Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation

November 27, 2014

Washington, D.C.

October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.

To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plow, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.

They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,Secretary of State

via Thanksgiving Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.

George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation

November 26, 2014

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

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–

And whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

1presNow therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–

That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–

for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–

for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–

for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–

for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–

for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;

and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–

to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–

to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–

to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations especially such as have shewn kindness unto us and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–

To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us–

and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

via George Washington Papers: Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation.

If Michael Brown had been accused of murder

November 26, 2014

If Michael Brown had been charged with the killing of Darren Wilson, the grand jury proceedings in Ferguson, Mo., would have been very different from what they were.

Darren Wilson and Michael Brown

Darren Wilson and Michael Brown

The function of a grand jury is not to determine whether a crime has been proved or not proved, but whether the prosecution has enough of a case to justify going to trial.   That is why grand juries hear only the case for the prosecution and not for the defense.  It is up to the judge or trial jury to hear the defense and decide whether there is reasonable doubt of guilt.

If Michael Brown had been accused of murder or manslaughter of Darren Wilson, there would have been no question of hearing witnesses giving conflicting testimony.  The grand jury would only have heard the witnesses supporting the case for the prosecution.

If Michael Brown has been the accused, he almost certainly would not have been invited to testify before the grand jury.  He would have had to wait for the case to go to trial before telling his version of what happened.

I feel certain that if Michael Brown had been the defendant, the prosecution would not have taken this unusual method of presenting the case to the grand jury.

I don’t claim to know what the verdict in the Darren Wilson case would have been if all the facts were known and he had received a fair trial.   What I do claim is that the investigation was aimed at justifying the accused and discrediting the victim—which is a familiar pattern.


A prominent legal expert eviscerates the Darren Wilson prosecution, in 8 tweets, from Vox news.

The Independent Grand Jury That Wasn’t by David Feige for Slate.

Why whites and blacks see things differently

November 26, 2014

2014-09-07-learning-not-to-call-911 Via Candorville

Each time an unarmed black person is killed by a police officer, most of us white Americans see it as an isolated incident while most black Americans see it as part of a pattern.

Why would they see it as part of a pattern?  Robin D.G. Kelley, a writer and college teacher in California, listed some  things that happened while the Ferguson Grand Jury deliberated on whether to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown.

As we waited for the grand jury’s decision, a twelve-year-old Black boy named Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police in Cleveland because the officer mistook his toy gun for a real one.  Tamir was playing outside of Cleveland’s Cudell Recreation Center, one of the few public facilities left that provide safe space for children.

As we waited, Cleveland cops took the life of Tanisha Anderson, a 37-year-old Black woman suffering from bipolar disorder. Police arrived at her home after family members called 911 to help her through a difficult crisis, but rather than treat her empathetically they did what they were trained to do when confronted with Black bodies in Black neighborhoods—they treated her like an enemy combatant.  When she became agitated, one officer wrestled her to the ground and cuffed her while a second officer pinned her “face down on the ground with his knee pressed down heavily into the back for 6 to 7 minutes, until her body went completely limp.”  She stopped breathing.  They made no effort to administer CPR, telling the family and witnesses that she was sleeping.  When the ambulance finally arrived twenty minutes later, she was dead.

As we waited, police in Ann Arbor, Michigan, killed a forty-year-old Black woman named Aura Rain Rosser.  She was reportedly brandishing a kitchen knife when the cops showed up on a domestic violence call, although her boyfriend who made the initial report insisted that she was no threat to the officers.  No matter; they opened fire anyway.

As we waited, a Chicago police officer fatally shot 19-year-old Roshad McIntosh.  Despite the officer’s claims, several eyewitnesses reported that McIntosh was unarmed, on his knees with his hands up, begging the officer to hold his fire.

Read the rest of this entry »

‘Assembled in the USA,’ but made in China

November 26, 2014


Walmart is selling TV sets with the label, “Assembled in the USA,” but the Association for American Manufacturing has complained to the Federal Trade Commission that the TV sets are actually made in China.

FTC rules say that a product can’t be labeled as assembled in the USA unless the principal assembly takes part in the USA, and the assembly work is substantial.  Walmart’s supplier, Element Electronics, doesn’t do enough assembly to qualify, the complaint says.

One reason American manufacturers have shifted production overseas is to meet Walmart’s demand for low prices.  Walmart is the USA’s largest importer.  That’s something for American Christman shoppers to think about.


How Walmart Destroyed U.S. Manufacturing by Molly McGrath and Brad Markell for the Walmart 1 Percent.

Walmart Workers Ramp Up Protests for Black Friday by Diane Krauthamer for Labor Notes.

Norman Rockwell’s images of Thanksgiving

November 25, 2014

           Read the rest of this entry »

The Postal Service is not a business

November 25, 2014

Mail delivery is a Constitutional function of government (Article I, Section 8) and Pew Research Center found it was the most highly-regarded of 13 federal government agencies mentioned in a poll.  Yet the Obama administration and Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem determined to dismantle it.

Postal CarrierCongress imposed requirements, such as funding pensions 75 years in advance, that make it difficult for the Postal Service to compete.  But the deeper question is whether the Postal Service should “compete” at all.

There is no need for a government agency to provide services that private companies such as United Parcel Service and Federal Express provide perfectly well.  The reason the Postal Service is needed is to provide mail service for isolated rural communities and poor communities that the private companies don’t serve, and to provide backup in case the private companies falter.


If Congress doesn’t act in the next month, it could be the end of the Postal Service as we know it by Kira Lerner for Think Progress.

Why Congress Should Not Get Out of the Way of the Postal Service by Mark Jamison, retired postmaster, for Angry Bear.

The most popular areas of government are shedding the most workers by Drew DeSilver for Pew Research Center.

It’s the people’s mail that will be slowed, workers say by Alexandra Bradbury and Diane Krauthamer for Labor Notes.


The values of the Old South linger on

November 25, 2014

The Civil War ended nearly 150 years ago, but the underlying attitudes that caused it still exist.

confederate_flagThe planter aristocracy of the Old South were great horsemen and marksmen, had a strong sense of honor and were always ready to fight a duel or a war, while using the gun and the whip to keep a subject population in line.

Their values are echoed in people today who talk of secession and armed rebellion, while abridging voting rights and refusing to accept the outcome of elections as final.  They also are reflected in the automatic defense of any white person, police officer or otherwise, who shoots and kills an unarmed black person.

And in the denial of the obvious historical fact that the South seceded in order to protect the institution of slavery.

I don’t want to stereotype or scapegoat Southern white people or imply that, as a group, they are uniquely bad.  They are not all alike and not all of one mind.  The South has changed profoundly in my lifetime, more than I would have thought possible, and I think credit is due for this.

But having said all that, I think there is a lot of truth in the articles to which I link below.  I recommend them.


Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

The peculiar institution of American violence by Doctor Science for Obsidian Wings.

The War Nerd: Why Sherman was right to burn Atlanta by Gary Brecher for Pando Daily.

The worst voter turnout in 72 years

November 25, 2014


Only 36.3 percent of American registered voters went to the polls this year, the lowest turnout in 72 years.  Fewer than a third of registered voters actually voted in California, Texas and New York, and turnout topped 50 percent in only seven states—Maine, Wisconsin, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota and Iowa.

The New York Times editorial writers blamed the negativity of the election campaign, and changes in election law in some states that discourage voting.  I am in favor of more substantive debate in campaigns, and I am in favor of better election laws, including provision for early voting.

But I don’t think these get to the heart of the problem, which is a lack of a good reason to vote.  There was an unusually large turnout in 2012, reflecting the hopes of many Americans for peace and prosperity.   These hopes have not been fulfilled.

I vote myself as a way of affirming that I haven’t given up on American democracy.  I fear that many Americans, especially young people, are giving up.


The Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years by the editorial board of the New York Times

‘As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

November 24, 2014

This episode of WKRP in Cincinnati is the funniest thing I ever saw on television.


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