Six Reasons to Panic


CDC director Thomas Frieden and colleagues

As a rule, one should not panic at whatever crisis has momentarily fixed the attention of cable news producers. But the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has migrated to both Europe and America, may be the exception that proves the rule. There are at least six reasons that a controlled, informed panic might be in order.

(1) Start with what we know, and don’t know, about the virus. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other government agencies claim that contracting Ebola is relatively difficult because the virus is only transmittable by direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person who has become symptomatic. Which means that, in theory, you can’t get Ebola by riding in the elevator with someone who is carrying the virus, because Ebola is not airborne.

This sounds reassuring. Except that it might not be true. There are four strains of the Ebola virus that have ...

The country’s in the very best of hands.

The Protocols of the Elders of Liberalism


"Protocols.” You can’t turn on your TV without hearing about them. The last time the word featured so prominently in American public discourse was when Henry Ford took it upon himself to pay for and distribute half a million copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion ...


The Second Obamacare Election

The voters haven’t changed their minds.



A Gallup survey earlier this month showing that Americans oppose Obamacare by a margin of 53 to 41 percent was  the 150th poll listed by Real Clear Politics during President Obama’s second term to find Obamacare unpopular. The number that found it to be popular was zero. 

The mainstream media, meanwhile, seemingly operating in an alternative universe, think that Obamacare is here to stay. Politico writes, “Deep down, Republicans who know health care know the truth: Obamacare isn’t about to be repealed. .  .  . [T]hink of the last time a major social program was repealed after three enrollment seasons, with millions of people getting benefits. That’s right—it hasn’t happened.”

But to conclude that the track record of major social programs indicates that Obamacare cannot be repealed requires historical cluelessness. Social Security passed the House with 92 percent of ...

Swearing In 2.0

Will the Supremes Finally Rule?

Another housing discrimination case is ripe.


A few days before the opening of its new term, the Supreme Court accepted for review a case from Texas that could prove one of the Court’s most important this year—provided that the justices actually get to decide it.

The case is Texas ...

All the way to the bank: Microsoft’s  Bill Gates and Google’s Eric Schmidt

High-Tech Chutzpah

Silicon Valley seeks to suppress wages.


At minimum it is unseemly, at maximum an example of chutzpah as practiced in Silicon Valley. Having shot themselves in the foot, some prominent tech billionaires want the president to bypass Congress and minister to their wound. They have poured cash into his campaign coffers, ...

Frank Van Den Bleeken

Cruel and Unusual

Death with Dignity Executions meet euthanasia.


Belgium is on the verge of executing its first murderer by lethal injection. Well, not exactly “executing.” The state isn’t going to kill convicted murderer/rapist Frank Van Den Bleeken for his crimes. Rather, it is helping him be euthanized. By a doctor. At a hospital. To which he ...

Obama contemplating a bust  of Jimmy Carter

Obama’s Synthesis

McGovern plus Kissinger.


There has been much head scratching over the years about the essence of Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Now with another member of Obama’s cabinet, former defense secretary as well as CIA director Leon Panetta, offering up a memoir of ...


The Upside of Lower Oil Prices

Let’s stop fattening the wallets of our enemies.


Many of the world’s most serious security threats are enabled—directly or indirectly—by revenues from the high oil prices (about $100 per barrel) prevalent in world markets in recent years. If these prices were reduced substantially (e.g., by 20-30 percent), the liquidity that ...


A Constitutional Congress?

How the legislative branch can resume its rightful role


Gary Locke

What difference will it make if the Republicans win the Senate and hold the House in November? The House can already block Democratic legislation Republicans do not like, and President Obama would still be able to veto Republican legislation he does not like. The Republicans are talking of a positive, problem-solving agenda. That seems to mean passing some constructive bills President Obama could sign, thereby signaling that Washington can get things done, and some others the president would veto, thereby signaling even better days ahead following a GOP presidential victory in 2016.

Such a strategy would hold serious potential. Divided government can be both partisan and productive​—​as in the second Clinton administration, which brought both an impeachment trial and balanced budgets (and, for the Republicans, the prelude to control of the White House and both chambers of Congress after the 2000 elections).

Books & Arts

Our Endangered Species

What, if anything, can be done to save the family?


What, if anything, can be done to save the family?

You can tell a lot about a society by its taboos. Several weeks ago, America reeled when Adrian Peterson—the great NFL running back of his generation—was indicted on charges of “reckless or negligent injury to a child.” Peterson is alleged to have disciplined his son by “whooping” him—these are Peterson’s words, not mine—with a “switch.” The child, a 4-year-old boy, suffered cuts on his backside and thighs. For this act, which 50 years ago was commonplace, Peterson was arrested, suspended by his employer (the Minnesota Vikings), and publicly castigated by all and sundry. 

Unremarked upon was the fact that the 29-year-old Peterson does not live with this boy and reportedly has seven ...

Charlie Chaplin, Oona O’Neill in Hollywood (1944)

Laugh, Clown, Laugh

The very long life of cinema’s first superstar


Charlie Chaplin was born in London on April 15, 1889, although no birth certificate has ever been located. We are certain of the date because his proud mother placed an announcement in a music hall newspaper.

Michel de Montaigne

The Inner Light

What Shakespeare saw in Montaigne’s reflections


Although he’s revered as a great classic writer, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) is an author we read because we want to, not because we have to. He’s intimate, erudite, chatty, and ...

The Marquis Lafayette Reconsidered

Lafayette Squared

Portrait of the hero in two revolutions


Whenever a French president visits Washington and White House speechwriters need to come up with something nice to say about France, Lafayette is cited as the man who came to America’s aid in its war of independence. Whether this produces ...

The tart, sweet, comprehending vision  of Richard Greene

Eye of the Beholder

The tart, sweet, comprehending vision of Richard Greene


This deft, revelatory collection opens with a poem about the poet’s mother, in which Richard Greene speaks of shapes of memory from which she can / never turn away.

Miles Teller

Bird Lives Again

The pursuit of excellence makes a great movie


In Whiplash, a dislikable teenager runs afoul of a dislikable adult, and what emerges from their conflict is the movie of the year so far. It’s rare for an American film to offer such an unvarnished portrait of unattractive ...


Wheels of Fortune

Ethan Epstein looks a gift workhorse in the mouth.


Jori Bolton

Nobody ever said to “beware of sisters bearing gifts.” So, when my younger sister offered  me her car as she headed off to the Peace Corps a couple of years ago, I leapt at the opportunity. 

I’d never had my own set of wheels before, and car ownership—along with having an apartment with a dishwasher, buying my own health insurance, and experiencing occasional back pain—is a crucial way-station on the road to being a Real Adult. Even if the car in question was a bit of a beater, a humble 12-year-old Subaru Outback upon which my sister had bestowed the charming name of “Menard” after a Midwestern discount chain with a catchy jingle, I wasn’t going to complain. Hey, a car’s a car. And more important, free is free.

Except when it isn’t. Oh sure, there were costs I expected to incur—the auto insurance mandate (or is it a tax?) that saw to it I’d be forking over a handsome sum every month, ...


The Blame-Deflection Game


The Ebola outbreak understandably has Americans on edge. How the Obama administration has redefined the expectations of government competency for even the most cynical among us has a lot to do with it. Rather than stepping up to meet a potential health crisis, the government is instead deflecting blame. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready,” National Institutes of Health head Dr. Francis Collins said last week. And we presume the Ready for Hillary crowd isn’t ready to stop Ebola; Clinton is also blaming a lack of funding for impeding the ability to combat the disease. 

As with nearly every governmental problem we face, more money is not the answer. It’s true that over the last 10 years, NIH funding has risen from $28.03 billion to “only” $29.31 billion. However, Collins neglects to ...

Warning System
J. Robert Oppenheimer

A Broken Man?

Since the Cold War ended more than 20 years ago, the left in general, and the media in particular, have tended to regard it as a kind of cosmic joke: hysterical American reaction—indeed, overreaction—to the peaceful postwar existence of the Soviet Union and other Communist states, ...

Keith Olbermann

The Old Olbermann

Baseball heals. That’s the only way The Scrapbook can explain Keith Olbermann’s transformation. How else did Bush Derangement Syndrome’s patient zero wind up complimenting the 43rd president? After nearly a decade of insulting George W. Bush, Olbermann now says he’s a fan. Actually ...


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