Obama’s Grand Reset


AP IMAGES / Ismael Francisco / Cubadebate

Last week’s announcement that the White House intends to restore normal diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba is part of Barack Obama’s larger project to overturn what he perceives to be wrongheaded, or at least outdated, foreign policies. From Obama’s perspective, the Cold War ended nearly a quarter of a century ago, so let’s catch up to the new reality.

For President Obama, amelioriating this country’s relations with Russia, Iran, and now Cuba amounts to a Grand Reset, a reevaluation of America’s position in a post-Cold War world. However, it’s not clear that either the president or his administration really understands what the Cold War was all about.

According to the White House press release last week: “Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of empowering Cubans to build an open and democratic country.” ...


Nonstop Appeasement


We don’t expect much. It’s been nearly six years. We’re long past the point of hoping that Barack Obama will adopt policies that deserve our grudging approval, if not enthusiastic endorsement, particularly on foreign policy and national security.


A Model Senator


"In any election,” Tom Coburn often says, “you should vote for the candidate who will give up the most if they win.” All things being equal, we should prefer politicians who have accomplished something in their lives beyond government work—and who are willing to sacrifice it, at ...


The Uruguay Six

They weren’t kidnapped. They’re not refugees.


Two former detainees—left and center—with a police  officer, right, in Montevide

On Sunday, December 7, a U.S. military medical aircraft landed in South America, to deliver six jihadists from the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay to Uruguay. For more than a dozen years, these six men had been held as dangerous enemies of the United States. Suddenly, Uruguay treated them as refugees, even victims, and the Obama administration didn’t object.

In a statement on December 5, two days before their arrival, the president of Uruguay, José Mujica, condemned the United States. “We have offered our hospitality for humans suffering a heinous kidnapping in Guantánamo,” Mujica wrote. “The unavoidable reason is humanitarian.” The Obama administration didn’t dispute his characterization and instead offered thanks on behalf of all of us. “The United States is grateful to the government of Uruguay for its willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantánamo Bay facility.”

In ...

Gary Locke

Republicans and Wall Street

Just saying no to Elizabeth Warren isn’t enough.


Last week, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren threatened to derail the omnibus continuing resolution (“cromnibus”) that funds most of the government through the end of the fiscal year. She objected to the elimination of an obscure rule in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law ...

Jorge Ryan

Lima Greens

Another climate conclave comes and goes.


Nicholas Stern is one of the world’s über-environmentalists, the author of the famous Stern Review, a 700-page study released by the British government in 2006, which concluded, “Climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent response.” Eight years on, Stern ...


He Never Learns

Obama’s no-deal presidency.


On domestic issues, President Obama rarely leads and doesn’t like to negotiate. In his first two years in office, he didn’t have to do either. He was spoiled by having overwhelming Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. And he hasn’t gotten over it yet.

Asian-American applicants: the new Jews

Waiting for the ‘Termination Point’

Is the end in sight for race-conscious college admissions?


In Grutter v. Bollinger, decided in 2003, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor upheld race preferences in higher education but also declared they must have “a termination point.” So when a lawsuit against preferences in admissions is brought, there is a presumption ...


A Year Later, the Exchanges Still Stink

Health insurance ‘job lock’ isn’t going away.


One day soon I will presumably receive a notice from the D.C. health exchange informing me how much my family’s health insurance will cost for 2015. That I’ve not yet been made privy to this salient bit of information mere weeks before I have to decide whether to change providers ...


The Next Shale Revolution?

The astonishing promise of enhanced oil recovery



Just five years ago, almost no one outside the natural gas industry had heard of fracking, even though the basic technologies were not new; today, the shale gas revolution has transformed America’s energy markets, with profound effects for economic growth, competitiveness, security, and environmental quality. In a nation still deeply concerned about its energy future, this extraordinary success story should prompt the question: Can we do it again?

The answer is yes​—​if we correctly understand both the model for innovation that shale gas exemplifies and an opportunity that now exists to emulate the shale model. That opportunity involves exploiting a technique called “enhanced oil recovery” (EOR).

Like fracking on the eve of its success, this concept is virtually unknown to most Americans, yet it rests not on pie-in-the-sky technological dreams but on the application and refinement of proven ...

Books & Arts

Some Faces of War

Brave men, flawed strategies in Afghanistan


Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment cross a river in the Sangin District,

With his latest book, Bing West has reconfirmed his standing as one of the most intrepid and insightful observers of America’s wars over the past decade-and-a-half. Some have called him a latter-day Ernie Pyle. Embedded for the sixth time with soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, West demonstrates, as he has done before, Pyle’s empathy for the “grunts” who have borne the major burden of these conflicts. The empathy comes naturally, since West himself was a Marine infantryman in Vietnam. 

But the author brings something to his accounts that Pyle did not: an understanding of high-level policymaking arising from his service as an assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration. These two perspectives—a grunt’s eye view of close combat and the policymaker’s broader outlook—have made West’s previous books particularly illuminating. ...

John Casey at Sewanee, 2014

Master Class

The craft of fiction and the art of rewriting


Historically, we’ve had witchcraft, priestcraft, warcraft, and occasionally a spot of statecraft. Today, we have craft beers in corner bars and craft talks at conclaves of writers around the country. ...

Highway billboard, Selma, Alabama (1965)

Red Whitewash

Revising—or disguising—a chapter in civil rights history


When Martin Luther King visited the White House on June 22, 1963, President John Kennedy took him on a private walk in the Rose Garden and urged him to cut his personal and organizational ties to both Stanley Levison, a white businessman and lawyer ...

Ma Joad (Jane Darwell), Tom Joad (Henry Fonda), Pa Joad (Russell Simpson),  ‘The

Dust to Dust

At 75, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ is less persuasive than ever


I read The Grapes of Wrath—this year celebrating the 75th anniversary of its publication in 1939—the summer after I graduated from a Southern California girls’ high school less than a quarter-century ...

Pvt. Jason Kukkola, George W. Bush, Anita Kukkola at Walter Reed (2005)

The Art of Healing

Mothers, sons, daughters, and soldiers


When young men and women join the armed forces, their families understand the seriousness of “the knock.” When a soldier is killed, the Department of Defense dispatches officers to find the next of kin, ...

Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro, Christian Bale

Exodus, Stage Left

The biblical saga gets an up-to-the-minute adaptation


Raise your hand if you want to see Moses portrayed as an insurgent lunatic terrorist with a bad conscience, the pharaoh who sought the murder of all first-born Hebrew slaves as a nice and reasonable fellow, and God as a foul-tempered 11-year-old boy ...


A Philadelphia Story

Michael Warren's Christmas story


Jori Bolton

I'll admit, I have few childhood memories of the nativity scene my grandparents kept on their mantel every Christmas. I recall more clearly the haunting portrait of Santa Claus hanging in the foyer and the towering Christmas tree, with its pink ribbons and bows. And, of course, the bounty of presents.

The nativity scene, delicate and out of reach, didn’t hold this little boy’s attention. Only now that it’s in my own house have I taken an interest. The stable’s wooden frame is cherry, and the slanted roof is made of small pads of straw. The whole gang is there in white ceramic: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherd, his sheep, the three wise men, their two camels, a cow, and an angel. Standard Bethlehem stuff—except that this crèche was handmade especially for my grandmother. In our order-it-on-Amazon, get-it-the-next-day, made-in-China world, my wife and I and our baby have something unique among our Christmas decorations. Our tree may be ...


There’s a Reason He’s Hard to Forgive


Does the New York Times have a Rolling Stone problem? The author of a celebrated op-ed, who confessed to having “tortured” while serving at Abu Ghraib, had previously said he played no role in prisoner abuse at the infamous Iraqi prison.

For most of the week after the New York Times published Eric Fair’s confession on December 10, 2014, to coincide with the release of the Feinstein report on interrogation, the op-ed was among the newspaper’s “most emailed” and “most viewed” articles. The first-person story was widely distributed on Twitter with praise for the author often accompanying a link to the story. Other prominent publications ran news stories about the Times op-ed.

The dramatic Times headline: “I Can’t Be Forgiven ...

Johns Hopkins

False Positive

The Washington Post carried a horrific front-page story last week. Horrific, that is, for anyone who has ever been denied admission to the college of his or her choice—which, The Scrapbook guesses, might include a handful of readers.

A few ...


Sentences We Didn’t Finish

"This is my last column for this newspaper. I am joining Jason Whitlock’s new Web site at ESPN intersecting sports, culture and race, to be launched sometime next year. I plan to continue the work my editors at The Post have generously supported, especially now that many of ...

Harvard Seal

Sentences We Enjoyed So Much We Read Them Twice

"Ted Cruz, by the way, is not a Harvard man. He’s Princeton,” [Prof. Harvey] Mansfield said. “Just going to Harvard Law School does not make you a Harvard Man. [Tom] Cotton is a Harvard man. [Ben] Sasse is, too. Elise Stefanik is a Harvard woman. The others are mere alumni.” ...



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