By George Will March 3, 2013 6:01 a.m.
RICHMOND, Va. -- A display case in the lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank here might express humility. The case holds a 99.9 percent pure gold bar weighing 401.75 troy ounces. Minted in 1952, when the price of gold was $35 an ounce, the bar was worth about $14,000. In 1978, when this bank acquired the bar, the average price of gold was $193.40 an ounce and the bar was worth about $78,000. Today, with gold selling for around $1,600 an ounce, it is worth about $642,800. If the Federal Reserve's primary mission is to preserve the currency as a store of value, displaying the gold bar is an almost droll declaration: "Mission unaccomplished."
By George Will February 24, 2013 6:01 a.m.
'Zero Dark Thirty," a nominee for today's Oscar as Best Picture, reignited debate about whether the waterboarding of terrorism suspects was torture. This practice, which ended in 2003, was used on only three suspects. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of American prison inmates are kept in protracted solitary confinement that arguably constitutes torture and probably violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishments."
By George Will February 17, 2013 6:02 a.m.
Before Ronald Reagan traveled the 16 blocks to the White House after his first inaugural address, the White House curator had, at the new president's instruction, hung in the Cabinet room a portrait of Calvin Coolidge. The Great Communicator knew that "Silent Cal" could use words powerfully -- 15 of them made him a national figure -- because he was economical in their use, as in all things.
By George Will February 3, 2013 6:01 a.m.
TRENTON, N.J. -- Coyness is not part of Chris Christie's repertoire, which does not stress subtlety, delicacy and intimation. New Jersey's governor is more Mickey Spillane than Jane Austen and his persona, which sometimes is that of a bulldog who got up on the wrong side of the bed, is so popular he seems to be cruising toward re-election this November and does not deny that he might look beyond that.
By George Will January 27, 2013 6:01 a.m.
A willow, not an oak. So said conservatives of Chief Justice John Roberts when he rescued the Affordable Care Act -- aka Obamacare -- from being found unconstitutional. But the manner in which he did this may have made the ACA unworkable, thereby putting it on a path to ultimate extinction.
By George Will January 20, 2013 6:01 a.m.
"I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it." — Col. Nathan Jessup in "A Few Good Men"
By George Will January 6, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Connoisseurs of democratic decadence can savor a variety of contemporary dystopias. Because familiarity breeds banality, Greece has become a boring horror. Japan, however, in its second generation of stagnation is fascinating. Once, Japan bestrode the world, jauntily buying Rockefeller Center and Pebble Beach. Now the Japanese buy more adult diapers than those for infants.
By George Will December 30, 2012 6:01 a.m.
At the end of this year in which election results reinserted immigration into the political conversation, remember that 2012 is the 150th anniversary of "the first comprehensive immigration law." This is how the Homestead Act of 1862 is described by Blake Bell, historian at the Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Neb., one of the National Park Service's many educational jewels that make the NPS one of just two government institutions (the other is the U.S. Marine Band) that should be exempt from any budget cuts, for all eternity.
By George Will December 23, 2012 6:02 a.m.
Ideas are not responsible for the people who believe them, but when evaluating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's ideas for making the Senate more like the House of Representatives, consider the source. Reid is just a legislative mechanic trying to make Congress' machinery efficiently responsive to his party's progressivism. And proper progressives think the Constitution, understood as a charter of limited government, is unconstitutional.
By George Will December 16, 2012 6 a.m.
If you have worked hard for five decades, made pots of money and now want to squander it all in Las Vegas on wine, women and baccarat, go ahead. If, however, you harbor the anti-social desire -- stigmatized as such by America's judgmental tax code -- to bequeath your wealth to your children, this would be an excellent month to die. Absent a congressional fix before Jan. 1, the death tax, which is 35 percent on estates above $5 million, reverts to 55 percent on those above $1 million.
By George Will December 2, 2012 6 a.m.
With a chip on his shoulder larger than his margin of victory, Barack Obama is approaching his second term by replicating the mistake of his first. Then his overreaching involved health care -- expanding the entitlement state at the expense of economic growth. Now he seeks another surge of statism, enlarging the portion of gross domestic product grasped by government and dispensed by politics. The occasion is the misnamed "fiscal cliff," the proper name for which is: the Democratic Party's agenda.
By George Will November 18, 2012 6 a.m.
Conservatives should jauntily sing as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers did in a year in which the country's chin was on the ground. Conservatives are hardly starting from scratch in their continuing courtship of an electorate, half of which embraced their message more warmly than it did this year's messenger.
By George Will November 11, 2012 6 a.m.
America's 57th presidential election revealed that a second, important national institution is on an unsustainable trajectory. The first, the entitlement state, is endangered by improvident promises to an aging population. It is now joined by the political party whose crucial current function is to stress the need to reform this state. And now the Republican Party, like today's transfer-payment state, is endangered by tardiness in recognizing that demography is destiny.
By George Will November 4, 2012 6 a.m.
'It is a great advantage to a president, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know he is not a great man."
By George Will October 28, 2012 6 a.m.
The death of George McGovern on the eve of the presidential candidates' foreign policy debate underscored a momentous political reversal spanning four decades. McGovern's nomination for president in 1972, a consequence of the Democratic Party's recoil against the Vietnam War and the riotous convention four years earlier, made the country uneasy about his party regarding national security. Four decades later, however, voters may be more ambivalent about America's world role than at any time since the 1930s.
By George Will October 21, 2012 6 a.m.
DALLAS — In the 1920s, in the wee small hours of the mornings, employees at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas sang while they worked. One, Jack Culpepper, went into vaudeville, where he teamed up with a dance partner named Ginger. They married and performed as "Ginger and Pepper." But show business marriages are perishable, so Ginger Rogers found another dance partner, Fred Astaire.
By George Will October 14, 2012 6 a.m.
"The president shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate."-- The Constitution, Article II, Section 2"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."-- Lewis Carroll, "Through the Looking Glass"When on Jan. 20, 2009, Barack Obama swore to defend the Constitution, he did not mean all of it. He evidently believes that the provision quoted above merely expresses the Framers' now anachronistic anxieties about abuses of executive power. (Thomas Jefferson's lengthy catalog of George III's abuses is called the Declaration of Independence). So on Jan. 4, 2012, Obama simply ignored the Recess Clause.
By George Will September 30, 2012 6 a.m.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Fortunately, not everything is up to date in Kansas City. Esther George, president of the regional Federal Reserve Bank here, is refreshingly retrograde regarding what less-circumspect people welcome as the modernizing of the nation's central bank into a central economic planner. She has concerns, both prudential and philosophical, about the transformation of the Fed in ways that erase the distinction between monetary policy, which is the Fed's proper business, and fiscal policy, which is inherently political.
By George Will September 23, 2012 6 a.m.
In every year divisible by four, the dominant superstition of American politics — faith in the magic of presidential words and deeds — reaches an apogee that feeds national narcissism: Everything that happens anywhere is about us, is a response to something America did or did not do, and can be controlled by a president doing — even just saying — something.
By George Will September 16, 2012 6 a.m.
With two extravagant entertainments under way, it is instructive to note the connection between the presidential election and the college football season: Barack Obama represents progressivism, a doctrine whose many blemishes on American life include universities as football factories, which progressivism helped to create.
By George Will September 9, 2012 6 a.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Four years ago, Barack Obama was America's Rorschach test upon whom voters could project their disparate yearnings. To govern, however, is to choose, and now his choices have clarified him. He is a conviction politician determined to complete the progressive project of emancipating government from the Founders' constraining premises, a project Woodrow Wilson embarked on 100 Novembers ago.
By George Will September 2, 2012 6 a.m.
Conventions are the seventh-inning stretches of presidential politics, a pause to consider the interminable prelude and the coming climax. Republicans gathered in Tampa faced an unusual election in which they do not have a substantial advantage concerning the most presidential subject, foreign policy.
By George Will August 26, 2012 6 a.m.
Because the possibility of effectively supervising government varies inversely with government's size, so does government's lawfulness. This iron law of Leviathan is illustrated by a dispiriting story that begins with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, aka the stimulus, that supposedly temporary response to an economic emergency.
By George Will August 19, 2012 6 a.m.
When, in his speech accepting the 1964 Republican presidential nomination, Barry Goldwater said "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" and "moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue," a media wit at the convention supposedly exclaimed, "Good God, Goldwater is going to run as Goldwater." When Mitt Romney decided to run with Paul Ryan, many conservatives may have thought, "Thank God, Romney is not going to run as Romney."
By George Will August 5, 2012 6 a.m.
Ted Cruz's victory in Tuesday's Texas Republican runoff for the U.S. Senate nomination is the most impressive triumph yet for the still-strengthening Tea Party impulse. And Cruz's victory coincides with something conservatives should celebrate, the centennial of the 20th century's most important intra-party struggle. By preventing former President Theodore Roosevelt from capturing the 1912 Republican presidential nomination from President William Howard Taft, the GOP deliberately doomed its chances for holding the presidency but kept its commitment to the Constitution.
By George Will July 22, 2012 6 a.m.
PHOENIX -- The federal government is a bull that has found yet another china shop, this time in Arizona. It seems determined to inflict, for angelic motives and progressive goals, economic damage on this state. And economic and social damage on Native Americans, who over the years have experienced quite enough of that at Washington, D.C.'s hands.
By George Will July 15, 2012 6 a.m.
The federal government is a bull that has found yet another china shop, this time in Arizona. It seems determined to inflict, for angelic motives and progressive goals, economic damage on this state. And economic and social damage on Native Americans, who, over the years, have experienced quite enough of that at Washington's hands.
By George Will July 8, 2012 6 a.m.
The name of the nation's largest labor union -- the National Education Association -- seems calculated to blur the fact that it is a teachers union. In Chicago, however, the teachers union candidly calls itself the Chicago Teachers Union. Its office is in the Merchandise Mart, which resembles a fortress on the Chicago River, which resembles a moat. This is all appropriate.
By George Will July 1, 2012 6 a.m.
Conservatives won a substantial victory on Thursday. The physics of American politics -- actions provoking reactions -- continues to move the crucial debate, about the nature of the American regime, toward conservatism. Chief Justice John Roberts has served this cause.
By George Will June 24, 2012 6 a.m.
COLUMBIA, Md. -- Three hours before showtime, Brian Wilson says: "There is no Rhonda." Sitting backstage, gathering strength for the evening's 48-song, 150-minute concert, Wilson was not asked about her, he just volunteered this fact. The other members of the Beach Boys seem mildly surprised to learn that the 1965 song "Help Me, Rhonda" was about no one in particular.
By George Will June 17, 2012 6 a.m.
Many parents and the children they send to college are paying rapidly rising prices for something of declining quality. This is because "quality" is not synonymous with "value."
By George Will June 10, 2012 6 a.m.
'All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress."
By George Will June 3, 2012 6 a.m.
Montana uses an interesting argument to justify defiance of a Supreme Court decision: Because the state is particularly prone to political corruption, it should be trusted to constrict First Amendment protections of political speech.
By George Will May 27, 2012 6 a.m.
BOSTON -- Blond, blue-eyed Elizabeth Warren, the Senate candidate and Harvard professor who cites "family lore" that she is 1/32nd Cherokee, was inducted into Oklahoma's Hall of Fame last year. Her biography on oklahomaheritage.com says she "can track both sides of her family in Oklahoma long before statehood" (1907) and "she proudly tells everyone she encounters that she is 'an Okie to my toes.'" It does not mention any Cherokee great-great-great-grandmother. A DVD of the induction ceremony shows that neither Warren nor anyone else mentioned this.
By George Will May 20, 2012 6 a.m.
Bipartisanship, the supposed scarcity of which so distresses the high-minded, actually is disastrously prevalent. Since 2001, it has produced No Child Left Behind, a counterproductive federal intrusion in primary and secondary education; the McCain-Feingold speech rationing law (the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act); an unfunded prescription drug entitlement; troublemaking by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; government-directed capitalism from the Export-Import Bank; crony capitalism from energy subsidies; unseemly agriculture and transportation bills; continuous bailouts of an unreformed Postal Service; housing subsidies; subsidies for state and local governments; and many other bipartisan deeds, including most appropriations bills.
By George Will May 6, 2012 6 a.m.
Around noon on Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963, almost exactly 24 hours after the assassination in Dallas, while the president’s casket lay in the East Room of the White House, Arthur Schlesinger, John Kennedy’s kept historian, convened a lunch at Washington’s Occidental restaurant with some other administration liberals. Their purpose was to discuss how to deny the 1964 Democratic presidential nomination to the new incumbent, Lyndon Johnson, and instead run a ticket of Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Sen. Hubert Humphrey.
By George Will April 29, 2012 6 a.m.
After trying to tax Illinois to governmental solvency and economic dynamism, Pat Quinn, a Democrat who has been governor since 2009, now says “our rendezvous with reality has arrived.” Actually, Illinois is still reality-averse, so Americans may soon learn the importance of the freedom to fail in a system of competitive federalism.
By George Will April 22, 2012 6 a.m.
Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, a Reagan appointee to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is a courtly Virginian who combines a manner as soft as a Shenandoah breeze with a keen intellect. His disapproval of much current thinking about how the Constitution should be construed is explained in his spirited new book -- slender and sharp as a stiletto -- “Cosmic Constitutional Theory: Why Americans Are Losing Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance” (Oxford).
By George Will April 15, 2012 6 a.m.
Amelioration of today’s drug problem requires Americans to understand the significance of the 80/20 ratio. Twenty percent of American drinkers consume 80 percent of the alcohol sold here. The same 80-20 split obtains among users of illicit drugs.
By George Will April 8, 2012 6 a.m.
The human nervous system interacts in pleasing and addictive ways with certain molecules derived from some plants, which is why humans may have developed beer before they developed bread. Psychoactive -- consciousness-altering -- and addictive drugs are natural, a fact that should immunize policymakers against extravagant hopes as they cope with America’s drug problem, which is convulsing some nations to our south.
By George Will March 25, 2012 6 a.m.
On Monday the Supreme Court begins three days of oral arguments concerning possible -- actually, probable and various -- constitutional infirmities in Obamacare. The justices have received many amicus briefs, one of which merits special attention because of the elegant scholarship and logic with which it addresses an issue that has not been as central to the debate as it should be.
By George Will March 11, 2012 6 a.m.
On a September evening 48 years ago it was still summer, early in the presidential campaign William F. Buckley, whose National Review magazine had given vital assistance to Barry Goldwater’s improbable capture of the Republican nomination, addressed the national convention of the conservative Young Americans for Freedom. Buckley told his fervent acolytes that “when we permit ourselves to peek up over the euphoria” of Goldwater’s nomination, we see that it occurred “before we had time properly to prepare the ground.”
By George Will February 12, 2012 6 a.m.
Through 11 presidential elections, beginning with the Democrats’ nomination of George McGovern in 1972, Republicans have enjoyed a presumption of superiority regarding national security. This year, however, events and their rhetoric are dissipating their advantage.
By George Will February 5, 2012 6 a.m.
War, said James Madison, is “the true nurse of executive aggrandizement.” Randolph Bourne, the radical essayist killed by the influenza unleashed by World War I, warned, “War is the health of the state.” Hence Barack Obama’s State of the Union hymn: Onward civilian soldiers, marching as to war.
By George Will January 22, 2012 6 a.m.
Thanks to globalization, and to containerized shipping that began in 1956 and makes globalization work, commodities swiftly move vast distances around the planet. Wal-Mart alone imports 400,000 containers a year. Trade flows can, however, be deflected or even defeated by a distance of just five feet. Herewith a story of the high costs of a few feet and of too many years required for our nation’s increasingly sluggish public processes to move.
By George Will January 15, 2012 6 a.m.
They are nearing 70 now, the 11 men who were 12-year-old boys in 1955 and who are remembered for the baseball games they could not play here in Charleston, S.C. They were — actually, with their matching blue blazers and striped ties, they still are — members of the Cannon Street All Stars.