A Word to the Deeply Troubled

Thank you, Alan Jacobs:

Damon Linker is unhappy—unhappy with the tone of a recent post by Ross Douthat. Linker says that people like Douthat—but he really just means Douthat, because he doesn’t refer to anyone else in his post—are “losing their cool. And their heads.”

Linker calls Douthat’s post “harsh and angry”—a description I won’t contest, though I’m tempted—but notes that it is “uncharacteristically” so. Maybe he could have spent a few minutes contemplating why a writer as consistently irenic as Douthat might have lost a bit of patience on this particular subject. Might it be that title of the post Douthat was responding to describes his position as “glaring hypocrisy”? A touch on the provocative side, wouldn’t you say? (Yes, writers typically don’t choose titles, but they can protest inaccurate ones; I’ve done it myself more than a few times.)

Or might it be something that runs a little deeper? In that earlier post, Linker writes, “I have faith that Douthat’s honesty and intelligence will lead him to concede that he’s lost his debate with [William] Saletan”—the magnificent condescension of that line would have me banging on Linker’s door to challenge him to a duel—but Douthat demonstrates pretty thoroughly in his reply that hehasn’t lost that argument. And it’s interesting that in his lamentation over Douthat’s so-unfortunate tone, Linker never acknowledges any of the arguments Douthat makes or the studies he cites. It’s much easier to tut-tut over people “losing their cool.”

A Father’s Struggle to Stop His Daughter’s Adopton

 Via the Atlantic:

Christopher Emanuel first met his girlfriend in the fall of 2012, when they were both driving forklifts at a warehouse in Trenton, South Carolina. She was one of a handful of women on the job; she was white and he was black. She ignored him at first, and Emanuel saw it as a challenge. It took multiple attempts to get her phone number. He says he “wasn’t lonely, but everybody wants somebody. Nothing wrong with being friends.”

Emanuel, who is now 25, describes himself as a non-discriminatory flirt. He was popular in high school and a state track champion. According to the Aiken High School 2008 yearbook, he was voted “Most Attractive” and “Best Dressed.” Even his former English teacher Francesca Pataro describes him as a “ray of sunshine.” Emanuel says he’s “talked”—euphemistically speaking—with a lot of women: “Black, Puerto Rican, Egyptian, and Vietnamese.” But before he met this girlfriend, he says, he had never seriously dated a white girl.

Emanuel’s girlfriend didn’t respond to multiple interview requests, so some details of their relationship remain difficult to confirm. But her affidavits and her text-message exchanges with Emanuel align with the key elements of his story: Their relationship began in February 2013, after months of friendship. When her parents were away for the summer, his girlfriend invited Emanuel to stay at her house for a while. And in May, she took a home pregnancy test, which came out positive.

Burn Washington, Ctd

From the Intercept:

After failing to criminally prosecute any of the financial firms responsible for the market collapse in 2008, former Attorney General Eric Holder is returning to Covington & Burling, a corporate law firm known for serving Wall Street clients.

The move completes one of the more troubling trips through the revolving door for a cabinet secretary. Holder worked at Covington from 2001 right up to being sworn in as attorney general in Feburary 2009. And Covington literally kept an office empty for him, awaiting his return.

The Covington & Burling client list has included four of the largest banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Lobbying records show that Wells Fargo is still a client of Covington. Covington recently represented Citigroup over a civil lawsuit relating to the bank’s role in Libor manipulation.

Covington was also deeply involved with a company known as MERS, which was later responsible for falsifying mortgage documents on an industrial scale. “Court records show that Covington, in the late 1990s, provided legal opinion letters needed to create MERS on behalf of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and several other large banks,” according to an investigation by Reuters.

The Madness of Truancy Laws

From Reason:

We’ve seen it happen again and again: libertarians are derided over some supposedly crazy or esoteric position, years pass, and eventually others start to see why our position made sense. It’s happened with asset forfeiture, with occupational licensure, with the Drug War, and soon, perhaps, with libertarians’ once-lonely critique of school truancy laws.

People, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and other outlets are reporting on the case of Julie Giles of Sylvania, Georgia, who was arrested and put in shackles after her son Sam, who has been on the honor roll and won a “Student of the Month” citation, had nine unexcused sick absences when only six are allowed. Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak has reported on a 13-year-old straight-A piano prodigy charged with truancy in D.C. for taking ten days off to play on international concert stages, and another local mother charged with truancy because she took her son on an overseas trip for purposes of adopting his little brother.

Same-Sex Marriage and Biopolitical Tyranny


In a 2013 essay evaluating the Parliamentary bill on gay marriage, John Milbank observes that British “legislators have recognised that it would be intolerable to define gay marriage in terms equivalent to ‘consummation,’ or to permit ‘adultery’ as legitimate ground for gay divorce.” In these decisions, “the legislators have been forced tacitly to admit the different nature of both gay sexuality and of gaysociality. But such an admission destroys the assumption behind the legislation and the coherence of what the legislation proposes to enact.”

Milbank doesn’t think it will stop there. If gay adultery has no legal force, then, on the assumption of equality, heterosexual adultery will also cease to be grounds for divorce. After all, “if the binding and loosing of gay and straight marriage are stipulated in different ways,” then the distinctions that gay marriage is designed to eliminate is reinstated. In Milbank’s view, “secular thought will not so readily let go of the demand for absolutely equal rights based on identical definitions. In that case, we face an altogether more drastic prospect. Not only would ‘marriage’ have been redefined so as to include gay marriage, it would inevitably be redefined even for heterosexual people in homosexual terms. Thus ‘consummation’ and ‘adultery’ would cease to be seen as having any relevance to the binding and loosing of straight unions.”

From Idealism to Power–The Obama Presidency

From the Library of Law and Liberty:

As a presidential candidate in 2007 and 2008, Barack Obama made stirring pledges to respect the rule of law and to abide by constitutional limitations on certain presidential powers. He left no doubt that he intended to put an end to George W. Bush-era governing practices that many argued had resulted in a dangerous unleashing of unconstrained presidential powers. On such topics as initiating war, military detention, interrogation practices, rendition, domestic surveillance, candidate Obama strongly criticized the Bush administration for having violated longstanding U.S. constitutional and even moral principles. He went so far as to argue that the U.S. had lost much of its stature and credibility in the world due to Bush’s actions and that undoing the damage would require new leadership and an entirely different governing vision. Obama further promised government transparency, that he would never issue a signing statement to alter legislative intent, that indeed he would respect Congress’s constitutional-based powers and would build relationships with legislators rather than try to govern without them.

Wisconsin’s Shame

This is terrifying:

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking. She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.

She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door. “I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic. “I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.”

Getting Divorced on Facebook

This is awful:

Ending a marriage is never easy, but Facebook may be able to streamline the process. The de facto platform for communication for just about everyone, the social network could take on a new role as a place to serve divorce papers.

This week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper granted 26-year-old Ellanora Baidoo permission to serve papers to her elusive husband, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku, via a Facebook message. People have served legal notices before using the network, but Baidoo’s case is one of the few in the U.S., and the first here that legally recognizes it as a means of official communication in divorce proceedings.

When You Have People

From the Rumpus:

May 5, 2005, Houston Southeast City Jail.

The blankets are “at laundry,” the guards say. Some of the other inmates grouse at the news. “Like we just animals,” one girl says and then slams the fleshy side of her fist into the Plexiglas opposite the guard picket, leaving a sweaty hologram like one of those baby feet prints Josh and I used to make on the inside of Dad’s frosted hatchback. I am tempted to walk over and dot five little toes in an arc over the print before it fades, and the thought forms a sad lozenge in my throat. The guards ignore us, but it’s a studied nonchalance, sadistic and mirthful.

“Shhhhhhh!” I scream inside, thinking it can’t be good to piss them off, better to be sycophantically polite. I am so white.

We are in a communal holding cell, where about fifty of us sit at a cafeteria table in front of our middle-of-the-night breakfast trays. We are in mini-skirts and stretchy knits, in soiled jeans and Goodwill t-shirts: we are bloodied, stricken, wigs akimbo—all of our night-filth naked to florescence. The table is god’s waiting room: here we sit together, passing stories and powdered eggs. The meaty part of my upper arm oozes blood from a two-inch gash, what will later be the one physical scar I sustain, and my thighs and knees ache from the crash, the blood now a dark syrup that stiffens my jeans. From my tray, I drink thick fruit punch from a disposable cup with a foiled lid, but avoid the pale spitballs of scrambled eggs. A lanky black girl, who reminds me of Big Bird with her fried blonde-turned-yellow hair and her huge Muppet hands, asks what happened.

“I dunno,” I offer. “Car accident,” I say, then tell her I was arrested for drunk driving.

The Monster Next Door

From Boston:

Howe Street on the east side of Manchester, New Hampshire, is part of a tight-knit community of working-class families where neighbors commonly show up unannounced for a favor. So nothing seemed unusual to LoriAnn Silver when her new next-door neighbor walked onto her porch in the summer of 2004 and pressed the buzzer.

The woman at the door wore an African caftan, braided hair extensions, and a friendly smile. “I’m Bea,’’ she said. In a mix of French, Kinyarwandan, and American accents, she explained that she’d just moved into the adjacent home, a three-bedroom ranch with a fenced-in backyard and an above-ground swimming pool that was perfect for her three young daughters: Charlene, then 11, and twins Simbi and Saro, 10. The pool, however, was giving her trouble. LoriAnn happily sent her husband, Scott, over to help.

This first encounter sparked a routine of sorts. LoriAnn seldom saw Bea except when she needed a hand with something, usually the pool, the lawn, or shoveling the driveway. For the most part, Bea and her family kept to themselves. Once, when Bea was outside wearing a tank top, Scott noticed several ribbons of scar tissue running along her back. But Bea didn’t offer much about her past, and LoriAnn didn’t pry. What little their neighbor told them was enough: Bea’s full name was Beatrice Munyenyezi, and she said she had fled to the United States as a political refugee from her native Rwanda.