EDITORIAL

A Victory for Free Speech

BY TERRY EASTLAND

SBA List

The other day a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that a First Amendment challenge to an Ohio law should be heard in the lower courts. While the decision may have seemed a minor one, it represents an important advance for freedom of speech.

The question that the Court answered in the affirmative, with Justice Clarence Thomas writing, was whether Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life advocacy organization, has standing to challenge an Ohio statute that prohibits false statements made during a political campaign.

Ohio is one of 16 states that have false statement statutes. Most of them date from the post-Watergate era and seek to promote an ostensibly more virtuous politics. The laws vary in their details, but they all involve government in passing judgment on what are essentially statements of opinion. That is what makes them unconstitutional, since under the First Amendment, the people, and not the government, have the ...

GOP

Cronyism and Coercion

BY JEFFREY H. ANDERSON

After the upset of House majority leader Eric Cantor at the hands of GOP primary voters, many congressional Republicans may be looking for ways to show they are listening to their constituents. One way they can do so is to take renewed aim at Obamacare.

Clinton

2016 or Bust

BY WILLIAM KRISTOL

Commenting on the results of the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, NBC’s Chuck Todd remarked, “This poll is a disaster for the president.” Indeed, he continued, “essentially the public is saying, ‘Your presidency is over.’ ” 

ARTICLES

Taking a Tumble Again

What Obama’s descending job approval ratings mean for November.

BY JAY COST

Gary Locke

President Barack Obama’s job approval seems to be slipping again. After a brutal couple of months following the failed launch of HealthCare.gov, the Real Clear Politics average of opinion polls found his approval at 40 percent in December. But the government claimed to have fixed HealthCare.gov, never mind the continuing problems, and the “surge” in enrollments gave him a further boost. By mid-April, he was back up to nearly 45 percent approval in the RCP average. Recently, though, his numbers have tumbled again, and today his job approval is just 42 percent.

The likely driver of this decline is the onslaught of bad news: the crisis in Ukraine, the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange, the flood of illegal crossings of the Texas border, and most recently the deteriorating situation in Iraq; the capture of Abu Khattala, a suspect in the Benghazi attacks, is a rare ...

Another friendly flag-and-Obama-burning in Tehran

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Enemy

No one should mistake Iran for a friend.

BY REUEL MARC GERECHT

When Ottoman armies marched into Europe in the mid-14th century, Europeans started looking hopefully eastward for enemies of the Turks. Spanish and French kings sent ambassadors to Tamerlane when the last great Muslim Mongol conqueror started marching west. Europeans and Byzantines ...

What’s the wholesale price of a platitude?

What About the Book?

As, you know, a book.

BY GEOFFREY NORMAN

Nobody has time to read these days. Everybody says so, anyway. So in the case of Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices, is there any good reason to buy the book and read it? Not much, going by the reviews. None has called it a page turner and, at more than 600 of them, ...

Erbil

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

The Kurds love America. It’s time to reciprocate.

BY DAVID DEVOSS

They came from the west through the Syrian Desert, across the Euphrates River, and down off the Nineveh Plain. Mosul, Baiji, Tikrit, Samarra—cities held by the U.S. military just two and a half years before—fell almost without a fight, absorbed into the Islamic State of Iraq ...

Let’s just sign the loan papers. What’s the worst that could happen?

‘Student Loan Relief Now’

The case for allowing these debts to be erased via bankruptcy.

BY IKE BRANNON

My father is one of the reasons that student loans cannot normally be discharged via bankruptcy. Such an outcome was never his goal: quite the opposite, in fact, because exempting student debt from bankruptcy relief makes little economic sense and is patently unfair to the students ...

Modi in the cockpit of one of India’s aging MiGs, June 2014

Can India’s Military Be Fixed?

A reformist prime minister vs. a dysfunctional defense ministry.

BY GARY SCHMITT and SADANAND DHUME

American strategists are taken with the idea of India’s strategic potential: a large democracy with a blue-water navy and the world’s third-largest armed forces that happens to be jammed between an imploding Pakistan and an expansionist China. But a deeply dysfunctional Indian ...

No. 9

Forbidden Thoughts

Seven ideas you can’t hold in today’s China.

BY LESLIE LENKOWSKY

In late April, a 70-year-old Chinese journalist, Gao Yu, was taken into custody, one of several human rights activists rounded up to keep them from observing the 25th anniversary of the massacre of student protesters by government troops in Tiananmen Square. Shortly afterwards, Gao ...

Tony Gwynn

Nobody Did It Better

Tony Gwynn, 1960-2014.

BY JEREMY ROZANSKY

The Hall of Famer Greg Maddux once explained his pitching success by pointing to a road a quarter-mile off. At that distance, he observed, you couldn’t tell whether a car was traveling 55, 65, or 75 miles per hour. So it was in pitching. Unless the batter is tipped off ...

#HajjQassem

The Iranian Regime’s Mr. Fix It

Is there anything Gen. Qassem Suleimani can’t do?

BY LEE SMITH

Qassem Suleimani is apparently the most interesting man in the world. To judge by the profiles in major Western media outlets—including the New Yorker, BBC, and the Guardian—the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ external operations unit, the Quds ...

FEATURES

The Professor’s Tale

What is it like to be a man in philosophy?

BY CHARLOTTE ALLEN

Jason Seiler

This is a story about campus sexual harassment, involving a female graduate student in philosophy and a prominent male philosophy professor at an Ivy League university. Except that the alleged events didn’t take place on a campus or anywhere near one. Nor did the alleged events meet any legal definition of harassment, since the professor in question wasn’t the student’s professor, or her dean or her employer, and she was pursuing her doctoral degree at a completely different institution. But there sure was plenty of sex: in hotel rooms, her apartment, and other venues.

And there was also plenty of ill feeling after she discovered that the professor, who, she said, specialized in “moral philosophy” and “global justice”—and whom she called “my global justice hero” in an unsigned online article—turned out to be perhaps somewhat less than “moral.” It emerged that he allegedly had quite a few other girlfriends with whom he rendezvoused in ...

Jason Seiler

Feminism and Its Discontents

‘Rape culture’ at Harvard

BY HARVEY MANSFIELD

Feminism is in control of America’s colleges and universities, where its principles at least are held as dogmas unquestioned and unopposed. Yet in what should be a paradise with those principles at work, women speak of a “rape culture” that sounds like the patriarchal hell we ...

Books & Arts

In Dubious Battle

The Great War, of modern memory, at 100

BY J. HARVIE WILKINSON III

Sir Douglas Haig (1918)

Back then, it was not known as World War I, for the obvious reason that the Second World War still lay in the future. It was simply the Great War, for the world had never seen anything like it.

We’re close to the centennial of the Guns of August, which has brought forth all sorts of discussions of the causes and consequences of the war. The focus of this book by Peter Hart, historian at the Imperial War Museum, is quite different: He sees the war through the eyes of those who fought it. The result is a riveting account from those on both sides of the conflict, those for whom the larger disquisitions on the meaning of the war yielded utterly to the daily struggle for survival.

The Great War featured an unusual number of highly literate soldiers

'Self-portrait in a fur-collared robe' by Albrecht Durer (1500)

Mirror, Mirror

The changing instinct for self-depiction

BY HENRIK BERING

In the history of art, self-portraiture constitutes a world of its own, presenting us with moods ranging from the lighthearted to the sordid. There is sheer delight in Rubens’s painting of himself and his first wife Isabella ...

C. E. Stevens, Oxford history don, with student (1958)

And Gladly Learn

Will you, won’t you, benefit from graduate education?

BY ABIGAIL LAVIN

When I sat for my SAT exams as a high school senior, I thought to myself, “This is the last standardized test you will ever have to take!” I had never considered myself an ...

‘The Knight of the Burning Pestle’ (2014)

Murder by Candlelight

The new indoor theater at Shakespeare’s Globe

BY SARA LODGE

There is a new reason to visit London. It is wooden, but lively. Old, but new. Shadowy, but luminous. The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is a reconstruction of what an indoor theater might have looked and felt like around 1600, when Shakespeare ...

The Fault in Our Stars Directed by Josh Boone

Death and the Maiden

There’s a flaw at the heart of this unpretentious tearjerker

BY JOHN PODHORETZ

The key to understanding the publishing sensation called The Fault in Our Stars—John Green’s young-adult novel that has dominated bestseller lists for more than two years and has ...

CASUAL

Making a Spectacles of Myself

Joseph Epstein sees himself through four eyes.

BY JOSEPH EPSTEIN

Dave Clark

Of late, the last four years or so, I rarely go out for long without being praised. I am praised not for my writing, my perspicacity, my elegant bearing, my youthful good looks, my extreme modesty, but for my eyeglasses. “Nice glasses,” strangers say to me. “Like your glasses,” they say. “Love those glasses,” is a refrain I hear at least once a week. “Where did you get those glasses?” people wearing glasses of their own often ask me. “Thank you for your kind words about these glasses,” I have taken to answering. “They are my best feature.”

The frames of my glasses are round, large, heavy, and dappled with an emphatic tortoiseshell. Although they are bifocals, I do not need them full-time. I work at my computer without them. I don’t need them to watch television. I sometimes leave my apartment without them. Clearly, though, when I do wear them they dominate my face. Were I to commit a crime, they are probably the first thing that ...

SCRAPBOOK

Down with the Barricades!

AP Kenneth Lambert

One of the many things that The Scrapbook doesn’t like about life in modern Washington—aside from the politics, of course—is the extent to which the nation’s capital, especially its downtown core, has become a high-pitch security zone. Access to public spaces and buildings is severely restricted; there are several competing police jurisdictions, all eager to respond to perceived emergencies. When a VIP is transported from one fundraiser to another, the route (and adjacent blocks) are shut down tight while a long, screaming motorcade of cops and Secret Service agents flies past. 

Between the guns, blackened windows, and scrum of glaring guards, you could easily imagine you’re in downtown Caracas, and Generalissimo Whatsisname has just whizzed by. 

As always, The Scrapbook is quick to acknowledge that safety and security are important, especially in the post-9/11 world, and people who ...

Newscom

The Edwards Rehabilitation

It’s always a solemn occasion when The Scrapbook finds John Edwards back in the news. At this point, the stories are less a reminder of the former senator and vice-presidential candidate’s odious conduct than fresh evidence that there’s no Democratic rehabilitation project the ...

Kennedy Center

Well-Deserved Prizes

Movies have the Oscars. TV has the Emmys, Broadway the Tonys. And the conservative movement has the Bradley Prizes. The Scrapbook isn’t exaggerating—much. Last week, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation held its annual celebration of individual achievement in the cause of ...

Accomplishments

PARODY

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