From Tripoli to Tehran



Killing Muammar Qaddafi wasn’t easy. What President Obama said would take days wound up taking eight months. At first the administration did not seem to understand that NATO’s objective of protecting the civilians rising up against the Libyan tyrant’s 40-year rule would require capturing or killing the man who was most likely to harm them. Unfortunately, the learning curve here seems to be something of a yardstick for Washington’s understanding of the Middle Eastern state most likely to kill Americans​—​the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Still, we applaud the White House for at last getting Qaddafi. His execution at the hands of Libyan rebels closes a dark chapter ...

Photo of Obama touring Solyndra facilities

The Solyndra Stonewall


About 24 hours after he recited the oath of office, Barack Obama addressed senior executive branch officials and cabinet secretaries at the Eisenhower ...

imaginary logo for obamacare

CLASS Dismissed


As the debate on Obamacare reached a crescendo in late 2009 and 2010, no question was more hotly contested than whether the plan would narrow or ...


The Biofuels Fiasco

Even Rube Goldberg would recoil in horror from this regulatory contraption.


Cartoon of Uncle Sam stuck on biofuels machine

A food versus fuel debate has raged for the past few years as ethanol consumes more and more of the U.S. corn supply. Ethanol will use about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop this year, and for the first time ever, more corn will go into motor fuel production than into feed for livestock. As the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has pointed out, since Congress mandated the use of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply, corn use by ethanol mills has increased by 382 percent, yet with a limited supply of farmland and the need to grow other crops, plus some less than ideal weather conditions this year and last, corn production has increased only 5.4 percent over the same period.

Cartoon of Herman Cain

A Man with a Plan

Whatever its merits, Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 proposal is receiving an odd critique.


Politics being what it is, I suppose it is no surprise that Herman Cain’s rivals for the Republican nomination should heap scorn on his 9-9-9 tax reform plan. I have no massive computer model that can tell me whether Cain’s proposal ...

Photo of a student doing classwork with teacher

Something New for Schools to Fail At

L.A.’s misbegotten teen dating curriculum.


If you wonder why American students rank poorly among industrialized nations on academic skills, here’s part of the explanation, from a ...

Photo of Supreme Court building

The Texas Diversity Wars

Will the Supreme Court step in?


Among the cases the Supreme Court is being asked to take in its new term is one from Texas challenging racial preferences in college admissions. ...

Bottle of ink

Losing the Economic Battle

The global debt apocalypse approaches.


On the issue of public debt, Washington is experiencing what psychologists call “learned helplessness.” The financial news is so relentlessly terrible that people have become numb to it and assume nothing can be done ...


The Gift of Gab

With Mitt Romney as its candidate, could the GOP find that its long national nightmare of verbal inadequacy is over?


Cartoon of Mitt Romney

If, as most pundits now believe, Mitt Romney has the inside track for the Republican nomination, he is the first GOP candidate in more than a generation not to be syntactically challenged. Just look at the list of the party’s choices since Richard Nixon, whether elected (Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush) or defeated (Gerald Ford, Robert Dole, John McCain). Whatever other attributes these candidates possessed, facility in extemporaneous exchange was not one of them. None of these men could be counted on to handle a challenging question, let alone always keep noun and verb somewhere near their rightful places.

This deficiency took a psychological toll on the Republican faithful over the years. Hours before a presidential debate or ...

Photo of energy plant in Harrisburg

Up in Smoke

Harrisburg’s waste to energy to bankruptcy saga


On October 12, Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, filed for bankruptcy. The move took most of America by surprise—​

Photo of British Parliament

Right but Repulsive

The trashing of Britain’s euroskeptics


A doctor ignored by a smoker won’t celebrate if lung cancer strikes. Britain’s euroskeptics are generally too worried about the consequences of the ...

Books & Arts

Willem de Maestro

MoMA gives de Kooning his due.


Photo of de Kooning painting

New York

A few months ago, at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, I noticed that all the greatest de Koonings were missing. They have since resurfaced, along with most of Willem de Kooning’s greatest work, at the Museum of Modern Art here in Manhattan. The Hirshhorn and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are the two largest lenders (nine works each) to MoMA’s exhibition of nearly 200 pieces from 100

different collections.

Photo of a judge's gavel

Punishment and Crime

A distinguished scholar tells us how we got here.


Moderation is too rarely a stance to gain impassioned support in policy debates, and even less so when the subject is the state of American criminal justice. The disproportionate number of young African-American men ...

Photo of Martin Walser reading a book

The German Voice

A journey to the source of Martin Walser’s fiction.


The way I got to Martin Walser, Germany’s most German writer and, at age 84, one of its national treasures, was to scrawl three lines on an ...

Photo of Margaret Thatcher shaking hands with Robert Mugabe

Mugabe’s Dungeon

The nightmare of Africa’s longest-ruling tyrant.


Africa has had its share of brutal regimes and rulers in the past half-century. The apartheid regime of the Afrikaners in South Africa was, for ...

Photo of Loretta Lynn singing

Honky Tonk Girl

Loretta Lynn, at 76, still casts a spell.


Loretta Lynn famously sang  “You’re Lookin’ at Country.” But as three urban cowgirls arrive at a Washington, D.C., hipster haven, the 9:30 Club, to see Lynn’s first local show in two years, we’re looking at irony: opening act ...


The Cocktail-Party Test

Joseph Bottum: Who now reads?


Classical painting next to picture of reality television show

"I don’t read fiction,” Billy Hunter proudly told sports reporters this month. “I only read stuff I can learn something from.” What a line, from the head of the NBA Players Association. It’s the kind of thing I used to treasure—except that I’ve begun to realize just how often I hear something similar. “I think of myself as a true reader,” a political activist told me the other day, but it turns out she meant only that she follows a few mystery writers and reads a lot of new books about politics.

As well she ought. Don’t get me wrong—plenty of first-rate nonfiction has been published in recent decades. Plenty of good fiction, as far as that goes. And yet, ...


Susan Sarandon, Smear Artist

Photo of Susan Sarandon

Susan Sarandon’s left-wing “activism” is too well known to be recounted here in much detail. The actress has embraced causes as various and predictable as the 2008 presidential campaign of John Edwards and the bona fides of author-murderer Jack Henry Abbott (1944-2002), for whom she named her son. Last week, however, Sarandon hit a nerve. 

In a question-and-answer session with actor Bob Balaban at the Bay Street Theatre on Long Island, she recounted her role as the anti-death penalty nun Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking (1995). Indeed, so impressed was Sarandon by Sister Helen that she sent a copy of Prejean’s memoir, on which the movie was based, to the pope: “The last one [John Paul II],” she specified, “not ...


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