‘Delay Is Preferable to Error’


Jason Seiler

The good news is that most of the nation remains as opposed to Obamacare today as it was three years ago, when the law was enacted. Indeed, most polls show the public even more skeptical today—as the Wall Street Journal reports, “public support for the law has waned and Republican opposition has held steady.” In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in July, 47 percent of respondents said the law was a bad idea, compared to 34 percent who thought it a good one. So the prospects for comprehensive repeal of this comprehensively bad law remain bright.

Unfortunately most of the nation voted to reelect President Obama last November and gave Democrats continued control of the Senate. So comprehensive repeal isn’t in the cards now. The right course for the moment is delay.

The case for delay is easy to make. President Obama, after all, has already delayed parts of ...

Shira A. Scheindlin

Don’t Stop Frisking


Since the early 1990s the New York Police Department has used a crime-prevention strategy that it calls “stop, question, and frisk.” Accordingly, officers stop and question a person based on reasonable suspicion and sometimes pat down the clothing of the individual to ensure that ...


The Dread Pony

Life as a cartoon.


Images: Ty Konzak

In the near future, historians will struggle to locate the precise moment when civilization’s wheels finally, irretrievably came off. By then, there will have been too many such moments to pinpoint one with any certainty. But I’ll mark the day as having occurred on a recent August weekend when, standing in the concourse of the Baltimore Convention Center, I watch grown men with problem skin and five o’clock shadows prance around in pony ears, rainbow manes, and braided tails lashed to their belt-loops, doling out “free hugs,” starting “fun! fun! fun!” chants, and spontaneously breaking into song. “Give me a bro hoof,” says one, trying to knuckle-bump me. It’s what you might imagine heaven to be like, if your idea of heaven is hell.

I’ve come to BronyCon, where the herd gallops 8,500 strong, up from a “mare” 100 conferees (apologies, but Bronies insist on speaking in horrible horse puns) at ...

The bull and the Clown

Bureaucracy Lives!

How many experts does it take to advise a dying patient?


Back when the mess that is Obamacare was working its way through the legislative sausage factory, warnings about “death panels” almost derailed the entire enterprise. There were two, somewhat related, areas of concern: (1) that Obamacare’s many cost/benefit bureaucratic boards ...

A volunteer food program in Spring Valley, Calif.

Don’t Forget the Poor

The poverty of the GOP’s antipoverty agenda.


After five decades of liberal antipoverty programs that have produced only failure and futility, it is more than time for a conservative response to the problem of poverty—one that emphasizes work, family, and economic freedom. 

Indeed, if the Republican ...

Jean Bethke Elshtain

A Christian Realist, par Excellence

Jean Bethke Elshtain, 1941-2013


Jean Bethke Elshtain may have been the busiest woman many of us had ever met. Shuttling back and forth between her regular teaching appointment at the University of Chicago and her settled home in Tennessee, she wrote and wrote—and wrote and wrote. Essays, talks, books, memos to ...


The Scandal Society

From Nixon and Clinton to Obama


The Gatsby

Remember Black Jesus? The Lightworker? The One? The next Lincoln, the Democrats’ Reagan, the neo-FDR? He is now standing next to Tricky Dick and Slick Willie, caught in a quartet of burgeoning scandals, charged with rewriting the facts when they became inconvenient, harassing the press, and using the Internal Revenue Service to get at his enemies, subverting their rights of assembly, and speech. “Richard Milhous Obama,” writes Carl M. Cannon, and there are also Clintonian levels of cover-ups, literally in the case of Hillary Clinton’s role in the Benghazi debacle. In The Presidents’ Club, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy tell us of the bonds that unite former presidents, but within this club is a still smaller subset, the Scandal Society, those shadowed by crimes and abuses of power, who were caught up in snares of their own making and traps that they set for themselves. How do their troubles compare with each other’s, and with those that the current incumbent ...

Isabel Kret

The Regulatory Court

The D.C. Circuit takes center stage, one more time


The Supreme Court closed shop weeks ago, not to return until October. And for the third summer in a row, no Supreme Court confirmation fight occupies headlines. But in its absence, President Obama has thrust another court—often called the “second-highest” court in the land—into the ...

Books & Arts

Iron Lady Rising

The historic ascent of Margaret Thatcher.


Keith Joseph, Airey Neave, Margaret Thatcher, London, 1976

In October 1968, Margaret Thatcher, then a rising young Tory on the Opposition front bench, appeared on the popular radio discussion program “Any Questions?” Among the other panelists was Malcolm Muggeridge, later a celebrated Christian apologist, then an ornament of both serious and satirical journalism. One questioner asked how the panelists felt about being imitated. This was clearly aimed at Muggeridge, who had a highly mannered style of speaking and writing, rather than at Thatcher, whom no one had bothered to imitate at this early stage of her career. Muggeridge responded with one of his most familiar tropes: that such things scarcely mattered since all people were “intrinsically ridiculous.” Let biographer Charles Moore take up the story:

Thatcher: This is a ridiculous answer. 

Man on rooster, by Epiktetos

Classical Muzak

What’s a Grecian urn? The answer may surprise you.


A collection of wacky facts, bizarre nuggets of history, anecdotes, lists, jokes, rumors, and gossip, all organized into such chapters as “Food and Drink,” “Women,” “Animals,” “Mathematics,” “Athens,” “Sparta,” “Prophecy,” and so on, A Cabinet of ...

I’ve Got a Secret

I’ve Got a Secret

Does the press have an absolute right to declassify?


A stream of national security leaks has lately turned into a tsunami, plunging the country into the most intense controversy over the publication of government secrets since the 1971 Pentagon Papers case. As we wade through the issues raised by the illicitly disclosed information ...


The Lost Boys

None of whom bears much resemblance to Peter Pan.


The words “have” and “get” pulse insistently through Jodi Angel’s new short story collection. What you have to do, what you get to do, what you get away with; getting in trouble, getting ...

Harry Dexter White, John Maynard Keynes, 1946

Out of the Woods

The rise and fall of a monetary regime.


The Battle of Bretton Woods sets forth in smooth prose and concise detail an authoritative narrative of the who-what-when-why of the great monetary conference of some 70 years ago. It is jam-packed with heady discussions of ...


Mad Matt

Smile, or something, when you say ‘dystopian.’


Elysium is another ruined-planet movie, the third this year after Oblivion and After Earth. Such movies come in two forms: Either the Earth has gone wild and uncultivated so that it’s entirely covered in grass and trees, or it has become ...


I Read, Therefore I am


David gothard

I found myself thinking not long ago about Helen Keller, specifically the famous scene in her autobiography where she describes cold water being pumped from a well onto one hand while Annie Sullivan spells out w-a-t-e-r in Helen’s other palm. 

I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motion of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. .  .  . That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! 

For whatever reason, I have always found this episode, even Helen Keller’s precocious style, to be deeply moving, especially as she flies around the house with her newfound knowledge—“every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life”—and feels remorse, for the first time, as she tries to reassemble a doll she had ...


Debased Medal of Freedom


As readers will know, The Scrapbook makes a good-faith effort to avoid end-of-civilization/apocalypse-now pronouncements based on the popularity of certain television programs, or scandals in sports, or other bits and pieces of evidence in the culture. So let’s just say that we looked over this year’s list of recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which were announced last week, and felt a little disheartened.

The Medal of Freedom, which was originally awarded by President Harry Truman to recognize civilian contributions to the victory in World War II, was renamed and reauthorized by President John F. Kennedy in 1963—complete with glowing citation, handsome medal, and blue sash—to honor “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” 

By a sad coincidence, Kennedy was assassinated ...


Jerry Brown Refuses to Scramble Eggs

With California governor Jerry Brown’s having just signed a transgender-rights bill requiring public schools to permit boys who believe they are girls to use female lavatories and locker rooms (and vice-versa), perhaps The Scrapbook can be excused for expecting that he would also ...

Jon Rawlinson

The Jolie Model

The New York Times regularly churns out columns celebrating progressive ideas about parenting, and The Scrapbook just as regularly marvels at the willingness of Times readers to consume their terrible advice. (For a classic of the genre, we refer you to a feature ...

Pie Chart?


The Scrapbook has previously commented on the “new breed of pundit/political scientist who seems to think that a pie chart is a substitute for argument.” Whether it’s the fault of an education system and corporate sector saturated with PowerPoint presentations, the increasing ...



The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers