Obama’s Fantasy-Based Foreign Policy


The “uncontested arrival” of Russian troops in Ukraine, presumably “helping to d

On February 23, five days before Russia invaded Ukraine, National Security Adviser Susan Rice appeared on Meet the Press and shrugged off suggestions that Russia was preparing any kind of military intervention: “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence returned and the situation escalate.” A return to a “Cold War construct” isn’t necessary, Rice insisted, because such thinking “is long out of date” and “doesn’t reflect the realities of the 21st century.” Even if Vladimir Putin sees the world this way, Rice argued, it is “not in the United States’ interests” to do so.

It was a remarkably transparent case of pretending the world is what we wish it to be, rather than seeing it as it is.

On February 28, Russian troops poured into Ukraine. As they did, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart. Kerry briefed reporters after their talk, ...

ho hum

Job Destroyer


President Obama talks, talks, talks about jobs. The first 20 minutes of his State of the Union address in January was all about jobs. Immigration reform would “create jobs for everybody,” he said. His energy policy “is creating jobs.” Obama said he’s assigned Vice President Biden ...


The Great Divide


From his place on the podium at AIPAC’s annual policy conference last week, Benjamin Netanyahu surveyed the Middle East. “On the one side stands Israel, animated by the values we cherish,” said the Israeli prime minister. And on the other side are Iran, Bashar al-Assad, and ...

Eric Holder



In a speech the other day to state attorneys general, the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, offered an ideal job description for himself and his state counterparts: “not merely to use our legal system to settle disputes and punish those who have done wrong, but to answer the ...


Confronting Putin’s Invasion

It can—and must—be done.


Non-soft diplomacy: Russian special forces in Crimea

On the last day of February and first day of March, Russia’s mendacious foreign and defense ministers told their credulous U.S. counterparts that Russia had every intention of respecting Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity. Of course, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is virtually the poster child for Henry Wotton’s famous definition of a diplomat as someone sent abroad to lie for his country. Russian assurances to their U.S. counterparts during the war in Georgia in 2008 were equally deceitful. Lavrov’s duplicity during the Georgia war negotiations that year was so outrageous that French president Nicolas Sarkozy, according to witnesses, at one point grabbed him by the lapels and called him a liar to his face. 

The crisis in Georgia was a serious matter but unfortunately came in the midst of an American presidential election and at the tail end of an administration that was both physically and psychologically exhausted ...

Moscow riot police detain punk rocker Nadezhda Tolokonnikova  at a rally in supp

The Other Russian Crackdown

Unrest in Ukraine means more repression in Moscow.


On February 24, while Ukrainian protesters were still reveling in their victory over corrupt pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, eight Russians stood in a Moscow courtroom to hear their sentences in a blatant show trial stemming from the last of Moscow’s massive ...


Delay, Delay, Delay

The lawless tweaking of Obamacare’s provisions continues.


Another week, another Obamacare delay, improvised by the administration. The latest is particularly laughable. It seems the administration miscalculated when it first decided to delay Obamacare’s mandated minimum coverage requirements for health insurance. ...

Comcast’s Brian Roberts

King Cable

The Comcast-Time Warner combination deserves close scrutiny.


So Comcast’s chairman and CEO Brian Roberts is counting on his political clout with the Obama administration and a few inconsequential divestments to win regulatory approval for Comcast’s $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. And antitrust experts such as myself will be ...

Dave Camp

Don’t Guarini Me, Bro!

Why do lobbyists work so hard to counter a tax bill that has no chance of passing?


When House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, introduced a major tax reform proposal at the end of February, the entire tax policy world in Washington was set into motion. I have friends who lobby on tax issues who claim they did not sleep the two ...


Brave New Stereotypes

Behold the Lean In Collection


‘Two smiling mature women sitting outside  on patio having appetizers’

Partly because I’m a guy, partly because my professor insisted on holding our Feminism and Culture class at 8 a.m., making it impossible for me to attend, I find myself now, decades later, far behind the curve of gender empowerment. The curve is shifting heavily to the distaff side. Can I still say “distaff”? 

The statistics proving the point come in bite-size, journalist-friendly squibs: Men make up only half the labor force, down from 70 percent a generation ago. Sixty percent of the bachelor’s degrees in the United States are earned by women. Women hold most entry-level managerial jobs. Single women in urban areas out-earn men by as much as 8 percent, on average. Among all younger women, the infamous “pay gap” with men has shrunk to statistical insignificance. By some measures women dominate most of the fastest-growing professions. Over the last 30 years, their wages have risen 25 percent while those of men have fallen 4 ...

Masked nostalgists in the West Bank, 2013

A Baleful Peace Process

For how many decades will we pursue this diplomatic dead end?


To be outrageously iconoclastic among the Washington foreign-policy crowd is easy: Just suggest that the Israeli-Arab peace process is not merely pointless but actually damaging to America’s position in the Middle East and bad for both Israelis and Palestinians. Such a view is ...

Books & Arts

A Way to See the Birds

Is it possible to improve upon Audubon?


Chromolithograph of Audubon’s mallards

For the better part of a week I lugged The Birds of America around with me as I went to campus. Colleagues, students, and strangers looked at me with a mixture of interest and concern as I waddled past them. In the Lilly Library at Indiana University, where I do most of my work, I propped up the new edition next to our original volume of Bien prints—which is, yes, even bigger. Over two days, I took up an entire table in the Reading Room, making no new friends in the process. 

As I was struggling to open doors and push elevator buttons while holding onto my birds, it occurred to me what a sorry sight I would have made to the keen eyes of the great John James Audubon himself, who regularly carried even larger ...

The ‘London Gazette’ (May 14, 1705)

The Paper Chase

Printing and human nature get acquainted.


News addiction? Nothing new. “You cannot imagine to what a disease the itch of news is grown,” wrote an Englishman named John Cooper in 1667. At that time, newspapers had been in existence for just over 60 years. The first appeared ...

Rhys Ifans as the Earl of Oxford in ‘Anonymous’ (2011)

Bard of Honor

Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare? Of course he did.


Questioning the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays has long been the domain of amateurs, and Delia Bacon was one of the first. An American schoolteacher, and mostly frustrated writer, she argued in her Philosophy of ...

The 405 freeway, Los Angeles (2013)

California Dreaming

The Golden State is looking increasingly leaden.


Beginning in 1990, the Manhattan Institute’s estimable quarterly City Journal helped restore safety and order to ...

Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn (1940)

A Moveable Thirst

The importance of being Ernest Hemingway’s cocktail shaker.


Ernest Hemingway drank far more than most people, and probably more than

Hard Times

Hard Times

The white-trashing of American television.


What does a poor or lower-middle-class white person, especially one from the South or Southwest, have to do to get a break from fancy high-end TV producers? It is a remarkable fact about this new Golden Age of television, which ...


My App-Lyfting Story

Matt Labash gets a Lyft


Gary Locke

Now that “software is eating the world,” in the words of Marc Andreessen, every once in awhile, we dinosaur types like to try our luck in the land of Web 2.0, 3.0, or Whatever.0 we’re on at the moment. To that end, I recently applied to become a driver at Lyft, the “ride-sharing” service where drivers who drive their own personal vehicle with a giant pink moustache lashed to the grille (the Lyft trademark) are summoned to your location at the touch of an app. This way, users don’t have to do the unthinkable, like look away from their smartphone while hailing a cab. I signed up—for a potential story, mind you, not out of insecurity. Like all proud Americans—say, bookstore managers or travel agents—I know that if/when the bottom falls out of my business, print journalism, there’ll be a good job waiting for me in an Amazon fulfillment warehouse, assuming it hasn’t been automated by then. 

Lyft is part of the new “sharing economy,” ...


The Motorcades of D.C.


It’s not often that The Scrapbook finds common cause with Vincent Gray, the mayor of Washington, D.C. But occasionally, worlds do collide. And in this instance, we are in full agreement with the mayor about a familiar topic for readers of this page: the United States Secret Service.

As we have mentioned before, the federal agency that protects the president and other senior officials has enjoyed a growth spurt in recent years: The size and scope of the Secret Service has expanded relentlessly, and along with it, the level of inconvenience to ordinary citizens has exploded as well. Washingtonians are now accustomed to daily motorcades—transporting Valerie Jarrett to and from lunch, no doubt—featuring loud sirens, flashing lights, roaring motorcycles, and grim-faced agents glaring angrily at pedestrians.

When President Obama travels the two or three blocks from the White House to a nearby hotel ...


Harry Reid’s Comeuppance

Terry Eastland noted three weeks ago in these pages (“After the Filibuster,” February 24) that “President Obama and Senate Democrats have gone to great lengths to secure the appointment of executive-branch officers and judges and thus help advance his policies and programs.” A key ...


Chevron Vindicated

Last week, a federal judge ruled that a $9.5 billion judgment for environmental damage in Ecuador could not be enforced against Chevron. American environmental lawyers had brought suit against Chevron for polluting the Amazon basin in Ecuadorean courts, which in turn handed down ...


Dept. of Self-Parody

Back in the nineties, the notion of an online magazine was new and exciting. Salon was one of the first big web publishing endeavors, and for a number of years, the site attracted respectable literary and political contributors. It always had a liberal bent, but it was a ...



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