Beyond Sanctions


John Kerry and Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif

Last week, the Obama administration succeeded in pressuring Democrats to insist there not be a vote on the Senate floor in support of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 until after the March 24 deadline for negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear weapons program. Lacking the votes in the Senate to impose cloture, Republicans had little choice but to go along. But the delay is unfortunate. Senate Democrats may simply have ensured that sometime prior to the deadline, the administration will announce a framework agreement with Iran as deeply flawed as the current interim agreement, which the White House claimed, falsely we now know, would freeze Iran’s nuclear program.

With the congressional fight over sanctions seemingly on pause, it’s a good time to take a look at what’s happening in the real world. While talking away at negotiating tables in various European capitals, the Iranian regime is also on the march. In the Middle East.

As Scalia Goes...

A High Impact Case


In one of the biggest Supreme Court cases of the year, Justice Antonin Scalia seems destined to cast the critical vote. Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, argued late last month, concerns the Fair ...


A Culture of Fear in Argentina

Alberto Nisman spoke his mind despite the danger.


Rescue workers search for survivors and victims in the rubble of the Buenos Aire

Buenos Aires
The sudden death on January 18 of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, shot in the head at close range just hours before he was to have offered damning testimony against President Christina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, is the latest twist in a long-running mass-murder mystery. The saga began on July 18, 1994, when a white Renault van loaded with explosives slammed into the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building on Pasteur Street in the center of the city. The blast leveled the seven-story building, killing 85 and injuring more than 300. It came just two years after the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed, with 29 killed. Immediate suspicion fell on Iran, accused of working through Hezbollah with local contacts. But in the decades since, presidents have come and gone, investigation after investigation has taken place, yet nobody has ever been convicted. Justice has ...

Non-candidate Mitt Romney non-campaigning at Little Dooey, a restaurant  in Star

The Authentic Mitt Romney

Version 3.0.


Meet the real Mitt Romney. The Mitt Romney you thought you knew from 2012, from 2008, from his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, from his run for the Senate against Teddy Kennedy—those versions of Mitt Romney were the constructs of political consultants, artifices designed to ...

Harry Jaffa, left, and Walter Berns

Scholars of American Politics

The contributions of Walter Berns and Harry Jaffa.


Two friends of mine, Walter Berns and Harry Jaffa, died on January 10. They had not been on friendly terms for many years, but death took them together. They were joined also by being leaders, with Herbert Storing, Martin Diamond, and Ralph Lerner, of a group of a dozen or so ...

Barack Obama aims for the middle in Lawrence, Kansas, January 22.

Stuck in the Middle with You

Our confusing discussions of class in America.


Are you middle class? Upper middle class, maybe? Do you think you and your family are the people being talked about when politicians debate solutions for the middle class and its problems?

It’s a premise rooted in the very heart of the American ...

If only it were that easy.

Growth Versus Equality

Striking the right balance.


President Obama can’t run again, as he noted in the State of the Union last month, but he sought to use his address to set the tone for the 2016 campaign. His repeated references to “middle-class economics” were tactful code, speaking in front of a Republican-controlled Congress, ...


The Non-Candidate

Utah’s Mike Lee is the most important Republican not running for president


Mike Lee and Ted Cruz on their way to the Senate floor for a vote on the governm

There’s an old saw in Washington that every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Utah’s Mike Lee doesn’t, though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Over the past two years, Lee has been delivering speeches and introducing policy proposals at a pace that far outstrips his tenure and experience. On the whole, it looks like the beginnings of a domestic policy agenda for a future presidential candidate.

And Lee was among the speakers at the Iowa Freedom Summit in late January, the unofficial kickoff for the 2016 GOP presidential primary season. Speaking as well were such White House wannabes as Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz. Des Moines would have been the perfect place for Lee to launch a dark-horse candidacy. But the 43-year-old Republican cleared things up from the get-go. “My name is Mike Lee. I’m from Utah. And I’m not running for president,” he said, by way of introduction. “I’m probably the only person up ...

Gary Locke

The Flag-Waving Greek Left

A collision between national sovereignty and the European Union in the birthplace of democracy


In Athens in mid-January, two weeks before the election that would make 40-year-old engineer Alexis Tsipras Greece’s new prime minister, a bunch of cleaning ladies explained to me why they planned to vote for his party, the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza, for its Greek ...

Books & Arts

Only Yesterday

Thomas Hart Benton’s masterwork finds a home at the Met


‘America Today: Coal’ (1930-31)

Are we allowed, in 2015, to like Thomas Hart Benton? And if so, are we allowed to admit in public that we like him? 

Such are the questions that tax the conscience of the bien-pensant critic who stands before Benton’s sequence of 10 murals, America Today, which has just found a new and permanent home at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. More than 80 years after its completion, and more than 30 years after it began a nomadic existence, this acquisition is one of the most noteworthy additions ever made to the museum’s extensive collection of 20th-century American art.

America Today was painted between 1930 and 1931 for the boardroom of the New School for Social Research, located on West 12th Street in Manhattan. There it remained until 1982, when the New School, having decided that the mural was too costly to maintain, sold it to Equitable Life (now AXA Equitable). For 30 years, it hung in ...

Signing the education reorganization act (2001)

Florida Key

A clear-eyed view of Jeb Bush as governor


Our first national government—the one established by the Articles of Confederation—was notoriously weak. Congress wasn’t much good at administering the laws it passed or at conducting foreign affairs. The government ...

‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’ (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich

Peculiarly German

Romantics, Romanticism, and history


In his foreword, this book’s excellent translator, Robert E. Goodwin, describes the author, Rüdiger Safranski, as a “raconteur.” This is an apt characterization: Highly intelligent and extraordinarily well-read, Safranski brims with intellectual self-confidence. He is firm in his ...

Jim Koch, Sam Calagione (2010)


More subject, less author would taste better.


The world of beer, like the parallel worlds of wine and spirits, has become more crowded and interesting in recent years. In 2010, for example, the District of Columbia had three brew pubs, all part of larger chains. Five years later, there are five brew pubs and five breweries, ...

Richard House

A Baghdad Quartet

Translating the Iraq war into fiction


When I finished The Kills, it was not with the sense of the world made right, or understood rightly, that the traditional novel aspires to, nor with the contemporary recognition that the author and I—ironists both!—share a cynical disillusionment. It was with a profound ...

Aleksey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova

Crime of Punishment

A grim, epic allegory of Putin’s Russia


The director of the new Russian movie Leviathan now lives in Canada. This was a wise decision on Andrey Zvyagintsev’s part—because even though Leviathan received grants from the Russian government and was officially selected to represent the ...


Listening Tour

Irwin M. Stelzer hits the listener circuit.


David Clark

The itinerant sing-for-your-supper bunch who travel the country sharing wisdom for a fee have a dirty little secret. As a member of the fraternity, I have found that I learn as much as I teach, maybe more, during speaking engagements. But don’t tell those who hand over rather large sums of money to hear what we have to say, lest the groups that host us reverse current practice and charge us a fee.

I recently gave a talk on the economic outlook to a luncheon group of women CEOs, most of whom started and now run small-to-medium-sized companies. Hardworking risk-takers, many hanging on by their fingernails in recent years, they have yet to feel the effects of the economic recovery that has been creeping along for many months. But they are optimistic about their prospects, if only .  .  . If only the government doesn’t do them in before they can get on firmer financial ground. When I explained that a rise in the minimum wage just might ...


American Sniper


Mike Elk

The Samuel Gompers of Our Day

Last October, The Scrapbook took note of Politico’s curious decision to hire Mike Elk as one of the publication’s labor reporters. Aside from the fact that Elk has a long history of questionable labor activism that makes impartiality impossible, he also has a history of ...

Must Reading

Must Reading

The Scrapbook is pleased to note that Philip Anschutz, chairman and CEO of The Weekly Standard’s parent company, has just written a book that not only adds some authorial luster to our own ranks but makes a genuine contribution to our understanding of America.


Just the Facts, Ma’am

Does anyone in the policy world still give credence to the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column? We’ve sounded this note before but are driven to reiterate: This ostensibly impartial referee is in fact a liberal column that ...


The Road Not Taken

"More than 13 years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in a world still menaced by terrorists and in a city at risk of attack as few others, how is it possible that basic radio communications used by the District’s first responders could fail in an emergency?” asked the ...


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