24 Apr 2015

Scandals Galore As Hillary Goes Nowhere Fast

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As the Hillary for President campaign finds itself buried in an avalanche of scandals, Ann Coulter thinks Hillary is doomed by an even larger problem.

No one really likes Hillary. Ask Bill. Like Toni Morrison novels, most people just pretend to like Hillary just so liberals will leave them alone.

She’s a bore. She has the warmth of an Arctic ice floe. She hates people, and they hate her. She makes children cry and puppies shy away from her. Nobody wants to watch her wallow around in those neon pantsuits for the next five years.

But no Democrat dares state the obvious.

HillaryBribes

24 Apr 2015

Tweet of the Day

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Glenn Reynolds is playing in Iowahawk’s league.

Tweet80

23 Apr 2015

Hating Lilly Pulitzer

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A Lilly Pulitzer dress.

Megan Garber collects criticisms of the Lilly Pulitzer clothing line and then opens up on it herself, sounding rather like (a more clever) Tom Buchanan denouncing Jay Gatsby, for “selling what cannot, in fact, be bought.”

I’d, of course, never even heard of Lilly Pulitzer, and I have some difficulty perceiving a connection between all those vivid pastels and what Mr. Burke used to refer to as “the unbought grace of life,” but reading this piece in the Atlantic I could not help but think, that if these women’s duds succeed in upsetting lefties so much, Lilly Pulitzer must be doing something right.

In January, the clothing-and-lifestyle brand Lilly Pulitzer announced that it would collaborate with Target, releasing a collection of 250 pieces of apparel, accessories, and home decor by way of the discount chain. This weekend, the results of that collaboration were put up for sale in Target stores and on its website. Both of these events would seem to be innocuous: yet another instance of the discount retailer’s collaboration with a high-end fashion brand, of luxury goods made accessible to the masses, of fashion (relatively) democratized. A win-win! Actually, a win-win-win!

There was something different, however, about this particular launch. #LillyforTarget ended up, remarkably … angering people. Lots of people.

The collaboration angered, first of all, fans of Lilly Pulitzer, whose clothes have doubled as a “preppy uniform” for decades. It angered Target customers who tried, and failed, to grab $40-ish “Lillys” during a sale that was meant to span several weeks and instead spanned mere hours. It angered Target executives, who were disappointed in the performance of the chain’s website during the sale and indignant that the products they’d intended for their customers were being resold on eBay for more than twice the original cost.

Most interestingly, though, #LillyforTarget provoked the vitriol of fashion critics and business-minded brand-watchers. “I have never seen a woman wearing Lilly Pulitzer who would not have looked better in a ratty flannel bathrobe,” the business writer Megan McArdle confessed. The fashion critic Robin Givhan noted that “the classic Lilly Pulitzer dress comes in shrill shades of yellow and pink that are vaguely infantilizing. They are clothes that can be shrunk down and worn by 7-year-old girls without changing a single design element—if there were actual design elements to change. But there are not. …

[I]n part, it’s the aesthetics of Pulitzer’s clothes. Which are, with their festively flora-fauna-ed prints, the sartorial equivalents of the people who can’t stop talking about the juice cleanse they’re on. They are perky, insistently so. They are self-absorbed, aggressively so. Your retinas aren’t currently up for seeing some bubble-gum-pink toucans, their bills interlocked in an explosion of avian paisley? Lilly Pulitzer does not care. Lilly Pulitzer does not even think to ask.

The broader criticism, though, is the performance of identity that the Pulitzer brand represents. “Lilly” is not about luxury; it is about privilege. There is an important distinction between the two, Givhan notes. The brand, she writes, “suggests an advantage of birth. The clothes stir up scrapbook notions of ancient family trees, summer compounds, boarding school uniforms, and large, granite buildings inscribed with some great-great-grandfather’s name. Lilly Pulitzer represents something that money cannot buy.”

Which is another way of saying that Pulitzer’s clothes evoke not just wealth, but class. They speak to a status that is conferred rather than earned, and that cannot—with apologies to hard work and good luck and all the other vehicles of the American dream—be fully democratized. The garments are evidence in that sense not (just) of conspicuous consumption, but rather of privilege as it plays out as an economic system. They nod to, and then politely ignore, Thomas Piketty. Those whimsy-dripping pineapples, those insouciant peacocks, the designs that are often described as “eye-popping”—they are evidence not just of “resortwear” gone mainstream, but also of the ease of living enjoyed by those who can use the term “resortwear” unironically. These are clothes that are worn by people for whom life is, in relative terms, a permanent vacation.

Read the whole thing… and marvel.

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Typical Lilly Pulitzer patterns.

23 Apr 2015

It Is Happening Here

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Kevin Williamson notes how, from Texas to Wisconsin to the US Senate, democrats today are proving eager to manipulate the law to target political opponents.

Texas, as I argued in the March 23 edition of National Review, has a corruption problem—from its police to its universities. One of Texas’s acute corruption problems is the fact that the Travis County district attorney’s office, which prosecutes corruption cases, is absurdly, comically corrupt—by which I do not mean the “Hey can you get my dopey kid into UT law?” level of corruption that is commonplace in Texas, but Boss Hogg levels of corruption. You wouldn’t know it from the typically witless and servile reporting of the Austin American-Statesman, but the drunk-driving conviction of Travis County district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg is the least of that office’s problems—much more significant is the fact that is she recorded on camera threatening legal retaliation against the police who booked her. She is as explicit as can be about this: “You’re going to be in jail,” she said.

The same prosecutor is trying to put former governor Rick Perry in jail for having vetoed funding for her office. Why did he veto the funding? Because the corruption prosecutor is grossly corrupt and a convicted criminal to boot. She went to jail, for pity’s sake.

The Texas state house understandably has passed a bill that will curtail the Travis County district attorney’s special role in prosecuting ethics and corruption cases against elected and appointed officials. Instead, those cases will be investigated by the Texas Rangers. (Old punishment: jail. New punishment: Ranger roundhouse kick! Okay, not really, but that would be kind of awesome.) Naturally, Texas Democrats have sought to block that reform. And a handful of Republicans have, to their discredit, joined them, which is inexplicable.

Why do Democrats want to keep things in Austin? Because Democrats control Travis County, which is home to the state capitol and the University of Texas, and Democrats generally dominate jurisdictions where there are lots of government employees. (Shocking, right? It’s almost as if people do not cease to be self-interested profit-seekers when they go into government.) And they have long enjoyed using Travis County prosecutors as political weapons: Lehmberg’s office under Ronnie Earle was responsible for the risible and corrupt prosecution of Tom DeLay, which ultimately was laughed out of court, but not before ruining his political career and upending his life—which, of course, was the point. The issue is not successful prosecution; it’s successful persecution. If you want to really appreciate what Democrats with guns and badges at their disposal will do in furthering their political interests, you will not find a more terrifying story than David French’s recent account of the Gestapo tactics used by Democratic prosecutors in Wisconsin against Scott Walker and conservative activists. It is nearly impossible to believe that this sort of thing is going on in the United States of America in 2015, but it is. We aren’t talking about petty politics here—we’re talking about using battering rams to knock down people’s doors and sticking guns in their faces because they supported a ballot initiative displeasing to Democratic authorities.

Harry Reid—and every Democrat in the Senate—voted to repeal the First Amendment to render the Supreme Court powerless to protect Americans from this sort of abuse. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wants to put Americans in prison for disagreeing with him about global warming—and many so-called progressives agree with him. Under the Obama administration, we have seen a weaponized IRS targeting conservative groups for persecution and a weaponized FBI leaning on conservative activists, followed up by a weaponized ATF.

And Democrats, individually and collectively, have supported and enabled every one of these gross abuses of power.

23 Apr 2015

Hey, You, Put Down That Phone! (Chinese Video)

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Video

2:48 video

22 Apr 2015

Happy Earth Day!

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EarthDay
Via Vanderleun.

Predictions made on the first Earth Day, 1970:

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist

“We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.”
• Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist

“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
• New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
• Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
• Life Magazine, January 1970

“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

The co-founder of Earth Day killed and composted his girlfriend.

22 Apr 2015

Mort Kunstler’s Last Civil War Painting

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Mort Kunstler, LaGrange vs. LaGrange, 2015.

The Atlanta-Constitution reports that the 87-year-old Kunstler’s last painting honors the female militia that save a small Georgia town in 1865.

For his final major painting before retiring, famed history artist Mort Künstler selected a fairly obscure Civil War event that occurred 150 years ago in LaGrange.

And, in the town a little more than an hour southwest of downtown Atlanta, the Troup County Historical Society will celebrate both the artist and the subject of his painting, the all-female Nancy Hart Militia, with a benefit event on Friday, April 17.

Guest of honor Künstler, a resident of Oyster Bay, N.Y., will unveil the painting, “LaGrange vs. LaGrange,” and sign canvas-printed reproductions.

The tribute marks the 150th anniversary of the day when the arms-toting Nancy Harts marched to the edge of town to meet invading Union troops, led by the ironically named Wisconsin Cavalry commander Col. Oscar LaGrange. The face-off occurred about a week after the Appomattox surrender, but before word had traveled to the town. LaGrange pledged that if the women would put down their guns, he would not burn their houses.

“The Nancy Harts story is unique not just to LaGrange, but also to the United States,” Troup County Historical Society President Jake Jones said. “ The charming town we enjoy today would not be the same if not for the bravery of these women.”

22 Apr 2015

Baltic Shipwreck Wine & Beer Tasting

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ShipwreckChampagne

io9 reports that taste tests have recently been conducted on the roughly 200-year-old champagne and beer found by Finnish divers at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

Inside the sunken schooner, they found 168 bottles of champagne and an undisclosed amount of bottles of beer. The ship itself likely dates back to the second quarter of the 19th century, making its cargo almost certainly the oldest alcoholic drinks in existence. By comparison, the oldest wines in private hands are only thought to date back to the very end of the 1800s.

This entire story is a good reminder of a basic scientific truth – when in doubt, start drinking the 200-year-old booze. The divers first discovered the champagne was drinkable when changing pressures caused the cork to pop off one of the bottles, and a diver decided to take a swig. He expected to taste seawater that had seeped into the bottle over the last 200 years – which raises very legitimate questions about just why he decided to take a sip in the first place – but was shocked to discover the wine still tasted fine.

The divers all had some of the ancient wine, and then resealed the wine and brought it to wine expert, or sommelier, Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan. Here’s how she described it:

    “Despite the fact that it was so amazingly old, there was a freshness to the wine. It wasn’t debilitated in any way. Rather, it had a clear acidity which reinforced the sweetness. Finally, a very clear taste of having been stored in oak casks.”

Other descriptions that came out of a recent official tasting range from “lime blossoms, coffee, chanterelles” to ” yeast, honey and…a hint of manure.” Whatever the exact taste, the champagne was definitely significantly sweeter than what we’re familiar with today. While a modern bottle has about 9 grams of sugar, a typical bottle in the 1830s had 100 grams of sugar, and Russians were known to add an extra spoonful of sugar just to make sure it was sweet enough.

So how did the alcohol survive for so long under the sea? That’s actually the absolute best place to keep them, as champagne expert Richard Juhlin explains:

    “Bottles kept at the bottom of the sea are better kept than in the finest wine cellars.”

We can only hope this starts off a craze of storing wine inside shipwrecks. If you really care about your wine, I don’t see any alternative. And it really was incredibly well-preserved – other than a loss of fizziness from the slow loss of air bubbles over the nearly 200 years, the wine tasted exactly the same as it would have back in the 1800s.

And what about the beer? The divers, for their part, say they’re more interested in the beer than the champagne, as wreck discover Christian Ekstroem comments:

    “I don’t care so much about the champagne. Champagne we can only sell or drink up, but … we can use the beer to produce something unique and local. It’s historically meaningful.”

Ekstroem says the beer is just as phenomenally well-preserved as the wine. When one of the bottles cracked open on board their ship, the divers saw the liquid froth up just like a new beer would, indicating the yeast was somehow still alive.

22 Apr 2015

Festive Boa

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21 Apr 2015

Margarita’s Epitaph

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Margarita2

Margarita3

Margarita4

Peter Kruschwitz

Today, I had the immense pleasure of seeing one of my most favourite inscribed Latin poems – the epitaph for Margarita (‘Pearl’), a lap-dog, born in Gaul, deceased in second or third century Rome.

[T]his marble plaque… is preserved and on display in the British Museum in London (CIL VI 29896 cf. p. 3734 = CLE 1175; for the entry in the BM online database follow this link). …

On the right-hand side, there is a palm leaf incised as an element of decoration.

The inscription has been beautifully laid out (using aid lines) and carved – only in the penultimate letter of the final word tegit (‘covers’), the stone cutter originally made a mistake (writing teget instead of tegit, which he then tried to conceal by giving more emphasis to the I subsequently):

Unsurprisingly, this inscription has received a lot of scholarly attention.

Scholars and amateurs alike were taken by the affectionate way in which these Roman dog-owners (who remain nameless) talked about their pet. The allusion to the epitaph of the Roman poet Vergil in line 1 (Gallia me genuit, ‘Gaul sired me’, following the model of Mantua me genuit; see the learned article by Irene Frings on this topic [in German; available for free here]) was duly noted. …

The inscription, as I said, is a decent-sized marble-slab (61 x 50 cm), beautifully prepared and carved. Margarita was an imported animal from Gaul (it is unclear as to whether this is where her owners picked her up or whether they bought her in Rome as an imported animal). In addition to being a lap-dog, she served as a hound for animal hunts, roaming woods and hills.

In other words, she almost certainly was a costly, precious item owned by a wealthy aristocratic family – a family that would engage in pastimes such as hunting and keeping precious imported pets for display purposes. …

From The Petrified Muse via Ratak Monodosico.

20 Apr 2015

“It Can’t Happen Here”

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PoliceRaid

Except, it did. David French, at National Review, describes the Wisconsin reign of terror which occurred when democrat Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm used John Doe warrants to send police raiding the homes, and confiscating the personal computers and cell phones, of conservative supporters of Governor Scott Walker.

They came with a battering ram.” Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking. She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram. She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door. “I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic.

“I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.” She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee.

“I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.” They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off. The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.” Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.

Read the whole thing.

20 Apr 2015

“Osama Won”

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BinLadin

David Samuels, in an important essay, argues that Osama bin Laden out-strategized a series of dimbulb American administrations, astutely predicting precisely how they would respond.

judging from his last known private letter, dated April 25, 2011, Bin Laden died a happy man. “What we are witnessing these days of consecutive revolutions is a great and glorious event,” he mused, after watching the fall of the secular, Western-backed regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, which he watched on CNN, before the daring Navy SEAL raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. “[T]hanks to Allah things are strongly heading toward the exit of Muslims from being under the control of America.”

Even at this late date, it seems difficult for American policymakers to grasp exactly how Bin Laden’s mastery of the inherently paradoxical logic of warfare—a logic very different than the linear cause-and-effect style of reasoning that governs normal life and electoral politics alike—allowed a man without a country, heavy weapons, or even broadband Internet access to reshape the world to his advantage. The clarity of Bin Laden’s strategic insight, which now seems obvious, also suggests that the dynamic that he deliberately set in motion is still unfolding, in ways that he foresaw before his death—ways that continue to roil the Middle East and will continue to pose a threat to the safety of Americans at home. …

Bin Laden was never shy about explaining what he was doing and why. His public statements about his strategic logic and goals in targeting “the far enemy” remained remarkably consistent, from his first fatwa against America until the last letter he wrote before his death. In his 1996 “Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” published soon after the Khobar Towers bombings in Saudi Arabia, he explained that “it is essential to hit the main enemy who divided the Ummah”—the Muslim world—“into small and little countries and pushed it, for the last few decades, into a state of confusion.”

America’s response to an attack would be to get sucked into a war, he predicted—and when the going got tough, the United States would cut and run. Responding to then-U.S. Defense Sec. William Perry, who had called the Khobar bombers cowards and had sworn not to give in, Bin Laden asked, “Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place on 1983 AD (1403 A.H). You were turned into scattered pits and pieces at that time; 241 Marine soldiers were killed.” …

In public and private following the Sept. 11 attacks, he returned to the same themes, over and over again, in at least three-quarters of his public statements and in private letters to other jihadists that were seized from his compound in Abbotabad and later made public. “The goal is to weaken America until it can no longer interfere in Muslims affairs,” he explained, in a letter whose contents were entirely typical of his communications. “Once the American enemy has been defeated, our next step would be targeting the region’s leaders who had been the pillars of support for that American hegemony.”

It is proof of Bin Laden’s mastery of the unexpected logic that animates strategic thought, and of the glaring inability of America’s political leaders to think strategically, that not one but two American presidents have faithfully acted their roles in his geo-political script: George W. Bush, the hawk, with his open-ended and heavy-handed occupation of Iraq; and Barack Obama, the dove, with his precipitous and wholesale withdrawal of American military forces and influence from the Middle East. Both men—and their many advisers—should have known better.

Read the whole thing. It’s depressing reading and hard to argue with.

Hat tip to Claire Berlinski.

20 Apr 2015

Keswick Hunt, 2014-1015 Season

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Keswick hunts a gorgeous territory divided between woods and farmland in the foothills of the Blue Ridge at the southern end of Northern Virgina’s Hunt Country. Its territory includes Civil War battlefields, the birthplace of Zachary Taylor, James Madison’s Montpelier, and the point from which the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe set out to explore the wilderness in 1716. Karen and I were out with them once on a joint meet just a few years ago.

5:21 video

KeswickVideo

19 Apr 2015

“California Is So Over”

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Joel Kotkin explains that California has fallen into the hands of the rich and spoiled and ideologically deluded who are determined to embrace a pious environmentalist agenda which will preclude the maintenance or new development of the kinds of infrastructure needed by the rest of the population.

California has met the future, and it really doesn’t work. As the mounting panic surrounding the drought suggests, the Golden State, once renowned for meeting human and geographic challenges, is losing its ability to cope with crises. As a result, the great American land of opportunity is devolving into something that resembles feudalism, a society dominated by rich and poor, with little opportunity for upward mobility for the state’s middle- and working classes.

The water situation reflects this breakdown in the starkest way. Everyone who follows California knew it was inevitable we would suffer a long-term drought. Most of the state—including the Bay Area as well as greater Los Angeles—is semi-arid, and could barely support more than a tiny fraction of its current population. California’s response to aridity has always been primarily an engineering one that followed the old Roman model of siphoning water from the high country to service cities and farms.

But since the 1970s, California’s water system has become the prisoner of politics and posturing. The great aqueducts connecting the population centers with the great Sierra snowpack are all products of an earlier era—the Los Angeles aqueduct (1913), Hetch-Hetchy (1923), the Central Valley Project (1937), and the California Aqueduct (1974). The primary opposition to expansion has been the green left, which rejects water storage projects as irrelevant.

Read the whole thing.

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