It might be a tradition that every year that GOProud is excluded as a CPAC sponsor, there will be a stealth panel on gay marriage.
In 2013, that slot was filled by the “A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet” panel, which was the standing-room only panel thrown unofficially by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. This year, the gay rights debate happened on the mainstage at during “Can Libertarians and Social Conservatives Ever Get Along?”
The social conservatives tried to pitch their issues within a libertarian framework. Dr. Matt Spalding of the Allan P. Kirby Jr. Center at Hillsdale College acknowledged he differed with some of his fellow panelists on gay marriage, but said, referencing the conscience exemption carveouts, “We must have an agreement on religious liberty.”
Alexander McCobin of Students for Liberty fired back that libertarians were a little more worried about the religious liberty of couples and pastors in churches that conduct gay weddings, which are not acknowledged by their governments.
Spalding tried speaking in libertarian terms again, saying that, by default, conservatives should view any government institution with suspicion and that activists must address “whether the State has an obligation to recognize marriage at all.” In his view, traditional, one-man-one-woman marriage is “like gravity” a law external to the government, not written by it. Private contracts were a different matter, he said, but, for the public institution of marriage, the old tradition is “the only definition that makes sense.”
Throughout the panel, the social conservatives seemed to be soliciting the help of the libertarians, trying to speak their language, while the libertarians seemed indifferent to the idea of converting social conservatives. The libertarians answered the questions that were posed to them but made no parallel attempts to appeal to socially conservative tenets in order to attract their fellow panelists to libertarian positions.
The closest the libertarians came to trying to attract social conservatives, rather than just rebut them, was when Matt Welch of Reason argued that religion benefits from a free market in churches and contrasted the vibrancy of American churches with the weakening ones in France. However, the diversity of American sects is not necessarily attractive to social conservatives, any more than a strong environmentalist is pleased by a completely free market in cars, where some meet gas efficiency standards and some do not.
By the conclusion of the panel, the speakers agreed that social conservatives and libertarians could remain bedfellows, albeit strange ones. However, the tone and tactics on display reinforced Ross Douthat’s assertion that social conservatives are no longer negotiating as equals, but are working out the terms of a conditional surrender.
Douglas Hine wrote a wonderful piece at Aeon Magazine Thursday on information and its purpose:
Information is perhaps the rawest material in the process out of which we arrive at meaning: an undifferentiated stream of sense and nonsense in which we go fishing for facts. But the journey from information to meaning involves more than simply filtering the signal from the noise. It is an alchemical transformation, always surprising. It takes skill, time and effort, practice and patience. No matter how experienced we become, success cannot be guaranteed. In most human societies, there have been specialists in this skill, yet it can never be the monopoly of experts, for it is also a very basic, deeply human activity, essential to our survival. If boredom has become a sickness in modern societies, this is because the knack of finding meaning is harder to come by.
Hine is absolutely right: information is not just an end. It should, first and foremost, be a means to meaning. In all our interactions and work online, we must ask the question: “What is this for?” Additionally, we must consider whether such purpose would be better achieved via a different medium.
Take Facebook: we may use it to connect with friends. That’s our “for,” our purpose. But are there times when such connection is better suited to an email, phone call, or Skype conversation? Absolutely. Consider Twitter: it’s a great tool for searching the news. But why do we read the news—for meaningless data? No, we seek out news to give meaning and context to our lives. Are there times when Twitter prevents us from creating such meaning? Yes.
But obviously, determining that Facebook is for relationship and Twitter is for contextual growth brings up larger questions of meaning: What sort of friendships should we cultivate? Why should we cultivate friendship? What is the undergirding context of life? Why is news important in the first place? The deeper we plunge into questions of meaning, the further we progress from technological jargon toward philosophical questions. This is what Hine’s piece illustrates: “The journey from information to meaning involves more than simply filtering the signal from the noise. It is an alchemical transformation, always surprising. It takes skill, time and effort, practice and patience.”
In the late onslaught of encouragement to be more “mindful” in our digital and material lives, I’m still just wondering what mindfulness means—or should mean, at any rate. Read More…
Republicans who don’t want to be doomed by demographics were likely to be found at “Reaching Out: The Rest of the Story,” a panel discussion of strategies for engaging with non-traditional voting blocks at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference. In their consideration of model behavior and missteps, the panelists revealed how politicians’ fears and errors feed each other in a vicious circle.
When politicians head out of the “country clubs and rotary clubs” that Jason Roe, the panel’s moderator said that some of his colleagues were reluctant to leave, they’re moving from a place of strength to uncertainty. Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, tried to correct a misapprehension that holds politicians and activists back from reaching out, “There’s a misconception that, in order to be on Univision you need to be able to speak Spanish, and that’s not true, you can have a translator.”
Relying on a translator is a humbling act. Barack Obama and the other attendees of Nelson Mandela’s funeral didn’t have the expertise to realize that the supposed ASL interpreter was, in fact, miming meaninglessly. That error was at least egregious enough to not be misinterpreted, but, when politicians need translation, they may end up being subtly misunderstood, so that damage is done without calling attention to itself or prompting a correction.
Attempts at self-reliance can be just as perilous as placing your trust in others. Michael Bloomberg’s attempts to use his elementary Spanish to connect with the people he served as mayor of New York City were treated as a running joke, even inspiring a parody twitter account (@ElBloombito) who was prone to utter Spanglish phrases like, “El nuevo mayoro shovelingo no es un big dealo. Yo use shovelos all el time! How else can yo buildo castles de sando at mi Bermuda beachcasa?”
And if this weren’t enough to scare politicians away from going beyond the cultures in which they’re fluent, they would have been truly disheartened if they had stopped by one of the panels later in the afternoon, “Opposition Research in the Age of the Grid” where Lloyd Miller of Directive Research was ready to how any momentary gaffe could be retrieved and exploited. Read More…
James McWilliams wrote an interesting but disappointing piece on exercise addiction last week. The piece shows how engrossing—and potentially damaging—the sport of running can be:
Potentially addicted runners will cheat family time to run, sneak in runs without telling people, design vacations around exercise opportunities, will (if injured) count the days since their last run like an alcoholic counts the days since his last drink, and forgo sex to run (we often joke that nobody spends a Saturday morning running 20 miles because they have a great sex life). It seems certain that, if these symptoms are in any way common, running addiction will become an official disorder in due time.
Yet, in conclusion, McWilliams decides that perhaps these obsessed runners aren’t wrong, or even disordered—rather, they’re in tune with the physicality enjoyed by “pre-industrial people,” our ancestors who would not have been as inactive as modern Americans. “What if the real addicts are those who seek to be sedentary,” he asks, “While the crazed athletes are the ones who are seeking the deeper wisdom and capacity of the human body?”
McWilliams has a point here. American’s desk-bound, inert lives are rather abnormal and harmful to the human body. New research shows that commuting alone can promote higher cholesterol, depression, anxiety, back pain, and sleep discomfort (among other symptoms). Also, as a runner, I can understand the benefits he describes: the feeling of being “at ease with the world,” the sense of accomplishment and renewed purpose with each mile.
But at the same time, the sort of exercise McWilliams advocates for—the constant 10-plus mile runs, sacrifice of time, family, and health—does not seem to foster true excellence. At least, it would not stand up to Aristotle’s concept of virtue, which functions as a mean between excess and defect. Aristotelian virtue does not consist in obsession to the point of bodily harm—he said a warrior who purposefully put himself in harm’s way was not courageous, but careless: he has fallen into the “excess” side of the equation, thus falling short of true virtue. Similarly, McWilliam’s crazed runner falls too much into excess to be truly virtuous.
Yet McWilliam’s runner is no stranger to us, whether we be runners or no. Most modern Americans feel compelled to develop an expertise—be it a career, hobby, or sport. The “specialist” or “expert” always receives greatest respect, while those who “dabble” in various trades or interests are less likely to garner acclaim. Indeed, in education, fields that teach breadth over depth are seeing less students and less interest. Take the humanities, or philosophy: as philosopher professor Rebecca Newberger Goldstein told the Atlantic, interest in philosophy has declined as students “want to get good jobs and get rich fast.” Money and renown goes to the specialists, not to the holistic scholars.
This isn’t meant to denigrate experts, professional athletes, and the like—most careers require a good depth of knowledge in a given subject. But it is important to consider whether we are practicing virtue in our trade, and whether we ought to “branch out” in order to become more healthy and well-rounded human beings. Perhaps the politician should pick up art (like Winston Churchill), the “foodie” should study literature, the economist should take dancing lessons. It isn’t that specialization is bad, so much as that specialization can often lead to obsession—and obsession leads to personal and societal disorder.
St. Augustine called such obsession a “disordered love.” The concept springs from his beautiful Confessions: disordered love seeks ultimate happiness in temporal, earthly objects or pursuits, “an action which engenders all kinds of pathologies in human behavior,” writes David K. Naugle.
“For wherever the soul of man may turn, unless it turns to you [God], it clasps sorrow to itself,” wrote Augustine. “Even though it clings to things of beauty, if their beauty is outside God and outside the soul, it only clings to sorrow.”
Running can be a thing of beauty. Waking early and jogging to a measured cadence, watching the sun illumine a dark sky, etching new trails in the soft earth—it’s an exhilarating, delightful sport. But if it’s all we cling to, we will ultimately become disillusioned, disordered, and unhappy—just as with any realm of love and interest. Much as I enjoy running, I never want this “thing of beauty” to become a disordered love.
It’s that time of year again: the glitz, the glamor, the gowns. Who will go home with a coveted statue, and who will go home empty-handed? This year’s Oscar-nominated films were particularly heartfelt and inspiring (or about as close as Hollywood can manage), and TAC’s culture critic Noah Millman has seen most of them. He can tell you which ones are worth watching—or rewatching:
Loosely based on the Abscam scandal, David O. Russell takes a crack at screwball dramedy, with mixed results. Millman writes: “Russell wants it both ways – he wants you to enjoy the Scorcesean roller-coaster even as at every turn he’s showing you that his real pleasure tilt-a-whirl. And it turns out you can’t quite have it both ways.”
12 Years a Slave
The film’s undiluted portrait of slavery that had audiences sobbing in the theater is nominated for Best Picture—and the two leads, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, are nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. Lupita Nyongo is also nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Millman criticized director Steve McQueen for failing to end the film on a positive note: “McQueen doesn’t give us that uplifting twist… McQueen could have shown us a determined Northrup engaged in t[he] pursuit [of his captors], vowing never to rest, and ended his movie on an ‘up’ note. He chose not to.”
The genre-bending romantic drama of a man who falls in love with his operating system is a thought-provoking tale of humans’ dependency on their machines. Millman describes the film as “…a particularly clever Pygmalion story, one that is more attuned to what a modern man might actually want in a fantasy companion, as opposed to a mere sexual fantasy.”
Millman compares Alexander Payne’s newest film to his 2002 work “About Schmidt”, a rambling, dour film about an unhappy old man: “Payne’s new movie, ‘Nebraska,’ has a lot in common with ‘About Schmidt.’ Both are set primarily in Nebraska; both deal with elderly men who feel they have missed life somehow (and associate that missing out with having married June Squibb), and who go on a quixotic road trip in a roundabout way of trying to resolve their existential dilemmas.”
Critics have raved about the gorgeous cinematography and complained about the nail-biting twists and turns this film makes. Millman offers praise for the visual component of the film. “Enormous effort has been put into getting the physics right, and that effort pays off magnificently. The film is stunningly beautiful – more than that, it is sublime (to use the Burkean distinction).”
Based on a true story of a commercial ship hijacked by Somali pirates, Millman praises director Paul Greengrass’s ability to depart from the classic thriller structure to weave a more complex narrative: “The structure he’s chosen, which takes real risks in terms of pacing, allows him to draw that straight line between Captain Phillips’s resourcefulness and the might of the U.S. Navy, while also showing what, and who, lies on the other side of that line.”
Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street
Rod Dreher doesn’t comprehensively review these two films, but sheds very important light on the religious and moral undertones of both films, bringing their messages into stark relief. Noah Millman in his Oscar post calls Philomena ”a sweet little film, well-written and well-structured.” He gives faint praise to “The Wolf of Wall Street” but claims too much time is given to the protagonist, who, in Millman’s estimation, ”just isn’t a very interesting person.”
The Dallas Buyers Club
While TAC did not review this film, the New Yorker’s review is more than apt, and appropriately highlights Matthew McConaughey’s transformation from romantic comedy beach bum to a serious dramatic actor.
What is “mindfulness”? TIME Magazine recently released a cover story on “The Mindful Revolution,” outlining a return to conscious living emphasized by modern enthusiasts. Many in the “mindfulness” crowd want us to step away from the Internet, unplug, and take a break. But Evgeny Morozov put the trend into perspective in his article, “The Mindfulness Racket”:
If it takes an act of unplugging to figure out how to do it [“mindfulness”], let’s disconnect indeed. But let us not do it for the sake of reconnecting on the very same terms as before. We must be mindful of all this mindfulness.
Morozov’s piece considers calls to take a digital “sabbath” or “detox,” to disconnect temporarily “so that we can resume our usual activities with even more vigor upon returning to the land of distraction.” But all of this talk of disconnecting and becoming mindful begs the question: What is “mindfulness” for? Why should we be mindful, and how can we cultivate a proper mindfulness?
I would suggest that there are two types of mindfulness: one inwardly focused, the other outwardly focused. When people draw upon the terms “fasting” and “detoxing” for technology disconnections, they bring up two interesting examples of how mindfulness affects our inward and outward health.
In religious fasting, a lack of eating is not focused on dietary benefits. It is meant to be a time of focus on larger, more important things than bodily craving. In fasting, we center on the spiritual, and step away temporarily from the physical. Yet in that stepping away, we learn to appreciate the goodness of food and drink. Fasting brings us to thankfulness. We eventually return to savor the goodness of the things we left.
Detoxes focus on inward cleansing, looking inward at incongruences and junk in my own system. A “digital detox” would necessitate that, in stepping away from digital tools, one also looks inward at personal cravings and inclinations. How is digital media shaping the way we live? Is it fostering unhealthy habits within us? Have we allowed it to build callouses of anger, discrimination, or fear in our souls? Statistically speaking, Facebook is reported to foster depression in its users. We must exercise introspection toward online habits, desires, and emotions we’ve inculcated. A detox may also help us consider what we haven’t dwelt on or considered enough—a person, situation, or decision we’ve neglected in the technological mayhem.
But a digital “fast” would be a time of mindfulness toward religion, family, friends, and society. One could consider relationship priorities outside the constraints of Facebook and Twitter, even the telephone and Skype. Such a fast would prompt us to analyze the ways such tools shape societal and work interactions, and consider how they benefit (or detract from) the spiritual, soul-fostering work of relationship. This fast would, one hopes, enable the abstainer to return to his or her computer with a renewed sense of purpose and limits.
A proper understanding of human nature is vital in our consumption. We must keep our own inclinations in mind. Pride is a natural susceptibility of the human soul. In every tweet and Facebook status, our own pride will venture to the surface. We must look carefully at our motivations, and consider what sort of online (and inward) presence we’re cultivating. This is the sort of consideration that might go into a digital “detox.”
Stepping away from technology will not make us more or less mindful—just as a day of detoxing or fasting will not automatically change our perception of food. In all things, we want to cultivate Aristotle’s virtuous mean, searching for that place between excess and defect where excellence dwells. Mindfulness does not necessitate pure abstention from iPhones, Twitter, and the like—it is not about neglecting certain platforms. Rather, it defines how we use those platforms. The reason for a “fast,” “detox,” or what-have-you is to help us see the big picture, to give us greater purpose, understanding, and discretion.
“Religious Right Cheers a Bill Allowing Refusal to Serve Gays.” Thus did the New York Times‘ headline, leaving no doubt as to who the black hats are, describe the proposed Arizona law to permit businesses, on religious grounds, to deny service to same-sex couples. Examples of intolerance provided by the Times:
In New Mexico, a photographer declined to take pictures of a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony. In Washington State, a florist would not provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. And in Colorado, a baker refused to make a cake for a party celebrating the wedding of two men.
The question Gov. Jan Brewer faces?
Should Christians, Muslims, Mormons who refuse, on religious grounds, to serve same-sex couples—that photographer, that florist, that baker, for example—be treated as criminals? Or should Arizona leave them alone?
“Religious freedom,” said Daniel Mach of the ACLU to the Times, is “not a blank check to … impose our faith on our neighbors.” True. But who is imposing whose beliefs here? The baker who says he’s not making your wedding cake? Or those who want Arizona law to declare that either he provides that wedding cake and those flowers for that same-sex ceremony, or we see to it that he is arrested, prosecuted and put out of business? Who is imposing his views and values here?
What we are seeing in Arizona in microcosm is what we have witnessed in America for half a century: the growing intolerance of those who preach tolerance and the corruption of the concept of civil rights.
We have seen the progression before. In 1954, the Supreme Court declared that segregation in public schools was wrong and every black child must be allowed to attend his or her neighborhood school. By 1968, the court was demanding that white children be forcibly bussed across entire cities to insure an arbitrary racial balance. Under the civil rights acts of the 1960s, businesses were told that in hiring, promotion, pay, and benefits, black and white, men and women must be treated alike. Equality of opportunity.
But, soon, that was no longer enough. We needed equality of result. Corporations were ordered to maintain extensive records of the race, gender, ethnicity and sexual preferences of their entire work force to prove they were not guilty of discrimination. And if your work force is insufficiently diverse today, you are a citizen under suspicion in a country we used to call the Land of the Free. Consider how far we have come.
Virtually all decisions to hire, fire, promote or punish employees, to oversee the sale and rental of housing, to ensure that all minorities have access to all restaurants, hotels and motels, are under the jurisdiction of these minions who are right out of Orwell’s 1984. Scores of thousands of bureaucrats—academic, corporate, government—are on watch, overseeing our economy, patrolling our society, monitoring our behavior. Read More…
Mary Jo Anderson writes about the false compassion of euthanasia in Crisis Magazine:
The truth that lies underneath the “rights” rhetoric is who will decide what constitutes a quality of life and at what cost. Theodore Dalrymple is an English doctor, psychiatrist and author of OurCulture—What’s Left of It. Dalrymple wrote, “Euthanasia has a tendency to slide from the voluntary to the compulsory, as people increasingly make judgments on behalf of others as to what is a human life worth living.”
This is a temptation that many human rights advocates can be susceptible to: in desiring to help others, we often choose to reform them into our own image. America’s compassionate conservatives often fall prey to this tendency: out of a sincere desire to help people, they seek to re-shape another person’s life or will into their own.
Anderson’s post is highlighting a new bill passed in Belgium on February 13, one that permits euthanasia for young children. “We can no longer pin a wig over the bald truth of the culture of death,” she writes. For pro-life advocates, the move smacks of the same imperative judgments that characterize so many pro-choice arguments (i.e. the mother, specifically, is allowed to decide what’s best for the child and her family).
This bill is an example of what Anderson calls “a right to die”: it’s “thought to be a compassionate, advanced policy,” giving people the ability to decide just how much pain and hardship they are willing to suffer. Of course, making such a decision necessitates we assume a sort of omniscient posture: if we decide whether life is still worth living, we must have a very specific and (we hope) accurate understanding of what life is about, what it’s worth, and how much pain we can handle.
This is how much of the right handles non-life matters. Of course, conservatives may gasp in horror at the thought of aborting or euthanizing babies. But conservatives may also look at homeless people on the street, and tell them, “You should go get a job.” Isn’t this also a case of gross assumption—of putting someone else in your shoes, and commanding them to walk according to your path, willpower, and context? When we decide one country “deserves” democracy, or another should be “liberated” from its oppressors—often such words contain grains of truth. But what we really mean is, “Let us (our military, more often than not) come over and fix your problems, so that you can be just like us.”
Religious thought contains an important truth on this subject: most believe that humans are not omniscient. We were created by Another, a Being with infinite knowledge and discernment. We did not determine our birth. For many, this truth implies that we should not determine our end: our times are in God’s hands, as the Psalmist writes in Psalm 31.
This means we cannot look at our brothers and assume we know their best life (or death) course. Jesus told the story of a tax collector and Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14—the Pharisee thanked God that he was not “like this tax collector, this sinner.” But in reality, it was the tax collector, humble and contrite, who went home justified.
When Jesus had mercy and compassion on an individual, interestingly enough, He often gave them what they asked for. There were cases in which He told people, instead, of sins they needed to leave or truths they needed to confront. But in each and every case, He loved first.
Compassion: it’s difficult to turn such an emotion into right action. So often, we are separated in thought and soul from truly knowing others. We think we know what is right or good, but this lack of omniscience makes it difficult to rightly run people’s lives. Perhaps we should not try—instead, we should just love first.
“You don’t get black power by chanting it. You get it by doing what the other groups have done. The Irish kept quiet. They didn’t shout “Irish Power”, “Jew Power”, [or] “Italian Power”. They kept their mouths shut and took over the police department of New York City, and the mayorship of Boston.”
–Whitney Young, 1968
Most people, when asked to name prominent civil rights leaders and activists, stick to the the brightest stars: Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X. The history is egregiously abridged: a woman refused to go to the back of a bus, a man in Washington had a dream, an elegant Muslim with a jazz quartet goatee warned, “by any means necessary”. After a great struggle, civil rights were granted to African Americans, and the country redeemed its conscience after several hundred years of slavery and abhorrent treatment of blacks. An angry group of activists called the Black Panthers were also in the mix, but no one discusses their provocative clothing and displayed weapons in polite company.
At no point is the name Whitney Young mentioned, not even as an afterthought. Young, who advised presidents, expanded the National Urban League, and effectively negotiated with powerful businesses to incorporate diverse hiring practices, is erased from the pages of the Book of Civil Rights Leaders. President Richard Nixon offered this glowing epitaph at Young’s funeral: “Whitney Young’s genius was that he knew how to accomplish what other people were merely for.” How could a man whose influence extended to the Oval Office and boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies be forgotten?
There is a possible explanation for this scrubbing from history. Despite Young’s training as a social worker and his leadership role in the civil right movement, his politics may not have been sufficiently progressive to satisfy his compatriots. His association with white business leaders exposed him to criticism from Black Panthers spokesman Stokely Carmichael and liberal politician Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who all but called him an “Uncle Tom” in their excoriations. The civil rights movement turned sharply to the left in the late 1960s after the assassinations of King and Malcolm X, and anyone who did not tow the increasingly leftist line was pushed out. It is not surprising, then, that a man who got corporate America on board with the civil rights movement was later excluded from the civil rights’ great cloud of witnesses.
Whitney Young, Jr. was born on July 31, 1921, to educated parents. Read More…
Last Friday afternoon, Makayla Darden, an eight-year-old girl, was hit by a stray bullet in Southeast Washington. Unlike Trayvon Martin, she was not instantly adopted by President Obama.
Two men, Karie Brown, 19, and Nathaniel Patten, 21, also of Southeast Washington, have been arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill while armed.
Last Friday was St. Valentine’s Day.
There were 91 murders in the District of Columbia last year (not counting the 12 people gunned down at the Navy Yard). The figure is up from 2012 (when Washington ranked eighth in murders per capita among American cities), but down from previous years, which may dampen the public’s interest in crime news from Washington’s more crime-ridden neighborhoods. Crime, whether it’s up or down, takes place primarily “somewhere else,” in the . . . lower-class neighborhoods of Washington: not the part where President Obama sends his children to school.
Government in Washington, D.C., known as “self-government,” would be a late-night television joke to someone with no feelings for what can accurately be described as the underclass. The government’s corruption and incompetence are as obvious and permanent as the two large warts on your grandmother’s nose—and it’s just not terribly polite to talk about them either.
But the dysfunction is real. And the Washington Post (give it at least one star) even has a feature: “D.C. corruption scandals: A primer.” Click on any button and learn how the city fathers steal from the people.
But of course that’s not street crime. It’s only thievery, and does thievery, even high-level thievery, really affect ordinary people? Can’t we spin the facts, the way former mayor Marion Barry did years ago, when he said Washington would have one of the lowest crime rates in the country—if it weren’t for the murders.
Let thieves be thieves: we adults care—with Hillary—about the children.
So how are the children doing? According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2011 Washington, D.C., had the worst high-school graduation rate in the country.
Fortunately for President Obama’s children, their school’s graduation rate is 100 percent. He can afford the tuition of $35,288 (which includes a hot lunch). He can also afford to be relentlessly ideologically opposed to school choice. As is, you will not be surprised to learn, the National Education Association (the teachers’ union), for which school choice is a cross fashioned from garlic.
As the figures show, violent crime is trending down in the District. But probably not illegitimacy, now so rampant as to be normal—70 percent among blacks, almost three times the level of the 1960s. Today, it’s not illegitimacy that’s déclassé. It’s the word “illegitimacy” itself. “Out-of-wedlock” is the quaint mot du jour. Liberal Progressives (President Obama’s forebears), who in the 1960s promoted a reinterpretation of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children law, may not have caused the increase in illegitimacy, but they made having illegitimate children financially viable, even profitable.
A search of the news accounts of Makayla Darden’s shooting turns up no mention of a father. Only a mother, a grandmother, and an aunt. The statistics tell us that even if her father and mother are together, it’s not likely that her friends live in two-parent homes.
Fortunately for President Obama’s children, their parents are married.
A few years ago, a middle-class white person asked a middle-class black one in the adjacent bus seat whether he had any thoughts on why the black community they had just visited was so dysfunctional. The black person looked back in astonishment: “My mother is a lawyer. My father is a doctor. I have absolutely nothing in common with these people.”
One has the sense that President Obama might have been the person occupying that seat.
Meanwhile, Makayla Darden fights for her life in a Southeast Washington hospital, in critical but stable condition. And if she recovers, she will return to a community President Obama seems to have absolutely nothing in common with.
By the way, how did you spend St. Valentine’s Day?
Daniel Oliver is a Senior Director of White House Writers Group in Washington, D.C. He served as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Ronald Reagan.