WASHINGTON -- It is frequently said that, unfortunately, Americans disdain government. It is more usefully said that, unfortunately, they have abundant reasons for doing so. In coming days, the Supreme Court, by deciding to hear a case from Connecticut, can begin limiting a contemptible government abuse that the court's passive deference to ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Settling unhappily into his Super Bowl seat, Himalayan high behind the end zone, Joe spots an empty seat low and on the 50-yard line. He descends to it and asks the man seated next to him why the wonderful seat is unoccupied. The man says, "Its mine. I was supposed to come with my wife, but she died. This is the first Super Bowl ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- When Huck Finn asked Tom Sawyer what a Moslem is, Tom said a Moslem is someone who is not a Presbyterian, which is true, but not the whole truth. Donald Trump says he is a Presbyterian ("I drink my little wine ... and have my little cracker"), which apparently was not good enough for enough of Iowa's evangelicals.
One person who ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Woodrow Wilson, who enjoyed moralizing about the mundane, called paying taxes a "glorious privilege." In 1865, when there was a Civil War income tax, one taxpayer shared this sensibility, sort of. Mark Twain said that his tax bill of $36.82 (including a $3.12 fine for filing late) made him feel "important" because the government ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Michael Bloomberg's epiphany about the 2016 presidential proceedings is that what is missing is a second bossy, big-government billionaire from Manhattan's East Side -- another candidate with malleable party loyalties. Bloomberg, whose net worth estimated by Forbes is $38.6 billion (eighth on the list of richest Americans), is ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- During Watergate, Henry Kissinger's mordant wit leavened the unpleasantness: "The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer." President Obama often does both simultaneously, using executive authoritarianism to evade the Constitution's separation of powers and rewrite existing laws.
Last week, however, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- China produces an astonishing number of astonishing numbers, including this: In the 20th century, America made automobiles mass-consumption items, requiring prodigious road building. China, however, poured more concrete for roads and other construction between 2011 and 2013 than America did in the 20th century. This fact is ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Iowa and New Hampshire together have just 1.4 percent of the U.S. population, which is actually why it is fine for them to begin the presidential selection process: Small states reward an underdog's retail politics. Chris Christie relishes such politics and has fresh evidence that voters are enjoying his enjoyment.
Speaking last ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- What boxer Sonny Liston's manager said of him (Sonny had his good points, the trouble was his bad points) is true of Marco Rubio. His strengths include intelligence, articulateness and, usually, cheerfulness. His misjudgments involve, in ascending order of importance, the Senate immigration bill of 2013, sugar, Libya and S-590. ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- When the Supreme Court contemplates changing its mind, it must weigh the institutional interest in the law's continuity against evidence that a prior decision has done an injury, even a constitutional injury. The court took 58 years to begin, with the 1954 school desegregation decision, undoing its 1896 decision affirming the ...Read more
"Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent."
-- Louis Brandeis
WASHINGTON -- The impulse to ferret corruption from politics corrupts the criminal justice system when it causes overzealous prosecutors and judges to improvise novel interpretations of the law of bribery. ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Soon, voters will have the opportunity and impertinence to insert themselves into the 2016 presidential conversation that thus far has been the preoccupation of journalists and other abnormal people. The voting will begin in Iowa, thanks to Marie Jahn.
When, after 38 years as recorder for Plymouth County in northwest Iowa, Jahn ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- E.B. White reportedly said "the most beautiful sound in America" is "the tinkle of ice at twilight." In 2015's twilight, fortify yourself with something 90 proof as you remember this year in which:
We learned that a dismal threshold has been passed. The value of property that police departments seized through civil-asset ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Presidential campaigns inflate expectations that power wielded from government's pinnacle will invigorate the nation. Thus campaigns demonstrate that creationists threaten the creative ferment that produces social improvement. Not religious creationists, who are mistaken but inconsequential. It is secular creationists whose social ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- If you look beyond Donald Trump's comprehensive unpleasantness -- is there a disagreeable human trait he does not have? -- you might see this: He is a fundamentally sad figure. His compulsive boasting is evidence of insecurity. His unassuageable neediness suggests an aching hunger for others' approval to ratify his self-...Read more
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Although he is just 22, Andrew Zeller is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at Purdue University. He is one reason the school is a rare exception to the rule of unreason on American campuses, where freedom of speech is under siege. He and Purdue are evidence that freedom of speech, by which truth is winnowed ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- History, on the "right side" of which Barack Obama endeavors to keep us, has a sense of whimsy. Proof of which is something happening this week: Britain's last deep-pit coal mine is closing, a small event pertinent to an enormous event, the Industrial Revolution, which was ignited by British coal.
The mine closure should not, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- If Pagedale, Missouri, is a glimpse of the future, the future is going to be annoying. Pagedale might represent the future of governance unless some of its residents succeed in their lawsuit against their government. If they do, it will be because they successfully invoked the principle of substantive due process.
Pagedale is 1.19...Read more
WASHINGTON -- In today's culture of hyperbole, born of desperate attempts to be noticed amid the Niagara of Internet and other outpourings, the label "genius" is affixed promiscuously to evanescent popular entertainers, fungible corporate CEOs and other perishable phenomena. But it almost fits the saloon singer -- his preferred description of ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Progressives are increasingly preoccupied with income inequality, and their current hero, Sen. Bernie Sanders, favors increasing the tax system's progressivity. So, in this 103rd year of the income tax, it is timely to note that there still is no intellectually sturdy case for progressive taxation.
Arguments for it are invariably ...Read more