American generosity & foreign relations

American foreign policy is a mess, much of the world is mad at us, and our power seems to be declining.  But there is one area that America does well and the rest of the world knows it and respects us for it:  Whenever a disaster strikes anywhere in the world, the United States government and its citizens are really, really generous.  Whereas our rivals–I’m thinking of you, China–just aren’t.

We shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back, but the diplomatic and political effects of American generosity are playing themselves out in typhoon-ravaged Philippines.  So reports international affairs columnist Anne Applebaum. [Read more…]

Laws that try to cover everything

In a discussion of the struggling Immigration Reform Bill, George Will tells about the Compromise of 1850.  Henry Clay worked it out, but the bill that would implement it–dealing with scores of inter-related issues, such as limiting the spread of slavery, statehood for California, the mode of territorial government for Utah, what to do about fugitive slaves, and on and on–could never get passed.  It was up to Stephen Douglas, better known as Lincoln’s nemesis, to get the legislation through.   He broke the gargantuan bill apart into smaller bills, each of which found its own constituency, and each of which passed.

Mr. Wills says that part of the problem in our paralyzed government is that bills are just too long.  They try to cover everything.  Which is a symptom of a government that thinks it knows everything. [Read more…]

President delays part of Obamacare

What Republicans were vilified for trying to do with the shut-down, President Obama did of his own free will.  He delayed the full implementation of Obamacare.  He said that he would postpone for one year the requirement that individual insurance plans that people currently hold have to include all of the required bells and whistles or get cancelled.  His promise that if people like their current plan they can keep it will be honored–for one year. [Read more…]

Flannery O’Connor’s impact on an unbeliever

Here is another excellent review of Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal, in Slate, of all places.  It’s by Marian Ryan, who begins by saying how she does not believe in God.  In addition to her thorough account of the book, with fascinating and judiciously chosen quotations, her review lets us see how O’Connor and her faith are getting inside the head of an unbeliever.

Some Christians say that O’Connor is too dark, too negative.  How do you account for her work being such an effective  literary apologetic to non-believers?

[Read more…]

“Why classical schools just might save America”

One of my many interests is classical education, on the elementary, secondary, and collegiate level.  A more common name for the classical education philosophy is “liberal arts,”  a designation that refers not to progressive politicians but to the Latin word for freedom.  The “liberal arts” referred to the kind of education to equip a free citizen of the Greek democracy or the Roman Republic, as opposed to the “servile arts,” the purely economic training given to slaves.  (Go to this website for more information and resources about classical education.)

Anyway, Owen Strachan in the American Spectator sees the connection between classical education and freedom.  And he sees classical schools as a way to “save America.” [Read more…]

More lost their insurance than signed up for it

Obamacare train wreck update:  First of all, the efforts to fix Healthcare.gov will not meet their end-of-the-month deadline for fixing the site.  Second, the numbers have been released for how many people have signed up for Obamacare insurance exchanges.  It turns out that far more people have had their health insurance policies cancelled because Obamacare makes them illegal than have signed up for the government-approved policies. [Read more…]