Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blogging Self-Nudge

February ends. 31 blog postings at The Huck Upchuck over 28 days. Seven continuous and successful months of my blogging self-nudge. It works.

Here's to making it a year-long success story, taking it one month at a time.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Huck-Dats on Superbowl Sunday 2010

Here's my immediate family (parents, siblings, spouses, and kids) at my sister's house on Superbowl Sunday. We watched the game on my sister's huge hi-def TV. This picture was taken after the glorious victory. I'm the dude on the right standing in the back row who has the full, black-outlined, golden Fleur-de-Lis painted over most of my face. My B-2/3 is kneeling in front of me wearing the now infamous Fleurty-Girl "Whodat" T-shirt. My two squirrely girlies are kneeling on the left of the bottom row, the youngest with the wild face paint and the red headband, and the oldest wearing her coveted Lusher sweatshirt.

That was an incredibly happy Who-dat-licious moment!!

John (Jack) Jacob Zollinger III, R.I.P.

Jack, who is my brother's father-in-law, was a wonderful man. He was one of the most generous, peaceful, calm, and genuinely friendly souls I knew. He was a true man for others, in the best of the JHS Blue Jay tradition. Although not a Catholic himself, he was fond of the Jesuits and loved JHS. He was a regular at Jesuit baseball games. Every encounter I had with Jack was always a nice encounter. I will miss him. Rest in peace, Jack.

Friday, February 26, 2010

NOLA: One of the Worst Body Odor Cities in the USA??

So says What the heck do they know? Maybe it's because we know how to pack a crowd. But if it's true, I'll take NOLA in its full aromatic character over any other city in the world.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Healthcare Reform: Conservative vs. Liberal

My B-2/3 made an astute comment about the healthcare debate as it has manifested itself between conservatives and liberals in this country. I think there is something to her observation.

She noted that for conservatives it seems as if the main issue surrounding the healthcare debate and the government's potential role in it has to do with $$$$$. The question seems to have less to do with the moral question of whether healthcare is a fundamental human right and something government should provide for its citizens as part of its obligations to promote the general welfare.

Liberals, on the other hand, see the whole question as defined by the moral side of it. Consequently, the cost of having the government involved in making healthcare available for all citizens is less of a concern than ensuring that people have access to adequate healthcare as their birthright.

This is not to say that the moral dimension does not factor into conservative calculus or that cost does not factor into liberal calculus, but rather that one seems to take precedence over the other depending on one's ideological leanings.

It stands to reason that if someone considers something a fundamental human right and a right of citizenship, then of course that person would be willing to absorb the cost of meeting this moral obligation in some fashion, and would see opposition to meeting this obligation as a evidence of a moral failure. It also stands to reason that if someone does not consider something a fundamental human right and a right of citizenship, then forcing someone to pay for meeting this benefit is perhaps an immoral coercion.

One can see the dilemma here and also understand the strong feelings that folks have on both sides of the issue.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Anh "Joseph" Cao: Resume of a Democrat, Part IV

First, let me reiterate that I like Cao. I may even break party lines once again and vote for him this November. But that is only because I consider him to be a Democrat in Republican clothing.

But this article highlights Cao's fundamental dilemma:

[Cao] is facing the perils of bipartisanship unlike any other lawmaker in Washington -- trying to please a heavily Democratic constituency while relying on core conservatives for money to fuel his campaign.

Although Republican leaders have continued supporting Cao with money from their campaign committees despite his health care position, the conservative donors he's courting around the country may not be so forgiving.
And it's true. Cao won his seat because of a remarkable and unrepeatable confluence of events. He would not have won had William Jefferson not been his opponent in an election that took place, because of Louisiana's unique party primary system, one month after Barack Obama had been elected President. Jefferson, facing Helena Moreno in a primary runoff, would not have won the runoff against Moreno had Barack Obama not been on the ballot. The high percentage of black voters that turned out to vote in the Presidential election definitely benefitted the black incumbent (Jefferson) against the "white" Latina (Moreno). But the low black turnout one month after Obama's election, coupled with Jefferson's legal troubles, made it possible for Cao to eke out a victory. Regardless, even then, Cao would not have succeeded had he not demonstrated some progressive, or at least moderate, policy positions that his largely Democratic constituency could embrace as justification for voting for him.

Since then, Cao has had to walk a fine line between serving his majority Democratic constituency and demonstrating his loyalty to a national, state, and local Republican party operation that put some financial muscle and energy into getting him elected. Now, with Cao having to rely on the conservative and Republican base to fund his campaign, yet alienating these very folks by his need to deliver something his constituency demands if he has any re-election hopes, he is in quite a quandary. Progressive Democrats are not going to fund him as long as he keeps that "R" behind his name. And conservative Republicans are not going to fund him if his positions in Congress mirror that of his constituency. It's quite a pickle. He needs conservative dollars to mount an effective campaign, but he needs to convert those conservative dollars into something liberal voters will accept. And suffice it to say that begging for conservative dollars while voting for liberal causes just doesn't mix very well.

And this is why I believe that the ONLY chance Cao has to win this November is to switch parties. I'm not sure that Cao can do this now. It may very likely be too little, too late. But I would say that Cao can win if he does switch parties, because there are people like me who would take a really strong look at him, and may even be able to overlook his more "conservative" positions on certain issues, if he embraced progressive Democratic party orthodoxy on other issues. And with the recent election of Mitch Landrieu as mayor, that should be a sign to Cao that the way Democratic Party politics is working in New Orleans these days is very different than the racialized machine politics of the recent past. He has a chance to capitalize on this, but only if he promises to give the Democrats a flipped seat in the House to help the party retain its majority in what looks to be a very tough year for the Democrats.

So, come on, Cao! Switch parties now! You can still be exactly who you are, and I promise you that you will be able to vote your conscience much more easily as a Democrat than as a Republican. If you don't, you are toast. And I say that as someone who likes you and wants a reason to vote for you come November that goes beyond your not being William Jefferson.

Church and Tax-Exemption: Invitations for Fraud

I was recently party to a blog posting discussion thread in which the topic turned to inequalities in the tax code that gave Churches a special pass with regard to tax policy. The details of this discussion are not really relevant to what I want to say here now; they only provide the framework for a story that I want to tell about how inequality in the tax code in terms of its application can create serious distortions that turn into invitations to fraud.

Here's a scenario that I've recently pondered. Let's say an individual member of a church has some money that he or she would like both to shelter from taxation and, at the same time, to provide a tax credit against his or her own income tax liability. What's to prevent this person from making a "donation" to a Church with the unwritten, but clearly understood, notion that this church member would be able to determine when, where, and how this "donation" would be spent -- including having the church make a "good works" contribution to another church member who demonstrates a "need" for such charity? Maybe it could be that the Church uses this earmarked donation to provide a "scholarship" to the donor's nephew to buy his school books and supplies. In this scenario, the donor can presumably claim a tax deduction for this charitable contribution to the Church. The amount of the donation itself is immune from taxation as income to the Church through its tax-exempt status. And the beneficiary of the Church's charity may be exempt from having to claim the "gift" from the Church (which was directed to the beneficiary by the donor, who happens to be related to the beneficiary in some way). Now I'm no tax expert, and I presume there may be some regulations in the tax code that prohibit such kinds of transactions; but I have to wonder how difficult it would be to prove such an arrangement and how likely it would be for the IRS to keep tabs on and audit church finances in a rigorous way.

This seems like such blatant fraud to me, yet it also seems like such an easy thing to do with only minimal risk, that I have to assume this kind of thing happens with some regularity.

In all my years, perhaps due to my naivete about how Church finances are handled (especially since I am Catholic and tithing to the Catholic Church seems so institutionalized and so far removed from the direct financial management by parishoners that tends to characterize Protestant churches), I had never thought about this kind of tax evasion as a possibility.

I would welcome any thoughts on this to enlighten me both on the legal framework regulating/prohibiting such practices and on how pervasive this practice might actually be.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

LatiNola Advising Mayor-Elect on the Next Police Chief

I was thrilled to read today in the Times-Picayune that my friend and colleague, Lucas Diaz, Executive Director of Puentes-New Orleans, has been chosen by Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu to serve on his Advisory Committee in the search for a new Police Chief.

As a board member of Puentes, I am doubly pleased. I think it shows wisdom and political savvy on the part of Mitch Landrieu to involve Lucas on this committee. It builds upon the beginnings of reforming the NOPD to be more in tune with the Latino community. Lucas is a fine, upstanding, and exceedingly talented community leader. Congratulations, Lucas!

Tooth Pulled

Finally, after having done every possible thing to save my #14 molar tooth, I had the sucker pulled.

I've chronicled my toothaches before, and I will reiterate that there is nothing more painful than a toothache. I have suffered with this particular tooth for about a year and a half. At first, the tooth was determined to have had a dead and infected root. So I thought I had solved the problem one root canal and crown later. Yet, when the toothaches persisted after the root canal, I had it checked out by an endodontist, who discovered a crack in the tooth. Nothing more to do about it than to have it extracted, which I did yesterday.

Now, as I recover from a tooth extraction, I need to decide what to do next. The likely path is a dental implant.

When all is said and done, I will have spent over $4000 on one tooth.

I should have had the sucker pulled from the start.

Regardless, if the toothache is gone for good now, it will be well worth all the trouble and the expense.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Book Club Meeting

Tomorrow night, one of my book clubs is meeting to discuss Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.

Great book. Wierd, but great writing. And fascinating concept. I read this book and it put into a bit different perspective the plot of another of my favorite contemporary novels: Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife.

One word review of Slaughterhouse Five: Poo-tee-weet!

... so it goes!

LA Congressional District 2

Juan LaFonta versus Cedric Richmond. Now this upcoming Democratic primary race is going to be fun to watch!

LaFonta's been really attentive to the Latino community and its needs, but he's also come across at times as a bit manipulative of this community, too. I don't know much about Cedric Richmond save for some of his public performances, but I can say from my limited exposure to Richmond that he's ambitious and talented. LaFonta is much better connected and has a more charming and effusive personality; but Richmond is no campaign slouch either. I don't know where I will fall out in this primary, but I guarantee you it's going to be interesting to watch.

And then there's Anh "Joseph" Cao to contend with, too. I really like Cao. I can't help it, I just do. I wish Cao would have more backbone in bucking the GOP line, because I really think Cao's heart is in the right place when it comes to resisting GOP orthodoxy and being true to the majority of his constituency's views.

Regardless, I think we're in for another freaky mid-term electoral campaign later this year. As I said, it will be fun to watch.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

O Amor e Um Rock

Tom Ze:

Where's the Parking Ticket Gestapo When You Need Them?

Wanna see what ticks off people who have been victimized by the Parking Ticket Gestapo in New Orleans?

It's crap like this that does it:

Notice that these are pictures of the same corner in front of a local breakfast place called Riccobono's. The first picture shows a cop car parked without maintaining a legal distance from the corner and the second shows a cop car parked directly in front of a fire hydrant. If you were to overlay these pictures somewhat, you'll get an image of what that corner looked like to folks going into the restaurant. And lest anyone think these cops were on some kind of official business, I can report to you that this was not the case at all. The cops were in the restaurant having a nice "business" breakfast session. And the cars were parked illegally for at least a couple of hours while they were inside enjoying themselves. It always chafes me when cops who are sworn to be enforcers of the law so brazenly break the law. The sense of entitlement that some cops have when it comes to disrespecting the law that the rest of us must adhere to under penalty of stiff fines goes much beyond getting some free doughnuts and coffee at the local Dunkin Donuts. It's symptomatic of a persisting attitude of corruption that permeates the attitudes of some law enforcement officers in this city.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Brees, Bacchus, and 10,000 Footballs

Maybe I'm over-reacting, and far be it from me to be a party pooper, but does anyone else question the wisdom of having the million dollar investment of Drew Brees's golden throwing arm subject to the rigors of tossing thousands of footballs to parade-goers as part of his reign as King Bacchus?

The parade is long over now, and apparently Drew Brees has weathered the workout well; but imagine if we were reading about a torn rotator cuff. Was it worth the risk? If I were Tom Benson or Sean Payton, I would have pondered this much longer and much harder than it seemed they did.

Zulu's Cash Cow

Is none other than the City of New Orleans.

I can only imagine the comments that would have surfaced had Nagin awarded the School of Design an $800,000 grant.

I'm as much an advocate of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club as anyone, but I think private social aid and pleasure clubs of any stripe shouldn't be the recipients of public treasury largesse.

Catholics and Torture, cont...

Andrew Sullivan comes to some of the same conclusions that I did regarding the Catholic hierarchy's seeming reluctance to take on Thiessen's perversion of the Magisterium:

But I think the hierarchy's refusal to tackle this head-on has been a great and saddening failure. I noted when the Pope met with Bush that he made no statement whatever about the question of torture, and I am sorry to say I believe the silence of the hierarchy is a political silence, designed to promote one political party - not to defend a core teaching. If they can speak out in defense of illegal immigrants, and on the death penalty, they can surely speak out with blinding clarity on what the Bush-Cheney administration did to abuse, torture and rob imprisoned human beings of the last shred of human dignity they had - without even subjecting them to minimal standards of due process. They did this - and this is simply an incontrovertible fact - to the innocent as well as the guilty, and they made no serious attempt to distinguish between the two.

I think the Bishops and Cardinals in the US need to speak out directly and loudly and insistently on this and demand a Truth Commission to get to the bottom of it. I think we need a homily sent to every parish. I think we need in every state the kind of stand that the hierarchy has taken on a much more minor issue, like civil marriage rights for gay couples. And I believe it is a scandal - an absolute scandal - that the hierarchy has been so absent at a time when bearing witness to this intrinsic evil, conducted directly by the government itself, is so necessary for the future of our civilization and the integrity of this country.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Catholics and Torture

When it comes to the view of the Catholic Church on torture, there is no mincing of words. The Catholic Church is uncategorically opposed to torture and calls it an intrinsic evil. The question then becomes what constitutes torture. My own view is that an honest, moral person knows torture when he sees it. Whether he calls it torture is another question. Waterboarding, by all honest moral accounting, clearly falls within the definition of torture as seen by the Catholic Church.

However, we have the Catholic torture apologist Marc Thiessen defending waterboarding on EWTN, the Catholic television network, and claiming that somehow waterboarding fits right in the Catholic Magisterium.

Andrew Sullivan comments on this outrage and methodically debunks every single one of Thiessen's claims.

Mark Shea, no slouch on the Catholic orthodoxy front, also eviscerates the whole pro-torture meme being espoused by voices claiming some institutional authority to represent the Magisterium.

I have to say that I am just dumbfounded that there is even a question about whether or not waterboarding is torture in the Catholic moral code and whether it is an intrinsic evil perpetrated against the dignity of human life. To me, and to most unblinkered Catholics that I know, even the most conservative among them, the psychological horror of simulated drowning is unquestionably torture. I am even more dumbfounded that these people get platforms to espouse their pro-torture memes as consistent with catholic teaching, without so much as a peep of criticism from the catholic hierarchy.

It is because there are people like Thiessen and because there are media outlets like EWTN, and it is because they seem to be immune to challenge by the Catholic hierarchy, that I cannot claim to be anything but an Exodus Catholic. But it is also because of catholic voices like Mark Shea that I just can't make a complete break from the faith.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hail ...


Tomorrow, we ride.

It's one of the most amazingly fun experiences I've ever had in my life.

If you're on the route, I hope I see you.

I'm bringing the camera, so I may even take a picture of you and put it up here.

Happy Fat Who Dat!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fat Who Dat Priorities

I have a bone to pick with Tulane University President Scott Cowen. Before I get to pickin' this bone, I ought to preface my comments by noting that I have a particular admiration for Scott Cowen on many, many levels. I think he was a fantastic leader following Hurricane Katrina and I really think some of his initiatives at Tulane have really made an effort to transform certain elements of Tulane's reputation and academic culture for the better. For instance, the commitment to Service Learning and the embrace of community-based knowledge as a part of a Tulane College education is something wonderfully transformative in the lives and the intellectual development of students. In fact, it has even been transformative for me as well. And this is just one of a number of things for which I have no problems heaping praise upon Scott Cowen. As far as University Presidents go, Tulane could not have picked a better one than Scott Cowen.

But, that said, I think Cowen's decision this past Monday to close the University on Tuesday afternoon was a huge disappointment. In fact, not only was it a disappointment to me on principle, but it also really screwed up my carefully-planned teaching schedule. Instead of giving me a break, this "holiday" actually doubled my work load in the end. You see, I teach a once-a-week Honors seminar on Tuesdays from 3:30pm-6:00pm. So, by closing the University this past Tuesday, I was left with the prospect of losing what amounts to an entire week of courses. Furthermore, this coming Tuesday is Mardi Gras, so I was looking at the prospect of not having a class meeting for three weeks! And that simply could not be, especially since what I had planned for this past Tuesday's class was time sensitive (i.e. it had to take place before the Mardi Gras break) and would have had a significant effect on the students' entire assignment schedule for the semester. The only way I could keep my class on track was to try to scramble to set up a makeup class before the week was out -- and with evening parades and the Mardi Gras mood setting in, the task was daunting.

Once the decision was made to close the university on Tuesday afternoon, I had to contact my students immediately to try to reschedule the class. And I only had a day or two to do this. Of course, it was impossible to get all my students together for a single makeup class session, so I ended up having to offer TWO separate make-up sessions -- one on Wednesday evening and another on Thursday afternoon. This is what I meant by having my work load doubled by this ill-advised decision. I got through it, but wasn't happy with the headaches and stress that accompanied this scramble.

But what really bothered and disappointed me was not only the real reason for the cancellation, but also the seeming disingenuousness with which Scott Cowen tried to paper over this real reason. Everyone and his grandmother knew that the real reason Cowen closed the university was because there was to be a victory parade for the Superbowl Champion Saints in the early evening of Tuesday in downtown New Orleans. Why this bothered me was the precedent it set in terms of projecting the relative value of Academics as it relates to Sports. In essence, Scott Cowen was broadcasting to everyone that an event celebrating a professional sporting accomplishment was more important to the university than its educational mission!! But what irked me perhaps even more was what I considered to be the disingenuousness in how Scott Cowen tried to pass off his decision as something not really related to a sporting event, but rather related to something much bigger than just the sporting event. Here's his message announcing the university closure in full:

February 8, 2010

Good Morning,

There are certain moments in life that are transcendent and transformative and are too wonderful for words. Sunday's Super Bowl victory was such a moment. It was a victory that went far beyond football, highlights, statistics or trophies. This world championship, coupled with the election of a new mayor by an overwhelming majority, is about the progress and future of our beloved city.

This was a moment for all New Orleanians. The way this city and this team, our team, have embraced one another is unique in all the world. While most professional athletes discuss themselves and their gifts at post-game press conferences, our Saints invariably talk about their city and what its recovery has meant to them and to the nation.

This is what I believe we will be celebrating when we welcome our hometown heroes at tomorrow's parade. In addition, we will be congratulating our new mayor, Mitch Landrieu, as he leads us into the future. So in recognition of New Orleans, our recovery, our revival and the unity we displayed in one incredible weekend at the polls and on the national stage, I am going to close the university (uptown, downtown and primate center) tomorrow at 1 p.m.

This will allow all New Orleans-area Tulanians time to gather with family, friends and neighbors (are there any other categories of people in New Orleans?) and celebrate what is truly a historic moment in the long life and new life of our city. Enjoy the parade but most of all enjoy the moment. It truly is our time!

Geaux New Orleans,
Geaux Saints,
Geaux Tulane,
[Signed ... Scott]
Now maybe Scott Cowen really believes that Tuesday afternoon was a time to celebrate an "historic moment" for all kinds of things important to New Orleans. But, come on, it was done specifically on Tuesday afternoon and not on any other day, precisely because of the parade for the Saints. Face it, Cowen could have called for a holiday on Monday, which would have made more sense when you think about it, since Monday was the first school day after the Saturday election AND the Superbowl victory. The only reason to choose Tuesday was because of the Saints victory parade. Take away the Superbowl Victory parade, and all that other stuff about New Orleans wouldn't have mustered anything remotely close to a decision to shutter the university. Take away the Superbowl Victory parade, and Tuesday would have looked just like Monday. As I see it, it's a shame that, in the end, it boils down quite simply to the fact that it was a sports-related event that precipitated the closure of the university. As I said previously, this sends an absolutely bass-ackwards message to just about everyone about the importance of sports relative to the importance of education.

I still like and admire you, President Cowen; but, in my opinion, and to use a common sports metaphor, you really dropped the ball on this one.

Hail Thoth!

The Huck behind the Upchuck is once again riding in the Thoth Parade this year. I have some great throws. In fact, I have a special throw that I can guarantee no other person in the entire city during this Mardi Gras season will have. It will be a catch that will capture the attention of parade goers this year, and I am sure will make those who don't have one green with envy.

If you know me and plan to be on the Thoth parade route this Sunday (and if you have been nice to me!), drop me an email at huckupchuck at hotmail dot com and I will send you my float information.

Not sure what my costume will be this year, but I hope it will be as cool as it was last year:

See y'all on the parade route!

Fat Who Dat

It's Mardi Gras time in the N'Awl! The euphoria is running high. We got a superbowl championship team that made us proud last Sunday, which was a nice way to kick off the parade season. Then on Tuesday, the Saints rolled downtown in a victory parade. They say that upwards of 800,000 people were there. I find that extremely hard to believe, as that would constitute more than one-half of the entire metro New Orleans population. I didn't make it down to the parade, and I know lots of other folks who didn't either. So, I can't imagine where the 800,000 people came from.

I have to say, I love the Saints and I am a proud member of the Who Dat Nation, but I think folks here are going just a tad bit overboard. Sure, the victory means a lot to the city and to its residents, but it is still a game, after all. There are many more important things in this world than a Saints superbowl victory.

Anyway, far be it from me to be a Who Dat Grinch! Let's enjoy it, but let's also keep our priorities straight, too.

Monday, February 08, 2010

T'aint No Place Like the N'awl

Damn, I LOVE this city!!!!!!!!

Saints Superbowl Victory Celebration from Cottage Films on Vimeo.

Why DADT Is Insidious

Before I get into the subject of why I believe DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) is insidious, let me begin with a 'Quote of the Day' from Andrew Sullivan. In responding to National Review's Rich Lowry, who said in a blogging heads debate with Ana Marie Cox, that keeping sexual orientation secret is no big deal, Andrew Sullivan wrote:

Rich says that it's no big deal to live hiding one's sexual orientation. If you're straight, try it for one day.

Try never mentioning your spouse, your family, your home, your girlfriend or boyfriend to anyone you know or work with - just for one day. Take that photo off your desk at work, change the pronoun you use for your spouse to the opposite gender, guard everything you might say or do so that no one could know you're straight, shut the door in your office if you have a personal conversation if it might come up.

Try it. Now imagine doing it for a lifetime. It's crippling; it warps your mind; it destroys your self-esteem. These men and women are voluntarily risking their lives to defend us. And we are demanding they live lives like this in order to do so.
As a straight man, I have often thought of just this very thing. The way that I have always explained it is that our entire culture is heteronormative, which basically means that we accept as the given that the cultural norm for any kind of public intimacy is heterosexual. Therefore, we heterosexuals go about our lives with the full exposure of our heterosexuality on constant display, but which we simply take for granted. Andrew Sullivan's challenge that we heterosexuals try to mask our heterosexuality, even the small, routinistic, and thoughtless displays of it, is virtually impossible and crippling in the effort of it.

When I think about my day, it is amazing how much I actually declare my sexual orientation publicly without ever having to speak the words "I am straight."

For instance, I live with a woman and we have children together. My neighbors know this and know that my wife and I are a couple. My wife drops me off at work and before I get out of the car, I often lean over and give her a kiss on the lips without any concern about who might be watching. I remember when my wife was pregnant with our children and we would do things together like take a walk, hold hands, and declare our companionship such that there was no doubt that we were together and that we were a happy pair of parents-to-be whose sexual intimacy was automatically presumed. When we fill out forms at the bank for joint checking accounts, or when we went to the bank to apply for a home mortgage, it was no big deal to declare ourselves spouses. Every time I speak to my wife on the phone at the office, I end my conversation with the words: "Love you." Every single time. And I talk with my wife multiple times over the course of every single work day. I think about the times I put my arms around my wife's waist, or hold her hands when we go for a walk in the park, or the times when I would lay my head on my wife's lap at a picnic in the park. How many times we've danced together at wedding receptions, or parties. How many times we've held hands openly across the tables at public restaurants.

And I could go on and on and on and on about all the little things we heterosexuals do to project our sexual orientation every day, all the time. What would life be like to have that taken away, or to feel that such expressions bore with it a crushing social stigma such that the pressure to hide it or even deny it would be intense? It would make for a very unhappy me. And this is where DADT is insidious. To pretend, as Rich Lowry and many conservatives like to claim, that all DADT does is tell all folks in uniform, heterosexual and homosexual alike, that sexual orientation doesn't matter, is to propagate a lie. DADT is not a policy that exemplifies some universal sexual-orientation-blindness, but rather tells gays and lesbians in the military that the rules of heteronormativity apply when it comes to expressions of sexual orientation -- that sexual orientation does matter in terms of public expressions of such, as long as it is within the heteronormative context.

Ana Marie Cox doesn't ever challenge Rich Lowry on the point, but if I were in her shoes, I would have asked Rich Lowry whether he would go so far as to say that heterosexual soldiers shouldn't talk about their sexual exploits in the barracks; whether heterosexual soldiers should talk about their wives, husbands, girlfriends or boyfriends back home; whether heterosexual soldiers shouldn't carry around pictures of their sweethearts or whether they shouldn't ever acknowledge the love letters that they get from their sweethearts. Because if DADT really is the policy of the absence of expressions of sexual orientation, then soldiers demonstrating all forms of such expressions, even the simple, daily, heteronormative ones, need to be called out and disciplined for violation of the policy.

Sniff .... Sniff ... Sniff ...

Man, dem Tebow tears are dropping sloppy -- big, fat, round, translucent Tebow tears of joy: Superbowl Highlights.

I woke up this morning still in a dream.

Pinch me, please:

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Who Beagle Dat

For Andrew Sullivan:

The Paradox of Anti-Government Conservatives and Running for Public Office

What I find interesting is the contradiction inherent to the campaign platform of many anti-government conservative candidates. These folks often base their candidacies on an appeal to getting government out of the people's lives. Yet, what they are actually trying to do is precisely to become part of the government that they wish to emasculate. It makes absolutely no sense to have a serious interest in occupying a public office as a full-time job as a legislator if you are not interested in passing legislation and working to dictate the parameters of how citizens are to function in our society. Wanting to govern requires actually participating in the process of governing, and not destroying the very thing you claim to want to be elected to do.

Now perhaps many "small government" conservatives would say that they are not opposed to government per se, but rather want a limited government and a more efficient government. But that is not what is shaping the campaigns of many on the populist rightwing these days. The mantra among most conservative campaigns these days is not the value of a smaller, more-efficient government, but the very vilification of the idea of government itself. It is the "Party of No" attitude that embraces not actually saying "Yes" to government, but obstructing and sabotaging government.

Case in point is that the GOP's "solution" to problems is not to propose any constructive policy, but rather to keep the government from being able to do anything at all.

And all this leads me to think that conservatives who are serious about this belief that government is the problem and not the solution, and yet still want to be part of the government, are spinning us a yarn. Because who would ever want to be part of the problem and not the solution?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Sarah Palin: Tax Cheat

Link. By conservative standards, Sarah Palin wouldn't even be fit for a Federal Government job that requires Senate confirmation, much less for the job of VP or President.

The more we know about Palin, the more unfit she appears for any kind of leadership position in this country -- moral or otherwise.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Huck Upchuck Election Endorsements

The Huck Upchuck has promised election endorsements, and so he delivers:

For mayor, The Huck Upchuck endorses Mitch Landrieu. I have leaned in Mitch's direction since he entered the race, but I have not been willing to give up on James Perry. Even though I'm endorsing Landrieu, I still profess a liking for James Perry. The critical thing for me was experience. Landrieu has loads of it and knows the ins and outs of effective governance; Perry just doesn't have enough of it -- yet. I think, perhaps, that Perry's mayoral aspirations were a bit too ambitious for his first crack at an elected government office. I think he would make a fabulous State Representative or a credible City Council candidate. I'd advise Perry to cut his teeth at this level before making a push for Mayor. Should he do that, I can easily see James Perry as Mayor one day in the not-to-distant future. All the other major candidates simply make me ill. John Georges is a certified unprincipled moron, which makes the many endorsements he has received all the more surprising to me. The only reason I can see for this is the $green$. It's actually disheartening. Troy Henry strikes me as an arrogant blowhard, prone to pull the race card to score cheap political points, who also feels entitled to the job. No thanks, Mr. Henry, but we've just endured 8 years of this very kind of leadership under Nagin and this city doesn't need a repeat of that. Rob Couhig will never be able to live down his "mistake" in supporting Nagin over Landrieu the last time around, thus leading the conservative Republican establishment of NOLA, such as it is, to sell out this city to the cynicism of Nagin. [Aside: And though I am very fond of many of the local Georgetown folks who are circling the wagons around Couhig, I think their loyalty is misguided. Couhig would be as polarizing to this city as Nagin ended up being, which I think will continue the disastrous legacy of divisive racial politics for this city.] And Nadine Ramsey is just too small fry and seemingly too out of it to exercise any kind of leadership that this city needs. Landrieu has it all and he far outstrips any of the other candidates in this race in terms of experience and competency in governing. Besides which, he's a Jesuit Alum and a Lusher Dad, just like I am! How can I go against that?!

For City Council At-Large seats, I recommend Arnie Fielkow and Nolan Marshall. I think Arnie is still a refreshing choice and an independent voice in a city still captured in many ways by entrenched political factions. He still seems above the fray when it comes to insider political networks. And so does Nolan Marshall. And both men are very good friends of the Latino community here in New Orleans and very attentive to issues that Latinos care about.

For District "A" Councilmember, progressives should clearly choose Susan Guidry. She's worthy of your vote on her own merits; but the fact that she's not Jay Batt is also reason enough to elect her.

For District "B" Councilmember, my district, I am supporting Stacy Head for re-election. Stacy Head has been a controversial character and I've not been pleased with everything she's said and done, but I like her spunk and think that the city government needs someone like her as part of it. Besides, she was very responsive to my complaints about the Parking Ticket Gestapo incident at the Palmer Park Arts Market some months ago. Even if we put all the other stuff aside, she gets my vote just for that.

For the other District races, I have no preferences nor recommendations.

For the citywide single assessor position, I'm going with Janis Lemle. She's competent and reform-minded. I think she will continue to do a very balanced and fair job of assessing properties in a manner far removed from the insider sweetheart wheeling and dealing that the other two major candidates are too closely associated with. I didn't like how her boss, Nancy Marshall, rode into the office of assessor for the 6th District (my district) on the cynical "IQ" (I Quit) ticket; but I've always supported the reformist cause as long as it was aligned with good, procedural democratic practices. Lemle's candidacy reflects that reformist impulse, and her path to the office is fully within the good, procedural democratic process. She's not promising to quit if elected, but to actually care for and administer the office well.

Finally, for State Senator for the 5th Senatorial District (also my district), I think Karen Carter-Peterson should get the job (or I at least think she will be more effective in the job than her competitor, Irma Muse Dixon). I'm not an unabashed fan of Carter Peterson, but I recognize her talent and her influence in the Louisiana State Legislature, and I am convinced that she can represent our district strongly and well in Baton Rouge.

As for the other, remaining races, I have no special endorsements to make.

And so goes the electoral recommendations of The Huck Upchuck. If you haven't already voted early, make sure to vote this Saturday.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Yat Dat Translation

Obama: "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

Yat Dat Translation: "Who Dat? We Dat."

The Death of DADT

Yet another reason to cheer on the military brass, and especially Adm. Mike Mullen, for their commitment to justice and integrity.

I have to say that I wish the repeal of DADT would take place tomorrow, but I can't say that I'm not going to relish the slow, painful death it has coming.

It would be just too kind to end DADT with one fell swoop. Let the naysayers gnash their teeth, wail, and moan for a while. It will do them some good.

And then when they can bring themselves to look up from their self-flaggelation and look around to see that nothing has changed, they can just pick themselves up, dust themselves off, clear their throats, and go on about their business -- knowing full well that the closeted gay soldiers who served them well yesterday will still continue serving them well tomorrow.

I was down on Obama for his dithering on this issue; but the more I reflect on it, the more I realize that Obama has once again tackled this thing exactly as it needed to be tackled. If the goal is getting rid of this abomination once and for all, with buy-in from all the relevant actors and time for the reality to sink in such that the fallout is insignificant, Obama's strategy for doing precisely this is, I'm more and more convinced, the most effective strategy.