Republicanism and redistribution

Today’s plan by Elizabeth Warren is more republican orthodoxy. She wants to keep private equity firms from looting and destroying U.S. corporations. I first read about private equity firms in Robert Kuttner’s book, published last year, Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?: Invariably, a private-equity takeover means an even deeper squeeze on worker wages, benefits, and job… Continue reading Republicanism and redistribution

To have more talk

To take only prescriptively Deuteronomy’s command to talk is to see ourselves becoming only founts (or, worse, spouts) of scripture. But if we go with the action verbs, which I think are indicative rather than exclusive, we’d find a context for deliberate talk in the things we do every day: sit, walk, lie down, get up. (Note: we don’t buzz.) When we add deliberate talk to our daily talk – that is, to the kind talk we do anyway when we do other things we do, then the words work themselves into and enrich our days. The words move from theory, if you will, to practice. We reinvent the words we speak and even quote, and they become our own.

Soccer and Our Founding Document

We are celebrating this loss because, deep down and to the surprise of many – including ourselves – we still care what the rest of the world thinks. We cared when we fought the Revolutionary War. We had a “decent respect to the opinions of mankind” back then, to borrow the Declaration of Independence’s famous noun phrase. That respect, in fact, drove us to write the Declaration.

The duty to preserve life and liberty & to pursue happiness

Jefferson doesn’t encourage us to retrace his thinking in writing the Declaration of Independence. He writes copiously during his long retirement, but when someone asks him about the origins of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and the rest of the Declaration’s more epistemological lines, he claims only to have “harmonized” views contained in… Continue reading The duty to preserve life and liberty & to pursue happiness

American unexceptionalism

And that’s the logical flaw in American exceptionalism. We can’t be both an example and an exception. How can we say, with Hamilton and Lincoln, “You can be like us,” while we also say, “We are exceptional – we are an exception”? Do we believe with Stephen Douglas that certain nations or certain regions of the world need our political oversight and even the exercise of our military power to establish liberal institutions and republican government? Do we see some other nations as, in Hamilton’s words, “forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force” – destined to depend, perhaps, on our own force?

John field notes 3g: Why write gospels?

Luke and John said why they wrote; Matthew and Mark didn’t. Some later wrote them to harmonize these four. Jefferson wrote a gospel with a razor. Reynolds Price wrote one, too, using Mark as a tree and material from the other gospels and elsewhere and his own informed imagination as leaves.  (Price is part harmonizer,… Continue reading John field notes 3g: Why write gospels?


Reading this 1791 letter from Benjamin Banneker, the son of a former slave, to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson makes me understand Jefferson better.  How could someone who penned the lines Banneker quoted and who received the letter Banneker wrote not be, as Jefferson’s enemy Hamilton kindly put it, “a man of sublimated and paradoxical… Continue reading Sources

An appeal to heaven

I love those flags from the Revolutionary War era. The excitement of the times must have led some colonists to stay up nights on CorelDRAW (it was a while ago) designing flags to express why their people were fighting. “Everything is new and yielding,” Benjamin Rush enthused about his generation’s time, and everyone may have had… Continue reading An appeal to heaven