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Christmas Shopping 2007
A time for recommendations.


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To commemorate our first anniversary two months ago, my wife and I indulged in a bit of art collecting. We discovered that we loved a number of Latin American artists, many of whom are affordable even though their careers are clearly ascendant. We settled on a lovely painting by Chilean artist Luis Heriberto Montoya Ortiz that we’re just thrilled about. We purchased it through New Hampshire art dealers Triba, who specialize in Latin American artists.

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I know I’m not alone in thinking The Wire is bar none the best show in the history of television. Though the first season of its fellow HBO program The Sopranos comes close to matching it in quality, that program was mostly downhill from there. The level of quality that The Wire has maintained even as it expands the scope of the program with each successive season is simply amazing. Though the show is ostensibly about drug investigations in Baltimore, over the course of four seasons it has explored and indicted nearly every urban institution in America for failing its citizens. True to a show about the criminal underbelly of the urban poor, the show is extremely gritty and not for kids. However, adults will be astonished to discover that the idiot box has finally produced a show that has the breadth and complexity of the best novels.

And finally some books to get you through the holidays:

The most fun reading I’ve had in quite some time was Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts. The title says it all.

If you wish to know about the contemporary Democratic party, Matt Bai’s The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics is illuminating and enjoyable, and only occasionally disagreeable considering the author’s obvious sympathies.

Charles Portis wrote the western True Grit, and it’s overshadowed everything else he’s ever done. Good as that book (and movie!) was, Portis wrote a slew of other terrific books. Recently I read Masters of Atlantis, a deadpan, gut-busting comedy about a delusional misfit that founds his own cult. An exceedingly well-observed satire, it has a lot to say about the American religious character and why conspiracy theories are a national pastime.

Mark Hemingway is an NRO
staff reporter.

Bridget Johnson
Tired of the People’s Republic feeding your kids date-rape drugs in their lead-laden toys? Perturbed that China sells us toxic pet food to poison our pooches and kitties? Think Beijing deserves to host the Olympics about as much as Kim Jong Il deserves to run the World Food Programme?

This Christmas and Hanukkah, give the anti-China gift package!

A vacation to Taiwan: Embrace the island that told China where to shove its Olympic torch! Don’t forget to give mad props to Chen Shui-bian while generously spending your tourist dollars.

A little reading material: My Land and My People: The Original Autobiography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet, by, of course, the Dalai Lama.

Non-Chinese-made toys: You can kill two birds with one stone here. Buy Danish-made Legos to avoid the toxins and roofies, and annoy jihadists still mad over Muhammad cartoons at the same time! Plus, Legos are the coolest thing ever.

Brand-new sports equipment: Why watch the Genocide Olympics in 2008? Instead, host a neighborhood Games to celebrate our right to play as we wish in a free nation. Tiki torches make a peachy substitute for China’s flaming propaganda vehicle.

Manolo Blahniks: Hot shoes that come with those three little holiday-perfect words: Made in Italy.

Bridget Johnson is a columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She blogs at GOP Vixen.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ
Another year, another round of great gift opportunities. I’ll take money. As you all know.

If you purchase no other book before year’s end, purchase My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas. It’s a beautiful tribute to two great American lives.

I’m giving every dog lover on my list Mark Levin’s Rescuing Sprite. In fact, I’m giving every non-dog lover Sprite too. I’m very far from St. Francis of Assisi and felt a little closer to this foreign saint thanks to my Jewish friend’s book.

Anyone who cares about politics and wants to do something will appreciate Laura Ingraham’s Power to the People. If you’re American, you have a voice and a vote, use ‘em!

NR’s Jay Nordlinger has another good gift book — covering enough ground to interest just about anyone.

Anyone with their browser here will want to click here for WFB’s latest collection.

Every single pre-teen and teen on your Christmas list should get Bill Bennett’s two-volume America: The Last Best Hope. In truth, every American could use the riveting reminder of who we are, where we came from, and what great men we owe and are called to be that these books provide.

Every worried father of a college-age daughter should get her Girls Gone Mild by Wendy Shalit. Every baby-boomer will appreciate Lynne Cheney’s Blue Skies, No Fences. Every mom will enjoy Susan Konig.

To get you thinking optimistically: Shop Mitt, and Rudy, and pick up something from the Fred shop and the McCain store, too. One of them will be working on their transition team this time next year and your right-thinking loved ones need to dress for the win.

– Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.

CARRIE LUKAS
This Christmas Memories is a great gift for a newlyweds or someone expecting a first baby. It enables the family to preserve twenty years of holiday memories. There’s enough space to include pictures and describe special events, but it’s short enough that you can complete an entry in an afternoon — important for those of us who might otherwise put off the task. Embossing option is available.

Got an annoying environmentalist in your extended family? Get them a DVD copy of Mine Your Own Business, which exposes how environmentalism stifles progress in developing countries.

The iRobot®Roomba isn’t quite the robotic maid of the Jetson’s, but it’s a step in the right direction. The small disk-shaped device whizzes around the room, navigates around and under furniture, and, after completing its job, returns to its holder to recharge. It’s a perfect gift for families with small children (it can do the daily duty of sucking the smashed goldfish crackers and cheerios off the floor), a pet owner, or anyone too lazy to vacuum themselves.

Carrie Lukas is the vice president for policy and economics at the Independent Women’s Forum and the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism.


JIM MANZI
It seems to be traditional here to recommend several 500-page biographies of worthy men, but I find that the Yuletide combination eggnog and food coma makes reading anything much beyond microwave popcorn instructions too taxing for me. So as long as I’m going contrarian, I’ve decided to go all the way and recommend only French gifts. I suppose its time to come clean about the fact that I am that rare bird: a Francophile NR contributor.

For the ladies: tea from Mariage Freres. The best tea shop in Paris now lets you buy online. Buy any variety, in any amount – it’s the best tea you’ve ever tasted. Possibly the only imaginable way to make tea a romantic gift.



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