The Magazine

D.C.’s Discrimination Escalation

From The Scrapbook

Dec 12, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 13 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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Gossip, as the subhed would have it, is not quite the dismissible vice of conventional wisdom. And gossip, as Epstein describes it, has a long, complicated history in human annals​—​and has, against all odds, become more, not less, prominent in our sophisticated age. Why is this? What, exactly, is the nature of gossip, and what human need does it fulfill? Is it always good, always bad, or a measure of our status as social animals? 

With his customary mixture of humor and wisdom, our author answers these questions, adds icing to the cake with erudition and hilarity, and polishes a subject both fascinating and repellent. The Scrapbook does not have to sell Joseph Epstein to Weekly Standard readers, but we’ll say it anyway: Buy this book!

Biden Strikes Again

The vice president visited Iraq last week, where he took the occasion to issue the following statement: “We’re not claiming victory,” he said. “What we’re claiming here is we’ve done our job the administration said it would do. To end a war we did not start .  .  . ”

This is a disgrace on many levels. Let’s leave aside Biden’s dutiful allusion to his boss’s well-known distaste for “winning” anything except his own elections. The Iraq war was in fact started by the United States, during the Bush administration, with the approval of both houses of Congress, including the “yea” vote of then-Senator Biden. What exactly did Biden mean by we? Last time The Scrapbook checked, the office the duties of which Joe Biden swore to discharge was vice president of the United States of America, not vice president of the antiwar caucus of the Democratic party.

Sentences We Didn’t Finish

"Imagine a political movement created in a moment of terrible anxiety, its origins shrouded in a peculiar combination of manipulation and grass-roots mobilization, its ranks dominated by Christian conservatives and self-proclaimed patriots, its agenda driven by its members’ fervent embrace of nationalism, nativism and moral regeneration, with more than a whiff of racism wafting through it. No, not that movement. The one from the 1920s, with the sheets and the flaming crosses .  .  . ” (“The Not-So-Invisible Empire,” Kevin Boyle, New York Times, November 27).

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