Daily Archive: 12/25/2013

Dec 25 2013

Happy Holidays

Dec 25 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: During the holidays, remember our ‘least’

As we celebrate the holiday season, we are instructed by virtually all faiths to turn our thoughts to the “least of these.” January will mark the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, but most notable today is how impoverished our discussion of poverty is.

Political leaders in both parties pledge to save the “middle class,” because polls show that most Americans consider themselves part of the broad middle. Democrats tout their “middle out” economics against Republican “trickle-down” economics. Republicans claim to be fighting to save small businesses and middle-class homeowners from the rapacious demands of government. Very little attention is given to the poorest among us.

Heather Long: The Brits have it right: forget Happy Holidays, just wish people Merry Christmas

I’d rather be able to wish people in the US a Merry Christmas this week without having to worry if they’ll be offended

Personally, I think the Brits have this one right. I’d rather be able to wish people a Merry Christmas this week without having to worry if they’ll be offended. I’d also rather have people wish me Happy Hanukkah, Happy Diwali or Eid Mubarak when those holidays come around. It makes me feel more a part of their celebration. Let’s call each holiday what it is instead of trying to lump Jewish, Christian and even the Kwanzaa ritual together. If we need a generic holiday, we’ve already got the New Year, which touches all people and cultures.

Telling someone to “enjoy your holiday” or worse, sending them “seasons greetings” are cop-outs. Instead of feeling more diverse and inclusive, it just feels like someone took a bit of sparkle out of the December festivities.

Amy Goodman: Obama’s New Normal: The Drone Strikes Continue

There has been yet another violent attack with mass casualties. This was not the act of a lone gunman, or of an armed student rampaging through a school. It was a group of families en route to a wedding that was killed. The town was called Radda-not in Colorado, not in Connecticut, but in Yemen. The weapon was not an easy-to-obtain semiautomatic weapon, but missiles fired from U.S. drones. On Thursday, Dec. 12, 17 people were killed, mostly civilians. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has consistently tracked U.S. drone attacks, recently releasing a report on the six months following President Barack Obama’s major address on drone warfare before the National Defense University (NDU) last May. In that speech, Obama promised that “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured-the highest standard we can set.” The BIJ summarized, “Six months after President Obama laid out U.S. rules for using armed drones, a Bureau analysis shows that covert drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan have killed more people than in the six months before the speech.” In a nation that abhors the all-too-routine mass killing in our communities, why does our government consistently kill so many innocents abroad?

Becky Garrison: Conservatives’ Quagmire: The War on Christmas

Right wingers preach the Gospel according to Fox News. Their cries of holiday persecution just make them look more foolish

The annual “war on Christmas” took an unexpected twist this holiday season, when the UK-based website the Freethinker published the ironic headline “First known casualty in America’s 2013 ‘War on Xmas’ turns out to be a Salvation Army member”. A woman attacked a bell ringer in Phoenix, Arizona because she was angry at being wished a “Happy Holidays” instead of honoring Jesus’ birth by saying “Merry Christmas”. In another act of Christmas violence, unidentified arsonists tried to torch one of the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s billboards that proclaimed “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia” – a reference to an ancient celebration of the Roman god of agriculture.

The Gospel According to Fox News preaches a tale of Christian persecution running rampant through America. While others around the world face imprisonment or even execution for their religious beliefs, Christians in the states suffer the indignity of facing a holiday season sans baby Jesus Christ’s omnipresence in the public square. Instead of sharing parables of the Beatitudes in practice, Fox’s Meghan Kelly’s chose to push forth the blatantly racist proposition that Jesus and Santa are white; the line between Fox News and the Daily Show’s parodies have now become almost indistinguishable.

Jill Filipovic: Sorry marriage traditionalists, young people shouldn’t rush to the altar

Old views prioritise finding a spouse. But couples who focus on educational and professional development first are happiest

Do conservatives think young men are wayward children, needing women to manipulate and direct them into decent behavior? That’s New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s opinion, at least, and he chalks it up to traditional values. On that point, he’s not wrong: traditional values do situate young men simultaneously as future patriarchs and foolish chumps needing the allegedly more moral, family-centric female to civilize them. Douthat’s argument is about as offensive to women as his usual writing – which is to say, very – but men, you should take note also: a retreat to strict gender roles insults you, too. [..]

Douthat and conservatives like him don’t seem to believe men to be complex at all. They seem to think that men fundamentally dislike women, and need to be sexually and socially coerced into pairing with one in any way that’s more committed than intercourse.

Perhaps that says more about them than it does about men, 30-something single Brooklynites, or even our Republican-voting parents.

Natalia Antonova: Now Pussy Riot are free, Russia’s culture wars must end

The radical Orthodox backlash sparked by Pussy Riot has been disturbing. Now the band is free I hope we can all move on

As the result of a general amnesty, Pussy Riot rockers Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina have been set free. In case you’re just joining us from outer space, these women had been serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism and incitement to religious hatred after performing an anti-Putin song at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in downtown Moscow.

Although they were originally due for release in March, just a few months from now, it’s good that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina came out early, for both obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. [..]

As an Orthodox Christian, I don’t want some glassy-eyed guy screaming at me to “repent” when I go to the theatre. I don’t want to be lectured about the “forces of darkness” that will surely consume Russia for holding an Olympic torch relay. At the end of the day, I want there to be at least a measure of healing – for everyone involved. An amnesty is the perfect excuse to move on.

Dec 25 2013

Merry Christmas

Dec 25 2013

On This Day In History December 25

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 25 is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are six days remaining until the end of the year. This day is commonly known as Christmas Day.

On this day in 1818, the first performance of “Silent Night” takes place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

The original lyrics of the song Stille Nacht were written in Austria by the priest Father Joseph Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1859, John Freeman Young (second Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Florida) published the English translation that is most frequently sung today. The version of the melody that is generally sung today differs slightly (particularly in the final strain) from Gruber’s original, which was a sprightly, dance-like tune in 6/8, as opposed to the slow, meditative lullaby version generally sung today. Today, the lyrics and melody are in the public domain.

Dec 25 2013

“Christmas Eve And Other Stories”

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve And Other Stories

Old City Bar

In an old city bar

That’s never too far

From the places that gather

The dreams that have been

In the safety of night

With its old neon light

It beckons to strangers

And they always come in

And the snow it was falling

Neon was calling

The music was low

And the night Christmas Eve

And here was the danger

That even with strangers

Inside of this night

It’s easier to believe

Then the door opened wide

And a child came inside

That no one in the bar

Had seen there before

And he asked did we know

That outside in the snow

That someone was lost

Standing outside our door

Then the bartender gazed

Through the smoke and the haze

Through the window and ice

To that corner streetlight

Where standing alone

By a broken pay phone

Was a girl, the child said

Could no longer get home

And the snow it was falling

Neon was calling

Bartender turned and said, “Not that I care

But how would you know this?”

The child said, “I’ve noticed

If one could be home, they’d be already there”

Then the bartender came out, from behind the bar

And in all of his life, was never that far

And he did something else that he thought no one saw

When he took all the cash from the register drawer

Then he followed the child to the girl across the street

And we watched from the bar as they started to speak

Then he called for a cab then he said, “J.F.K.”

Put the girl in the cab and the cab drove away

And we saw in his hand, that the cash was all gone

From the light that she had wished upon

If you want to arrange it

This world you can change it

If we could somehow make this

Christmas thing last

By helpin’ a neighbour

Even a stranger

To know who needs help

You need only just ask

Then he looked for the child

But the child wasn’t there

Just the wind and the snow

Waltzing dreams through the air

So he walked back inside

Somehow different, I think

For the rest of the night

No one paid for a drink

And the cynics will say

That some neighbourhood kid

Wandered in on some bums

In the world where they hid

But they weren’t there

So they couldn’t see

By an old neon star

On that night, Christmas Eve

When the snow it was falling

And neon was calling

In case you should wonder

In case you should care

Why we on our own

Never went home?

On that night of all nights

We were already there