‘Peak Leftism’?



It’s the summer of 2015, and the left is on the march. Or perhaps one should say—since the left presumably dislikes the militarist connotations of the term “march”—that the left is swarming. And in its mindless swarming and mob-like frenzy, nearly every hideous aspect of contemporary leftism is on display. 

We see a French Revolution-like tendency to move with the speed of light from a reasonable and perhaps overdue change (taking down the Confederate flag over state buildings) to an all-out determination to expunge from our history any recognition or respect for that which doesn’t fully comport with contemporary ...


The Iran Deal, Then and Now


One week before the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a series of demands about the final terms. Among them: He called for an immediate end ...

Justice Kennedy

It Could Have Been Worse


Ye who are disappointed in the Supreme Court this term, take heart: Its plainly wrong decision in the housing case from Texas, handed down last week, was not as bad as ...


Running on Empty

So much for ecstatic modes of living.


Gary Locke

In 1969, a young Hillary Rodham was chosen to give a commencement address to the graduating class of Wellesley College, and she used the occasion to deliver some fairly radical remarks. She spoke of her generation feeling “that our prevailing, acquisitive, and competitive corporate life, including tragically the universities, is not the way of life for us. We’re searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living.” She praised the student protest movement as “an attempt to forge an identity in this particular age” and said that she and her peers perceived society as hovering “between the possibility of disaster and the potentiality for imaginatively responding to men’s needs.”


Do They Have a Prayer?

GOP candidates court the evangelical vote.


How should Republicans court the conservative Christian vote in 2016? Among the presidential candidates, ...

McConnell and Obama in the Oval Office, August 4, 2010

Republicans to the Rescue

A rare partnership on free trade.


"It was like an out-of-body experience,” Senate majority leader Mitch ...

The Gwadar deep-sea port in Pakistan, constructed with heavy investment from Chi

China’s Foreign Aid Offensive

What will Beijing gain from its massive assistance program?  


China’s foreign aid programs are distinguished by size (much larger than those of other countries), breadth (encompassing 92 emerging-market countries ...

The cover of Pope Francis’ 

Environmental Religions

The climate change crusade gains a prominent leader.


Ever since the environmental movement began it has had a religious fervor: Like God, Earth is always capitalized, and ...


Are We Better Off Now?

Looking back at the Iraq war


Sunnis displaced from the city of Ramadi by invading Islamic State fighters arri

Is the world better off than it was eight years ago? 

Is the Middle East? Is Iraq? These questions, echoing the one asked by Ronald Reagan in his debate with Jimmy Carter just before the 1980 election, should be posed by all Republicans until the polls close in November 2016. Added to these are a few other things .  .  .

Is Ukraine better off? Do we have more allies? Are we more trusted by them? Of course some countries are better off now than they were before Barack Obama unleashed his transformative powers, but these include Iran, Russia, and Cuba, which may not be a good thing. (On the other hand, our relations with Israel, the Gulf Arabs, and the former possessions of the Soviet empire have hit a new low.) Is the Western world safer from terrorist violence? Since ISIS exploded, violent incidents triggered by it have taken place in countries as widespread as Denmark, Australia, and ...

Books & Arts

White House Cool

Celebrity as two-edged sword for presidents


Bob Hope, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra (1970)

That the president is an important media figure is an indisputable fact in the modern political landscape. In my own book on presidents and popular culture, I argued that the ways in which presidents interact with the content and various modes of popular culture can provide a valuable insight into their individual psyches. Now, Kenneth T. Walsh has come along and taken the case to a different level, arguing that celebrity is an indispensible part of the modern presidency and that presidents who handle celebrity better are more successful as presidents.  

To accomplish his mission, Walsh takes his readers on a breezy tour of modern presidential history. He stops briefly in some areas, and lingers in others, while making the case that celebrity is a crucial factor in assessing presidential success. He has a point: Presidents aided by the cultural elites gain a boost in popularity and perhaps even in ...

Prince George, Duke of Kent (ca. 1941)

Fighting Siblings

The House of Windsor in uniform.


All royal families are alike; all are unhappy in their own way. Most of their unhappiness is as common as their subjects, but the best of it has the resonance and unworldliness of a fairy tale. Royalty, as the proverb says of the Jews, are like other people, ...



What we say over here, what they hear over there.


Like humans and chimpanzees, Americans and Britons share 99 percent of linguistic and cultural DNA, but it’s the 1 percent difference that often seems to define us. Here, Erin Moore ably strives to explain how and why this is so.

A former ...

Lt. Audie Murphy (1945)

A Tragic Hero

Offscreen and on the battlefield with Audie Murphy.


It’s a Saturday afternoon in 1955, and I am sitting with my father in the Palace Theater in Lorain, Ohio. I am 7 years old, and we are waiting for the start of a war movie called To Hell and Back. It is, my dad tells me, a ...

Kirsten Powers

Say It Again

A liberal makes the conservative case for free speech.


The term “illiberal left” is one of the useful contributions of this book. Liberals, as Kirsten Powers grew up believing, are committed to tolerance, pluralism, and reasoned debate. Freedom of speech is, to them, a cherished principle. By contrast, she ...

‘Algonquin 1998’ by Natalie Ascencios

Manhattan Fare

A pilgrim’s guide to the Algonquin Round Table.


In its heyday in the twenties, the Algonquin Round Table was a headline-grabbing “smart set” that came to fame in a decade when mass media took center stage in American culture. A showcase setting for journalists and theater people, the Round Table’s stars ...

Buster Keaton

Screen Tests


Richard Schickel—the Time critic who has been writing about movies for a living since 1965—estimates in the opening chapter of Keepers that he has seen roughly “22,590 films, or about 294 of them a year. Which means that two out of every three days, for a long ...

Max Beerbohm by Walter Sickert (1897)

Max Unillustrated

A major minor master in prose.


The English writer and artist Max Beerbohm lived between 1872 and 1956, nearly 84 years in all. But early on, he cultivated his career like a man with little time to lose. Fresh from Oxford, he began contributing witty articles to the ...

Grace Coolidge (1923)

The East Wing

All the presidents’ spouses in one place.


When it comes to first ladies, one size does not fit all. From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama, presidential spouses have ranged from the brilliant to the batty, the dutiful to the distraught. But then, so have their husbands, so it really isn’t all that ...

The Battle of Waterloo

Wellington’s Axis

At Waterloo, victory pivoted on a farmhouse.


The 378 men of the 2nd Light Battalion King’s German Infantry made up a tiny fraction of Wellington’s force of 68,000 at Waterloo, and they are often forgotten amid Napoleon’s massive frontal assaults against the allied line on the heights ...

The author at 6 years old

Girl in the Mirror

One very unconventional coming-of-age.


With grievance and unspecific anger the major themes of so many contemporary memoirs, Unabrow is a literary breath of fresh air. The book consists of 20 comic essays chronicling Una LaMarche’s difficulty navigating womanhood while ...

Witch Trials Memorial, Salem, Massachusetts

Spectral Presence

Echoes of Salem across the centuries.


Halloween, it seems, never fails to arrive in “Witch City” without a spike in tourism. These tourists have conferred the nickname on Salem, Massachusetts. For the past several decades, the otherwise ordinary Essex County community of 41,000 has been the ...


An Afghan Tale

Reality and unreality at a Combat Outpost.


The Valley is marketed as a police procedural set in a remote American military outpost in Afghanistan, and it is a page-turner, all 448 of them. It’s also so cunningly constructed that I had to read it twice to be sure I ...


Midnight's Child

Joseph Bottum, morning truant


Dave Clark

Morning comes like a great bird, sailing over the dark curve of the earth to illuminate the hills and trees. Dawn arrives like an angel’s burning sword, expelling night from the garden of this world. Sunrise melts to fresh dew the last wisps of frost across the lawn, a diamond sparkle in the golden angle of the sun’s first rays, and in the background always plays “Morning Mood,” the opening movement of Grieg’s first Peer Gynt Suite

Or maybe “Spring” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”? Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” which movie soundtracks seem to use for scoring almost any uplifting scene? Hard to say, really, since I’m not at my best before noon. Or maybe mid-afternoon. Evening, certainly—by 6:00 p.m. or so, I’m raring to go: bright-eyed and bushytailed, facing the new day’s challenges with a well-rested dedication and commitment. Shouldering life’s burdens with a good and ...


Fortune Cookie



Allen Weinstein, 1937-2015

Thirty-seven years later, it is difficult to describe the impact of Allen Weinstein’s Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case on the America of 1978. Weinstein died last week at the age of 77, but his most famous work has long since been enshrined in the historical canon. Here’s ...


‘It’s Never Anyone’s Turn to Be President’

The Scrapbook’s faith in the younger generation has just spiked upwards. A reader emails us an editorial from the Zephyr, student paper of the Brearley School, the very liberal prep school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. A tip of The Scrapbook’s homburg to author and ...

AP Photo / Martin Swant

Confederacy Dunces

Did the clock just strike 13, or are we now in the middle of some interminable national conversation about all the things we’d like to ban? It started with the Confederate flag, a controversial emblem to be sure. The Scrapbook is not opposed to removing the flag as an official ...


For Whom the Kettlebell Tolls

Needless to say, The Scrapbook was horrified last week to learn that Sean (Diddy) Combs had been arrested in Los Angeles and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, making terrorist threats, and battery. All of this took place on the UCLA campus, where Combs’s son Justin is a ...


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