Desperate Democrats


An unappealing prospect

A sea of signs proclaiming “We Built It” revealed the battle cry of last week’s Republican National Convention. We don’t need to wait for Los Angeles mayor and convention chair Antonio Villaraigosa to bring his gavel down in Charlotte on Tuesday to know the Democratic theme. It’s been clear for months: Republicans are waging a “war on women” and only Democrats can end it.

Three days after Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin elaborated on his bizarre belief that women’s bodies block conception from “legitimate rape,” Democrats sent out a press release listing 10 additional convention speakers—all of them women, a number of them focusing solely on contraception and abortion. The list included NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan, Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards, and “Georgetown University Student” Sandra Fluke. Added to names already announced, pundits guess it will mark a ...

Americans at (real) war

A Real War & a Phony War


We’re at war. More than 68,000 troops are deployed to Afghanistan. More than 2,000 Americans have died in over 10 years of fighting. The war has quiet bipartisan support. Too quiet.

President Obama, who—properly, we ...

Paul Ryan

The Assault on Paul Ryan II


If you missed Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention last week and tried to play catch-up the next morning, you could be forgiven for concluding that nothing the Wisconsin congressman said was true.

Twelve ...

Smoke rising

No Red Lines in Syria


Last week, Iran reportedly dispatched more of its Revolutionary Guard shock troops to Syria to prop up its ally. And with that the Obama administration lost another of its justifications for sitting by idly as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad runs his ...


The Obama Delusion, Explained

Making excuses for the president.


Hope? Change?

Did you know that bitching about President Obama is now considered a “tradition” among liberals? It is. Things move so fast with those guys. One person has a gripe, another person chimes in, a third grouses about this or that, and the next thing you know—it’s a “tradition.” Very progressive.

“Your essay is in a tradition of trying to understand the reality of President Obama versus the promise of Candidate Obama,” said a man named Ta-Nehisi Coates, interviewing the writer James Fallows. Both men work for the Atlantic magazine, which just last week published an e-book by Fallows called The Obama Presidency, Explained. The interview is packaged with the e-book, which is mostly a revised version of an Atlantic article Fallows wrote this spring. Fallows is the complete Atlantic magazine writer, containing within himself the character of his magazine in all its facets: lacking in ...

A Planned Parenthood rally

Reactionary Democrats

Why they can’t stop talking about abortion.


For Democrats, the issue of abortion is a hardy perennial. They turn to it in hope of persuading voters that Republicans, in their opposition to abortion, are extremists and antiwoman.

At this week’s Democratic National ...

Mitt Romney, throwback.

The Anachronistic Candidate

Mitt Romney, throwback.


There was an interesting moment at the Republican National Convention last week: just a moment, and scarcely noticed, but it seemed to sum up a Mitt Romney problem which, in a rational world, would not be a problem. 

The protesters in Tampa

The Graying of the Proletariat

Boomer protest marches aren’t what they used to be.



They had me at “street theater.” Last week at the GOP convention, the AFL-CIO sponsored a “Mitt Romney’s America” protest. It wasn’t just an ordinary march, though. It was billed as a “parade.” In ...

Deb Fischer

Bob Kerrey’s Worst Nightmare

Deb Fischer is running away with the Senate race in Nebraska.


North Platte, Neb.
Deb Fischer will very likely be the next U.S. senator from Nebraska. The latest survey of the race to replace retiring Democrat Ben Nelson shows Fischer 20 points ahead of her Democratic opponent, Bob ...

Rep. Jeff Landry offers some advice during a presidential address to Congress.

Only One Can Survive


Lafayette, La.
Deep in the swampland, a battle is brewing. It is less than two weeks from the start of alligator hunting season. The gators have dug their holes in the bankside, and their young have all hatched. The ...


Princeton’s Iranian Agent of Influence

The cautionary tale of Seyed Hossein Mousavian


Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Tehran, 2004

As the Islamic Revolution has devoured its own, many Iranians have sought refuge in the West. After the fraudulent 2009 presidential elections and the crackdown that followed, the United States and Europe were flooded with Iranian pro-democracy dissidents and even pro-regime types who fell afoul of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s shrinking definition of “loyal.” In this latter category is the former ambassador and nuclear negotiator Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who left Iran in 2009 and has since resided at Princeton University. 

Mousavian is a compelling character: He reveals how distant philosophically these Iranian exiles can be from their Western hosts, and how poorly many Americans have understood their guests. Mousavian’s American and European admirers have been as naïve as he has been deceitful. And his sojourn here hints at a larger truth about the embrace of nonproliferation as a cause célèbre ...

The War on Women

Can This Be What Women Want?

The Democrats condescend to half the electorate


In the sixth century b.c., the Chinese tactician Sun Tzu observed: “All warfare is based on deception.” If only he could have seen the “war on women.” This whopping deception​—​that Republicans are out to destroy women and everything they hold ...

Books & Arts

Love in the Ruins

Death and rebirth in the shadow of genocide.


Chris Bohjalian

As Chris Bohjalian tells it, the years between 1915 and 1923 were “the most nightmarish eight years of Armenian history.” Yet the horrific events of that time are generally not included in history courses, and are not so well known outside the Armenian community. No longer. Bohjalian describes what happened to the Armenians in grisly detail in this compelling novel. Deftly mixing fact and fiction, he tells the story of the massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians through a tale that spans generations and continents, its characters linked together by a series of photographs.

The plot concerns a family secret, and as the secret unravels, it sheds light on the genocide, which began in April 1915 when the Ottoman Turks decided to exterminate their Armenian neighbors. Writers, physicians, professors, businessmen, scientists, religious leaders—all were arrested, jailed, deported, or killed. Armenians (who have been ...

Portrait of Martin Luther, ca. 1540

A Master’s Voice

The Reformation as seen in the art of Lucas Cranach.


The Serpent and the Lamb is not easy to pin down. Officially, it tells the story of Martin Luther’s relations with the eminent painter Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553); Professor Ozment argues that the two men ...

Reynolds Price, 1998

The Long Goodbye

Do the memoirs of Reynolds Price overshadow his fiction?


When Reynolds Price died in January 2011, after a gallant battle of three decades with disabling spinal cancer and chronic pain, he left an uncompleted fourth volume of reminiscences. Its quality, notwithstanding its abrupt end, bears testimony to his gifts: His ...

Napoleon's Nemesis

Napoleon’s Nemesis

The British statesman who galvanized Europe against France.


Mention the names of Wellington, Nelson, and Pitt to any informed person and you’re likely to get a nod of recognition. But Castlereagh? A blank stare.  Yet the case can be made, and John Bew makes it convincingly, that Viscount Castlereagh was the equal of those ...

Richard Nixon awards Duke Ellington the Medal of Freedom at the White House, 196

The Hit Parade

Why these melodies linger on.


Ted Gioia, who recently published an excellent History of Jazz, now turns his attention to classic instances of that art. As a pianist and teacher of jazz piano, Gioia often wished, he writes, ...

Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf

Bootleggers’ Blues

More whiskey, and less poetry, might have worked.


Bootlegger movies have tended to be rather high-spirited affairs, with reckless and wild country boys outsmarting and outdriving the slow-witted lawmen in their counties as a mouth organ boings in the background and a Dobro is ...


Their Town

Irwin M. Stelzer, Aspen outsider


Donkeys on Mountain

If Washingtonians think they live in a Democratic-dominated city, they should come out here to the Rocky Mountain hotbed of liberalism that is Aspen. In Washington, each party recognizes that the other must exist. Otherwise, they would have no one to attack and would be forced instead to come up with positive solutions to the nation’s problems. Here in Aspen, in the swing state of Colorado, the existence of conservatives—taken to be synonymous with Republicans, the political literacy rate not allowing for too many fine distinctions—is deemed an affront to the community.

This is a town where the buses are free, the city council is planning to ban construction of “free market” residential units, and new buildings have long been required to include subsidized housing units, thousands of which are already available to people employed locally, the idea being to create a “balanced community” where people at all income levels ...


This Made Our Day

Clint Eastwood and Invisible Guest

First, a disclaimer. The Scrapbook thought that the Republican National Convention was a success, and that Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech was first-rate, as was Paul Ryan’s address. Ann Romney, Clint Eastwood, Condi Rice, and all the Romney witnesses did their parts well, sometimes exceptionally well. The only sour note was Hurricane Isaac, or the threat of Hurricane Isaac, which in the end scarcely materialized in Florida. 

That said, The Scrapbook must admit that the GOP convention made us feel—well, a little antiquated. The reason is that we are old enough to remember the national conventions of the 1950s and ’60s; and any resemblance between those humid quadrennial funfests and the smooth, tightly scripted, closely choreographed production put on in Tampa (or Charlotte) is strictly coincidental. 

We blame ...


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