Period? Full Stop?



“Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop. We don’t condition that. That’s what every mom and dad who sees a son or daughter sent over into [a] war theater should expect not just from their commander in chief but the United States of America. .  .  . The United States has always had a pretty sacred rule. And that is we don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind, and that dates back to the earliest days of our revolution.”

—President Barack Obama, June 3, 2014


Lexicographers are no doubt penning learned treatises on the transformation of the words “period, full stop” from a term of art in punctuation to a rhetorical device meant to .  .  . well, meant to what? The answer: Shut down ...

Guess Who?

No Confidence


President Barack Obama and his advisers have long sought to release the five most dangerous Taliban commanders held in U.S. custody at Guantánamo. Bipartisan opposition scuttled a possible deal in 2012 because of a consensus that the ...


A Populist Uprising

The nation-state and the political future of Europe.


Farage and UKIP members of the European parliament

Reverberating through the chattering classes of Europe and America is the recent triumph of Nigel Farage’s U.K. Independence party (UKIP) in the European parliament elections. UKIP bested both Labour and the Tories not only in England but also in Wales and Scotland. The victory might be explained away by low turnout, but that apathy itself is commentary on the EU’s unpopularity.

One thing is certain: Farage’s dance card in Brussels will be full. There, he will be joined by other rising populist and nationalist parties from France, Austria, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Farage, a loud and proud classical liberal democrat, has already indicated that he doesn’t have much in common with the more deeply nationalist nativism that animates the anti-EU parties in other countries. But they all share a desire to defend the nation-state as a political form against the depoliticizing or deeply administrative “functional” transfer of authority and ...


He’s Always Right

The monopartisan president.


"My goal was to get something done,” President Obama said at a Chicago fundraiser in May. Yet he’s pursuing a strategy that makes it nearly impossible to achieve that. He’s not acting in his own interest.

The president refuses to deal with ...


Let’s Set Aside Set-Asides

In government contracting, some are more equal than others.


In our episodic “national conversation about race,” perhaps it is time to take notice of Rothe Development Corporation of San Antonio, Texas, which, you could say, has been having its own conversation about race—in the federal courts. Rothe is a government contractor that has now ...


PAYGO Begone

A budget rule that encourages dishonesty.


An arithmetic riddle: How much money would the U.S. government collect if it were to impose a 5 percent tax on the $2 trillion currently parked in offshore accounts to avoid the high U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent?

If you multiplied $2 ...


Climate Cultists

Has the desperate global warming crusade reached its Waterloo?


Dave Malan

The climate change crusaders, who have been at it for a quarter-century, appear to be going clinically mad. Start with the rhetorical monotony and worship of authority (“97 percent of all scientists agree!”), add the Salem witch trial-style intimidation and persecution of dissenters, and the categorical demand that debate about science or policy is over because the matter is settled, and you have the profile of a cult-like sectarianism that has descended into paranoia and reflexive bullying. Never mind the scattered and not fully suppressed findings of climate scientists that the narrative of catastrophic global warming is overstated, like nearly every previous predicted environmental apocalypse. It matters not. The recent crescendo of scary government climate reports and dutiful media alarm has paved the way for the Obama administration to throw its weight around in ways that would make Woodrow Wilson blush.

Making ...


Dangerous Unity

The perils of the Palestinian Authority’s new Fatah-Hamas government


The creation of a new Palestinian “national unity” government has raised a slew of questions in the United States. What should our policy be toward a government that has the support not only of the Fatah party but of the terrorist group Hamas as well? Should all aid to the ...


The Unraveling

How the Obama administration’s story on Bowe Bergdahl and the Taliban fell apart


Late in the afternoon of Saturday, May 31, Barack Obama strode confidently to a lectern in the White House Rose Garden flanked by the parents of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier who had gone missing from his platoon in the mountains of Afghanistan in June 2009.

Books & Arts

Bertie the Good

The royal antidote to Victorian austerity.


‘The Coronation of King Edward VII’ by Edwin Austin Abbey (ca. 1904)

In 1871, when Albert Edward Prince of Wales (1841-1910) and his wife Alexandra lost their youngest child after a premature birth, Queen Victoria advised that they go into prolonged mourning. Bertie’s response exhibited one of the great differences between him and his notoriously woeful mother: 

Want of feeling I never could show, but I think it’s one’s duty not to nurse one’s sorrow, however much one may feel it. .  .  . You have no conception of the quantity of applications we get .  .  . to open this place, lay a stone, public dinners, luncheons, fetes without end .  .  . and all these things have increased tenfold in the last 10 years. .  .  . It is however gratifying that this wish exists in these Democratic days, as one must show oneself in public.

If Victoria, after the death of her husband Prince Albert, secluded herself, Bertie was ubiquitous, making ...

Charles Murray

Back to Basics

The right way, and the wrong way, to begin the journey.


Charles Murray was invited to speak in April at Azusa Pacific University about this, his latest book. The event had been scheduled for months, but two days before Murray’s appearance the president of Azusa Pacific canceled it, writing to the ...

‘Next to [Proust] all the other works we know seem to be no more than novellas.’

An Uncommon Reader

Erich Auerbach and the understanding of literature.


T.S. Eliot thought that the first requisite for being a literary critic is to be very intelligent. The second, I should say, is to have a well-stocked mind, which means having knowledge of literatures and literary traditions other than that into which one was born; possessing ...

Louisa Catherine Adams by Charles Robert Leslie (1816)

The Other Mrs. Adams

A view from the front row of the young republic.


When Abigail Adams first met her daughter-in-law Louisa, wife of future president John Quincy Adams, she was not greatly impressed. Even before the marriage, Abigail “was troubled by the fear that Louisa might not be made of stuff stern enough, or brought up in ...

Seth MacFarlane

‘Saddles’ Revisited

A parody of a spoof of a well-worn formula.


The much-maligned new comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West is actually pretty funny in spots. But it’s very strange. It’s an affectionate western homage, a mash-up western, a western pastiche. That’s not odd. What’s odd is that it’s an homage to a parody, and ...


The Family Man

David Skinner's first muse


Jori Bolton

The first writer I ever met was my Uncle Joe. He was tall, with a fading cap of screwy red hair, big mischievous eyes, and a smile that might have been drawn by Dr. Seuss. 

I remember him saying to my younger brother and me that there were goblins in his basement. No way were we going to fall for that. He opened the door, inviting us to take a look. “Go ahead. You can see them, can’t you?” We peered down the basement stairs, into the darkness, but saw nothing. “Whoa, there goes one, did you see it?”

Oh, just stop it, we said. There were no goblins. We could tell. “Well, you have to step a little closer,” he said. So, to prove how silly he was, we went down a step or two. Then he closed the door behind us and locked it. 

It was so dark that we got scared and began to think that maybe there actually were goblins in the basement. We banged on the ...


They're Talking About You

They're Talking About You

Mary Soames

Mary Soames, 1922-2014

The Scrapbook notes, with sadness, the death last week in London of 91-year-old Mary Soames, the youngest and last surviving child of Sir Winston Churchill. From her time as a very young woman in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (the British equivalent of the WAC), where she ...


Red Ceiling

It's an article of faith among bien pensant liberals that all institutions in society must achieve perfect gender parity. Consider, for example, the left’s outrage at the dearth of women employed at Google and other tech firms (despite the fact that far fewer women study ...


Opaque Obama

This is the way democracy ends, not with a bang, but a footnote. In April, the Congressional Budget Office—the nonpartisan agency typically relied on to make fiscal assessments of government programs—-reported that it was no longer possible to measure the cost of Obamacare. This ...

Just Shoot Me

Getting the Lead Out

The Scrapbook was dimly aware that the U.S. Army was reengineering its ammo but still was taken aback to read that it took 15 years and an estimated $100 million to come up with a new 5.56 NATO round for our infantrymen. It cost so much and took so long because, you know, it’s not ...


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