All Tweet, No Action



"Nigerian girls inspire international action,” reads the headline on the front page of the May 7 Washington Post. But nowhere in the story will you learn of any action actually being taken to rescue the 276 Nigerian girls abducted over three weeks ago by the Islamic terror group Boko Haram. You find reports of “an international uproar” and “a growing outcry,” of comments by President Barack Obama and phone calls by Secretary of State John Kerry, of warnings by U.N. officials, of a letter from all 20 female U.S. senators, which, according to one signer, “is the beginning of sending a very powerful signal,” and of possible preparations for a “team of specialists” to possibly go to Nigeria to possibly help the Nigerian government possibly do something.

In sum, you find what you so often find when you observe modern liberalism: “the sorry spectacle of justice without a sword or of justice unable to use the sword.”


Who’s Crazy?


Benghazi, crazy. That’s the association the White House and its allies want to encourage as a House Select Committee begins what should be the most thorough investigation of the Benghazi attacks to date. The White House wants to delegitimize the process before it begins and ...


Unfree Speech


It's  hardly news that conservatives are not especially welcome on college and university campuses. Speech codes are designed to restrict discourse and punish the exercise of fundamental rights. Faculties are disproportionately left-wing in their politics. Administrators are ...


But Is It Good for the Druze?

George Clooney and his future in-laws.


Gary Locke

George Clooney’s reps have yet to make the official announcement, but all the tabloids and gossip sheets are reporting that the Hollywood heartthrob recently popped the question to his girlfriend of less than a year, Amal Alamuddin. The 36-year-old Beirut-born and London-based human rights lawyer (who speaks French, English, and Arabic) is said to be a good match for the screen star who celebrated his 53rd birthday last week, but that’s a given—Clooney’s past paramours have included cocktail waitresses, models, and a professional wrestler. The more interesting question is whether Clooney is good for the Druze, the small confessional sect of which his fiancée is a member.

The Druze are a heterodox offshoot of Shia Islam that dates back to the 11th century. Most of the world’s less than a million-and-a-half Druze live in the Levant. There are roughly 20,000 Druze in Jordan, 125,000 in Israel, 700,000 in Syria, and a quarter of a million ...


Trouble at the Top

Chinese officialdom is in turmoil.


In little over a year, close to 60 Chinese officials have died of unnatural causes, with most being suicides. The strong suspicion is that this epidemic of mysterious deaths among China’s elite is likely tied to the anticorruption campaign being led by Chinese president and party ...

AP / TED S. Warren

Codes of Conduct

World Vision and the definition of marriage.


On March 24, World Vision, one of the nation’s best-known Christian relief and development nonprofits and one of the world’s largest charities, announced that it would no -longer exclude from employment, on its stateside staff of 1,100, Christians who are in legal same-sex ...


Obamacare Myth-Making

Five phony success stories.


With enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges now closed, Democrats and their friends in the media are ebullient. Obamacare is an enormous success, they say, and conservatives have been humiliated. On closer inspection, however, things seem decidedly less bullish for ...


Can You Spot the Differences?

Seven Alabama Republicans are hard to tell apart.


Birmingham, Ala. 
No House district in the country is more Republican than Alabama’s 6th, where the retirement of Spencer Bachus opens the seat for the first time in 22 years. The district voted 74 percent for ...

 ... endanger the beauty of this?

Steyer’s War on Carbon

Buying a Detroit Senate candidate.


Countering the free-market political activism of the Koch brothers, green billionaire Thomas Steyer has pledged to spend $100 million in 2014 to elect an anti-carbon posse to Congress. Steyer’s litmus test is opposition to the import of ...

Ben Rhodes

A Failure of Policy

Al Qaeda runs amok.


Forty-one recently declassified State Department documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, have reignited the controversy over the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Ben-ghazi, Libya. One document in particular, an email authored by Ben Rhodes, a deputy ...


The Great Society at Fifty

What LBJ wrought



May 22, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “Great Society” address, delivered at the spring commencement for the University of Michigan. That speech remains the most ambitious call to date by any president (our current commander in chief included) to use the awesome powers of the American state to effect a far-reaching transformation of the society that state was established to serve. It also stands as the high-water mark for Washington’s confidence in the broad meliorative properties of government social policy, scientifically applied.

No less important, the Great Society pledge, and the fruit this would ultimately bear, profoundly recast the common understanding of the ends of governance in our country. The address heralded fundamental changes​—​some then already underway, others still only being envisioned​—​that would decisively expand the scale and scope of government in American life and ...

Books & Arts

Terror in the Abstract

How Andrew Wyeth saw the world, and himself.


‘Evening at Kuerners’ (1970)

Was Andrew Wyeth so celebrated because he was so misunderstood, or did it work the other way around? His reputation seems ill-fitting, whether you consider him one of the great American painters of the last century, as many laymen and a few professionals do, or a kitsch monger and conman, as many more professionals and a few sniffy, wised-up laymen do. The question comes up whenever museum curators swivel their sights toward his vast body of work—thousands upon thousands of paintings and sketches, spanning a 72-year public career—and put on another exhibit to try to sort him out, as the gifted Nancy K. Anderson and Charles Brock have done at ...

Capt. Henry Gerecke in England (1944)

God and the Nazis

An American chaplain pursues a connection.


At the first of the Nuremberg trials, Justice Robert H. Jackson, the chief American prosecutor, delivered one of the most powerful opening statements in modern times. Speaking of the 22 top ...

Tennessee Williams, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller in New York (1967)

Director’s Notes

A giant of the theater as man of letters.


In November 1953, while shooting On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan wrote a tetchy letter to producer Sam Spiegel in which he grouched about creative differences and hard practicalities such as budget ...

Hermann Hesse (1960)

The Walking Cure

In the footsteps of Hermann Hesse.


Montagnola, Switzerland
Friends of Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) called him “the endless walker,” and there were few things he liked doing as much. Italy was a favorite place for his camminatas, and ...

A Lesson for America

A Lesson for America

What made us great can keep us great.


Declinist literature about America hasn’t been so fashionable since, well, since the Russians beat us into space with Sputnik, or the Japanese seemed to be buying up every American golf course west of ...

The Original Mad Man

The Original Mad Man

Al Feldstein, 1925-2014.


The first magazine to which I subscribed was neither Boys’ Life nor Sports Illustrated; it was Mad, whose longtime editor (1956-85) Albert Feldstein died last month at the age of 88. I was gratified to see that ...


Ken Tomlinson, 1944-2014

Fred Barnes remembers Ken Tomlinson


Stephanie Saraceno / MCT / Getty images

My first contact with Ken Tomlinson was a phone call. He was a top editor at Reader’s Digest, and I was a political reporter for the Baltimore Sun. He wanted me to write a piece on the least savory provisions of President Reagan’s tax-cut legislation. It must have been late 1981, after the bill had been enacted and become part of the Reagan legend.

Ken had no problem with the sweeping tax cuts. He had no problem with Reagan’s role. But he suspected a lot of tax loopholes and preferences had gotten into the bill as the price of getting it through Congress—special interest stuff. Ken was right. The mainstream press had been too busy attacking the tax cuts to notice.

It made for a pretty good article. And I was delighted to have my byline in a mass circulation magazine. I’m not sure what prompted Ken to call me, but I’m grateful he did. Besides, I got paid more than I ever ...


The Back of the Bus



The Return of Monica

The Scrapbook would be remiss if we failed to note that Monica Lewinsky is back. She has a tell-all article in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, and it’s a curious moment for her reemergence. Much more than during the Clinton era, the American left is now ruled by identity ...

What They
It's Science!

Anti-Science Liberals

Democrats habitually congratulate themselves on being the brainy party. They’re rational and rely on empirical evidence for their views. Or so they insist. And they strongly believe in science and are quick to accuse Republicans of being antiscience—that is, dopey and inclined to ...

Gary Becker

Gary Becker, 1930-2014

The Scrapbook cited Gary Becker last week, in a list of outstanding recipients of the Bradley Prize. We’re sorry to have a sadder reason to mention his name this week: He died May 3, at the age of 83. “He was perhaps the greatest living economist,” George Mason University ...

Irving Kristol


The Scrapbook’s friends at the Foundation for Constitutional Government last week announced the launch of a new website devoted to the writings of Irving Kristol. Both new readers and longtime admirers of Kristol’s work ...


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