Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blogging Self-Nudge Update

Starting on August 1, 2009, I engaged in an experiment to try to hold myself accountable to an average of one blog posting for each day of every month according to the terms outlined here. I am proud to say that I have kept faith with my self-nudge pledge since then. However, in accordance with the rules that I outlined in my self-nudge experiment, I am hereby announcing that I am relieving myself of the obligation to adhere to the self-nudge conditions. This means that if I don't make the monthly average of postings the self-nudge requires, I am not obliged to pay the penalties for failing to do so. But, I should say that I plan to continue blogging at the same pace. I just want to see if the "self-nudge" has created a sustainable habit. If I find that my blogging really slips off, then I will likely reinstate the self-nudge arrangement. But for now, I think I am ready to test whether or not my blogging habits have really taken root such that a nudge is no longer required. For those who have followed my self-nudge journey and have been holding me to it, thanks for being part of it. Again, this doesn't mean the end of blogging for me, not by a long shot -- just that the self-nudge experiment is suspended. So, please keep coming back for more Upchucks. I promise they'll keep coming. Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vitter Is A Criminal

Watch this

Notice how Vitter point-blank refuses to answer a very simple question: When he committed his "sin" did he break the law? He refuses to answer because everyone with half a brain knows the answer. It's "Yes" he broke the law. And the family values hypocrite lawbreaker criminal has the nerve to go after "illegal" immigrants. Every time I see this Yahoo it makes me sick to my stomach. Here we have a guy who writes laws that he expects us to follow, and yet he thinks he is entitled to break the law himself and still get to write laws that he expects the rest of us to obey. Here's a fact: I voted against my party and put Joseph Cao, a Republican, in office because I couldn't stomach sending William Jefferson back to Congress because of his criminal malfeasance, even before Jefferson was actually convicted of criminal wrongdoing. And conservatives all across the country made Jefferson's criminal behavior a point of disqualification of his running for legislative office. Even before Jefferson was convicted of any crime, I looked at the evidence in front of my nose and I agreed with Jefferson's conservative critics. And so I voted against the man for precisely this reason, and voted for a moderate Republican to replace him. But now Louisiana's conservative Republicans are about to engage in their own disgusting display of hypocrisy by voting this criminal Vitter back into office. Again, it makes me sick. Vitter is a shameless, hypocritical, and venal coward and opportunist. He's a low-life criminal scum who thinks he is above the law or that his lawbreaking can simply be washed away as part of the past. I have no respect for anyone who votes for him, especially since there is a perfectly acceptable and honorable option in Charlie Melancon, even for conservatives. If I can vote for a moderate Republican on the principle that criminal behavior is simply a deal-breaker, irrespective of prosecution and conviction, then conservatives should be able to vote for a conservative Democrat on the very same principle.

Vote Vitter Out of Office

Stop the Politics of Hate from JoLu on Vimeo.

Sen. David Vitter claims to be a good Catholic Christian. One who is a sinner, but one who supposedly acknowledges his sins and benefits from the forgiveness of God, his family, and his fellow human beings. Well, I call on Sen. Vitter to live up to his supposed Catholic Christian values in terms of treating others the way he expects to be treated. I call on Sen. Vitter to live up to the Catholic social teachings which emphasize solidarity with the poor and respecting the dignity of his fellow human beings. His reprehensible and disgusting ad does nothing but vilify and demean the dignity of his fellow human being. He should live up to the Catholic Christian values that he claims and not live down to the baser nature of human beings just to tap into this baser, hateful nature to secure votes.

Vote for Charlie Melancon! He's not a great choice for progressive liberal Democrats, but at least he's a decent human being who respects his fellows and who doesn't resort to such reprehensible depictions of others for his own electoral gains. He's certainly not a family values hypocrite like Vitter is.

Conservatives - you need to know that whatever authority you have in the federal Senate involves a willingness to accept the immoral, vile, and hypocritical character that is David Vitter. Know it and own it.

MBH Pottery at the Palmer Park Arts Market Tomorrow

Well, it's once again that time of the month when my lovely bride will again be out at the Palmer Park Arts Market setting up her booth to sell her pottery. The market will be running tomorrow, Saturday, from 10am-4pm, and the weather forecast looks perfect. It promises to be a beautiful day and ideal for a visit to the Arts Market. My B-2/3 has been hard at work all month and has added significantly to her inventory of pieces. So, if you want to support a great cause and pick up some wonderful pieces of handmade, high quality pottery as wedding gifts, birthday presents, early Christmas or Hannukah gifts, or any other kind of gift, please get your umbrella and do come out to the Arts Market today at Palmer Park on the corner of Claiborne and Carrollton Avenues and look her up. I think she's assigned to Booth 117, but you can find out for certain where she is at the information booth at the Market. MBH Pottery or Michele Benson Huck Pottery is what you should look for. Of course, as usual, Michele will also be doing live demonstrations at her pottery wheel, so please come out, enjoy the market, and stop by to visit Michele to see how pots are thrown (and hopefully not at you!)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vitter vs. Melancon

To me, this election is a no-brainer. Melancon is the obvious choice. And that should be true for conservatives, too. The fact is that Melancon is not an ideal candidate for liberals. He voted against the Health Care Reform legislation. He's pro-gun, anti-abortion, and anti-illegal immigration. Things that you would think would make him very appealing to conservatives. But what sets Melancon apart from Vitter is that Vitter is a moral reprobate and an unreconstructed, misogynist hypocrite, while Melancon's moral and ethical character is unassailable. I just don't see how anyone who embraces character and integrity as fundamental campaign issues wouldn't vote for Melancon over Vitter. And yet, Vitter is likely to be re-elected because the antipathy towards Obama in Louisiana among conservatives is so strong that anyone, even the devil himself, could likely be elected as long as he was anti-Obama and Republican. I think it says volumes about the electorate in this state -- and the volumes it says is not flattering.

Anyway, The Washington Post has a lengthy and well-written piece on the differeing campaign strategies and styles of both Vitter and Melancon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween/Day of the Dead Mask: Don't Be A Cabrón: Vote!

From Don't Be A Cabrón. Posted with permission.

More Tea Party Thuggery

A woman gathers outside of the place where Republican candidate for U.S. Senator in Kentucky, Rand Paul, was scheduled to arrive to debate his Democratic opponent. She has a sign and appears to be engaging in a bit of peaceful protest. What happens? She's wrestled to the ground and her head is stomped. Click here for video. A few comments.

First, Rand Paul is not responsible. He had nothing to do with this. So any efforts by liberals to try to link Rand Paul to this incident are simply engaging in a bit of disingenuous demagoguery themselves.

Second, there is no justification for these Tea Party thugs to do what they did. This was clearly an assault on this woman and a violation of her Constitutional rights to freedom of speech. There was no indication at all that she posed a threat to anyone, much less to Rand Paul. It is unconscionable; and the guy who stomped her head needs to go to jail and feel the full weight of a punitive lawsuit against his sorry ass self.

Third, let me pull the chivalry card that conservatives so often like to play: what kind of honorable, decent man does this to a defenseless woman?

Fourth, conservatives who like to reference questionable act of SEIU violence against a black Tea Party protester have no moral high ground to stand on any longer.

Fifth, in my mind, this is just yet another example of an extremist, violent impulse unleashed and encouraged by demagoguic leaders of the Tea Party movement. I point to Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and all others who stoke a kind of "Real Americans take back our country" mentality. It's the same kind of mentality that encourages bringing assault weapons to political speeches, putting liberal candidates in rifle scope targets, citing blood-spilling patriotic slogans, etc. This example kind of gives the lie, literally, to the whole "Don't tread on me" mantra, doesn't it? Unless, of course, the only people who are exempt from being tread upon are "real" Americans. We liberals, being not truly American, don't really merit the protections of the Constitution, do we?

The conservative thuggery, in an electoral environment that is very positive for conservatives, is astounding. You'd think that folks would be jeering and laughing at this woman, if not simply ignoring her, and not assaulting her and stomping on her head. It's not only astounding, but repulsive and disgusting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another Reason I'm An Exodus Catholic

Taliban Catholicism. These self-righteous orthodox Catholic bloggers who distort the church's teaching toward their own political ends ought to take the plank from their own eyes before noting the speck in the eyes of others.

Friday, October 22, 2010

NPR's Funding

It makes for a great populist soundbite by Republicans, who now have a cause celebre in Juan Williams, to rant against the supposedly taxpayer funded National Public Radio. But the problem here is that NPR receives ZERO direct federal government funding. And to the extent that NPR receives any indirect taxpayer funding, whether from state or federal governments, it amounts to a measly 5.8% of the organization's operating budget. Even cutting out NPR from indirect state or federal funding would do absolutely nothing to ameliorate the budget deficits of federal or state governments. In fact, it seems that GOP efforts to demagogue NPR essentially amount to a campaign to use the threat of force by the state to punish what is essentially a non-state financed operation.

Video of Joe Miller Campaign Thuggery

What defies belief here in this incredible video is that a private security detail refuses to identify itself, assumes authority as proper law enforcement, and pretends to have the authority to declare a public place off limits and to order private citizens around. There is no other words to describe this other than as Gestapo-like behavior. And even worse is the revelation that these guys are ACTIVE DUTY soldiers in the US Armed Forces. Even the police officer tells these goons that the place is a public space and yet this director of the security detail claims some kind of authority or ownership of this space. He claims that the space is private and that the reporters are trespassing, and yet he refuses to provide any documentation that what he even claims is true. It is abso-frickin-lutely, jaw-droppingly, unbelievable. Had a Democratic campaign engaged in some shenanigan like this, do you think the conservative punditocracy and blogosphere wouldn't be going ape-sh*t apoplectic? And I've scoured the conservative blogosphere to see what is being said about this outrage among conservatives. What have I encountered? Crickets.

Joe Miller - Thug

OK. It is commonplace for many, many conservatives to refer to liberal Democrats, and in particular the Obama administration, as a bunch of "thugs." But check out something that really constitutes thuggery: Alaska Senate Candidate, and Palinite Tea Party favorite, Joe Miller, uses active duty US military soldiers as a private security detail. Did you get that?!? ACTIVE DUTY SOLDIERS!!!

Meanwhile, the Army says that two of the guards who assisted in the arrest of the journalist and who tried to prevent two other reporters from filming the detention were active-duty soldiers moonlighting for Miller's security contractor, the Drop Zone, a Spenard surplus store and protection service.

The soldiers, Spc. Tyler Ellingboe, 22, and Sgt. Alexander Valdez, 31, are assigned to the 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Fort Richardson. Maj. Bill Coppernoll, the public affairs officer for the Army in Alaska, said the two soldiers did not have permission from their current chain of command to work for the Drop Zone, but the Army was still researching whether previous company or brigade commanders authorized their employment.
These soldiers were involved in the unlawful detention of a citizen journalist. What in the hell are these active duty US soldiers doing serving the interests of a partisan campaign in the first place? Aren't they supposed to be non-partisan defenders of the Constitutional rights of all citizens? This is outrageous and blurs the lines between the military as an institution and partisan affiliations. Active duty US soldiers simply should not be paid by the taxpayers and then work on behalf of the GOP. Some of my conservative readers think my fears about the totalitarian and autocratic tendencies within the GOP are overblown. Some of my conservative readers would be willing to vote for someone like Joe Miller, who would put active duty US soldiers on his campaign payroll and then use these soldiers to repress and detain a citizen journalist, just because they think having to buy health insurance or to pay 5% more in taxes is worse. Well, here's just another example of the direction conservatism is heading. These are not isolated incidences. They are popping up more and more frequently. I simply can't believe it. Who are the thugs here? What aspects of freedom are being compromised on the altar of partisanship here? I can't believe what the GOP has become, and I certainly don't think the GOP of Joe Miller represents the values of our Constitutional democracy. Conservative defenders of the Constitution, of democracy, of freedom need to stand up strongly against this. It is simply intolerable that I, as a liberal, should feel threatened or fearful of my own service members for crossing some political/ideological line. Outrageous.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Patronizing Conservative Elitism and Voter Suppression

The only time I have ever witnessed direct and blatant efforts, similar to the recent one in Nevada, to consciously seek to suppress votes has come from conservatives, whether directly from the GOP or from groups allied to the GOP. One example from 8 years ago concerned the Louisiana State GOP's efforts to suppress black voter turnout in a Senate race pitting Democrat Mary Landrieu against Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell.

But why should this surprise me when there is a widely-held belief in conservative circles that there are too many ignorant citizens who shouldn't be voting in elections.

The patronizing tone that comes across in these voter suppression efforts or in this idea that we'd all be better off if the unwashed, unlearned masses just stayed away from the voting booths underscores the real elitist disdain in the conservative movement for democracy and for the participation in our electoral system of the most vulnerable and marginalized, who are the most likely not to satisfy the knowledge threshhold that certain conservatives think should be a precondition for voting in elections.

And yet we liberals are the ones who are supposed to be the discriminatory elitists here?! Pshaw!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Christine O'Donnell's Constitutional Knowledge

It would help a Tea Party candidate who shouts to high heavens the sanctity of the Constitution and who claims reference to the Constitution as the sole means for legislating to actually, you know, know the Constitution. Christine O'Donnell's constitutional knowledge leaves much to be desired. In fact, I wouldn't put her in front of a first grade class to discuss the Constitution. She apparently has no clue what the 14th, 16th, and 17th Amendments to the Constitution are -- which is surprising given that these Amendments are very much the subject of critical scrutiny among a strong contingent of the Tea Party, which she claims to come from and embrace. But it's her apparent obtuseness about the First Amendment's establishment clause that really is the shocker:

What a joke!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Where Was Anh "Joseph" Cao?

This morning I was proud to stand behind my friend and colleague, Lucas Diaz, Executive Director of Puentes - New Orleans, at a press conference in protest of a repugnant and reprehensible campaign ad mounted by Sen. David Vitter about illegal immigration. The Press Conference got some good local media coverage and there was a great diversity of representation present in that audience and on the stage. One of the attendees in the audience was Cedric Richmond, the Democratic candidate in the race to represent Louisiana's US Congressional District 2 on Capitol Hill. Richmond was a great legislative ally in the Louisiana State Congress last spring when it came to confronting anti-illegal immigration legislation in Baton Rouge. I won't forget his clear position of opposition against this legislation. At this press conference, Richmond didn't seek out the spotlight. He didn't try to coopt the event for himself. He was just another citizen sitting in the audience in support of our grass-roots efforts to protest Vitter's campaign ad. That means something to me.

And guess who wasn't in the audience: Anh "Joseph" Cao. Cao should have been there. He could have been there. And as an immigrant from Vietnam himself, his presence would have been a strong symbol to Vitter and the Republican establishment backing him up that such vile demonization of immigrants is unacceptable regardless of partisan affiliation. But Cao wasn't there, and I'd bet any amount of money he wasn't there because it would have cost him among his GOP support base. Cao could have made a principled stand against the racist pandering and demagoguery of Vitter and the party that supports him. But he didn't. And that's just about enough for me in making up my mind come election day in November. It's a stark reminder that the "R" behind Cao's name makes him untrustworthy when it comes to standing up to bigotry that reflections poorly on what that "R" stands for. It's a wake-up call about the nature of partisanship in this current environment and that even someone like Cao is not immune to its pernicious effects.

Another View on the Motivations of Tea Partiers

Just to be fair, I'd like to point out to my readers this article written by Jonathan Haidt explaining what is really at the root of the Tea Party phenomenon. It's not exactly what I postulated in a previous posting, but it does reinforce somewhat the notion that there is a "feeling" fueling the Tea Party movement -- it's just that Haidt thinks it has less to do with liberty and more to do with a feeling of Tea Partier grievance at the short-cutting of "karma," while I think it's also less to do with liberty (and even small-government memes) but more to do with a feeling of discomfort with the disappearance of a idealized notion of a non-miscegenated, culturally-homogenous "real America." Anyway, it's a very intriguing article and definitely worth a read. It paints the Tea Party movement essentially in a sympathetic and positive way; but it does highlight differences between the socially conservative Tea Party constituents, their sympathetic libertarian colleagues, and even liberty-loving liberals. The patterns of alignment between these three groups are really quite interesting and, I found, quite surprising in terms of what they revealed. I appreciate the article because it at least provides evidence that liberals are not the anti-freedom demons that many Tea Partiers like to project. Here's how Haidt ends his article:

The rank-and-file tea partiers think that liberals turned America upside down in the 1960s and 1970s, and they want to reverse many of those changes. They are patriotic and religious, and they want to see those values woven into their children's education. Above all, they want to live in a country in which hard work and personal responsibility pay off and laziness, cheating and irresponsibility bring people to ruin. Give them liberty, sure, but more than that: Give them karma.
Notice that Haidt links current Tea Party motivations to a reaction against the topsy-turvy consequences of the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, as opposed to the redistributionist welfare state propensities of the 1930s and 1940s (although Haidt notes that this is also a part of the topsy-turvy consequences of the 1960s and 1970s -- albeit a less important part). I think Haidt sees the Tea Party movement, as I do, as much more of a phenomenon wrapped around cultural concepts as opposed to liberty or size-and-scope-of-government concepts.

Rand Paul Has A Point

Of course, I want Democrat Jack Conway to defeat Rand Paul in the Kentucky Senatorial race. And I think Rand Paul's views on the Civil Rights Act and his support for merchants to deny access to their stores on the basis of race to be very troublesome. But, that said, I think Rand Paul had a point in his debate with Jack Conway about Conway's ad attacking him (Paul) for some anonymously sourced, unsubstantiated charge about some atheistic cultist college behavior. Rand Paul is right that attacking the basis of his faith from such a seedy, unsubstantiated source is gutter politics at its worst. So in that sense Conway is behaving like a heel. But what kinda bothers me much, much more is the realization that the issue really at work here is the attempt to play the "who is the real Christian" game. Conway is trying to one-up Rand Paul using the Christian card. I find the whole theocratization of the political environment to be really depressing. I would much prefer secular campaigns. Pointing to someone's religion or faith is a distraction from the real substantive issues we face as a country.

Ken Buck Puts His Foot In His Mouth: Twice

Well, Colorado Republican Senate Candidate Ken Buck believes that homosexuality is a choice. Foot-in-mouth insertion number one. I wonder, then, if he thinks that heterosexuality is also a choice? But I'd bet not. I'd bet he thinks human beings are hardwired for heterosexuality and that we have no "choice" in the matter. But if that's the case, he's got to admit that sexuality is something that is hardwired -- which logically must lead him to the possibility that homosexuality is also something that can be hardwired. Worse, though, he equates the genetic predisposition towards homosexuality as akin to the genetic predisposition towards alcoholism. In other words, homosexuality is a genetic perversion just like a disease. Foot in mouth insertion number two.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Fruits of the Tea Party and Palinism

This is simply astounding. Yeah, yeah ... I know there are folks on the left who did (and do) similarly crazy and reprehensible things; but I have never seen so many of these kinds of things being done on such a scale as I have seen from conservatives regarding Obama. The nastiness seems to be rather endemic.

I know some of my conservative readers will write this off as the rantings and behavior of an unrepresentative fringe; but I can't help but continue to believe that this "unrepresentative fringe" is being implicitly coddled and tolerated by a much more broadly felt antipathy towards Obama, an antipathy emerging from the bowels of the Tea Party movement that more and more is scratching at the center of the Tea Party's anti-Obama narratives. I certainly don't see any conservatives raising a finger to actually discourage the kind of demeaning of Obama (not to mention the presidency itself) that these things represent.

The "Feeling" Fueling the Tea Party Movement

Andrew Sullivan has very astute blog posting up on his website today in which he tries to make sense of what are the cultural and psychological underpinnings are of the current day Tea Party movement. He essentially argues what I have also been saying to people these days: the Tea Party movement represents what I like to call the "last gasp" of a dying notion of America. What is that notion? It's the America of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. It's an America of an unmuddied/unmiscegenated racial/ethnic identity, whether white, black, or brown. It's an America of Christianity. It's an America where there's only one publicly-acknowledged form of heterosexual identity with any other identity tolerated as long as it's hidden in the closet. It's an English-only America where ethnicity is fully absorbed and integrated into the dominant cultural narrative of the WASP foundations of our country. But the simple fact is that our country today is simply not the Mayberry of the Andy Griffith show. And it never will be. And the uncertainty for many people, particularly of older generations, of what this means and the cultural discomfort that this causes is the socio-cultural roots of the "I want my America back!" meme so commonly heard from Tea Party faithful. Obama, as Sullivan notes, is the embodiment of this new America, which he argues accounts for the real visceral and passionate nature of the Tea Party's opposition to his Presidency. As Sullivan writes in a nutshell:

But the passion of opposition stems, I think, in part from a sense that the way the world once was is disappearing, that this is inevitable, and a repressed acknowledgment of the inevitability actually intensifies a resistance to it.
It will play out. It will be nasty and uncomfortable as it does so. It will be hyperbolic and impassioned. But it will pass.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chuckle of the Day: "Rich Whit(n)ey" for Governor of Illinois

You just can't make this stuff up:

The last name of Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney is misspelled as "Whitey" on electronic-voting machines in nearly two dozen wards -- about half in predominantly African-American areas -- and election officials said Wednesday the problem cannot be corrected by Election Day.
I feel for the dude. I really do.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Leo Maia Performs

This is a pretty nice acoustic rendition of a classic Tim Maia tune, "Eu Amo Voce." Brazilian soul music at its finest. Leo Maia is Tim Maia's son:

The original Tim Maia version of the song:

Halloween and the Saints

I'm about as big a Who Dat as they come, but it's now reaching ridiculous levels. We got a glimpse into the irrational madness at the beginning of the season when the New Orleans Public Schools called a half-day school holiday on the Saints' season-opening Thursday night game against the Minnesota Vikings, and my kids came home from school without homework because of the game. Now, it appears that the city's officials are considering moving Halloween trick-or-treating (as if they even have that ability!!) to the 30th instead of the 31st of October so as not to conflict with the Saints game that's scheduled for the 31st. How pathetic is that? The Saints win one superbowl, but are currently a mediocre 3-2 team, and folks want to re-arrange a long-standing public holiday tradition?!?!? NO, NO, and NOT! Get real, people! It's just a friggin' game!

Public Service at Tulane Gets Props

I have to say that I am proud of having been right in the thick of developing Tulane's Public Service and Service-Learning initiative. It's not without its glitches and bumps in the road, but on balance it's been a very positive and worthwhile evolution of Tulane's academic culture:


Monday, October 11, 2010

The Huck Upchuck Toasts The Daily Dish

Andrew Sullivan is celebrating 10 years blogging at his site, which he calls "The Daily Dish." Today, Andrew has been featuring reactions to his 10-year blogging anniversary from around the blogosphere. So, I thought I'd throw my two cents on the table. I'm just a small-fry, occasional blogger; but I've been at this blogging thing fairly consistently myself for more than 8 years. It's worth noting that the very first sentence of my very first blog posting (Wednesday, August 14, 2002) reads:

My foray into web-logging owes much to Andrew Sullivan, who I consider to be THE pioneer of the medium.
I've been reading "The Daily Dish" nearly every day since it started 10 years ago. Occasionally, I write to Andrew Sullivan to share my thoughts and discoveries with him. (One time, in the early years of his blogging career, Andrew even kindly wrote a personal email back to me.) And what a thrill it has been on those few occasions, even as recently as this past summer, when Andrew considered what I had to contribute worthy of publishing on "The Daily Dish" as a reader comment or contribution.

As for my own blogging, I can't claim that it has made much of an impact in moving issues and debate, even local ones; but I can say upon reflection that it has also not been insignificant. For instance, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and when the levees failed to hold, blogging was what ended up being the glue that kept my professional and intellectual community together. I crafted a blog which served as the unofficial website of my place of employment, the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University. That blog was crucial in pulling our scattered diaspora of faculty, staff, and students together. That's just one example. I've also used (and continue to use) blogging as a pedagogical tool. I don't want to belabor the point, but I just wanted to say that blogging has enriched my life, and I like to think it has made some small positive impact on the world in which I live. It has certainly given me joy and happiness over the years. And it all goes back to "The Daily Dish." Thanks, Andrew.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In the Words of the Late, Great Harry Tompson, SJ

"I believe that little boys can beat big boys!" -- The Blue Jays have a history of taking down a bigger, stronger, and faster Purple Knights team. In 1985, my senior year of high school, the Blue Jays took down a St. Aug team led by future NFL Pro-Bowl running back Leroy Hoard. Never underestimate a scrappy football team accustomed to excellence and discipline, and constituted by exceedingly smart players! Go Blue Jays!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Christine O'Donnell: "I'm You" Parody

This has been making the rounds and is friggin' hilarious. Just another example of how much of a joke Christine O'Donnell really is:

Skin Phones

Welcome to the future where communication technology can be attached to the body as if a piece of flexible skin. Now, we have people with their blue tooth phone earsets on who seem to be talking to themselves, but soon we'll have people talking into their hands or shoulders without any visible sign of electronic equipment. The indicators of psychotic behavior (i.e. talking to yourself out loud in public -- or talking at your hand) are undergoing a revolution!


I'm currently in Toronto, Canada, attending the annual LASA (Latin American Studies Association) Convention. It's great to see old friends and respected colleagues. Click here for information on LASA.

David Vitter Is a Douchebag

The vileness that is David Vitter continues to disgust me. He is an immoral piece of scum. I have never despised someone in Politics as much as I despise David Vitter. His craven cynicism, when coupled with his moral and religious hypocrisy, is astounding. How anyone who calls himself a Christian can continue to support this douchebag is beyond my comprehension. This ad is not only so wrong factually, but is utterly contrary to the Catholic Church's position on immigration. It violates every Christian precept about respecting the dignity of the human being. Ugh! Good people need to vote Vitter out of office.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged: A Critique

John Scalzi has written one of the best reviews (and one of the most hilarious) of Ayn Rand's magnus opus that I have seen to date. At least it's one of the best reviews that loosely reflects some of my own criticisms (which are albeit more seriously-expressed criticisms). I have to say I just fell out of my chair in stiches when I read this one paragraph summary of that long, long, long book:

That said, it’s a totally ridiculous book which can be summed up as Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs. (This is, incidentally, where you can start your popcorn munching.) Indeed, the enduring popularity of Atlas Shrugged lies in the fact that it is nerd revenge porn — if you’re an nerd of an engineering-ish stripe who remembers all too well being slammed into your locker by a bunch of football dickheads, then the idea that people like you could make all those dickheads suffer by “going Galt” has a direct line to the pleasure centers of your brain. I’ll show you! the nerds imagine themselves crying. I’ll show you all! And then they disappear into a crevasse that Google Maps will not show because the Google people are our kind of people, and a year later they come out and everyone who was ever mean to them will have starved. Then these nerds can begin again, presumably with the help of robots, because any child in the post-Atlas Shrugged world who can’t figure out how to run a smelter within ten minutes of being pushed through the birth canal will be left out for the coyotes. Which if nothing else solves the problem of day care.
He then goes on to call the John Galt character a "genocidal prick" (and this is a more trenchant and pointed way of making the point that undergirds a bit of my criticism about the book and the philosophy behind it):
All of this is fine, if one recognizes that the idealized world Ayn Rand has created to facilitate her wishful theorizing has no more logical connection to our real one than a world in which an author has imagined humanity ruled by intelligent cups of yogurt. This is most obviously revealed by the fact that in Ayn Rand’s world, a man who self-righteously instigates the collapse of society, thereby inevitably killing millions if not billions of people, is portrayed as a messiah figure rather than as a genocidal prick, which is what he’d be anywhere else. Yes, he’s a genocidal prick with excellent engineering skills. Good for him. He’s still a genocidal prick. Indeed, if John Galt were portrayed as an intelligent cup of yogurt rather than poured into human form, this would be obvious. Oh my god, that cup of yogurt wants to kill most of humanity to make a philosophical point! Somebody eat him quick! And that would be that.
Hilarious! And rather on the money, if you ask me. You have to read the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Christine O'Donnell is Not a Witch! (Payback is Hell)

Christine O'Donnell's witchcraft predicament is a bit of poetic justice. She's been so damaged by the witchcraft association that her first post-primary campaign ad specifically addresses this issue.

Frankly, I couldn't care less about what kind of religion O'Donnell practices. Even if she were a witch, more power to her.

But what makes this situation so enjoyable to observe is how Christine O'Donnell has hoisted herself on her own petard. Her core constituency are fundamentalist evangelical Christianist Tea Partiers, the very people who (1) think any association with heathen religions and witchcraft would automatically be a disqualifier for any kind of position of political or moral authority and (2) believe that Obama's mere exposure to Islam as a child is enough to question his Christian bona-fides.

So, O'Donnell, who is already toast with the liberals and independents of Delaware, has to waste her first advertisement shoring up her support among her core constituency. One would expect that this would be a humbling moment for O'Donnell, at least as far as playing the Christianist card goes in criticizing anything having to do with heathen religions. What I want some journalist to do is to ask O'Donnell point blank if she thinks Obama is a Muslim and if she opposes the Park51 project near to gound zero.

Oh, and there's one other thing I need to mention. In her campaign advertisement, in defending her "youthful indiscretion" in "dabbling into witchcraft," O'Donnell

goes on to say that nobody's perfect and suggests that she's just like everybody else or, in her words: "I'm you."
Reality check: that's a lie. She's not like me. Nor is she like just about everyone else in this regard. I never "dabbled into witchcraft" in my youth. And 95% of the kids I went to school with and grew up with, in spite of all of our other imperfections and youthful indiscretions, never dabbled into witchcraft. And the reason why O'Donnell's witchcraft revelation is so damning to her is because, I'd wager, almost 100% of her core Christianist constituency not only has also never dabbled into witchcraft at any time in their lives, but also recoils in horror at the mere thought of midnight picnic dates on bloody satanic altars.

Let her judgmental Christianist intolerance come back to bite her in her self-righteous derriere.

UPDATE: A roundup of some MSM commentary on the subject from

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Olive Branch to Anh "Joseph" Cao

OK. I've been silent about the US Congressional District 2 election. The reason is that I find that the options are less than ideal. I want to vote for Cedric Richmond, the Democratic candidate, who would represent a switch from the GOP to the Democrats in an election year that seems very bad for the Democrats. One switch in the opposite direction of the current trends would be a welcome salve in an otherwise depressing election year. However, I just can't seem to get beyond the recent revelations about Cedric Richmond's apparent complicity in old-school machine-style politics (with appearances of Bill Jefferson corruption, to boot). And I have seen nothing from the Richmond campaign that has addressed any of these recent allegations, which have made the rounds in the blogosphere, but which seem not to have penetrated into the general public consciousness. So, I'm leaning towards Richmond, but just can't make the commitment. And I just can't seem to swallow sending a neophyte Bill Jefferson to Congress.

And then there's Anh "Joseph" Cao, the Republican incumbent. Since Cao's vote against the Health Care Reform bill, I swore never to vote for Cao again. And I'm holding on to that oath ... for now. I'm at the point where I'd be willing to entertain eating crow and changing my mind. But to do so would require Cao to really earn my trust on matters that are of paramount importance to me these days. What I like about Cao is that he doesn't seem too beholden to the insanity that is passing for conservative GOP leadership these days. And I also very much like the fact that there is not a corrupt bone in Cao's body and not an unethical thought in Cao's Jesuit-trained mind. There's a lot to be said for that. However, that is just not enough. What is enough? Well ... here's my "olive branch" with its concomitant demands: I will consider a switch to Cao only if Cao explicitly promises and stakes his personal integrity on the line for these four issues: (1) Cao must go on record before the November elections that, if the GOP retakes control of the House, he will oppose any effort to repeal the Health Care Reform bill and will oppose any effort to withhold funding for the implementation of the Health Care Reform legislation; (2) Cao will sponsor (or co-sponsor) a comprehensive immigration reform bill that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States REGARDLESS of any border security and enforcement provision in such legislation. In other words, a path to legality for the undocumented will be his PRIMARY motivation for any immigration reform; (3) Cao will support the DREAM Act legislation and will demand that either a GOP House or a Democratic House bring such legislation to a vote again; and (4) Cao must agree to vote to end the reprehensible DADT policy that prevents openly gay citizens from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. If Cao publicly agrees to these four stances, then I'll seriously reconsider my oath to never vote for him. If he doesn't agree to these four stances publicly and unequivocally, I will take my chances with Richmond.

The Script: The Man Who Can't Be Moved

Another song that get's lots of play in the car in the morning on the way to drop the squirrelly girlies off at school:

Platanos y Collard Greens

Tomorrow, I'm accompanying a group of students to a comic theatrical production that explores the complexities (and the humor) of inter-ethnic relations in the off-Broadway play Platanos y Collard Greens. The play kicks off at 8:00pm in McAlister Auditorium on Tulane's campus. In New Orleans, the subject of black-brown relations is very much a pressing and current topic. Come out and see the play. It's free and open to the public.