Footprints on the Sand of Time


Barack Obama, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As the world unravels on Barack Obama’s watch, conservatives might want to take some solace in saying​—​We told you so! But they shouldn’t. First of all, it’s not as if the Romney campaign or the GOP congressional leadership or most conservative organizations really spent much time bothering to warn of the consequences of Obama’s foreign policy. And in any case, there’s not much solace to be had, as the world coming apart threatens the well-being of America, not just the success of Barack Obama’s second term.

So what can conservatives do? They can explain that decline has been a choice, and that weakness has consequences. They can explain that Obama’s inaction in Syria now is of ...

Aleppo on December 5, 2012

Obama v. Assad


The flurry of excitement over Syria’s “moving” of chemical weapons highlights yet again the paralysis gripping U.S. Middle East strategy. “We’re kind of boxed in,” an ...


Spender in Chief

The president doesn’t want a deal; he wants higher taxes, on his terms.


Boehner looking at Obama

Among President Obama’s rhetorical skills is an impressive mastery of lip service. He displayed it last week when he spoke to the Business Roundtable, the lobby for big business. And he did so without betraying even a hint that his words were bunk.

In this case, he was paying lip service to the notion that​—​contrary to what he called “my reputation”​—​he’s for spending cuts to reduce the deficit and to secure a bipartisan deal to avert the fiscal cliff on January 1. “We’re prepared to make some tough decisions when it comes to cutting spending,” he insisted.

the last temptation

Permanent Gridlock

The showdowns on spending won’t end until the voters make up their minds.


As the nation heads ever closer to the so-called fiscal ...

François Hollande

Mittal Europa

France’s Socialists are more bark than bite.


Ever since France’s Socialist president François Hollande arrived on ...

A working mother

The War on (Married) Women

It’s embedded in the tax code.


As our lawmakers​—​newly reminded of the power of female ...

Sen. Mark Kirk

Leading from the Rehab Center

Mark Kirk didn’t let a stroke slow his campaign for Iran sanctions.


Since suffering a near-fatal stroke last January, two tasks have obsessed Senator Mark Kirk from his encampment at a Chicago rehabilitation center: relearning how to ...


USS Enterprise

Hail and Farewell


The USS Enterprise, right, sets out on its 22nd and final deployment, 2012.

For the Big E, it was the beginning of the end. On March 11, 2012, USS Enterprise (CVN-65)—the world’s first nuclear aircraft carrier and the oldest active combat ship in the U.S. Navy—left Norfolk on her final deployment. She was embarking upon the end of a 51-year career, a seagoing record unmatched by any warship in American history and seldom approached elsewhere.

The Big E’s skipper is Captain William C. “Boomer” Hamilton Jr., a tall, well-spoken Alabaman who acquired his call sign after a “sonic event” when he flew F/A-18 Hornets. Hamilton assumed command in August ...

Moon Jae-in, left, and Park Geun-hye on the campaign trail

Democracy, Gangnam-Style

South Koreans pick a president


Confederate troops firing from behind the stone wall

‘It Is Well That War Is So Terrible’

The battle of Fredericksburg, December 1862


Books & Arts

What Would Marshall Do?

Fire some generals, for starters.


General George C. Marshall (seated, left) and staff at the War Department (1941)

What is strategy, after all? The public talks about war as if it were a game of chess or Risk or Sid Meier’s Civilization. But the real meaning of strategy, as opposed to tactics, is the capacity to determine what to do in a world without guidelines, not how to optimize resources toward well-defined objectives. Thus, the problem with armchair strategy, even when those armchairs are in the Oval Office, is the assumption that satellite imagery and GPS tracking have eliminated fog and friction. We have endless conversations about strategy (backward-looking all), fewer conversations about strategists, and none about the most important topic of all. 

What is the system for producing our generals? The United States Army does not produce its generals on the fields of friendly strife at West Point, nor in the classrooms of the Command and ...

Julian Symons

Symons Said

On the trail of a strange, elusive life in literature.


My quest for Symons—A. J. A. Symons, that is—began when, many years ago, I first read that strange novel Hadrian the Seventh (1904). Written by the so-called Baron ...

A series of tubes

Totally Tubular

The nuts and bolts and cables of the Internet.


Recently, Google unveiled a new feature on its website: the ability to tour, via “street view,” its Lenoir, North Carolina, data center, one of its numerous, highly guarded ...

‘Self-Portrait with Beret’ (ca. 1899)

Postmodern Cézanne

This is what happens when politics distorts art.


Five months before he died, ...

Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper

Unreal City

Is it possible not to feel good after seeing a feel-good movie?



Above and Beyond

Mark Hemingway meets the Missing Man


Alan Poindexter’s Arlington gravesite, foreground

  I recently had occasion to attend a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. It was the day after Veterans Day, and I woke up that November morning to find it cold and raining. Whenever you see military funerals in movies, it’s raining—beads of water stream off the faces of soldiers implacably going through their drills, a heavy-handed metaphor for the stoicism and sacrifice of military service.

Alan Poindexter was my father’s godson. He died this summer at age 50 in a freak accident while taking his developmentally disabled son for a ride on a jet ski. (His son survived the accident just fine.) Alan was several years older than I am and lived 3,000 miles away, so ...


When Brubeck Wasn’t Cool

Dave Brubeck

The Scrapbook notes with regret the death last week of Dave Brubeck, the California-born, classically trained pianist whose eponymous quartet—with its infectious melodies and unconventional time signatures—did so much to revitalize jazz in the 1950s and ’60s. Brubeck, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, and drummer Joe Morello are all now gone, leaving only the bass player, 89-year-old Eugene Wright.

As The Scrapbook has suggested in similar circumstances, the death of a famous, famously personable, and by all accounts supremely successful man on the eve of his 92nd birthday cannot be reckoned a tragedy. But with Dave Brubeck’s death, a certain chapter in our cultural history is ...

Phyllida Lloyd

The Play’s the Thing

According to British director Phyllida Lloyd, the Royal Shakespeare Company owes female actors some “reparation” for its shockingly sexist practice of casting male ...

A Salvation army Rep

The War on Christmas, cont.

Every year around the holidays, the left sneers about the overabundance of “war on Christmas” stories in the media. The Scrapbook is tired of hearing about it as well, ...

Books upon books

Sentences We Didn’t Finish

"The Library of America series is the best continuous advertisement for the surpassing intelligence, creative leadership and elite values of the United States in the ...

free fall


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