Tuesday, November 24, 2015


State Rep. John Bel Edwards beat Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter in Saturday's election, marking a change in the political landscape in the conservative South.

Edwards will be the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, where Republicans dominate politically.

You could almost have predicted the outcome of the race based on the candidates' election night parties. Sen. David Vitter was set up at a hotel near the airport, while John Bel Edwards lodged in the historic Monteleone Hotel in the French Quarter.
NPR's analogy of the choice of hotels for election parties as predictive of the outcome of the election is brilliant.  Goodbye, David Vitter.  Though Vitter will be in the US Senate till January 2016, he said he will not run for another term.  The final count showed Edwards with a 12 percent lead, 56-44.

We are so pleased John Bel Edwards won the election for governor by a large margin, and David Vitter was soundly trounced. Fear-mongering, lying, spying, and running a generally nasty campaign don't always win elections. Edwards will take on an enormous challenge in cleaning up the mess he inherits from Bobby Jindal, beginning with the $1.4 billion budget gap the governor and the Louisiana Legislature will need to address. We wish him the best.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


For those who died  

Father of all, we pray to you for those we see no longer:
Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them;
and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work
in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the wounded

O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers:
Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your wounded
servants the help of your power, that their wounds may be healed, and that they may be restored to health and strength,
and their sorrows and the sorrows of those who love them
turned into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For all who mourn 

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort:
Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; give them comfort, consolation, and the peace that passes understanding to keep their minds and hearts in the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  
Prayers quoted or adapted from The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Louisiana's own Bob Mann writes masterfully in Salon of the race for governor in Louisiana.
Then, a strange thing happened on Vitter’s stroll to the Louisiana governor’s mansion. In the state’s Oct. 24 primary (candidates of all parties run in a so-called “open primary”), Vitter nearly missed the Nov. 21 runoff election. He earned only 23 percent of the vote, trailing his lone Democratic opponent, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, by 17 points.

Last Friday, Edwards released an explosive new spot alleging that Vitter missed a Feb. 27, 2001, U.S. House vote honoring slain American soldiers while he waited on a phone call from a prostitute. It was the first time anyone had credibly suggested that Vitter’s prostitution habit in the late 1990s and early 2000s had influenced the performance of his public duties.
Gratingly self-righteous and mean is how I think of Vitter.  As governor of Louisiana, Vitter would be disaster following upon disaster after Jindal's plunder and destruction of state institutions and programs and failure to produce a "balanced" budget that was not based on smoke and mirrors.
Famously thin-skinned and possessed of a nasty temper, Vitter often threatens and bludgeons recalcitrant politicians and reluctant supporters into submission. In the U.S. Senate, he is widely disliked by members of both parties for his quick temper and grating self-righteousness.

Vitter seems to operate by the following, unstated principle: “I’d rather have your fear and respect than your affection.” Vitter would undoubtedly dispute Albert Camus, who famously observed, “Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.”
The photo above shows a screen shot from the video of the press conference with Vitter and his wife, Wendy, when he made his confession of a "serious sin" after his phone number was found on the call records of the DC madam, Deborah Jean Palfrey.  The expression on Wendy Vitter's face says volumes more than Vitter himself in his "confession".  Whether or not I decided to stay with my spouse after learning he had been unfaithful, I damned well would not be standing beside him when he makes his confession.

The problem for Vitter is that his approval rating is not much better than Obama’s. Then there is Bobby Jindal, whose tenure as governor has been a disaster. (He’s presided over a fiscal train wreck in recent years and is even less popular in his home state than the much-despised Obama.) Jindal’s travails have undermined the reputation of Republicans as sound stewards of the public till. Although Jindal and Vitter personally despise one another, many voters see them as the state GOP’s most prominent leaders. And because Vitter and Jindal have many of the same policy positions, Jindal is dragging Vitter down.  
While John Bel Edwards' policies are not necessarily the same as mine, he's as honorable man as an elected politician can be, and he's most surely the only kind of Democrat who can possibly be elected in Louisiana.  Not only did I vote for him twice, I sent Edwards two campaign contributions.  I put my money where my mouth is.
He’s never met Obama and has never served in Washington. A West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, he is not soft on crime. Instead, he is the son, grandson and brother of Louisiana sheriffs. The influential Louisiana Sheriffs Association not only endorsed Edwards, a bipartisan group of Republican and Democratic sheriffs cut a TV spot defending him against Vitter’s attacks. 

Edwards is generally conservative. His record with the NRA is impeccable. A devout Catholic, he is pro-life. He opposes Common Core. Vitter calls him a tax-and-spend liberal, but Vitter has indicated that he, too, will raise taxes on Louisiana business to fix the fiscal mess Jindal is leaving behind.
Ouch!  Still, I'll take what I can get, and I didn't even hold my nose when I voted, because the dreadful alternative is David Vitter as governor of Louisiana. 

Here's the Edwards campaign video.

Wham! Pow! Bam!

Deborah Jean Palfrey died of apparent suicide in 2008, after she was convicted of  "racketeering, using the mail for illegal purposes, and money laundering" and faced a sentence of five or six years in prison.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


If you'd like to begin the long process to lift the state out of the abyss in which the Jindal maladministration plunged us, John Bel Edwards is your candidate.

Early voting continues tomorrow, Monday, November 8, 2015 through Saturday, November 14, 2015. If you are registered to vote in Louisiana, please go to your polling place and vote for John Bel Edwards.

If you approve of the last 8 years of governance by plunder and destruction of Louisiana institutions and programs by Bobby Jindal, then vote for David Vitter for more of the same.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


National Cathedral - Washington DC
On Sunday, November 1, 2015, All Saints Day, I shall attend the installation of Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry as 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. My friend Lisa, who was a deputy to General Convention 2015, will not be able to use her ticket to the installation, so she offered it to several friends, and I was the first to respond with a yes. I had put my name in the lottery for a ticket but did not win, so I was thrilled by the offer of the ticket.

After I booked my flight, I noticed that along with the ticket, I would be asked to present ID. Well, I am not Lisa, so I wrote to her and asked if this might present a problem. Dear Lisa, who knew the right people to contact, along with having to deal with cat/veterinarian and other matters in her own life, arranged to have my name placed on the master list of ticket holders, so I will not need to pretend to be Lisa.  My flight is non-refundable, so I am quite relieved that all is in order for me to attend the ceremony.  Otherwise, I was going to DC anyway to present myself at the door of the cathedral to see what would happen.  If I didn't get in, I planned to enjoy a few tourist days in the nation's capital.

Thanks again to Lisa, for the gift of the ticket and for making the necessary arrangements for me to attend in my own name.

Cathedral image by Carol M. Highsmith from Wikipedia.

Below is a video of Bishop-elect Curry following his election at General Convention 2015 of the Episcopal Church.

FRIDAY UPDATE: I will not be attending the installation of Bishop Curry. I've been ill with gastrointestinal problems, aches, and fever, since Wednesday evening. Yesterday, I was not well enough to finish packing, and, though I feel somewhat better today, there's no way I could be on a plane. I'm so sorry to miss the ceremony and that the ticket will not be used, unless someone wants it, and we work out a way for me to get it to them.

I cancelled my flight reservation, and I will get a refund, which surprises me. Southwest wanted to give me a free round trip ticket to travel later, but I said this was to be my last flight, so the ticket would do me no good. The airline then agreed to refund the cost, and I'm grateful to them. I cancelled my hotel reservation at no charge.

Though I'm very disappointed, I've been too ill to think about what I'll be missing, and I know I made the right decision. This, too, shall pass, and now I know I need to stick to my plan not to arrange more travel, except for short car trips.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Louisiana Tech University hosted a debate among the four major candidates for governor Thursday night — one of the few televised debates Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter has agreed to participate in ahead of the Oct. 24 election.

But there were no students in the crowd to see it — no crowd at all, actually. The debate had no live audience, a point that Vitter’s opponents, Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards and Republicans Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, each labeled “ridiculous” and “disturbing.”
Following the debate, Angelle, Edwards and Dardenne met with reporters, but Vitter did not.

All three speculated that Vitter’s campaign was behind the lack of live audience and media viewing room.
Actually, I would like to move on from the discussion of the prostitution scandal, which the great majority of the voters in the state already know about, and address the many other reasons why Vitter would be a disaster as governor, but he himself continues to emphasize “family values” in his public appearances. During the debate, Vitter said he believes in “faith, family, education, and hard work”, thus reminding people of his “serious sin” against his family.

The present governor, Bobby Jindal, is possibly the least accessible and transparent in the history of the state. Will Vitter's fear of questions and comments about his past lead him to isolate himself from the media and the citizens of Louisiana in the same way as Jindal? Louisiana does not need another governor in hiding.

Friday, October 16, 2015


After reconsidering his first impression following a storm of disagreement from his readers, John Cassidy at The New Yorker still thinks Hillary Clinton won the Democratic debate. Clinton had the most to lose going into the debate, because her numbers were down due to the persistent media focus on the private email server "scandal". Her performance in the debate was stellar, and she came across as much more likable than in previous media appearances.

Bernie Sanders was Bernie Sanders, the same person we know (and love?) from his frequent speeches and media appearances, and few, if any of us, expected him to be other than the man we already know. He was himself, and he performed excellently in the debate.

My less than expert opinion is that neither of the two principal candidates won or lost, and both did very well. Sanders gave Clinton an enormous boost when he said:
 The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!
Martin O'Malley had several good moments in the debate, and his final statement was superb. In a few words, he summed up the difference between the candidates in the GOP and the Democratic candidates. I like having him on the stage as a foil for both Sanders and Clinton.

I'm not sure why Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee were on the stage, but neither gained from their inclusion in the debate.

Monday, October 12, 2015


The complete title of the movie is Birdman; The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.  Right there you have a smile - at least I did.  I watched the movie twice and laughed out loud during a number of scenes both times, more so in the second viewing, but the humor is dark, indeed.  My responses ran the gamut, from, "What's going on?" (my initial reaction), to laughter, to suspense, to sadness, and back more than once to all of the above, till the final, "What's going on?"

Michael Keaton is brilliant as Riggan Thomson, aka Birdman, an aging film superhero, who, of course, can fly, and who is trying to change the direction of  his career by bringing to the stage a short story by Raymond Carver in which he also plays a starring role. Emma Stone is terrific in the role of Riggan's daughter, Sam, who is just out of rehab.  Stone is a commanding presence each time she appears on the screen.  The scenes with Sam and Michael Shiner (Edward Norton), an actor who is brought into the play in a leading role at the eleventh hour, are especially funny, tender, and poignant.  Jake (Zach Galifianakis), Riggan's long-suffering good friend and lawyer, is very fine in his supporting role.

As for the play within a movie, from the scenes that appear the film, the drama is not the least believable, nor is it recognizable as based on a Carver story, but, nevertheless, it serves to advance the dark, chaotic hilarity of the story. 

Since I watched the film twice, you've probably guessed that I think it worth viewing, and I very much do.  Though I highly recommend the movie, because of the blackness of its satire, Birdman is probably not for everyone.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Senator David Vitter, candidate for governor of Louisiana, refuses to debate the other candidates in the race.  He refuses to answer questions from the survey by United Way.  Why is he afraid?  We know who Vitter is against from the vicious TV ads his supporters run against his fellow Republicans in the campaign, but why does he refuse to accept the challenge to stand up with the other candidates and debate policies?  Why no response to the United Way survey?  If John Bel Edwards (D) and Vitter are in the runoff after the primary, Vitter supporters will run vicious ads against Edwards.  We know who Vitter's against, but what does he stand for?  Vitter is in the fray, not above it, and his refusal to engage and answer questions smacks of arrogance and a lack of transparency.  Haven't we had enough here in Louisiana?

Survey results from United Way.

H/T to Bob Mann at Something Like the Truth.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.
Was John Boehner's conscience pricked by Pope Francis' words "common good" and "common needs"?  Also, his role as leader of an unruly House was exposed for what it is: nearly, but not quite, useless.  I think it's possible that the pope's visit inspired Boehner to announce his retirement at this moment, rather than at some time in not-so-distant future.  Also, he may have had enough of trying to reign in far right extremists who care nothing about doing their jobs of actually governing the country.  Besides, he'll no doubt move on to a better paying lobbying job that is far less stressful.

Whoever replaces Boehner as speaker will have to deal with the same Democratic president and the same filibuster rule in the Senate in attempts to pass legislation.  Though I am no admirer of Boehner, to his credit, he kept the barbarians behind the gate to avert several disasters.  Since Boehner's position as speaker is no longer at risk, the likelihood of a government shutdown may be lessened.