The blessings of liberty

We want to do things that we can’t do, for one reason or another, and we complain about every restriction.  And yet, we really do have an incredible measure of liberty in this country.  Let us count some of the ways. . . . [Read more...]

The case of the Harry Potter stamp

The U. S. Postal Service is coming out with a Harry Potter stamp.  Never mind that there is nothing American about Harry Potter.  And never mind that the stamp is just a shot from the movie, with no particular artistic design.  And that the committee whose job it is to recommend subjects for stamps and to approve designs rejected it.

The postmaster wants stamps to be “more commercial” and less grounded in American history, culture, and landscape.  The goal that is to trump everything else is to make money for the deficit-plagued national monopoly.  Here is another idea:  Instead of tinkering with stamps, offer better service!

An account of the controversy, a picture of the stamp, and some additional thoughts after the jump. [Read more...]

American generosity & foreign relations

American foreign policy is a mess, much of the world is mad at us, and our power seems to be declining.  But there is one area that America does well and the rest of the world knows it and respects us for it:  Whenever a disaster strikes anywhere in the world, the United States government and its citizens are really, really generous.  Whereas our rivals–I’m thinking of you, China–just aren’t.

We shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back, but the diplomatic and political effects of American generosity are playing themselves out in typhoon-ravaged Philippines.  So reports international affairs columnist Anne Applebaum. [Read more...]

Is America in decline or on the rise?

American foreign policy is in the toilet, with our adversaries not respecting us and our allies not trusting us.  Pundits here and abroad have been proclaiming the end of America’s global dominance.  And yet, if you factor out our government’s ineptitude, the United States has quite a bit going for it globally.  See what two think tankers have to say about this. [Read more...]

Midwestern virtues vs. Hollywood star power

Sportswriter Thomas Boswell sees two worlds colliding in the National League playoff between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers:

When the Dodgers meet the Cardinals on Friday with the Gateway Arch framed in center field to start the National League Championship Series, we’ll see a clash of baseball worldviews and a collision of regional cultures, too.

The Cards have always hugged Midwest virtues while the Dodgers loved movie stars in the box seats and star power on the field. But this year both teams are such extreme versions of their traditional selves it’s just delicious. [Read more...]

How exceptional is America?

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has been scolding Americans for thinking our country is exceptional.  Robert Samuelson takes up the question of American exceptionalism and, without being triumphalist about it,  highlights some distinctive qualities of the American mind. [Read more...]


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