Christmas

Last week, shortly before Christmas, the EPA posted a quick item on its website announcing a timetable for new climate regulations on power plants and petroleum refineries. This, in turn, provoked all sorts of outrage and confusion. Industry lobbyists blasted the move. James Inhofe predicted Armageddon and pledged to do whatever it took to thwart the agency. And some commenters framed this as a fresh power grab by the Obama administration. What was harder to find, though, was an explanation of what the EPA was actually doing. So let's roll tape.

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Aubuike Ihejririka, Nigeria’s army chief of staff, explained the terror that killed at least 40 people in northeast Nigeria on Christmas eve and Christmas day.

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Elf me? Elf You, Pal!

Since I made a Glengarry reference today, and since it is almost Christmas, I feel obliged to embed this classic parody: I adore this skit, but one thing that strikes me when I watch it is how much less intensity it has compared with the original move scene it parodies. Recreating a scene like that is so hard even Alec Baldwin can't do it (at least in a live performance.)

We've been reading over the past year that Abu Dhabi and the other emirates are having financial difficulties. But troubles at the bank are always relative. These are not the worries of Spain or Greece and not even the worries of this emirate's poorer cousins, which are far less than that of the now nearly bankrupt European states.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm

You're welcome, Larry David: THERE is a God! It passed! The Bush tax cuts have been extended two years for the upper bracketeers, of which I am a proud member, thank you very much. I’m the last person in the world I’d want to be beside, but I am beside myself! This is a life changer, I tell you. A life changer! To begin with, I was planning a trip to Cabo with my kids for Christmas vacation. We were going to fly coach, but now with the money I’m saving in taxes, I’m going to splurge and bump myself up to first class. First class!

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Ross Douthat argued the other day that Christmas is actually a difficult season for dedicated Christians: In a sense, of course, there’s no better time to be a Christian than the first 25 days of December. But this is also the season when American Christians can feel most embattled. Their piety is overshadowed by materialist ticky-tack. Their great feast is compromised by Christmukkwanzaa multiculturalism.

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I love Matt Yglesias's response to Jon Kyl's suggestion that having the Senate work on December 27 would somehow be an insult to Christians: Yglesias proposes a Jews-only session on Christmas Day. Although note that Christmas happens to fall on a Saturday this year; I believe Joe Lieberman will only show up and vote on Shabbat if his vote is really necessary.

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Bad Expectations

On December 2, as Oprah Winfrey stood on the stage of her TV show, tightly clutching her newest Book Club selection to her chest so that no one could see its title, she proclaimed in her singular, scale-climbing voice, “Dickeeeens for the hooolidaaaays!” Oprah declared that she has “always wanted to read Dickens over the holidays,” and “now [she] can.” Never mind that she could have read Dickens whenever she wanted, seeing as his books have been popular for more than a century. Never mind that Oprah hadn’t chosen A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, or any of Dickens’s other Christmas tales.

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Nude Breach

Eight years ago, officials at Orlando International Airport first began testing the millimeter-wave body scanners that are currently at the center of a national uproar. The designers of the scanners at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory offered U.S. officials a choice: naked machines or blob machines? The same researchers had developed both technologies, and both were equally effective at identifying contraband.

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Democrats in the 111th Congress still have an unfinished agenda. Republicans, quite sensibly, are using the clock as a weapon; at this point of the session, even a filibuster that doesn’t have the votes to block cloture can still be enough to derail something. What weapons does the majority have to fight stalling? Well, there’s one big one that Harry Reid should be at least threatening, and if necessary invoking: he can add more hours for the Senate to work its will. He has already scheduled a Saturday session last week, and he has already said that, like last year, he’ll go up to Christmas.

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