2014 ≠ 2016


Mrs. Clinton

Polls are overrated, but they can be still instructive. So what’s to be learned from a Fox News survey of 1,012 registered voters conducted April 13-15? 

Republicans are in pretty good shape for this fall. President Obama is unpopular. He’s got a 42 percent job approval rating, compared with 51 percent disapproval, and his personal favorable/unfavorable rating isn’t much better at 45/51. The Republican party has gained ground in recent months and is now as well regarded as the Democratic party, with both about even in approval/disapproval. What’s more, other polls show the generic ballot about even (and Republicans almost always outperform the generic ballot on Election Day), and state by state surveys confirm that the Republicans could well win control of the Senate and pick up some additional House seats.

So 2014 looks fine; 2016 doesn’t.

This is ...


Don’t Close Your Eyes, Unionize

From ‘student-athletes’ to ‘worker-athletes’?


David Clegg

The great American fraud that dare not speak its name, though anyone who owns a television set is aware of it, is college athletics. Amateur though they are supposed to be, the only thing truly amateur about them is that they do not pay the (supposed) students who play them, at least not directly.

The two great money-making college sports, of course, are football and basketball—money-making, that is, if the school has a successful program. I love that word “program,” a euphemism behind which lies a vast network of recruiting, excessive practice time, heavy travel during the school year, and coaches paid millions of dollars in the hope that they will, through the “program,” bring in many millions more.

The least-noted award in all of sports must be the Academic All-Americans. Some rare kids playing big-time college football or basketball are no doubt able to get some studying done, but only the ...

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

The Republican establishment needs the grassroots, and vice versa.


Jeb Bush’s recent musings on a possible presidential run—and his comments on immigration, rankling many in the Republican grassroots—sparked a familiar clash. Jeb, the establishment’s preferred candidate, some said, could neutralize the fiery GOP base in 2016. Conservatives shot ...

Obama Hagan

As Goes North Carolina

So go Republican hopes to take over the Senate.


Raleigh, N.C. 
To win the Senate, Republicans must win North Carolina. While it’s mathematically possible to take the Senate without ousting Democratic senator Kay Hagan, the chances of that happening are close to zero. For Republicans, North Carolina ...


Mitch McConnell, Judicial Activist

The Senate minority leader seeks majority opinions.


"This is the best Supreme Court, if you’re interested in a free society and in the ability of Americans to participate in the political process with a minimum amount of government restrictions. In fact, this is a great Supreme Court.”

Of course, ...

twitter / democrats for life

Endangered Species

The demise of the pro-life Democrat.


Kristen Day has just sent an email thanking a Democratic state representative in Michigan for supporting a bill banning abortion funding in Obamacare. He’s grateful for her note—she’s only the second person to thank him. “It’s a really lonely road, to be a pro-life Democrat,” she ...

Matteo Renzi

Out with the Old

Italy tries someone new.


Italy has long been Europe’s political laboratory, having invented fascism, incubated eurocommunism, launched the postwar economic miracle, and brought the social democratic nanny state to ruin. Most Italians are very unhappy, as well they might be. Unemployment is at record highs ...


Through a Google Glass, Darkly

Surveillance of, by, and for the people


Thomas Fluharty

“Just because something bears the aspect of the inevitable one should not, therefore, go along willingly with it.” ​—​Philip K. Dick

The first time I saw someone wearing Google Glass in the wild, I was standing at a friend’s party at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin​—​the place where the tech world gathers each year to gleefully discover what next big “innovation” will eventually displace you. The party hotel was trendily down-market, a retro motor-court, but one where the house marinates its own cocktail olives while serving pepper-glazed bacon at Saturday jazz brunch.

As I stood there among media types and Nerd-World machers, draining my fourth Lone Star beer, trying to drown out the sound of all the buzzwords​—​disruption! .  .  . big data! .  .  . The Cloud!​—​that’s when I saw him, with the future sitting on his face, or at least what will become the future if Google has ...


Kennedy’s Question

How will the Court decide Hobby Lobby?


We often think of the Constitution as a two-part document: first the original 1787 text, which primarily establishes the government’s structure; and then the amendments, which primarily set forth our rights. But it’s not nearly that simple: ...

Books & Arts

Man vs. Machine

The limits (?) of artificial intelligence.


‘Gog,’ starring Richard Egan (second from right) and Constance Dowling (1954)

The failure to explore and monitor the threat [of dangerous artificial intelligence] is almost society-wide. But that failure does not .  .  . alter the fact that we will have just one chance to establish a positive coexistence with beings whose intelligence is greater than our own.

This is not just the closing paragraph of James Barrat’s new manifesto; it is the overarching theme of this book. And when Barrat speaks of the threat of artificial intelligence, he wants you to know it is a matter of your life and death.

Barrat knows that we have heard all of this before, from Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke and James Cameron, but the foremost merit of Our Final Invention is that Barrat manages to distance himself credibly from the ...

Richard Ravitch, Edward Koch, Michael Bloomberg (2009)

Citizen Ravitch

The good, the bad, and the future of New York.


Richard Ravitch is an extraordinary man. He’s an intelligent, indefatigable, honest, honorable, accessible, and personable fellow who, for 45 years, has played a key role in rescuing New York’s jerrybuilt fiscal structure from its own failings. Yes, ...

‘Barberini’s Ivory’ (sixth century)

Imperial Transition

Sailing to Byzantium, with a push from the Vandals.


An economic miracle occurred in the fifth century: a leader was able to cut taxes and balance the budget at the same time. This improbable feat was pulled off by Anastasius,

Governor Berkeley addressing the rebels

Virginia Inflamed

Bacon’s Rebellion: power grab or principled uprising?


A century before the Declaration of Independence, Virginia colonists, mostly from the frontier backcountry, rebelled against their imperious royal ...

Vladimir Voinovich (2010)

Prophet of Ukraine

The Russian novelist who’s seen it all coming.


New York 
Last month, as Russia began its takeover of Crimea and Cold War II hung in the air, about a hundred people gathered at Columbia’s Harriman Institute to hear an 81-year-old Russian visitor ...

Kevin Costner

At the Meh-vies

Nice enough, and all that, but worth the trouble?


There’s a new movie called Draft Day you’re almost certainly not going to see in a theater if you didn’t go see it during its first weekend—and because you didn’t, it won’t be around much longer. ...


Bubba’s Grits

Geoffrey Norman waffles



The other Sunday in Georgia, Bubba Watson won the Masters, which is only the most prestigious golf tournament in the world. And this was the second time in three years for him. It was a very big deal, then, which Watson celebrated by taking his wife and a few friends out for dinner at his favorite restaurant. 

That would be Waffle House.

It is difficult to know from reading the news accounts exactly which of some 1,700 Waffle House restaurants Watson went to. But it was in Georgia. If he’d won the U.S. Open, and it had been played at, say, Pebble Beach, then Watson would have been out of luck and reduced to eating sushi or some kale-themed creation at a thousand dollars a plate. There are no Waffle House locations outside of what can loosely be called the South. Precious few, anyway.

But in the South, you almost have to search for an exit from an interstate ...


Uncivil Disobedience


For the sake of argument, The Scrapbook is willing to concede that it is possible that Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher, ought to be allowed to graze his cattle on federal land in Nye County. And that protecting the desert tortoise as an endangered species on that same federal land is no good reason to impose a fee for grazing livestock. Reasonable people can disagree about these issues, and will do so.

But in the United States of America, since 1789, we have had ways of settling these disputes. We have a judicial system that gives citizens due process and the right to seek redress for grievances. We have a political system that encourages citizens to elect people to public office who will pass laws we like, or rescind laws we don’t like, and uphold the laws they have enacted. We also have a Bill of Rights in our Constitution, the very first item of which protects the freedom of speech, allowing supporters and critics of laws to ...


Decline of Debate: The Sequel

Last week the website for the Atlantic ran a highly instructive report about the extent to which the progressive worldview now dominates the university. The most recent conquest: college debate competitions.

Collegiate debate—the ...


Low Voltage

Last week, National Journal reporter Major Garrett provided an interesting explanation for the White House’s obsession with promoting a dubious statistic on the alleged “pay gap” between men and women. The White House has repeatedly claimed that women earn 77 cents ...



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