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Monthly Archives: January 2006

Headline of the Year

January 31st, 2006 - 9:45 pm

I am Become Cronkite, Destroyer of Wars.”

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SOTU – Wrap

January 31st, 2006 - 9:30 pm

It could have been worse.

Bush didn’t propose a whole lot of new spending, which is a plus. And what little he did propose has little chance of getting enacted. That’s an even bigger plus.

Leaving aside all the policy stuff – because who really cares this late at night? – what most interested me was Bush’s conciliatory tone. There could be two reasons for it:

1. Bush knows he’s a lame duck.

2. Bush is setting a Conciliation Trap for the Democrats in the midterm election.

Of course, both reasons might be true.

The lame duck angle is worth looking at a little more. Any second-term President is automatically lame, but Bush risks being even duckier than most. The reason, of course, is that there’s not a chance in hell his Vice President is going to run in the next election. Reagan could threaten “four more years” with GHW Bush waiting in the wings. Clinton did the same with Gore – although he could have threatened more loudly. That is, if he and Gore had still liked each other. Or had Gore been an actual member of the human race. Cheney won’t be a contender in ’08 for a variety of reasons – which might help explain Bush’s attitude tonight.

The Conciliation Trap is self-explanatory, but I’ll spell it out for the slower kids. With the notable (and commendable) exception of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, most of the national-level Democrats don’t come off as very nice people. Bush played nice tonight, and if he keeps playing tough-but-nice until November, it sets up the Republicans for some “nice” victories next fall.

Whatever is going on, we’ll have lots of fun watching it play out over the next nine months.

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SOTU – Democratic Response

January 31st, 2006 - 8:16 pm

8:18pm Virginia is a state, just like all the others.

8:19pm Prompted, I suppose, by Hillary Clinton, Kaine started off by talking about his missionary work as a young man. Smart move.

8:20pm Also, Kaine has that deer-in-the-headlights look. But I don’t blame him for being nervous.

8:21pm So far, Kaine is playing from the Opposition Playbook. Comparing Clinton’s surplusses with Bush’s deficits, etc. Standard stuff, but he also seems to be relaxing a bit.

And if it seems like I’m spending too much time on Kaine’s performance, it’s because this is his first time on the national stage.

8:23pm There’s not much to say here, because Kaine isn’t actually, you know, responding to what Bush said. If the Democrats want to win, they’ve got to take Bush and the Republicans head on. Kaine isn’t doing that. He’s only five minutes into his speech, and he’s already presented a longer “laundry list” than Bush did in an hour.

8:25pm “We must defeat those who attack and kill innocent people.” Kaine is also talking about how some of those killed on 9/11 were killed right in his state.

This should be good stuff, but it isn’t. Instead, Kaine is repeating the same old talking points we’ve heard for two years now. This is an unimpressive debut speech – and it has DNC fingerprints all over it.

8:26pm OK, I have a 2008 Election Drinking Game. Every time between now and then, take a shot every time a Democrat says “there’s a better way.”

Your liver will give out long before the election. Maybe even before Kaine is done talking.

8:28pm I actually feel sorry for this guy. I’m sure that if he’d been taken off the leash, he could have given a credible response.

8:29pm Nice finish after a lackluster effort.

Final thoughts in just a bit.

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SOTU – It’s Over

January 31st, 2006 - 8:03 pm

OK, so that happened.

I’ll be back with a fresh cocktail to cover the response from the Loyal Opposition. Of course, that adjective is dependent on who will be speaking.

UPDATE: 47 posts in an hour and twelve minutes. Who’s the hardest working blogger in the blogosphere?

You know, when I bother?

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SOTU Drunkblogging – LIVE!

January 31st, 2006 - 7:00 pm

6:52pm Maybe not actually drunk, but I am working on a nicely icy gin martini with my patented “confetti twist” of lemon. Sipping and waiting.

And – oh, yeah – all times Mountain.

6:53pm Cindy Sheehan has been arrested. Expect cries of “fascism!” before her cell door is all the way closed.

7:01pm Laura Bush is wearing a lovely purple pants suit.

7:04pm Condi is wearing purple, too. How embarrassing.

7:09pm Can’t remember the last time Bush was late to a speech. Maybe he’s thinking, “It worked for Clinton.

7:10pm The President looks good, but with an odd purple aura you can see right on the screen. Possibly it’s time to replace my $60 Orion off-off-brand Emergency Backup Office Television.

Scratch those comments about Laura’s and Condi’s outfits.

7:11pm Is that Nancy Pelosi standing behind Bush?

7:13pm Dick Cheney and Dennis Hastert seem so lifelike.

7:14pm Starting out with props to Coretta Scott King is a nice touch. And as I’ve said before about this guy and race: I think he means it.

7:16pm “Even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone.” Where is he taking this?

7:17pm OK, Bush is setting this up like he’s going to make big proposals. Now, I didn’t “cheat” and read the pre-released speech, but that’s not what I was expecting.

7:18pm America will “continue to lead” in free trade and free elections. I wish he’d just stop right there and walk out of the room.

7:19pm All the talk about elections is fine – but will he mention Palestine?

7:20pm “No one can deny the success of freedom.” Will someone please tell him just to stop while he’s ahead. It’d make a fine speech right there.

7:21pm It’s all fine and good for Bush to remind us of the evils of terrorists, but the All But Required PC Boilerplate gets tiresome.

7:23pm “We will never surrender to evil.” Perfect applause line. But I can’t shake the feeling that that sort of talk is becoming boilerplate, too. It’s been four years since the last big attack, and it seems we’re getting complacent.

7:24pm “Our work is Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal.” And also because it’s tough to keep up moral with Nancy Pelosi in the room. Just sayin’.

7:25pm “The road to victory is the road our troops will take home.” Nice, but the next statement was pure BS. Bush claimed the military would make the battlefield calls, but in 2004 Bush himself called off First Fallujah for political reasons – disastrously. Let’s hope he’s learned his lesson.

7:27pm “…Stand behind the American military in this vital mission.” Somewhere in LA, Joel Stein’s nose started to spontaneously bleed.

7:28pm “I know what honor is.” When the President – or anybody else – reads these things, there’s no need for comments. And certainly not any smartass ones. So I’ll shut up for a minute.

7:31pm “Elections are vital, but they’re only the beginning.” Has Bush been reading InstaPundit?

7:32pm Bush just used “Iran” and “regime” and “must come to an end” in the same sentence. Hoo-boy.

7:34pm “Our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a democratic Iran.” Has Bush been reading VodkaPundit?

7:35pm Bush is using his HIV/AIDS aid programs to segue into the Laundry List Portion of the evening. Here’s where things get boring, as the President tells us exactly how he and Congress have wasted out money in the last twelve months.

This would be an excellent time to pour another martini.

7:36pm My bad. Bush used his last comment as a way to segue into asking Congress to reauthorize the PATRIOT ACT (speaking of government laundry lists).

I think I’ll make mine a double.

7:37pm “We will not sit back and wait to be hit again.” That line cost the Dems at least two House races next fall.

7:39pm “Support the men and women who defend us and lead the world to freedom.” Somewhere in LA, Joel Stein’s other nostril started to bleed.

7:40pm Here’s where we fall into the Danger Zone. Talking about our free economy, and how wonderful it is, Bush is about to propose all sorts of new government programs. Sigh.

7:41pm “Americans should not fear our economic future, because we intend to shape it.” Who is this “we?”

7:43pm “Make the tax cuts permanent.” Fine! Please! And let’s cut some spending, too, shall we?

7:44pm Bush is bragging about having made teensy cuts in the very smallest bits of Federal Budget. Shameful.

7:45pm “Earmark reform” might be the most beautiful pair of words you’ll hear all night. Bush wants a line-item veto

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SOTU Open Comments Thread

January 31st, 2006 - 6:57 pm

A martini, a TV, and a keyboard. Life’s pretty good sometimes.

So have at it, kids.

UPDATE: No, I will not be using the TiVo. I’m in my office, with a TiVo-free nine-inch television with a mostly-purple picture.

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SOTU Trackback Thread

January 31st, 2006 - 6:39 pm

I know my drinking buddy Andy is liveblogging tonight.

If you are, too, then leave a trackback to this post.

UPDATE: Gay Patriot, too.

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The Rule Of Three

January 31st, 2006 - 6:02 am

If this story pans out, it will be very, very good news for everybody who isn’t working for a cable or telco monopoly:

Seeking to keep pace with peers in the telecom and cable TV industries, DirecTV is building a network to offer its own wireless broadband services to consumers, according to two people familiar with the deal. These people say that DirecTV is working with EchoStar and seeking final bids from tower companies in a push to put the network together.

I’d love to see this happen. The more players in the broadband market, the better. Right now, most Americans are stuck with the no-choice of high-priced cable modem service from their local cable TV monopoly, or high-priced DSL service from one of the Bell monopolies. As a result, broadband pricing and service in the US has scarcely changed since it was first introduced in the late ’90′s; I’m paying the same monthly rate now that I paid in 1999, even as other telecommunications rates have plummeted. Two matched monopolies don’t have any incentive to cut prices, but add another independent player, and the rule of three kicks in.

Widely availabe high-speed wireless service would throw a monkey wrench into that comfortable (for the duopoly) setup, giving broadband from cable and the Bells the same deserved kick in the teeth that satellite television delivered to cable TV in the 1990′s.

I cut off BellSouth’s overpriced landline service over two years ago, which thanks to BS’s monopolist no-dry-line policy, means I’m stuck with cable modem “service” for broadband. Give me an excuse to cut that last cord, and I’ll be gone like a shot.

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The DNC’s Year Of The Long Knives?

January 31st, 2006 - 5:05 am

Remember yesterday’s Drudge blurb about DNC fundraising?

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are privately bristling over Howard Dean?s management of the Democratic National Committee and have made those sentiments clear after new fundraising numbers showed he has spent nearly all the committee?s cash and has little left to support their efforts to gain seats this cycle, ROLL CALL reports.

Congressional leaders were furious last week when they learned the DNC has just $5.5 million in the bank, compared to the Republican National Committee?s $34 million.

Senate and House Minority Leaders Harry Reid (Nev.) and Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), along with the Senate and House campaign committee chairmen Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), have made their concerns — directly or indirectly — known to Dean, claims the paper.

Emanuel was particularly upset last week upon seeing the latest DNC numbers.

Well, now. Like Paul Harvey says, wait ’til you hear the rest of the story. Check out this bit from “The Prowler” at the American Spectator’s site (second item):

According to knowledgeable DNC sources, Dean about ten days ago was shown opposition research documents generated by the Republican National Committee more than three years ago, which laid out facts regarding Reid and his family’s lobbying and ethical conflicts.

Dean, according to the sources, was fascinated by the details, and asked that his staff research and independently confirm everything on the documents. “Basically he oppo’d a member of his own party,” says a DNC source loyal to Dean.

“Basically, we were looking at three- or four-page documents that made Jack Abramoff’s lobbying work look like that of a rank amateur,” says the DNC source. “Between the minority leader’s past in Nevada and here in Washington, and the activities of his sons and son-in-law, there probably isn’t anyone in this town with more conflicts. The Reid family is the symbol of what’s wrong with Washington; it’s their behavior that enabled the culture that spawned people like Abramoff.”

Dean then went public over the weekend, saying that Democrats with an Abramoff problem would be in trouble, not only with voters, but with the Democrat Party. But why attack a senior member of his own party?

According to Democrat Party watchers and DNC staff, Dean has grown increasingly frustrated at how he is treated by the likes of Reid, Sen. Dick Durbin, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who leads the House Democrat candidate recruitment effort. “They treat him like a lackey, not as an equal,” says another DNC employee. “Just last week, they were all badmouthing his fundraising activities, when clearly he’s done a good job. What this comes down to a fight for the soul of our party, and if the chairman has to draw a long knife on a few of his colleagues, he’s more than willing to do so.”

Ego, paranoia and power make an ugly combination. But it ought to be fun to watch…

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January 30th, 2006 - 10:36 pm

Not much time for blogging tonight, but I’ll be liveblogging the State of the Union Address.

There will be drinking involved.

(Hat tip, Rachel.)

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Movie Stuff

January 29th, 2006 - 10:15 pm

Is “Annapolis” bad enough to “make your eyes bleed“?

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Picking the Wrong Fight

January 29th, 2006 - 10:11 pm

Whenever I think of Hillary Clinton, I always think of what proper Victorian ladies were supposed to do whenever their husbands wanted to procreate: “Close your eyes and think of England.”

Not that I’m accusing Hillary of being frigid, mind you. For all I know, she’s got a Manhattan weekend retreat done up in chrome and black leather with a shower big enough for the Yankees’ entire bullpen. But the less said about that the better.

It’s just that whenever Hillary had to do or say or just put up with anything unpleasant, I figured she was the stoic type. How else could somebody stay married to Bill for 30-plus years? How else could she endure a “listening tour” in nearly-Red State upstate New York? How else could she call Robert Byrd or Trent Lott “my esteemed colleague”?

That’s what I thought right up until now:

Sen. Hillary Clinton yesterday backed a rebel band of Senate Dems seeking to filibuster a vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel Alito.

Democratic leaders had warned that filibuster efforts were going nowhere and would let President Bush score easy political points, but Clinton said, “I oppose his nomination and support efforts to block his confirmation.”

The Sam Alito vote is clearly a case where, to use an awful phrase, Hillary should just relax and enjoy the inevitable. The Democrats don’t have the votes to keep Alito off the court

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Don’t Be Evil

January 29th, 2006 - 9:44 pm

Google won’t stand up to Beijing. But they’re fearless when it comes to putting Brussels in its place:

Google, the giant internet search company, is to lead industry opposition to new proposals from the European Commission to regulate online content.

I support Google in its efforts to fight the EU. The Union is determined to enforce all kinds of nasty regulations on the internet, and supports turning internet governance over to the UN. The problem is, by cutting deals with China, Google lost whatever moral authority it once had.

I used to laugh at Europe’s attempts at wresting the internet away from freedom-loving people. Now it’s not so funny.

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Hitting Back

January 29th, 2006 - 9:41 pm

Via Glenn Reynolds:

I run a small gourmet coffee company that does decent business on the internet, thanks to the reach of Google Ad Words. However, I cannot live with Google’s decision to succumb to the wishes of the brutal dictatorship in China. So, as of today, my company has suspended all business with Google. This will have a substantial negative impact on my bottom line, but in some cases principle means more than money. As a veteran of OIF, I know all too well how valuable freedom is and I cannot support a company that helps to suppress it.

I just ordered a pound of espresso beans from Texas Roast, and I encourage you to order something from them, too.

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I tend to take Wikipedia entries with at least a grain of salt, particularly those involving anything remotely controversial. Garbage in, garbage out is just as functional in the case of anonymous internet postings as in any other endeavor.

That said, this is just plain lame:

The staff of U.S. Rep Marty Meehan wiped out references to his broken term-limits pledge as well as information about his huge campaign war chest in an independent biography of the Lowell Democrat on a Web site that bills itself as the “world’s largest encyclopedia,” The Sun has learned.

The Meehan alterations on Wikipedia.com represent just two of more than 1,000 changes made by congressional staffers at the U.S. House of Representatives in the past six month. Wikipedia is a global reference that relies on its Internet users to add credible information to entries on millions of topics.

Matt Vogel, Meehan’s chief of staff, said he authorized an intern in July to replace existing Wikipedia content with a staff-written biography of the lawmaker.

The change deleted a reference to Meehan’s campaign promise to surrender his seat after serving eight years, a pledge Meehan later eschewed. It also deleted a reference to the size of Meehan’s campaign account, the largest of any House member at $4.8 million, according to the latest data available from the Federal Election Commission.

With no pun intended, that’s pretty bush-league.

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Required Reading

January 28th, 2006 - 10:49 am

Ralph Peters:

From Iraq’s Sunni Triangle to China’s military high command, the counterrevolution in military affairs is well underway. We are seduced by what we can do; our enemies focus on what they must do. We have fallen so deeply in love with the means we have devised for waging conceptual wars that we are blind to their marginal relevance in actual wars. Terrorists, for one lethal example, do not fear “network-centric warfare” because they have already mastered it for a tiny fraction of one cent on the dollar, achieving greater relative effects with the Internet, cell phones, and cheap airline tickets than all of our military technologies have delivered. Our prime weapon in our struggles with terrorists, insurgents, and warriors of every patchwork sort remains the soldier or Marine; yet, confronted with reality’s bloody evidence, we simply pretend that other, future, hypothetical wars will justify the systems we adore–purchased at the expense of the assets we need.

Read the whole thing already.

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You Knew This Was Coming

January 27th, 2006 - 1:33 pm

Now Google censors… Google.

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What Do You Do With a Broken Party? II

January 27th, 2006 - 8:45 am

John Kerry is posting at Kos again.

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Late Night Rambling

January 27th, 2006 - 12:28 am

I just don’t know what to do with the Democrats.

Look at me.* I’m pro-choice. I support gay marriage. I think porn is OK and that drugs (which aren’t OK) ought to be legal. My tastes in music and movies and entertainers are a lot more New York and LA than they are Nashville or Branson.

But with the exceptions of maybe Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman, there’s not a Democrat today I’d vote for without first chewing through my own forehead.

Democrats: I’m your target voter! Appeal to me! I’m sick of the Republicans already! Don’t make me perform impossible physical acts! Please!

But they won’t listen and, come November, I’ll vote for a bunch of Republicans again. (Although I’ll probably leave a bunch of choices blank.) I’ll feel bad about it, of course, but I’d feel even worse if I voted for a Democrat.

And I’m their target voter. Sheesh.

In other words, the Democratic Party is doomed.

I don’t mean that the Democrats will go the way of the Whigs or the Federalists. “Democrat” is still a solid brand name, with a couple centuries of history behind it. Losing the name would be like coming out with a new formula for Coca-Cola.

(OK, so that Coke thing has been done already. But look at what that got them, huh?)

I do mean that the Democratic Party as we know it is doomed. It’s history. It’s over. It’s toast. With moldy marmalade on it.

Earlier tonight, Robin Goodfellow thought about the Democrats’ doom and wrote:

That one-party scenario can happen, but it doesn’t last long, and in today’s world it would probably not last past even one federal election. Though one possibility in that sort of case (a party in power freefall) would be for the dominate party to fracture into separate parties. That has happened more than once, actually, though mostly early on in the US’s history. Another possibility would be for a new party to fill the power gap. Finally, it’s always possible for a party (or electorate) to shift and reset the balance.

Robin is absolutely right. Americans could never be represented by a single party. Hell, our two ginormous “big tent” parties can’t do that. If the Democrats don’t survive as they are, then it’s a safe bet that chunks of the Republican coalition would peel away. They could join the Democrats (my bet) or form a new party (unlikely, given that we haven’t seen a new major party since 1856).

There are all kinds of ways the Republicans could splinter in this scenario, and I’ll leave that up to your imagination

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What Do You Do With a Broken Party?

January 26th, 2006 - 10:33 pm

Al Gore isn’t running for President:

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has accused the oil industry of financially backing the Tories and their “ultra-conservative leader” to protect its stake in Alberta’s lucrative oilsands.

Or at least he ought not to run. I can’t remember the last time a potential candidate accused the elected leader of an allied country of such a thing.

Also, Gore is out of his mind. If oil prices ever come down again, it will be because of “new” finds like Canada’s oil sands. “Screw the consumer” is hardly a winning election strategy.

John Kerry is running for President, but he shouldn’t be:

But late Thursday afternoon, Mr. Kerry began calling fellow Democratic senators in a quixotic, last-minute effort for a filibuster to stop the nomination.

Democrats cringed and Republicans jeered at the awkwardness of his gesture, which almost no one in the Senate expects to succeed.

Kerry literally phoned in his objections, from a ski resort in Switzerland. That’s as tone-deaf a move as I’ve ever seen a politician make.

And now Hillary Clinton can’t even get Molly Ivins on her side:

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.

In the space of 48 hours, the three top Democrats for 2008 proved themselves to have all the staying power of a nervous virgin on the set of a porn shoot.

If this is how the Democrats play when not much seems to be going well for Bush, then they’re toast. It’s too soon to predict exactly what will happen in 2008. But if today is any indication, then I can make a confident prediction about this year’s midterm election: The Republicans will gain a seat or two in the Senate, and at the very least hold even in the House.

Year Six of any administration is usually poison for the party. If we had something like a loyal opposition in this country, that would be as true in 2006 as it was in 1986.

But it isn’t. And it won’t be. Mark my words.

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That’s Affirmative

January 26th, 2006 - 3:36 pm

For those who’ve asked, yes, the “Will” in Jim Geraghty’s column today is me. About halfway down.

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Smoking Gun

January 26th, 2006 - 1:12 pm

Oh, those WMD.

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The China Syndrome

January 25th, 2006 - 10:42 pm

Repeat this with me now: There is no such thing as an efficient dictatorship.

Not that a democratic government like ours is some lean, mean fighting machine

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Damn Good Stuff

January 25th, 2006 - 10:25 pm

Most folks have at least heard of Thomas Aquinas and his conditions for a “just war.” John Noonan took it one step further, and examined the case for a strike against Iran through the Aquinas filter.

When I link to something I’d like people to read all the way through, I’d usually stop writing at the end of the last sentence. But I’d like to take a moment to highlight a part of John’s post, which might seem tangential. Here it is:

There are of course offshoots of the JWT. Marxists only believe that war is just if it is means to progressive ends, pacifism is the antithesis of just war (i.e. war is never just), and Islamic fundamentalists use an almost bizzarro version of the just-war theory in their fatwas. In fact, Islamic jihad is by definition a complete perversion of the jus ad bellum, e.g. killing innocents is authorized, no legitimate authority is necessary, war is fought with little chance of success, war is not used as a last resort, and war is used to establish fundamentalist dictatorships instead of peace.

While that graf might indeed be a mere tangent to John’s point, it’s almost the entire point of this global war we’re in. (And I wish I’d written it.)


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January 25th, 2006 - 10:20 pm

Good news in the war against eminent domain.

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Fight the Future II

January 25th, 2006 - 9:49 pm

From the Vae-Victus blog comes this news from Amsterdam:

From 1 March onwards people who want to settle in the Netherlands (e.g. to join family members or to marry someone living there) will have to pass a preliminary test at the Dutch embassy in their country of origin. In this so-called

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January 25th, 2006 - 9:37 pm

We all know that adorable lefty Joel Stein doesn’t support the troops – but he’s not the only one.

There are some just like him on the right, too.

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Required Reading

January 25th, 2006 - 9:32 pm

Since we were talking about The New Individualist, I should probably also mention my Cary Grant/Personal Style article is also up and ready for your reading pleasure.

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Half the Dan He Used to Be

January 25th, 2006 - 9:23 pm

Steely Danster Donald Fagen has a new solo album coming out in March. Longtime readers probably understand just how excited I am about that.

Anyway, you can download the first single, “H Gang” at iTunes right now.

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License to Die

January 25th, 2006 - 12:31 am

Mark Steyn on Scotland’s demographic problem:

the remarkable feature of contemporary Scottish nationalism is that it has achieved all the features of a failed nation state without achieving the status of a nation state.

Sean Connery is gonna be pissed.

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