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Mark Steyn

Steyn on America

O Beautiful, For Specious Guys...

The US media have had a fit of the vapors over Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that Barack Obama does not love America. As the Instapundit says, their reaction suggests that Giuliani hit a nerve.

For my own part, I am way beyond that. By the way, I'm growing rather weary of the cheap comparisons of Obama with Neville Chamberlain. The British Prime Minister got the biggest issue of the day wrong. But no one ever doubted that he loved his country. That's why, after his eviction from Downing Street, Churchill kept him on in his ministry as Lord President of the Council, and indeed made Chamberlain part of the five-man war cabinet and had him chair it during his frequent absences. When he died of cancer in October 1940, Churchill wept over his coffin.

So please don't insult Neville Chamberlain by comparing him to Obama. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, because conspiracies are generally a comforting illusion: the real problem with Obama is that the citizens of the global superpower twice elected him to office. Yet one way to look at the current "leader of the free world" is this: If he were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?

For example, he has spent most of this week hosting an international conference on something called "violent extremism". Whatever may be said of Munich, Chamberlain never hosted a three-day summit on "rearmament" in general whose entire purpose was to deny that "rearmament" and "Germany" were in any way connected. Yet that is exactly the message the United States government has just offered to the world - in between such eccentric side spectacles as Marie Harf, star of the hilarious new comedy Geopolitically Blonde, explaining her jobs-for-jihadis program, and the new hombre in charge of the planet's mightiest military machine having his woman felt up on camera by Joe Biden. Now there's a message to send to the misogynists of Burqastan about what happens when you let the missuses out of their body bags.

Here's John Kerry in The Wall Street Journal:

The rise of violent extremism represents the pre-eminent challenge of the young 21st century...

A safer and more prosperous future requires us to recognize that violent extremism can't be justified by resorting to religion...

Violent extremism has claimed lives in every corner of the globe, and Muslim lives most of all...

This summit at the White House and State Department will expand the global conversation and, more important, adopt an action agenda that identifies, shares and utilizes best practices in preventing and countering violent extremism...

Put simply, we are building a global partnership against violent extremism.

Success requires showing the world the power of peaceful communities instead of extremist violence.

Wait a minute, "extremist violence"? How come the spell-check didn't catch that? Don't worry. The very next sentence is back on track:

Success requires offering a vision that is positive and proactive: a world with more concrete alternatives to the nihilistic worldview of violent extremists...

We have to devote ourselves not just to combating violent extremism, but to preventing it...

We've combated violent extremism before...

The 20th century was defined by the struggle to overcome depression, slavery, fascism and totalitarianism. Now it's our turn. The rise of violent extremism challenges every one of us...

By now you may be saying, "Oh, 'violent extremism', I get it. You mean..." Whoa, don't go there, girlfriend. "This is not true Islam," insists President Obama.

Roger Kimball observes:

"ISIL is not 'Islamic.'" Really? Was the Ayatollah Khomeini "Islamic?" How about Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Erdogan: is he "Islamic"? A few years ago, Erdogan told the world that the phrase "moderate Islam" is "ugly" because "Islam is Islam." Democracy, he said, is just an express stop on the train whose destination is Islam...

The Saudis, the biggest and richest Sunni nation? They torture bloggers for "insulting Islam," stone adulteresses, maim thieves, and treat women like chattel. Do they represent Islam?

But Obama has ambitions way beyond the Turks and Saudis. If the Islamic State isn't "true Islam", is the Taliban, our "partners for peace" in Aghanistan? Is "true Islam" the Iranian mullahs, our "partners for peace" in the Persian Gulf and beyond? How about the Houthi? They're our Iranian partners for peace's partners for peace in Yemen, and they were awfully sporting to let our diplomats flee without beheading them.

"Violent extremism" may have nothing to do with Islam, yet Obama's summit on "violent extremism" was oddly preoccupied with Islam, to the extent of according it a special deference:

A Muslim prayer was recited at the start of the second day of the White House summit on "Countering Violent Extremism," but no other religious text was presented during the portion of the event that was open to the press.

Imam Sheikh Sa'ad Musse Roble, president of the World Peace Organization in Minneapolis, Minn., recited a "verse from the Quran" following remarks by Obama administration officials and Democratic members of Congress.

But hey, what's so odd about that? "Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding," says the President. You might think that Islam has been entirely irrelevant to "the fabric of our country" for its first two centuries, and you might further think that Islam, being self-segregating, tends not to weave itself into anybody's fabric but instead tends to unravel it - as it's doing in, say, Copenhagen, where 500 mourners turned up for the funeral of an ISIS-supporting Jew-hating anti-free-speech murderer.

But President Obama knows better than you. So he organized a summit dedicated to creating and promoting a self-invented phantom enemy. Conveniently enough, the main problem with "violent extremists" is that its principal victims are Muslims. No, no, I don't mean the thousands of Muslims being slaughtered, beheaded, burned alive, raped, sold into sex slavery, etc, etc, in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, and so on. The Muslims most at risk are right here in America. Just ask Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson:

We in the administration and the government should give voice to the plight of Muslims living in this country and the discrimination that they face. And so I personally have committed to speak out about the situation that very often people in the Muslim community in this country face. The fact that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and the Islamic faith is one about peace and brotherhood.

I opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security on the basic Thatcherite principle that if you create a government bureaucracy in order to deal with a problem you'll never be rid of the problem. But I underestimated the creativity of our rulers: The DHS was set up because 19 Muslims flew planes into skyscrapers and killed thousands of people. Thirteen years later, the head of the DHS thinks his department's priority should be to "give voice to the plight of Muslims" who have the misfortune to live in America.

How about "the plight of Muslims" who live in Muslim countries? As I wrote in 2006 in the very prologue of the highly prescient America Alone:

In the 2005 rankings of Freedom House's survey of personal liberty and democracy around the world, five of the eight countries with the lowest "freedom" score were Muslim. Of the 46 Muslim majority nations in the world, only three were free. Of the 16 nations in which Muslims form between 20 and 50 per cent of the population, only another three were ranked as free: Benin, Serbia and Montenegro, and Suriname. It will be interesting to follow France's fortunes as a fourth member of that group.

The "plight" of Muslim communities in America and the west is that they enjoy freedoms they could never dream of back in Somalia or Syria or anywhere else - but that they value those freedoms less than they value the pre-eminence of Islam. Canadian reader Sam Williamson wrote to me with what I thought was an interesting insight into the millions of "moderate Muslims":

Hello Mark:

Suppose the moderate shoe was in the other foot:

You are a moderate Christian and there is a radical bunch at the far end of the spectrum of the faith that causing violence, even in your new country. Your faith is growing worldwide in numbers. You see other faiths abandoning their beliefs, and even making laws about where they may practice. But your religion is more welcomed. They say it strengthens the country. It's in their constitution. Other countries are asking you to come.

So you can't help but see your faith gaining influence. In some places no shopping on the Holy Day laws are being re-introduced. In some public schools they are allowing Mass to be said in the cafeteria during the day. Offensive comments about our Church, Saviour, and Saints are being condemned. And items from other religions are being hidden or removed so we don't have to see them. Many people, including their wise teachers, professors, and prominent people in the papers and television are helping getting rid of many customs that we do not support as Catholics. Why even the other day a leader in government told the Prime Minister that it was wrong not to allow us to say the rosary during the Citizenship Ceremony.

Sure, we will condemn that bombing and those extremists if asked. They don't represent my beliefs. But looking at the future I'm thinking my family, my children and grandchildren are going to do better in this country when it's all Christians, and those wrong beliefs have left, and the atheists driven out, even if it is accomplished with some fear and violence. After all, ours is the one true religion and our people will once again be great.

Sam Williamson

If you were a "moderate Muslim", what would you make of an extraordinary week in which the global superpower has piled up a mountain of preposterous, mutually contradictory official lies all designed to flatter you: Islam has been part of the fabric of America since the 18th century, and yet the plight of Muslims in this country and the discrimination they face has never been worse. We are at war with the mysterious shadowy Empire of Violentia-Extremistan, which is nothing to do with Islam, yet necessitates the saying of Muslim prayers - and Muslim prayers only - at official US government events.

On The Hugh Hewitt Show yesterday, I pointed out that the French Government estimates that some nine thousand "Frenchmen" have volunteered to fight for ISIS. That is approximately half the total western deployment in Afghanistan of around 18,000 troops from some four dozen countries. It is larger than any French military deployment in the last half-century. That 500-strong congregation of mourners for the Copenhagen killer may not be the largest funeral turnout in Denmark's history, but it's similarly impressive.

And yet none of that could be discussed in Washington, at a summit arising directly out of the Charlie Hebdo slaughter.

I have quoted before my old friend Theodore Dalrymple on the purposes of lies in totalitarian societies:

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.

We are at war with a depraved enemy, but we cannot be allowed to assert our moral superiority even to head-choppers, rapists, slavers and immolators. Thus the priority of Barack ("Hey, how 'bout those Crusades?") Obama has been to undermine our sense of probity, and make us not merely equivalent to but worse than our enemies. That was the purpose of this last week of Official Lies.

from Steyn on America, February 20, 2015

 

The Life of Brian

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Next stop, banana republic

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Obamacare's Hierarchy of Privilege

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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.

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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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The All-Seeing State

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The Benghazi Lie

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The Immigration Transformation

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Co-Existing with the Caucasian Killers

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In America, all atrocities are not equal...

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Government-by-fake-disaster-movie

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Magical Fairyland budgeting

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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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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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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..."

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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

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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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Benghazi bungle requires act of urgent political hygiene

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Democrats find their issue, in a binder

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Step Aside, Reporters — Poets Take On The Debate

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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

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'Barack & Hillary at the movies'

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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

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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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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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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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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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