Leopards and spots.

I get why so many of you are disappointed with Pope Francis, over his meeting with Church Lady Kim Davis. I would caution you, however, that this Pope (and so many other public figures) is basically a blank canvas upon which we project what we want to see. We judge him on the basis of a few quotes lifted, context-free, from interviews, sermons and statements we don’t bother to read and understand.

Or, as one of my dumber Facebook friends commented when Francis first came on the scene: “I really like this Pope. I’m looking forward to his statements about abortion and gay marriage!”

The Pope is CEO of a powerful institution that has existed for 2,000 years. And what is the first rule of powerful institutions? Preserve institutional power at any cost. He’s not going to reverse church doctrine to please liberal Americans. He’s just emphasizing a different part of it.

For all the abuse flung at Benedict, I never found him all that awful. He had the same doctrine as JPII, without the charisma and with a lot of the high-dollar details that arouse those how-many-starving-children-could-be-fed sentiments — the Prada shoes, the ermine-trimmed robes, etc. Y’all forget there is a small but vocal cohort within the church that expects and wants those things in their reigning Vicar of Christ. Remember how many people sneered at how Jimmy Carter carried his own bags? Same thing. Take your rough-wooden-cross act down the street to the Methodists; the Catholics roll a little higher than that.

And after all, they sold the papal crown decades ago.

Francis seems like a very nice man. But he’s not going to change the church all that much.

This drinking project is blocking out my sun. I have to start spackling on makeup for a noon TV interview, so I gotta run. Yesterday’s radio interview should be at the top of this list, if y’all have nothing else to do today.

Hurry, Mr. Weekend.

Posted at 9:59 am in Current events, Media |

41 responses to “Leopards and spots.”

  1. brian stouder said on October 1, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I will surely listen to the radio interview this evening, between beating the computer at chess (level one, naturally!), hopefully before Rachel (but we have a dvr for her)

    Meanwhile – agreed about the Pope, who I still like, despite the Kentucky cluck. (I suppose our rules preclude awarding Thread Win to the original posts of the Proprietress – but otherwise, she’d be a lock!)

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  2. Bitter Scribe said on October 1, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Thank you for the perspective. The RCC is basically a reactionary institution, and that’ll never change. I just enjoyed watching wingnut heads explode. If liberals had said anything about John Paul II and Benedict half as rude as some of the things they said about Francis, they would have been apoplectic with indignation.

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 1, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Good interview.

    It’s been said that the Roman Catholic Church, and specifically the Curia which governs it, doesn’t think in terms of news cycles or yearly reports, but in terms of centuries . . . mostly the Fourteenth.

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  4. Hattie said on October 1, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I was taken in by this flim-flam man, hardened cynic though I may be. It’s a huge disappointment.

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  5. alex said on October 1, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    For some much-needed levity around here, how about some drone video like you’ve never seen before?

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  6. brian stouder said on October 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Well, I’m not a Catholic (although I was baptized as one, back in the last last century, when the president was a Kennedy*), but I think the pope is still the genuine article, and appears to be a good fellow.

    I watched several folks on the news last night just lambast the fellow, as though they had been flim-flammed by the pope, which is either an unfair assessment of Francis, or else an admission that those folks were (and remain) easily flim-flammable (pardon the fiery nature of that last term!)

    *and still the only Catholic we’ve ever elected to that office

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  7. alex said on October 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Effing html. Again…

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  8. brian stouder said on October 1, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Say Alex – and the mystery deepens about our mysterious plane-crash walk-away (or limp away)


    the guy is lawyered up, and still in an undisclosed location…!

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  9. alex said on October 1, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I’m sure he was drunk as a skunk and that’s what this is all about.

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  10. alex said on October 1, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    More levity.

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  11. beb said on October 1, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Scientist have found how to get kids to eat their vegetables. based on a survey at one school, basically your mileage will vary. AScientists discovered that when the main course is something popular, like pizza, ther kids will eat the pizza and throwaway the vegetables. But if you given them something unpopular like a “peanut” butter sandwich made from allergen-free sunflower seeds they’ll eat the veggies and toss the sandwich. While that makes sense it leaves unanswered how to get kids to eat a balanced meal all the time.

    Scientists find salty water on M<ars, blame Boehner's tears…

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  12. Charlotte said on October 1, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Pope Francis’s radicalism is all on the economic end of the spectrum, and he’s still a very powerful voice pushing back against the rapacity of neoliberalism — at a time when, especially in Europe, it’s crucial that someone is speaking truth to the power that is the EU austerity regime. Also, my academic wheelhouse is environmental theory, and Laudito Si is astonishing — it’s not only beautifully written, but takes on many of the most progressive ideas in thinking about anthropocentrism (or non-anthropocentrism) and situates them firmly in a very old, mostly neglected, river of Catholic theology. If the Pope is arguing against anthropocentrism because he believes in a God that is above man, while some of us simply believe the earth and it’s many non-human life forms have their own inherent worth, that’s fine by me. Whatever works, and the addition of his voice on this matter will work, does work. For me, that’s his true strength and power.

    The other stuff — I’m sorry people thought the One True might show real change on these issues. As far as social issues go, my guess is we might see the institution of an order that allows married priests, but that’s probably as far as its going to go. It’s still the Catholic Church, and Francis’s theology is quite orthodox on these matters — he’s just not hard-line about enforcement. The rules still stand, he just seems to advocate for a much more merciful and forgiving stance on inevitable human failure (much of which could be alleviated by shifts in Church policy, but alas, won’t be).

    As a lifelong ex-Catholic, I’m still thrilled that we are seeing really radical thinking and public speech about economics and the fate of the earth, while not at all surprised that there’s no movement on LGBT rights, women’s rights, contraception etc …

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  13. Jakash said on October 1, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Certainly many folks have projected onto this Pope a willingness to shake things up in the Church that he is only partially capable of, even if he wanted to really shake it up. But he’s the Pope. Nothing he’s done indicates a break with traditional Catholic doctrine — just that, as NN notes, he’s a lot better at PR than the last one, from a liberal American’s perspective. Or HAD BEEN, up until this news broke.

    However. Women as priests? He stated clearly: “That door is closed.”

    Not a lot of “Who am I to judge?” nuance on that one. He’s not going to be backing gay marriage, or lessening the opposition to abortion, needless to say. At the White House, he chose to talk about Climate Change. The single most significant thing that he could do, as Pope, to help the world with regard to climate change, would be to encourage the 1.2 billion Catholics he supposedly represents to use contraception. He COULD do that, but will he even consider it?

    Anyway, I agree with Beb’s and ROGirl’s comments from the previous thread this morning. “Somebody” was fully aware what meeting with Davis represented, and that’s why the meeting was secret. She was raised Catholic, left the Church and has been married 4 times. Her current church certainly doesn’t recognize the authority or encourage recognition of the influence of the Pope, so it can hardly be compared to his meeting with nuns, or even Mark Wahlberg, who is allegedly a devout Catholic.

    The Pope can meet with whomever he wants, of course. He’s here to help the sinners, not the saints, after all. If Davis were seeking forgiveness, that would be one thing. But a pat-on-the-back for dodging her responsibilities and judging others by deciding that she, not the folks involved, nor even the Supreme Court, should determine who may get married? Disappointing, indeed. And the nature of this behind-the-scenes, “don’t tell ’til I’ve hightailed it out of here” meeting with such an inflammatory figure certainly goes a long way toward undermining the “can’t we all just get along” speeches he seemed intent on making the main message of his visit. IMHO, of course…

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  14. Sherri said on October 1, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Back when President Obama was a new, exciting candidate for President and still capable of being all things to all people, I saw a bumper sticker that helped me keep it in perspective: Obama For President – Be Disappointed By Somebody New. The Pope is still Catholic. It’s still a good thing that he is bringing a fresh voice to issues of economic justice, even if we’re disappointed by his meeting with a holier-than-thou backwaters clerk who thinks she’s a religious martyr.

    Meanwhile, if we can tear ourselves away from the relatively minor issue of Kim Davis and the Pope for a moment, having passed a strict Voter ID law, Alabama has now taken steps to make it much more difficult to get an ID by closing drivers license offices in 29 counties and raising the cost of renewing a license.



    They’re doing it because they’re “losing money” on drivers licenses. If only there were some other way established in the constitution for the legislature to raise money…

    Just set an income threshold for voting and be done with it. Who knows, you might even be able to get it past this Supreme Court. Then you’d probably be able to get rid of all taxes.

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  15. Suzanne said on October 1, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Interesting take on the situation: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a38440/pope-francis-swindled-kim-davis-meeting/

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  16. Deborah said on October 1, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    It’s not that I’m disappointed that the Pope is Catholic and has Catholic viewpoints. It’s that I’m disappointed that he gave credence to that skank. But then again I’m going to bet that Kim Davis will end up shooting herself in the foot, in the not too distant future. We’ll find out she’s addicted it hillbillie heroin or some such. Just wait. Her handlers are keeping a close eye on her for now, but eventually she’ll be on her own again and the stupid will pour out.

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  17. annie said on October 1, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Re Deborah @16 “the stupid will pour out”
    what a great phrase. I’m going to have to use it around here in my life — and believe me, I have plenty of uses for it.

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  18. Icarus said on October 1, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    I’m so glad I published my post on Kim Davis meeting with the Pope before coming here. Otherwise one would think I copied and watered down what Nancy and others said here.

    As noted nothing he’s said or done qualifies as a 180 from traditional Catholic teachings. And just because he met with her doesn’t mean he endorses her especially since her sect doesn’t really recognize the pontiff.

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  19. Jolene said on October 1, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    A distraction from Pope-induced disappointment: Remember the fallacious chart Jason Chaffetz used at the Congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood? Seth Meyers had a very good takedown on his show last night. Check. It out.

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  20. ROGirl said on October 1, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    I’m not disappointed in the Pope. I’m neither Catholic nor a Christian, so what he does doesn’t affect me. The fact that he’s a man with a social conscience is probably good for Catholicism in the long run, and if it helps influence changes of a positive nature in the world today, then more power to him, but he’s not a politician.

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  21. LAMary said on October 1, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Drones for good: My grand niece had a drone film part of her wedding. This is the trip from the church to the outdoor reception. This was filmed in Greenport NY and Shelter Island NY.


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  22. brian stouder said on October 1, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Forget Catholic mass –

    latest American mass-shooting score – 10 dead (and counting) in Oregon

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  23. Charlotte said on October 1, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Thanks for the Esquire link Suzanne — it’s pretty much how I figured it happened. Sigh. Plus ça change …

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  24. Deborah said on October 1, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Brian, those numbers of how many died in the Oregan mass shooting are all over the map, from 2 to 15 I’ve seen. However many it’s another senseless tragedy.

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  25. brian stouder said on October 1, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Apparently the governor will be speaking shortly. I believe I saw (on CNN?) that the shooter is dead.

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  26. Sherri said on October 1, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    The governor says the shooter is dead, and was a 20 year old male. Cue the examination of his mental health history.

    Can we make the discussion instead about the mental health of the gun manufacturers? The NRA is really just their front, to take the heat for them. Let’s talk about the people who get rich off school shootings. I saw a claim on Twitter that this is the 142nd school shooting since Sandy Hook, the 45th in 2015. That’s just school shootings. Let me repeat: some people are making money off of these shootings. Every time they happen, they make more money. Let’s talk about those people.

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  27. Sherri said on October 1, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Here’s an article about one gun manufacturer, the owner of the company who makes the gun Adam Lanza used: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/16/business/dealbook/cerberus-unable-to-sell-remington-will-buy-back-its-shares-from-investors.html?_r=0

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  28. Sherri said on October 1, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Here’s the LinkedIn profile of the CEO of Smith and Wesson, the manufacturer of one of the guns used in the Aurora shooting: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/james-debney/11/24b/52a

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  29. Sherri said on October 1, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    And here’s some info about Gaston Glock, head of the company that makes the gun used in the Charleston church shootings: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-17/gaston-glock-s-life-threatening-illness-threatens-gun-empire

    Let’s talk about the fat cats. Wayne LaPierre, as awful as he is, is just the front man to keep the spotlight off of them.

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  30. brian stouder said on October 1, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Sherri, I’m all for it.

    Time and CNN and the major news dailies should run detailed profiles of the people who rake in the blood money.

    We can save Wal Mart and the other retailers for later – but the main shareholders of the big firearm and munitions makers definitely could use some bright lights and wide-spread notoriety

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  31. MichaelG said on October 1, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    I like what Jakash and Deborah said. I read that Charles Pierce thing this morning and I liked it. Good theory.

    Some commenters have alluded to Kim Davis’ “sect” or “church”. Has a specific church, organized sect or religion with which she is associated been identified? Has anyone identified a pastor, bishop or other sort of clergy person who provides her with guidance, comfort and counseling and gratefully accepts her contributions? As far as I have been able to see she is a religion of one. Somebody please help me out here.

    What will it take to bring about gun control? It’s not going to happen in my lifetime.

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  32. coozledad said on October 1, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    -What will it take to bring about gun control?

    When Republicans and Dixiecrat trash and their children are mowed down by the dozens in one or more of these periodic bloodbaths. When the state undertakes organized violence against the people who are holding this country hostage (Suck it Republicans, that’s the goddamn job description of the state) and impounds their cars, boats, their homes, their offshore holdings, every fucking penny of their blood money.

    Not gonna happen. Money’s too fucking good from prosthetic dicks.

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  33. Deborah said on October 1, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    We drove up into the mountains this afternoon. It was so nice to lookout onto the glowing Aspens. I love this time of year in Santa Fe. It was also a respite from the depressing news of yet another mass shooting.

    Also, when I got back from the lovely drive my Cabin Porn book had been delivered after a bit of a snafu with Amazon. I know what I’ll be doing this evening. http://www.amazon.com/Cabin-Porn-Inspiration-Quiet-Somewhere/dp/0316378216

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  34. brian stouder said on October 1, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    A palate cleanser, of sorts –

    Jeb! says calling a sports-team “Redskins” isn’t offensive!


    As my lovely wife’s grandma used to say (when a ridiculous comment is made)- “Oh, uh-huh”

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  35. alex said on October 1, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Offensive? Palate cleanser? Just you wait. A year from now the inevitable joke making the rounds will have “Hillary licking Bush” in the punch line.

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  36. Jolene said on October 1, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    A better palate cleanser: This collection of recipes for vegetarian comfort food from the NYT. Wish somebody would drop by and cook for me.

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  37. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 1, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    So, can someone offer a bill for federal background checks for all firearms purchases, period? As of tomorrow? I’m fine with including muzzleloaders (all I’ve got in the house) if it gets this off the ground.

    My impression is that the majority of these mass shooting events are done with relatively recently purchased weapons, though I’m open to better data than my vague recollections.

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  38. Jolene said on October 1, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    I think you’re right, Jeff, on the issue of recent purchases, but keep in mind that, awful as they are, mass shootings are only a small proportion of the gun violence in America.

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  39. Jolene said on October 1, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Jeff, see Chart #3 in this collection of charts and graphs re gun violence in the U.S..

    Very useful collection, by the way. Lots of important facts at a glance.

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  40. Joe K said on October 1, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Better palate cleanser,
    Ever get the chance to see the band Here come the mummies, do it.
    They just performed for free at the Dekalb county fair, have seen every one from the Allmen Broth to ZZ Top, these guys put them all to shame,
    Their a bunch of session musicians out of Nashville, rumored to have numerous Grammy awards, play dressed as Mummies due to contract conflicts, funk,ska,rock,blues
    Freaking amazing,
    Pilot Joe

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  41. brian stouder said on October 3, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Joe – great to hear from YOU*

    Aside from that, I forget what the heck we were watching on TV, but they showed all these session musicians from back in the day, and how they really ‘made the magic’ back in the day, for mostly all the big pop-musicians and groups. I believe I’d very much enjoy those mummies (they don’t say “Hey Hey – we’re the Mummies!” – do they?)

    *Chloe and I went to Homestead High School today for the band contest (Shelby, our 17 year old, is on Wayne’s Flag Corps) and it was exceptionally windy and cold and rainy…and the Homestead flag was at half-staff. I was thinking it was regarding the Oregon atrocity, but then I recalled seeing a headline that a local flight went down in South Carolina. Apparently some fellows flew down for the Notre Dame football game, and it occurred to me that the flag could have been about that, and that I know of at least one semi-local pilot who would offer such a service. Anyway – this is why it is particularly excellent to hear from you today!

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