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Mark Steyn

Steyn on America

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Emails

They're openly sneering at us now. Late on Friday, the Internal Revenue Service revealed that two-and-a-quarter years of Lois Lerner's emails have been "lost". Yesterday the IRS told Congress that it is unable to produce the emails of six other officials involved in the targeting of conservative groups, among them Nicole Flax, the chief of staff to then IRS commissioner Steven Miller.

We now learn that the IRS only retains email on its server for six months. After that, the email exists only on the hard drive of the physical desktop computer of the employee in question. And therefore, if that hard drive crashes, those emails are lost forever.

By the way, do feel free to try that excuse if the IRS asks you to produce any document more than six months old. As I said way back when at the dawn of this investigation, everyone subject to the attentions of this agency should play by Lois Lerner Rules: oh, it'll take me years to produce all that stuff - even if I still have any of it.

Is it just the seven officials in whom Congress is interested whose computers crashed so catastrophically? That would seem statistically improbable. Or is this a more widespread problem and there are hundreds, thousands of IRS employees who've lost years of their emails? And, if that's the case, why has nobody suggested that that policy of only retaining emails on the server for six months needs to be changed, urgently? After all, the IRS isn't shy about telling the citizenry that their own data-retention policies are insufficient. Indeed, Cleta Mitchell (the lawyer representing certain of the targeted groups) says that one of her clients was penalized by the IRS for only retaining emails for a year - ie, twice as long as the IRS server retains them.

Over the weekend, Charles Krauthammer and Peggy Noonan and George Will compared Lois Lerner's missing two-and-a-quarter years to Rose Mary Woods' missing eighteen-and-a-half minutes. President Nixon's secretary - the soi-disant "Fifth Nixon" - died in 2005, and I wrote about her in Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, now available in both autographable print edition and new and expanded eBook edition. Along the way I said this:

Scandals are complicated things. To catch fire with a public disinclined to wade through pages of densely investigative journalism, they need an image—and Rose provided it. She said she'd taken a phone call, in the course of which she'd accidentally kept her foot on the tape machine's pedal and accidentally hit the record button; and even though the phone was a long way from the foot pedal, the explanation could have passed muster if Rose hadn't gamely essayed a visual re-enactment—her limbs extended to the limit across the length of the office, her left hand reaching backward to the phone, her right forward to the record button, one foot straining for the pedal, presumably leaving the other free to snake round the desk and over to the corner to start the Ray Conniff on the eight-track. The big stretch was too much of a stretch for the court, and for the "silent majority," which broke its silence and started guffawing loudly. John Dean called her a "stand-up woman," and she was—if only she'd stayed in that position.

It's different now. There are no buttons, no pedals. One moment, two years' worth of evidence is there on seven IRS desktops. The next, it's vaporized in what appears to be a highly selective series of computer crashes. It's still a stretch, but nobody cares whether you rubes buy it or not. I mean, what are you gonna do, right?

Rose Mary Woods' eighteen-and-a-half minutes lingered on in the cultural consciousness. There is still a Rosemary Award for Worst Open Government Performance, and a while back Arianna Huffington was handing out her own Rose Mary Woods Award for Convenient Technological Incompetence, although The Huffington Post seems in no hurry to revive the honor. Writing about Miss Woods for the first time in many years, I had forgotten what a staple she was - of stand-up routines, sitcoms, humor columns. When she died, the wags at The Washington Post ran an appreciation by Hank Stuever complete with an unexplained "gap" - a chunk of blank white paper in the middle of the article - secure in their confidence that, even after three decades, everyone would get the joke. In defiance of Warhol, Rose Mary was famous for eighteen minutes and twenty-eight seconds: the precise length of the gap. The world's most famous gap. The Post's Tony Kornheiser in a memoir of his father:

'What happened to your teeth, Dad?' I asked softly. There were gaps. Rose Mary Woods gaps.

Johnny Carson:

President Sadat had a belly dancer entertain President Nixon at a state dinner. Mr Nixon was really impressed. He hadn't seen contortions like that since Rose Mary Woods.

You could fill a memorial library with novels set in the Seventies in which she serves as the instant all-purpose cultural allusion. She's there in Rick Moody's The Ice Storm, and Delia Ephron's Hanging Up, and Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone, and Robert Ludlum's Apocalypse Watch ("I figured we had one of those Rose Mary Woods things"). In Samuel Shem's The House of God four generations of a family gather for dinner, and Rose's turn provides fun for young and old:

Spurred on by the news photos of Rose Mary Woods spread-eagled between the foot pedal of her tape recorder and the phone behind her as if awaiting a quick roll in the hay with Nixon, we laughed and chortled together that now, finally, Nixon was going to get his… My brother's four-year-old daughter… was learning to play with her toy phone by picking it up and spread-eagling herself and screaming RO-MARY REACH RO-MARY REACH…

Does anyone think Lois Lerner will rate a barrel-load of novels and parody awards? Most Americans have no idea who she is because, unlike Rose Mary Woods, the media have declined to make her a punchline. On Saturday, Ms Lerner failed to make the front page of The New York Times - or any other page. Emboldened by the acquiescence of the media's court eunuchs, American government is on the move, exiting the First World and heading for banana-republic territory, at quite a clip.

So, like a Gay Nineties boulevardier riddled with tertiary syphilis, the diseased IRS staggers on. Benghazi and Baghdad are far away, but the most powerful revenue agency on the planet is in your home, in your bank, in your credit card statements. If the IRS is corrupt, it wouldn't matter if every other federal agency were squeaky clean, which they certainly aren't. But it's beyond that: the IRS is systemically corrupt, and they're getting away with it. Which means that they'll keep doing it, and worse.

If you listen carefully, that sound you hear in the two-year static of vaporized evidence is your government laughing at you.

from Steyn on America, June 18, 2014

 

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Next stop, banana republic

"This is the United States of America," declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Missouri, on Friday. "We're not some banana republic."

He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, which glorious American tradition seems to come round earlier every year. "This is not a deadbeat nation," President Obama continued. "We don't run out on our tab." True. But we don't pay it off, either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, "Mebbe you've had enough, pal," we protest, "Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set 'em up, Joe." And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you'd run out on your tab back when it was $23.68.

Still, Obama is right. We're not a banana republic, if only because the debt of banana republics is denominated in a currency other than their own – i.e., the U.S. dollar. When you're the guys who print the global currency, you can run up debts undreamt of by your average generalissimo. As Obama explained in another of his recent speeches, "Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt." I won't even pretend to know what he and his speechwriters meant by that one, but the fact that raising the debt ceiling "has been done over a hundred times" does suggest that spending more than it takes in is now a permanent feature of American government. And no one has plans to do anything about it. Which is certainly banana republic-esque.

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An Accidental War

I see the Obama "reset" is going so swimmingly that the president is now threatening to go to war against a dictator who gassed his own people. Don't worry, this isn't anything like the dictator who gassed his own people that the discredited warmonger Bush spent 2002 and early 2003 staggering ever more punchily around the country inveighing against...

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Obamacare's Hierarchy of Privilege

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Idiot Big Brother

On Thursday, the Washington Post's revelation of thousands upon thousands of National Security Agency violations included this fascinating detail...

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Know Thine Enemy

On December 7, 1941, the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked. Three years, eight months, and eight days later, the Japanese surrendered.

These days, America's military moves at a more leisurely pace. On November 5, 2009, another U.S. base, Fort Hood, was attacked — by one man standing on a table, screaming "Allahu akbar!" and opening fire.

Three years, nine months, and one day later, his court-martial finally got under way...

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Lords of the Transition Team

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A Dagger at the Heart of Justice

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013 — just another day in a constitutional republic of limited government by citizen representatives...

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Big Politically Correct Brother

Every time I go on his show, my radio pal Hugh Hewitt asks me why congressional Republicans aren't doing more to insist that the GOP suicide note known as "the immigration deal" include a requirement for a border fence. I don't like to tell Hugh that, if they ever get around to building the fence, it won't be to keep the foreigners out but to keep you guys in...

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The All-Seeing State

A few years ago, after one corruption scandal too many, the then Liberal government in Canada announced that, to prevent further outbreaks of malfeasance, it would be hiring 300 new federal auditors plus a bunch of ethics czars, and mandating "integrity provisions" in government contracts, including "prohibitions against paying, offering, demanding or accepting bribes." There were already plenty of laws against bribery, but one small additional sign on the desk should do the trick: "Please do not attempt to bribe the Minister of the Crown as a refusal may offend. Also: He's not allowed to bribe you, whatever he says." A government that requires "integrity provisions" is by definition past the stage where they will do any good.

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The Lois Lerner Defense

The IRS advances to "pre-auditing"

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The Autocrat Accountants

When everything's a tax issue

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The Benghazi Lie

A failure of character

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The Immigration Transformation

Most countries in the world have irrelevant numbers of "immigrants." In the Americas, for example, only Canada, America, and the British West Indies have significant non-native populations. In Mexico, immigrants account for 0.6 percent of the population, and that generally negligible level prevails all the way down through Latin America until you hit a blip of 1.4 percent with Chile and 3.8 percent in Argentina. There's an isolated exception in Belize, which, like the English Caribbean, has historical patterns of internal migration within the British Commonwealth, such as one sees, for example, in the number of New Zealand–born residents of Australia. But profound sweeping demographic transformation through immigration is a phenomenon only of the Western world in the modern era, and even there America leads the way.

Over 20 percent of all the immigrants on the planet are in the United States. The country's foreign-born population has doubled in the last two decades to 40 million — officially...

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The Collapsing of the American Skull

One of the most ingenious and effective strategies of the Left on any number of topics is to frame the debate and co-opt the language so effectively that it becomes all but impossible even to discuss the subject honestly. Take the brothers Tsarnaev, the incendiary end of a Chechen family that in very short time has settled aunts, uncles, sisters, and more across the map of North America from Massachusetts to New Jersey to my own home town of Toronto. Maybe your town has a Tsarnaev, too: There seems to be no shortage of them, except, oddly, back in Chechnya...

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Co-Existing with the Caucasian Killers

This has been a strange and deadly week in America. On Monday, two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, the first successful terrorist attack on a civilian target on American soil since 9/11.

In America, all atrocities are not equal...

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Drones too convenient to stay overseas

I shall leave it to others to argue the legal and constitutional questions surrounding drones, but they are not without practical application...

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Government-by-fake-disaster-movie

A few weeks ago, Ann Coulter announced that she was bored of American politics and spending her days watching Turner Classic Movies. I confess that, when it comes to Beltway melodrama, I, too, am fighting vainly the old ennu...

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Magical Fairyland budgeting

"I'm also issuing a new goal for America," declared President Obama at his "State of the Union" on Tuesday. We'll come to the particular "goal" he "issued" momentarily, but before we do, consider that formulation: Did you know the president of the United States is now in the business of "issuing goals" for his subjects to live up to?

Strange how the monarchical urge persists even in a republic two-and-a-third centuries old. Many commentators have pointed out that the modern State of the Union is in fairly obvious mimicry of the Speech from the Throne that precedes a new legislative session in British Commonwealth countries and Continental monarchies, but this is to miss the key difference. When the Queen or her viceroy reads a Throne Speech in Westminster, Ottawa or Canberra, it's usually the work of a government with a Parliamentary majority: in other words, the stuff she's announcing is actually going to happen. That's why, lest any enthusiasm for this or that legislative proposal be detected, the apolitical monarch overcompensates by reading everything in as flat and unexpressive a monotone as possible. Underneath the ancient rituals – the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod getting the door of the House of Commons slammed in his face three times – it's actually a very workmanlike affair.

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Easy to see why Tehran endorses Hagel

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Hillary lip-synced more than Beyoncé

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Fake dead girlfriends and fake debt limits

I was out of the country for a few days, and news from this great republic reached me only fitfully...

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What Is the Future of Conservatism?

Not to be too pedantic, but for there to be a "future of conservatism in America" there first has to be a future in America. And that's a more open question than my more optimistic comrades like to admit. The Brokest Nation in History has just told the rest of the world that it is incapable of serious course correction–and around the planet prudent friends and enemies will begin planning for a post-American order.

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Hagel vs. too-big-to-fail Defense Department

If you had buttonholed me in the Senate men's room circa 2003 and told me that a decade hence Joe Biden would be America's vice president, John Kerry Secretary of State, and Chuck Hagel Secretary of Defense, I'd have laughed and waited for the punch line: The Leahy administration?

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Senate plan ignores key to shrinking debt?

(Video) Mark on the fiscal cliff from Fox & Friends...

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Two months of arguing over 10 hours of savings

The politics of the "fiscal cliff" deal is debatable: On the one hand, Boehner got the "Bush tax cuts" made permanent for most Americans; Obama was forced to abandon his goal of increasing rates for those earning $250,000. On the other, on taxes Republicans caved to the same class-warfare premises (the rich need to pay their "fair share") they'd successfully fought off a mere two years ago; while on spending the Democrats not only refused to make cuts, they refused to make cuts even part of the discussion.

Which of the above is correct? Who cares? As I said, the politics is debatable. But the reality isn't. I hate to keep plugging my book "After America" in this space, but if you buy multiple copies they'll come in very useful for insulating your cabin after the power grid collapses. At any rate, right up there at the front – page six – I write as follows:

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Not the absurdity he thought he was exposing

A week ago on NBC's "Meet The Press," David Gregory brandished on screen a high-capacity magazine. To most media experts, a "high-capacity magazine" means an ad-stuffed double-issue of Vanity Fair with the triple-page perfume-scented pullouts. But apparently in America's gun-nut gun culture of gun-crazed gun kooks, it's something else entirely, and it was this latter kind that Mr. Gregory produced in order to taunt Wayne LaPierre of the NRA.

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The Massacre of the Innocents

"Lullay, Thou little tiny Child

By by, lully, lullay..."

The 16th-century Coventry Carol, a mother's lament for her lost son, is the only song of the season about the other children of Christmas...

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The Doctor Won't See You Now

A few years ago, my small local hospital asked a Senate staffer if she could assist them in obtaining federal money for a new building. So she did, expediting the process by which that particular corner of northern New Hampshire was deemed to be "under-served" and thus eligible for the fed gravy...

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America not paying its fair share

Previously on "The Perils of Pauline":

Last year, our plucky heroine, the wholesome apple-cheeked American republic, was trapped in an express elevator hurtling out of control toward the debt ceiling. Would she crash into it? Or would she make some miraculous escape..?

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Jill Kelley for secretary of state

Let us turn from the post-Thanksgiving scenes of inflamed mobs clubbing each other to the ground for a discounted television set to the comparatively placid boulevards of the Middle East...

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How the GOP earned its date with destiny

To an immigrant such as myself (not the undocumented kind, but documented up to the hilt, alas), one of the most striking features of Election Night analysis was the lightly worn racial obsession.

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Reality doesn't need to win Electoral College

Amid the ruin and rubble of the grey morning after, it may seem in poor taste to do anything so vulgar as plug the new and stunningly topical paperback edition of my book, "After America" – or, as Dennis Miller retitled it on the radio the other day, "Wednesday"...

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Biggest Big Government can't keep lights on

In political terms, Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi consulate debacle exemplify at home and abroad the fundamental unseriousness of the United States in the Obama era...

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Benghazi bungle requires act of urgent political hygiene

"We're going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video," said Hillary Clinton. No, not the person who made the video saying that voting for Barack Obama is like losing your virginity to a really cool guy. I'll get to that in a moment. But Secretary Clinton was talking about the fellow who made the supposedly Islamophobic video that supposedly set off the sacking of the Benghazi consulate. And, indeed, she did "have that person arrested..."

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Democrats find their issue, in a binder

So the other morning a reader emails me a picture of a handful of women demonstrating outside the headquarters of the Ohio Republican Party – in what we expert analysts round about this point in the quadrennial election cycle like to call the critical battleground of the Buckeye State. The women each wore two giant pieces of cardboard, front and back. Ah, I thought, a timely protest...

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Step Aside, Reporters — Poets Take On The Debate

(AUDIO) Pundits and reporters, step aside — we have poets with their thoughts on Wednesday night's presidential debate. One from the right, Mark Steyn, and the other from the left, Calvin Trillin.

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Will Big Bird ever leave the government nest?

Apparently, Frank Sinatra served as Mitt Romney's debate coach. As he put it about halfway through "That's Life":

"I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly ... ."

That's what Mitt did in Denver. Ten minutes in, he jumped right on Big Bird, and then he took off – and never looked back, while the other fellow, whose name escapes me, never got out of the gate. It takes a certain panache to clobber not just your opponent but also the moderator. Yet that's what the killer Mormon did when he declared that he wasn't going to borrow money from China to pay for Jim Lehrer and Big Bird on PBS. It was a terrific alpha-male moment, not just in that it rattled Lehrer, who seemed too preoccupied contemplating a future reading the hog prices on the WZZZ Farm Report to regain his grip on the usual absurd format, but in the sense that it indicated a man entirely at ease with himself – in contrast to wossname, the listless sourpuss staring at his shoes.

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The President of Tomorrow, and the wreckage of today

One of the reasons why Barack Obama is regarded as the greatest orator of our age is that he's always banging on about some other age yet to come – e.g., the Future!

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'Barack & Hillary at the movies'

I see the Obama campaign has redesigned the American flag, and very attractive it is, too. Replacing the 50 stars of a federal republic is the single "O" logo symbolizing the great gaping maw of spendaholic centralization. And where the stripes used to be are a handful of red daubs, eerily mimicking the bloody finger streaks left on the pillars of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi as its staff were dragged out by a mob of savages to be tortured and killed. What better symbol could one have of American foreign policy? Who says the slick, hollow, vapid marketing of the Obama campaign doesn't occasionally intersect with reality?

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Choice not part of this future

According to Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, invited to address the Democratic convention and the nation, America faces a stark choice this November...

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Racist dog whistles and the men who hear them

American racism is starting to remind me of American alcoholism. At the founding of the republic, in the days when beer was thought of as "liquid bread" and a healthy nutritional breakfast, Americans drank about three-to-four times as much as they do now. Today the United States has a lower per capita rate of alcohol consumption than almost any other developed nation, but it has more alcoholism support groups than any other developed nation...

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War on women? The real war is on children

The Democratic Party, never inclined to look a gift horse in the mouth, does have a tendency to flog him to death. So it is with a fellow called Todd Akin, a GOP Senate candidate who unburdened himself of some ill-advised thoughts on abortion and "legitimate rape," and put Missouri back in play for the Democrats. Less-ambitious political parties would be content with that little windfall, but the Dems have decided to make – what's his name again? Oh, yeah – this guy Akin the face of the Republican Party...

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Half-wit demagoguery, hard truths

Americans, according to a Winston Churchill quote of uncertain provenance, always do the right thing after they've exhausted all other possibilities. More verifiably, Sir Winston, upon being asked if he had any criticism of the United States, replied tersely: "Toilet paper too thin, newspapers too fat." But that was then. Today, America is a land of two-ply toilet paper and one-ply newspapers...

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Obama the great disabler

The other day, I passed a Republican Party county office here in my home state, its window attractively emblazoned with placards declaring "Believe in America. Romney 2012" and "New Hampshire Believes. Romney 2012."

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Obama builds roadblocks, not roads

On the evidence of last week's Republican campaign events, President Obama's instant classic – "You didn't build that" – is to Mitt Romney what that radioactive arachnid is to Spider-Man: It got under his skin, and, in an instant, the geeky stiff was transformed into a muscular Captain Capitalism swinging through the streets and deftly squirting his webbing all over Community-Organizerman. Rattled by the reborn Romney, the Obama campaign launched an attack on Romney's attack on Obama's attack on American business. First they showed Romney quoting Obama: "He said, 'If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.'" And then the Obama team moved in for the kill: "The only problem? That's not what he said." Indeed. What Obama actually said was: "If you've got a business, you, you didn't build that. [Interjection by fawning supporters: "Yeeaaaaah!"] "Somebody else made that happen."

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Lights out for U.S.-style Big Government

...No advanced society has ever attempted Big Government for a third of a billion people – because it cannot be done without creating a nation with the black-hole finances of Stockton, California, and the recent Black-Hole-of-Calcutta fetid, airless, sweatbox utility services of Rockville, Maryland...

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A lie makes Obamacare legal

Three months ago, I quoted George Jonas on the 30th anniversary of Canada's ghastly "Charter of Rights and Freedoms": "There seems to be an inverse relationship between written instruments of freedom, such as a Charter, and freedom itself," wrote Jonas. "It's as if freedom were too fragile to be put into words: If you write down your rights and freedoms, you lose them."

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Obama the first Invented-American president

Courtesy of David Maraniss' new book, we now know that yet another key prop of Barack Obama's identity is false: His Kenyan grandfather was not brutally tortured or even non-brutally detained by his British colonial masters. The composite gram'pa joins an ever-swelling cast of characters from Barack's "memoir" who, to put it discreetly, differ somewhat in reality from their bit parts in the grand Obama narrative...

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Earthly woes mount as Obama's rhetoric soars

Round about this time in the election cycle, a presidential challenger finds himself on the stump and posing a simple test to voters: "Ask yourself – are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

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Obama redefines 'Green Zone'

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee a few days ago – that's 60 years on the throne. Just to put it in perspective, she's been queen since Harry S. Truman was president....Which brings us to President Obama...Last week, the republic's citizen-president passed among his fellow Americans.

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Eternally shifting sands of Obama's biography

It used to be a lot simpler. As E.C. Bentley deftly summarized it in 1905: "Geography is about maps But Biography is about chaps." But that was then, and now Biography is also about maps. For example, have you ever thought it would be way cooler to have been born in colonial Kenya? Whoa, that sounds like crazy Birther talk; don't go there!

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America's Slow Suicide

Mark tells Charles Adler why he believes America is in the midst of a slow suicide.

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Fauxcahontas and the melting pot

Have you dated a composite woman? They're America's hottest new demographic. As with all the really cool stuff, Barack Obama was doing it years before the rest of us. In "Dreams from My Father," the world's all-time most-unread bestseller, he spills the inside dope on his composite white girlfriend: "When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn't be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn't. She could only be herself, and wasn't that enough..."

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The Michael Graham Show

Mark joins Michael to discuss John O'Sullivan's upcoming appearance in Manchester, New Hampshire and more...

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Democrats should let sleeping dogs lie

A couple of days ago, Obama campaign top dog David Axelrod threw in the towel on the dog war. "I thought it was a little absurd to talk about what the President had done as a 10-year-old boy," he sniffed to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, which is as near as the suddenly sheepish attack dog will ever get to conceding that Barack Obama is the first dog-eating president in the history of the Republic...

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Buying 'Buffett Rule' makes you a fool

In the end, free societies get the governments they deserve. So, if the American people wish to choose their chief executive on the basis of the "war on women," the Republican theocrats' confiscation of your contraceptives, or whatever other mangy and emaciated rabbit the Great Magician produces from his threadbare topper, they are free to do so, and they will live with the consequences...

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Wait and see how flexible he'll be

As Bob Hope and Bing Crosby observed in "The Road To Bali": "He gets his shirts straight from Paris Cigarettes from the Nile He talks like a highbrow But he plays Chicago style..."

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Land of legalisms

ObamaCare is an affront to self-government: It's not just that the legislators who legislate it don't know what's in it, nor that citizens can ever hope to understand it, but that even the nation's most eminent judges acknowledge that it is beyond individual human comprehension.

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Gradual insolvency about to speed up

I was in Australia earlier this month, and there, as elsewhere on my recent travels, the consensus among the politicians I met (at least in private) was that Washington lacked the will for meaningful course correction, and that, therefore, the trick was to ensure that, when the behemoth goes over the cliff, you're not dragged down with it. It is faintly surreal to be sitting in paneled offices lined by formal portraits listening to eminent persons who assume the collapse of the dominant global power is a fait accompli. "I don't feel America is quite a First World country anymore," a robustly pro-American Aussie told me, with a sigh of regret...

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America's longest war will leave no trace

Say what you like about Afghans, but they're admirably straightforward. The mobs outside the bases enflamed over the latest Western affront to their exquisitely refined cultural sensitivities couldn't put it any plainer: "Die, die, foreigners!" And foreigners do die. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Loftis, 44, and Army Maj. Robert Marchanti II, 48, lost their lives not on some mission out on the far horizon in wild tribal lands in the dead of night but in the offices of the Afghan Interior Ministry. In a "secure room" that required a numerical code to access. Gunned down by an Afghan "intelligence officer." Who then departed the scene of the crime unimpeded by any of his colleagues.

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The all-you-can-eat salad bar of rights

CNN's John King did his best the other night, producing a question from one of his viewers: "Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?" To their credit, no Republican candidate was inclined to accept the premise of the question. King might have done better to put the issue to Danica Patrick. For some reason, Michelle Fields of The Daily Caller sought the views of the NASCAR driver and Sports Illustrated swimwear model about "the Obama administration's dictate that religious employers provide health care plans that cover contraceptives." Miss Patrick, a practicing Catholic, gave the perfect citizen's response for the Age of Obama: "I leave it up to the government to make good decisions for Americans."

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Sorry, Newt. Only the debt ceiling will reach the moon.

Had I been asked to deliver the State of the Union address, it would not have delayed your dinner plans: "The State of our Union is broke, heading for bankrupt, and total collapse shortly thereafter. Thank you and goodnight! You've been a terrific crowd!"

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GOP not so 'Grand'

VIDEO: The Republican primary process hasn't left Mark Steyn filled with hope for the near future. Find out why in this interview with Michael Coren on The Arena.

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Ron Paul beckons GOP to Fortress America

In the 2010 election the New Hampshire Republican Party took 298 out of 400 House seats, 19 out of 24 state Senate seats, and all five seats on the Executive Council. A little over a year later, in the state's presidential primary, the same (more or less) electorate gave over 56 percent of its votes to a couple of moneyed "moderates," one of whom served in the Obama administration and the other of whom left no trace in office other than the pilot program for Obamacare. Another 23 percent voted for Ron Paul.

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Politics trumps Left's empathy

Lest you doubt that we're headed for the most vicious election year in memory, consider the determined effort, within 10 minutes of his triumph in Iowa, to weirdify Rick Santorum

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Our Sick State

A couple of months back, I was with a friend of mine when she suddenly collapsed and I found myself having to run her to the emergency room. After a fairly harrowing 14 hours, the hospital released her, the doctor writing her a prescription for the still-very-intense pain she was in. So we stopped at her local Kinney Drugs in Vermont. Despite having been called in by the doc, the prescription wasn't ready. Come back in an hour. Heigh-ho. So we left it an hour and a half, and then, not wishing ...

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THE COCOON OF DENIAL

Ring in the same old same old

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THE GINGRICH GESTALT

Newt's world is one of more government, more bureaucracy, more dependency

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MORE MORE MORE. HOW DO YOU LIKE IT?

As the SS Spendaholic heads for the abyss, Steyn proposes a new national anthem

 

NO MAN'S LAND

Steyn on Penn State: What's illegal, what's wrong, and what's the difference.

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AUSTERITY FEVER GRIPS WASHINGTON!

...from the Superfriends' Supercommittee to the Social Security lifestyle glossy

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REVOLUTION KARAOKE

The grand convergence of the non-productive classes

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DIAPER CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN

It's Awareness-Raising Day Awareness Day!

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MOMENTARY MADNESS

The youth of "Occupy Wall Street" share the same assumptions as their parents and grandparents

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BIG SLOTH AND THE AMERICAN AUTUMN

It's American Autumn ...and you know what comes after that: America's college kids demand more government-funded lethargy

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SOFT SELL, HARD CONSEQUENCES

There was no due diligence on Obama in 2008, and the press has no plans to change that.

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IN THE DANGER ZONE

'It's the end of the world as we know it," sang the popular musical artistes R.E.M. many years ago. And it is. R.E.M. has announced that they're splitting up after almost a third of a century. But these days who isn't? The eurozone, the world's first geriatric boy band, is on the verge of busting apart. Chimerica (Prof. Niall Ferguson's amusing name for the Chinese-American economic partnership that started around the same time R.E.M. did) is going the way of Wham!, with Beijing figuring it's ...

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THE "PASS THIS BILL NOW!" BILL

The president has taken to the campaign trail to promote his American Jobs Act. That's a good name for it: an act. "Pass this bill now!" he declared 24 times at a stop in in Raleigh, North Carolina, and another 18 in Columbus, Ohio, and the act is sufficiently effective that, three years into the Vapidity of Hope, the president can still find crowds of true believers willing to chant along with him: "Pass this bill now!" Not all supporters are content merely to singalong with the ...

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THE HOLE AT THE CENTER

Guest-hosting for Rush on Friday, I mentioned that, for a writer, one of the pleasures of doing the show is that a listener's call will start your mind heading to places it might never have got to if you were just sitting in a room typing away. One example of that occurred last year when I was hosting the show during the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, and my resulting riff attracted a lot of commentary. I subsequently expanded my thoughts in After America, and it seems appropriate to excerpt ...

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LIFE, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT

That thoughtful observer of the passing parade, Nancy Pelosi, weighed in on the "debt ceiling" negotiations the other day: "What we're trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today." It's always good to have things explained in terms we simpletons can understand. After a while, all the stuff about debt-to-GDP ratio and CBO alternative baseline scenarios starts to give you a bit of a headache, so we should be grateful to ...

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