Scare Tehran, Please


They’re not nervous enough to negotiate.

Is Barack Obama’s threat of preventive military action against the Iranian regime’s nuclear program credible? Would a one-year, six-month, or even three-month nuclear breakout capacity at the known nuclear sites be acceptable to him? Is he prepared to attack if Tehran denies the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, entry into undeclared facilities that may be hiding nuclear-weapons research or centrifuge production? Is he prepared to strike if the regime denies inspectors access to the personnel and documents that would allow the West to see whether—how much—the regime has been lying about weaponization? 

These are questions that Iran’s leaders—Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the commanders of the Revolutionary Guards, who oversee the nuclear program, and Hassan Rouhani, who before becoming president served on the Supreme National Security Council as Khamenei’s personal representative—have undoubtedly ...


The Tinkerbell Effect


In his Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony last week, Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel for the breakdown in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He argued that an Israeli announcement of 700 new housing ...

The rejected Eisenhower Memorial design

Who Spikes Ike?


The tangled tale of the proposed Eisenhower Memorial next to the National Mall in Washington gets more complicated by the week. On April 3, the National Capital Planning Commission stunned just about everybody by rejecting the memorial design submitted by “celebrity architect” ...


Death Comes for the Regulated

How long can dinosaur industries stave off the inevitable?


gary locke

"The dinosaurs surviving the crunch” was how Stephen Sondheim described women living an outdated lifestyle and grimly aware that “everybody dies.” If Sondheim had the slightest interest in the less exalted subject of economics, he would apply that descriptive to a host of companies and industries trying to beat the hooded man with a scythe, aided by their regulators.

The most recent example comes to us courtesy of New Jersey’s automobile dealers—with an assist from their regulators and Governor Chris Christie—who have decided to follow the lead of Texas, Maryland, and Virginia and declare that Tesla, the maker of electric cars, has violated state law by attempting to sell its cars through its own network of stores rather than through franchised dealers. The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJCAR), feeling threatened by a firm that sells fewer cars in a year than General Motors sells ...

John Vihstadt campaigning door to door

Can They Come Back?

The Republicans’ struggle in Northern Virginia.


It’s hard to believe, but the rebirth of the Republican party in Virginia may be happening in the unlikeliest of places: the liberal bastion of Northern Virginia.

Take what happened last week in Arlington, ...

Can its riches fund payouts to just some city creditors?

The Art of the Deal

Detroit’s restructuring proposal.


From the moment Detroit filed for bankruptcy last summer, comparisons to the 2009 Chrysler and General Motors bailouts have abounded. Most highlight the differences, noting that the federal government is unlikely to pump billions of dollars into Detroit. But although the differences are real, ...

Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Michael Vick

Three Men Out

They had it all . . . and then.


A Masters without Tiger: It is not quite the case of an athlete dying young. He will almost certainly recover from the back surgery that kept him out of the tournament and play at Augusta again next year and, probably, for many years after that. He ...

Déjà vu? A new Lexus at the Geneva auto show.

Monotony Motors

Why today’s cars all look alike.


Anyone who’s ever misplaced the family car in a parking lot at the mall must surely sense that we are not living in a golden era of automobile design. Gazing in panic out across that vast tar pit, every car seems to look like every other car. ...


Winston vs. the Webbs

A century-old precursor to the Obamacare debate


Sidney and Beatrice Webb

The debate over Obamacare may remind a student of British history of the debate in Britain over the National Insurance Act of 1911, which was in effect until the initiation of the welfare state after World War II. The protagonists in that debate (like ours, not formally a debate, but implicitly that) were Winston Churchill and Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Churchill, a rising star in the Liberal party and a member of Herbert Asquith’s cabinet, heartily promoted the act. The Webbs, prominent members of the Fabian Society and vigorous polemicists (“public intellectuals,” we would now call them), sharply criticized it.

Fabianism is generally described as a moderate, reformist form of socialism, achieving its ends not by class war and revolution but by persuasion and “permeation.” Yet in a sense it was more radical than Marxism because it sought control not so much of the economy or polity as of society ...

Geert Wilders by Jason Seiler

More or Less?

Geert Wilders and the future of European populism


"Do you know this man?” Geert Wilders asked, gesturing at a closed-caption screen set up in his heavily guarded office in the Dutch parliament. “Some kind of fundraising guy who just became your ambassador?” The new U.S. ...

Books & Arts

Updike’s Story


katherine messenger

There never was a good biography of a good novelist. There couldn’t be. He is too many people, if he’s any good.

Thus says F. Scott Fitzgerald in his Notebooks, the dictum used as an epigraph to John Updike’s talk on literary biography. Compelling as this sounds at first, it just can’t be the case, given the number of good ones that have been written in the last century, to go no farther back. Adam Begley’s biography of Updike may now be added to the list for the way it issues from the laudable motive of desiring (in Updike’s own words) “to prolong and extend our intimacy with the author.”

John Updike died at the end of January 2009, after a two-month siege of lung cancer. In the weeks that followed, with no “official” biography commissioned, Begley went swiftly to work. Although Updike’s wife Martha declined to participate in the project, Begley was able to talk to a number ...


Secondhand Rose

Will he, won’t he, should he be in the Hall of Fame?


Do we really need another book about Pete Rose?

I’m not so sure. Anyone who watched him play baseball already knows he was a marvel of hustle and intensity—a joy to study in action. ...

Pleasant Valley Prison, Coalinga, California (2003)

America Behind Bars

Does the punishment fit the crimes?


How should we react to the fact that the average length of a prison sentence in the United States has nearly doubled in the last 30

Theme Building and control tower, Los Angeles International Airport

City of Angles

Understanding—and appreciating—Los Angeles by design.


I’m a Los Angeles girl, born and bred. My hometown is Pasadena, about 12 miles northeast of L.A.’s downtown, in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. My husband is another Angeleno, raised in Hawthorne, in far southwest Los Angeles County, on ...

Fear and Loathsome

Fear and Loathsome

The comic-book movie enters its Commie Age.


Aficionados often refer to comic books in terms of eras: the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age. The same may now be true of the comic-book movie. Judging from last year’s mega-hit Iron Man 3, and ...


They Got Game

Fred Barnes, March mad.


UConn guard Ryan Boatright, right, and Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison

Arlington, Texas
The Super Bowl is boring. I checked out at halftime when Seattle crushed Denver. When the competition among TV ads is more gripping than the game, there’s something wrong. The college football championship? It beats the Super Bowl. And maybe it will generate more excitement with four teams playing for the crown. The World Series has tradition and lots of tension, but major league baseball meanders through the season before playing for keeps—a month too late in the year.

My favorite is the Final Four and the two weekends of basketball leading up to it. The whole country is involved in filling out the brackets, including people who wouldn’t know a basketball from a Frisbee. The first round is famous for obscure colleges with average players beating big-time schools with plenty of five-stars. Mercer beat Duke! What more do you want?

I went to ...


Subsidy Barriers


The Coastal Barrier Resources Act, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1982, ranks among America’s greatest free-market conservation success stories. Administered on a shoestring budget out of an obscure Fish and Wildlife Service office in Arlington, Va., the Coastal Barrier Resources System protects an area of land larger than all but one national park in the lower 48 states by imposing a simple “hands off” policy. In the marshes, beaches, and barrier islands (essentially overgrown sandbars) along the Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast, and Great Lakes, property owners are barred from receiving subsidies for roads, housing, flood insurance, and other federal programs. 

It’s still possible to develop land within the CBRS with private money, but by drawing a “no subsidy zone,” the law saves taxpayers more than $100 million annually, while also preserving coastal wetlands for conservation, wildlife habitat, and recreation. 

Tarnished Brandeis

Tarnished Brandeis

Last week, Brandeis University withdrew the honorary degree it was going to bestow next month on human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. According to a statement from Brandeis, “We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent ...

A Whitehouse not destined for the White House

The War on Courtesy

Distinguished lineage is no guarantee of good breeding, and in the case of the junior senator from Rhode Island, the gap is startling. Mayflower ancestry, a diplomat grandfather and father, railroad money, and education at the best schools seem, if ...


A Brush with Fame

When it became known last year that George W. Bush had taken up painting, The Scrapbook took note of the fact, commenting on a couple of random examples that they were “better than you would expect, show imagination, and are certainly evidence of Bush’s well-developed sense of ...



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