Articles filed under Will, George

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  • Leviathan on a government fishing expedition Jul 30, 2012 11:34 AM
    Columnist George Will: The protracted and pointless tormenting of Nancy Black illustrates the thesis estimatiung that our normal daily activities expose us to potential prosecution at the whim of a government official.

     
  • Splitting hairs in a Texas race Jul 26, 2012 10:14 AM
    Columnist George Will: On 99 percent of U.S. Senate business, Cruz and Dewhurst probably would vote alike. Yet the ultimate Republican epithet, the M-word -- "moderate" -- has been bandied.

     
  • The regulatory heavy hand Jul 11, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: In 1990, Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments, which high-mindedly mandated restoration of visibility in parks and wilderness areas to natural conditions. "Natural" meaning what? Before humanity?

     
  • Chicago-sized test of wills Jul 5, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Unions can wound themselves by injuring their industries (e.g., steel and autos), but primary blame for improvident contracts with public employees belongs to the elected public officials who grant them.

     
  • Our evolving thoughts on punishment Jun 28, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Even if sentencing 14-year-olds to die in prison is the latter — and it is — whether it is the former depends largely on the infrequency of such sentences.

     
  • The consolation prize Jun 28, 2012 2:23 PM
    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. The health care legislation’s expansion of the federal government’s purview has improved our civic health by rekindling interest in what this expansion threatens — the Framers’ design for limited government. Conservatives distraught about the survival of the individual mandate are missing the considerable consolation prize they won when the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional rationale for the mandate — Congress’ rationale — that was pregnant with rampant statism. The case challenged the court to fashion a judicially administrable principle that limits Congress’ power to act on the mere pretense of regulating interstate commerce. At least Roberts got the court to embrace emphatic language rejecting the Commerce Clause rationale for penalizing the inactivity of not buying insurance: “The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. ... The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce. Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. ... Allowing Congress to justify federal regulation by pointing to the effect of inaction on commerce would bring countless decisions an individual could potentially make within the scope of federal regulation, and — under the government’s theory — empower Congress to make those decisions for him.” If the mandate had been upheld under the Commerce Clause, the court would have decisively construed this clause so permissively as to give Congress an essentially unlimited police power — the power to mandate, proscribe and regulate behavior for whatever Congress deems a public benefit. Instead, the court rejected the Obama administration’s Commerce Clause doctrine. The court remains clearly committed to this previous holding: “Under our written Constitution ... the limitation of congressional authority is not solely a matter of legislative grace.” The court held that the mandate is constitutional only because Congress could have identified its enforcement penalty as a tax. The court thereby guaranteed that the argument ignited by the mandate will continue as the principal fault line in our polity. The mandate’s opponents favor a federal government as James Madison fashioned it, one limited by the constitutional enumeration of its powers. The mandate’s supporters favor government as Woodrow Wilson construed it, with limits as elastic as liberalism’s agenda, and powers acquiring derivative constitutionality by being necessary to, or efficient for, implementing government’s ambitions. By persuading the court to reject a Commerce Clause rationale for a president’s signature act, the conservative legal insurgency against Obamacare has won a huge victory for the long haul. This victory will help revive a venerable tradition of America’s political culture, that of viewing congressional actions with a skeptical constitutional squint, searching for congruence with the Constitution’s architecture of enumerated powers. By rejecting the Commerce Clause rationale, Thursday’s decision reaffirmed the Constitution’s foundational premise: Enumerated powers are necessarily limited because, as Chief Justice John Marshall said, “the enumeration presupposes something not enumerated.” When Nancy Pelosi, asked where the Constitution authorized the mandate, exclaimed “Are you serious? Are you serious?” she was utterly ingenuous. People steeped in Congress’ culture of unbridled power find it incomprehensible that the Framers fashioned the Constitution as a bridle. Now, Thursday’s episode in the continuing debate about the mandate will reverberate to conservatism’s advantage. By sharpening many Americans’ constitutional consciousness, the debate has resuscitated the salutary practice of asking what was, until the mid-1960s, the threshold question regarding legislation. It concerned what James Q. Wilson called the “legitimacy barrier”: Is it proper for the federal government to do this? Conservatives can rekindle the public’s interest in this barrier by building upon the victory Roberts gave them in positioning the court for stricter scrutiny of congressional actions under the Commerce Clause. Any democracy, even one with a written and revered constitution, ultimately rests on public opinion, which is shiftable sand. Conservatives understand the patience requisite for the politics of democracy — the politics of persuasion. Elections matter most; only they can end Obamacare. But in Roberts’ decision, conservatives can see the court has been persuaded to think more as they do about the constitutional language that has most enabled the promiscuous expansion of government. George Will’s email address is georgewill@washpost.com. © 2012, Washington Post Writers Group

     
  • Beach Boys: They get around Jun 22, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Elvis has been dead for nearly 35 years but the Beach Boys play on, all of them approaching or past 70, singing "When I Grow Up (to Be a Man)" without a trace of irony.

     
  • A perfect world — it’s elementary Jun 18, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: This area just outside of D.C. is notable not only for its opulence but also — this could be just a coincidence — for industrious regulating to bring everyone into compliance with the right rules.

     
  • Subprime college educations Jun 12, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: 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."

     
  • Wisconsin’s temper tantrum Jun 5, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Many backward-looking, progressive baby boomers want to recapture their youthful fun of waving clenched fists in the face of privilege. Now, embarrassingly, they are privileged.

     
  • A liberal squeeze play May 30, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Contemporary progressives are waging an embarrassingly obvious campaign, hoping Chief Justice Roberts will buckle beneath the pressure of their disapproval and declare Obamacare constitutional.

     
  • The menace of bipartisanship May 20, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Between now and July, the two parties will pretend that it is a matter of high principle how the government should pretend to "pay for" the $6 billion student loan benefit while borrowing $1 trillion this year.

     
  • The American dream in an automobile May 14, 2012 12:00 PM
    “You have a Prius. ... You probably compost, sort all your recycling, and have a reusable shopping bag for your short drive to Whole Foods. You are the best! So, do we really need the Obama sticker?” The Portland Mercury, 2008 Prius, which is Latin for “to go before” or “lead the way,” is the perfect name for the car whose owners are confident they are leading the way for the benighted. “Prius preening,” an almost erotic pleasure, is, however, a perishable delight because the status derived from enlightened exclusivity evaporates if the hoi polloi crash the party. The connection between cars and self-image is as American as the anti-Prius, the F-150 pickup truck. This connection is the subject of the entertaining and instructive book “Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars” by Paul Ingrassia, a journalist knowledgeable about the automobile industry. He thinks the hinge of our history was the 1920s, when General Motors’ LaSalle was introduced as a conspicuous-consumption alternative to Henry Ford’s pedestrian, so to speak, Model T. Since then, Ingrassia says, American culture has been a tug of war “between the practical and the pretentious, the frugal versus the flamboyant, haute cuisine versus hot wings.” The Model T, born in 1908, was priced at $850. By 1924, it was offered only in black but cost just $260 and had America on the move. Three years later — the year Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs and Charles Lindbergh flew the Atlantic — the LaSalle, a Cadillac sibling, announced Detroit’s determination to join Hollywood as a manufacturer of visual entertainment, but working in chrome rather than celluloid. The phrase “It’s a Duesie” became an American encomium in tribute to the Duesenberg, which sold for upward of $20,000, or $245,000 in today’s dollars. In 1953, after almost 25 years of Depression and war, the Korean armistice signaled the restoration of the pleasure principle, as did the December appearance of two first editions — of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine and Chevrolet’s Corvette. That car’s designer, Zora Arkus-Duntov — English was his fourth language — explained: “In our age where the average person is a cog wheel who gets pushed in the subways, elevators, department stores, cafeterias ... the ownership of a different car provides the means to ascertain his individuality to himself and everybody around.” Ere long, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ Corvette license plate read “RES IPSA,” lawyer’s Latin for “It speaks for itself.” And loudly. The 1950s brought tail fins (justified as safety devices — “directional stabilizers”) on land yachts such as the 21-foot-long 1959 Cadillac. A small-is-beautiful reaction came in the form of a car originally named the Kraft durch Freude Wagen (“Strength through Joy Car”), a clunky name no one criticized, because it was bestowed by the Volkswagen’s progenitor, Adolf Hitler, the unlikely father of the emblematic vehicle of 1960s hippies, the VW Microbus. (Steve Jobs sold his for startup capital for his business.) Thanks to Ralph Nader, Chevrolet’s small Corvair begat a growth industry — lawsuits — and a president. (The Corvair made Nader famous, and 35 years later his 97,000 Florida votes gave George W. Bush the presidency.) Baby boomers had babies so they had to buy minivans, but got revenge against responsibilities by buying “the ultimate driving machine.” This is from a 1989 Los Angeles Times restaurant review: “There they are, the men with carefully wrinkled $800 sports jackets ... the BMW cowboys ... they’re all here, grazing among the arugula.” Boomers, says Ingrassia, “had to buy to live, just as sharks had to swim to breathe.” They bought stuff that screamed: “Cognoscenti!” Dove bars — the ultimate ice cream bar? — not Eskimo Pies. Anchor Steam, not Budweiser. Starbucks, not Dunkin’ Donuts. And Perrier, when gas cost less than designer water. In 1978, an early reaction against all this made Ford’s F-150 pickup what it still is, America’s best-selling vehicle. In 2003, Toyota previewed its second-generation Prius at Whole Foods supermarkets and an international yoga convention. And in the cartoon town of South Park, Priuses became so popular the town developed a huge cloud of “smug.” Prius, vehicle of the vanguard of the intelligentsia, does not have the most obnoxious name ever given an automobile. In 1927, Studebaker, which anticipated the Prius mentality, named one of its models the Dictator. The car supposedly dictated standards that the unwashed would someday emulate. In the mid-1930s, Studebaker canceled the name. George Will’s email address is georgewill@washpost.com. © 2012, Washington Post Writers Group

     
  • Taking a scythe to the Bill of Rights May 8, 2012 11:49 AM
    Columnist George Will: Controversies can be wonderfully clarified when people follow the logic of illogical premises to perverse conclusions.

     
  • Jon Will’s gift May 3, 2012 1:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: In 1972, people with Down syndrome were still commonly called Mongoloids. Now they are called American citizens, about 400,000 of them. Much has improved. There has, however, been moral regression as well.

     
  • For Illinois, the bills come due Apr 27, 2012 1:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: 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.

     
  • Cruel and unusual: a test case Apr 24, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Denying juveniles even a chance for parole defeats the penal objective of rehabilitation. It deprives prisoners of the incentive to reform themselves.

     
  • Judging, the cosmic way Apr 20, 2012 1:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III's disapproval of much current thinking about how the Constitution should be construed is explained in his spirited new book Cosmic Constitutional Theory: Why Americans Are Losing Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance.

     
  • Our turbulent skies Apr 17, 2012 5:00 AM
    Columnist George Will: In the last three decades there have been 192 airline bankruptcies. Not coincidentally, fares, adjusted for inflation, are 18 percent lower than in 2000.

     
  • Romney veep pick? A heavy hitter Apr 7, 2012 4:14 PM
    Barack Obama’s intellectual sociopathy — his often breezy and sometimes loutish indifference to truth — should no longer startle. It should, however, influence Mitt Romney’s choice of a running mate. In his 2010 State of the Union address, Obama flagrantly misrepresented the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which did not “open the floodgates” for foreign corporations “to spend without limit in our elections” (the law prohibiting foreign money was untouched by Citizens United) and did not reverse “a century of law.” Although Obama is not nearly as well-educated as many thought, and he thinks, he surely knows he was absurd when he said a week ago, regarding Obamacare, that it would be “unprecedented” for the Supreme Court to overturn a “passed law.” More important, and particularly pertinent to Romney’s choice, was Obama’s week-ago speech comprehensively misrepresenting Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget. Remarkably, the 42-year-old congressman is today’s agenda-setting Republican. Admirably, Romney has embraced Ryan’s approach to altering the ruinous trajectory of the entitlement state and forestalling what that trajectory presages, a “government-centered society.” Obama’s defense of reactionary liberalism — whatever is must ever be, only increased — is not weighed down by the ballast of scruples. His defense will be his campaign because he cannot forever distract the nation and mesmerize the media with such horrors as a 30-year-old law student being unable to make someone else pay for her contraception. So Romney’s running mate should have intellectual firepower, born of immersion in policy complexities, sufficient to refute Obama’s meretricious claims and derelictions of duty. Here are two excellent choices: Ryan already is at the center of the campaign, and is the world’s foremost expert on the Ryan-Romney plan. No one is more marinated in the facts to which Obama is averse. Ryan has not yet honed his rhetorical skills for communicating complexities to laypersons, but he is a quick study. One drawback is that he is invaluable as chairman of the Budget Committee and in 2015 might become chairman of Ways and Means. Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal, 40, was a 20-year-old congressional staffer when he authored a substantial report on reforming Medicare financing. At 24, he became head of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, with 12,000 employees and 40 percent of the state budget. Back in Washington at 26, he was executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. In 1999, he became president of Louisiana’s largest state university system, which has 80,000 students. In 2001, he served as an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services. He became governor after three years in Congress. Faux realists will belabor Romney with unhistorical cleverness, urging him to choose a running mate who supposedly will sway this or that demographic cohort or carry a particular state. But are, for example, Hispanics nationwide such a homogeneous cohort that, say, those who came to Colorado from Mexico will identify with a son of Cuban immigrants to Florida (Sen. Marco Rubio)? Do these realists know that according to exit polls, Nevada’s Hispanic Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, won only about a third of the Hispanic vote in 2010? Furthermore, in the 16 elections since World War II, 10 presidential candidates have failed to carry the home state of their vice presidential running mates. Gov. Earl Warren could not carry California for Tom Dewey in 1948; Sen. Estes Kefauver could not carry Tennessee for Adlai Stevenson in 1956; former Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge could not carry Massachusetts for Richard Nixon in 1960; Rep. Bill Miller could not carry New York for Barry Goldwater in 1964; Gov. Spiro Agnew could not carry Maryland for Nixon in 1968; Sargent Shriver could not carry Maryland for George McGovern in 1972; Rep. Geraldine Ferraro could not carry New York (or women, or even her congressional district) for Walter Mondale in 1984; Sen. Lloyd Bentsen could not carry Texas for Michael Dukakis in 1988; Jack Kemp could not carry New York for Bob Dole in 1996; Sen. John Edwards could not carry North Carolina for John Kerry in 2004. For the next decade, American politics will turn on this truth: Slowing the growth of the entitlement state is absolutely necessary and intensely unpopular. In this situation, which is ripe for a demagogue such as the Huey Long from Chicago’s Hyde Park, Romney’s choice of running mate should promise something Washington now lacks — adult supervision. George Will’s email address is georgewill@washpost.com. © 2012, Washington Post Writers Group

     
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