Against the ‘New Normal’



Are you alarmed by the counterterrorism failures increasingly evident as we learn more about the Boston terror attack? Don’t be. Former CIA director Michael Hayden has helpfully explained, “This tragedy is the new normal.”

Are you surprised that a whole city was ordered to “shelter in place” as one “knockoff jihadi,” in Vice President Biden’s term, roamed the streets? Don’t be. It’s the new normal. Are you shocked by the Obama administration’s dissembling in response to terror attacks in Benghazi? Don’t be naïve. It’s the new normal. Are you worried that the president proclaims “red lines” to deter dictators from, e.g., using chemical weapons, then does nothing to enforce them? Don’t be unsophisticated. As Rep. Adam Smith, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, explained, “The president said it was a red line. What the president never said was what that meant exactly.” It’s the new normal. Are you ...

Alexander Hamilton

Created Equal


Two recent news items highlight the issue of income inequality in America. First, a study by the ...


Missing the Ping

So much for the surveillance state.


Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2009

As the country awoke to the news of a massive manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers in the early morning hours of Friday, April 19, reporters began pressing sources at the FBI and the Justice Department for information on the two attackers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The response, at least to some reporters: We don’t know anything about them.

That claim, like so many that followed, wouldn’t hold up. Just five days later it was clear that the U.S. government generally, and the FBI in particular, had known more than a little about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The FBI had received a warning about the growing radicalism of the elder Tsarnaev brother back in the spring of 2011, two years before the attacks in Boston. The CIA received similar information seven months later. The Department of Homeland Security had it, too. And yet Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Russia, spent six months in the ...

April 29 Cover
Gary Locke

It Just Gets More and More Dismal

Caution: economists at work.


Bush and Obama in Dallas, April 25, 2013

Bush v. Obama

A study in contrasts.


President Obama is not known for his graciousness. But the occasion—the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum—called for kind words about his predecessor ...

Philadelphia Magazine

The Philadelphia Inquisition

Its two weapons are fear and surprise .  .  . and ­ruthless inefficiency.


The campus of historic Girard College in north Philadelphia contains a number of impressive marble edifices, penned in by a high iron fence that separates it from the rundown neighborhood. Stephen Girard, a French immigrant who fortuitously arrived here in May 1776, ...

Daniel Leaderman / The gazette

Downward Mobility

Maryland’s sorry Republican party.


Timonium, Md.
It’s not easy being a Maryland Republican. The little state on the Chesapeake is quickly becoming one of the bluest in the country, led by a high-profile governor with presidential ambitions.

A woman in Athens: “Am hungry”

The Post-Welfare State Family

The original cradle-to-grave institution.


Among various unwanted truths that grown-ups of the Western world have to contend with these ...


It Takes Two

Immigration and the rule of law.


With an immigration bill finally on the table, Republicans would do well to stop and ponder how they have arrived at this juncture. Since the November election they have ...


The Twidiocracy

The decline of Western civilization, 140 characters at a time


Steven Chorney

“The Machine,” they exclaimed, “feeds us and clothes us and houses us; through it we speak to one another, through it we see one another, in it we have our being. .  .  . [T]he Machine is omnipotent, eternal; blessed is the Machine.” —E.M. Forster, “The Machine Stops” (1909)

At the risk of being abrasive, I am about to say something unthinkable, heretical. I am about to say six words you have likely never heard from a working member of the media, and may never hear again: Do not follow me on Twitter.

You can try, if so inclined. But unlike Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, the pope, the Dalai Lama, and the Church of England (which invited Twitter users to help select the next archbishop of Canterbury), you ...

Union soldiers at Chancellorsville awaiting orders

A Masterpiece of War

The battle of Chancellorsville, 150 years on


By April 1863, America’s Civil War was two years old and there were two more years of ...

Books & Arts

Leatherneck Tales

How the Marines have survived, and why.



In 1957, the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Randolph Pate, sent a brief note to the director of the Marine Corps Educational Center, Brig. Gen. Victor Krulak, in which he asked, “Why does the U.S. need a Marine Corps?” Krulak, already a legend in the Marines, penned a lengthy reply: “The United States does not need a Marine Corps mainly because she has a fine modern Army and a vigorous Air Force. .  .  . We [the Marine Corps] exist today—we flourish today—not because of what we know we are, or what we know we can do, but because of what the grassroots of our country believes we are and believes we can do.”

Krulak went on to say that the American people believe three things about the Marines: that they will be ready to fight on short notice; that they will turn in a dramatically and decisively successful performance; and that the “Corps is downright good for the manhood of our ...

Whitey Kurowski, Enos Slaughter, Marty Marion, Stan Musial

Safe at Home

The rebirth of the national pastime after World War II.


In an American sports world where football is king, the notion of baseball as our country’s national pastime is a quaint one, a sort of nostalgic throwback to a bygone era, like ...


Organizing Europe

The key to continental 'unity' lies in its center.


Early in this book, author Brendan Simms, professor of history at Cambridge, quotes John Locke: “How fond soever I am of peace I think truth ought to accompany it, which cannot be preserved without Liberty. Nor that without the Balance of Europe kept up.” As Simms indicates, for Locke, ...

Charles Baudelaire, Roberto Calasso

God in the Details

Is the decadent Baudelaire the answer to the bourgeoisie?


What are we to God, and what is God to us?  

Hardly questions that men considered serious naturally turn their minds to these days. Most intellectuals got past such matters long ago, and treat them with derision, even hostility. Anti-abortion ...


Jackie, Oh

A great story yields a not-so-great film version.


The new movie about Jackie Robinson’s entry into major league baseball paints its characters with such an unmitigatedly saintly brush that Parson Weems himself might come back from the grave to say, “Speaking as the man who invented ...


Against the Wind

Claudia Anderson revisits Texas


Claudia, Jennifer, and Stephanie in Loraine

Garden City (“What a misnomer!” said cousin Betty, who’d been there) is the seat of Glasscock County, a rectangular piece of flat, dry West Texas with a population density of two per square mile. The population of the “city” fell as low as 100 early in the last century, but the 2010 census put it at an all-time high of 334.

I assume that growth reflects the oil boom. On the March afternoon when my husband and I visited, the crossroads at the center of town was, if not exactly busy, not deserted. We got a friendly reception at the courthouse, where we stopped for directions to the cemetery, half a mile out ...


The Emperor Has No Diapers

Bowel Bowl, a Rendering

Barack Obama’s first big political moment was at the Democratic convention in 2004 where he gave a heartfelt oration about the differences between red states and blue states:

The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states: red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.

It’s a nice sentiment, and there’s a lot of truth to it. But if there’s been a vague sense that cultures in America are diverging, well, there’s a reason for that. Blue states increasingly look down their noses at a lot of red state behavior​—​e.g., hunting and ...

Valley Speak

There's No Tense Like the Present

So The Scrapbook is rooting around on the Internet and stumbles on a blog piece by Ben Yagoda in the online edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Scrapbook begins to leave the page, but then hesitates: The Chronicle is not usually on The ...

Shooting Foot

Risky Business

Buried deep in the recesses of President Obama’s budget are two items that could have vast and potentially devastating consequences for millions of Americans involved with dozens of different risk markets. Though their names are more likely to induce slumber than Tea ...


Happiness Is a Week in Bhutan

Oregon governor John Kitzhaber did his best Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown impersonation last week and traveled to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, where the Democrat attended a conference focused on the concept of “Gross National Happiness” (GNH). 

Bhutan ...

Kerry Nation

Kerry Nation

In an Earth Day press release last week, Secretary of State John Kerry referred to climate change as a “clear and present danger,” and said that “if ever there was an issue that demanded greater cooperation, partnership, and committed diplomacy, this is it.” 


The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 20 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers