All Together Now


Sasse, Cotton: NEWSCOM

Republican voters are down on the sluggish GOP officials they elected, and the officeholders whine about the unreasonable people who voted for them. Republican backbenchers complain about their lame leaders, and GOP leaders grumble about their unruly followers. Right-wing pundits despair of unimaginative Republican pols, and the hard-headed pols are impatient with impractical commentators. Conservative activists loathe the GOP establishment, and the establishment is terrified and contemptuous of the base.

And there’s more .  .  . Republican donors, memories fresh in their minds of 2012—when they were assured by GOP bigwigs that the public polls were wrong and that their hopes of ambassadorial appointments in a Romney administration would not be dashed—now disbelieve the same public polls that were right in 2012 and that in fact, contrary to media spin, suggest a good and perhaps very good result for the GOP in ...

An ‘Audit the IRS’ rally at the Capitol, June 2013

Speak for Middle America


Pundits throw out all sorts of numbers to explain the Republican defeat in the 2012 presidential election. So here’s our number: $65,000. That is a rough estimate of the household income of the average 2012 voter. Republicans lost because Mitt Romney did not do well enough with ...


Rand Paul: A Politician After All

He’s playing the game.


Gary Locke

Manchester, N.H.
On the evening of September  11, Rand Paul sipped red wine out of a clear plastic cup as he wended his way through a bar full of 200 or so millennials. After snapping photos with admirers who had gathered to hear Paul speak and partake of free food and drink provided by Generation Opportunity, a libertarian-leaning nonprofit, the Kentucky senator took the stage.

“How many people here have a cell phone?” Paul asked at the beginning of his remarks. “How many people think it’s none of the government’s damn business what you do with your cell phone?” The crowd cheered.

“I really, really worry about Anthony Weiner. Because you know he likes to take the selfies,” Paul said of the former Democratic congressman who accidentally posted lewd photos of himself on Twitter. “He’s had trouble finding a place to put them where no one can find them. So ...

Buddy Cianci

The Buddy System

Providence has changed. Has he?


Buddy Cianci does not have a cold. In fact, the 73-year-old twice-convicted felon and six-term Providence mayor is in fine fettle on the early fall day that I catch him in his campaign headquarters. Cianci officially launched his ...

AP / Al Behrman

Go Big or Go Home

The case for GOP boldness.


Big ideas sometimes play a role in political campaigns, but not in this year’s midterm elections. Republican candidates concentrate on linking their opponents to President Obama and his policies. That’s it. Democrats are understandably wary of defending Obama. They go after ...

The execution of Robespierre

From Robespierre to ISIS

Edmund Burke’s war on terror—and ours.


The war on terror is over, the president assured us a year ago. Now, we are told, that war is very much with us and will be pursued with all due diligence. The president was obviously responding to the polls reflecting the disapproval of the public, but also to critics in his own ...

Justices Ginsburg and Kagan

The Senate and the Courts

The federal judiciary will follow the election returns.


With little fanfare, President Obama has enjoyed remarkable success in his project to remake the federal courts in his own ideological image. How much more he achieves during his final two years in office depends in large part on whether Republicans win control of the Senate this ...

The good old days: Bibi and Falwell, 1998

A Friendship Grown Less Warm

Are evangelicals turning against Israel?


Senator Ted Cruz’s vigorous defense of Israel at a recent conference for persecuted Middle Eastern Christians in Washington, D.C., provoked jeers from a loud minority in the audience, made up largely of Catholics and Orthodox, many of them from the region or of Middle Eastern ...

Park, left, and Abe with Obama: a match made in . . . Washington

Which Way Will Seoul Go?

The diplomatic courtship of South Korea’s ­president.


America’s “pivot” to Asia is rapidly going nowhere, but diplomatic challenges in the most economically vibrant region of the world still cry out for attention. These include the brash assertiveness of a rising China, the emergence of an erratic, nuclear-armed young North Korean ...

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Allah and Woman at Yale

Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks.


New Haven, Conn.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke at Yale last week, and there was mild annoyance in the press section that no screaming protesters appeared to punch up the headlines. A small group distributed leaflets to people waiting outside; inside, all ...

Civilians training to fight Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine

No Winners Yet in Ukraine

Putin’s success has been exaggerated.


The conflict in Ukraine took some dramatic turns this month that led many observers to conclude that the Kremlin was succeeding in its effort to keep Ukraine under Russia’s thumb, with the collusion of a spineless West. Actually, while Russia has wrested some concessions, the ...


Millennial Mongers

The crackpot social science of generational analysis


Dave Clegg

As far as newspaper corrections go, it was a whopper. On August 24, the editors of the New York Times sucked the air out of a windy essay that had blown through its pages a few days before. The original article bore the headline “Generation Nice.” It was adorned with color photos of fresh-faced teens and twenty-somethings. All of them looked nice. In case Times readers were confused (they’re not getting any younger), the subheadline drove the point home: “The Millennials Are Generation Nice.” And that was the theme of the article, too. The millennials—all those people born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s? You’ve never met a nicer bunch.

“An article last Sunday about the millennial generation’s civic-mindedness included several errors,” the editors wrote in the correction. The writer of the original story, a Times staffer and “public intellectual” named Sam Tanenhaus, had illustrated the selflessness of ...

Books & Arts

Automation Nation

When it comes to error, machines are only human.


Automation Nation

On a cold February night in 2009, a turboprop commuter plane out of Newark was only a few miles from Buffalo when the “stick shaker” suddenly triggered. The plane had slowed to 135 knots after the crew had lowered the landing gear and extended the flaps, and the plane threatened to enter an aerodynamic stall. (That’s not when engines stop working, but when the wings cannot maintain lift.) 

The automatic pilot disengaged, as it should have, and the pilot seized his shuddering control yoke, dragging it back to raise the nose and increase altitude—a fatal mistake. The plane needed speed, not height. Dipping the nose might have sacrificed a few hundred feet but provided the velocity to recover. The pilot’s reaction only further slowed the plane: The automatic stall-avoidance system activated and tried to pull the yoke forward, but the pilot fought it and ...

Shtetl marketplace, Galicia (ca. 1910)

Go East, Young Man

Jewish studies takes a new look at the Old World


For digital natives, studying classic English and American literature in college is about as attractive as mowing the lawn. When authorities require it, digital natives will do it as a chore: They find a command of humanistic knowledge irrelevant to ...

Judy Bachrach

Journey’s End?

Visions of life from encounters with death


In this foray into what Hamlet famously styled the “undiscover’d country from whose bourn no traveller returns,” Judy Bachrach looks at recent accounts of those claiming to have returned from the undiscovered country in order to suggest what her ...

Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011)

A Place in the Sun

The very slow progress toward a permanent retreat


Under the peak of Mount Taygetus, the wooded Vyros Gorge tumbles into the Gulf of Messinia at the small port of Kardamyli. Around the headland is a blue cove and the hamlet of Kalamitsi. A flock of low, white houses, their pantiled roofs the color of ...

James Gandolfini, Tom Hardy


Apparently, the criminal life has its downside


There’s nothing quite so pointless as a movie about gloomy and depressed criminals. Why watch two hours about life on the other side of the law if there’s no kick ...


Comic Relief

Jonathan V. Last, comic custodian


Jori Bolton

I met Chris in first grade. Both new to the school, we were wary of each other that year, but by the following September we had become best friends.

Chris and I were inseparable through our boyhoods, partly because our interests always seemed to evolve on parallel tracks: Just as we were giving up on G.I. Joes, we moved on to Transformers. Just as we were leaving video games, we started playing tennis. Just as we discovered girls, we wound up playing more tennis. 

One of our longest phases was a descent into comic book collecting, a period that spanned roughly from third grade to Suzanne Jehl, who precipitated the aforementioned discovery. We went to the annual comic book convention in Philadelphia, and every Saturday we’d go to the local comic shops, pick through the racks, then take our prizes home to read and catalogue.

Coming from modest ...


Too Soon?

Kent State

This week’s Fashion Don’t is awarded to our edgy friends at Urban Outfitters, who offered on their web catalogue a grungy pullover (“Get it or regret it!”) for the uber-grungy price of $129. This was no ordinary sweatshirt, however: On the front was imprinted the name and seal of Ohio’s Kent State University, surrounded by random holes in the fabric and splotches of red that could easily be mistaken for blood spatter. 

To readers of a certain age, of course, the meaning was obvious: an allusion to the shooting deaths of four Kent State undergraduates, and the wounding of nine, by nervous National Guardsmen during a 1970 campus demonstration against the invasion of Cambodia. 

The Scrapbook would be the first to acknowledge—ruefully, of course—that 1970 was 44 long years ago, and that the majority of Urban Outfitters’ customers were neither alive at the time nor are likely to be aware ...


Up in Smoke

Undoubtedly much to the chagrin of the former mayor, more New Yorkers are smoking these days. According to the latest data from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, adult smoking rates in New York City have risen to 16 percent, from an all-time low of 14 percent in ...

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Cosmically Dishonest

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson seems like an unlikely candidate for celebrity, but he’s hawking something liberal America desperately wants: the sense of satisfaction that comes from pretending you’re smarter than others, without actually thinking too hard. Tyson, the driving ...


Must Watching

Our friends at the Foundation for Constitutional Government have just released the latest in their “Conversations with Bill Kristol” series of videos. ...


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