What’s the Alternative?


weekly standard illustration; elephant, bigstockphoto

The crowing by the Obama administration over getting 7 million people to sign up for mandatory health insurance—with some portion actually paying for it—will soon fade. The big picture will remain clear: Obamacare isn’t working. And Americans, who didn’t like Obamacare when the Democrats passed it four years ago, don’t like it now, don’t want it to remain, and doubt it can be fixed. But they also don’t much want to go back to the pre-Obamacare world.

According to Real Clear Politics, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll of registered voters was the 111th consecutive poll to find more opposition to Obamacare than support for it. That poll—which was more favorable to Obamacare than most—found 48 percent support for Obamacare, 50 percent opposition to it, and a 12-point deficit for it among those who feel “strongly” (27 to 39 percent). A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey found that, by a tally of 49 ...


‘Legitimate Concerns’

Why cooperate with Putin’s propaganda?


Crimean Ukrainians protest their annexation by Russia, March 13, 2014.

A new Gallup poll of Ukrainians undermines the main rationale for Russia’s aggression towards its neighbor and calls into question the U.S. approach to diplomacy with the Russians, which treats some of the Russian claims as legitimate. The findings of the national survey also cast further doubt on the results of the recent referendum on Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

Ukrainians of all backgrounds and from every corner of the country reject Vladimir Putin’s decision to send Russian troops to Ukraine to protect Russian-speaking Ukrainians, with 81 percent of those surveyed expressing opposition to the move and 13 percent in favor. The skepticism is largely explained by the fact that Ukrainians don’t buy Putin’s claim that ethnic Russians need protection at all. Eighty-five percent of Ukrainians said that Russian-speaking citizens are not threatened, an opinion shared by 66 percent of ethnic Russians themselves. Seventy-four percent ...

A pro-Putin ‘Brotherhood and Civil Resistance March’ in Moscow, March 15, 2014

Who Are You Calling Fascist?

Putin’s Russia is in no position to criticize Ukraine.


Throughout the Ukraine crisis, Moscow has insisted that the Euromaidan protests against the pro-Russian regime of Viktor Yanukovych were driven by far-right groups, fascists, or even “neo-Nazis” and that Yanukovych’s downfall has brought these dark forces into the corridors of ...

White House protester, February 2014

Ukraine’s Odious Debts

A case for repudiation.


It is a decade since America confronted the question of just how much financial assistance to provide Iraq, then burdened with billions in debt incurred by the Saddam Hussein regime. Now we face a similar problem in Ukraine, the important difference being that Iraq’s huge but ...

Newly identified remains from the 1995 massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica, Bosnia

Balkan Lessons

Only Putin learned them.


Vladimir Putin learned lessons from the Balkan wars of the 1990s that the rest of the world ignored or has forgotten. He invokes an obviously false parallel between the NATO bombing of Serbia and liberation of Kosovo in 1999, and his own annexation of Crimea. In his speech of March ...


Counting by States

The Democrats’ Senate problem.


What do Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia have in common? For one, none has a city larger than 400,000 people. For another, they all voted for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. For yet another, they are the most likely places for ...

Martin Hei­deg­ger

Being and Naziness

The authentic Heidegger.


The literary and intellectual world was up in arms last week with the publication in Germany of Martin Heidegger’s private philosophical notebooks. The first three volumes of the diaries, from the years 1931-1941, bring conclusive evidence that the man who is arguably the greatest ...


HOT & Bothered

High-Occupancy Toll lanes: another nightmare from the suburbs-hating traffic planners


Dave Clegg

Springfield, Va.
Even the mighty GPS cannot save you from the Springfield mixing bowl. Located seven miles south of Washington, D.C., this is the confluence of three major highways—I-95, I-395, and I-495—along with several smaller county roads. A hideous tangle of cloverleafs, bridges, and flyovers, the mixing bowl is a traffic factory with so many lanes, exits, and merges that its dysfunction has earned it a Wikipedia page. Trying to make your way through with GPS guidance alone offers perhaps a 50-50 chance of success; the only sure means of navigation is hard-won experience.

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the intersecting highways have both normal lanes and special lanes. The north-south axis (I-95 and I-395) consists of an eight-lane divided highway, with four normal lanes flowing in each direction. Between them sit two special lanes, which are sometimes reserved for High-Occupancy Vehicles (HOV), carrying three ...

Greg Abbott

The Next Governor of Texas?

On the campaign trail with Greg Abbott


Edinburg, Texas
There’s a small crowd munching on tacos and tortilla chips here at El Pato, a local chain restaurant in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. We’re a short drive from the Mexican border, in a part of the state that’s nearly 90 percent ...

Books & Arts

Big Blue Machine

The rise and fall of New York’s Tammany Hall.


Tammany Hall, 1914

The modern Democratic party has a bit of a history problem. The oldest political party in the world regularly celebrates Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners, yet both men are hardly taken as role models by today’s left-leaning Democratic party. Both were slaveholders, with Thomas Jefferson possibly fathering children with one of his slaves. Andrew Jackson, meanwhile, is further tarnished by his policies of Indian removal and forced relocation. 

They are an uncomfortable reminder that, for much of its history, the Democratic party was the party of slavery, racial segregation, and white supremacy. That both Jefferson and Jackson were also skeptical of a strong centralized federal government only adds to the awkward position of these two flawed politicians in the ...

Irwin, Nebraska

The Middle Way

Recognizing a neglected landscape in American history.


The importance of the Midwest to American and even world history is, one would think, obvious and uncontroversial. Jon Lauck points out that in the decades after the American Revolution, the Midwest “proved to those who were skeptical that this ...

Robert Moses

Yesterday’s Future

A World’s Fair in Queens for a nation in transition.


During the summers of 1964 and 1965, more than 51 million people—beatniks, squares, and international tourists alike—packed their bags and traveled to the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Just in time for the 50th anniversary of opening day, ...

John Rizzo (2008)

From the Inside Out

A lawyer-spy makes the case for the CIA.


It was time for the CIA to lawyer up. In 1974, then-New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh broke a story ...

Rock Hudson, Julie Andrews in ‘Darling Lili’ (1970)

Must the Show Go On?

A postscript to the golden age of movie musicals.


If this absorbing, but imperfect, history of the waxing and waning of large-scale film musicals teaches us nothing else, it is that critical tastes from the 1960s bear a striking resemblance to those of today: The edgy is nearly always esteemed over ...

Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe

Flood the Zone

Noah meets the Book of Enoch, rock monsters, and a ravenous Eve.


First and foremost, Noah is a movie, and the first question about a movie is whether it is good or bad as a movie


The Elevator Blues

Philip Terzian, Muzak Man.


Background Music

I once lived for a year in a small town in Alabama. Like many small towns in the mid-20th century, Anniston was worried about its long-term prospects, and kept thinking of ways to keep the town, especially the downtown, vital. If this had been New England, the town fathers would have closed off one avenue to automobile traffic and created a pedestrian mall; but because it was the Deep South, they’d chosen to cover the sidewalks on the main drag with an awning and have Muzak piped in. 

I arrived in Anniston in high summer, when the awning made a certain sense: Humidity or no, the midday sun could be brutally intense. As a patronizing Yankee, however, I could hardly contain my merriment about the Muzak. I had never seen, or heard, such a thing. The outdoor piped-in music was not only discordant—shag carpeting in a gothic cathedral—but incongruous as well: There was nothing especially pastoral or Southern in its dulcet tones; we ...


Portents of the Hillary Campaign


The Scrapbook has an announcement to make: Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016. She may not necessarily win the election, but she will definitely run. And The Scrapbook is absolutely confident about this. How do we know? By a complicated process of induction, deduction, instinct, and experience, triggered by a traumatic event.

The traumatic event took place on the morning of March 26, when The Scrapbook turned the front page of the Washington Post to find, on the second page, the face of David Brock spread across four columns. “A converted man,” read the headline over the story: “Onetime adversary David Brock returns to Arkansas as one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest backers.”

For the uninitiated, David Brock is the slightly peculiar​—​or creepy, depending on your point of view​—​ex-American Spectator/Heritage Foundation staffer who became briefly famous​—​or ...

Brendan Eich

Criticism, Self-Criticism

Whenever the topic is broached, proponents of same-sex marriage assert that people who have reservations about redefining the primary building block of civilization are simply on the “wrong side of history.” Now, no one would deny that the political crusade for same-sex marriage is ...

Must Reading

Must Reading

The Scrapbook is a Johnny-one-note when it comes to our favorite quarterly, National Affairs: It’s great. The Spring 2014 issue arrived on our desk this week, and as usual editor Yuval Levin has assembled a winning lineup. Jim Manzi’s essay on what he calls “the new ...


Correction of the Week

From the journalists of the Mumbai Mirror (with acknowledgments to HuffPost, which drew the clarification to the attention of The Scrapbook): “For the last 12 years we have been writing about the chief minister of Gujarat [Narendra Modi, likely India’s next prime ...



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