Extended Christmas Outlook

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Some random thoughts and observations for the Christmas season, which in case you didn't notice began the day before Halloween. Boy, Tim Burton really did have it together, did he not?

I'm a huge fan of the Christmas holiday - I can listen to the music all year long. (The good stuff, though: just the good stuff). The problem is, the press of "business" can make it near impossible to appreciate. The deadly assiduousness of the personal calendar is the killer. I am now, for instance, mentally done with Thanksgiving shopping preparations and quite past the logistical complications with our next two bi-weekly payrolls at the day job, dead in the midst of work on grassroots stuff for the next two months, along with plenty of holiday engagements plotted out and, to be honest, travel plans and agendas for mid-January and March being the key events on my current temporal horizon. I've already decided not to bother changing out my winter/summer wardrobes because I'll be packing for the desert Southwest in no time and then it's practically polos-and-khaki's season again.

Who needs the moment of death: My life is flashing before my eyes while I live it!

But Christmas is sweet; it's cool. It represents the Big Break in the annual cycle. You can't go through it and hear all the messages about what it means and not have a tinge of hope that things CAN be new again. The year comes to a close, everyone and everything decks out in celebratory overtones for weeks on end, and in at least a meager way the entire public consciousness acknowledges that reality extends beyond our current sordid historical humdrum.

In our best moments, Christmas serves as a national team-building retreat. I, for one, am one of those who likes to start early and finish late. Put that tree up right after Thanksgiving and take it down on Valentine's Day, dammit. That's doing Christmas right.

In that spirit, then, let's position the NovaTownHall Blog for the next couple months:

  • The Queen is dead, long live the Queen! We're in a political limbo! How nice this is! And it will certainly continue until well into January. Who knows how all the Democrat scrapping will end up. Who knows what the Repuds will end up standing for. While the carols play, who gives a rat's you-know-what?! Frankly, it will be two months of pure political theater. For those who don't follow politics it will be a mildly interesting interregnum; for those who do, it will be sheer entertainment. Cheeks will be scratched bloody and toes will be bruised. This is why they get paid the big bucks. Enjoy! It's a blogger's paradise.
  • There is a lot of sweetness and light during the Christmas season. Good stories abound, and they help define the world. Let's all be sure to highlight that when we can. Busy-ness is death. I hope we can all find time to post nice stories about good people doing good things. America is not so bad when you come to think about it.
  • Speaking of which: What exactly is so great about this country? The entire world sometimes seems to be a friggin' mess. Is the U.S. doing anything right? I hope during the Christmas holiday some of us will have some spare time to reflect on what, if anything, America and Americans are doing a good job at.
  • Also speaking of which: Do we all agree on anything? Godalmighty, that seems like a silly question to have to ask but ask it we must. I was out working at the polls last Tuesday and my "opponents" were wonderful, decent people. We were out in the rain together and went out of our way not to disparage each other. We literally made room for the others to hand out their "sample ballots." I was talking with our main Democrat counterpart and found we agreed 100% on the issue of illegal immigration and what needed to be done about it. So what that he was promoting Jim Webb and Judy Feder: We were a couple people who likely could have sat down and watched a football game together and found we agreed on 80% of the major issues of the day. Let's remember, always, that our "opponents" are likely much more like us than the public rhetoric would have us believe. Therein lies the basis of future political realignment in America, and isn't that what this whole unholy mess is about?
  • As bloggers, we must remember to write about non-political topics. Something, anything, even if it's about raking the leaves or shoveling snow. Our blog posts will persist whether we like it or not; in a way they will serve as part of our respective epitaphs. Inevitably, through all the debate and garble, we will each say something that encapsulates our take, our "say," our unique personal writing which expresses who we are. A lot of mine, frankly, suck, and I hope I do enough better ones to cancel all of the bad ones out.
  • Amnesty Week is a go, and it will be a looong week, befitting the holiday that should never end, just because I love these guys. You know who you are. The log-ins should still work. Remember the ground rules: 72 dpi graphics; Close those div's; Observe the Blog-Breathalyzer Credo ("Blow over 3, no typing for thee!"); Say something nice about St. Ann and you get a gift basket; While I'm always fair game, please be kind to our other NVTH bloggers because they truly are gentle, kindly folk in whom there is no guile; Recipes, Christmas tree photos, seasonal lawn care tips, and puppy snapshots are always welcome; And, finally, no 24 spoilers. Some of us are taping it, dammit. Post as frequently or infrequently as you like because I'll leave it open. Why extend this Amnesty to our ideological "opponents?" Simply because too many of Kevin's and the General's comments deserve to be posts and they, like my Democratic counterpart on election day, are more like me than unlike me. (Kevin I'll return the favor whenever you wish).

On with Christmas, then. It's almost summer, folks, so let's get to it.

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zimzo said:

Aww, Joe, only you could invoke the spirit of Christmas and scapegoating immigrants in one breath.

Here's what I believe we have in common and I hope you really mean what you say about working on those things that unite us, just as I hope President Bush goes back to the themes of his first campaign of being a uniter not a divider.

I think we can all agree we are against terrorism. It sounds almost laughable to say that, but sometimes it seems as if you don't believe that when you write headlines referring to a Supreme Court decision as "a victory for liberals and terrorists." How about if we agree that while we all want to stop terrorism we may have different opinions about how to reach that goal. Some of us believe that Iraq was a distraction from the war on terror, that we need to rely on intelligence (both kinds) more and military might less, that recruiting allies in our fight is as important as fighting enemies and that we don't need to sacrifice the freedoms that we are defending in order to win this battle. We may differ on the details of how to fight terrorists but not on the worthiness of the battle.

We all agree that racism and homophobia are wrong. However, we may disagree on what constitutes racism or homophobia. I know that you do not believe that opposing gay marriage is homophobic or that your rhetoric against immigrants is racist. I happen to disagree and the only reason I bother to point out why something you say sounds racist or homophobic is because I think that actually matters to you. But instead of simply dismising what I say as a poor debate tactic and being defensive about it at least consider if some of what you are saying comes from prejudices or stereotypes you have about certain groups of people, prejudices and stereotypes we all have, including me. As a case in point, stop attributing what you see as bad behavior by some gays or some Latinos to gays or Latinos as a whole. One commentator does not show "the gay hand," for example, whatever that is.

I think we all generally agree that we would prefer the government to stay out of our private business. Again we disagree on the details. I think that there has been plenty of overreaching on the left on this issue in the past, and I think there has been lots of overreaching by the the Bush Administration in the course of fighting the war on terror but on this general principle I think we can agree.

I think we all agree on the necessity for free speech. And I think this blog is an excellent example of that in practise. Again there has been plenty of overreaching on both sides. I happen to oppose hate crime laws because I think they criminalize speech so I don't think it is always the right that goes too far.

I think we can all agree that we are against poverty. Again we differ on how to fight it. In your canonization of Jim Webb as a conservative you may have missed this piece he wrote yesterday:
I would be interested to know what you think of that! I do believe that some people really do think tax cuts for the wealthy will alleviate poverty and I acknowledge there are conservatives like David Kuo who think that Christians have a responsibility to do what they can for the less fortunate. Again, out means may be different but the goal is the same.

I think we all agree that there should be fewer abortions whether we think it's murder or not. At some point we will have to reach a compromise on this issue where one side agrees that all abortions can't be stopped and the other agrees there should be limits. Better means of birth control will hopefully render much of this debate moot in the future but meanwhile both sides are going to have to reign in its extremists.

Finally, I think we can all acknowledge that OJ murdered his wife and his "If I Did It" show is basically a confession. Hating OJ could certainly be one thing that brings this country together.

I'm sure there are more things we can agree on, if indeed you agree with at least some of what I have said. Jack, I suppose, will disagree, but then he thinks the sky is not blue but a fiery vermillion.

Jack said:


I'll agree that O.J. murdered his wife if you agree that he was framed.

Scapegoating? Oh, right, anyone who disagrees with Zimzo is a bigot. I've gotten that message loud and clear already and have, actually, incorporated it into my curriculum vitae. But thanks for the reminder.

I would also count you among people I agree with on a number of issues, but also sort of close-minded when it comes to new information that upsets your world view. And this deal of telling people they don't know what is happening in their own neighborhoods is, well, mildly presumptuous. I guess we all have our weaknesses and yours is charming in a way.

Just curious: Do people pour beer on your head very often, or only once in a while?

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