Five Best Wednesday Columns

John Podhoretz on Nora Ephron, George Will on the Eighth Amendment, Reps. Nadler, Markey, and Thompson on port security, Thomas Hazlett on the iPhone's fifth birthday, and Jeffrey Rosen on the Supreme Court's Arizona ruling.

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John Podhoretz in the New York Post on Nora Ephron Podhoretz eulegizes Nora Ephron in the pages of the Post, where she got her start. "Ephron, who died last night at the age of 71, may have been the quintessential Manhattanite of her time. The island was her muse, and she its great romanticizer," he writes. "When the world began to think of New York City as a crime-riddled sewer, Ephron cast a glorious glow over it and kept the glow going until the city could restore the glow to itself." Podhoretz traces her successful rise and concludes with the "six word memoir" she wrote that sums up her happy ending mariage to husband Nicholas Pileggi: "Secret of life: Marry an Italian."

George Will in The Washington Post on the Supreme Court and juvenile sentencing Will addresses the Supreme Court's recent decision that mandatory life sentences for juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment, and describes the court's grappling with originalism in a nation where punishments were much more severe when the founders drafted their laws. The conservative dissent noted that because so many states have mandatory sentencing laws, the punishment may be cruel, but it isn't yet unusual. "It is, however, to be hoped that the case the court decided Monday might prompt changes in social thinking that will give other cruel punishments, such as protracted solitary confinement, the infrequency requisite for making them sufficiently unusual as to be unconstitutional," he writes.

Reps. Nadler, Markey, and Thompson in The New York Times on port security The three Democratic representatives write that though Congress passed a law requiring all maritime cargo bound for the United States be scanned before being loaded, the Obama administration has not implemented the law. "Millions of cargo containers are unloaded from ships each year at American seaports, providing countless opportunities for terrorists to smuggle and unleash a nuclear bomb or weapon of mass destruction on our shores," they write. "But for the past five years, the Department of Homeland Security has done little to counter this threat and instead has wasted precious time arguing that it would be too expensive and too difficult, logistically and diplomatically, to comply with the law." They describe the possible consequences of an attack, and argue that technology would make implementation easier than DHS asserts.

Thomas Hazlett in The Wall Street Journal on the iPhone's five year success The iPhone turns five years old this week, and Hazlett revisits critics of the original product who focused on its "closed" system. "Now top developers, according to numerous reports in the tech press, are ditching Android for Apple—for a company that maintains dictatorial control over its content. That very coordination is yielding unmatched benefits, particularly in customer ease-of-use that drives iPhone and iPad owners to be truly massive consumers of apps and online media," he writes. Setting aside issues of "open" or "closed," Hazlett writes that the real success comes from "the dynamics of platform competition."

Jeffrey Rosen in The New Republic on the Court's Arizona ruling "The Supreme Court's decision to strike down most of Arizona's immigration law is a cause for celebration-- not least because it's a model of how the Court can make decisions based on judicial philosophy rather than partisanship," writes Rosen. The majority was bipartisan, and on both sides, justices proved willing to uphold previous philosophies on federal power and meet one another in the middle, he says. The dissent from Justice Scalia, he notes, provided a counter-example. "Sounding more like a conservative blogger or FOX News pundit than a justice," he writes, Scalia abandoned his past support for broad federal power in the name of partisanship.

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