Saturday, January 28, 2012

Newt Gingrich

Can you believe this guy is such a player?
It was with great pleasure that I received the news that Newt Gingrich had converted to Catholicism.  Now he's running for president.  With South Carolina under his belt, he may well be the Republican nominee, but it is doubtful that Mr. Gingrich has what it takes to be president.  His dirty laundry is being aired, and it ain't sweet smelling! 

He has spoken out powerfully about traditional family structure, but requested an open marriage from the second of his (as of yet) three wives.  He's not handled his personal finances well, leading a life where he is perpetually broke.  He also tried to write an apologetic tell-all book, but was stopped by aides.  He also had a torrid High School affair with his math teacher.  Newt also has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth. 
This leads to awkward headlines, like this one, "Newt Gingrich: Child labor laws are stupid"

What's truly amazing about Gingrich's success in South Carolina is that he probably won because the Evangelical Protestants probably voted for him because they'd rather have a Catholic than a Mormon.  Now that's just sad!  Appealing to racism and religious prejudice seems to be par for the course for Gingrich, but his new found religion won't stand for it.  45 Catholic leaders wrote an open letter to the two Catholic Republican candidates for president, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.  The letter was published January 21, 2012 and reads as follows. 
An Open Letter to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum
As Catholic leaders who recognize that the moral scandals of racism and poverty remain a blemish on the American soul, we challenge our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail. Mr. Gingrich has frequently attacked President Obama as a “food stamp president” and claimed that African Americans are content to collect welfare benefits rather than pursue employment. Campaigning in Iowa, Mr. Santorum remarked: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Labeling our nation’s first African-American president with a title that evokes the past myth of “welfare queens” and inflaming other racist caricatures is irresponsible, immoral and unworthy of political leaders.
Some presidential candidates now courting “values voters” seem to have forgotten that defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn. We remind Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum that Catholic bishops describe racism as an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans. At a time when nearly 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty, charities and the free market alone can’t address the urgent needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. And while jobseekers outnumber job openings 4-to-1, suggesting that the unemployed would rather collect benefits than work is misleading and insulting.
As the South Carolina primary approaches, we urge Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and all presidential candidates to reject the politics of racial division, refrain from offensive rhetoric and unite behind an agenda that promotes racial and economic justice.
For the 45 signatures and the original posting of the letter, click here.   I'm sure that many of the 45 have met Pope Benedict XVI and perhaps some would have met Blessed John Paul II.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Etta James

The angels are singing "At Last" as their Etta James enters the Kingdom.  May her memory be eternal. 
Perhaps I'm a bit partial to Ms James.  This was the first dance for my husband and me.  No doubt some of you had the pleasure of this being your first song as well.  Let's explore Etta James and link her to Blessed John Paul.

If you're letting this video play while reading the blog, you are realizing that Etta James is more of a jazz singer than strictly a pop or R&B singer.

Reckoning #1, Bloodline and an underworld

Etta's mother, Dorothy Hawkins, was 14 in 1938 when she gave birth to Jamesetta (Etta took her first and last stage name from this original name).  Though she never really knew who her father was, she speculated it was Minnesota Fats, the famous pool player.  Fats never admitted his age, but he was probably born within the first 15 years of the 20th century.  That would make him about 20 years older than Dorothy when Etta was conceived.  Do you see a resemblance? 

Here's Minnesota Fats talking smack and shootin' pool, what he did best.  I remember him on TV in the 70s.  My parents got such a kick out of his smack talk and amazing pool shots. 

Both Etta and Minnesota had movies made about them.  Etta was played by third degree, Beyonce KnowlesHer possible father, Minnesota Fats, was played by Jackie Gleason in the 1961 movie, "The Hustler."  Gleason won an Academy Award for that role.  In the 60s, he made this campaign ad for Richard Nixon.  We have a bad connotation with Richard Nixon's name now, but, in light of the shenanigans our current government is getting up to with SuperPacs, insider trading in Congress, and swinging Republicans for family values, Nixon is looking more and more like a boy scout!

Nixon and Pope Paul VI
In 1957, before becoming president, Richard Nixon met Pope Pius XII.  Later, as president, he met Pope Paul VI from whom Blessed John Paul II got half of his name. 

Reckoning #2, The Artist

When Etta was 14 her life changed, she was taken under the wing of Johnny Otis, The Godfather of Rhythm and Blues.  Otis' and James' age difference mirrored that of Minnesota Fats and Dorothy Hawkings, but, instead of sexual exploitation, Otis mentored the young girl. 

Otis was born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes, the son of Greek working classimmigrants.  

Otis' older brother became a diplomat.  He was US Ambassedor to Jordan and then to Egypt, where he knew and worked with First Degree, Hosni Mubarak

Otis produced hundreds of albums and discovered scores of artists.  He produced the original version of the Lieber and Stoller tune, Hound Dog, a song later made famous by Elvis Presley.  Here is the original version by Big Mama Thornton.  Guess who met second degree, Richard Nixon?
To recap, Etta James is four degrees from Pope John Paul II.
  • Etta to Beyonce to Zahi Hawas to George Bush to Pope John Paul II
  • Etta to Johnny Otis to Ambassador Veliotis to Hosni Mubarak to Pope John Paul II
She is 5 degrees by these reckonings.
  • Etta to Minnesota Fats to Jackie Gleason to Richard Nixon to Pope Pius XII and Paul VI
  • Etta to Johnny Otis to Elvis Presley to Richard Nixon to Pius XII and Paul VI to Pope John Paul II