My problem with the National Prayer Breakfast isn't simply a secularist one, i.e.
government officials should avoid any event with a smack of
sectarianism. What I object to is the political exploitation of the
importance of prayer in American life.
After glancing at recent headlines and listening to rumors,
I was under the impression that the Chicago City Council had passed repressive
new restrictions on protests leading up to the G8 summit in May. The
newspapers' pictures of Mayor Rahm Emanuel looked dictatorial. I pictured
Emanuel strong-arming the council into passing a crackdown.
My great-grandfather was lynched. It was not a big affair in the town square; it happened on a dusty southern road. But its imprint and the communal denial in the small southern town that is our homeland have had lasting reverberations for generations of my family.
Weeks ago I ranted
about Fox News's absurd piece on how the new Muppets movie is out to turn
children into free-enterprise-hating liberals. Now the film's about to
come out in the U.K., and naturally Kermit and Piggy are doing press
around the release. Turns out they're perfectly capable of defending
themselves on their own.
To little fanfare, Denis McDonough, President Obama’s chief of staff, joined a team on the streets of San Francisco doing a head count of the homeless. It was part of a survey required of cities every two years in order to qualify for federal funding for homeless programs. The president had told McDonough he wanted to know firsthand what the city was doing about the homeless. San Francisco has been able to get 19,000 homeless off the streets during the past decade by expanding housing and support services, but it still had over 6,000 people on the street during the 2013 count. “This is the same sort of challenge we face all over the country. The numbers tell the story,” McDonough said. “I had no idea anyone gave a damn,” one homeless man told the team (SFGate.com, January 30).