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America has trashed many of the rights inherited from the British

This being the season for celebrating the Declaration of Independence, we might reflect on what made the American Revolution unique in history. The men who confronted the British at Concord Bridge and fired “the shot heard round the world” did so to defend the rights their forbears won in Britain over the course of several hundred years.

John Adams, the first to hold the job, dismissed the vice presidency as "the most insignificant office" ever invented. Mather Brown's oil painting of Adams was finished in 1788, while the future vice president was serving as a diplomat.

An anniversary to remember

Had a Declaration of Independency been made seven months ago, it would have been attended with many great and glorious effects. We might before this hour, have formed alliances with foreign states. We should have mastered Quebec and been in possession of Canada.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated the political scene for more than a dozen years, campaigned on behalf of his former party, the Islamist-rooted Peace and Development Party (AKP), appealing to voters to elect at least 300 parliamentarians to help push through a constitution that would expand his powers as an executive. But Sunday's stunning results make that a distant prospect. (Associated Press)

An implosion in Syria

The Obama administration’s determination to stay clear of the civil war in Syria, understandable but dangerous, is a tale of red lines drawn and then ignored as if they had never been drawn. President Obama’s brave talk followed by nothing much threatens to lead to an implosion of the region.

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FILE - In this May 26, 2015 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. speaks in Elizabethtown Ky.  President Barack Obama's trade agenda appears to be back on track after an extraordinary bipartisan rescue operation mounted in the week since it was derailed in the House by rebellious Democrats backed by organized labor. "We are committed to ensuring both ... get votes in the House and Senate and are sent to the president for signature," House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a joint statement issued Wednesday in an attempt to reassure pro-trade Democrats whose votes will be needed.  (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

When enough is enough

When the legislation granting "fast track" authority to the president to negotiate a trans-Pacific trade agreement moved toward an initial Senate vote earlier this year, we warily urged Republicans to suck it up and vote for it. No president can negotiate a broad trade agreement without such authority. Anyone who thinks such agreements, properly negotiated and correctly written, aren't to the benefit of the United States understands neither economics nor history.

President Obama will welcome Xi Jinping in September for the first official state visit by the Chinese president. The White House says the administration considers China to be an "important participant" in nuclear negotiations with Iran. (Associated Press)

Taming the hungry dragon

Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sat down Monday with their Chinese counterparts at an annual meeting, as prescribed in an agreement made in 2009, to talk about bilateral co-operation in their relations. They meet this year amid growing differences. The transformation of the Chinese regime is a new worrying element in that relationship.

People raise their hands as a show of unity as thousands of marchers meet in the middle of Charleston's main bridge after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

The Christian example of Charleston

The Civil War, the War Between the States, the War of Northern Aggression, the Late Unpleasantness -- call it what you will depending on your preference -- began in Charleston Harbor with an attack on Fort Sumter, and ended four years later with a northern victory that preserved the Union and freed the slaves.

A California high school teacher believes the works of William Shakespeare should no longer be a Common Core requirement, because "one white man's view of life" somehow diminishes other cultural perspectives. (Wikipedia)

Who needs Shakespeare?

If there's one man in the history of words and books and speech who needs no defense against the slings and arrows of the envious, it's William Shakespeare, the country lad who grew up to make English the most important language in the world, and to spin tales in it that would instruct, entertain and inspire the millions four centuries after his death.

FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2010 file photo, Victor Hernandez stocks apples in the produce section at Whole Foods, in Coral Gables, Fla. Whole Foods on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 plans to start rolling out a system that ranks fruits and vegetables as "good," ''better" or "best" based on the supplier's farming practices. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

Eating well, safely

Who's hiding what, and in whose pantry? American farmers and food processors usually take a lot of pride in what they grow and package, and where they grow and package it -- whether jams and jellies from Oregon, prime beef from Texas and Colorado, tacos from New Mexico, fish from New England, peanut butter "proudly made in Arkansas," and fruits and nuts from California's San Joaquin Valley. It's often right on the label.

Pope Francis (Associated Press)

Pope Francis enlists as a soldier in the army of the green gospel

Not so long ago the global-warming fanatics got their backs up if someone accused them of preaching religious doctrine disguised as science, even as they defended their scientific "evidence" as if it were Scripture. Global warming was "settled science," they insisted, and the skeptics of the doctrine that the warming was the irresponsible work of man were dismissed as ignorant "deniers" of holy writ.

Identifying with delusion

Wishful thinking has its uses. It can ward off the blues, encourage ambition, and even entertain (in small doses). But wishful thinking is, after all, only a daydream. It can't turn water into wine, a fumble into a touchdown, or a white woman into a black woman, however hard she may wish it so. There's reality, sometimes dull and sometimes painful, but real all the same. Wishful thinking can deteriorate into delusion, and that's not good.

President Obama speaks in Washington on June 9, 2015. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Red lines and big lies

President Obama warned in August 2012 that Syria must not cross his "red line" against using chemical weapons against the rebels — or else. President Bashar Assad has continued to cross Mr. Obama's red line, and we're still waiting to see the "else."

Abortion in the balance

Abortion is the unresolved issue in American politics. The U.S. Supreme Court thought it settled the issue with its Roe v. Wade decision in 1972, but lawsuits questioning the specifics of how a woman can terminate a pregnancy continue to flood the dockets of lower courts across the nation. Occasionally a case still winds up before the high court as well. Lives, black and white, matter, and issues of life and death carry profound moral significance that continue to challenge judges. Conscience is innate, not a creation of the state.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waves to the crowd as he formally joins the race for president with a speech at Miami Dade College, Monday, June 15, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A new Jeb Bush

The "official" entry of Jeb Bush into the Republican presidential race leaves an important unanswered question hanging over the race. The former governor of Florida had announced earlier, with the usual drumroll, that if he became a candidate he would mount a different kind of campaign. He would be the happy warrior. He had never liked the grit and grime of take-no-prisoners campaigning or the gotcha! politics characteristic of recent Republican contests. He just wouldn't be a part of a campaign like that.

Syrian migrants who have been stranded for days, in the northeastern Greek island of Lesvos, stand in queue as they wait for travel documents from Greek authorities at the port of Mytilene on Monday, June 15, 2015. An emergency European Union plan to help Italy and Greece manage thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean could be vastly watered down on Tuesday, according EU diplomats. During the first five months of 2015, 40,297 migrants arrived in Greece, up from 6,500 in the same period in 2014. Almost all of them have crossed in boats from Turkey. The sign reads ''Passenger Terminal of Mytilene.'' (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The 'new' Middle East

Old alliances and barriers have fallen away in the Middle East in the wake of new waves of "traditional" Islamic terrorism and the withdrawal of American leadership. "Traditional" is the right word, because, despite politically correct commentaries to the contrary, the history of the spread of Islam has always been accompanied, if not led, by violence. Nobody called Muhammad "the Prince of Peace."

In this image made available by the American Red Cross in London on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010, shows earthquake damage to a shanty town on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, following a major earthquake in Haiti, on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/American Red Cross, Matt Marek)

Drowning the fish

American generosity is the marvel of the world. The open heart, accompanied by the open pocketbook, is the American way to relieve the pain and loss of disaster. It's how a wealthy society can spread largesse to those struggling with survival.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to supporters during a rally, Sunday, June 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. Clinton's campaign has signaled Iowa will be the centerpiece of its ground game. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Hillary's favor machine

Ideologies and proclivities that end in "ism" bloom and fade in Washington like the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in spring, but cronyism persists through all seasons and ages. Some practice it to greater effect than others, but the Clintons have perfected the fine art of back-scratching for political advantage and profit. New revelations have surfaced that Hillary was doling out favors far earlier than previously known. It simply confirms what the public already knows about America's quintessential political family: If there is a seam in legal lexicon as narrow as the word "is," the Clintons will find it and turn it into a broad boulevard of personal gain.

President Barack Obama speaks to the Catholic Hospital Association Conference at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, Tuesday, June 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) ** FILE **

Dribbling and drabbling toward defeat

There is almost a childlike innocence to the foreign policy initiatives of the Obama administration. These might be admired for their insouciance, were it not for the fact that they are contributing to worldwide instability and promising even greater disaster for the United States.

FILE - In this April 2, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington about the breakthrough in the Iranian nuclear talks. The Obama administration will almost certainly have to backtrack on a promise to suspend only nuclear-related economic sanctions against Iran as part of an emerging nuclear deal, as it wends its way through a briar patch of interwoven economic penalties against the Islamic Republic, officials and others involved in the process tell The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Dimming prospects for affordable energy

Coal will face a rocky future if President Obama has his way. The black stuff that has powered the world for eons is not "green," and that is all that matters for the "progressive" masterminds of the 21st century. They favor more ethereal forms of energy from Mother Nature's bounty like the sunshine and breezes that accompany a perfect day. But for the billions of human beings around the world who live hand to mouth and the 14.5 percent of Americans existing below the poverty line, the anti-coal campaign promises to make energy more expensive. Dimming humanity's hopes is not the path to a brighter future.

Scaffolding continues to go up on the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C., Thursday, September 18, 2014. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Civility and the requirements of good sense

President Obama has crossed another red line, and not one so easily erased as those smudged out by his lethargy and timidity in the Middle East. American representative government and its more important but allusive essence, democracy, have been protected in many ways over two centuries of American history. There is, of course, the written Constitution, which sets out the basic requirements of government.

In this Monday, March 30, 2009 file photo, airline passengers line up at the TSA security check at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minn. Security checkpoints at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are about to get a makeover. An $18 million plan calls for the consolidation of four checkpoints into one 10-lane checkpoint aimed at improving efficiency. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

Flying on a wing and a prayer

Wishing someone "safe travels" shouldn't be more than a good manners. With the exposure of vulnerabilities posed by airport screeners, who are largely responsible for getting American passengers safely from Point A to Point B, passengers have no choice but to fly "on a wing and a prayer." Flunking tests to detect fake bombs and weapons at security checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is proved unable to guarantee safety at the nation's airports. An overhaul of the way the government protects travelers is in order.

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2014 file photo, Malala Yousafzai, visits Zaatari refugee camp near the Syrian border in Mafraq, Jordan. Pakistani police say that eight out of 10 militants charged with involvement in the 2012 attack on teenage activist Malala Yousafzai were actually acquitted in April — not sentenced to life in prison as reported at the time.  (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)

The headache in Pakistan

Pakistan is a headache for the West, with its 185 million Muslims suffering a fragile combination of its military, the only viable national institution (civil Punjabi elite descended from British India) and a growing threat of Islamic terrorists. That balance may be coming unhinged, and then a bigger headache. Chaos in Pakistan would threaten further mischief in the 1.3-billion ummah, the Islamic world stretching from Zamboanga in the southern Philippines to Dakar in West Africa.

FILE - In this April 2, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington about the breakthrough in the Iranian nuclear talks. The Obama administration will almost certainly have to backtrack on a promise to suspend only nuclear-related economic sanctions against Iran as part of an emerging nuclear deal, as it wends its way through a briar patch of interwoven economic penalties against the Islamic Republic, officials and others involved in the process tell The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Countdown for Obamacare

Nobody, not even a president, can safely assume that he knows how the U.S. Supreme Court will decide a case before it, but President Obama surely sounds worried that the high court is about to unravel his health care scheme. The case before the court, King v. Burwell, is one of the two most anticipated before the court takes a recess at the end of June. The other is about whether the states and not the federal government can regulate marriage.