New Year's Eve

Hey, haters: Applebee’s is part of what makes America great

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COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA -- There's a wonderful video clip floating around of Mitt Romney during his 1994 Senate campaign, going into a beleaguered greasy spoon restaurant in Waltham, Mass. He walks into the dim main room and exclaims, "My goodness! What's going on here today? Look at this!

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The window for Chris Christie to climb through just got even narrower (and no, that's not a catty reference -- I'm not joining this debate just yet.) The South Carolina Republican Party announced today that, in reaction to Florida moving its primary to Jan. 31, the state would hold its primary on Saturday, Jan. 21. This means that the nominating calendar is going to be pushed back even earlier than many were predicting after Florida's move.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of"Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. An episode of a post-"Sopranos" quality cable series often focuses less on the plot and more on the psychology of its characters, the sociology of its setting, and a vividly evoked sense of place. That's why, when fellow viewers ask me to name a "best" episode of such programs, I am often not sure what to say. On a show like "Mad Men," the individual chapters are all of a piece.

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Out of Joint

The sunburned Englishman sat at the bar of the Peponi Hotel in Lamu, nursing a vodka-and-grapefruit-juice cocktail and sucking on an Embassy cigarette. A former resort owner who sold out a couple of years ago but still pays regular visits to this island off the Kenyan coast, Gerald had recently returned from a fishing trip to the neighboring island of Kiwayu—a journey that had turned up unsettling evidence of the changes creeping into the region. The Kiwayu beach hotel was deserted, he said, except for a pair of FBI agents who had converted their bungalow into a listening post.

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