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Member since: Wed Jul 24, 2013, 01:10 PM
Number of posts: 2,288

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Suppose they had a War on Christmas and nobody came.

I wanted to wait for Christmas to wind down before discussing an encounter I had on Tuesday at a local hobby shop.

My primary hobby is birding, but if I can’t get out for whatever reason, I also like to build model aircraft. Right now, I’m building a 1:48 P-47D Thunderbolt, and I plan on printing decals to match the markings of a plane my grandfather was photographed flying in 1945. He was a flight instructor and would presumably have flown trainers most of the time, but flew a Jug at least once. I want to make this as accurate as possible, which meant getting the right shade of yellow-green for the wheel wells. That, in turn, meant going to the hobby shop to buy a small jar of it because yes, I’m that picky. (I’m not the only one. They sell paint that precisely, or so we’re told, matches the interiors of the fighters for pretty much every nation involved in WW2 and, if appropriate, each branch that operated aircraft.)

So, anyway –

Somebody to my right said something. That’s the side where my ear doesn’t work very well, so I didn’t know if he was talking to me. Evidently, he was, because he repeated it, loudly and, I could sense, with some annoyance – “Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas,” I responded.

Evidently, he was one of two people in that hobby shop who considered themselves front-line infantry in the imaginary “War on Christmas,” and that this particular hobby shop was going to be a new front.

“It’s the liberal left that won’t let us say ‘Merry Christmas’ anymore! We have to say ‘Happy Holidays!’ What a bunch of politically correct bullshit!”

The other fellow sat nearby, nodding along with his friend’s tirade.

I’m serious about this whole “War on Christmas” thing being imaginary. I’m constantly reminded of the Vietnam-era peacenik slogan, “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.” That nobody burst into the hobby shop to drag this enemy of PC off to a FEMA camp should have revealed to this particular culture warrior that he was the only one there fighting some sort of pretend “war,” but it didn’t. He kept yammering on about it. About how people who don’t celebrate Christmas should just get over it. About how “Happy Holidays” is actually offensive to Jewish people – or should be, if they’d pay attention to their own traditions – because Hanukkah is a season, not a holiday. About how this run-amok political correctness is destroying America. And so on.

I kept my mouth shut through this. I really just wanted my jar of Tamiya XF-4 Yellow Green, and maybe a few minutes to browse the aircraft kits for sale.

Then he said something that called for a response: “You know, teachers and professors aren’t allowed to say ‘Merry Christmas’ anymore. Not that it matters, since they’re all a bunch of liberal Marxists who want to destroy America from within.”

I'm a professor at a public university. I do say “Have a good holiday” when responding to a student at this time of year, but it’s not university policy, and it’s not a sense of moral arrogance. It’s a matter of courtesy. Yes, most of my students celebrate Christmas, but not all of them. Some celebrate Hanukkah. Others may celebrate something else. I don’t want to presume to guess which one. So I say “have a good holiday” on the theory that the student will either be celebrating some sort of holiday or enjoying winter break, and that my statement will be understood not as political correctness, but a wish that the student has a good holiday.”

So I spoke up. “Actually, we’re not forbidden to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Many of us do prefer to say ‘have a good holiday…’”

“Because you’re worried you’re gonna get sued,” he said.

“No,” I replied. “I’m not afraid of getting a nasty email, either. But I think it’s polite to be as inclusive as possible. Don’t you?”

He started back on his list of reasons for wanting to be offended. People need to lighten up! It’s meant as a good thing, don’t they know! Pretty soon, we won’t even be allowed to celebrate Christmas!

I didn’t say anything after that.

I would have told him some people actually do find “Merry Christmas” somewhat offensive, and that they have a legitimate reason to feel that way – they dislike the assumption that the majority applies to all, especially when there’s been a long history of their traditions being suppressed. We could brush it off with “don’t be so sensitive,” or we could try to understand why some people might feel strongly about this.

I would then have told him that I had a choice – I could decide to make my holiday wish into a political statement, knowing that I might offend some people and feel offended when the other person expresses offense (or even has the audacity to respond with “Happy Hanukkah” or whatever). Or I could express a genuine wish that someone have a nice holiday, whichever holiday is involved. Which wouldn’t offend anyone and would actually reflect the spirit of goodwill and kindness this season is supposed to embody.

But the best part came as he left the store. “I’m still going to say “Merry Christmas!” And it’s my Second Amendment right to say it!”

Anyway – I got the paint.

Here's something I wish Jerrold Nadler, or some other Democratic committee chair, would do.

It's the Democratic Party. Its members in Congress are Democratic congresswomen and congressmen.

They are not Democrat members. It's not the Democrat Party.

This practice of dropping the "-ic" suffix started in the 1990's as an explicit effort by some Republicans to belittle and demean their opponents.

This should be a sanctionable action. The chair should insist on proper terminology - it's also proper decorum - and stop it.

I think I understand Turley's motivation.

I've heard him speak before. He's basically a contrarian. His positions may hold some principle, but in large part, he's taking the opposite side just to do it. He's a more intelligent version of Alan Dershowitz.

Academia is full of such people.

I just did something I've never done.

I sometimes use C-SPAN to follow the hearings while I'm working.

I decided to keep it on during a pause in the hearings and listen to the call-in segment.

Where, exactly, do these callers come from? Half of the callers on the "Democratic" line are either Republicans or very, very ignorant people. Ditto for the alleged independents.

I was once surprised at how close I came to convincing a graduate student - a geology graduate student - that clocks in the southern hemisphere go in the other direction because of the Coriolis Effect. Now I know where such graduate students come from.

Wow. Just....wow.

I'd never really listened to Devin Nunes until now.

This dude is living in an alternative reality.

How should the constitution be fixed?

When this nightmare ends, the constitution should be amended to make sure this never happens again. But how?

Some needed amendments are obvious. The electoral college has to go. Partisan gerrymandering has to be abolished. Citizens United has to be overturned.

But I think additional amendments are needed:

1. The president's power to pardon should not be absolute. Presidents should not be able to pardon people whose crimes occurred during their administration, for example. I also think presidents should be barred from pardoning previous presidents. The "let's move forward" attitude has done real damage to the Republic.

2. There needs to be clarity on whether a sitting president can be indicted.

3. Presidents should also be unable to interfere with independent counsels.


Yeah, about the Orange One's mental decline -

I think it's pretty obvious to most people that the president's cognitive faculties have been on the downswing. The amount of sense he makes when he talks - never large to begin with - is shrinking. His behavior seems increasingly erratic.

What impact might this have on future attempts to prosecute him, either for crimes committed while in office or before?

I'm serious about this. I wonder if a good lawyer could get a judge to rule him unfit to stand trial.

I'm not talking about an insanity defense. I'm talking about legal professionals deciding that Trump is mentally incapable of defending himself in a court of law.

I recall this being the subject of discussion in the aftermath of Iran-Contra; there were concerns that Reagan's Alzheimer's was advanced enough to render him untriable.

suggestion about presidential portrait

I've said several times that I want Trump to leave office in such disgrace that his official presidential portrait is never commissioned. I don't want his face to besmirch the White House or National Portrait Gallery.

But I've had a better idea: have the official portrait executed by a cartoonist.

Suggestions for who this should be? I go back and forth between Matt Groening and Tom Toles.

something we need to hear from every Democrat.

Every Democrat running for every office - at least on the national level.

What will you do if/when a Democratic president is sworn in in January 2021? Will you pardon Trump, or decline to pursue further investigations of his administration? Or will you allow due process to continue at the federal level and, if appropriate, allow the Department of Justice to bring legal proceedings against him?

Do we "look ahead" and not dwell on the past? Or do we learn from that past?

This is ESPECIALLY true for those Democrats seeking the party's nomination for the presidential election, but it also holds for those running for Senate or HR seats.

In my opinion, our country has suffered from well-intended efforts to "move forward" and "not look back." Ford pardoned Nixon. Bush the 1st decided not to pursue accountability over Iran-Contra. (He was probably neck-deep in it himself.) Obama dropped further investigation of the Bush the 2nd administration's warmongering in Iraq. No one really followed up when revelations were made about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, Nixon's deliberate derailing of peace efforts in 1968, or any of the other myriad scandals that were discovered years after they were revealed. It was all so much "let's not bicker and argue about who killed who."

The rationale was always "we should move forward." Dwelling on the past was seen as harmful and not productive.

Iran-Contra happened because of Watergate. The Iraq War happened because of Iran-Contra. Every day, we're seeing the current administration wipe its dripping anus with the US Constitution because so much latitude was given to Trump's predecessors. People in high positions broke the law, and there weren't consequences.

We need to hear this from every Democrat running for office - there will be no amnesty without accountability. Our country will not survive if we keep allowing bygones to be bygones.

congress has to subpoena everything

I'm on record as doubting Epstein's death was anything more than the suicide it appears to be. I still want his death investigated (pardon the pun) to death, because (a) I could be wrong, and there could indeed be some sort of foul play involved, and (b) if I'm right, there has to be accountability for grotesque negligence.

Whether there's a conspiracy or not (and as I've said, I lean not), it would be very easy for a certain shaved orangutan in the nation's capital to use Epstein's demise to his own benefit. We can't let that happen.
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