Profiles in Courage


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Two emails recently showed up, one right after the other, in my inbox. The first was a mass mailing from Ron Paul (my inbox is a big tent!). Its subject line: “The IRS asked for a fight. How about a revolution?” The second was a review by Peter Berkowitz of the recently reissued book by Roger Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism.

One couldn’t help but be struck by the contrast between these missives from different precincts of conservatism. Paul’s spirited fundraising letter is, to say the least, a call to arms. Berkowitz’s thoughtful essay, “A Conservative’s Case for Moderation,” argues that conservatives need to exercise “political moderation in its highest form.” So, what’s it to be for American conservatives today? The spirit of revolution, or the virtue of moderation?

Our conservatism is generally closer to that of Berkowitz than that of Paul. We’re sympathetic to Berkowitz’s ...

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The Road to Repeal


It's a question often asked these days in conservative circles: Do you really think Obamacare can be repealed? Usually uttered behind closed doors, the question reveals both an un-Reagan-like pessimism and something of a disconnect from political reality.


The Consensus Candidate

Cory Gardner unifies Colorado Republicans.


Cory Gardner

"I love to smoke,” says Colorado congressman Cory Gardner, his voice trailing off. His aide’s eyes widen. “Finish that thought!” she says.

The 39-year-old Republican lets out a distinctive belly laugh at his unfortunate pause. After all, marijuana is now legal in the state of Colorado, a fact we had just been discussing moments before I asked Gardner to tell me something most people don’t know about him.

“I love to smoke food,” he clarifies, adding that his wife had bought him his own Masterbuilt smoker for Christmas. “Brisket, chicken, ribs, you name it.”

That’s about as far off-message as Gardner’s ever likely to go, and that self-discipline is part of the reason professional Washington perked up in February when the two-term House member made it known he had changed his mind and would, indeed, challenge Democrat Mark Udall for the U.S. Senate. Those who know him say Gardner is ...

Some of the victims of a Boko Haram attack in northeastern Nigeria, February 201

Al Qaeda’s Nigeria Franchise

Why Hillary Clinton’s State Department downplayed Boko Haram.


When Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for the more than 200 Nigerian girls held by the extremist group Boko Haram, she probably did not expect that her tenure as secretary of state would soon be critically examined by the press through the lens of that very same mass kidnapping. ...

Don’t hold your breath.

Some Juggernaut

Democrats look awfully frantic for a party with history on its side.


Democrats think they are the party of the future. After a last hurrah for Republicans in this year’s midterm elections, Democrats will have a commanding majority at the polls as far as the eye can see. A rising tide of minority, young, female, and affluent liberal voters assures ...

Holy Hour at St. Paul Church in Harvard Square, May 12

Harvard Rejects Satan

The elusive Black Mass.


Cambridge, Mass. 
Every once in a while—not too often—good triumphs over evil. Such was the case on May 12, when a Harvard student group dropped its sponsorship of a satanic “Black Mass,” originally scheduled to take place on campus, about ...

Singing his president’s tune

First Legalization, Then Lawsuits

Can marijuana retailers survive the tort bar?


The legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington has spawned reports of increased use, declining perception of risk, increased neonatal risk, drug tourism, diversion of public assistance to fund use, creation of significantly more powerful forms of the drug, and new ...


Playing the Verdun Card

Fearmongering in Brussels.


In the curious pantomime that is the EU parliament, the French politician Joseph Daul is a star. He’s the president of the European People’s party (the principal center-right bloc in the parliament), an apparatchik with impeccable EU establishment credentials. He has ...


The Paper of the Apes

The New York Times’s animal-rights crusade.


That the New York Times is a subversive cultural force can readily be seen in its unremitting assault on human exceptionalism, the philosophical backbone of Western civilization. 

In the old view, every human being has intrinsic ...


Wars Within Wars

In northern Syria, the Kurds try to carve out a territory and fend off the jihadists


A YPG fighter fires during an ISIS attack  on the village of Haj Ismail in weste

Kobani, Syrian Kurdish Region
With Syrian presidential elections scheduled for June, the incumbent and shoo-in for reelection, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, is campaigning on the promise that 2014 will be the year in which military operations in Syria end. However, the situation in northern Syria, exemplified by the conflict in the canton of Kobani, an area stretching from the Turkish border to south of Kobani city, and from Tell Abyad in the east to Jarabulus in the west, casts doubt on Assad’s optimism.

Kobani is under Kurdish control, but cuts into a larger section of territory controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a jihadist organization. ISIS aims to hold a clear, contiguous area stretching from Syria’s border with Turkey into western Iraq, where it controls territory in the provinces of Ninewah and Anbar. The existence of the Kurdish canton of Kobani interferes with this plan, ...

A windy day in Scotland

Let’s Tax Carbon

It’s the worst form of energy policy, except for all those others that have been tried


Having lived through and survived Richard Nixon’s promise of energy independence, Jimmy Carter’s effort to substitute a hair shirt and a woolly sweater for a thermostat set at comfortable levels, George W. Bush’s insistence that Americans surrender their incandescent light bulbs, ...

UKIP leader Nigel Farage

Growing Pains

Britain’s UKIP raises the question: Can an anti-political party ever be a political success?


Lewes, Sussex
"So, what are you going to do about the problem of dog fouling?” I was following Donna Edmunds, a district councilor and a United Kingdom Independence party (UKIP) candidate for the European parliament, as she went door to door in ...


Top Dogs

Rock-star economist Thomas Piketty— tough on inequality, soft on elitism


The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has written that Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty’s new book on inequality and wealth, “will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics.” Clive Crook describes the raptures ...

Books & Arts

George Will at Bat

Wrigley Field and the national pastime.


The 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field (April 23, 2014)

You can tell George Will is a serious baseball fan because—I wish I could find another way to put this—he is serious about baseball. The statement isn’t (quite!) as fatuous as it sounds. Lots of people who profess their love of baseball are mere romantics and mythologists. They’ll well up at the thought of the greatness of the game and how its history interweaves with the greatness of America, and they gravely tug their chins at baseball’s qualities of timelessness (there’s no game clock) and infinitude (in theory, the mythologist will tell you, the foul lines extend into infinity). 

Serious seriousness like Will’s isn’t dour or grim. As a writer, George Will has a deep appreciation for absurdity generally, and for the many comic absurdities of baseball in particular, and he is a practiced griot of the game’s ...

‘The Last Days of Pompeii’ by Karl Briullov (1830-33)

Up from the Ashes

Pompeii’s second life, in fact and fiction.


Probably in the seventh grade, Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Last Days of Pompeii appeared on my summer reading list. I read the 1834 novel of ancient Roman life, adventure, mystery, and horror with


Misrule of Law

A dose of medicine for ‘runaway legalism.’


At least since his 1994 bestseller The Death of Common Sense, the New York lawyer, author, and founder/chairman of the reform group Common Good Philip K. Howard has been trying to rescue ...

Duke Ellington (seated) and the band (ca. 1940)

Take the ‘E’ Train

A definitive life of the great American composer.


Terry Teachout is a remarkable man of letters whose interest in the arts is multi-directed. Officially, he serves as drama critic for the Wall Street Journal

Hero and/or Martyr

Hero and/or Martyr

One desperate act and its unintended consequences.


Who was Herschel Grynszpan? He was a 17-year-old Polish Jew, born and raised in Germany, who in November 1938 walked into the German embassy in Paris, where he had been living for two years, and shot a ...

Emjay Anthony, Jon Favreau

Tasty Metaphor

A ‘food-cart-as-spiritual-salvation’ idea that works.


The new movie Chef is about a hotshot cook who loses his way and then finds himself anew selling Cuban sandwiches off a truck. The ...


Strictly Ballroom

Maria Santos, bodega ballerina


Michael Sloan

Like a lot of people, I used to hate dancing in public. But unlike most people, I have professional ballroom dancers for parents. When you regularly lose your father in the grocery store only to find him practicing waltz turns down the bread aisle, a fear of public dancing is not sustainable. 

When I was very young, I loved to dance. “Life is a musical,” my dad sometimes says, and I’m not sure how old I was before I realized that isn’t actually the case. In our house, feet tapping under the dinner table usually meant someone was about to spring up to salsa in the middle of dessert.

I spent a lot of time at dance competitions, where I envied the glittering gowns and ran to the floor after each set to collect fallen sequins. I watched practically every Fred Astaire movie ever made. By the age of five or six I had most of the routines down by heart (at least my interpretations of them), and I ...


As the Times Turns

Editors past and present

Far be it from The Scrapbook to know why Jill Abramson was fired, after three short years, as executive editor of the New York Times. Or to care why she was fired. 

Thus far, there are two explanations for her abrupt dismissal. The first—that she had tried to hire a co-deputy editor without consulting her existing deputy editor—is the sort of bureaucratic tempest that means nothing to anyone outside the Times newsroom. But the second—that she had been complaining about her $500,000-plus annual salary—merely confirms the existence of the bubble where celebrity journalists reside. If, at such princely rates, Jill Abramson becomes a martyr in the movement for pay equity, the estrangement between mainstream journalism and ordinary American life will be nearly complete.

Which is too bad. Yet the Abramson Affair also demonstrates the extent to which ...

Michael Sam

Play Ball

There was a lot of hullabaloo last week over Michael Sam, who, after being drafted in a late round by the St. Louis Rams, is poised to become the NFL’s first openly gay football player. Sam was the SEC defensive player of the year, so a chance to play in the NFL seems well merited, ...

Lots of people win? Define "lots."

Everybody Loses

New York enjoyed a mid-season subway series last week with four games between the Mets and Yankees. Seeing the two teams play every year instead of once in a generation is one of the upsides of Major League Baseball’s recent experiment in inter-league play. But for the hometown TV ...


Commencement Update

Last week in these pages (“Unfree Speech”), editorializing on the shamefully canceled commencement addresses of Condoleezza Rice and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Philip Terzian noted, “Both are ...

My goodness


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