What Hath Obama Wrought


Photo of Mahmoud Abbas

Some have praised President Obama’s September 20 speech at the U.N. as his most rousing defense of Israel to date. Perhaps so—though that’s not saying much. It rather seems to us that the president merits some credit—but only some—for a growing self-awareness, both of his own limits and of the finer points of American Middle East policy.

“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N.,” Obama told the General Assembly. “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.” But, as Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas noted, the president mapped out precisely such a prospect just last year. The most potent instruments at Obama’s disposal, it seemed then, were statements—mostly ...

Photo of Guns

Lawyers, Guns, and Money


Last December, U.S. border patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered in a firefight with three Mexican nationals in Arizona. Two guns recovered at the crime scene were traced back to an ongoing Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, ...


Twisting in the Wind

Ben Bernanke’s diminishing returns.


Cartoon of Bernanke On Sinking Ship

It didn’t take long for the snark attack to begin among the Big Money crowd. Less than 24 hours after the Federal Reserve announced its latest easy-money plan to goose the flaccid U.S economy, investors were already deriding “Operation Twist” as “Operation Fail.” Almost everything that was supposed to go up went down—and vice versa. Global stock markets plunged, oil prices fell, the dollar rose, and inflation expectations tumbled despite the central bank’s decision to swap $400 billion of short-term Treasury bonds for ones of longer duration over the next nine months. It was like Opposite Day on Wall Street.

“If one knew nothing else but simply looked at the market response to what the Fed did [on Wednesday], it would look like ...

Cartoon of Jackie Kennedy Onassis Being Erased

Jackie, Oh No

The Kennedy apparat swings into action again.


Is there a more empathetic person in the world than Diane Sawyer, the top newsreader at ABC TV? I’m sure there must be—around seven billion of them, ...

Photo of General Mark Martins

Rebrander in Chief

The Defense Department’s new man at Gitmo hits the reset button.


"M" sent in James Bond. MacArthur ordered in the 1st Marine Division. Today, when the Department of Defense has a complex crisis requiring brawn and ...

Cartoon of Ponzi Scheme compared to Social Security

The Frontrunner Stumbles

Rick Perry’s can’t-do campaign.


Orlando, Florida

Cartoon of Obama dressed as medieval friar

The Reactionary in the White House

Barack Obama, throwback.


President Obama’s plan for taxes and spending has been hailed by the media as “populist.” A more accurate word to describe his agenda is ...

Photo of Sandy Koufax Playing Ball

A Brief, Brilliant Career

Why we can’t forget Sandy Koufax.


For five memorable seasons, Sandy Koufax dominated baseball as no other major league pitcher ever had before. From 1962 to 1966, Koufax led the ...


President Solyndra

And his mean green wealth-wasting machine.


Photo of Obama touring Solyndra facility in May 2010.

The spectacular collapse of Solyndra has all of the trappings of an epic Washington scandal, with serial revelations of embarrassing and potentially improper White House machinations to secure a $535 million federal loan guarantee for a startup company with dubious prospects of success. The sudden bankruptcy of the Fremont, California, manufacturer of solar panels​—​after it was feted as a model creator of “green jobs” by President Obama and Vice President Biden​—​has already featured FBI raids, contentious congressional hearings, and demands for a special prosecutor to investigate. The plot thickened further last week when Solyndra’s two top executives, who made 20 trips to the White House while their loan application was under consideration, invoked the Fifth Amendment rather than answer questions from the House Energy and Commerce ...

Photo of Egyptian protesters attacking the Israeli embassy in Cairo

The People, No

Egypt’s populist problem.



Books & Arts

Paging Mr. Inside

How Bob Strauss operated without drawing blood.


Photo of Robert Strauss and Anwar Sadat in 1979

When John Connally became governor of Texas in 1963 he quickly sought to get his own man on the state Banking Board. He chose Robert Strauss, then a prominent Dallas lawyer and civic leader (and, not coincidentally, a close Connally ally). But Strauss didn’t want the job and demurred in his characteristic “aw shucks’’ manner, followed by a “why me?’’ protestation. He said he wasn’t qualified because he was completely unschooled in banking matters. When Connally insisted, his friend dutifully accepted the appointment.

Then he distinguished himself on the board while deftly protecting the governor’s interests. Following his departure, he also parlayed his newly developed expertise—and his now-strong connections with former board colleagues, who ...

‘Persimmon Tree’ Painting by Sakai Hôitsu

Natural Harmony

The complex prettiness of Japanese art.


Photo of "Are You Serious?" Book Cover

Seriously Flawed

When a cultural critic doesn’t quite comprehend Culture.


Judging from old people I know, the question of seriousness used to be far more important than it is today. Those of us in the perpetual age of pre-old are more likely to divide our friends and relations into categories of “racist” or ...

Photo of Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Illinois

Good News Bears

The complicated, contradictory world of evangelicals.


The constant tension in any movement is who gets to define it, and how. Enter the debate over evangelicalism, which exists in two forms. Evangelicalism as a doctrinal movement has often been defined according to what is called the ...

Photo of Generation F Book Cover

Never Enough

A chronicle of Britain’s privileged underclass.


The pseudonymous author of this memoir, Winston Smith, chose the moniker because of the maddening bureaucracy within which he worked. His blog, “Winston Smith—Working With the Underclass,”  won an Orwell Prize for chronicling the ...

Photos of The Zombies in concert

Return of the Zombies

Still vital, versatile, and very much undead.


Silver Spring, Maryland

Movie still with Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan

L.A. Surreal

A film noir pays homage to the 1980s.



Doctor, My Eye

Christopher Caldwell, man on a plan.


Caricature of Hippocratic Oath changed to Hypocritic Oath

Three or four years ago, during the Neronian decadence that preceded the financial crash of 2008, we got a glossy brochure in the mail from one of our doctors. It announced that for a modest fee—about a hundred dollars per person—our family could enjoy a whole range of special perquisites known as the Platinum Recognition Plan. What would we get with Platinum Recognition? Well, for one, our doctor would return our calls himself. If any of us got really, really sick, he would see us within days. Not only that, he would come up with a “personalized” health regimen to suit whatever symptoms and conditions we might develop in his branch of medicine. 

My wife checked the postmark to make sure it was not April 1. Listening to ...


The Young and the Old Self

Photos of the younger Morgenthau then and now

The Scrapbook’s attention was drawn the other day to a photograph in the New York Times. It accompanied the obituary of Sidney H. Asch, a New York politician and judge who was famous for his scholarly opinions. The photograph, seen here, depicts Judge Asch as he swears in Robert Morgenthau as Manhattan district attorney in January 1975. (Mr. Morgenthau, now 92, retired just two years ago.)

The Scrapbook examined the photograph very carefully and concluded that, with the possible exception of the design of the eyeglasses, and the size of the knot in Mr. Morgenthau’s necktie, this picture might have been taken yesterday. That is, if you exclude the figure standing roughly in the middle: The young man dressed in the jacket with wide lapels, wearing aviator ...


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