What Reagan Actually Said


Photos of Obama and Reagan

I’m not the first president to call for this idea that everybody has got to do their fair share. Some years ago, one of my predecessors traveled across the country pushing for the same concept. He gave a speech where he talked about a letter he had received from a wealthy executive who paid lower tax rates than his secretary, and wanted to come to Washington and tell Congress why that was wrong. So this president gave another speech where he said it was “crazy”​—​that’s a quote​—​that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary. That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan. 

He thought that, in America, the wealthiest should pay their fair share, and he said so. I know that position might disqualify him from the Republican primaries these days, but what Ronald Reagan was calling for ...

Photo of Obama with a long nose

The Great Divider


In 2008, Barack Obama promised he would put an end to the type of politics that “breeds division and conflict and cynicism” and he would help us “rediscover our bonds to each other and get out of this constant, petty bickering that’s come to characterize our politics.”


Photo of Al Sharpton

Media Malpractice


Any hope that the media might fairly and responsibly cover the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin was effectively doomed the moment Al Sharpton descended on Sanford, Florida, and started holding rallies with the victim’s family. Recall that Sharpton once said of Clarence Thomas’s ...


Fantasies of Social Darwinism

Three generations of this imbecilic progressive talking point are enough.


Cartoon of Herbert Spencer being called a fascist

"Social Darwinism, a popular topic in the 19th and early 20th centuries,” reported the Associated Press on April 5, “is making its way into modern American politics.” The news peg for the story was President Obama’s claim that the House Republican budget is nothing but “thinly veiled Social Darwinism.” It is, he added, a “Trojan Horse,” hiding within in it “a radical vision” that is “antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity.”

To the surprise of no one, the New York Times hailed the “thunderclap of a speech” in an editorial titled “Calling Radicalism by Its Name.” But Social Darwinism has been thick in the air of late (according to ...

Photo of Susana Martinez

No Susana

New Mexico’s governor is a rising star, but won’t enter the veepstakes.


Carlsbad, N.M.
As we walk through the Department of Energy’s field office in ...

Cartoon of Obama sitting in the corner

Clueless About Job Creation

Obama’s invincible economic ignorance.


Does President Obama have the foggiest idea how jobs are created in America? There’s not much evidence he does, beyond lip service to the ...


Civil Society Reconsidered

Little platoons are just the beginning.


Drawing of the guillotine

In the conclusion to Coming Apart, after describing a society that is in even greater disarray (literally, coming apart) than we had supposed, Charles Murray holds out one hope for the future: “a civic Great Awakening.” Previous Great Awakenings in America had been religious. The new awakening would enlist the spirit of evangelicalism in the cause of civic revival, regenerating those aspects of life—family, vocation, community, and faith—essential to human happiness and to a healthy society. Murray has been hailed (in some circles berated) for making morality rather than economics responsible for the ominous divide in American society. Perhaps more important is the fact that he has put the idea of civil society (“civic life” or “civic culture,” as he more often calls it) back into circulation, making it central to “the American project.”

Civil society was once a staple of discourse, in the academy and without. Twenty ...

Photo of The University of California, Merced, in December 2004

Boondoggle U.

With taxpayers struggling to support the University of California, why did the state build a tenth campus in the middle of nowhere?


Merced, California

Books & Arts

Demography Is Destiny

The perils of population loss.


Photo of Chinese people lining up to buy train tickets

The world is heading for demographic catastrophe. Fertility rates have been falling across the globe for 40 years, to the point where, today, Israel is the only First World country where women have enough babies to sustain their population. The developing world is heading in the same direction, fast. Only

3 percent of the world’s population live in a country where the fertility rate is not dropping.

As fertility falls, populations shrink. As populations shrink, economies will sputter. Western countries will struggle to support too many retirees without enough workers, and the rest of the world (particularly places such as China and Russia) will be challenged just to maintain order as societies change in unprecedented ways: Most people will have neither brothers, sisters, aunts, nor uncles, and there will be no such thing as an extended family. 

This forecast may sound apocalyptic, but it’s nearly ...

Image of the Lady in Gold

Gold Standard

The journey of a masterpiece through the twentieth century.


"Our Mona Lisa,” is how Ronald S. Lauder described the portrait he had just paid a record $135 million for in 2006. The shimmering Gustav Klimt painting, destined to become the centerpiece of Lauder’s Neue Galerie in New York, depicts Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a wealthy ...

Photo of Richard Nixon and Consumer Affairs Adviser Virginia Knauer

Nixon’s Women

A champion of gender equality gets some credit.


While he couldn’t resist exaggerating a little for effect, the longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer had a point when he observed that, all too often, great movements “start as a cause, evolve into a business, and end up a racket.” Consider three of the major social crusades ...

Photo of a forest

Camp as Metaphor

What humans will learn at the edge of civilization.


Summer camp! The phrase calls up images of freedom and play: diversions and discoveries, secrets whispered in humid tents, children roaming the woods without getting lost for too long. For the young adults who answered an emergency call for new counselors at a Missouri ...

Photo of Stalin

The Paranoid State

Suspicion and betrayal and the Soviet way of life.


Soviet history has crystallized in Western memory as a conflict between apparatchiks and heroes. The apparatchiks were ideologically rigid autocrats and pandering toadies, while the heroes—such as Solzhenitsyn, Havel, and Sharansky—were the voices of humanity, reverberating until they ...

Photo of Arthur Conan Doyle

Holmes’s Creator

Millions of words and one indelible character.


Michael Dirda, a longtime Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fan, ascribes his critical abilities to Sherlock Holmes. He still remembers the spell cast on him when, during the 1950s in elementary school, he discovered The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), with its cover ...

Photo of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Olga Kurylenko

Hotel Heartbreak

When cable is good, it’s very, very good, but when it’s bad, it’s .  .  .


Magic City, a lavish new series on the cable channel Starz, throws Mad Men, The Sopranos, and Boardwalk Empire into a blender. The resulting mish-mosh has all the attention to costumes and wallpaper and hairstyles you find on ...


California Dreamin’

Irwin M. Stelzer reports from America.


Image of Uncle Sam going shopping

There I was, in a posh resort south of Los Angeles, addressing an audience of mostly lawyers. I had arrived a few days early to see some clients and, in the lingo of the aging hippies of nearby Laguna Beach, “chill out” by catching the NCAA semifinals and a Knicks game on Pacific Coast time.

This would hardly be worthy of note except that, to my complete surprise, I heard myself opening my talk with: “Thank you for inviting me. Before getting into the economic issues of the political campaign, I would like to say that a few days out of Washington leave me suddenly optimistic. Not only about the economy, but about the future of America.” 


Pilgrim’s Progress

Photo of Pilgrim High School mural

Every now and then The Scrapbook is pleased to report on an outbreak of common sense in our increasingly diversified and multicultural society, and that is what we are doing here. We must warn readers, however, that the intervention of common sense (as often happens) occurs only in the wake of an appalling sequence of events. 

The scene is Warwick, Rhode Island, and the place is Pilgrim High School, where 17-year-old Liz Bierendy had been commissioned to paint a mural in one of the school’s corridors. It was suggested to her that she depict the various stages in a boy’s life, from early childhood to early adulthood, and she did. Her final ...


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