Beyond Obama


This too shall pass.

I happened to be meeting with Senator Ted Cruz a few hours after President Obama’s United Nations speech Wednesday. We naturally started by discussing the president’s latest oratorical effort. Cruz’s judgment on the speech as a whole? “Unsurprising, but consistently disappointing.” On Obama on Russia and Ukraine? A nice statement by Obama, but “why isn’t he giving serious military aid to Ukraine, both nonlethal and lethal?” Obama’s paragraph on Iran? “It was so short and vague I almost missed it.” And on looking at it, Cruz said he found “striking” Obama’s refusal to reiterate the pledge that Iran will not be permitted to have nuclear weapons. About Obama’s remarks on the Islamic State, Cruz was somewhat complimentary: Obama spoke with unaccustomed “clarity” on the issue of terrorism, and “I will say his language on ISIS was some of the best he’s had.” What’s more, Cruz noted wryly, “At least he did not invoke Yemen and Somalia as models of ...


The Rubes’ Revenge


There has not been a liberal coalition in this country broad and deep enough to enact sweeping leftist legislation since 1937, when Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, the last of the New Deal reforms. Beginning in 1938 the country began a 20-year shift to the right. And, ...


Obama’s Own JV Team

After the bin Laden raid, the deluge.


Dave Malan

Last week brought a reminder of what the United States has lost since Bob Gates and Leon Panetta left the Obama cabinet. Both are straight shooters with a centrist, hardheaded sensibility. 

Panetta has been making headlines with his criticism of Obama on 60 Minutes for pulling out of Iraq too soon (“I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq”) and not doing more early on to aid the Syrian opposition (“we pay the price for not doing that in what we see happening with ISIS”).

Meanwhile, Gates has been critical of Obama for prohibiting U.S. “boots on the ground” to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: “The reality is, they’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, or the Sunni tribes acting on their own,” he told CBS This Morning. “So there ...

Above, Muhsin al Fadhli; below, a September 23 bombing run

Misunderstanding al Qaeda

The threat remains—and spreads.


On Tuesday, September 23, the U.S. government announced that a new bombing campaign was under way in Syria. The Obama administration had been building the case for airstrikes for weeks. The president and his surrogates repeatedly highlighted the threat posed by the Islamic State ...

Cheaters never prosper? Ha!  Chinese premier Li Keqiang

Another Fight Obama Shirks

In China and elsewhere, it’s open season on U.S. corporations.


When it comes to military actions, President Obama likes to declare the end of wars, regardless of whether America’s opponents agree that is the case. When it comes to economic wars, he has no need to declare an end, no need for unilateral disarmament, because he never engages in ...

Tom Foley

Second Time’s a Charm?

In Connecticut, it’s Foley vs. Malloy, round two.


Voters in Connecticut’s gubernatorial election this November will face a familiar choice as Republican Tom Foley squares off against Democrat Dan Malloy. Four years ago, in a nail biter for what was then an open seat, Malloy won by 0.5 percentage points, or just 6,404 ...


A Naval Disaster in the Making

The misbegotten plan to shrink the U.S. submarine fleet.


The U.S. Navy’s latest shipbuilding plan would see its attack submarine fleet diminish from 55 to 41 boats in the next decade and a half. That decision, confirmed in August, was eclipsed by the advance of ISIL, war in Gaza, and sedition in Ukraine. But the Navy’s announcement—the ...

Just leave us alone, thanks: voters in Olathe, Kansas, 2012

Nothing’s the Matter with Kansas

But Washington’s a different story.


Tarkio, Mo.
What’s the matter with Kansas? It’s a decade since Thomas Frank launched a thousand headlines with his book of that title, itself a reference to a famous 1896 essay by Kansas journalist William Allen White. Frank’s thesis was simple: ...


House of Cards

Will Massachusetts voters rescue their state from Deval Patrick’s gambling law?


Deval Patrick

When Massachusetts voters go to the polls in November to pick their next governor, they will also define the legacy of their last one. You might think that legacy had something to do with liberation. When Deval Patrick came to power in 2006, all the talk was of his being the first black this and the first black that. A product of Harvard, the Clinton Justice Department’s civil rights division, the corporate suites of Texaco and Coca-Cola, and the boardrooms of America’s biggest subprime lender, he somehow satisfied a lot of his voters that they were striking a blow for outsiders. Funny. In his first days as governor, Patrick intervened with Citigroup’s Robert Rubin on behalf of his former company Ameriquest. He replaced his predecessor Mitt Romney’s Ford limousine with a Cadillac Escalade. More recently he appointed his chief of staff to John Kerry’s vacant Senate seat. Last week he fired the head of the Massachusetts sex ...

Books & Arts

Ancient to Modern

The Loeb Classical Library goes digital


Kevin Dzuban

“Chemistry and Physics Get Million from Loeb,” blared the Harvard Crimson headline. “Funds will modernize laboratory facilities and establish chemistry chairs.” The donor: scientist Morris Loeb ’83. A million dollars is indeed generous. But on the Harvard scale, did it really warrant a Crimson headline? 

The answer is yes—given that Morris Loeb graduated not in 1983 but in 1883. In today’s dollars, his gift (received in 1953, upon the death of his widow) would be worth almost $9 million. A distinguished chemist and scion of a wealthy New York banking family, he was a philanthropist of both Jewish and non-Jewish institutions. Although wildly generous, he had some odd habits, such as hiding thousand-dollar bills under the wallpaper. Sadly, ...

A Hong Kong protest on behalf of Liu Xiaobo (2010)

On the Beijing Express

What are we talking about when we talk about China?


Age of Ambition opens with a comparison between early-21st-century China and late-19th-century America. Citing such impressive statistics as a ...

On the Auto Train from Virginia to Florida (1998)

Back on Track

Why railroads remain the lifeline of the nation


Whatever our national fascination with decay, when it comes to railroads, Americans seem decidedly to prefer the history of our

George V and Queen Mary  at the Delhi Durbar (1911)


The triumphs and tribulations of the English-speaking peoples


The Anglosphere is everywhere. In this engaging and tendentious popular history, Daniel Hannan offers an unofficial update of Winston Churchill’s massive History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956-58). ...

Mr. Darcy in Lyme Park, Manchester (2013)

See Jane Write

The timeless appeal of Austenmania


Not long ago I enjoyed a night out at historic Dumbarton House in Georgetown. The 1996 movie version of Jane Austen’s Emma was being shown outdoors, and the event was attended by a large crowd, ...

Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver

Shock and Aww

Too many touching moments for comfort


For years, people have been telling me to read Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You (2009), a comic novel about a dysfunctional ...

A Formalist focuses on everyday life.

Pictures into Words

A Formalist focuses on everyday life


Although 1 percent, perhaps, of Americans read poetry outside the schoolhouse, and the vast majority would tell you that they do not understand it, we all know ...


Keep Calm and Say Something

Julianne Dudley keeps quiet and carries on.


Jori Bolton

"If you see something, say something.” To anyone who uses public transportation, it’s a familiar refrain. Yet while the constant warnings to beware of one’s fellow travelers are but a sign of the times, the message is ambiguous. How do you know what qualifies as “something”? As a subway commuter, I regularly see (and hear and smell) some pretty strange things. 

Not to mention the fact that any well-planned attack would presumably be disguised at every turn to mimic normality. Once, stuck at an airport for several hours when my flight was delayed, I found myself sitting next to a Catholic priest. We talked—about the work he was doing in Uganda, the books we were reading. We were getting along famously, until he asked the dreaded question: “Will you watch my bags while I get something to eat?” 

I had a moment of crisis. He was no longer a complete stranger, but I had known him for only a couple of ...


Assassination Chic


Hilary Mantel is a bestselling British novelist whose works—mostly historical fiction, or novels and stories with contemporary political overtones—are better known in Great Britain than here. Which is surprising, since the 62-year-old Dame Hilary has a knack for self-publicity.

Last year, for example, she caused a minor sensation when, in a lecture, she characterized Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, as a “precision-made, machine-made [mannequin] .  .  . with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished.” Indeed, she went on at some length in this critical vein—comparing “the plastic princess born to breed” unfavorably with Princess Diana and Anne Boleyn—and with such vehemence as to invite comparison with her own appearance.

Now she’s at it again. Readers of last week’s New York Times Book Review will have noticed the appearance of a short ...


Authoritarian Liberals

Appearing on a panel September 23 at the Heritage Foundation, National Review’s Kevin Williamson made the following observation (per the account of MSNBC.com’s Suzy Khimm): “ ‘The left is intellectually dead, and where it’s heading towards is authoritarianism,’ said ...


Obama Takes Manhattan

In Manhattan last Tuesday afternoon, The Scrapbook discovered what it’s like to get close to the president, and it stinks. We also now understand how to assemble a huge crowd to admire a presidential motorcade: You simply close 40 blocks of one of the busiest streets in the world. ...

Derek Jeter

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The Scrapbook congratulates contributing editor Joseph Bottum on his latest Amazon Kindle Single—


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