My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


The Obama--and ONLY Obama--Stimulus Bill Passes the House 

With not a single Republican vote.

Yes, folks, a bipartisan coalition of Representatives voted against the $1.1 trillion (according to yesterday's CBO numbers) "Stimulus Package," but were overridden by the majority Democrats.

Congratulations to Rep. Boehner for holding his Party together to oppose this boondoggle of a legislative act.

Just to give you an idea of where some of the stupidity in this bill is, let me break it down for you:

--$5 billion to ACORN, presumably to its legal defense fund
--$30 billion for transportation projects, even though the federal government is about to "call in" $9 billion that the states have but haven't used yet
--$6 billion for "Higher education modernization." Yep, that's what it says. I have no idea what that means, but . . .

Now, if you just take that money, and instead of creating more government programs, just give it back to people who pay taxes (roughly 138 million), then every taxpayer in the country would receive a check from the Fed for $297. When you add that to the $1000/couple tax cut that is already in the bill, that amounts to a net gain for the taxpayer of roughly $1600/couple. Now that's starting to make stimulative sense.

Then find a way to reduce the cost per job of this bill: if the estimates the Dems have put forward are true, this bill will result in one job per every $223,000 of federal money spent; the private sector creates jobs at a bit less than that. Just a bit.

So let's say the Dems manage to reduce the cost per job created by, oh, I don't know, reducing taxes on businesses, it could reduce the cost per job created to about . . . let's say $100,000.

Doing a little quick math, that ends up being a total of $455 billion (give or take) savings off the program, with substantially the identical results. If you put THAT difference into a check to every taxpayer, that becomes $122,000.

Plus, you know, the $1600 from earlier.

My point is this: on a philosophical level, this is a terrible thing--a running start on the march towards Socialism.

But on a logical level, this is just plain stupid. If a little money in the taxpayers' pockets is a good thing, why not do what you can to reduce governments' debt load AND put a huge amount in the taxpayers' pockets?

I'll tell you what, you put a $100,000 check in my hands, I'll go out and stimulate the economy.

How Far Through the Looking Glass? 

Over the course of the last several months I've been alternating between frustrated indifference and genuine distress over the direction of the country. The temptation to completely check out has only barely been overcome by the hope of being a useful voice of dissension from the wilderness (which occasionally dips into howls of outrage). In the end, I think it IS possible to prevent the wholesale flight down the path the Romans took . . . but it's going to be difficult.

So maybe I should avoid reading stuff like this:

We will enter his Administration as the United States, buoyed by an aggressive free market economy. We will exit his first year - and even the first hundred days - as France, burdened with massive government regulation, a vast public sector, and permanent middle class entitlements. And Obama will take care to arrange things so that massive and permanent political change accompanies his and protects his legislative achievements in the future.

Or stuff like this:

The government wouldn't be able to spend at least one-fourth of a proposed $825 billion economic stimulus plan until after 2010, according to a preliminary report by the Congressional Business Office that suggests it may take longer than expected to boost the economy. The government would spend about $26 billion of the money this year and $110 billion more next year, the report said. About $103 billion would be spent in 2011, while $53 billion would be spent in 2012 and $63 billion between 2013 and 2019.

• Less than $5 billion of the $30 billion set aside for highway spending would be spent within the next two years, the CBO said.

• Only $26 billion out of $274 billion in infrastructure spending would be delivered into the economy by the Sept. 30 end of the budget year, just 7 percent.

• Just one in seven dollars of a huge $18.5 billion investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs would be spent within a year and a half.

Or, even worse, stuff like this:

But Hoover proceeded, undaunted. He ordered governors to increase their public spending when possible. He also pushed for, and got, Congress to endorse large public spending projects: hospitals, bridges. . . . By April 1930 the secretary of commerce would be able to announce that public works spending was at its highest level in five years. . . .

. . .later analysis suggests that unemployment went from something like 3 percent in the fall of 1929 to 9 percent by the new year.

By September 1931, unemployment was at 17.4 percent

I hate when history repeats itself, and our political "leaders" march blithely into the headwind of inevitability. At least I can take some comfort in the Congressional GOP's seeming unity in opposition to the latest "Stimulus" bill.

It won't stop it, but I can take comfort. The Obama government is going to take the rest.


Keeping An Eye On The Big Board 

Just looking around a little bit, when Glenn Beck brings this to our attention:

. . . .the former spy, Aleksandr Y. Lebedev, the owner of a major Russian bank, a chunk of the Aeroflot airline and a big share of a newspaper in Moscow, is heading back to London in a different guise altogether.

So a man who once spied on Britain for the Kremlin is returning as a press baron, adding one more strand to the weave of wealth binding Russian tycoons to London.

On Wednesday, Mr. Lebedev announced that he had agreed to buy a majority stake in The Evening Standard, a newspaper that has long been a part of London’s fabric, offering commuters a diet of show business listings, celebrity gossip, sharp-edged editorials and lengthy feature articles, as well as being the afternoon newspaper read by Britain’s political elite.

Huh. What could possibly happen when a former KGB agent runs a London newspaper, a bank, and an important airline, and another former KGB agent runs, well . . . everything else in Russia including the supply of oil to Europe and Asia?

I ask: what could possibly happen?

Is it possible that we taught the methods and procedures of capitalism a little too well to the ex-Soviets, but failed altogether to communicate the large-scale purpose of capitalism? So we've given them the means, but failed to inform the motivation, so it seems fairly likely that the ex-KGB agents know exactly how to use economics to wage the same war on the West now that they failed to win with ammo, armor and territory in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

So, you know . . . kudos to us for ending that USSR thing. Might have to start thinking about them again.


A Fool's Tale 

Doctor Herbert: "Well, of course, anybody can see that the patient is dying. It's just like that case a little while ago--poor circulation brings on lethargy which brings on panic, which further exacerbates the circulation problem . . ."

Doctor Smith: "Yes, yes . . this happens periodically. We should sit back and observe; let the patient's body get used to the problem while we calm any tendency towards panic. The body can heal itself."

Doctor Nancy: "But in the meantime, the patient will be in terrible pain. We should make absolutely certain that we do whatever we can to distract the patient. How about starting with new dental caps, a smaller nose, and removing the excess skin in his neck?"

Dr. H: "Nancy, that's crazy! None of that will do any good. We have to begin to restrict the flow of blood through the system to minimize the damage of the ongoing condition."

Doctor Walker: "Restrict it? That don't make any sense. What we oughta do here, is, is, is . . .maximify the amount of stuff going into the patient. See if any of it shakes anything loose."

Dr. N: "Well, I'm always in favor of maxim . . maximi . . . increasing the blood supply. Let's start by injecting into the left upper thigh."

Dr. S: "Must we do anything at all? The patient has the capacity to sort this all out on their own, and they'll be wiser, and more relaxed, and world more efficient."

Dr. N: "Yes, but we've left him to his own before, and he was in such enormous pain that we couldn't stand it."

Doctor Ronaldo: "But that pain is what forced the patient to change his lifestyle and figure things out!"

Dr. W: "See, we can't just let that pain go by. We've got to DO SOMETHING!"

Dr. S: "Remember your oath: First, do no harm."

Dr. N: "Well, isn't that quaint? But we live in the actual world where if we don't do something, the Chief isn't going to help us, and we may be out of a job."

Dr. H: "And we should be, too, if we can't manage to fix this one. We can do anything!"

Enter Chief

Dr. Chief: "good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. It looks like a real challenging case before you today. I'll be glad to help, but I think, with all your skills, if you guys can just manage to work together, give up on the usual practice of trying to get the credit, we can all see this patient through this problem. And we may make a few mistakes along the way, but I believe you can change this patient's life."

Dr. S: "Well, that's a good thing, Chief, if we can avoid our natural tendency to over- . . . "

Dr. C: "But we have to do what's in the best interest of the patient so that more and more patients will come to us and rely on our care.

Dr. R: "Well, wouldn't it be better if fewer patients relied on us, and instead . . .

Dr. C: "You know, we always seek the counsel and advice of everyone. But if you want to delay treatment while this patient is in pain, you can find another patient.

Dr. S: "But don't you remember a couple times ago, when the patient was doing the exact same thing? We actually made things a lot worse and it took that person foreverto get better again"

Continued another day . . .


Weather Update 

It's 1:00 in the morning now in Arvada, CO, and it is raining outside.

Yep, rain. Not snow. In January. Rain. In the middle of the night.

Now, before you go and get all "global warming" on me, consider that the high temperature in Denver today was warmer than the high temperature in Tampa, FL. So which is the bigger aberration: our warm, or their cold?


There. I'm Done Celebrating 

Congratulation to President Obama.

He managed to keep his Inaugural Speech under 20 minutes.

Acually, I didn't see the speech. Nor did I hear it. I find that I've fallen victim to the same sort of delusion that the "professional journalists" suffer when listening to Obama: after 8 years of listening to Pres. Bush stumble on his own syntax, Obama's ability to complete a sentence with tempo and cadence makes him sound intellgent and reasonable. Intelligent, he certainly is.

Reasonable? That's a different sort of question.

So, instead, I printed up the speech at the soonest possible point in the day, and read it. And was throughly unimpressed.

There was no high rhetoric. No call to great deeds and national greatness. And the fact that he could not refrain from taking a couple subtle shots at George Bush was rather startling and off-putting. And there were no great, memorable lines. All-in-all, a rather pedestrian effort.

But there is one line that has stuck with me since I first saw it on the page, and it is, I assume, a harbinger of bad things for conservatives.

"We will restore science to its rightful place . . ."

Sure, it seems like a throwaway line, but I'm guessing the implications of that throwaway are enormous.

First, I would expect sometime very soon that President Obama will issue an Executive Directive freeing the remaining embryonic stem cells in government care to be opened up for research. This, in spite of the science that increasingly tells us that adult stem cells are both pluripotent and generations ahead of embryonic stem cells in their development for theraputic purposes.

Second, Kyoto 2.0 is coming to a neighborhood near you SOON! This, in spite of the science of a growing community of climate scientists who say that global warming is NOT the relsult of human action, but part of a regular cycle the earth goes through.

I don't know what else will go along with these directives. But be clear: the moment of national unity will be brief, and while Obama will continue to talk smoothly and inclusively, his followers could not give the least bit of a crap about what conservatives think, feel or want.

Welcome to the wilderness. Bring your own beverage.


Celebrate, People!! 

Today is a great, great day for America!

Look, I disagree with his policies as much as anybody. But Barack Obama's ascendency to the Presidency is a watershed moment in American history. Perhaps now we can finally put our collective guilt behind us so that we can move forward together.

And, unlike a huge proportion of the world's population, what we are witnessing today is revolutionary change . . . without a single shot fired. The peaceful transfer of power is a unique American tradition, and it is one we should celebrate every time it happens!

Celebrate, People!! 

A Letter To President Obama 

The Honorable Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

Dear President Obama,

First of all, congratulations on your historic achievement! You ran a surprising and extremely effective campaign, and millions of Americans have invested a great deal of hope in your ability to deliver on your promises.

For what it’s worth, I will be praying for you and for your success as a President. I love this country, and, as a father of three, look forward to being able to tell my children about its greatness. You are uniquely situated to bring people together to solve the big problems this country faces, and I hope you are able to do great things.

I encourage you to learn one of the lessons of Lincoln, and invest your energy and your political capital in big items: fixing the economy and ensuring that the country remains safe. For all you disagree with President Bush about, you must concede that he has managed to prevent another attack on the civilian population in America. Perhaps you don’t agree with his methods, but before you throw out all of his policies, consider that he has kept Americans safe—including my children and your children.

As far as the economy, of course it is your number one priority. But it is nothing new. The country has experienced difficulties like this one before. Please study History; understand what has worked before and what only exacerbated the problems. For instance, there is a reason that the rest of the world refers to the early 1930’s as “The Depression,” and America remembers it as “The Great Depression.” If you can make the difficult decisions, make them wisely, contradict your political allies and opponents alike, then you have a chance for greatness.

I hope you do not allow your Presidency to be derailed by small stuff—things like “Card Check” and forcing Catholic hospitals to offer abortions. I’m not advising that just because I disagree with them; it’s because small stuff like that is both extremely divisive and they force you to invest capital in ways that do not benefit the whole country. I acknowledge that elections have consequences, and you won—you should feel free to pursue your agenda and the agenda of your allies. I just hope you wait until after you’ve taken care of the big ticket items.

I celebrate your historic achievement, and look forward to you making good on your promise to bring people together. You are a very talented man, and I pray that you will be able to use that talent for the good of the entire country. I also pray for your family—as much as you want to and try to, there is no way to prepare them for what’s coming their way.

Godspeed, Mr. President

Arvada, CO


A Letter To President Bush 

The Honorable George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

Dear President Bush,

Before you leave the White House and enter a well-deserved retirement, I wanted to write to you to say thank you for your service to the nation.

I am a father of three, and on September 12th, 2001, and for many, many days after that, I woke up every day reaching for the television remote so I could see if anything bad happened overnight. My greatest fear wasn’t another attack by plane or other, more conventional means, but the random act of violence that would force me to watch one of my children die. Thanks in large part to your leadership, innocent Americans have remained safe for seven years. THANK YOU!! I am proud to have worked to get you elected.

I, and all but a handful of Americans, can only imagine the difficulties you’ve had to face in the last eight years. The number of decisions that you have had to make in the last eight years must be staggering—it would, no doubt, be too much for most men to handle. I take great comfort in the fact that you are a man who uses his Faith to guide his decisions. And, while it’s impossible to know exactly what to do in every circumstance, I know that making decisions based on a core philosophy makes everything easier.

There will be occasions in the near future for you to explain your decision-making process to the American people—I look forward to that. I can appreciate that you have refrained from engaging your political opponents in the past, in the interest of national unity; but having a truthful record of your tenure would be invaluable. I hope you intend to use whatever forums you are given to explain what went into your decisions, and, also, in what ways your political opponents were misguided in their positions. The American people deserve to know the real story.

I pray that you are allowed a quiet and peaceful retirement. I suspect, however, that your opponents will still not have gotten enough of abusing you. I pray that God will grant you perseverance and comfort; and, also, that he will watch over your family and grant them a peace that has, no doubt, eluded them over the course of the last eight years.


Arvada, CO


The Breathtaking Arrogance of Our New President 

Is it just me, or is Barack Obama working a little too hard to invoke a connection to Abraham Lincoln?

President-elect Barack Obama plans to take the oath of office with his right hand on the same Bible used to swear in Abraham Lincoln,. . .

The Bible is part of the collections of the Library of Congress. It was purchased specifically for Lincoln's swearing-in ceremony on March 4, 1861, the inaugural committee said in its statement. Obama would be the first president sworn in using it since Lincoln in 1861. . . .

"Not only is Lincoln one of my political heroes," Obama told USA TODAY last year, "but, like Lincoln, I served for seven years in Springfield in the state Senate, and it's there I learned how to legislate; it's there that I developed many of my political ideas." . . .

Sean Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton University, called the Obama-Lincoln comparison "tortured" and "absurd" during the primaries, . . .

Now, I realize this story broke almost a month ago, but the implications of this just started to dawn on me today.

Lincoln is revered for a couple of things: first, he ended slavery; second, he guided the country through the Civil War, held the country together, and then started the process of healing the country. All of that was the result of his extraordinary courage, Faith, and steadfastness--which are what he really should be revered for. But, ultimately, Lincoln is remembered and honored for what he DID in his Presidency.

And, I would submit, the reason his Bible has not been used to swear in another President since is that that reverence demands that a person be someone of the same character and accomplishment--or close--as Lincoln himslef.

Obama is stretching for that, to say the least.

So, to what must we attribute Obama's Arrogance? Accomplishments? None. Character? Dubious, when you consider how quickly he tossed Rev. Wright under the bus, how quick he was to toss his grandmother aside, and other fine contributions he's made to the culture.

But you know what? That's alright--I don't mind that much. Just to get to that level of elected office, one HAS to be pretty arrogant. But I'm troubled by this, especially as a first step for this healing democracy.

First of all, this sort of arrogance is off-putting, which makes it difficult to get things done in the land of compromise. And it would be easy to say that he's got that compromise club in his bag--don't worry about it. Unfortunately, he has ZERO legislative accomplisments to point to for a demonstration of this, so we're very much in "wait and see" mode.

But, more importantly, that sort of arrogance almost guarantees that he'll never recognize the errors that he's about to make, or to admit the problem enought to get the course corrected. And he will make the same mistake that Amity Shlaes chronicled Hoover and FDR making:

"But the deepest problem was the intervention, the lack of faith in the marketplace. Government management of the late 1920s and 1930s hurt the economy. . . . After 1932, New Zealand, Japan, Greece, Romaniea, Chile, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden began seeing industrial production levels rise again--but not in the United States."

Obama is almost pathologically wired to be a perpetual tinkerer, and that scares me. This new stimulus package proposal is both ridiculous in scope, and naive in intention. Because, what? The original $700 Billion did such a great job stimulating the economy?

And when you consider the consequences of his foreign policy, his almost simple belief that his style will be sufficient to bring the world around to his point of view, you have to wonder what La-La Land he's operating out of. And that's all before you even think about the obvious missteps his transition has already gone through.

There's a reason Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The problem comes when a person of leadership is guilty of such Pride: the "Deadly" part is visited upon the people of the country.

AFTERTHOUGHTS: There's a lesson in here for Republicans, as well, and it's one I've been hammering on for a few weeks now. Republicans have lost the last couple elections on a massive scale--this is not the time for Republicans in Washington to be "of" Washington. Say what you mean to say in a direct way, and then get away from the microphone. YOU do not need the camera--the American people are the ones that need their voices heard. As much as you represent them, speak; as much as you represent your own interests, sit down and shut up. Oppose all you want, and, of course, vote how you are supposed to. But shut up.


Keeping an Eye On The Big Board 

Russia is making some fairly hostile moves of late.

Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom said it began pumping gas to Europe at 10 a.m. Tuesday after cutting off supplies Jan. 7 amid a pricing dispute with Ukraine.

But European Union officials said no gas was flowing, ...

Economic warfare, especially at a time when the world's economies are on the brink of Depression, is an old and honored tactic of expansionist powers. For Russia to "interrupt" the supply of natural gas to Eastern Europe at this time is surely no accident: it is nothing less than throwing down a marker in the sand, and challenging Europe to take any actions against Russian interests. At the same time, Russia desperately needs the price of oil to go back up, so if they can manufacture a little crisis to accomplish both ends, hey--why not?

I wish it could be said that this is a new development and that we're just seeing Russia flex its muscles before a new administration takes power in America. Unfortunately, the evidence goes contrary to that. Consider the recent incursion into Georgia, which was met by worldwide handwringing and typical U.N. impotence. Consider the 2004 attempted assassination of Viktor Yuschenko in the Ukraine, an act which has the fingerprints of Moscow all over it. For that matter, consider this:

Just about everything that could have gone wrong in Georgia has gone wrong. First the main pipeline supplying the country with Russian gas was mysteriously blown up by saboteurs and has yet to be repaired because of the cold weather. And then the fierce cold ruptured power lines leading from one of the country's most important hydroelectric power stations.

Mr Saakashvili was quick to blame foul play by the Russians, accusing them of trying to punish his country for adopting a pro-Western line in recent years.

Russia's ambitions are, sadly, not new. They have a vested interest in controlling the gasoline flow to the world, and they have older, more pride-based interest in returning to preimminence on the world stage. And, though he has appointed a couple special envoys, President-Elect Obama has yet to elevate the Russian issue to the level it deserves by appointing a Special Envoy to keep an eye on things.

Let's hope his inexperience does not lead him into the kind of stupidity that led President Bush to "gaze into his [Putin's]Soul" and declare him a good guy. If he can come out and call this one like it is (you know, that whole "candor and transparency" thing), I would be very impressed.

Surprised as all Hell, but impressed.


What Now For The Republican Party, Part last 

My best friend called me the other day, out of the blue, and said "Hannity is driving me nuts! I had to turn him off."

The Captain concluded with this thought: "if I, if the choir is starting to tune it out, then how is the rest of the country responding?"

Smart man, my best friend.

I had already addressed how I feel Republicans need to get better at talking to the public--they need a better message, they need to learn how to talk, and they need to find better places and ways to deliver the message.

But there also has to be some recognition on our side that the same old schtick has probably maxed out its usefulness. Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, etc . . . are all very talented and very good at what they do. But they have become predictable.

And that predictability makes it very easy to tune them out. And when nobody's listening, well . . .

It is no longer enough to point out the follies and foibles of the Left and of the "professional journalist" class, and then mock them. The effectiveness of that approach has run its course. What needs to happen on the part of the "mouthpieces," is that they have to get smarter about their approach. And that's not just the mouthpieces, but the whole apparatus of Republican/Conservative public relations.

So let me propose a few ideas.

#1--Never let the Left or the "professional journalists" define the debate. Become very comfortable using the phrase "I don't accept your premise."

At it's most absurd, this is typified by the question "When did you stop beating your wife?" Republicans are asked that question on a nearly daily basis by the media, and we always seem so danged bumfuzzled by it. And it's only going to get worse in the next "hundred days." "Well, Senator McConnell, isn't it true that your position, the Republican opposition to President Obama's $2 trillion stimulus, would leave millions of children without food to eat? And the correct answer is :

"I'm sorry, George, but I don't accept your premise, and here's the reality of the situation . . . "

#2--Speak candidly, speak honestly, stop policking. Why--WHY!!--has there not been a prominent Republican in front of a microphone in the last two weeks saying "Of course Israel has a right to defend itself, and given the current state of things in the Gaza strip, we would like to see Israel push forward agressively to end the threat to their existence. And, frankly, the sooner the Israelis succeed in their mission, the sooner we can start getting good humanitarian aid into the encampments."

I am so damn tired of people mincing their words and dancing the ridiculous dance of political correctness because they're afraid of offending something or somebody. Hell, it could be said that John McCain lost the election when he--HE--took Reverend Wright off the table. If you can't question somebody's judgment because you're afraid of the race issue, then you might as well never try to talk about judgment. And if you can't talk about judgment, then you can't counter your opponent's only qualification. Check Mate.

The public respects candor--try using some.

#3--Know when you've said enough. You simply cannot continue to repeat the same thing over and over again and expect that that's what's going to make the difference. You're in the minority for a reason--state your point and then have the humility to sit down.

It begins soon. Republicans had better be willing to enter the game in a whole different way or 'minority' could rapidly turn into "irrelevant."


On The Nature of Habits 

I had intended to back off of the writing and focus on big-picture things after the November election; I had intended for it to last 3-4 weeks.

Well, it's been about nine weeks now.

Writing this blog is very much a habit, it's a labor of love. It's really my one way to vent my thoughts and opinions on the news and politics of the day. It's my one way to feed my inexplicable passion for politics without driving my wife absolutely batty.

But it's remarkable how easily that habit gets broken. Take a little time off--no matter how good the reason or the intentions--and the habit reforms only slowly.

Which is a long-winded way of saying "I know I've been lazy, and I hope the tiny audience I've developed hasn't given up on me . . . because I'm back."

Stray Philosophy 

And now, for something completely different . . .

Lately, I've started taking pretty lengthy walks at night. It started Christmas night--the family was exhausted and went to bed pretty easily, and I felt no interest in doing any of my normal nighttime activities, so I headed out of the house to see what the neighborhood was doing.

Yeah, I live in a pretty safe suburban area . . .

Anyway, it was such a nice night, and it was so quiet and peaceful out, that it reminded me how much I like the nighttime.

Since then, I've taken several other late night walks, and, even though the temperature varies a bit (tonight is pretty cold around here), I've found that the night is very good for thinking. And each time, I find that, somewhere in my mind, I am always looking around for Christmas lights, just to see who is still in celebration.

Christmas at my house ended abruptly the morning of January 1st. In fact, I woke up to the sound of my wife (who was awake a couple hours before me) taking down the Christmas tree. The wind had already taken care of most of the outdoor decorations a few days earlier, so all that was left was the tree and few strings of light inside the house--which were mostly in a state of demolition by the time I got up on January 1st.

If I'd had my druthers, I think the decorations would have lasted longer; in fact, if I had my way, the decorations might not come down until some time in March--maybe about the same time as Spring Training gets in full swing. But, oh well . . .

So it interests me to see who, and how many, still are displaying their Christmas Lights. And tonight that number is very few. Not surprising, fifteen days after Christmas, but still I would have thought a few more people would leave their lights up.

And then I started wondering just why I was so interested in this topic. Sure, I like the aesthetics, but I got plenty of that during the actual season.

And then I started wondering about the psychology of who leaves their lights up two weeks after Christmas (and for now, let's assume that we're not talking about Russian Christians, who just passed their Christmas a couple days ago, or any other sort of actual answer). Is it just laziness? An inability to get on top of the "to-do" list?

Or is it a symbolic gesture--something along the lines of holding on to the Spirit of the Season?

I tend to think towards that last explanation. And, let me tell you what I think it means.

I noticed on Christmas night that the lighting displays, while still as numerous as in past years, were somewhat diminished in their . . . gaudiness. I actually liked it. A little bit humbler approach to the displays. But, I think it was also a bit of a reflection on the realities of this particular year. People are being a bit more guarded about their expenditures, and it shows even in their decorating.

But some few people are trying to hold on to the Season for just a few weeks extra. Perhaps this year, more than most, we need this to be true:

It's Christmas Eve. It's-it's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we-we-we smile a little easier, we-w-w-we-we-we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be.

Does keeping a lighting display up, holding on to a Season past its time, help us hold on to some of the actual Spirit of that Season? Maybe.

I know I was encouraged by the sight of the lights still up. And, maybe we can, if we think about it, hold on to the idea that we can be the people we always hoped we would be.

And for the Big Picture, isn't this a really important idea? If we were the people we always hoped we would be, maybe we would take care of each other a little better in our communities, so that we wouldn't need government assistance; maybe we would care for our children better as communities, so shootings at schools would be unhear-of; maybe the elderly in our communities would be respected, admired and assisted so that the government wouldn't have to do it or mandate it or make them its number one expenditure.

Maybe we could actually get some things done. Imagine if all of our problems had to be solved on Christmas Eve--wouldn't we get a lot more accomplished?


I don't know--it's all just stray philosophizing. Nothing that should be taken all that seriously.

But, then again, next time you're faced with a really tough decision or confronted by a . . . difficult person . . . think about what sort of things you would do to deal with it if it were Christmas Eve. If the Spirit of the Season were a part of the decision-making process.

Would it be different than normal? I know it would be for me.

And maybe that's the best part of Christmas, the part we need to hold on to for as much of the year as we can. Because we were given the most astonishing gift 2000 years ago, maybe we could actually try to honor the day by trying to be the person He intended us to be throughout the year.

And then we wouldn't need those Christmas lights hanging outside our houses, because we would actually be sources of Light, ourselves.


Good-Bye, 2008 

and Good Riddance!!

Let's review. 2008 was the year that saw the Dow Jones go from 13400 to below 7600; it was the year that saw a war won but nobody noticed; it was the year that saw the very-near collapse of the American financial industry, and the abandonment of the Free Market system to save it; it was the year that saw mortgage chickens come home to roost; it was the year that saw the Big Three automakers in Washington, hat in hand (very reminiscent of the scene in "Cinderella Man" where the Russell Crowe character goes in to the big wigs to beg for charity--except he didn't fly in on private jets carrying union contracts; other than that . . . .); it was the year that saw a newly-expansionist Russia overrun a smaller satellite (meet the new boss, same as the old . . . .); it was yet another year in which the Republican Party proved unequal to the task of convincing the American people that it has solutions for the country; and it was the year that saw the demise of Mike Shanahan as the head coach of the Denver Broncos.

Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out, 2008!

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