Monthly Archives: December 2007

Take Your Holiday Back

Hecate, of course, gets to the heart of what I was fumbling towards a few days ago:

It wasn’t until I finally began to realize that this time of year is about the Dark, about going into the cold cave without enough food, about surviving — by hook or crook or sheer, cussed refusal to die — long enough for the sun to begin to linger longer in the Spring, that I became a fan of the last weeks of December. And, as Sia so beautifully puts it, I’ve also worked to take back this holiday, back from the xians who want so terribly to completely OWN this time of year and back from the corporatists who want so terribly to make me need to BUY THINGS in the vain hope that they will fill the dark hole of Winter.

Sia: I began to take back the things of the past many seasons ago. That tree for one thing, that World Tree, that’s mine. And those bright, hopeful candles are mine again, as well. This is a festival of light, after all. That circle called a wreath is mine, so too, the holly bush. Before I became Pagan, I was always drawn to pictures of a stag standing alone in snow. I’d see this design in different forms over the years and it always spoke to me. Now I know why. And look at that old Shaman dressed in furs. He’s mine now, too. He was lost for a time, selling sodas if you can believe it, but he’s back again where he belongs. He still brings gifts, but the gifts he offers are very different than the ones I’d known before.

One of the things that age has taught me is: things change. The Wheel of the Year turns. What seems terrible beyond belief and insurmountable now will seem ok and manageable later. The frozen lake will thaw. The leafless forsythia bush will bud. The evil ruler will die and the good leader will emerge. A clueless people will wake up and live up to their potential. Peace will break out and nameless forces for the good will appear at the needed moment. Women will be happy and busy and children and gardens will flourish.

Whatever this time of year is like for you, right now, I wish for you: time for reflection, a willingness to dance in the dark and drink from glasses chipped from ice, a face-to-face sudden encounter with your Fear, time to hibernate, dream, and plan, and great, bracing draughts of crystal cold fresh air to breathe. And I hope that you can see the Sun rise on Sunday morning. I’ll be out in the freezing cold with the witches, beating on pots and pans, blowing whistles, yelling, whooping, and shaking tambourines to wake her up from her sleep, to make sure that, one more time, as she has for all of my great, great, many-times-great grandmothers, she decides to linger longer and turn the Winter into Spring. A witch’s job, after all, is to turn the Wheel, and round and round the Wheel does turn. If you yell loud enough, I just might hear you. If you listen carefully, you just may hear me beating on my soup pot with my wooden spoon.


Friday Ferretblogging: Post-Christmas Hangover Edition

Friends gifted the squirrels with small fuzzy toys. Like any 1-year-old, Riot liked the bag better:

At least at first:

Continue reading

Let Nothing You Dismay


Either way, one clear effect of the War on Christmas nonsense was and is to further aggravate the already overblown sense of victimization, isolation, and indeed entitlement on the part of those who are interpellated and hence flattered by Bill O’Reilly-standard propaganda.

And that’s depressing, because that’s kind of made Christmas suck, a bit. I’m not particularly sentimental by nature but I do have something of a soft spot for the Christmasy peace on earth, good will towards men stuff: we need more of that in this nation. But the War on Christmas baloney points in the other direction. Let us not feel charitable: let us feel aggrieved!

Thing is, it’s not just the crazy Christians who get off on feeling aggrieved this time of year. It’s everybody who feels vaguely pissed that their holiday isn’t what they want it to be, and so Christmas is too busy, too spendy, too … not what it was when they were children, and I swear to God I spend half of Christmas talking about how Christmas, like Disney World and the Old Neighborhood and That Corner Store and Baseball and Movies and Books and Music, used to be good back when we were young and beautiful and now sucks ass. And these kids today have long hair and listen to bad music.

Adam Gopnik, who of course says it better than I could.

There’s already too much out there to feel bad about this time of year. There’s plenty of evidence the world is fucking burning down, if you’re lucky enough to have joy, you don’t need to go searching for misery inside every brown paper package tied up with string, to guilt yourself about whatever it is that you do, that it’s not “authentic” enough, that CHRISTMAS UR DOING IT WRONG.

I’m a pagan at heart, this time of year especially: Come inside and celebrate our swing toward light again. Come inside and tell stories about hope in dark times, celebrations of warmth and plenty during days so short it seems like the mechanism might just stall this time. Come inside and know that the people here will help where they can, and do what they must, and take their rest where they can get it, even in the midst of a frantic American Christmas, even with too much to do, even with Christmas not being even a little what it used to be.

Tell me what you do at Christmas.


Why Journalism Matters

Nine times out of ten, it takes the kids to remind us:

Several hidden security cameras hung in the halls of Newton South High School for months, not yet operational and apparently undetected, until reporters for the school’s student newspaper started asking questions.

Now the School Committee and teachers’ union say they want an explanation, and the superintendent is promising to be more forthcoming about the new security tactic before activating the cameras, intended to catch thieves.

“We probably did not introduce this security measure in a particularly great way, and we need to go back now, after vacation, with both high school principals and figure out what their security needs are and what possible steps are involved, and see how we can better communicate that policy to the public,” Superintendent Jeffrey M. Young said yesterday.

Newton South’s student newspaper, the Denebola, broke the story in its Dec. 19 issue under the headline “Secret Cameras installed,” with an accompanying editorial criticizing administrators for not telling students they would be watched.


“One of the premises of running the article was that the community should know and have a discussion before cameras are installed,” co-editors Olivia DaDalt and Alex Schneider, both seniors, wrote in an e-mail to the Globe.

Via Romenesko.


Bhutto Assasinated


RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, aides said.

“The surgeons confirmed that she has been martyred,” Bhutto’s lawyer Babar Awan said.

A party security adviser said Bhutto was shot in neck and chest as she got into her vehicle to leave the rally in Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad. A gunman then blew himself up.

“At 6:16 p.m. she expired,” said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto’s party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack.

Her supporters at the hospital began chanting “Dog, Musharraf, dog,” referring to Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf.


Columnwhoring: War Zone

Jesus fuck, Maine:

Every place in America is safe until it isn’t.

Contrary to what you hear on the evening news, there aren’t places where crime is nonexistent, where nobody can hurt you, where the walls are so thick and the locks so strong that no one can reach you tonight.

Just because people say, when a terrible thing occurs in a rich neighborhood, that they didn’t think things like this could happen there … terrible things can happen anywhere.

What truly makes us less safe is our refusal to help one another. We become less able to go out into the world secure in the greatness of America each day we let our selfishness (and yes, this is selfishness, to hide behind a minor danger to oneself to avoid caring for others) be our guiding principle.

Our responsibility to one another is our only true security, and we devalue that, day by day, with rationales like Daniels’ and the rest of the Rockland school board’s.

Then again, perhaps I’m being too hard on Daniels, in the end. Perhaps all she intended in calling New Orleans a “war zone” was to compare it to Baghdad, Tikrit or Basra. Perhaps then, her thinking went, we could rally Americans in support of painting schools and building hospitals there and find billions of dollars in reconstruction money for it.

That seems to be the kind of war zone to which we have no problem sending our young people to pitch in.


Happy Dodd Photo: Care Packages Edition

Packing up goodies for the troops.

More Dodd love:

Personally, I believe we are at a 1932 moment in history. The last gasp of the Reaganism that tainted even the Clinton administration is being played out on that Republican debate stage. After November, they will sweep the remains of that grand movement into the dustbin of history.

You could choose those that stood back, and waited until history was on their side before they moved bold agendas forward. You could hope that their theories of change were correct.

Or you could choose the person, who, against all odds, advanced the progressive agenda through every means at his disposal.

I’ve seen Dodd sailing against the wind and been amazed. I can only imagine what he will do with the wind at his back.

The “Chris Dodd for President” Flickr collection, which is like a crack IV feeding directly into my infatuated brain.


How can I resist when…

…it involves a Louisiana blog exposing Drudge stupid on a Green Bay Wisconsin story.

We Saw That blog saw a link at Drudge on December 23rd to a story at WBAY-TV in Green Bay on plans for Green Bay police to begin fingerprinting motorists at traffic stops. The article included a quote from an attorney which We Saw That found “particularly nauseating.” In their attempt to track down more information on that they contacted the reporter for the story who responded with this…

attorney I interviewed for that story has since passed on. I believe I
did that story three or four years ago. I’m surprised you still found
it on a website! As an update, the police department never decided to
do such fingerprint people at traffic stops. The idea was dropped
shortly after our story ran.

BwahHaHa…Next Drudge scoop:


WI to Begin Killing Teh Kittens

Today on Athenae’s Obsession with the Freepi: ‘if your a whore your a whore’

Al. the way, from your first cigarette:

Well, that is what liberals think; by ending moral judgments, woman can be easy and thus end their oppression. Its a notion absolutely ridiculous on its face.

One, you are not going to change men’s mind; if you are a whore, your a whore. Now what can you say when your a whore? In the end, men dont want to stay with whores. No apologies, but I have to be that blunt.

I used the duct tape example. Rub a strip of duct tape on the forearm and describe how sexual intimacy is intended to bind you to someone. And when that bond is broken (rip off tape) it hurts! And when you try again with someone else (re-apply tape here), the bond isn’t so strong anymore (pull off the tape). Pretty soon, there is nothing about it that sticks much anymore.

Joe Cromagnon man here. Abstinence is for both males and females. It takes 2 people to copulate. If either or both say no, lets wait or better yet wait till they are married all the better. It is high time that MORALS were instilled back into society. Being raised old school south where it was “impolite” to sleep with a woman you were not affianced to I practiced abstinence in the 70’s. If you don’t think that was tough or that I wasn’t the object of ridicule think again. I was taught that it was morally objectionable to “sleep around like an alley cat in heat.” I guess I took it to heart. I am currently married to my second wife but can swear to what ever god you want on whatever holy book you want I was faithful to my wife then as I am now. It IS all about how children are raised. It is not about “Bashing boys” or promiscuity of females. It IS about instilling our children with a sense of HONOR, the COURAGE to see the right path and take it, The RESPONSIBILITY to speak up for their actions and finally FAITH in GOD.

Men should teach their sons that the woman is the weaker vessel and easily deceived (Eve was deceived and Adam listened to her). They should tell their sons not to take advantage of it even if the girl is throwing herself at you.

A major problem I had growing up was I was taught that we were equal so I tried for it and gave them the benefit to reject me if they were not interested. I also took what some would offer figuring they knew what they were doing. That was not right.

They should be told that ultimately “sex” is about children. It brings them into the world; that is its purpose, solely.

I respectfully disagree. The sole purpose of our existence is to glorify God – in everything that we do.

As a general rule, societies where women are careful (and given the choice) about when to “give in” (read: marriage) – it is that society where you will find more civility, stronger families, and a heightened sense of community (even faith).

However, when you start to see more and more women acting like adolescent men (negligent promiscuity, disregard of family), there you will find a society in danger of decline.

So ladies, let it be known – you are the gatekeepers of civilization. Don’t let us down


Home and Peace

Below Athenae posted her West Wing moment. Here is mine. It is the episode in which, at Christmas time, Toby arranges a military funeral for a homeless Korean war veteran. We have so many veterans now returning, who must find home–not only the place–but the home of their hearts and souls. I wish them peace

Christmas Treats

The way we amuse ourselves at the A household during the holidays:


You Keep Me There

A little before-Christmas treat. Everybody was e-mailing around the clip from the Stackhouse Filibuster during the Doddsmack (tm Sinfonian), but this is my favorite West Wing moment:


Neither Wind Nor Cold Nor 93 Years …


OBERLIN, Kan. – A postcard featuring a color drawing of Santa Claus and a young girl was mailed in 1914, but its journey was slower than Christmas. It just arrived in northwest Kansas.

The Christmas card was dated Dec. 23, 1914, and mailed to Ethel Martin of Oberlin, apparently from her cousins in Alma, Neb.

It’s a mystery where it spent most of the last century, Oberlin Postmaster Steve Schultz said. “It’s surprising that it never got thrown away,” he said. “How someone found it, I don’t know.”

Ethel Martin is deceased, but Schultz said the post office wanted to get the card to a relative.

That’s how the 93-year-old relic ended up with Bernice Martin, Ethel’s sister-in-law.


‘I am a mother and I will wait for my son’

Our very own commenter Jules, at Sirens:

Looking back on the time between his leave and the time he was done with his tour seems so short. But it went agonizingly slow. My partner and I both had trouble sleeping. Our sleep was plagued with nightmares. As things got worse in Iraq, we dreaded coming home, afraid to find a car in the drive. We both knew what that meant.

Throughout his deployment the people around us would tell us how proud we must be. The hardest ones to take were the ones who started spouting the “fight them over there” crap. They have no idea of the sleepless nights and the struggles to maintain composure when we talked to our son, no idea just how bad things are in Iraq. Nothing would make me angrier than listening to the President give a speech. All I could think about were his daughters running around drinking and doing nothing. They are about the same age as my son. They do nothing while he is risking everything for their father’s vanity war. I have no time for supporters of this war, especially those who are content to allow others to fight it while they wave their flags.


Shiftless norms

The vote on demolition of NOLA public housing spurred a thought provoking discussion on poverty and personal responsibility in the NOLA blogosphere earlier this week, examples in the comments of postshere andhere. In contrast to thought provoking is the vitrioliccomments on breeding and the breeding “welfare mentality” at a related post by Michelle Malkin. It’s had me thinking a great deal of expectations in American society and those outside the norm. Then today, via Atrios, I read this from a post atCalculated Risk

One of the greatest fears for lenders (and investors in mortgage
backed securities) is that it will become socially acceptable for
upside down middle class Americans to walk away from their homes.

See these comments from Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis via the WSJ:Now, Even Borrowers With Good Credit Pose Risks

been a change in social attitudes toward default,” Mr. Lewis says.
Bankers typically have believed that cash-strapped borrowers would fall
behind on their credit cards, car payments and other debts — but would
regard mortgage defaults as calamities to be avoided at all costs. That
isn’t always so anymore, he says.

“We’re seeing people who are
current on their credit cards but are defaulting on their mortgages,”
Mr. Lewis says. “I’m astonished that people would walk away from their
homes.” The clear implication: At least a few cash-strapped borrowers
now believe bailing out on a house is one of the easier ways to get
their finances back under control.

… there is a new class of
homeowners in name only. Because these people never put up much of
their own money, they don’t act like owners, committed to their
property for the long haul.

Social acceptabity for the middle class to ditch their responsibilty? Behavior often considered shiftless when speaking of the poor? How will this be explained or discussed? A thoughtful examination of the possible cause/effect relationship of limited choices on behavior to shifting societal norms? Or a merciless personal beatdown of these upside down middle class individuals? Believe me I don’t put the latter past the Malkinites but seriously how much of America can we beat away and negate in this manner before we are only leftbut to begin a serious examination of oh say… policy?

‘Don’t You Ever Let It Happen Again’

That’s it.

I mean it, that’s it.

Chris Dodd for president.

I said I couldn’t pick and I couldn’t commit and you know what? It wasn’t me, it was them. I just hadn’t heard anything that got me enough. I heard ittoday:

If this disastrous war has taught us anything, it is that the Senate must never again stack such a momentous decision on such a weak foundation of fact. The decision we’re asked to make today is not, of course, as immense. But between fact and decision, the disproportion is just as huge.

So I rise in determined opposition to this unprecedented immunity and all that it represents. I have served in this body for more than a quarter-century. I have spoken from this desk hundreds and hundreds of times. I have rarely come to the floor with such anger.

But since I came to Washington, I have seen six presidents sit in the White House—and I have never seen a contempt for the rule of law equal to this. Today I have reached a breaking point. Today my disgust has found its limit.

I don’t expect every one of my colleagues to share that disgust, or that limit. I wish they did—but had that been the case, we would never have come to this point.

I only ask them to believe me when I say if I did not speak today, my conscience would not let me rest.

(I know, I know, I know how badly this is gonna hurt, but right now, I’m drunk with it, spinning, crazy, intoxicated, up in the air, don’t talk sense to me, don’t you dare say one sensible word about thinking about my future and weighing all my options and going to college instead of running away with the handsome man in the green tie. I want this moment to be worth the hangover I can already feel nibbling around the edges of that second glass of red. Don’t talk me down, I like it up here.)

I think my favorite moment of the approximately 12 billion hours of Senatorial nonsense we sat through (you and me and everybody else crammed into the crack van, calling Harry a fucker and talking about Scout’s Christmas ham), I think my very favorite moment came at the end. When Harry Reid, beaten and pissed off, told Dodd the bill would just come back in January, and Dodd said fine. Bring it back. But if it includes retroactive immunity, again, I’m just gonna filibuster it. So bring it back.

I’ll come back, and my supporters will come back, and their friends and families and co-workers and neighbors will come back, and Feingold and Kerry and Boxer and Cardin and Wyden and Nelson and Kennedy will come back, andmy country tis of thee the United States of America will come back and we’ll keep doing this until you get it. I don’t care how long it takes. Until you get it, until you stop this, we will keep pushing, so just shut up and take it like the man you say you are.

(I may be paraphrasing a bit there. But only a bit.)

Harry’s displeased. But if he really opposed retroactive immunity, he’d have honored Dodd’s hold. He’d stop knuckling under. He’d stop compromising. He’d stop giving the president everything the president wants. He’d stop backing down. I’m really sorry Harry’s pissed off, I am. But I’m sorrier, you know, about ALL THE LAWS BEING BROKEN, and until Harry figures out that there are harder things than this, he’s just gonna have to stay pissed off, and that’s the end of that.

While we’re at it, man, was the Republican ass parade in full swing today. Kit Bond, saying we weren’t granting the telecoms immunity because they didn’t do anything wrong, but even if they didn’t, they still needed immunity. For stuff. That they didn’t do. Mitch McConnell, autowittering on about how senators had worked all weekend on their prettydiorama bill, and how dare Dodd and Feingold point out where the glue was showing! Jeff Sessions, who … I don’t know, his mouth was moving, but all I heard was “9/11 made my penis small” and then Saxby Chambliss showed up at which point I thought it best to go clean the litterbox. All the greatest assholes of our time, one after another, talking about how difficult it was for them to see our country so defiled by those dirty fucking hippies and their insistence on debate.

Obama didn’t come out of itlooking too bad, I do have to say:

It’s not clear whether he can return for the vote, but under the Senate rules, the side trying to end a filibuster must produce 60 votes to cut off debate. Whether he is present for the vote for not, Senator Obama will not be among those voting to end the filibuster.

But Dodd … his campaign forwarded around thisassy thing the Chicago Tribune did, full of their usual smugly superior tone, that “aren’t you activists just socute” thing that’s like their institutional default, about how he was doing this to make a splash for his campaign. Because, yeah. What you want to do to attract the attention of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire is to stand in a near-empty Senate in Washington a week before Christmas giving speeches about a bill most Americans couldn’t identify if you stuck it in a lineup with Siegfried, Roy and a breakfast pastry. That’ll get all the girlies wanting to scream. I am not entirely un-self-aware. I realize a handful of people are paying attention to this.

That doesn’t make it worth less, though. That makes it worth more. Dodd should get some turkee out of this. He should get some blogospheric love. But in the end? Is that gonna put him in Clinton-Obama-Edwards poll territory? Fuck no. I’m not that round the bend, that I think this will be the thing that begins a wave of nationwide Doddmania that sweeps the country. He won’t win the presidency based on this.

But he should. Oh, he should. Because what he did today was to stop trying to convince me he should have the job, and just start doing the job. He did what leaders do: Get out in front of the thing nobody else even notices is happening, and take it where it ought to have been in the first place. He made an example out of himself. He could have done this thing, where he went on the Sunday shows and talked about how Democrats really ought to be strong leaders and they ought to put aside their own interests and work for their constituents and they really ought to do this, that and the other fucking thing. He could have talked all day long about what Democrats should be doing.

Instead he got up, as a Democrat, and did it.

The bill will come back in January. He’ll be there.

We’ll all be there.