Looks Like a Good Deal


Hillary: for it before she was against it

There are times when economics is secondary to other policy considerations—not irrelevant, but secondary. Last week, when 12 nations on the Pacific Rim finally agreed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership after years of negotiations, was one such time. This gives President Obama a much-needed victory—if he can persuade enough of his Democratic colleagues to join a majority of Republicans in approving the deal when Congress gets to have its say in up or down votes early next year. The opponents include the usual gang that doesn’t trust markets and therefore opposes anything that opens them further: Bernie Sanders, trade unions, senators from states home to industries counting themselves among the losers or eager to remain aboard the Elizabeth Warren bandwagon, not to mention opportunists like Hillary Clinton, hoping to appeal to all of the above. And, to be fair, there are those who genuinely believe that past trade deals, which like this one create ...

Cleveland Debate

The Stormy Present


Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s been two months since the first Republican presidential debate. How do things now stand for the party upon whose success next year rest all of our hopes for constitutional government at home and a manageable world abroad?

Russian Sukhoi fighter in Latakia, Syria

Reading Obama’s Mind


Last week an Obama administration official bragged that the White House’s Syria policy is working out just as planned. Special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney said that the “Russians wouldn’t have to help [Bashar al-]Assad if we didn’t weaken him.”


Drip, Drip, Drip

Congress’s Benghazi investigation has been slandered.


Hillary Clinton Benghazi

There was never any doubt that Democrats in Washington would launch an aggressive campaign to discredit the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The only question was when they’d do it.

That inevitable effort got under way last week, after House majority leader Kevin McCarthy boasted to Sean Hannity that the committee’s work had hurt Hillary Clinton’s public standing.

McCarthy’s claim is undeniably true. The investigation uncovered the existence of Clinton’s personal email server, and her mendacious efforts to explain why she didn’t use a secure government email account to carry out her work as secretary of state have complicated her presidential bid. But it was a monumentally foolish thing for McCarthy to say. And his efforts to clean up the mess—in a follow-up interview on Fox News and later in a written statement—only made matters worse. When McCarthy stunned the ...

Tyler Drumheller

Hillary’s Spymaster

Add to her private email server a private ­intelligence network.


Hillary Clinton is running her first national television commerical, and amidst a cloud of scandal and falling poll numbers, she’s already playing defense. The ad claims that the House Republicans’ committee to investigate Benghazi “was created to destroy ...

Sally Jones

Equal Opportunity Terrorism

The Islamic State’s female officials.


On September 29, the State Department added British citizen Sally Jones to its list of foreign terrorists. Jones is a 46-year-old punk rocker who converted to Islam and moved from Kent to Raqqa to join the Islamic State in 2013. She is also newly widowed, ...

John Koskinen

The Claws Are Out

When government bureaucrats attack.


It has long been good sport to make fun of the government. Ronald Reagan did it with a fine, almost deft touch. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language,” he would tell an audience, “are I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”


Making It All Up

The behavioral sciences scandal


Clown Laughing

One morning in August, the social science reporter for National Public Radio, a man named Shankar Vedantam, sounded a little shellshocked. You couldn’t blame him. 

Like so many science writers in the popular press, he is charged with reporting provocative findings from the world of behavioral science: “.  .  . and researchers were very surprised at what they found. The peer-reviewed study suggests that [dog lovers, redheads, Tea Party members] are much more likely to [wear short sleeves, participate in hockey fights, play contract bridge] than cat lovers, but only if [the barometer is falling, they are slapped lightly upside the head, a picture of Jerry Lewis suddenly appears in their cubicle .  .  .  ].”

I’m just making these up, obviously, but as we shall see, there’s a lot of that going around.

On ...

Hillary Clinton education

A Failing Grade

Hillary Clinton’s Arkansas education record


For Republican presidential candidates planning to run against Hillary Clinton, the critique of her record these days often begins and ends with Benghazi and her email server. This is partly because these are so damning but partly because there’s a ...

Books & Arts

Way of Illustration

The art of writing about art.


‘The Raft of the Medusa’ by Théodore Géricault (1818-19)

The British painter Howard Hodgkin came to the Frick Collection some years ago to lecture. After pained attempts to deliver a prepared talk, he abandoned his notes for a monologue. Zig-zagging through art in general, his own work, and the historical canon, he came to that curious contemporary genre: art writing. Hodgkin dismissed legions of contemporary art writers with one sentence: “Too many people think they can write without ever having had to read.” It was a nimble curtsy to his longtime friend Julian Barnes.

Booker-winning novelist and decorated Francophile, Barnes is a keen, absorbent reader. His writing is a measure of the breadth and pitch of his reading. And he said as much in Through the Window:

I have lived in books, for books, by and with books. . . . And it was through books that I first . . . encountered that deeply intimate bond made ...

Resignation of the Toshiba Corporation CEO, Tokyo (2015)

Who’s Sorry Now?

In the wrong hands, ‘shaming’ can lead to coercion.


When Jennifer Jacquet, an assistant professor in the department of environmental studies at New York University, was a child, she persuaded her mother to buy her a book called 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. ...

History Meets Dogma

History Meets Dogma

One way of putting the Holocaust in perspective.


Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin was both critically acclaimed and fiercely denounced. Its detractors accused the Yale historian of relativizing the Holocaust by placing it in the context of the other acts of wholesale ...

Nick Flynn

Honest Acceptance

A poet who contends with the world as it is.


Nick Flynn writes in defiance of despair, and the poet’s fourth collection is as emotionally fraught as its title. Even the dust jacket art, which depicts an abandoned laundromat, is exhausted. My Feelings confronts suffering without flinching. The ...

Mary Livingston, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Portland Hoffa (1937)

Wag on the Air

Fred Allen and the invention of modern comedy.


‘Mister AL-len! was the screechy cry of Portland Hoffa, announcing the entrance of Fred Allen on his popular radio show, Town Hall Tonight. Portland was Fred’s wife and sidekick on the show, at the time when it was one of ...

Matt Damon in The Martian

Lost and Found

Unexpected bliss from interplanetary angst.


When was the last time a movie was just, you know, lovable? Guardians of the Galaxy, maybe—all the more so because its lovability was so unexpected, coming as it did from the Marvel comic book movie factory. The same is true of The Martian, ...


Praising Arizona

Cita & Irwin Stelzer have a nice day.


The Stelzers

We never thought we would find ourselves stocking a pantry in Arizona. But now that Phoenix is our winter base, there we were, on line at the deli counter of a supermarket located in one of the ubiquitous strip malls that we love because they are home to thrusting small businesses as well as huge anchor tenants like the store we were in. After waiting awhile, we realized we were in a take-a-number queue. We remedied the oversight and got number 61. We both remember it because of what followed. When a customer who’d arrived after us, but taken a number promptly, was called, she nodded toward us and told the clerk, “These people were here before me. They just forgot to take a number. So serve them first.”

This prompted remembrance of things past. Some four decades before, Irwin took his son, Adam, then about 10 years old, with him on a business trip to Phoenix. His ever-gracious clients provided a pair of tickets to a Suns basketball ...




Tiananmen Square, before the crackdown

China’s Creepy New Form of Oppression

China’s Communist government is rolling out a plan to assign everyone in the country “citizenship scores.” According to the ACLU, “China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ...


There Goes the Neighborhood?

Because The Scrapbook believes so strongly in gun safety, and teaching children about the importance of gun safety, we were surprised by a recent story in the Washington Post. It seems that a firearms shop in McLean, Virginia—forced recently to relocate to seek more retail ...


The ‘Pen’ Is Mightier Than .  .  . Harvard?

At this point The Scrapbook has become somewhat inured to tales of woe regarding the American educational system. Generally such wails are merely preludes to a call to arms on the part of teachers’ unions and bureaucrats who want to expand government control over local schools and ...


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