The Weekly Standard is hiring.2:20 PM, Nov 24, 2014 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Weekly Standard has a full-time position available for an editorial assistant. Duties will include fact-checking, research, and proofreading.
Candidates should send a cover letter and résumé to:
Hosted by Michael Graham.1:58 PM, Nov 24, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on Chuck Hagel's firing and the Obama administration's continuing appeasement of Iran.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
This podcast is brought to you by the Ashbrook Center. Rediscover America's Story with their 50 core documents.
1:35 PM, Nov 24, 2014 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
The resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel creates a golden opportunity for the new Republican majority in the Congress: not only will the hearings on Hagel’s replacement be a natural venue for reviewing the defense reductions and many retreats of the Obama years, but they provide a forum for Republicans to begin to chart a positive alternative.
That is critical for America and for the party’s prospects in 2016. Only lately – and thanks to Obama’s serial weakness on issues from Syria to Iraq to Ukraine and even China – has the Republican party reclaimed its traditional advantage as the party of peace through strength. No doubt we’ll hear plenty of criticism of Obama’s no-boots-on-the-ground-ever conduct of the ISIS war, but will we hear Republicans advancing a theory of victory? Both the Congress and the prospective defense secretary will rend garments and gnash teeth on the pernicious effects of sequestration, but will the Republicans – whose job it is to frame a budget resolution that reflects the opposition party’s priorities – be so bold as to advance a solution to the underlying problem posed by the limits imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act?
The confirmation hearings will also naturally focus on Sen. John McCain, in line to take the gavel as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain has a unique position as a voice of American strength in the world, but how he will behave as committee chair and as a steward of the defense establishment is an uncertain prospect. To oversimplify only slightly, McCain has never met a foe he wasn’t willing to fight but has never met a weapons program he didn’t want to cut. McCain should realize that the armed forces have been so gutted by recent reductions that they are no longer capable of executing even the watered-down Obama defense strategy, let alone fulfilling the actual security needs of our time, in Europe, in the Middle East and in East Asia. And McCain’s “reformist” tendencies have been a skirt for Senate majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and other less-than-hawkish Republicans to hide behind. If the Republican Congress is to accomplish anything of serious purpose on defense, McCain must take a leading role, arguing without hesitation that rearmament is now more important than reform.
Despite the White House spin that the president was unsatisfied – the New York Times, almost laughably, pins the blame for the failing anti-ISIS strategy on the outgoing secretary – the need to replace Hagel comes at an unfortunate time. On a crass political level, it knocks the president’s immigration ploy out of the headlines. But it also recalls the underlying and ongoing narrative of Obama weakness, of which Chuck Hagel was a symbol. Indeed, given how Hagel loyally stuck to the White House line both on defense budget and war-related matters, he may be hard to replace.
12:05 PM, Nov 24, 2014 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
Today we learned that it has been impossible to reach an agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons program. Even a short "framework" agreement or one-pager was beyond reach. And this, despite the extension of the talks from the original deadline last spring.
It should be clear now that there will be no comprehensive agreement with Iran. Today's announcement says the talks will be extended, again, this time through to next summer. But all sides know what the key issues are, and there will be no deal merely because extra months pass by. The only way to get an agreement is for the United States to give more and more concessions, beyond the dangerous concessions already made to Iran. It may be that the president and Secretary Kerry would be willing to do this, given the concessions already made (starting with the abandonment of the critical demand that Iran stop enriching uranium). But the election results portend a tougher line in Congress and among Democrats, and reality has a way of setting in. The truth is that the Islamic Republic has, and demands to retain, a nuclear weapons program, and will not agree to a deal that forces it to abandon this program. Our negotiators and theirs can, no doubt, imagine what a compromise would look like, but it cannot be reached without the United States or Iran abandoning positions that neither wishes to sacrifice.
Why are these Iran talks and the Israeli-Palestinian talks alike? Because in the latter as in the former, it is long past time to recognize that a comprehensive agreement is not attainable. Years of previous efforts on the Israeli-Palestinian front should have proved this, from the Camp David negotiations to those after the Annapolis meeting, and including those led by Secretary Kerry. Why he thought a complete and comprehensive deal was within his grasp remains a mystery, but at long last even he seems to be concluding that he will not be able to seal a deal. Arafat said no at Camp David in 2000, to Ehud Barak; Abbas said no to Ehud Olmert in 2008. Abbas is not going to say yes no matter how many times Kerry asks. So the United States should stop pushing for an unattainable agreement, stop seeking additional Israeli concessions, and start thinking about how to manage the consequences—that is, help Israelis and Palestinians achieve the maximum security and prosperity and independence from each other given the real circumstances.
There will be no comprehensive Iran deal either, and similarly we should be thinking now not about how soon Wendy Sherman can return to Vienna or what other concessions we can make to Tehran, but how to manage the real world consequences. Are partial agreements any part of the answer? Surely sanctions should be strengthened, or Iran will be rewarded for its obfuscations and delays. And the military option should be made far more credible than it has appeared in the last couple of years.
11:12 AM, Nov 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Emergency Committee for Israel calls for Congress to "reimpost" Iran sanctions and to "limit the president's authority to waive sanctions."
"After relaxing sanctions and making ill-advised concessions on Iran's nuclear program, the Obama administration has nonetheless been unable to close a deal," the ECI statement reads.
"There's no point waiting seven months for either another failure or a truly terrible deal. Congress should act now to reimpose sanctions and re-establish U.S. red lines that will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. To that end, such legislation must limit the president's authority to waive sanctions, an authority the president has already signaled a willingness to abuse in his desperate quest for a deal with the mullahs."
9:33 AM, Nov 24, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
So Chuck Hagel has been fired as defense secretary. We were critical of his appointment, and opposed his confirmation by the Senate. But let's be clear: Hagel has done what he was asked and what was expected of him at the Pentagon. To the degree he has deviated from the Obama White House line, he's been more right than wrong (e.g., on the threat the Islamic State poses).
So why has he been fired? Because the Obama White House needs a scapegoat. President George W, Bush fired Don Rumsfeld in connection with a change in strategy (the surge) and to bring in someone of independent stature. That's not the case today. President Obama continues to want a Pentagon with weak leadership and little independence. There's therefore no reason to expect the next two years of Obama foreign and defense policy to be any better than the past two.
8:40 AM, Nov 24, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
The deadline for the Joint Plan of Action ended it seems without a final agreement between the P5+1 and Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. It’s not yet clear what happens next.
“There will be some kind of extension,” says Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says Dubowitz, with parties reconvening in December to continue to negotiate. "Iran has 'hooked the fish' with Western negotiators so committed to negotiations that they will do whatever it takes to keep everyone at the table."
It’s useful then to see exactly what, for better or worse, has been resolved so far, either during the course of these talks or previously. According to Omri Ceren at the Israel Project, a pro-Israel public affairs organization that focuses on the Middle East, there are several issues on the table, many of which the Obama administration has already caved on.
—Sanctions. The White House is offering upfront sanctions relief that the administration says it can "snapback" if the Iranians fail to comply with their end of the bargain. However, as Dubowitz explained in congressional testimony last week, the idea that it will possible to re-impose sanctions once Iran is opened for business, is politically and economically unrealistic.
—Sunset clause. The Jerusalem Post reported that the administration has offered Iran a 10-year sunset clause, meaning that after ten years, whatever so-called permanent deal is reached comes to an end, constraints go away, and Iran is a normalized nuclear power despite the fact that, for instance, the Islamic Republic is a state sponsor of terror.
“If this is true it’s shocking,” says Dubowitz. “Congress has been talking about many decades, and the administration said 20 years. Iran asked for 3 to 7, 10 would be a significant climb down. And it means that within a decade most of the constraints would disappear and Iran will be well-positioned to develop a massive industrial-size program, which will be much more difficult to monitor, and an easier clandestine breakout route to a bomb."
—Enrichment. The administration gave up on its demands that Iran enrich no uranium at all. The Joint Plan of Action acknowledged Iran’s “right” to enrich which will allow them to close their breakout time by increasing materials to enrich. “Under several presidential administrations,” says Dubowitz, “the United States denied Iran any enrichment and now we’re haggling with them over how much uranium they get to enrich.”
—Centrifuges. The White House abandoned its demands Iran must dismantle its centrifuges. Now they must only disconnect, or unplug, them, which which will allow them to close their breakout time by making sure there is equipment on hand to do the enriching.
8:05 AM, Nov 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The latest episode of Conversations With Bill Kristol, featuring Brit Hume:
"In this conversation, Kristol and Hume discuss the early days of Fox News and the story of its ascent. Hume recalls his experiences in print journalism during the 1960's and 1970's and his work as a White House and Capitol Hill correspondent for ABC News during the 1980's and 1990's. Kristol and Hume also reflect on the media environment of today and its effects on American politics," the Foundation for Constitutional Government, the sponsor of the series, notes.
7:01 AM, Nov 24, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Joe Biden just returned Sunday from a three-nation trip that concluded with a 48 hour visit to Turkey. The vice president, his wife, and his entourage arrived in Turkey via Ukraine Friday evening around 7:30 local time for meetings with President Erdogan and other government officials. Biden departed for Washington, D.C. Sunday after meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The stay in Turkey alone racked up a hotel bill of approximately $624,734.
The notice of the hotel contract was posted online uncharacteristically quickly, appearing on the very day of Biden's departure from Turkey. The documents called for 200 rooms and one large conference room at the Hilton Harbiye in Istanbul:
Numerous other hotels were considered but not deemed suitable due to various reasons including lack of sufficient rooms, distance from planned events, and even ongoing renovations at one facility.
Documents related to lodging for the the Moroccan and Ukrainian legs of Biden's trip have not yet been posted.
7:02 PM, Nov 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Saturday Night Live mocked President Obama's executive amnesty -- and that it changed how a bill becomes a law in Washington, D.C.
It's a clear riff on the Schoolhouse Rock "How a Bill Becomes a Law" jingle.
“I’m an executive order and I pretty much just happen,” says the character playing an executive order.
The actor playing the kid learning about U.S. government replies, "Wait a second, don’t you have to go through congress first at some point?"
"Aww, that’s adorable. You still think that’s how government works," says the executive order.
Via the Washington Free Beacon.
Matt Labash remembers D.C.'s Mayor for Life2:43 PM, Nov 23, 2014 • By MATT LABASH
The news broke hard in my house this morning that Marion Barry, Washington D.C.’s former Mayor for Life, was dead at the age of 78. Of the profile subjects featured in my 2010 collection, Fly Fishing With Darth Vader, he’s the third I’ve had to eulogize in the last few years. (The other two being James Traficant and Christopher Hitchens, prompting my melancholy-stricken-yet-pragmatic wife to say, “You’ve really got to start writing about more 25-year-olds.”)
I would, if they made them a third as interesting as Marion Shepilov Barry Jr. The unspoken idea, when I approached him in 2009, after a brush with the law for stalking his girlfriend, and after he was well past his political prime, was that I’d let him know when he was lying to me—which was often—and we'd proceed from there. Instead, we’d try to extract something real, even if his lies themselves were part of the realness. This dynamic seemed to liberate Barry, and so, even in his revisionism and self-justification, he ended up revealing a lot of truth.
For starters, within ten minutes of my meeting him, he showed me his nipples (in order to display an old gunshot wound resulting from when Muslim terrorists seized the District Building in the 70s, and he caught a bullet in the chest). I was encouraged. In the profiler’s handbook, it clearly states that when a man insists you get eyeball-to-areola with him, there lies a man you can do business with. From there, we talked about Barry’s prostate problems and the portable urinal he kept under the bed, his missing kidney, his serial womanizing (“God gave me the gift of being gregarious, I’m a touchy feely kind of person,” he said), his chemical dependency, his financial ineptitude (his debit card was rejected when he tried to buy me lunch), the sadness over his third wife Effi’s death (he cried, hard), his stubbornness and his refusal to acknowledge fault, which was both his greatest political asset and liability.
But all that said, that’s not how I like to remember him. My favorite Marion Barry moment came well after our piece was completed, and it had been included in the collection, as a last-minute addition. He came to my book party. Though, since he always operated on what was known as Barry Time (his press girl once told me to meet him for church at 11:30, though church started at 11), he showed up a good hour-and-a-half late. The party was held at my old colleague Tucker Carlson’s house. As friends and former subjects got up to tell sweet little lies about me, as is custom when somebody puts you on the spot to say something nice about them, the crowd grew restless, banging on their glasses for a speech. Since I find just about any activity more desirable than public speaking—jumping out of an airplane, enduring a colonoscopy, reading the fundraising emails of Debbie Wasserman Schultz—I politely slurred at them to return to their loved ones and drinks, there would be no speech from me.
9:57 AM, Nov 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama said on ABC News that Americans will want that "new car smell" in their next president:
"A fresh start. You know, when you’ve been president for six years you–you know, you’ve got some dings and– you know and," said Obama.
"You know, I think– I think the American people, you know, they’re going to want– you know, that new car smell. You know, their own– they– they want to drive something off the lot that, that doesn’t have as much mileage as me."
9:15 AM, Nov 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Washington Post reports that Marion Barry has died:
Marion Barry Jr., the Mississippi sharecropper’s son and civil rights activist who served three terms as mayor of the District of Columbia, survived a drug arrest and jail sentence, and then came back to win a fourth term as the city’s chief executive, died around midnight Saturday at United Medical Center in Washington. He was 78.
Hospital spokeswoman Natalie Williams said Mr. Barry arrived at the hospital around 12:30 a.m. and died at 1:46 a.m. He had been released from Howard University Hospital on Saturday following a brief stay. His death was announced by his family in a statement released through a spokeswoman for Mr. Barry. No cause was given, but he had suffered from many health problems over the years, including diabetes, prostate cancer and kidney ailments.
Barry was profiled by Matt Labash in 2009 in THE WEEKLY STANDARD:
In most conceptions of Washington, D.C., the city operates on Eastern Standard Time. But those who pass through Marion Barry's orbit know there's another zone which has nothing to do with the mean solar time of the 75th meridian west of the Greenwich Observatory. It's called "Barry Time." The former four-term mayor of D.C. will show up for speeches, meetings, and civic events whenever he damn well pleases.
This translates into many minutes, even hours, of waiting for Barry to appear. So after being slated to hang out with Barry for several days, I am surprised to receive a call from his spokesperson, Natalie Williams, two days before we're supposed to meet.
"Mr. Barry wants to start early," Natalie informs. "He wants you to come to church with him tomorrow."
"Great," I say. "What time does church start?"
"Eleven A.M.," she says.
"Okay. And what time should I meet him before church?" I ask.
"Eleven-thirty," she responds with complete seriousness.
Barry, now in his second postmayoral term as a councilman representing the city's poorest ward, is these days something less than a political powerhouse, but my interest had recently been rekindled in the man universally known as one of the two or three finest crack-smoking politicians our nation has ever produced. A 1990 FBI sting yielded grainy video of Barry holding a crack pipe to his lips that was broadcast around the world (launching a booming "Bitch-set-me-up" T-shirt industry), and his name became a late-night comic's rim shot, especially as he won one more mayoral term in 1994 after serving six months in jail.
3:45 PM, Nov 22, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Some 140 million bargain-hunting customers will descend on retailers on Thanksgiving Day, so-called Black Friday, and throughout next weekend -- or at least those who haven’t shopped already or by early next week will head for the shops. Not so long ago most stores remained closed on Thanksgiving Day, on the assumption that families preferred to spend the holiday enjoying uninterrupted togetherness, downing some 46 million turkeys and watching football. No longer. Walmart, Macy’s, and many others are opening their doors on the holiday.
But not all retailers will do the same. Nordstrom’s will remain shuttered, as will Costco, the nation’s second largest retailer after Walmart. Costco is closed because “it is the right thing to do for our employees,” chief financial officer Richard Galanti told the press. Tony Bartel, president of GameStop, a chain of 4,600 stores selling new and used video games and the like, agrees. “For us, it’s a matter of principle….It’s called ‘protecting the family.’” Brave move by a man whose firm’s third-quarter earnings and prospects have disappointed investors and is facing new competition in the used video game market from Walmart, which last month began selling used games in 1,700 of its stores. The 4,600-store Ace Hardware chain took the highest ground of all, announcing it would not open until Friday, “Some things are more important than money.” No list of such things was provided.
No longer is the Friday after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday because it was the day that the ink on retailers’ accounts turned from red to black, the peak sales day of the year. Many consumers now get their in-store and online shopping done on or even before Thanksgiving, a phenomenon that took retailers and shippers by surprise last year. Delivery-company shipments in the week immediately after Thanksgiving 2013 jumped 23 percent, more and sooner than UPS, FedEx, and other companies expected, leaving the deliverers playing catch-up during the entire holiday season. Millions of packages sat in loading docks, and on trucks and planes rather than under Christmas trees even after December 25. So FedEx, UPS, and others are adding staff and taking other steps to avoid another fiasco. Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon and other retailers are doing their bit by avoiding one-day sales on Thanksgiving and Friday, instead spreading their discount deals throughout the Thanksgiving-to-Cyber Monday weekend.
Retailers are hoping that the National Federation of Retailers is right in predicting that sales this Christmas season will top last years’ by 4.1 percent. That would mean the tills and swipe machines will be handling a bigger increase than last year’s 3.1 percent, and than the ten-year average of 2.9 percent. Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target, the 1,780-store chain that was sent reeling by hackers who stole customer information last year, implied on national television that the NFR forecast might prove optimistic. But most of his peers are looking forward to a very merry holiday season indeed, and investors are responding by bidding up the prices of many retailers’ shares.
Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard