"God bless Precinct 8"

Courtesy of a reader in Texas who has my undying gratitude:

"State Rep. Kino Flores, D-Palmview, said today he will not seek re-election.

"The announcement comes two months after he was indicted by a Travis County grand jury. He is accused of omitting hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of income from financial statements that elected officials are required to file with the state...... 

" 'As my former boss, the late Bob Bullock, used to say, he left Texas better than it was,' Flores said in the press release. 'Well, as anyone can see, there is no doubt that I will leave House District 36 better than it was. God bless Texas, and God bless District 36.'"

On the other hand, I regret to announce that a previous dispatch scoffing at the idea that John Adams, rather than Ronald Reagan, had started the country down this unfortunate rhetorical path seems to have been, ummm, flat wrong. Several readers wrote in to make this point. Let me give the microphone to Joshua Friedman, who adduces actual historical evidence:

"Abigail Adams wrote a letter to John on July 21, 1776, describing her experience of hearing the Declaration of Independence read aloud from the balcony of the Massachusetts State House. 'As soon as [it] ended," she writes, 'the cry from the balcony was, "God save our American States," and then three cheers which rended the air. The bells rang, the privateers fired, the forts and batteries, the cannon were discharged, the platoons followed, and every face appeared joyful.'
"Robert C. Winthrop quoted the line three times in his centennial address of July 4, 1876. 'The patriot voice, which cried from the balcony of yonder old State House, when the Declaration had been originally proclaimed "stability and perpetuity to American independence," did not fail to add "God save our American states." I would prolong that ancestral prayer. And the last phrase to pass my lips at this hour, and to take its chance for remembrance or oblivion in years to come, as the conclusion of this centennial oration, and as the sum and summing up, of all I can say to the present or the future, shall be:--there is, there can be, no independence of God: in Him, as a nation, no less than in Him, as individuals, "we live, and move, and have our being! God save our American States!" ' "

Oh well. Soon we'll see photos of James K. Polk with an American-flag pin in his lapel (something you didn't see FDR, Eisenhower, even Ronald Reagan doing). So in the spirit of Kino Flores, and on behalf of my current site of residence, and in lieu of a "real" ending sentence, let me say: God bless the District of Columbia, and God bless Precinct 8!

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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