China passes USA as largest economy

The United States no longer has the world’s largest economy.  China just passed us.  Ever since Ulysses S. Grant was president, the American economy has been  number one.  Now we are number two. [Read more...]

Be thankful for rivers

Why has America, among all the world’s nations, always been so prosperous?  Lots of reasons.  But, according to a new book, it begins with our rivers. [Read more...]

Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

[Read more...]

Call to prayer from the Continental Congress

Very often, in the early days of our nation, Congress would call for a day of “fasting, humiliation, and prayer.”  (Google the phrase and compare the resolutions from the Continental Congress through Lincoln.)  This was the kind of resolution that led to the holiday of Thanksgiving.  (I’ll post Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation tomorrow.)

After the jump, I’ve posted a resolution from the Continental Congress passed on March 20, 1779, in the midst of the War for Independence.  (The victory at the Battle of Yorktown, in which the British army was decisively defeated, would take place two years later, though the Treaty of Paris ending the war would not be signed until 1783.)

My point in doing so is not to open the debate about whether America or any other nation can be a “Christian country” or to discuss “civil religion.”  I’m just struck by the language of the resolution, the richness of the Biblical allusions, and the earnest tone of humility (that this war is a “just punishment of our manifold transgressions”). [Read more...]

Amnesty by decree

President Obama has issued an executive order protecting some 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

On what authority, you may ask?  He is invoking the principle of “prosecutor discretion,” under which a law enforcement officer may choose, for example, which speeders to chase down.  So here the Executive Branch, charged with carrying out the laws passed by the Legislative Branch, is just choosing not to enforce the law against illegal immigrants unless they have committed other crimes.  (But in forbidding immigration officials from enforcing the law, isn’t he taking away their “prosecutor discretion”?) [Read more...]

Liberty and Equality

In the times of the Greek democracy, the Roman republic, the American founding, and most of American history, liberty and equality were thought to go together.  That changed, says Danielle Allen, author of a book on the Declaration of Independence

First, Karl Marx taught that individual liberty must be sacrificed for the greater  goal of social equality.  Then, in the Cold War, conservatives and libertarians taught the opposite, that equality must give way to individual liberty.  Today, she says, Democrats are stressing the ideals of equality while Republicans are stressing the ideals of liberty.  She argues that we need to recapture the sense in which the two go together, as set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

[Read more...]


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