Christmas

In case you weren’t convinced that we’ve reached the campaign’s silly season, the War on Dogs has arrived to erase all doubt. It started with Democrats poking fun at Mitt Romney’s dog-on-car incident. The Daily Caller retaliated earlier this week with a post “uncovering” the “shocking” “news” that Barack Obama once ate dog meat as a child (an event he had mentioned in his memoir). The battle moved to a new front when Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom alluded on Twitter to Obama’s dog-eating. And thus began the War on Dogs, just the latest of the innumerable wars waged this election cycle.

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Rick Santorum’s Catholic faith is an obvious centerpiece of his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, and it is rare for him to speak without referencing his religious beliefs. It is also rare, however, to hear him speak about his particular church, St. Catherine of Siena, which he and his family have belonged to for at least a decade. Even his 2005 manifesto on his personal faith and politics, It Takes a Family, did not mention the church. I was curious to learn more about it, so last Friday morning, I attended a 9 a.m. Mass there. St.

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Commentators were right to point out that Mitt Romney committed a flagrant gaffe last week. Unfortunately, they were only half-correct in identifying the offense. Yes, Romney was impressively inartful in announcing that he was “not concerned about the very poor” because “we have a safety net there,” managing to upset both liberals (for his apparent insensitivity) and conservatives (for his apparent satisfaction with a welfare state they believe promotes dependency).

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[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] From Gavin Polone's anti-Oscars piece in New York magazine: Can you really say that Borat didn’t deserve a [Best Picture] nomination but Letters From Iwo Jima did? Er, yes. Yes you can. Which reminds me: the Academy Awards is in danger of reaching a unique place in our culture--a place currently inhabited by the festivities surrounding Christmas. Very briefly, the Oscar telecast is annoying and silly. So is Christmas music, and so is phony holiday cheer. But much more annoying are the people who complain incessantly about these things.

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A week before Christmas, Russia banned the import of harp seal pelts—the skins of those undeniably cute animals with their big, melting eyes and their cuddly bodies. This followed a similar ban in the E.U. and the U.S., both of which have forbidden the import of almost all seal products. Prominent animals rights activists, like Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson as well as groups like Humane Society International, hate seal hunting—and I understand their objections. I had a toy stuffed seal when I was a kid. (Name: Sealy).

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Daley Departs

Two weeks ago I wondered whether Pete Rouse had Bill Daley, the chief of staff to President Obama who'd been disemboweled in November (ahem, I mean, relieved of some day-to-day duties so he could focus on the big picture) bound and gagged in the White House basement. If Rouse did, he let Daley out for a Christmas holiday in Chicago and Mexico with his children and grandchildren. When Daley came back he apparently took one look at the chair and the rope and the duct tape and decided this gig really wasn't for him. President Obama announced his resignation today.

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 A rumor of a possible military coup against Pakistan’s sitting though often invisible president, Asif Ali Zardari, made big headlines in the country this Christmas weekend. Leading newspapers claimed that a selection of top army brass had met in early December with leaders from the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), a party led by two-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

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  A new poll out from PPP gives some indications about where things are headed in the home stretch. Given that it's only one poll, and that the polling was done between the first and second nights after Christmas--and that it pours some water on my Gingrich uptick theory--I'm not going to interpret the results too literally. But they do offer some hints about what's going on.  First, as on the Democratic side in 2008, it looks like turnout is going to tell us who'll win the caucuses well before the actual votes are tallied, at least if present trends continue.

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I was one of the quickest to write Gingrich off when he started losing altitude earlier this month. I still think he has almost no chance of winning the nomination. Given the distinct absence of a campaign apparatus, or really any trappings of a bona fide campaign, I think Newt’s only shot was to peak right before the Iowa caucuses and basically run the table.

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Down my street, one family is doing its best to pump up the Christmas spirit. They have filled their modest lawn with inflated ornaments, each about five-feet tall. On one side of the walkway stands a Frosty the Snowman and a Rudolph the Reindeer, both with scarves wrapped around their necks and big smiles on their faces, as well as a miniature Santa Claus and Rudolph waving from inside a snowdome.

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