I'm Blessed to be an American

That doesn't mean I can't complain, or observe (with Mr. Ramirez) that we are in serious trouble:

For example, John Stossel points out an inconvenient fact about three names likely to be on my ballot in November: Biden, Trump, and RFK Jr. Are All Anti-Freedom

As presidential candidates promise to subsidize flying cars (Trump), free community college tuition (Biden), and "affordable" housing via 3 percent government-backed bonds (Kennedy), I think about how bewildered and horrified the Founding Fathers would be by such promises.

On the Fourth of July almost 250 years ago, they signed the Declaration of Independence, marking the birth of our nation.

They did not want life dominated by politicians. They wanted a society made up of free individuals. They believed every human being has "unalienable rights" to life, liberty, and (justly acquired) property.

The blueprints created by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution gradually created the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world.

Drew Cline has thoughts along that line as well: Freedom Is the Foundation for Everything Else.

Writing to Benjamin Franklin in 1779, the Marquis de Lafayette described America as “a country where one may be bless’d with the healthy air of liberty.”

That metaphorical turn of phrase would turn out to be literally true as well.

Human liberty, the most powerful force on earth, has generated levels of wealth entirely unimaginable before the Enlightenment. And from that unprecedented prosperity has flowed astronomical improvements in the quality of human life.

Anti-capitalist activists believe (or at least claim) that the planet is being poisoned by the West in general and capitalism in particular. But the data show otherwise. Take Lafayette’s phrase “healthy air,” for starters.

The countries with the highest rates of death from outdoor air pollution are Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, according to the team at Our World in Data. Where are deaths from outdoor air pollution falling? In high-income countries.

So at some point today, go outside and take a deep breath of air that probably won't kill you.

George Will is upbeat today: Don’t despair, ‘normal’ U.S. politics are abnormal. Happy Fourth!.

On this July 4 commemoration of the grandest day in humanity’s political history, Americans wonder whether their politics will ever again be normal. Jon Grinspan has a strangely reassuring message: Normal is abnormal.

He curates, on Constitution Avenue, the politics collection at the National Museum of American History, whose bazillion artifacts include: the teacup Abraham Lincoln placed on a windowsill before departing for Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. Hoods worn by prisoners who were hanged for complicity in Lincoln’s assassination. The Emancipation Proclamation printed as a tiny (about 3 inches by 2 inches) booklet distributed by Union soldiers to Black Southerners. A bug-with-flapping-wings lapel pin worn by “gold bugs,” who were gold-standard voters in late-19th century campaigns about the national currency.

And two torches: One was carried by the same partisan in nighttime parades during presidential campaigns from 1860 to 1904. The other was carried during the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va.


Also of note:

  • You say that as if it were a bad thing, Tim. Tim Wu, who coined the dreadful term "net neutrality", takes to the NYT to (I guess) warn us: The First Amendment Is Out of Control.

    The First Amendment was written in the 18th century with the noble and vitally important goal of ensuring robust political debate and a free press. For much of American history, First Amendment cases involving speech typically concerned political dissenters, religious outcasts, intrepid journalists and others whose ability to express their views was threatened by a powerful and sometimes overbearing state. The First Amendment was a tool that helped the underdog.

    But sometime in this century the judiciary lost the plot. Judges have transmuted a constitutional provision meant to protect unpopular opinion into an all-purpose tool of legislative nullification that now mostly protects corporate interests. Nearly any law that has to do with the movement of information can be attacked in the name of the First Amendment.

    Monday’s Supreme Court decision in the two NetChoice cases greatly adds to the problem. The cases concern two state laws, one in Florida and one in Texas, that limit the ability of social media platforms to remove or moderate content. (Both laws were enacted in response to the perceived censorship of political conservatives.) While the Supreme Court remanded both cases to lower courts for further factual development, the court nonetheless went out of its way to state that the millions of algorithmic decisions made every day by social media platforms are protected by the First Amendment. It did so by blithely assuming that those algorithmic decisions are equivalent to the expressive decisions made by human editors at newspapers.

    It should be pointed out that Wu has had qualms about the First Amendment for years. Back in 2021, Pun Salad pointed out a warning from Matt Taibbi: A Biden Appointee's Troubling Views On The First Amendment. Taibbi pointed to an article Wu had written in 2017: Is the First Amendment Obsolete?

    But for a detailed rebuttal, let's look at Mike Masnick at TechDirt, who asserts, reasonably enough: Tim Wu Is Out Of Control.

    I’m confused about where Tim’s mind is at lately, as he seems to have embraced multiple ridiculous, dangerous, authoritarian policy ideas that would be incredibly damaging to the public, almost all of which involve suppressing speech in pursuit of policy goals that Wu supports, without even the slightest concern about the damage it will do to people.

    We saw it last year, when he publicly supported having Congress move forward with KOSA, despite dozens of civil liberties and LGBTQ groups noting how its “duty of care” would be used to harm LGBTQ youth, blocking them from accessing information. Then, earlier this year, he signed onto an absolutely ridiculous amicus brief in support of Texas’s social media content moderation law. That brief was full of confused or misleading statements. He’s also been strongly supportive of banning TikTok, which is another attack on the First Amendment.

    With all of these instances in the past few years, in each of which he dismisses of basic First Amendment principles, you might have been tempted to think that Wu hates the First Amendment. But even I had thought that would have been a bridge too far for Wu.

    That is, until he published his latest op-ed in the NY Times: a full frontal attack on the First Amendment, entitled “The First Amendment is Out of Control.”

    Even if he didn’t write that headline (at major publications, editors often write the headlines, rather than the authors themselves), the article is yet another horribly confused, badly argued, fundamentally ridiculous attack on the First Amendment.

    The First Amendment is not out of control. Tim Wu is out of control.


  • Hey, kids! What time is it? Michael Brendan Dougherty looks at the clock on the clubhouse wall and announces: It’s Time for President Kamala Harris.

    Consider the reporting. The White House has said that Biden is “engaged” between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is not a credible defense but a condemnation. Four reporters from Politico describe the functioning of the chief executive and his staff this way:

    During meetings with aides who are putting together formal briefings they’ll deliver to Biden, some senior officials have at times gone to great lengths to curate the information being presented in an effort to avoid provoking a negative reaction.

    “It’s like, ‘You can’t include that, that will set him off,’ or ‘Put that in, he likes that,’” said one senior administration official. “It’s a Rorschach test, not a briefing. Because he is not a pleasant person to be around when he’s being briefed. It’s very difficult, and people are scared sh**less of him.”

    Again, for anyone who has witnessed an elder’s struggling with senility, dementia, or Alzheimer’s, this kind of intemperate outburst is deeply familiar. But it is precisely those familiar with the rage of the aged and addled who know that such individuals are not in a position to lead.

    Yes, even with all her phony word-salad profundities and inappropriate cackles, she'd be a safer choice for the country for the next few months.

  • But President Kamala should fire the fools. Josh Barro points out: The Same Fools Telling Us Not to Panic About Biden Are the Ones Who Let Him Get on That Stage.

    Back in April, David Frum wrote an essay for The Atlantic arguing that President Biden should not debate Donald Trump because Trump violated his oath of office by trying to overturn the result of the 2020 election. Frum argued that sharing a debate stage with Trump would constitute “normalization” of him and his coup attempt, and that the best way Biden could convey that Trump is beneath consideration for another term as president was to refuse to debate him at all.

    I disagreed with Frum’s essay when it ran, and indeed I still disagree with it now. Whether we like it or not, Trump is the Republican nominee, he may well become president again, and it’s in the voters’ interest to see a direct confrontation between them. But for today’s newsletter, what’s important about Frum’s argument is not whether it’s right or wrong. All I want to note about Frum’s argument is that it was available — if Biden wanted to duck the debates, this is an explanation he could have given for why, even if his real reason was something else.

    There would have been a penalty for ducking the debates, but it would not necessarily have been very large. The press wouldn’t have liked it, and there might have been more skeptical coverage about the president’s age and acuity than we’d been seeing before Thursday. And some voters who worry about Biden’s age and fitness for office might have drawn negative inferences about that from his refusal to debate — but largely, Biden’s polling problems have been with less-engaged voters who are less likely to pay attention to debates, let alone to debates about debates, so I’m skeptical about how much that would have mattered.

    Uh huh. Barro kind of dodges the issue that the major "fool" making the decision to "get on that stage" was… Joe Biden. From back in May:

    Consider your day made, Joe.

  • Couldn't have happened to a nicer person. And I mean that precisely. This couldn't have happened to a nicer person. Jeff Maurer: Identity Politics Have Undercut Kamala Harris.

    Harris was picked largely because of her race and gender. It’s important to note: Vice President has always been a job where a person’s bio matters at least as much as their political skill. Presidential candidates usually seek to “balance” the ticket by choosing someone who is — at least in some ways — the opposite of themselves. That’s why Kennedy chose a southerner, Obama picked an old white guy, and McCain selected a walking joke who was respected by nobody. For all the harrumphing about how Harris’ contributed to her getting the job, we should acknowledge that that’s basically the norm. And we should also acknowledge that that’s probably how we got so many uninspiring dolt Vice Presidents in the first place.

    Even so, the way that Harris’ race and gender factored into her selection was particularly acute. In a gambit to take the wind out of Bernie Sanders’ sails, Biden pledged to chose a woman as his VP. Most Americans consider this type of identity-based proclamation to be cringeworthy, but progressives think it’s awesome and cool. The single biggest disconnect between progressive America and the rest of America might be in how differently announcing “I’m going to hire a woman!” or “I’m going to hire a non-white person!” is received. Progressives don’t realize that people see that as tokening and condescending. Which is why Hollywood keeps making movies with cookie-cutter girlboss protagonists, and when the movie loses a hundred million dollars, all Hollywood can think is: “I guess the hero wasn’t girlboss enough.”

    Note: Maurer confesses that he wants Kamala to win, if she runs.