Perhaps The Scrapbook is getting old—or, more likely, regards the subject matter as uncomfortably close to home. But we were alternately amused and horrified last week by a front-page photo in the New York Post depicting Mattel's new Curvy Barbie doll: "Meet new 'Fat Barbie,' " read the headline.
Fat? According to the Post, that seems to be the social-media consensus about this latest iteration of 57-year-old Barbie. But take a look at that doll! Yes, Curvy Barbie might stand to lose a few pounds—at this time of year, who couldn't?—but if you crossed paths with Curvy Barbie in Legoland or chatted her up at a My Little Pony fair, would "fat" be the word you would choose to describe her? She looks like aRead more
In his weekly newsletter “Kristol Clear," The Scrapbook's boss alerts readers to "a two-part essay by Harvey Mansfield in the fine magazine City Journal. Mansfield's topic is 'Our Parties,' with Part I on 'The Democrats: how progress became drift,' and Part II on 'The Republicans: party of virtue.' And as an introduction to these challenging but very rewarding pieces, or as a tide-me-over until you have the leisure to read them, I'm happy to present a new conversation with Harvey Mansfield [available at conversationswithbillkristol.org]. In it, Mansfield considers our two major parties, the ideas behind them, and the qualities that often go with being a Democrat or a Republican.Read more
There has been a pretty consistent pattern to the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Every time the former secretary of state insists that the truth is all out, and it’s no big deal, yet more damaging information emerges. Recently she and her surrogates have been dissembling so much they've barely had a chance to catch a breath between dishonest soundbites.
On January 29, the Associated Press reported that 22 Clinton emails on her insecure private server were at the highest levels of classification. (Classified information was also emailed to Clinton's pal, the oleaginous Sidney Blumenthal, on his AOL account.Read more
A memorable bit of health advice appeared in the February 3 New York Times: “Sexually active women who are not using birth control should refrain from alcohol to avoid the risk of giving birth to babies with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, even if those women are not yet known to be pregnant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended. . . . The report, which appeared to refer exclusively to heterosexual sex, also said that three in four women who intend to get pregnant do not stop drinking alcohol when they stop using birth control [emphasis added]."
As a colleague of The Scrapbook points out, "Yes, NYT, that is the type of sex that can get women pregnant.Read more
The Scrapbook’s commute is probably no worse than that of many of our readers who live in urban areas, which is to say that it's almost never pleasant and is also highly unpredictable. President Obama's appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 4, for example, added a good 30 minutes to our morning drive, thanks to the -Secret Service-imposed street closings that allowed his highness's motorcade to make its way unimpeded from the White House to the Washington Hilton and home again. (We're afraid we may have had a profane thought or two about the breakfast as we were mired in the gridlock.Read more
Meanwhile, at Harvard . . . We note that a frequent and valued contributor to these pages, Harvey C. Mansfield, has weighed in on the controversy there over the renaming of the House Masters (overseers, if you can forgive that word, of the college's undergraduate residences). Mansfield offered some constructive suggestions in a letter to the editor of the Crimson, which we reprint here:
To the Editors of The Crimson:
To aid in the furious thinking going on in the administration for a name to replace "Master" of a House, I would like to propose a College competition to decide a suitable replacement.
To start things off, I will offer two possible new titles: "Marshmallow"
Well, it’s about time. Trustees of Amherst College have banished the school's unofficial mascot, "Lord Jeff," a buffoonish, big-headed representation of the school's namesake, Lord Jeffery Amherst. A British general, during the French and Indian War Amherst signed off on a rudimentary sort of biological warfare against Native Americans, approving the idea of one of his officers to have blankets from the Fort Pitt smallpox ward distributed among the Indians.
For all the horror we hear about Lord Jeff's eagerness to let germs do his dirty work, perhaps more appalling is the old general's attitude toward the tribes his troops were fighting. "I wish to hear of no prisoners," he told a subordinate.Read more
While things on college campuses are less chaotic and violent than they were a few months ago, make no mistake—sanity has not been restored. We got fresh evidence of that when the University of Oregon, in the middle of renovating their student center, debated removing a quotation from Martin Luther King Jr. that was inscribed on one of the walls. The offending quote? "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream. . . .Read more
Generally speaking, The Scrapbook adheres to the old Latin aphorism De mortuis nil nisi bonum (roughtly translated: Don’t speak ill of the dead). Our practice is to offer a fond farewell to people we admire and a dignified silence for those we don't. Which puts us in a quandary, of sorts, about an 80-year-old woman named Concepcion Picciotto, who died last week in Washington.
Few people were aware of Picciotto's name, but many might recognize who she was. Beginning in 1981, she and a man named William Thomas kept vigil at a small antinuclear-war campsite in Lafayette Square across from the White House. Thomas expired in 2009, and by the time Picciotto died last week, she is believed to have conducted the longest continualRead more
The Scrapbook has been secretly rooting for Bernie Sanders for a while now, because, well, he’s not Hillary Clinton. However, we are not without serious reservations about his candidacy. Many of his policy proposals reveal the rich fantasy life of the left, and not even the New York Times can conceal this fact. Sanders recently released more details on his single-payer health plan, and the paper of record found that his "Health Plan Is More of a Tax Plan." Indeed, Sanders would create "a special income tax, called a premium, increase payroll taxes and raise a variety of taxes on high-income Americans, including income and capital gains taxes," observes the Times.
Under Sanders's plan, Americans wouldn't have to payRead more
Since the arrival of Christmas break and J-Term, the screaming campus hordes of November have largely gone the way of summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. The dropping temperatures transform outdoor protests into events suitable only for those of the most iron resolve. Still, there are developments ongoing behind the scenes. The Scrapbook has obtained, for instance, a copy of the list of demands, or rather, the “Final Report" of the University of California-Irvine's task force on "ensuring a positive climate for the campus's African-American community."
The race-busters' report includes the usual laundry list of minor grievances, along with demands to hire black "program coordinators" from the previous year's graduatingRead more
Mike Pitts, a Republican state legislator in South Carolina, last week proposed a law that would require journalists in the state to sign on to a “responsible journalism registry." For anyone who understands the issues at the heart of recent gun control debates, it was obvious the law was more of a satirical "modest proposal" than a serious one. Aside from a flurry of angry and confused tweets by journalists denouncing Pitts's proposal, one Washington Post reporter even went so far as to write a column denouncing the proposed law. And indeed, if you swap a few key terms, the Post op-ed is a persuasive argument against gun registries. Pitts couldn't have asked for better.Read more
Readers are well aware of The Scrapbook’s attitude toward PolitiFact, the much-admired "fact-checking" watchdog of American politics run by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in Florida. Under the guise of a journalistic enterprise, PolitiFact is, in truth, a partisan rapid-reaction squad, largely in the service of the Democratic party. There's nothing wrong with that, of course—just as long as everyone understands that PolitiFact's judgments are entirely subjective.
Which is why The Scrapbook tends not to worry too much about correcting PolitiFact's more tendentious observations. That would be comparable to debating Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D.-Fla.) or expecting a serious response from President Obama'sRead more
The Weekly Standard has a full-time, entry-level position available for a talented individual with reporting and writing experience. Duties will include reporting, writing, and assisting the online staff with editorial and production tasks across a variety of digital platforms. Candidates should send a cover letter and résumé to firstname.lastname@example.org.Read more
A loyal reader brought to our attention the death last week at age 103 of a western Michigan philanthropist, Ralph Hauenstein. Our scribe writes that Hauenstein was “a real American hero" and encouraged us to read about him, since "we have so few chances left to say thank you to this generation."
Hauenstein indeed lived quite a life. He moved to Grand Rapids as a child and built a life there that changed that community for the better. Along the way he briefly joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and served as city editor of the Grand Rapids Herald. When World War II broke out, he joined as a reserve officer, eventually running the intelligence branch for the U.S. Army's European Theater.Read more
The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer is out with a new book, Dark Money, purporting to unmask those dastardly Koch brothers and their infamous habit of spending money to support libertarian and conservative causes. Her 2010 New Yorker article "Covert Operations" succeeded in vilifying the Kochs among progressive voters in spite of being riddled with strange accusations and dubious assumptions. Her book seems to be no different.
Aside from running a glowing review, the New York Times splashed a big scoop taken straight from Mayer, "Father of Koch Brothers Helped Build Nazi Oil Refinery, Book Says.Read more
Like many prizes offered by The Scrapbook, the Antonio de Spinola Award is not bestowed on a regular basis. This is not because The Scrapbook is instinctively ungenerous or reluctant to cheapen a distinct honor. It is because of the nature of the award itself.
Readers of a certain age may recognize the name of Antonio de Spinola (1910-1996), the Portuguese general who was the titular leader of the successful 1974 officers’ revolt against the Lisbon dictatorship. We leave it to historians to evaluate General Spinola's role in the coup and its after-math; but from The Scrapbook's perspective, the passage of nearly 42 years has scarcely diminished our wonder at the general's appearance.Read more
We should all be active participants in a good and decent public life, President Barack Obama lectured in his final State of the Union address. But then he issued this important caveat: “It is not easy." And how! But we should be grateful for small mercies: At least he didn't say "and it won't be quick." For that rhetorical pairing—it won't be easy and it won't be quick—has been one of the most persistent and annoying clichés of the president's years in the spotlight.
It was already a tic on the stump in 2008, when Obama would preface his assertion that "it's time to come together and change" with the warning "It won't be easy, it won't be quick." In his nomination acceptance speech months before, he hadRead more
On January 5, President Obama announced various executive actions to tighten gun control measures. Most of the news led with the fact that Obama cried during the press conference. The Scrapbook takes no stand on whether the tears were sincere. We believe the president cares about victims of gun violence, even if his preferred solutions are unworkable or unconstitutional.
What we can’t abide is the president's belief that people who disagree with him don't care about preventing violence. "The gun lobby is loud and well organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and well organized in our defense of our kids," Obama said in his January 1 radioRead more
When word got out that Rep. Jim McDermott will be packing it in at the end of the year, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was quick to plump the blustery leftist who has represented Seattle since 1989. He “has been a tenacious champion of hard-working Americans," he "has shown the strength of his progressive values," and he has been (insert trigger-warning here for those sensitive to witless rubbish) "a valuable intellectual resource to the Congress."
Pelosi chose not to mention McDermott's more salient accomplishments: the trafficking in illegal wiretaps and the coddling of dictators (including those at the IRS).
McDermott made a name for himself—"Baghdad Jim" to be precise—traveling to Iraq duringRead more
Until very recently, The Scrapbook had not thought of any particular connection between Bill Cosby and Hillary Clinton. Of course, both are well known to the public—he as an entertainer, she as a politician—and they share a longtime interest in certain social issues and Democratic politics. You can even find photographs of them standing together exchanging smiles at public events. But that's a fact of life for famous people and not necessarily significant in itself.
Now, however, Cosby and Clinton share an unlikely connection: sex. Bill Cosby, after decades as a beloved comedian and television actor, stands accused of serially drugging and assaulting women and, as of last week, faces criminal charges in Pennsylvania.Read more
If there were any remaining doubts that a grudge is motivating Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’s policies dictating gender integration in the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps Times has dispelled them, revealing that Mabus sent the Marines a memo on New Year's Day ordering them to make their famously challenging entry-level training—popularly known as "boot camp"—coed. Now, you may be thinking that such a dictate is a natural consequence of the secretary of defense's decision in December to open all ground combat jobs to women, and that may or may not be so.Read more
The Scrapbook has a well-documented weakness for acknowledgments. No, not the virtue of gratitude or the practice of recognizing indebtedness in general. We refer to those explanatory paragraphs, usually appended to the end of a book, where authors traditionally thanked the various libraries and archives they had consulted.Read more
‘Qatar-based Al Jazeera—a quite credible and respected international news organization (contrary to [Mike] Ditka's assertion), the CNN of the Middle East . . ." (Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King, on the allegations of HGH use by Peyton Manning, Dec. 28, 2015).Read more
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