Obama Calls Retreat



Kiev is ablaze. Syria is a killing field. The Iranian mullahs aren’t giving up their nuclear weapons capability, and other regimes in the Middle East are preparing to acquire their own. Al Qaeda is making gains and is probably stronger than ever. China and Russia throw their weight around, while our allies shudder and squabble.

Why is this happening? Because the United States is in retreat. What is the Obama administration’s response to these events? Further retreat.

Having withdrawn from Iraq, and seeing it now fall apart, the administration is nonetheless determined to get out of Afghanistan. Its Russia “reset” is a joke, and its “pivot to Asia” an empty slogan. Secretary of State John Kerry huffed and puffed when Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons last year, and asserted it was a Munich moment. How right he was! Kerry came back brandishing a piece of paper, and Assad remains in ...

Texas’s Greg Abbott

The Resistance


Texas attorney general Greg Abbott has a famous saying: “What I really do for fun is I go into the office [and] sue the Obama administration.” Abbott’s relentless struggle against an administration that routinely exceeds its authority and tramples on federalism made him the ...


The Other Kentucky Derby

Will Mitch McConnell prevail on a muddy track?


Gary Locke

At the Bullitt County GOP’s Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner on February 6, Kentucky state senator Paul Hornback rose to speak on behalf of U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who was away on business in Washington. McConnell is locked in a bitter primary fight, and it was up to Hornback to convince the party faithful to stick with Mitch.

“Senator McConnell is a solid conservative when it comes to protecting Kentucky families,” Hornback told the crowd before proceeding to give some examples of McConnell’s conservative accomplishments.

First, there was the 2004 tobacco buyout, which compensated farmers while ending a New Deal-era price-support program. “That brought $2.5 billion in the state of Kentucky,” Hornback said. “We can’t give him enough thanks for that.”

“He saved us from a milk cliff,” Hornback ...

Could she be on to something?

Back to Work

Conservatives and the unemployed.


Millions of Americans, glutted with benefits that until now have seemed likely to be renewed and renewed again, have suddenly become devoid of ambition, shed the work ethic, and taken to the couch and the TV remote. Or found a back pain or emotional problem that entitles them to ...

Hassan Rouhani

The Collapse of Sanctions on Iran

The White House gets what it wants.


The economic news from Tehran is good—good, that is, if you are a state sponsor of terror moving toward a nuclear weapons program. If on the other hand you were hoping that sanctions might persuade the Iranians to cease and desist, the news is disastrous.

Who, me? Target Estonia?

Russia’s Long Shadow

The view from Estonia.


The modern name of Estonia’s capital is thought to come from Tallide-linn, city of stables in the country’s tongue, or Taani-linn, meaning Danish castle-town. The lovely old center, a medieval trading city, is ...

the weekly standard

Japan’s ‘Irish Question’

Is South Korea slipping away?


In 1916 London faced a dilemma. The British were hoping to bring American reinforcements to assist them and their beleaguered French allies in the trenches of the First World War. Woodrow Wilson, however, seeking to become the first Democratic president to win reelection since ...


The Great Disappointment of 2013

What happens when a political messiah fails?


Now available everywhere

Every student of American religious history has heard of the event known as “the Great Disappointment.” In 1818 William Miller, a former naval captain turned lay Baptist preacher, developed a new method for calculating biblical chronology to arrive at the conclusion that the millennium would take place sometime between 1842 and 1844. Finally published in 1832, Miller’s thesis quickly drew attention. A sect began to form, spreading from Miller’s home region in Eastern New York to New England and beyond. Millerism was born. The time was drawing nigh, Miller preached, when a dreadful cataclysm would occur, to be followed by a wondrous splendor: “The heavens appear, the great white throne is in sight, amazement fills the universe with awe.” Pressed by followers for an exact date—people wished to settle their affairs before going up to heaven—Miller, after some hesitation and a few unmet deadlines, settled on October 22, 1844. The fateful day came and then went without any ...


The Benghazi Cover-up (cont.)

How the CIA’s No. 2 misled Congress


Two leading Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence say that Michael Morell, then acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, gave an account of his role on Benghazi that was often misleading and sometimes deliberately false.

The lies just keep on coming.

A Slight Case of Bastardy

The curious and irregular conception of Obamacare


A number of apologists for the Obama administration declare themselves vexed at the ongoing hostility to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (which isn’t affordable, and from which many people are seeking protection), regarding resistance to its charms as a perverse and ...

Books & Arts

The Learning Curve

What are the aims of education—and reform?


Memorial Church in Harvard Yard

Cortney Munna must be one of America’s most famous young debtors. A religious and women’s studies graduate of New York University, she was working as a photography assistant when the New York Times discovered her. Munna was 26 and still $97,000 in debt for her bachelor of arts degree. She became a symbol for those who blame colleges and universities for luring students into deep debt for educations that do not prepare them to pay the loans back, much less succeed.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, who teaches law at the University of Tennessee and blogs as Instapundit, refers to Munna in The New School. He thinks that people are now paying close attention to stories like hers and are on the lookout for alternatives to traditional education. And while those who make a living providing that kind of ...

FDR (left), Josephus Daniels decorating  Marine officers, ca. 1918


The paradox of a Tar Heel editor-politician.


Josephus Daniels was a North Carolina newspaper mogul, Democratic party kingmaker, Prohibitionist, progressive leader, ardent Methodist, equally ardent ...

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, ca. 1623

Bernini’s Progress

In and out of favor, in and out of fashion.


Facile cosa è farsi universale. (It is an easy thing to make oneself universal.) The statement in English has a blowhard’s windy obscurity. It sounds as though it came from the ...

‘Battle of Waterloo’ by William Sadler II (ca. 1830)

Literary Man of War

John Keegan: an appreciation.


It is unlikely that any debut in the field of military history will rival that of John Keegan’s masterpiece The Face of Battle (1976) nearly four decades ago. It was ...

Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright in ‘House of Cards’

The Netflix Effect

‘The line between politics and entertainment has become more distinct.’


Last fall, during an earnings conference call, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made an announcement that landed him on the front page of every newspaper business section:


Just the Facts, Ma’am

Joseph Bottum logs the facts of life.


Jori Bolton

It was a day like any other. Oh, the weather was a little cool, I suppose. A thin band of clouds moved across the early sun, threatening an angry rain—but then again, maybe not. Light around the edges but dark in the center, like a calculating woman’s smile, those morning clouds are hard to read, and the weather out here in the West often breaks its promises. All in all, the day seemed no more foreboding than usual when, at 6:26 a.m., the sheriff’s phone rang. “Female caller in Sheps Canyon,” the local newspaper would later report, “advising her neighbor’s cows are out and she doesn’t want them eating her garden.”

I always read the police log in small-town newspapers—not just in my own town of Hot Springs, South Dakota, but in every small place I visit. Many tourists do, as well. Across America, it’s a kind of standard comic turn, glancing at a community paper to chuckle at the insignificance of what counts as crime news. ...


Paying the Price


Readers may recall The Scrapbook taking note of a fawning, seven-page, profusely illustrated story in the Washington Post by Dan Zak (May 13, 2013) about three antiwar activists on trial in Tennessee for invading and vandalizing the nuclear weapons research facility at Oak Ridge. The heroes seemed to come from central casting—“a belligerent drifter, aging ex-nun, and grizzled house painter”—and their prosecution was inevitably depicted in the Post as a David-and-Goliath affair pitting three lovable humanitarians against the brute force of the military-industrial complex. 

Well, The Scrapbook is pleased to report that the jury in the federal district court subsequently found the trio guilty, and last week, the trial judge, the Hon. Amul Thapar, handed out sentences ranging between 35 and 62 months in prison, and ordered the defendants to pay $53,000 in restitution for damaging the security system and vandalizing ...


North Korean Horror

The Scrapbook has taken a shot or two (or three, or four) at the United Nations in the past, but the organization still does good work from time to time. Last week was one of those times. The U.N.’s Human Rights Council released a deeply disturbing and ...


Self-Described Thugs

To hear the left tell it, the right is seething with hatred, ready to erupt into violence at any moment. Pro-lifers, gun owners, and Tea Partiers—a Venn diagram that encompasses more than half the country—are all sub rosa thugs. The media assist by reflexively blaming acts of ...


Don’t Know Much About Art History

A couple of weeks ago, Ethan -Epstein wrote in these pages about President Obama’s “naked philistinism,” exemplified in the cheap shot the president took at the study of art history in a speech in Wisconsin (“Philistine in Chief,” Feb. 17). “A lot of young people ...


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