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4/15/2004

 

kerry's got the vatican behind the 8 ball



there's a silly, mostly marginal debate going on over whether john kerry should be allowed to receive communion at catholic mass, one that flared up when a st. louis bishop told kerry not to participate in the eucharist while he was in town.

it's a silly debate because the answer is obvious: of course not. kerry embraces abortion and stem cell research, thus rejecting vatican authority. this isn't a minor theological scrape over some secondary issue: kerry is blatantly contradicting the very definition of life. he may as well start spouting sole scriptura and nailing his thesis to the pope's forehead.

rome could have made a swift, decisive move to affirm bishop st. louis' stance and end this thing once and for all, but, for the moment at least, they haven't. and because they haven't, the question lingers on.

it's indisputable that john f. kerry is a catholic. i don't mean that he adheres to the textbook definitions proffered by the vatican, i mean that there's not a whole heckuva lot of difference between him and his fellow parishioners, a group that is as reliably democratic as any. you may wonder why they should be, when the democratic platform exists in such stark contrast to many of the fundamentals of their faith. but consider american catholics, a predominantly blue-collar lot. blue collars trump the stiff black and white kind any day.

this isn't an indictment of catholics--most protestants live the same way. religion, for american Christians of any stripe, is something to be kept in a little box labeled "sunday," and once that limitation is accepted the most remarkable flights of cognitive dissonance pop up without so much as a quibble. it's the troublemakers, guys like bishop st. louis who think that you ought to actually live the stuff you believe, that get noticed.

now bishop washington d.c. is looking into the question of whether kerry should be allowed to take communion, as a report on this week's fox news sunday described. bishop washington d.c. is disturbed by the profound issues kerry's popular brand of cafeteria catholicism has raised, but bishop d.c. is no sucker. no blanket denunciations from him. bishop d.c. is on the phone with the vatican, methinks.

which is why this debate isn't nearly as silly as it should be. the vatican knows that by dissing kerry, it disses american catholics in general. worse than that, if the catholic church breaks its association with the democrats, it loses its political influence. where will they turn for help? the republicans? i for one would be glad to have them, but, as much as the vatican would probably welcome the change, their parishioners won't have it. a vote for the democrats is a vote for the working man, God will just have to make do.

what's the vatican to do? nothing. and nothing is what they will do. there will probably be some cardinals talking about how catholic politicians need to conduct their professional lives in accordance with their spiritual ones, but beyond that they dare not go. the decision to serve or not to serve will be left up to individual bishops--quietly, of course. they'll just pocket veto any proposed change and let the status quo march on.

locdog would bet the farm on it




4/14/2004

 

on a matter of no small importance



i take endless satisfaction from the fact that i have never seen any reality tv show in its entirety. well, ok. i did catch a few episodes of "the real world" back in the dorm, but that was before anyone even knew what reality tv was, and besides, anything beat going to class.

but no one who lives within five hundred miles of a tv, radio, or computer could be (blissfully) unaware of the phenomenon that is fox's american idol and its latest spin-off celeb, william hung.

william is a bit of a nobody. was a bit of a nobody. was the king of nobodies, really. he was such a nobody, in fact, that he became a somebody. follow? if not, go here (you'll need windows media player) and follow the download link. you will.

back? good. as you can see, william is a very nice fellow. no one who would voluntarily undergo such extreme degradation could be especially bright, but he's friendly enough. he's also a nerd, geek, dork, dufus...step right up and pick your schoolyard epithet, folks, cause they all apply. as the sharp-tongued brit pointed out, william can't sing and he can't dance, either. "i've had no formal training," william responds, as if mr. uppity limey ought to focus on how he has, ah, overcome this formidable challenge rather than the objectively abysmal nature of his performance. but if william is selling inspiration (he is, more on that in a sec) uppity ain't buying: "NO! there's the surprise of the century!"

uppity's brutal preemption of william's performance ("she bangs" by ricky martin: add flamboyant homosexuality to utter lack of talent on the list of william's self-awareness blind-spots) was hard to watch--the kid looked so crestfallen that i almost cried. well, i was crying because i was laughing at him so hard, i mean i almost cried in the sort of way that william would have preferred. but let's face it: someone had to stop the madness. in its sadistic way, uppity's rebuke was probably the kindest thing anyone has ever done for william.

uppity may be a bit of a bastard, but he's downright angelic compared to the folks at koch records, who don't deserve a hyperlink--the fiendish blackguards. koch records saw william for what he was, a sort of real-life steve urkel--whom i most certainly will hyperlink. heh heh. urkel.

william has cut himself an album, one--i'm sure uppity would be shocked to learn--called "inspiration." it contains three spoken word tracks, three elton john songs, two ricky martins, a michael jackson, and a villiage people among others. he's certainly got that ziggy stardust thing in spades. anyway, william's album is going gangbusters and inevitably comes the video. there've been leno interviews and assorted daytime talk appearances and every other medium of over-exposure you could come up with, plus a few you probably couldn't. for all intents and purposes, william is a star.

and it makes me mad.

it really, really does.

no, i'm not mad because there are millions of talented people out there languishing in obscurity while william hobnobs with puffy and j-lo. screw them.

i'm mad because this is without a doubt the most malicious spectacle in the history of american pop culture--and damned if that isn't saying something. you know what it reminds me of? it reminds me of the nerdiest guy in my high school (besides me) and how the coolest, prettiest girl would pretend she liked him just for giggles. i used to think cats were the cruelest of God's creatures, but a cat at least kills the mouse after he's done toying with it. the nerds are left to bleed. just like william, who's bleeding for the fun of the american consumer and the profit of koch records.

because we don't like william, not really. we just like having him around for giggles. he isn't an inspiration. lance armstrong is an inspiration. william hung is just plain sad--the butt of a joke he isn't even aware of, or, if he is, then i guess he's just too desperate to care (and imagine the real desperation william as yet knows nothing of, the sort that sets in when his fifteen minutes are up. God help him then.) but if william and koch records are willing to pretend that he's an inspirational figure than we the people can pretend that we're not a bunch of hannibal lecters, lapping up this poor sap's sap and smiling while we do it.

locdog hopes for william's sake he burns out before he fades away or appears on hollywood squares




 

it wasn't that bad



i was at the mall getting the 'fro busted as all the kids are saying so i missed the speech portion of the press conference. walked in as he was delivering the final few lines, and the only impression i had time to form was "it looks like he just drank half a bottle of nyquil."

from what i understand, however, the speech part was actually pretty good. no surprise there.

on balance, i thought the Q&A was a plus for bush. a few specifics, quoted from my notoriously unreliable memory:

Q. mr. president, why are you and vice president cheney appearing together in front of the 9/11 commission rather than separately as they requested?

A. because, you prancing ninny, i'm the president of the united states of america and i'll appear before the commission any way i please and they'll like it, dammit.


actually, that's what bush should have said. the truth would have been:

A. because, you prancing ninny, if my version and cheney's disagree by so much as a mistimed belch then you media jackals will rip us limb from limb.

then there's what bush really said:

A. well, ya know, you prancing ninny, we're just taking it one game at a time and, ya know, we've just got to come together as a team, and, ya know, i'm just really grateful to be playing for all the fans and, ya know, we've got to stay focused on making it into the playoffs.

which, in a nutshell, was all the bad stuff bush did. it's not that he dances more than any other politician, it's just that any other politician dances better. when it comes to dancing, bush has three left feet. again, no surprise there.

what did bush do right?

1. he stayed on topic. bush called the press conference to reassure the american people on iraq and would not be dissuaded from that course, however hard the press corps tried. maybe he only had one pitch in his repertoire, but he threw it well.

2. he made no big mistakes. being an old baseball man, bush knows that with good enough hitting, you don't need a pitcher to win you a game as much as you need him not to lose it. sure he threw a few wild ones, and his catcher, scott mcclellan, will probably have to chase some into the dugout later today, but i thought he scattered his hits and was good when he had to be.

3. he jumped on the soft pitches moving to the other side of home plate, bush made the most out of the few softballs thrown his way. particularly those where he had an opportunity to make the moral case for iraq, which, as bush saw it, was more or less every question regardless of topic. admit it: when he got fired up last night over peace and freedom and democracy and all that good stuff, you forgot you were watching george w. bush. he might have finished up with one homer and three strikeouts, but guess what they'll show on sportscenter that evening...

all in all, i think bush did himself some good. i don't see many fence-sitters flocking away on the basis of last night's performance and i think that he probably even picked a few up. i suspect that honest democrats will admit he did better than they had expected, surpassing low expectations being a recurring theme of the bush presidency.

by the way, what was up with all of those job interview questions? you know what i mean. what's-your-biggest-weakness-yada-yada-yada...

Q. mr. president, they say you never apologize for anything. why are you such a heartless bastard?

Q. mr. president, how come you don't feel any remorse for the thousands of americans you let die on september 11th, or for the hundreds you've senselessly sent to their deaths in iraq?

Q. mr. president, richard clarke, whose penile mass no doubt exceeds yours by at least three hundred percent, said that he failed the american people and that he was sorry. why won't you say you're sorry?

Q. mr. president, how do you sleep at night?


ok kiddies, pay attention now: what president in his right mind would say "yep, it was all my fault. i blew it. sorry." less than a year out from an election? none. not one. never. did FDR apologize for pearl harbor? ever read about the warning signs he missed? FDR was under the impression, perhaps, that saying he was sorry wouldn't do one dammed bit of good but killing japanese might. fancy that.

the press knows bush won't apologize, that no president would. they know that, whatever remorse he may feel--which must be a considerable amount--he can't come out and say it. yet they go through the little farce all the same. thus bush is cast as needlessly, bafflingly recalcitrant, and haughty to boot.

locdog, of course, doesn't need any help when it comes to being recalcitrant and haughty