Saturday, February 28, 2009

Santimonious: In Praise of Moron

Good thing I'm not a practicing Catholic any more, or I'd be in trouble with the Church (yes, in many ways). I had promised to give up Martino for Lent, but it's obvious that I haven't been able to keep that pledge, since this is the second time I'm writing about him this week. See The Intolerance Institute.

In addition, I usually reserve my religious rants for Sundays, in honor of that being the day set aside for worship, but the combination of agita in the Church & Scranton has caused me to make an exception.

As I wrote earlier this week, Joseph Martino (which I believe is Italian for Moron), the Bishop of Scranton, is apparently on a mission from God to seek out & eliminate any discourse within the Church. For example, he has attacked a local college because it dared allow a gay man to speak at a forum (sponsored by the Diversity Institute, of all things). See also, Sinful in Scranton. There have even been suggestions that he may punish the school by removing its Catholic affiliation, which he has the power to do. Bishop Martino could take church affiliation from Misericordia.

He has also targeted anyone whom he does not consider sufficiently "pro-life," The Evil Lurks Within, and he has anointed himself as the Decider-In-Chief of what is appropriate (sound familiar?). Maybe we need to rename the Church as the Church of the Lemmings.

In Rick Santorum's (remember him? the former Senator from PA) weekly column in the Inky, Mr. Sanctimonious is downright gleeful about Martino's attacks against Democrats (including Bob Casey, who beat him for his Senate seat), In praise of Catholic priests who dare to teach and enforce:

That's why Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino got so much national attention last fall. Martino, formerly the auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, made the welcome decision to publicly bar then Sen. Joe Biden and other abortion advocates from receiving Communion in the Scranton Diocese. Then, after the November election, he admonished his brother bishops for their reluctance to deal with the issue faithfully.

Last month, Martino took on the most influential family in his diocese, the Caseys. He excoriated Sen. Bob Casey, who claims to be pro-life, for voting to give taxpayer dollars to overseas organizations that perform abortions. He warned that Casey was "formally cooperating with evil."

Martino was not done. Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia native and St. Joseph's Prep graduate issued a strong statement of disapproval to a local, nominally Catholic college, Misericordia University, that had scheduled a speech on campus by someone advocating same-sex marriage. "The faithful of the Diocese of Scranton should be in no doubt," Martino said, "that Misericordia University in this instance is seriously failing in maintaining its Catholic identity."

Then, last week, Martino took on some more of the biggest guns in the diocese: the Irish clubs that organize the largest public Catholic event of the year, the St. Patrick's Day festivities. Through a letter from his Irish auxiliary bishop, Martino warned that if any of these groups went ahead with plans that in any way honor politicians who are not pro-life, he would close the cathedral where Mass is usually held prior to the parade, as well as other diocesan churches. He said he would not countenance anything that created confusion about the teachings of the church.

The reason for the letter: Scranton's St. Patrick's Day parade last year featured Hillary Clinton.

Not satisfied with the bad press & controversy he's created so far this week, Martino has issued a new salvo, by publishing a new letter against Senator Casey & ordering priests to deny Communion to any politician who does not tow the line. Bishop Martino counseling Eucharistic ministers to deny Holy Communion. As Catholic Culture explains, Scranton's Bishop Martino orders priests: no Communion for public sinners:
The official notice does not mention any individual by name. However it is impossible to overlook the fact that on the same day, February 26, the Scranton diocese also posted an open letter from Bishop Martino of Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey, in which the bishop-- for the second time-- reminded the Catholic lawmaker of his moral obligation 'to oppose abortion and other clear evils.'
Martino's position, of course, is ridiculous. Senator Casey is definitely not pro-Choice. In fact, he had a very difficult time during the election (where he beat Santorum) because of his position. I can attest to the fact that many of my friends and colleagues did not want to vote for him because of his strong pro-life views. See Green is the Color of Money. Yet, Martino doesn't want to be bothered by the facts -- he "says his interpretation of the matter is 'in no way mistaken.'”

Truthfully, I'm beginning to think that what's going on here is Martino's political views are coloring his religious beliefs. I'm willing to bet that the man is a Republican, who is bent on doing whatever he can to sway voters in this traditionally conservative, but Democratic area. Clearly, the sole focus of his wrath are politicians of the Democratic persuasion. That is, the only issues he promotes as "evil" are those that Democrats hold. How about the Death penalty? Or the unjust war in Iraq? Those all impact "life" as well. Yet they are Republican issues, so he stays away from them. This theory is espoused by Bilgrimage in Collusion of the Catholic and Political Right: The Martino Story Continues and I truly believe he is correct in this. It's all part of the hard shift to the right and the elimination of the teachings of Vatican II.

And Martino's views (as well as those of the man formerly known as Ratzinger) are having an adverse impact on the Church. Despite the fact that the Catholic Church is still the largest ecclesial ministry in the US, the Church is starting to look like the economy -- in free fall. As noted by Catholic Culture: "Between the beginning and the end of 2007, the number of Catholics in the United States declined by nearly 400,000 to 67.1 million, according to the newly published 2009 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches." I'm sure the numbers of Catholics who have fled the Church in Scranton in the last year or so are also phenomenal (but we'll never know, because Martino will never release that information).

So, you may ask: why do I care? Although I have not been a member of the Church for many (many) years, I consider having been born & raised Catholic a bit like being Jewish -- for me, it's more a cultural thing than religious. In other words, I'm a secular Catholic, if that's possible. So I don't appreciate my cultural background being defiled this way. Contrary to the pontifications of this Bishop of the flock in Scranton, I am sure that the teachings of the Catholic Church are not intended to be grounded in bigotry, intolerance and harsh judgments of others.

And other people may be afraid of speaking out, but I can -- because I have nothing to lose.

Cartoon of the Day


Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Law Street Blues


I've been watching the legal (gossip) news, wondering what was happening on the lawyer lay-off front. Last I heard, after the pre-Friday the 13th massacre, Friday The 13th, A Lucky Day for Lawyers, K&L Gates was going to decide on layoffs at the end of this month. Having spent some time there during my Pittsburgh days, I was interested in seeing what had happened.

However, when I checked the blog for all things gossip/legal, Above the Law, I was shocked to learn that 400 attorneys/staff had been terminated by Latham & Watkins, Latham Cuts 440 (190 Associates, 250 Staff), which is more than any law firm has ever done, short of dissolution, to date. As the Washington Post describes, Latham & Watkins Cuts 190 Lawyers:

In a vivid illustration of how the global recession is battering the legal profession, Latham & Watkins, one of the largest law firms in the nation, announced yesterday that it will let go 190 lawyers and 250 paralegal and support staff.

Latham & Watkins, which represents clients such as District-based Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs, Harrah's Entertainment and UBS, has nearly 270 lawyers in Washington and more than 2,000 worldwide.

The firm is struggling with declining profits as corporate clients slash legal spending because of a reduction in mergers and acquisitions, capital finance and transactions. The job cuts are among thousands that have roiled through the industry in recent months.

In February, hundreds of jobs were cut at firms with District offices, including 243 at Holland & Knight, 134 at Bryan Cave and 29 at Dechert.

* * * *
Bob Dell, who is Latham's chairman and managing partner and works out of the firm's San Francisco office, said yesterday that the 440 jobs being eliminated represent 12 percent of the firm's associates and 10 percent of its paralegals. The cuts will occur in several of Latham's 28 offices, including those in the District, New York and Los Angeles, the firm said.
See also, Law Firm Layoff Watch: Latham Cuts 190 Lawyers, 250 Staff.

This follows news that Sonnenschein has decided to Shutter its' Charlotte Office, a "decision affects 11 lawyers and eight staff members." Not to mention that 53 people were laid off at Lowenstein Sandler -- 21 attorneys & 32 staff members (about 8% of the New Jersey firm's lawyers, Lowenstein Sandler Cuts 53 And Rescinds 3L Offers. They also rescinded offers to new hires, graduating law students who would have started in the fall.

This is apparently the newest thing in legalworld and is not limited to private firms. The Philly District Attorney's office just rescinded offers to its newly hired recruits. As reported by the Legal Intelligencer, Philadelphia DA's Office Rescinds Offers to Incoming Class of Lawyers:
Large law firms aren't the only ones faced with the stark reality of staffing concerns in this economy. The already budget-crunched Philadelphia District Attorney's Office -- a large law firm in its own right -- has had to do something it has never done: Rescind offers to its incoming class of attorneys.

The office rescinded offers to the 12 incoming attorneys who were set to start in the fall, according to Kathleen McDonnell, chief of legislation and head of the hiring committee in the District Attorney's Office.

McDonnell said it was a 'heartbreaking' decision that was only made after several other measures failed to improve the office's staffing situation.

The 300-attorney office typically sees about 10 percent attrition each year, which enables it to bring in a class of up to 35 people, as it did last year. But in this latest fiscal year, only about two people left, McDonnell said.
No news, however, on K&L -- except the signs are ominous. Above the Law reports, The Curious Case of K&L Gates, firm partner meetings and rumors of impending layoffs abound. Sounds like Monday may be the day for K&L (although one commenter notes that some people received COBRA notices, which suggests that the decision set for Friday, but was deferred for some reason). Even worse:
Just after 2:00 p.m. on a Friday, K&L Gates decided to send around a reminder to "all U.S. personnel" about the mental health services the firm provides . . . .

It's probably nothing. It's probably just a coincidence. People really are stressed all over, and nobody wants a layoff story to turn into a true tragedy.

But, the timing is certainly curious. Why would H.R. choose a random Friday at the end of February to remind people to take care of mental health during "life events and personal transitions?"

As a health law attorney, I (as well as my LLWL colleagues) have been very lucky so far. Health care has always been considered recession-proof, so we generally aren't impacted by the downturns in the economy the way other industries are. However, that may be changing, as the economy seems to continue its devastating downward spiral, and health care may be next. Will Consumers Keep the Health Care Industry Growing?.

This all certainly portends more bad news, which is now impacting those in the upper income reaches. As Law & More aptly observes, in Latham Cuts 190 Associates: End of Era of Magical Thinking:
America's middle and upper classes have had a genius for pulling off magical thinking or superimposing fantasy on what should be on reality. That might have just ended. Not only are we getting it that things are that bad. We're also digesting that this economic ordeal could go on for years.
UPDATE: Of course, after I wrote my summary of the week that was, Above the Law, along with Law Shucks, provides a comprehensive overview of the carnage. The totals are stunning, as noted by Law Shucks:
All told, 560 people were laid off by major firms this week - 252 attorneys, 308 staff. To put that in context, more people were fired this week than in any month in 2008. Last year, the two busiest months at major firms were December, which had 435 layoffs (186 attorneys, 249 staff), and November, which had 431 (223/208).

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cartoon of the Day


Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Consititution

The Intolerance Institute

Thankfully, I left the Catholic Church many years ago, so I don't have to witness first hand the sadness that is emanating from the destruction of the Church wroth by the likes of Bishop Martino of Scranton.

Having been born & raised in Scranton (accompanied by a Catholic School education from Kindergarten through Law School), I did think that there was one major advantage to my education. The benefit of spending grade school with the sisters would permit me to tell funny stories of having been taught by the nuns -- and Lord knows, there are many of those to tell. No More Patent Leather Shoes. In fact, my colleagues in the LLWL Gang, who are religiously diverse, got to hear the Catholic girls explain Pagan Babies at lunch the other day.

Yet, the Church of today, ruled by scolding dictators with vanity, intolerance and charity for none has superseded those fond memories, leaving a vile taste behind.

Once again, the Bishop of Scranton, Joseph Martino, has reared his ugly head to cause dissension, anger & pain among his flock. I have written of him many times of late, chronicling his dastardly deeds "in God's name." One of those dealt with his displeasure with a local Catholic University who permitted a civil rights activist, who happens to be gay, to speak at it's annual Black History event. See Sinful in Scranton. As the Scranton Times reports, Bishop Martino targets Misericordia University Diversity Institute:

Bishop Joseph F. Martino is calling on Misericordia University to “seriously consider discontinuing its Diversity Institute,” which hosted a gay-rights speaker earlier this month.

The bishop has publicly criticized the appearance of Keith Boykin, a best-selling author, television commentator and founder of the National Black Justice Coalition. Now Bishop Martino wants to ensure other speakers like Mr. Boykin do not receive a platform at Misericordia again.
Boykin, who is black as well as gay, was there as part of the school's Black History Month celebration and his focus was on black history, not on gay rights.

Lest there be any misunderstanding about Martino's intention, he wants it to be clear that he does not believe in diversity, if it does not comport with his view of the Church's teachings:
In a statement released by the Diocese of Scranton on Tuesday, the bishop conveyed that students should learn respect for all races and cultures, but viewpoints in opposition to Catholic teaching should not be presented “under the guise of ‘diversity.’ ”

“Doing so within a formal structure sanctioned by the institution gives the impression that these viewpoints are acceptable, or that all morality is relative,” the statement read.

The bishop is “asking Misericordia to seriously consider discontinuing its Diversity Institute” and also wants the school to prove its efforts in teaching Catholic morality regarding sexuality and homosexuality — including naming courses, content and catalog numbers.
Let the Inquisition begin! Martino also chose to issue his edict to the school by means of a press release, rather than by notifying the college first:
In a statement released by Misericordia on Tuesday afternoon, the university said it has “been committed deeply to its Catholic mission and the teachings of the Catholic Church for 85 years” and that it “welcomes the opportunity to discuss these matters with the bishop and his delegates at their convenience.” No further public comment was made.

Misericordia, located in Dallas, is a Catholic-affiliated school founded in 1924 by the Religious Sisters of Mercy. It is funded independently and not run by the diocese.
I have it on good authority (unlike me, I come from a religious family) that Martino never discussed any of his concerns with Misericordia or the Institute before he issued his attack through the media. Not a meeting. Not a letter. Not a call. No need, since Martino doesn't believe in discussion. He speaks, others obey.

And what about this radical Institute that obviously needs to be reigned in, according to the Bishop? What incendiary things has this organization done in the past? The Wilkes Barre paper describes the mission, Institute has long track record of promoting diversity:
Since 1993, the Diversity Institute at Misericordia University has provided programming and seminars for institutions in Northeastern Pennsylvania to encourage people in the region to be educated about diversity issues.

Its director, Linda Trompetter, Ph.D., had no comment Tuesday about the Diversity Institute at Misericordia University or Bishop Joseph F. Martino’s call to shut down the program. Through the years, though, the Diversity Institute has spurred larger initiatives that have addressed diversity issues throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Diversity Institute has presented at area businesses, government agencies, schools, universities and hospitals on issues ranging from sexual harassment, prejudice reduction and culture competence.

They’ve also presented programs on gender, religion, sexual orientation and class.

Each summer, the Diversity Institute hosts a multicultural summer camp for kids who live in and out of the area. The camp always ends with a picnic co-sponsored by the Wilkes-Barre chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
I have mentioned before that my hometown, and the surrounding area, was not exactly a beacon for harmonious racial relations. See, e.g., Oh, Dear Me and Can't Be Topped. So, one would think that an Institute that works to overcome those sentiments might be just what the region could use.

Yet Martino wants to do away with it? I guess his credo is a faith based upon Intolerance. Which Commandment was that?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cartoon of the Day


Jeff Parker, Florida Today

Black Thoughts



I didn't want to let Black History Month go by without a mention. In honor of the month, who better than the Senior Black Correspondent for the Daily Show, Larry Wilmore (especially since I've looked to him before).

In his interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Wilmore discusses black history month, changing the name to which blacks are referred to yet again & his new book, "I'd Rather We Got Casinos and other Black Thoughts."

The Daily Beast also has an excerpt from the book, which looks at the issue of whether Jesus was black, In Search of Black Jesus. For many, the passage in the Bible that refers to Christ’s olive skin and wool-like hair is evidence. Wilmore has gathered a few additional clues. Among my favorite:

Clue #1: From the moment of the immaculate conception, the question of “who the baby daddy” was already an issue.

I’m not saying this makes Jesus black, but without DNA testing in his time and no existence of a Maury Povich show, this open question brothafies him in my book.

Clue #2: He was born in a manger because his parents weren’t allowed to stay in any inn.

Weren’t allowed because they were . . . you can finish it.

Clue #3: His cousin had the first hip-hop name: John the Baptist.

This is a good 2,000 years before Cedric the Entertainer.

Clue #4: He walked on water.

There’s only one reason he would choose to walk on water: Brothas can’t swim.

Clue #5: He spoke in pre-Ebonics.

Blessed be the poor, blessed be the meek, etc., etc. These were even called the beatitudes. That’s a double bonus. It takes the black familiar use of “be” and couples it with “attitude.” And this doesn’t even take into account all the begats.

Clue #6: He had a large posse.

Even by today’s standards a 12-man posse is pretty big. In fact, some suggest the word “posse” is derived from “apostle.”

Clue #7: He turned water into wine.

On the surface, this may not seem black but the original texts suggest he actually turned water into wine cooler. Obviously a brotha move. To further prove the point, “Blessed is he who wants to get this party started” was deleted from the Gospel of John at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D.

Clue #11: He didn’t have a job.

We all know Jesus was a carpenter but there’s no historical evidence to suggest that he ever had a job. Keep in mind, this was back in the day when everything was either wood or stone. It would seem to me that if you were a carpenter, you’d be turning down work pretty much your whole life. The fact that there’s no evidence Jesus ever had a job in 33 years can be attributed only to racism. No one wanted to hire a brotha carpenter.

Clue #12: He may have been involved with a white girl.

There’s a very large following of believers who insist Jesus and Mary Magdalene may have been married and at the least might’ve had an affair. Here’s my take. You’re the son of God, the prince of peace, the most important person to ever walk the earth and you’re black. Of course, you’re going to have a white girl.

Clue #14: Like Tupac, he became more famous after he died.

And also like Tupac, years after his death, fresh material is still being unearthed.

Clue #15: He didn’t get a fair trial.

Nuff said.

Clue #17: He rose from the dead in three days.

Why not two, or one, or instantly? Obviously, he was on cp time.

Clue #18: People wear bling around their necks in honor of him.

Even people you would not qualify as being particularly brotha-friendly honor a black Jesus in this way.

Clue #19: No one knows where he is.

He said he’d be back but no one’s seen him for 2,000 years. If this isn’t like a brother, then I don’t know what.

And for more Larry, there's his Talk of the Nation interview at NPR.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Out of the Spotlight


I figure this is the perfect piece to use to mention the Palin Wager Gadget that I've added to my blog.

The Hill reports that Sarah Palin won't be attending the Governor's Conference in DC and she bowed out of speaking at the CPAC meeting as well, Palin shuns spotlight to pick up the pieces:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is uncharacteristically shunning the spotlight this week in an apparent effort to repair damage to her political stature back home.

Even though just about every big-name governor and leading conservative will be in Washington this week, the former vice presidential candidate skipped this weekend's National Governors Association meeting and will be absent from the Conservative Political Action Conference later this week."

After suffering through a rocky month back home she spent Friday in rural Alaska, providing state aid to rural communities hit hard by food and fuel shortages.

"To a certain extent, she's doing damage control in western Alaska," said Anchorage-based pollster Ivan Moore.
So Sarah plans to keep a low profile in the days (and months?) ahead? Just the news I wanted to hear. The perfect way to start the week.

Why do I care? My dozen or so regular readers probably know about my office wager with one of the LLWL members. Shortly after the election, our lunch group got into a discussion about Palin's future (in politics or otherwise). Clearly she's a publicity hound, but the question was whether the media and public would move on to newer celebrities and politicos, leaving Palin behind.

Although I'm normally not a gambler, I even agreed to a wager. My bet was that Sarah would slink off sooner rather than later, while my colleague said Sarah's staying. The loser has to buy pizza for the office from Old Forge, located nearby my hometown of Scranton (which I have bragged for years has the best pizza ever). After much back & forth on the matter, we decided that the Ides of March would be the date of determination. At that point in time, would Sarah Palin still be in the news?

We're now in the process of arguing over how we decide who won which, in & of itself, will no doubt take up much time in lively discussions. I thought I'd also put up a voter gadget, allowing readers a say. So, in the upper left corner, I've added a Question button, What's the Story with Sarah? with various options available.

Please vote -- especially if your view is of the Sarah Be Gone variety.

On the Palin front, you can also check out a few blogs I've recently discovered (along with a few I already read). For regular news updates on Sarah, check out:

Palingates

The Immoral Minority

Sanity Rant - Stop Sarah Palin

The Mudflats

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sinful in Scranton


I think Martino must be Italian for Moron. The Bishop from Scranton must sit around, looking for issues to stir up controversy and dissension in the Diocese. Based on the press he generates and the number of parishioners who are fleeing the Church, he's doing an excellent job.

Of course, this is the man who has elevated the abortion issue as the only important issue facing the world today. Forget unjust wars like in Iraq and genocide in Darfur. He doesn't have time for that. Forget hunger and rising homelessness. Forget about the death penalty. And let's not even talk about the problem of pedophiles in the Catholic Church.

During the election he ordered a letter be read during every mass in the Diocese, forbidding Catholics from voting for a pro-Choice candidate. See Say It Ain't So, Joe. More recently, he publicly rebuked Senator Bob Casey, from Scranton, for paling around with people who are pro-Choice. The Evil Lurks Within. A marvelous response to Martino on this particular issue can be found at Scranton Catholic Bishop Wants to Protect Children, Fails to See Irony.

Last week, he blasted a college for sponsoring a civil rights activist (who happens to be gay) as a speaker for its annual dinner of the Diversity Institute as part of Black History Month. As the Scranton paper reported, Bishop Martino rips college for gay-rights speaker:

The Diocese of Scranton is publicly criticizing the appearance of a gay-rights advocate who will speak at Misericordia University today.

Bishop Joseph F. Martino voiced “absolute disapproval” of the university providing a “platform” for Keith Boykin, a best-selling author, television commentator and founder of the National Black Justice Coalition.

In a statement issued by the diocese Monday, Bishop Martino called Mr. Boykin’s beliefs “disturbingly opposed” and “antithetical” to Catholic teaching.
This is the Catholic Church after all. Openness to Diversity is what's truly antithetical to small-minded, power-mongers like Martino. I'm sure he wasn't happy that the school held the lecture anyway, to a standing room only crowd. Disruption-free talk at Misericordia.

Moving on to new targets, Martino issued a pronouncement that no elected officials who hold pro abortion positions can be permitted to have any involvement in the city's upcoming St. Patrick's Day events. As the Times reported,
Bishop warns Irish planners in Scranton:
In a letter to the heads of three local Irish-American organizations, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton has threatened to close St. Peter’s Cathedral during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations if the groups feature elected officials who support abortion rights at their annual events.

The letter, which was signed by Auxiliary Bishop John M. Dougherty, reports that Bishop Joseph F. Martino is “determined to prevent scandal,” which would be caused if the organizations “in any way” should “honor pro-abortion officials” by giving them parade or dais positions or opportunities to speak and “the Catholic Church is seen to be involved in this honoring.”

In direct terms, the letter reiterates the bishop’s publicly stated position that elected officials who vote to support abortion rights will be denied Holy Communion if they attempt to receive the sacrament in the diocese, including at St. Patrick’s Day Masses. The closing of St. Peter’s Cathedral is offered as an additional measure to prevent the honoring of such officials.
See also,
Bishop of Scranton bars pro-abortion officials from St. Patrick’s Day Masses.

Of course, his position makes perfect sense. A closed mind matches the closed doors. On the other hand, this is a big deal in Scranton, with its large Irish population. As the Times notes:
The annual St. Patrick’s Parade through downtown Scranton is one of the largest in the country, and the dinners hosted by the Friendly Sons and the Society of Irish Women often have featured prominent national and international figures. Last year, President Barack Obama, then a senator, spoke at the Irish Women’s dinner; Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern spoke at the Friendly Sons’ dinner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then a senator, marched in the parade.

Although bishops of the diocese have historically attended the Friendly Sons’ dinner, Bishop Martino has never participated.
As
Whispers in the Loggia explains: "Bottom line: no Biden."

The final irony about Martino is that he may be getting a lot of press on his pontifications, but he isn't just shutting doors to the Church to keep people out -- the doors to many parishes are being closed due to falling numbers of attendees. As Whispers in the Loggia observed:
Late last month, the Scranton diocese announced that, due to falling numbers of priests and fewer resources to go around, almost half its 209 parishes will be closed or consolidated.
(Cartoon via John Cole, TheTimes-Tribune)

The Conversation

I don't think this was exactly what Eric Holder meant when he suggested that a conversation about race needed to happen more often. See The Cowardly Nation.

According to the Madison County Record, Visiting utility workers harassed:

A group of out-of-state electric company workers helping restore power to Madison County residents were subjected to racial epithets and other forms of harassment while in the area on Saturday.

* * * *

According to Madison County Sheriff Phillip Morgan, the Pennsylvania crew, which had split into about three groups, had between 30 or 40 African-American workers included in the 100.

"Some kids were driving around them, waving Rebel flags and mouthing to them," Morgan said. "They showed some weapons and were supposedly intoxicated.
"That's just not right for those people to treat them that way. Those people came down here from Pennsylvania to help us get electricity back on, leaving their families behind, and this is how they are treated. That's just wrong."

An editorial in The Arkansas Leader also chides the rugged mountain county, Icy reception for repairmen:
Some 100 workers from Pennsylvania, about a third of them African Americans, came down to help the local electric cooperative restore power after the devastating ice storm last month took down just about every power pole in the county. They worked tirelessly clearing trees and putting up poles and lines in the ice and freezing rain to try to speed power to people.

For their trouble, they were harassed and threatened by roving groups of young men shouting racial epithets and pointing guns at them. The county sheriff said the young men would drive around the work teams waving Rebel flags and cursing the blacks. The workers were frightened enough to contact the sheriff’s office in nearby Washington County.

Madison County is all white.

The last time Madison County made national news was the day after the general election in which Sen. Barack Obama was elected president by a landslide. The owners of the Faubus Motel at Huntsville, named after the Arkansas governor who sent the National Guard to Little Rock Central High School to block nine black children from attending classes in 1957, took down the American flag the morning after the election and put up a Confederate flag. The proprietor said the voters of the United States had abandoned the principles of the nation’s founders in electing Obama.
These people will remain in the dark even when the lights are turned back on.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Cowardly Nation

AG Eric Holder addressed his new colleagues in the Justice Department during a celebration of Black History month, remarking that we are "essentially a nation of cowards" with respect to things racial. It certainly captured everyone's attention, Holder: US a "Nation of Cowards" on Race Discussions:

In a blunt assessment of race relations in the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday called the American people "essentially a nation of cowards" in failing to openly discuss the issue of race.

In his first major speech since being confirmed, the nation's first black attorney general told an overflow crowd celebrating Black History Month at the Justice Department the nation remains "voluntarily socially segregated."

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards," Holder declared.

* * * *

The attorney general said employees across the country "have done a pretty good job in melding the races in the workplace," but he noted that "certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks at best embarrassment and at worst the questioning of one's character."

"On Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some 50 years ago. This is truly sad," Holder said.

I guess he didn't get the memo that black is in. He obviously needs to check his in-box more often.

My first reaction was that this was quite a change from the office previously held by John Ashcroft, who preferred to cover up statutes, and Alberto Gonzales, who preferred to cover up illegal deeds, rather than address uncomfortable truths, as Holder is doing. Whatever else we may be, we are surely a nation that hates hearing the truth about ourselves.

Of course, many people have interpreted Holder's comments to mean that he believes that white people have a problem with race. See e.g., Holder 'nation of cowards' remarks blasted, praised and Defining 'Nation of Cowards' Down. I guess for these people, "the nation" still only belongs to whites.

However, I don't believe that Holder was talking about those, on either side of the great race divide, who are closed to the conversation, since they would only hear their own words anyway. The monologuers never allow for an opportunity to listen and learn any other point of view. Without that, nothing will change, which is Holder's point. A prime example is the very Hardball show discussing the issue of Holder's speech, with Pat Buchanan & Michael Eric Dyson. Lots of words exchanged, but no discussion there. They each engaged in a strident monologue, yelling past each other. Although, as FN said, you have no doubt where Buchanan stands on issues of race. To the extent that there is a problem with race, for him -- it's all black people's fault. As for Dyson, he spent a lot of time pontificating, without actually saying a whole lot.

Nor was Holder speaking about racists, since many of those individuals have removed the white sheets & are fairly open about expressing their bigoted views (you know, 1st Amendment rights & all). There's really no changing those entrenched views.

Instead, as he said, he was talking about "average Americans" who hold no great animus towards those of another race, but are reluctant to discuss racial issues and concerns out of a fear of being misunderstood (and labeled racist), or even worse, being lectured about the other's point of view (along the lines of we're now post-racial, so give us a break, or the man has kept us down for years, so give us a break).

It's unfortunate that the media focus always has to look for & create a "stir the pot" controversy, even when there isn't really a pot there. As rikyrah of Jack & Jill Politics said, Holder's speech "was thoughtful, smart, historical, honest and contemplative."

See also, Jack & Jill Politics for a transcript of the speech.

I remember when I was younger being taught the old Maxim -- you should never talk about politics or religion (as well as sex or money) in polite company. I don't know that we, as a society, have ever gotten much beyond that. You can also add race to that list, as well as issues dealing with the Middle East, especially Israel and Palestine (which I suppose could fall under the category of politics and/or religion).

I realize that my world is very different that that of most people. I live in a very racially, ethnically & religiously (& let's not forget sexually) diverse environment. My weeks (and week-ends) are integrated on many levels & I do engage in discussions on those issues on a regular basis (and live to tell the tale). I live in Mount Airy after all -- the liberal, hippie, Birkenstock haven of the world & I know my experience does not equate with other parts of the City -- or country. Yet, I also do know that the conversation can happen -- even with some humor on occasion, as Lewis Black notes about Politics & Religion:




Apply that philosophy to race & voila, as Gawker said: "Problem: solved!"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cartoon of the Day


Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel

No News Is Good News

Media-monger Sarah Palin, she of VP fame & infamy, may yet decide that being in the news isn't all that. Especially when the news, as of late, is all bad.

For example, the latest news from the Alaska shores is that Palin didn't properly pay her taxes. The Washington Post reports, Palin Now Owes Taxes on Reimbursement Payments for Nights at Home, State Rules:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) owes income taxes on nearly $17,000 paid to her as travel reimbursements when she spent nights in her Wasilla residence, according to a state legal opinion that the payments were not legitimate business expenses, a state official said yesterday.

* * * *
Palin's expenses were reported by The Washington Post last year after the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), named Palin as his running mate. The Post reviewed records from late 2006 through early August 2008, and the story prompted a review by state officials. The governor continued to seek the payments through the end of the year, according to the Anchorage Daily News, which first reported this week that she owed taxes on the payments.
This makes me wonder if, a la Daschle, this means that Sarah Palin can't run for office ever again or accept a political appointment, since non-payment of taxes -- especially for Republicans, seems to be killer offense.

The news on the budget front for Alaska is also not good for high-flying (and spending) Sarah. Even worse, it may mean that she has to focus on the home state, as noted by the AP, Sarah Palin In Trouble As Oil Prices Fall:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's first two years in office have been called a time of milk and honey, when the resource-rich state was flush with wealth from record oil prices.

The second half of her term isn't looking so rosy as Palin faces her first major financial challenge as governor.

The rapid decline of oil prices has left the state in a looming budget crisis and a late-entrant in the national recession. And that could have political repercussions for the former Republican vice presidential hopeful, who has signaled an interest in a 2012 presidential run but must stay visible in the Lower 48 to be successful.

'Given these bad times, she's going to have a much more difficult time traveling outside Alaska,' said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. 'When times are good, people will let their governor roam. In bad times, citizens expect their governor to stay home and work on solving the problems.'
Her job as Gov seems to be giving her headaches even beyond the budget. As Steve Benen of Political Animal reports, in PALIN'S PROBLEMS:
Oddly enough, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was not only in over her head on the national stage, she's also struggling in Alaska.

A couple of weeks before the Alaska legislature began this year's session, a bipartisan group of state senators on a retreat a few hours from here invited Gov. Sarah Palin to join them. Accompanied by a retinue of advisers, she took a seat at one end of a conference table and listened passively as Gary Stevens, the president of the Alaska Senate, a former college history professor and a low-key Republican with a reputation for congeniality, expressed delight at her presence.

Would the governor, a smiling Stevens asked, like to share some of her plans and proposals for the coming legislative session?

Palin looked around the room and paused, according to several senators present. "I feel like you guys are always trying to put me on the spot," she said finally, as the room became silent.

Gone was the self-assurance that Alaska had come to know in its young Republican governor, well before her life and career were transformed by Sen. John McCain's selection of her as his vice presidential running mate. "She looked ill at ease, more defensive than we've been accustomed to seeing her," said one legislator who was there and spoke on the condition of anonymity because he said he might need to work with Palin.

The governor, apparently, isn't having any fun anymore.

It's hard to say with any certainty what Palin's plans are for the future, but she seems anxious to maintain a national profile -- she created a leadership PAC, she's on Fox News, she made an Alfalfa dinner appearance, she's weighing in on Republican primary contests far outside Alaska, etc. Jason Zengerle suggests Palin, if she's serious about seeking national office, should "give up her position as partisan firebrand, focus her attentions on being Alaska's governor, remake herself as more of a pragmatic executive (which, prior to the '08 campaign, is what many thought she was), and then return to national politics."

Then, of course, was the news that her daughter Bristol, who called telling her mother about her pregnancy "harder than labor," also spoke out against abstenence-only policies, Bristol Palin Speaks Out:

Bristol Palin, the 18-year-old daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, told Fox News in her first interiew since giving birth that she would like to be an advocate against teen pregnancy.

'Everyone should wait 10 years,' Palin said. 'I hope people learn from my story.'

* * * *

Bristol Palin described to Fox's Greta Van Susteren the moment when she, her boyfriend, Levi Johnston, and another friend told her parents that she was pregnant. She described that moment as "harder than labor."

But this was not the only surprise Bristol Palin said she had for her mother, Alaska's youngest governor. She told Van Susteren she had only told her mother she was doing this national television interview - in which Van Susteren and crew flew to Alaska - one day prior to the taping.

And, at the same time she's out there shopping her book, an unauthorized biography about her is being published this week by a People editor. The book, Trailblazer: An Intimate Biography of Sarah Palin, is not a flattering portrayal, as noted by The Politco, Palin disputes 'fantasies' in new book:
The book spends little time on Palin’s experience as the GOP vice presidential nominee, delving mostly into Palin’s childhood, family and interaction with friends. Of the book’s 228 pages, Benet’s account of the campaign makes up roughly 30 pages.

Much of the rest of his account of Palin’s political rise portrays her as an ambitious and aggressive politician, determined to gain a prominent job and plagued by a contentious relationship with the press.

Shortly after being elected mayor of Wasilla, Palin is quoted by friends as saying, “I want to be president.”

Soon after becoming mayor, her interactions with the media grew heated. “My goodness, I’ve been here 11 days. Give me a break, please,” she said at a press conference.

“I don’t remember other mayors getting grilled like this,” she is quoted as saying later. The book also states that Todd Palin got into a feud with a local editorial cartoonist over the drawings of his wife.

Benet asserts that Palin changed her tune after becoming governor and sought ways to use the press to polish her national profile. He writes that Alaska spent $31,000 in state funds on media consulting for the governor in attempts to book her for major television and newspaper interviews."
I'm not sure that this is the type of media attention that we had in mind when I made my wager with one of the LLWL gang. Our bet was whether Palin would continue to remain a force in politics (or become a media personality & land a show on Fox News). Of course, this just means we have something fun to argue about until the Ides of March (& then we'll spend some time arguing about how we decide who won the bet).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cartoon of the Day


Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune

Pocket Book



Moving to the top of my book list, I'm fast & furiously trying to finish George Eliot's "The Mill on the Floss" for my book group meeting this week-end. I also recently made a neat discovery. The book is available on Google Book Search, which now includes a mobile version for the iPhone. So, now I can carry the book in my pocket & read a few pages if I have a spare minute where ever I am.

Monday, February 16, 2009

He'll Always Be Last To Me


In honor of President's Day, C-Span issued its Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership, with a number of presidential historians ranking the 42 former occupants of the White House on ten attributes of leadership. Not surprisingly, Abraham Lincoln was first, followed by George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. Finishing last was James Buchanan. George W. Bush came in 36th, just beating out Millard Fillmore, who ranked 37th.

Obviously, a bit of nostalgia played into the rankings, since George W. Bush did not finish as the Worst. President.Ever. Other surveys, such as that conducted by the History News Network, put him in his rightful place as Worst.President.Ever. And he'll always be last for me.

I'm also sure that Will Bunch of Attytood, who has just written a new book on Ronald Reagan, Tear Down this Myth, will have something to say about Reagan's ranking at #10. His book came out just in time, as Bunch certainly has his work cut out for him on that one!

The complete Overall Ranking is also available. The C-SPAN Washington Journal video is also available, discussing the report.

(Via Think Progress)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We're Gonna Get You

Senators McCain & Graham have been complaining that Obama hasn't lived up to his promise of bipartisanship, since he passed a stimulus bill that they didn't like, GOP senators say Obama off to bad start. Of course, the reality is that "he" didn't pass anything, Congress did, and major concessions were made to the GOP, which didn't make a damn bit of difference in the final vote. But, as we know, that doesn't matter to the Republican Party.

Instead, SNL's so-called parody of the GOP sounds a little too real -- that the Republicans are the party of opposition and nothing else.



See also Crooks & Liars, Video Cafe.

What a Loser

Listening to the Right, the Left and the Media, it is clear that newbie President Obama has made a royal mess of things already and the stimulus package he's planning to sign into law is way "too" (much/little, depending on your bent) to ever save us. In other words, he's a loser & we're all screwed.

Of course, after all of the agita expressed by the various factions, that's one way to look at things. On the other hand, after I heard that the bill had finally passed on Friday night, I said to my husband, I sure hope that he can keep losing like that. As the Washington Post put it, Obama Scores Early Victory of Historic Proportions:

Twenty-four days into his presidency, Barack Obama recorded last night a legislative achievement of the sort that few of his predecessors achieved at any point in their tenure.
Echoing that sentiment, Steve Benen observes, A 'Hostoric' Win:
Looking back over the last couple of weeks, I've complained a bit about aspects of the economic stimulus bill and the process in which it worked its way through Congress. It's not ambitious enough. There are too many tax cuts. President Obama overemphasized bipartisanship. The White House lost control of the message. House Democrats made too many concessions. Senate Democrats made far too many concessions.

You get the idea.

But the Washington Post has a good piece today that adds some perspective to what's transpired in recent weeks. It's a reminder that while the trees have been frustrating at times, the forest looks pretty impressive.
And then Frank Rich provides his usual witty and on-point analysis, in They Sure Showed That Obama:
Am I crazy, or wasn’t the Obama presidency pronounced dead just days ago? Obama had “all but lost control of the agenda in Washington,” declared Newsweek on Feb. 4 as it wondered whether he might even get a stimulus package through Congress. “Obama Losing Stimulus Message War” was the headline at Politico a day later. At the mostly liberal MSNBC, the morning host, Joe Scarborough, started preparing the final rites. Obama couldn’t possibly eke out a victory because the stimulus package was “a steaming pile of garbage.”

Less than a month into Obama’s term, we don’t (and can’t) know how he’ll fare as president. The compromised stimulus package, while hardly garbage, may well be inadequate. Timothy Geithner’s uninspiring and opaque stab at a bank rescue is at best a place holder and at worst a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the TARP-Titanic, where he served as Hank Paulson’s first mate.

But we do know this much. Just as in the presidential campaign, Obama has once again outwitted the punditocracy and the opposition. The same crowd that said he was a wimpy hope-monger who could never beat Hillary or get white votes was played for fools again.
We're certainly don't know how much it will help (or, if anything can do it at this point), but at least he's determined to try. And, if it doesn't work, I'm sure he'll try something else, if he can, before the naysayers try to declare total defeat.

Either way, I agree with Obama's words that doing nothing is not an option. Here's hoping he can change what the Bush Administration has otherwise made inevitable.

Cartoon of the Day


Matt Davies, The Journal News

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The 6-word Valentine



I'm definitely a sucker for the 6-word story. I've penned a few Mini Memoirs.

So, when I saw the call for 6 word love stories in the Washington Post, Your Love: In Six Words, I just couldn't resist.

My contribution:

Summer love.
Long ago.
Still today.

Cartoon of the Day


Randy Bish, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Cartoon of the Day


Rob Rogers, Post-Gazette

Have a Heart


"Fidelity" from Courage Campaign.

Valentine's Day. The celebration of love. Couples.

Truth is, no matter how much we may "have," there's one thing that we all want more than anything -- love. Anyone who possesses a heart knows that.

That applies to us all.

And for a few more words on this issue, I think Mary Shaw expresses the sentiment at Love is love. Period. Deal with it..

For more information, see Courage Campaign.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cartoon of the Day


Cal Grondahl, Utah Standard-Examiner

Friday The 13th, A Lucky Day for Lawyers

Yes, today is Friday the 13th.

After yesterday's news in the legal profession, today may be a lucky day for those lawyers left standing.

Traditionally, Friday the 13th is considered the unlucky day. For true believers, it's known as Paraskevidekatriaphobia Day.

But, for lawyers, Thursday the 12th may be the unluckiest day of all.

Legal news blog Above the Law reports that over 800 lawyers & staffers were let go by big firms across the country at the end of yesterday. See So, What Are We Calling Today Exactly?

According the the Wall St. Journal Law Blog, The Darkest Day Ever for Big Law Firms?:

The day’s wreckage:

* DLA Piper announced it was laying off 80 lawyers and 100 staff members in the U.S.
* Goodwin Procter announced it was cutting 36 lawyers and 38 staff members
* Dechert cut 19 lawyers
* Faegre & Benson (yesterday) axed 29 lawyers
A later update from WSJ added:
Holland & Knight has fired 70 lawyers and 173 staff.
Of course, that doesn't mean lawyers have escaped the wrath of the 13th. See K&L Gates Battens Down the Hatches: Salary Freezes, Delayed Start Dates (But good news: no layoffs. For now.). And who knows what may yet to come. After all, there happen to be three such occurrences in 2009, two of them right in a row. That means next month brings yet another Friday the 13th (and even worse, Thursday the 12th).

What a Juddhead

So, some guy I never heard of before, Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire (who was picked by Obama to be Commerce Secretary), has decided he's had enough of the play nice stuff with the Democrats already and has withdrawn his name from consideration. Gregg Ends Bid for Commerce Job.

Why, you may ask? Good question. The reasons appear to run the gamut. Gregg's stated reason is that he realized he wouldn't be a "good fit" with the Obama Administration. Of course, speculation covers everything from bad vetting process, to the fact that he objected to the stimulus bill to problems with census policies. Now, I wasn't involved in the process, but you mean to tell me that none of these matters were issues he might have been aware of before he agreed to the nomination?

The only excuse that hasn't been proffered, as far as I can tell, is that he wants to "spend more time with his family."

But, what do you expect from a man who demanded a promise from the Democratic Governor that his senate seat go to a Republican (which was agreed to) before he accepted? Gee, if this guy was a girl, you just know that she'd be labeled a prima dona for sure!

I tend to agree with the analysis of Steve Benen, who notes, in What Was Gregg Thinking?:

Indeed, the whole thing still seems quite odd a day later. Two weeks ago, Judd Gregg really wanted to be a U.S. senator. Last week, Gregg really wanted to be the Secretary of Commerce. And this week, Gregg really wants to be neither. Something doesn't add up here.
Really. Really! As Benen explains:
But what remains unclear is what prompted Gregg to back away from a job he'd asked for just last week. The various explanations don't stand up well to scrutiny.

* It was the stimulus package: Key among Gregg's "irresolvable conflicts" with President Obama was the White House's recovery initiative, which Gregg apparently can't support. But this doesn't make sense -- the stimulus package was already under consideration on the Hill when Gregg sought and accepted the cabinet invitation. Indeed, Gregg had publicly defended the president's policy. If the plan was a deal-breaker, he wouldn't have agreed to the job in the first place.

* It was the census policy: This isn't compelling either. Gregg told reporters yesterday that the census "was so insignificant that he would not even address it," calling it a "slight" matter. The census hullabaloo was something of a canard anyway.

* It was pressure from the GOP: Gregg was, to be sure, pressured by Republicans on the Hill not to help President Obama, and pressured even more from GOP activists in New Hampshire, who saw his cabinet move as a betrayal. But with Gregg retiring in 2010 anyway -- he said yesterday he would not seek re-election next year -- why would partisan pressure affect him so strongly?

* It was the result of bad vetting: Some in the media have begun blaming the White House for the breakdown, describing it as another problem with the vetting process. This also doesn't make sense -- there's no evidence that Gregg's departure has anything to do with new information that vetters had missed.

* * * *
It seems like there's part of this story we do not yet know.
Andrew Sullivan suggests that it's just more of the GOP being itself. Partisan to the bitter end. According to Sullivan, The GOP Has Declared War On Obama. However, I have to say, I disagree with him in one regard. With the dire financial situation the country is faced with (ignoring who caused it), I'd have to say -- they've declared war on America, not Obama.

Ron Chusid of Liberal Values concurs, The Republican War on Obama (and America). As he says in a follow up post, Andrew Sullivan’s War of Words Against The Republicans:
It is one thing to oppose specific acts by Obama on principle, but many of us believe that the Republicans are opposing Obama’s acts purely because they want Obama to fail for partisan reasons, regardless of the harm this might do to the country. They believe that voters have such a limited memory that if things are bad they will vote Republican in the future, forgetting that in so many cases it was Republican policies which got us into our current mess.
They just hate our country if they can't get their own way.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cartoon of the Day


Koterba, Omaha World Herald

Taking it to the Street


I've been suffering through a nasty cold that's lingering on a bit past its prime. Unheard of for me, I even left the office early yesterday and got a bit of rest. I also did a little reading & finally thinned my book pile by one.

After a violent incident involving a homeless man occurs at the big DC firm where Michael Brock works, his world -- and high living life style -- suddenly is meaningless, along with his marriage. He discovers a secret that ties the firm to Mister, the homeless man who took several of the lawyers at the firm hostage and his attempt to gather evidence of the misdeed leads to his theft of a client file.

After he departs from the firm, and his chance at partnership, Brock joins a legal clinic and becomes an advocate for the homeless, which gives him a perspective on a world he never even noticed before. Along with Mordecai Green, the driven lawyer who runs the clinic, they try to solve the plight of the homeless and expose the firm's wrongdoing. Reviewing the book, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette describes Green:

[A] firebrand in his early 50s who represents the poorest of the poor. He educates Michael and the reader about the elimination of low-cost housing and the trend in America to criminalize homelessness.

"The big cities have passed all sorts of laws designed to persecute those who live on the streets. Can't beg, can't sleep on a bench, can't camp under a bridge, can't store personal items in a public park, can't sit on a sidewalk, can't eat in public," Mordecai says, before moving on to "sweeps" such as the one that removed homeless people from Atlanta's streets before the Summer Games.

"The Street Lawyer" is not just a primer on the poor. It's a legal thriller about Drake & Sweeney's connection to the hostage-taker - it wouldn't be a Grisham book without a corporate conspiracy or cover-up - and how Michael puts his very livelihood on the line.

The book was written over 10 years ago, but the novel, The Street Lawyer, is especially timely today in these dire economic times, addressing the issue of homelessness. In his usual fast paced, page-turner style, Grisham depicts homelessness in a sympathetic, yet realistic manner, showing the degree of research he did for the novel.

I think the January Magazine Review sums it up best: "The suspense and tight drama that readers of earlier Grisham novels lapped up like so much honeyed milk is absent from The Street Lawyer. And though this is not an inferior novel, it reads more like a Jerry Maguire than a Firm or a Pelican Brief. A feel-good movie with masculine themes; a Fried Green Tomatoes for guys."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You Say It's Your Birthday


Sarah Palin
Born this day in 1964

Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie annoy me.
(Not as much as those who tell the truth.)


So, today Sarah is 45 years old. I guess these boots are made for walking (mid-life crisis, anyone?).

And, whenever it seems that the media attention is beginning to fade, Palin manages to re-appear. From her interview in this month's Esquire., to the news that there's a Sarah Palin Movie in the Works. And, if you just can't get enough of news of Sarah, there's Sarah Palin turns 45 today. How are you celebrating?

Finally, for a few (made up) facts that you might not have known about Sarah, check out Scott's Tip Of The Day.

And no, I haven't given up on my Palin-Be-Gone Wager!

UPDATE: To give me solace, Wonkette notes that Palin is no longer that fresh young thing, Happy 45th Birthday To Middle-Aged Anger Bear Sarah Palin!:
And now she’s back home in the snowbilly trailer-trash burg of Wasilla, with her loser husband riding in circles around the house on a snowmobile, all night long, and her unmarried teen-aged daughter raising the grandchild of some random oxycontin dealer, and Trig dressed up like Shrek or something, who knows.

Oh and her top legal adviser resigned in disgrace today. Troopergate, etc. Her outrageous outfits, all $175,000 of ‘em, still rot in garbage bags at RNC headquarters in D.C.

Happy 45th birthday, Sarah Palin! Middle-aged people sometimes say “life begins at 40, or maybe 50,” or whatever, but not in your case. You’re done.
UPATE #2 (2/13):  And finally, this birthday tribute to Sarah:


O'Wicked



I realize Bill O'Reilly's shtick is to mouth off, with as many vile and hateful thoughts as possible, but his gratuitous nastiness towards journalist Helen Thomas was truly despicable. Is there no minimum level of respect for anyone from these people? O'Reilly called reporter Helen Thomas the "wicked witch of the east" Monday night after Obama's press conference.

And then there was "Helen Thomas' fifteen minutes were up during the Lincoln administration," from Bernie Goldberg (whoever he is), who added: "It's time for Helen to find something else to do during press conferences."

As Bonnie Erbe of US News & World Reports describes O'Reilly, "an angry homunculus who's outlived his useful life span."

O'Reilly: The White House press corps looked intimidated to me... Except for that, what's her name? The old lady, Helen Thomas. [squawking sound]

Colmes: Is that your Helen Thomas impression?

O'Reilly: Yea! [squawking sound]

Colmes: I didn't know you did impersonations.

O'Reilly: It's like the wicked witch of the east! If I were Obama, I would've poured water on her, and she would dissolve!

Colmes: It's not nice to make fun of an old woman, Bill.

O'Reilly: It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter and neither does O'Reilly.

(Via Crooks and Liars)

They're Back

I suppose I'm showing my age, because I remember them. Yes, for those of us who were raised Catholic, of a certain age, indulgences were a staple of the crazy patchwork of silly stuff the nuns taught us, which we then giggled about in later life.

Yet, for some, they are obvious serious enough to redeem from the dustbin of hazy memories. Especially for a Catholic Church intent upon eradicating the reforms of Vatican II, it is just one more way to move the Church back in time.

According to the NYTimes, Indulgences Return, and Heaven Moves a Step Closer for Catholics:

The announcement in church bulletins and on Web sites has been greeted with enthusiasm by some and wariness by others. But mainly, it has gone over the heads of a vast generation of Roman Catholics who have no idea what it means: “Bishop Announces Plenary Indulgences.”

In recent months, dioceses around the world have been offering Catholics a spiritual benefit that fell out of favor decades ago — the indulgence, a sort of amnesty from punishment in the afterlife — and reminding them of the church’s clout in mitigating the wages of sin.

The fact that many Catholics under 50 have never sought one, and never heard of indulgences except in high school European history (Martin Luther denounced the selling of them in 1517 while igniting the Protestant Reformation), simply makes their reintroduction more urgent among church leaders bent on restoring fading traditions of penance in what they see as a self-satisfied world.

“Why are we bringing it back?” asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move. “Because there is sin in the world.”

Like the Latin Mass and meatless Fridays, the indulgence was one of the traditions decoupled from mainstream Catholic practice in the 1960s by the Second Vatican Council, the gathering of bishops that set a new tone of simplicity and informality for the church. Its revival has been viewed as part of a conservative resurgence that has brought some quiet changes and some highly controversial ones, like Pope Benedict XVI’s recent decision to lift the excommunications of four schismatic bishops who reject the council’s reforms.
So, for the uninitiated, what's an indulgence, other than an "excuse me"?

According to church teaching, even after sinners are absolved in the confessional and say their Our Fathers or Hail Marys as penance, they still face punishment after death, in Purgatory, before they can enter heaven. In exchange for certain prayers, devotions or pilgrimages in special years, a Catholic can receive an indulgence, which reduces or erases that punishment instantly, with no formal ceremony or sacrament.

There are partial indulgences, which reduce purgatorial time by a certain number of days or years, and plenary indulgences, which eliminate all of it, until another sin is committed. You can get one for yourself, or for someone who is dead. You cannot buy one — the church outlawed the sale of indulgences in 1567 — but charitable contributions, combined with other acts, can help you earn one. There is a limit of one plenary indulgence per sinner per day.
I have just one question. So, what's next? Pagan babies anyone?

(Via Pharyngula)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cartoon of the Day


Tom Toles, Washington Post

Quote of the Day

In the last few months, as the scavengers have picked at the carcass of the Republican party, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about what “conservatism” means. . . .

Well, I can’t definitively say what “conservatism” means. I possess no advanced degrees, am not a philosopher, and have almost no knowledge of political science.

However.

I can tell you what Republicanism means, and that, I think, is a more germane issue. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we don’t have a “Conservative” party on our ballots. No. We have a “Republican” one. So figuring out what they stand for seems to be a much more useful endeavor than attempting to define “conservatism.”

Well, I’ve done a lot of observing and thinking, and it seems to me that the Republican party stands for two things.

1. Tax cuts are the cure for everything, including the common cold.
2. Fuck you.

And that’s pretty much it. All of the shit that the Republicans do flows from those two points.

* * * *

So it comes down to this: Republicanism is an ideology by and for bullies. But not the kind of bullies who have the guts to get in actual fights, even if the deck is stacked in their favor. No. They hire people to do their fighting for them. Even in their grand and glorious overseas crusades, the ones where they denounce everyone who opposes them as cowards and appeasers, these cocksuckers stay on the sidelines. How many prominent Republicans ran out and enlisted after 9/11? How about before the Iraq war? Which major Republican pundits were cops? Not a goddamn one. Why? All talk, no action.

First Draft, Republicanism Explained

(Via Suburban Guerrilla)