Cohabiting parents vs. married parents

Twenty years ago, Vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle gave a much-ridiculed speech in which he warned about the dangers of single-parenthood, specifically attacking the way it was becoming socially-accepted through the example of TV shows such as Murphy Brown.  Today, writes Isabel Sawhill in the Washington Post (no less), it is evident that Dan Quayle was right.

You should read what she has to say.  The evidence abounds that children do much better when their parents are married to each other.  She cites many interesting facts, such as this seemingly-easy-to-follow plan to avoid poverty:

If individuals do just three things — finish high school, work full time and marry before they have children — their chances of being poor drop from 15 percent to 2 percent.

One point she makes I found particularly striking.  She says that even when children are raised by both parents, the children do much better if their  parents are married, as opposed to just living together.  The reason this is so, she says, remains a mystery.

Why do you think this is the case?


via 20 years later, it turns out Dan Quayle was right about Murphy Brown and unmarried moms – The Washington Post.

Royal blood for America

A vial of Ronald Reagan’s blood was going to be auctioned online.  After a time of outrage, the person who owned the vial–which was taken from the hospital that treated the president after the assassination attempt–had second thoughts and donated it to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.

But, as Dana Milbank points out, that means that the blood is in conservative hands.  With the genetic material found in the blood, wouldn’t we be able to clone Ronald Reagan?

All Republican candidates, seemingly, present themselves as Reagan come back.  Why don’t we just take advantage of genetic engineering and come up with the real thing?

Milbank, a liberal, makes the case that today’s conservatives wouldn’t really want another Reagan, that the old one himself would prove too liberal by today’s standards, inasmuch as he occasionally raised taxes, passed environmental regulations, expanded Social Security and Medicare, and often compromised with Democrats.

I think the difference is that conservatives trusted Reagan when he found it necessary to do such things and they don’t trust anyone else.

I suspect it is true that character, let alone politics, is not exclusively in the genes, that it is shaped by life experiences and personal convictions.  But let us assume that by cloning Reagan’s blood, we could get another Reagan.  He would have to grow up first, of course, but in the meantime we could keep cloning so that we had a new version of the same man every eight years.

Such a mindset may account for the archaic notion of “royal blood”–the assumption that the son of a good ruler will be like his father, who, in a sense would still be present in the bloodline.  But cloning would allow us to make a new kind of royal blood.

We could make the Reagan clone a king, in this sense, or we could retain our republic and just vote in another of his clones every four years.  Or, to keep it fair and to keep democracy alive, we could also clone great Democrats.  I’m sure FDR’s hair is on some brush of his in some museum.

This would be the solution of the common complaint today that there are no great leaders today anymore.  We can just use modern technology to manufacture some.

Clone one for the Gipper? – The Washington Post.

The hedge of separation

John Garvey, the president of Catholic University, has written an op-ed piece in which he explains why his institution is joining scores of other Catholic groups in filing a lawsuit against the contraceptive & abortifacient mandate in Obamacare.  In the course of his essay (in which he mentions also the Hossana-Tabor case involving the LCMS school), Garvey discusses the “wall of separation of church and state,” finding the metaphor’s origins not in Thomas Jefferson (who wanted to protect the state from the church) but, earlier, in Roger Williams (who wanted to protect the church from the state):

When the Supreme Court first considered the issue of aid to parochial schools in the 1947 case Everson v. Board of Education , it invoked separation as a limiting principle. The court quoted Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Conn.: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

Jefferson was a child of the Enlightenment, suspicious of organized religion. He believed that efforts to establish an official religion led to persecution and civil war.

The metaphor was not original to Jefferson, though. Roger Williams, who founded the colony of Rhode Island on principles of religious tolerance, used it in 1644. History has shown, he observed, that when churches “have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall . . . and made his garden a wilderness.”

Williams had different reasons than Jefferson for preaching separation. Jefferson thought that religion was bad for government. Williams thought that mixing church and state was bad for the church.

These two perspectives often give us the same results. They both warn against tax support for churches and against prayers composed by public school boards. But Williams’s theological metaphor may have been more influential than Jefferson’s political one in the adoption of the First Amendment.

via For the government, what counts as Catholic? – The Washington Post.

Not just a “wall” of separation but a “hedge” of separation.  The church is a garden.  The world is a wilderness.  Making a hole in the hedge is punished by God who turns the garden into a wilderness.  Powerful metaphors.  Apply them to current issues.

And yet, is Rogers’ formulation adequate?  He was a Baptist, so we see here elements of the doctrine of separation from the world.  Is the secular arena more than just a wilderness?

Women who want a divorce

The Washington Post has an ongoing feature about “myths.”  Last Sunday the topic was Five myths about marriage.  As usual, the piece combined the interesting with the dubious.   What stood out for me the most was this factoid:  Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women.

We also know that women are hurt by divorce, taking a big economic hit and often thrown into the pressures of single motherhood.  Still, lots of women consider it to be worth it.   Recognizing that there are different stories for each couple, can you venture some reasons why such a large percentage of divorces are initiated by women?

What would Romney do?

In raising the question why both campaigns are ignoring Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts, Ezra Klein (a liberal) goes on to show how that record might not matter too much.  In doing so, he gives a succinct account of what both Romney and Congressional Republicans are planning to do should the election go their way:

In Massachusetts, Romney governed a blue electorate, and negotiated with a Democratic legislature. If he wins the presidency this fall, he will almost certainly be negotiating with a Republican House and Senate, which would be swept into office along with him.

We don’t have to pore over every decision Romney made in Massachusetts to discern what he would do in Washington if elected. Romney and the Republicans in Congress have explained exactly what they intend to accomplish — and their plans are remarkably in sync.

The budget prepared by Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, and the Romney campaign’s general-election platform look quite similar. Both would cut taxes while flattening the tax code. Their Medicare-reform plans look similar; Ryan even modified his original draft to make it look more like Romney’s, which allows seniors to choose between traditional fee-for-service Medicare and private options. Their plans to increase defense spending are alike, as are their plans to cut domestic spending and to turn Medicaid, food stamps and other safety-net programs over to the states.

Because it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which Romney is elected and Republicans don’t hold the House and win control of the Senate, Republicans wouldn’t be stymied by Democratic opposition. They would have the votes to pass their agenda. True, they won’t get a filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the upper chamber, but Ryan’s budget is, well, a budget, which means it could be passed through the budget reconciliation process — and couldn’t be filibustered. To enact a radical change of direction, Republicans need only a simple majority of votes.

via Why neither Obama nor Romney wants to talk about Romney’s record – The Washington Post.

Pentecost & Memorial Day

Two big holidays this weekend, one in the church year and the other national.  I hope you had a meaningful Pentecost on Sunday and that you will have a meaningful and enjoyable Memorial Day today.

So let’s play a holiday game.  Connect the dots.  What connections can you make between what we celebrate on Pentecost (the gift of the Holy Spirit, the birthday of the Church) and what we celebrate on Memorial Day (the sacrifice of our troops, in some locales the memory of those in general who have died, the beginning of the summer vacation season)?