the music teacher, always leads some kind of musical performance. It's always a fun time and a great way to get the day started. I'm so glad my kids go to this great school.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Clebración Latina

For a great time, good food, hot music, and family fun, come out to the Celebración Latina tomorrow, Sunday, April 5, in Lawrence Square at the corner of Napoleon and Magazine. Enjoy Latin culture, food, music and show your support for the Children's Resource Center of the New Orleans Public Library at the same time. Information below:

Celebración Latina will feature food, music, and other entertainment, all with a Latin American flavor.

Join us for Latin and Caribbean musical performances by:

Casa Samba
Ovi-G and the Froggies
Rumba Buena

Celebración Latina will also have a children’s area hosted by the Pebbles Center and the New Orleans Public Library featuring art, storytelling, dance, and a drum workshop.

Local food vendors will be selling their favorite Latin dishes. Our "Community Partner" tent will promote non-profit and community organizations, many working in partnership with Tulane University, to make a difference in New Orleans.