Stay Classy, Vatican!

2 February 2009

I know he’s infallible and all, but this pope (whom some serious Catholics I know were against from the get-go) isn’t exactly recruiting record numbers of souls to heaven.  First, he lets back into the fold the holocaust denier who said:

I believe there were no gas chambers.

I believe that the historical evidence is hugely against 6 million having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.

Then, just to make sure the vast numbers of Catholics in New Orleans were pissed at him too, he promotes the guy who said that Katrina was divine retribution (the selective perception of those folks is astounding) said this about our city:

The conditions of immorality in this city are indescribable.

Many others have voiced their outrage over this, but we should note that Warren “apologizing” for “imprudent” wording ain’t really an apology at all.  But hey, when you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll!

And an optional war doesn’t?

24 October 2007


“Crusade for the Conversion of New Orleans”

29 January 2007

flyer3.jpgflyer21.jpgflyer1.jpgGee, “America Needs Fatima”, while you’re at it, we could actually use some money, school supplies, levees, etc, but while y’all are down here, be sure to spend a lot!

Yes, Beth informs me (via the flyers) that Krewe du Vieux is going to face organized protesters for, I think, the first time since I’ve been either watching or marching (~1992).

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I hate confrontation, and ordinarily this stuff would have me slightly shaken, if not quite to the point of putting a hold on my costume preparation.  But right now I’m just curious to know how it goes over.  Yeah, NO is a Catholic kinda place, but it also knows the place for satire and good humor.  Even when it might make fun of some–literally–sacred stuff.

I believe that one reason Mardi Gras works here and not in other places who’ve tried to do it is that the “authorities” let the little stuff go and try to keep anything bad from happening (if only they did that the rest of the time we’d probably be ok).  So yeah, I’m sure that our float that year “Turning Wad into Wine” was offensive to some people, they got over it, and we weren’t trying to belittle anyone.  Now the cartpetbagger protesters are coming to right that wrong.

But one thing that often bothers me about our city is that we don’t always take to folks “not from around here” telling us what’s what.

The other thing these protesters need to know is that Krewe du Vieux was a big damn shot in the arm last year as the first big celebration since the storm, and I don’t think even they would have been offended by “C’est Levee” or our float “Spermes Ejaculates the City”…  well, maybe a little, but it’s not like we were making fun of G-d or anything.

Cornel West & MLK

17 January 2007

Tonight I attended a lecture by the great Princeton scholar Cornel West. I like him a lot. Don’t agree with everything he says, but I think he’d like that. Yesterday I painted chairs at McDonough High, which wasn’t quite the enlightening experience I was hoping for, but I hope the students appreciate how diligent we were painting over their graffiti. Oh well, I guess I’m glad I did something.

Tonight was more stimulating. I would have liked to ask the following question after his lecture: I am torn between two key emphases of his address. I truly value critical thought, and I truly admire bravery and conviction. The problem is that when I focus on thinking critically (which is usually my habit), I find myself seeing so many sides to an issue that I don’t know what to do. It’s as though I’ve critically thought myself into inaction. I preach to my students that intelligent people can disagree about important things, but I still can’t bring myself to commit. How do I handle this dilemma?

Now, I have to admit that much of my problem is simply a fear of confrontation. I don’t like to make waves, and I’m ashamed of that. I firmly believe that I would have been in line with King’s goals, but I can also see myself being persuadable that another approach toward the end justice would be better. In hindsight, almost everyone thinks King’s great and should be revered. I do too. But would I then? I’m not sure.

A parallel issue (for me anyway) came up tonight at the talk. West expressed some reservations about Obama running for president. Well, I’m a fan, and he pretty much has my vote at the declaration. Is he perfect? No. Do I wish he was a little more progressive? Probably so. West wishes he showed more “courage,” and I can see what he means. On the other hand, could Obama be the best weapon for creating realistic change at this point? Maybe it’s a sellout, but part of what I like is that he can persuade without ostracizing.

Belated Election Correspondence

9 November 2006

Jeez, you get sick a couple of times, get behind at work, and all of a sudden it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve posted. It’s easy to lose momentum. But I gotta get back to it sometime, so that I don’t have to acknowledge “losing interest in things I used to enjoy” as depression inventories would say. So here goes:

I guess I’m not as elated about the dems taking congress as a lot of people are. I’m definitely glad, and I’m glad that Bush will have some accountability, but this won’t do it all, IMHO. Here’s the text of an email I sent my brother (shares my politics) and my dad (from the other side):

Well, of course I’m glad to see some balance in DC, and I’m happy about most of the outcomes (although I’d rather “Dollar” Bill Jefferson hadn’t made the runoff), I want to pre-emptively acknowledge some problems. First, I think Clinton–whose politics I mostly liked–became more effective, and things in the country improved once he didn’t have the House & Senate on his side. For my money, there was more gridlock when it was all dems; I assume that’s because they sniped over the small stuff but took their eyes off the big issues. I’m hoping some accountability will enable Bush to do a better job than he has so far. In that regard, I’m hoping the dems don’t try to act like this is a big mandate to get in there and be obstructionist, but I do hope they can reverse some of the exec-heavy moves of the last few years.

And, just as I agreed with you, dad, that Tom Daschle was a loser, I don’t understand how Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid become the big faces of the party. Same with Frist and Hastert; these guys are so unimpressive, but they’re the ones who get out there. So it doesn’t fill me with glee when Pelosi gives the party’s position on things, and that’s a drag. Frankly, I’d rather hear Dean give the scoop; even though he rubs repubs the wrong way, he’s pretty lucid and knows what he’s saying. Certainly better than Mehlman.

Then there’s Rummy. Probably good to drop him before he gets more heat. Although I’d sort of prefer him to clean up his own mess, I’m hoping that a change of sec will offer a change of course.

We also had an interesting article in the paper here about an issue I didn’t think about. Because most of LA’s house delegation is repub, several members were poised to be more powerful and have a larger role in setting agendas, etc, which would have meant more of an opportunity to try to get aid for the state. Now they will be the minority, and we’ll be more subject to the will of others. I’m hoping that the demos will see fit to get us a fair deal than other repubs would have been, but it doesn’t help that Jefferson got (appropriately) evicted from Ways & Means.

Alright, I’d appreciate y’all’s thoughts. It’s been a good week around here, since the Hornets are the last undefeated team (however, did you see that their uniforms here say “Hornets” and in OKC say “Oklahoma City”? Grrr. I thought the Sonics were OKC’s team), and the Saints have the 2nd best record in the NFC.

My dad and I have an interesting political relationship. Although he knows I’m liberal and he’s not, he talks to me as though I’m right with him. He’ll say things like, “Doesn’t he just make you sick” when Clinton’s on tv or something. It’s bizarre, but when I push him on it, he sounds a lot more moderate. He’ll acknowledge that Bush isn’t really conservative, but he couldn’t vote for Kerry for some sort of inarticulable reason. I wasn’t surprised. But he hates the religious right playing such a role, so we have that common ground. He’s still socially conservative, but, like a true conservative, he believes in people’s right to do pretty much what they want. Now, of course that doesn’t include gay marriage or other radical ideas, but he resents the influence of the evangelists.

So I expect he’ll acknowledge that these outcomes are not all bad for his beliefs, which is part of why I felt the desire to send the above email. I tend to be loyal to a fault to people I’ve supported, which is something I’m not proud of. I find myself trying not to acknowledge shortcomings in people I’ve voted for, in my university, or in my city for that matter. By virtue of my work, I understand why I do this, but it’s weird considering how much I value critical thought. I do think I investigate, analyze, and debate, but then once I decide (whom to vote for, where to work, where to live [and return]), I resist acknowledging their problems. That’s dumb, so I tried to give the first inch to my dad. We’ll see if he takes a mile, or if my concession is as meaningful as I think it is.

On Loss

12 July 2006

Well, Slim died 2 weeks ago, so I guess I can swing a post-intense-grieving period post. It was interesting (not fun-interesting, just huh-interesting) to monitor my grief, since that doesn’t happen often, and since I didn’t really know how I’d respond. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t know if I’d immediately feel ok since it was his time, or what.

The first day was awful. I was a wreck. I felt nauseated and could cry at any mention. It’s that time that I question why I’d want to go through something like that that’s inevitable if I keep having pets. Lots of cliches. I felt guilty for killing him and guilty for any minute my mind was on anything else. And I felt bad not to be able to explain things to Denali. Then Day 2 (Thursday) was somewhat better. Still an awful funk, but not as acute. Going into the office the first day was hard, seeing pix I have of him there, but I could basically function. Then Friday it had settled down into just a sadness to be missing him. I showed my morning class pictures of him and could keep it together, although I was mildly choked up. Still, it was nice to show them why I’d missed class. I really like my students.

Those of us in New Orleans have all lost a lot, and there are more losses on the horizon. Even those of us who’re fortunate not to have lost jobs or houses (there aren’t many of us) have close friends who have, or we’ve lost friends themselves. Joe & Karen moved to Austin the day after Slim died, making that time even more bleak. Editor B has lost (at least for now) his beautiful cat Lucy, which sucks. And we’ve all lost the (relatively) easy life.

Some of us have lost spouses–people are throwing the term “Katrina divorces” around–and I know E and I have had our struggles. We’ve all lost some money, some piece of mind, what little faith we had in the good ol’ US of A. We’ve lost some of our open-mindedness. Some friends are writing off anyone who leaves the city, but I kinda understand.

Still, it doesn’t help that we seem to have lost our mayor.

It’s just been tough, and many of us feel so uncertain about the future that we’re constantly unsettled. This puts us all in a perma-funk, despite the wonderful actions of people we know.

I’m grateful that we’re almost 6 weeks into hurricane season and–knock on wood–have not had much to worry about yet. It’s still not the heat of the season, but we’re grasping at any hopeful straws we can find.

For example, I’ve found Sudoku. Fun, that.

As If It Isn’t Embarrassing Enough To Be From Louisiana

19 June 2006

I happen to be one of the firmly pro-choice people who understands and sympathizes with the position of pro-lifers, and who believes that the two sides are closer to each other than they realize. Some true dialog could go a long way.

But this is a mistake for several reasons. One obvious one is that we need to make sure that people born are truly wanted (see my post on Kids). Especially in Louisiana, which has more than its share of poor people. Another reason is that no one who’s raped, especially by a relative, should be forced to carry the child. Furthermore, the whole anti-abortion lobby is dominated by men, and they just don’t have the equipment to determine all this crap. Sure, Blanco is a woman, but she’s forced to buckle to the interests of the regressives in this state.

A friend told me this weekend that he regrets not voting for Jindal; we’d have the same right-wing crap going on, but at least the guy is sharp.

Good point, MR.

And then there’s just the question of why the hell we’re worrying about this stuff now, when we’re in crisis mode after Katrina (see my post on Vitter’s marriage position). We have bigger fish to fry, especially since this law is moot as long as Roe stands (hurry up, 2008).

So it’s another reason that I don’t know that I could stay in the US if I have to leave NOLA. Sigh.


15 June 2006

I’m not sure I’ve ever posted about E’s & my “Childless by Choice” (or Child”free,” as one of her colleagues puts it) existence, before, but it’s something I feel strongly about.

Not that I feel that everyone should be child-free, or even that I’m positive we should, but I certainly think it’s something that everyone should consider. The bottom line is that kids shouldn’t be the default; they should be a choice made by people who really want them.

That’s exactly why we announced my vasectomy in a Christmas card a few years ago (’99, I think):

But that’s [Slim, Atticus, WhoopyCat, Denali] enough of a family, we thinks;
A recent procedure insures we’ll stay DINKs.

Well, that announcement didn’t go over as well as I’d hoped. Mom was pissed, not, according to her, at the decision to have the operation, but at the decision to “herald” it, never mind the fact that we didn’t send that announcement to too many folks. My mom had always been my partner in relative progressiveness, until then. Now she uses her apparent “liberalness” as a license to correct me on my shallowness as a thinker, such as about gay marriage.

Well, E & I talk about this a lot. I had my procedure at 29, when friends told me no doctor would do it if I didn’t have kids. I can say that I haven’t regretted it for a day. That’s not to say I don’t see the benefits of offspring, but I don’t think it’s worth it FOR ME.

Shortly, here’s why we didn’t do it:
For E: She raised her bro and sis (10 and 13 years younger) while her mom was doing “her own thing” and knows that’s it’s a 24-hour job she’s not into.
Pour Me’: There are enough people around, that I don’t need to add to the masses; plus, I likes my stuff.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, published an incredibly annoying piece this week on childlessness. I’ve about had it with Slate. They’ve been awful in their Katrina coverage, and they seem to get off on bucking the traditional liberal points, even though Kinsley founded it as a progressive mag.

My issue with Yoffee is that she could’ve told her questioner, “Say that right now you’re not planning on having kids at all.”

We made the decision for the procedure because we wanted to explicitly be intentional about our decision, not just put it off til it was too late. And it’s been the best thing for us. For us. Love the nieces and godkids, but we’re doing just fine. The smugness of people with kids is really tiresome. Fortunately for all of us, human nature (and dissonance reduction responses) lead us to justify our decisions and be happy with them. But it goes both ways. Chances are, E and I are going to think about all the great things about not having kids, and people with them will focus on all the great things about them. I know they’re there. I know it’s different when it’s your own; I don’t doubt that for a minute. But to have a kid, you should earnestly want to, and we don’t.

Geez, More on Marriage

15 June 2006

Here’s the text of a letter I wrote to the paper today. Of course they won’t publish it.


Senator Vitter had me, then he lost me. As a �liberal� (he used the term 4 times in his diatribe against Stephanie Grace), I didn�t vote for him. Still, I�ve admitted to fellow liberal friends that I�ve been impressed with his work for the state following Katrina. In fact, I�ve sometimes wondered whether he got the memo that Republicans aren�t allowed to question the president and his handling of the situation.


But he�s back to form attacking the straw man of �radical� (he used that term twice) redefinition of marriage. If he�s so concerned about Ms. Grace�s alleged intellectual dishonesty, then maybe he should acknowledge a bit of his own.


Like many people who oppose gay marriage, he alleges the impending breakdown in values. He�s right that values, and their transmission, are not trivial, but nothing in the union of two people of the same sex inherently jeopardizes those values. What does jeopardize those values is treating some people in our society differently from others.


Vitter cites how we raise children, meet each other�s emotional needs, and transmit values as central to his motivation for his position. Those are fine motivations, but not for opposing gay marriage. Most gay couples I know would agree with his priorities, but not their outcome. Do gay couples who�ve been together for 40 years do a worse job transmitting positive values than the conservative heterosexuals who cheat or discard spouses for matters of convenience?


I suspect that Vitter�s real issue is either one of emotion�the idea gives him the creeps�or of expediency�he knows that the issue will score needed points in the midterm elections. I�m not sure which it is, but he doesn�t need to blame Stephanie Grace for pointing out that there are indeed far more pressing issues for our society and that his statement is an insult to the suffering people of our region.


More on Marriage

7 June 2006

Maybe it’s the bourbon (tonight it’s Woodford Reserve), but I just gotta shout out to AmericaBlog tonight. You gotta love this exchange.