Religion of Doubt
Commentary, June 2010
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.
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.
the President's Czars
The Weekly Standard, October 12, 2009
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.
Policy Review, October-November 2009
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
Lexicographer: William Safire's Voice
Forbes.com, September 27, 2009
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
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 New York Sun,
December 28, 2004
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
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
The New York Sun,
July 22, 2004
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,
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
The Word is Nigh
Claremont Review of Books,
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
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
Humans, Animals, and the Human Animal
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.
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.
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
The Church-State Tangle
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
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
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
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?
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.