Stories by George
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.
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).
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.
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.
Institute makes strong argument that Supreme Court must overturn act
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.
Policies of the Obama administration illustrate an axiom: As government expands, its lawfulness contracts.
GOP should focus on having control in Senate as well as the House
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
The complaint that Iowa is not a typical American state is true but trivial because there is no such state. Can you name one whose political culture, closely considered, is more like than unlike any other state’s? Anyway, someplace has to go first, and it should be somewhere the natives are receptive and media are not decisive, so marginal candidates have a sporting chance to become central.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is famously liberal and frequently reversed. Recently, however, a unanimous three-judge panel of this court did something right when it held that bone marrow donors can be compensated. In effect, it revised a law, the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) of 1984, because of a medical technique developed since then.
And silence, like a poultice, comesTo heal the blows of sound.
Gingrich is least conservative candidate in Republican race
Newt Gingrich — the friend of his detractors, to whom he offers serial vindications — provided on Monday redundant evidence for the proposition that he is the least conservative candidate seeking the Republican nomination. He faulted Mitt Romney for committing acts of capitalism.
Newt Gingrich is full of himself, but both he and Romney are risky
Republicans are more conservative than at any time since their 1980 dismay about another floundering president. They are more ideologically homogenous than ever in 156 years of competing for the presidency. They anticipated choosing between Mitt Romney, a conservative of convenience, and a conviction politician to his right. The choice, however, could be between Romney and the least conservative candidate, Newt Gingrich. Romney’s main objection to contemporary Washington seems to be that he is not administering it. God has 10 commandments, Woodrow Wilson had 14 points, Heinz had 57 varieties, but Romney’s economic platform has 59 planks — 56 more than necessary if you have low taxes, free trade and fewer regulatory burdens. Still, his conservatism-as-managerialism would be a marked improvement upon today’s bewildered liberalism.
Does law really say Congress can restrict liberty to protect it?
Shortly before the Supreme Court agreed to rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed, 2-1, its constitutionality. Writing for the majority, Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee, brusquely acknowledged that upholding the mandate means there is no limit to Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause. Silberman forces the Supreme Court’s five conservatives to face the sobering implications of affirming the power asserted with the mandate.
The Stolen Valor Act of 2005, a compound of political pandering and moral exhibitionism, was whooped through the Senate, aka the “world’s greatest deliberative body,” by unanimous consent; the House, joining the stampede, passed it by a voice vote. So Xavier Alvarez now hopes the Supreme Court will save him from punishment for lying. And his is not the only case arising from government supervising speech that is demonstrably, or arguably, inaccurate.
The Republican presidential dynamic is peculiar because conservatives correctly believe it is important to defeat Barack Obama but unimportant that Mitt Romney be president. This is not cognitive dissonance.
The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government … — U.S. Constitution
The Tea Party’s splendid successes, which have altered the nation’s political vocabulary and agenda, have inspired a countermovement — Occupy Wall Street. Conservatives should rejoice and wish for it long life, abundant publicity and sufficient organization to endorse congressional candidates deemed worthy. All Democrats eager for OWS’ imprimatur, step forward. In scale, OWS’ demonstrations-cum-encampments are to Tea Party events as Pittsburg, Kan., is to Pittsburgh, Pa. So far, probably fewer people have participated in all of them combined than attended just one Tea Party rally, that of Sept. 12, 2009, on the Washington Mall. In comportment, OWS is to the Tea Party as Lady Gaga is to Lord Chesterfield: Blocking the Brooklyn Bridge was not persuasion modeled on Tea Party tactics.
Democratic congressman tries to dampen dissent that is counter to his ideals
‘If two people always agree,” says Ben Bernanke, “one of them is redundant.” So, imagine what the Federal Reserve chairman thinks of Rep. Barney Frank’s legislation designed to dampen dissent within the Fed. Fond of diversity in everything but thought, a certain kind of liberal favors mandatory harmony (e.g., campus speech codes). Such liberals, being realists at least about the strength of their arguments, discourage “too much” debate about them (e.g., restrictions on campaign spending to disseminate political advocacy). Now Frank wants to strip the presidents of the Fed’s 12 regional banks of their right to vote as members of the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee.
The pleasant sound you hear — the clatter of bad laws crumbling — is the edifice of campaign finance restrictions disintegrating. Washington state provides a fresh example of the exhaustion of the “campaign finance reform” project, which tries to empower government to restrict speech about the composition and conduct of government. The state law at issue is awful, but usefully awful: It perfectly illustrates how the political class crafts campaign regulations for the purpose of protecting the job security of members of that class — elected incumbents.
On Dec. 8, 1951, the day after the 10th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, The New York Times’ front page made a one-paragraph mention of commemorations the day before, when the paper’s page had not mentioned the anniversary. The Dec. 8 Washington Post’s front page noted no commemorations the previous day. On Dec. 7, the page had featured a familiar 10-year old photograph of the burning battleships. It seems to have been published because a new process made possible printing it for the first time in color. At the bottom of the page, a six-paragraph story began: “Greater Washington today will mark the tenth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack by testing its air raid defenses.” The story explained that “the sirens are part of a ‘paper bombing’ of Washington” that would include “mock attacks by atom bombs and high explosives.” The most interesting question is not how America in 2011 is unlike America in 2001, but how it is unlike it was in 1951. The intensity of today’s focus on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 testifies to more than the multiplication of media ravenous for content, and to more than today’s unhistorical and self-dramatizing tendency to think that eruptions of evil are violations of a natural entitlement to happiness. It also represents the search for refuge from a decade defined by unsatisfactory responses to 9/11.