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Religion of Doubt

Commentary, June 2010
"It is not the task of a liberal democratic state to provide answers to the deeper questions about life, let alone impose metaphysical beliefs on its citizens." Well, yes — and no.

Jews and Money
Commentary, February 2010
Among Jews, economic success has been a source of both pride and embarrassment. Among their neighbors, it has prompted both affection and abhorrence. Either way, the fate of the Jews has long been tied to the fate of capitalism.

All the President's Czars
The Weekly Standard, October 12, 2009
By establishing policy czars accountable only to himself, President Obama has sought to unify executive policymaking and guard against bureaucratic and congressional usurpation. For all the hullabaloo surrounding the "unitary executive theory," Barack Obama has emerged as the leading champion of the unitary executive.

The Undead Constitution
Policy Review, October-November 2009
Living constitutionalists aim to establish not a "living" but a zombie Constitution; they want to take the corpse of constitutional text and reanimate it with new principles in every generation. But this Constitution is at war with itself. Like Frankenstein’s monster, half dead and half alive, it wanders in the wilderness never finding complete acceptance.

Political Lexicographer: William Safire's Voice
Forbes.com, September 27, 2009
Of all the pundits, thumbsuckers, spinmeisters, talking heads and the panjandrums of the opinion mafia who formed the chattering classes, Safire focused most intently on the words and catch phrases that governed American political life. "With words we govern men," Safire quoted Benjamin Disraeli as saying.

Irving Kristol, The Moral Critic
Forbes.com, September 19, 2009
Among the popular myths surrounding neoconservatism is the notion that its intellectual father was a "former communist" who turned rightward in penance for his radical past. The view of politics espoused by a twenty-four-year-old Irving Kristol remains as good a definition as any of the political persuasion that would drive his career.

The Metaphor Analyst
The New York Sun, December 28, 2004
George Lakoff's ideas may be informing the progressive movement at the moment, but they are surprisingly illiberal. His book often reads like a counter-Enlightenment tract of the Romantic period.

Conflicts Religious and Secular
Policy Review, August-September 2004
From the beginning, Zionism and Arabism shared the same intellectual patrimony and spoke the same language. But neither movement, just as each was trying to dignify a dormant nation, could bear an injury to its nationalist aspirations.

Agitprop
The New York Sun, July 22, 2004
Galleries from Chelsea to Madison Avenue are stuffed with anti-Bush exhibits. As long as we're being such sticklers about the law, perhaps we should call this artwork what it really is: political advertising.

The Politics of the WHO
The New Atlantis, Fall 2003
The World Health Organization’s usefulness lies precisely in its ability to bring scientific evidence to bear in political disputes that often lose sight of facts on the ground. The group’s recent history, however, reveals a bureaucracy increasingly unhinged from the real world.

The Word is Nigh
Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2003
The prophets did not address themselves to some otherworldly mystical reality. For them, the moral law was a living presence here on earth, entrusted to human stewardship.

Focus on Evil
National Review, September 1, 2003
Perversely, mass murderers often become figures of fun. Living at a safe distance, we can afford a macabre laugh or two. As it turns out, we experience evil not so much as banality but as kitsch.

Freedom of Expression 101
Hoover Weekly Essays, March 3, 2003
Many intellectuals invoke "academic freedom" not to protect the ideal of disinterested inquiry but to shield their own ideological agendas from public scrutiny. When professors attack their critics as McCarthyites, it is they who are trying to silence dissent through intimidation.

Humans, Animals, and the Human Animal
Policy Review, February-March 2003
It’s the modern left that believes people stand outside and above nature, peering down on the rest of creation with a godlike power to manipulate it for our own purposes. Conservatives have counterpoised a belief in the permanent truths of human nature to the liberal faith in the perfectibility of man. The idea of human malleability is nowhere more vividly refuted than in descriptions of kinship between man and animal.

Defining 'Culture'
The Washington Times, December 15, 2002
What we're defending, it turns out, are not the various customs of our culture, unmediated by reference to objective standards of civilization, undirected toward any purpose. What's at risk is civilization, a universal system of standards that can act as a guide for all human societies.

Comfort's Cost
The Washington Times, September 1, 2002
The most distinctively human impulses — the artistic or philosophic impulse — begin in awe and apprehension at the vast incomprehensibility of the world. Today, however, the anxious wonder that is the root of human excellence can be cured with a generous dose of Prozac.

The Church-State Tangle
Policy Review, August-September 2002
In recent history, courts have worked to push religion out of public life. So it’s understandable that many now fear that publicly funded school choice will undermine schools’ religious missions. But such an attitude fails to appreciate the emerging change in the court’s understanding of the First Amendment.

The Empty Decade
Doublethink, Summer 2002
The 1990s were anomalous in that the United States had no enemy—indeed, the 1990s were shaped by the belief that all fundamental conflicts had ended. In the relatively peaceful and demobilized 1990s, Americans could easily evade troublesome moral judgments and retreat into comfortable, private universes. Clinton-era politics was about private comforts rather than broad national interests.

Teaching Evil
Policy Review, April-May 2002
If our politics rests fundamentally on self-interest, then how can one expect the heroic selflessness Kaplan admires in Churchill and others? If the ultimate goal is self-preservation, why should anyone risk his life? The “heroic outlook” Kaplan attributes to the Greeks was possible precisely because they recognized a purpose higher than themselves.

Charmed by Tyranny
Policy Review, February-March 2002
We may understand why intellectuals living under tyranny, jaded by the degradations of war and intimidated by a totalitarian state, would submit to regnant orthodoxy. But what accounts for tyranny’s apologists in free societies?

Yasser Arafat, Zionist
National Review Online, November 8, 2001
The Palestinians, imitating Zionism, have also concerned themselves with establishing historical rights to the land of Israel, and erasing Jewish history there.

Hide That College Fund!
The New York Times, November 21, 1998
The Government's need-based financial aid system acts as a tax on the wealth that a family accumulates before and during the time that a family's child attends college. The system punishes families for wise economic planning, and discourages saving.