Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Happy Independence Day 2014!

The Stars and Stripes

The Stars and Stripes

The Declaration of Independence

Here’s the complete text of the Declaration of Independence here.

The best book to read about the Revolutionary War is David McCullough’s “1776″, which I highly recommend. The audio book version is awesome.

George Washington and the American Revolution

Washington Crossing the Delaware
Washington Crossing the Delaware

To really understand the founding of the United States, you should read about the story of Washington crossing the Delaware. At this point in the Revolutionary War, the British commanders had achieved a stunning series of victories against the Americans. They had even sent word home to the King that the war was over, and that the Americans would be forced to surrender. But Washington did not give up. He attacked the British forces and took them by surprise – and he won the Battle of Trenton! That was the turning point of the war. There almost never was a United States of America – that’s how close the revolution came to failing.

Ronald Reagan vision of America

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

Here is a portion of Ronald Reagan’s farewell speech:

Excerpt:

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.

And how stand the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that; after two hundred years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

This is no ordinary nation. But we need to be vigilant to make sure we don’t drift away from the vision of the Founders.

United States Air Force

United States Air Force

The Star Spangled Banner

Lyrics:

“Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

America the Beautiful

Lyrics:

“O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man’s avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!”

Here is my favorite version of America the Beautiful, sung by Ray Charles.

Remember to be grateful for the Founding Fathers, and other patriots, who risked everything for liberty in the Revolutionary war. Be grateful to those men and women still fighting abroad to keep those freedoms safe from evil. And most of all, be grateful to God that America is still the beacon of liberty.

Happy Independence Day!

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Congressman Trey Gowdy holds Obama accountable for lawlessness and abuse of power

Rep. Trey Gowdy took Obama to task for his lawless behavior in a speech that drew a standing ovation. The Blaze reported on the speech, and I’ll quote some it here for those who cannot watch the 5-minute video above.

Excerpt:

Ignoring President Barack Obama’s veto threat, the House voted on Wednesday for a bill that would expedite congressional lawsuits against the chief executive for failure to enforce federal laws.

The vote was 233-181 in the Republican-led House as GOP lawmakers excoriated Obama for multiple changes to his 4-year-old health care law, steps he’s taken to allow young immigrants to remain in the United States and the administration’s resistance to defend the federal law banning gay marriage.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., sponsor of the ENFORCE the Law Act, delivered a fiery speech and read a series of statements by Obama when he was an Illinois senator in which he warned of the encroachment of the executive on the powers of the other branches of government.

“How does going from being a senator to a president rewrite the Constitution?” Gowdy asked. “What’s different from when he was a senator? Mr. Speaker, I don’t think there’s an amendment to the Constitution that I’ve missed. I try to keep up with those with regularity.”

Gowdy went on to argue that “process matters” in law enforcement, noting that evidence gathered with a legitimate search warrant is thrown out if an officer so much as accidentally checks the wrong box on the application.

“Even though he was well-intended, even though he had good motivations, even though he got the evidence — because process matters,” he added.

“We all swore an allegiance to the same document that the president swears allegiance to, to faithfully execute the law,” Gowdy continued. “If a president does not faithfully execute the law… what are our remedies?”

He then argued that Congress should do exactly what then-Sen. Obama suggested before he was president of the United States: “To go to the Supreme Court and have the Supreme Court say once and for all: ‘We don’t pass suggestions in this body. … We don’t pass ideas — we pass laws. And we expect them to be faithfully executed.”

I understand that in a lot of banana republics, the Supreme Ruler does whatever he pleases. But this is America. We have Constitution and separation of powers. Changing laws after they are passed for political reasons (mid-term elections) is not legal. Candidate Obama would never have done this, but President Obama does it all the time.

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Concealed-carry permit holder uses legal firearm to prevent mass shooting in Arizona

Letitia shared this article from Arizona Central.

Excerpt:

A man was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries early Sunday morning after a shooting broke out at a Glendale house party, authorities said.

Glendale police officers responded about 1:30 a.m. to a house near 51st and Olive avenues where they found a 27-year-old man who had been shot, Glendale Police Department spokeswoman Officer Tracey Breeden said. He was treated at the scene and taken to the hospital, where he remained Sunday afternoon.

Investigators determined an argument started between individuals at the party and the 27-year-old, and he was asked to leave, she said. The man left for a short time, then returned with a rifle and began firing off rounds outside the house.

The man pointed the rifle at partygoers and a 39-year-old partygoer pulled out a handgun and shot the 27 year old before police arrived, Breeden said. The shooter did not try to leave and waited for officers to arrive.

The shooter has been cooperative with investigators, she said. He was questioned and released by detectives.

“This is standard procedure under these type of circumstances,” Breeden said. “Information and evidence detectives have gathered leads them to believe the 27-year-old was not only firing his rifle, endangering partygoers, but also pointed the weapon at other partygoers, endangering them, prior to the 39-year-old displaying a weapon and shooting the 27-year-old.”

In self-defense cases, shots only connect with the suspects about 2% of the time. Most of the time, just brandishing the weapon is enough to deter the criminal. The goal is to prevent the crime, not to hurt people.

Wikipedia has a summary of the research of Dr. John Lott and his co-authors, which shows that defensive gun use is a lot more common than most people think.

Look:

Researcher John Lott argues in both More Guns, Less Crime and The Bias Against Guns that media coverage of defensive gun use is rare, noting that in general, only shootings ending in fatalities are discussed in news stories. In More Guns, Less Crime, Lott writes that “[s]ince in many defensive cases a handgun is simply brandished, and no one is harmed, many defensive uses are never even reported to the police”.

Attempting to quantify this phenomenon, in the first edition of the book, published in May 1998, Lott wrote that “national surveys” suggested that “98 percent of the time that people use guns defensively, they merely have to brandish a weapon to break off an attack.” The higher the rate of defensive gun uses that do not end in the attacker being killed or wounded, the easier it is to explain why defensive gun uses are not covered by the media without reference to media bias. Lott cited the figure frequently in the media, including publications like the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

In 2002, he repeated the survey, and reported that brandishing a weapon was sufficient to stop an attack 95% of the time. Other researchers criticized his methodology, saying that his sample size of 1,015 respondents was too small for the study to be accurate and that the majority of similar studies suggest a value between 70 and 80 percent brandishment-only. Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz’s 1994 estimate rises to 92 percent when brandishing and warning shots are added together. 

Even the leftist MSNBC agrees that legal gun ownership reduces crime.

Excerpt:

Americans overall are far less likely to be killed with a firearm than they were when it was much more difficult to obtain a concealed-weapons permit, according to statistics collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control. But researchers have not been able to establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

In the 1980s and ’90s, as the concealed-carry movement gained steam, Americans were killed by others with guns at the rate of about 5.66 per 100,000 population. In this decade, the rate has fallen to just over 4.07 per 100,000, a 28 percent drop. The decline follows a fivefold increase in the number of “shall-issue” and unrestricted concealed-carry states from 1986 to 2006.The highest gun homicide rate is in Washington, D.C., which has had the nation’s strictest gun-control laws for years and bans concealed carry: 20.50 deaths per 100,000 population, five times the general rate. The lowest rate, 1.12, is in Utah, which has such a liberal concealed weapons policy that most American adults can get a permit to carry a gun in Utah without even visiting the state.

The decline in gun homicides also comes as U.S. firearm sales are skyrocketing, according to federal background checks that are required for most gun sales. After holding stable at 8.5 to 9 million checks from 1999 to 2005, the FBI reported a surge to 10 million in 2006, 11 million in 2007, nearly 13 million in 2008 and more than 14 million last year, a 55 percent increase in just four years.

That’s been confirmed by peer-reviewed, published research as well.

The peer-reviewed research

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.

Excerpt:

Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

Upon the passage of The Firearms Act (No. 2) in 1997, British Deputy Home Secretary Alun Michael boasted: “Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.” The Act was second handgun control measure passed that year, imposed a near-complete ban on private ownership of handguns, capping nearly eighty years of increasing firearms restrictions. Driven by an intense public campaign in the wake of the shooting of schoolchildren in Dunblane, Scotland, Parliament had been so zealous to outlaw all privately owned handguns that it rejected proposals to exempt Britain’s Olympic target-shooting team and handicapped target-shooters from the ban.

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[...]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people. The book by economist John Lott, linked above,compares the crime rates of all U.S. states that have enacted concealed carry laws, and concludes that violent crime rates dropped after law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry legally-owned firearms. That’s the mirror image of Dr. Malcolm’s Harvard study, but both studies affirm the same conclusion – more legal firearm ownership means less crime.

If you still think that guns are somehow bad for reducing crime, why not check out a formal academic debate featuring 3 people on each side of the debate?

Related posts

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Are House Republicans doing anything wrong by refusing to fund Obamacare?

Economist Thomas Sowell

Economist Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell explains separation of powers.

Excerpt:

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.

This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.

Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.

ObamaCare is indeed “the law of the land,” as its supporters keep saying, and the Supreme Court has upheld its Constitutionality.

But the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.

[...]When Barack Obama keeps claiming that it is some new outrage for those who control the money to try to change government policy by granting or withholding money, that is simply a bald-faced lie. You can check the history of other examples of “legislation by appropriation” as it used to be called.

Whether legislation by appropriation is a good idea or a bad idea is a matter of opinion. But whether it is both legal and not unprecedented is a matter of fact.

Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.

Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.

The House Republicans have been passing bill after bill in order to fund essential responsibilities of government. It’s their decision to fund whatever they want, because that’s what the House does. But the Senate has been rejecting most of these bills. If parts of the government are “shut down” it’s the fault of the Senate Democrats. But then again, they are no more obligated to approve whatever the House wants than the House is obligated to approve what the Senate wants. Or what the President wants. That’s why there is a separation of powers: checks and balances.

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Pastor Matt: five books Christians should read to understand politics and public policy

I agree with this list by Pastor Matt.

About Pastor Matt:

Hello, my name is Matt and I am a book addict (i.e., well read, sophisticated, sad and lonely here is evidence).  But I want my sickness to help you.  I have been a political junkie since 1992 when I was recruited by my then Congressman to work for him. I then ran several campaigns including helping a businessman win a seat in the U.S. House in 1994.  I spent two years working in the House during the Gingrich years of 1995-1997.  I then attended seminary and law school but have remained a political and public policy junkie.  During this week’s political dust-ups, I read a lot of statements from Christians that qualify as “bumper sticker” logic at best.  So, for those interested, here are five books every Christian leader should read if they want to truly understand politics and public policy.

The list:

  1.  A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen
  2. The Heritage Guide to the Constitution by Ed Meese, Ed. (Regnery 2005)
  3. Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell (Basic Books 2010)
  4. Politics According to the Bible by Wayne Grudem (Zondervan 2010)
  5. The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus (Crossway 2013)

I think it’s nice to see that pastor Wayne Grudem appears twice in the list. He has a PhD from Cambridge University and is the best theologian who writes books about economic and political issues. (Notice how I left room for Pastor Matt to be the best overall on economics and political issues!)

Here’s the detail on number three:

Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell (Basic Books 2010).  Most Christian leaders (and apparently most Americans) have a poor understanding of economics.  Most seem to believe wealth is fixed (it isn’t), incentives and effectiveness are secondary to fairness (they aren’t), etc. Sowell, a long time professor of economics who has taught at Cornell and UCLA, has penned a long but very reader friendly work that you should take chapter-by-chapter.

On this blog, I feature Thomas Sowell a lot. The good thing about him is that even if you can’t buy his book, you can read lots of his current events stuff for free. In fact, he wrote a great column recently explaining the government shutdown that I think everyone should read. You can also get great sermons on politics and public policy from Wayne Grudem’s “Essentials” class.

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