No Deal


Lincoln Side by Side

As we go to press, the Obama administration seems to be hurtling towards a bad deal with Iran. The administration will claim the agreement freezes and indeed sets back the Iranian nuclear program. But even the New York Times acknowledges that “only some elements are frozen, and rollbacks in the initial agreement are relatively minor” and can be easily reversed. Furthermore, the “deal” would mean the United States would retreat from its previous clear red line—one embodied in repeated U.N. Security Council resolutions—of requiring that Iran stop enrichment. It would allow Iran to move ever closer to nuclear weapons while getting significant sanctions relief. Some deal! In truth, it’s not a deal in the usual meaning of the term. It’s an accommodation. It’s a way for the Obama administration to avoid confronting Iran, and to buy time to acclimate the world to accepting a nuclear Iran.

What will the Obama administration’s leading lights say when ...


The Party Line


China’s Communist party leadership concluded an important agenda-setting meeting in Beijing on November 12. At this point much remains unclear about the decisions made at the Third Plenum of the 18th Communist Party Central Committee conclave, including changes to the One China ...


Obamacare in 2014

Republicans will run on it. Democrats will run away from it.


Gary Locke

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman and chair of the Democratic National Committee, is nothing if not dedicated to the cause. “You’re darn right our candidates are going to run on the advantage that Obamacare will be going into the 2014 election,” she recently told CNN.

But as the news about the president’s health care law goes from bad to worse—a faulty website and low enrollment gave way to higher premiums and a steady stream of cancellation letters—congressional Democrats will likely want to talk about anything but Obamacare on the trail. In fact, it’s a number of Republican challengers who say Obamacare will work to their advantage next November.

One of them is Elise Stefanik, a 29-year-old Republican from upstate New York’s North Country region trying to unseat Democratic congressman Bill Owens. Owens, who won his seat in a 2009 special election, voted for Obamacare in ...


The Man and the Myth

Why prudent politicians embrace the JFK legacy.


The legacy of President John F. Kennedy is a wondrous thing. Any president compared with Kennedy comes up short, even if his actual accomplishments were greater than JFK’s. Presidents in the modern era can never measure up to JFK in the ...

650 Fifth Avenue; Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iran’s Chief Negotiator

Surprise, surprise: He has a long record of ­double-dealing.


Along with President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is yet another arrow in the quiver of the Islamic Republic’s charm offensive. The chief negotiator at Geneva over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Zarif was schooled in the United States, is fluent in English, ...


The Other Assassination

Saigon, November 1963.


As Americans pause to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, they should not overlook the other fateful assassination that took place that same month. On November 2, 1963, South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem was murdered in Saigon in a ...


Where Is It Good to Be a Woman?

Don’t ask the Davos forum.


For just a moment, let’s pretend the GOP really were waging a “war on women.” Where would you go to find less inequality and chauvinism? According to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, three of the best options for women seeking greater equality are Cuba, Nicaragua, ...


The Real Price of Politics

Obamacare is not an aberration



In The Price of Politics, journalist Bob Woodward describes the toll that politics took on the presidency and public image of Barack Obama during the budget battle of 2011. Elected as an outsider with little experience in governing and none in executive leadership, Woodward’s Obama is ill-equipped to handle the byzantine ways of Washington. The result is a tarnished president, a nation brought needlessly to the brink of credit default, and a sharp diminution of public trust.

While valuable as a fly-on-the-wall account of a momentous battle, Woodward’s book overlooks the real price of politics in Washington. By focusing on personalities rather than enduring power relations, it obscures the fact that in America, we regularly burden our politicians by requiring a government built for limited purposes to tackle an endless array of modern demands. Our government’s chronic failure to meet our expectations is the price we ...


A Rare Specimen

Rob Astorino, successful New York Republican


On November 5, Republican Rob Astorino was reelected executive of upscale Westchester County, which lies directly north of New York City, between the Hudson River and Long Island Sound. Back from a week of postelection beachifying in Puerto Rico, Astorino is already thinking about ...

Thomas fluharty

Silicon Chasm

The class divide on America’s cutting edge


Atherton, Calif. 
"If you live here, you’ve made it,” David Berkey said to me as I rode shotgun in his car two months ago through the Silicon Valley’s wealth belt. The massive house toward which he was pointing belongs to Sergey Brin, ...

Books & Arts

Ms. Private Eye

Victorian women detectives in life and literature.


Emblematic scene from ‘Jack the Ripper’ (1959)

The investigator is chasing a suspect, who has just disappeared through a secret trapdoor. Breathlessly, the private dick follows the masked figure down a ladder into a dark passageway: It turns out to lead from the Belgravia mansion into the vault of a nearby bank. Our hero can see the thief in the act of grabbing the gold and making off—but the trapdoor closes behind the crook, leaving the detective unable to leave the crime scene and about to be apprehended by security guards.

Nothing, perhaps, seems very unusual about this heist thriller—until you realize that it was published in 1864, and that both the thief and the detective are women. The first is a countess who has cross-dressed in order to perform her daring robbery. The second is a professional female detective who, in order to pursue her quarry underground, has quickly jettisoned her crinoline.

This year, the British Library has republished two rare and ...

Drawing water in Dertu, Kenya (2010)

The Cost of Big Aid

Sometimes the cure is as bad as the disease.


In early 1997, Dertu was a barely mapped speck on the parched landscape of the Somali nomads of Kenya’s North Eastern Province. The place’s misfortune was to possess just enough groundwater to attract a UNICEF borehole. By late 2009, Dertu was a ...

Jenny McCarthy at war with vaccination

Doing Harm

The alternatives to medicine can be sickening.


My mother, who admired Linus Pauling, kept three rows of bottles filled with vitamins and herbs in her kitchen, as well as stacks of newsletters with advice about “natural” remedies. She maintained an admirable figure on a low-fat, low-meat ...

Robert Bly

Captain Bly

The skipper of the good ship ‘Bestselling Poetry.’


In order to possess literary merit, poetry must do at least one of three things adequately: condense emotion, embody truths about the human condition, or enrapture readers with the poet’s ability to put words together in a beautiful way. Great poems can do all of these things. ...

‘Saying Grace’ (1951)

‘Post’ Modernist

The overinterpretation of a great American illustrator.


Like the music of Virgil Thomson and the dances of George Balanchine, the paintings of Norman Rockwell are enlivened by a conspicuously transparent species of Americana. They also had the good fortune to make their debuts before irony was turned loose on the land. There was no ...

Robert Redford

Star in Reserve

Robert Redford and the power of understatement.


There is only one person on screen. We hear him in a brief voiceover at the beginning of the movie, after which he speaks a total of 40 words during the 106-minute running time. What we do is watch this man as he copes with a disaster at sea. The movie is called All Is ...


Now, Where Was I?

Philip Terzian remembers November 1963


david gothard

Everyone of a certain age, it is said, remembers the moment when they heard that John F. Kennedy had been shot. Yet even though I was 13 years old at the time, and recall quite a lot from 1963, I do not remember this, though for a technical reason.

I was a beleaguered freshman at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, sitting in French class. A classmate who had been excused to go to the bathroom returned with a quizzical expression on her face to announce (in a strained voice, as I recall) that she had heard a radio in the hall, and that “Mrs. Kennedy has been shot.”

Undoubtedly, at some point soon thereafter, that misinformation was corrected; but I have no recollection of it. I do remember, however, that our teacher—a testy gargoyle with slicked-back hair—peremptorily insisted that French class continue. And sometime later in the afternoon, when the freshman class was assembled together ...


We Are Most Thankful



Dear Harvard . . . Sincerely, JFK

The Washington Post, like many publications, has been observing the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in considerable detail. No, make that lurid detail. No day has gone by in recent weeks without extended lists, recycled photographs, old reminiscences, ...

Toll Road

For Whom the Toll Tolls

The Scrapbook will readily confess to avoiding toll roads when possible. Sure, they are usually convenient, faster than other routes, and less crowded, but paying for the privilege makes the “open road” seem, well, less open. But when we have to, we grudgingly reach in our change ...

What? Me Worry?

Harry Reid (D-Hypocrisy)

Setting aside the flaming dirigible that is Obamacare, the big news out of Washington heading into the Thanksgiving holiday is that Democrats have finally made good on their threat to eliminate the filibuster for judicial and executive branch appointments. For the last few years, ...

Markets? How do they work?

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Markets

Last week one of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s major shareholders proposed dismantling the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and replacing them with two new private-sector entities that would offer the same services, namely buying and guaranteeing home mortgages. Perhaps more ...


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