Tasty Tidbits 9/3/11

  1. Regenerating what?!
  2. Another book added to the wish list.
  3. Dropping back in?
  4. Why does it work there but not here?
  5. Boehner’s rebuff has precedent
  6. Very pointed questions for GOP hopefuls.
  7. Is candidates’ religion relevant?

1

David Brooks’ Friday New York Times column, taking some issue with the Republican call (in the words of Rick Perry) “to make the government ‘inconsequential’ in people’s lives,” notes that “there has been a tragic rise in single parenthood, across all ethnic groups, but family structures won’t spontaneously regenerate without some serious activism, from both religious and community groups and government agencies.”

Marc DeGirolami at Mirror of Justice picks up the problem with Brooks’ argument:

If we are interested in this kind of re-generation in order to solve what Brooks sees as the problem of “segmented societies,” don’t we also have to have a fairly firm idea of what we mean by the family?  If there is disagreement — perhaps even deep and irreconcilable conflict — among government agencies, religious, community, and other groups about what a socially healthful family structure looks like, why should Brooks predict that activism from all of these quarters to re-generate the family as a social structure would serve to alleviate the problem of the “segmentation,” and possible fragmentation, of America?  Wouldn’t exactly the opposite be true — that as groups with increasingly different ideas about the healthy family become more active in expounding their respective views, social and cultural segmentation would increase?

Point taken, here at least. You can’t rebuild it if you haven’t got a clue what it is.

2

I just added another book to my Kindle Wish List — and that’s in addition to the impulsively-purchased-and-yet-unread Kindle books.

The addition is titled Do More Than Give, and it sounds worth reading some day. It’s about “catalytic philanthropists,” who, well, “do more than give” (to charity).

Reading? Seems like that’s something I did before I started blogging, and rather enjoyed.

3

Having announced my withdrawal from the Culture Wars 18 months ago, I’m now on the brink of repenting and dropping back in. I started to blog about it here, but it got a whole lot bigger than a tidbit, so you can see it here instead.

4

There is a fascinating piece at Mercator.net on the origins of our ubiquitous anti-bullying programs in schools, where they come from, why they succeeded there, and why they are wretched failures here (and most other places).

Caution: if you are an “American Exceptionalist” in the sense that you think our <euphemism for cruder expression>feces are not redolent</euphemism for cruder expression>, then you particularly need to read it, and get thoroughly ticked off at the messenger, and then perhaps cool down and think about the message.

It’s tempting to summarize it, but the article it too good to give anyone an excuse not to read it.

5

The June 24, 1986, edition of The Wall Street Journal featured a story headlined, “President’s Bid to Address the House On Nicaragua Is Rejected by Speaker.” That’s right, no quibbling over the date and time, just a flat-out rejection. In that case, President Ronald Reagan wanted to address the House before its critical vote on funding for the anti-communist “Contra” rebels in Nicaragua. Then-Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neil said that he was willing to host a Reagan speech if it was expanded to include the Senate in a joint session, or he would allow the President to speak to the House alone if the President would also agree to take questions from lawmakers. Otherwise, there would be no Reagan speech in the House chamber. Reagan already had the votes to prevail in the Senate, and Mr. O’Neil wanted to avoid having the spotlight turned on the House, which would make him and his colleagues accountable to the public if Contra aid were rejected.

James Freeman, The Boehner-Obama Precedent, Wall Street Journal.

6

George Will, sui generis, suggests some extremely pointed questions for the upcoming thingy they call “debate” these days (the thingy that President Obama thinks he has a Divine Right to upstage). Most of them are very legitimate probings of salient topics; a few are a little snarky.

Did I mention that the questions are extremely pointed?

7

Colbert King at the Washington Post disagrees with Bill Keller from the New York Times:

[L]earning about a candidate’s views on public matters ought to be enough. Whether those views are informed by religion or by non-belief is not my chief concern.

Nor do I believe that candidates should be held accountable for everything that their bishops, priests, pastors, rabbis or imams may preach or teach.

Of course, the ground rules change if, for example, candidates elect to parade their religious bona fides, suggesting somehow that their faith is superior to another or that it somehow trumps the law.

King’s position on the political spectrum appears to be as liberal as Keller’s, but he’s unwilling on this point to apply a de facto religious test for office. That seems about right to me.

Bon appetit!

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