Sarah Palin, who with 17 months remaining in her single term as Alaska's governor quit the only serious office she has ever held, is obsessively discussed as a possible candidate in 2012. Why? She is not going to be president and will not be the Republican nominee unless the party wants to lose at least 44 states.
A society that thinks the choice between ways of living is just a choice between equally eligible 'lifestyles' turns universities into academic cafeterias offering junk food for the mind.
Government has the role of suiting people for freedom. People aren't made for freedom spontaneously. There's sort of a 19-year race between when people are born and when they become adults. And government has a role in making them, at the end of 19 years, suited to be upright, trustworthy repositories of popular sovereignty.
Popularity makes no law invulnerable to invalidation. Americans accept judicial supervision of their democracy - judicial review of popular but possibly unconstitutional statutes - because they know that if the Constitution is truly to constitute the nation, it must trump some majority preferences.
Voters don't decide issues, they decide who will decide issues.
Just as the common law derives from ancient precedents - judges' decisions - rather than statutes, baseball's codes are the game's distilled mores. Their unchanged purpose is to show respect for opponents and the game. In baseball, as in the remainder of life, the most important rules are unwritten. But not unenforced.
Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.
Perhaps the soundest advice for parents is: Lighten up. People have been raising children for approximately as long as there have been people.
Politicians fascinate because they constitute such a paradox; they are an elite that accomplishes mediocrity for the public good.
I suppose there's a melancholy tone at the back of the American mind, a sense of something lost. And it's the lost world of Thomas Jefferson. It is the lost sense of innocence that we could live with a very minimal state, with a vast sense of space in which to work out freedom.
Political ignorance helps explain Americans' perpetual disappointment with politicians generally, and presidents especially, to whom voters unrealistically attribute abilities to control events.
Leadership is, among other things, the ability to inflict pain and get away with it - short-term pain for long-term gain.
Some parents say it is toy guns that make boys warlike. But give a boy a rubber duck and he will seize its neck like the butt of a pistol and shout 'Bang!'
If your job is to leaven ordinary lives with elevating spectacle, be elevating or be gone.
Some calamities - the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, 9/11 - have come like summer lightning, as bolts from the blue. The looming crisis of America's Ponzi entitlement structure is different. Driven by the demographics of an aging population, its causes, timing and scope are known.
The future has a way of arriving unannounced.
Arizona's law makes what is already a federal offense - being in the country illegally - a state offense. Some critics seem not to understand Arizona's right to assert concurrent jurisdiction.
Pessimism is as American as apple pie - frozen apple pie with a slice of processed cheese.
Big government inevitably drives an upward distribution of wealth to those whose wealth, confidence and sophistication enable them to manipulate government.
Populism has had as many incarnations as it has had provocations, but its constant ingredient has been resentment, and hence whininess. Populism does not wax in tranquil times; it is a cathartic response to serious problems. But it always wanes because it never seems serious as a solution.