WASHINGTON -- An eminent Harvard law professor, James Thayer (1831-1902), argued that although the judicial function is "merely that of fixing the outside border of reasonable legislative action," this still gives courts "a great and stately jurisdiction." While patrolling that jurisdiction today, Supreme Court justices may be playing the video game "Postal 2," whose rich menu of simulated mayhem provoked California's Legislature to pass a problematic law.
WASHINGTON -- Winning California's state lottery with the first ticket he bought put Kevin McCarthy, then 20, on a path to becoming, in January, the third-ranking Republican leader of a House majority pledged to make government less bountiful. With the $5,000 he won in 1985, McCarthy opened a sandwich shop in a nook in a small mall in Bakersfield, and hung a sign calling attention to it. When a government vehicle arrived, he thought city hall might have come "to give me the key to the city" as thanks for generating some jobs and sales tax revenues. But Bakersfield's bureaucracy wanted to complain about his sign, which somehow fell short of sign orthodoxy.
WASHINGTON -- Fifty years ago William F. Buckley wrote a memorable complaint about the fact that Americans do not complain enough. His point, like most of the points he made during his well-lived life, is, unfortunately, more pertinent than ever. Were he still with us he would favor awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he received in 1991, to John Tyner, who, when attempting to board a plane in San Diego, was provoked by some Transportation Security Administration personnel.
WASHINGTON -- As he promised it would be, Barack Obama's presidency has been transformative, but not as he intended. Whether it lasts two or six more years, it is an exhausted volcano because its biggest consequence may already have happened: It has resuscitated the right, making 2010 conservatism's best year in 30 years -- since the election of Ronald Reagan.
WASHINGTON -- When Alexander Pope was on his deathbed, his doctor assured him that his breathing, pulse and other vital signs were improving. "Here I am," Pope said to a friend, "dying of a hundred good symptoms."
GREENWICH, Conn. -- It has been said that American politics and professional wrestling share a paucity of honest emotions. But Linda McMahon, who as CEO built World Wrestling Entertainment into a billion-dollar company, might think comparing wrestling to politics insults wrestling. As she seeks the Senate seat being vacated by Chris Dodd, she says the honesty deficit concerns not emotions but facts.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Northern Iowans are Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings fans. This fact could be portentous 16 months from now when the Iowa caucuses occur and Minnesota's two-term governor, Tim Pawlenty, probably will be seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
WASHINGTON -- Voters seem to think Congress is like a weedy lot -- that anything done to it will improve it -- so they seem poised to produce something not seen since 1981-82. Then, for the first time since 1952, a majority of senators were in their first terms. This was the result of three consecutive churning elections -- 1976, 1978 and 1980.
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the four-term Texas Republican, hopes it is true that, as has been said, Americans invariably do the right thing -- after exhausting all the alternatives. Regarding the fiscal imbalance that is driving the national debt toward 90 percent of GDP, Americans are running out of alternatives.
WASHINGTON -- On Jan. 9, 1969, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a memo to President-elect Richard Nixon, on whose White House staff Moynihan was to serve. Moynihan wondered whether the disintegration of "private sub-systems of authority" presaged "the ultimate, destructive working out of the telos of liberal thought," in which case "we are moving from Locke to Hobbes." Imagine, if you can, Nixon's furrowed brow.