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Christmas Day News and Views

Peace on Earth

Merry Christmas Conflucians! I hope everyone has a lovely day today. News events march onward, of course, despite the holiday season. Here are some stories that caught my eye this morning. Please add your own important and interesting links in the comments.

If you haven’t see in it already, please go read this excellent post at Corrente by Tony Wikrent: How the status quo can kill: the example of free trade

Boy, was this writer’s talent ever wasted on the progs at dailykos! There is really no way to provide an excerpt that will do this piece justice. You really do have to read the whole thing.

A woman leaped over a barricade at midnight mass at the Vatican and knocked Pope Benedict onto the marble floor. Here is some amateur video of the events.

More Vatican news:

NYT: Vatican Defends Status of WWII Pope

In an effort to calm growing tensions with Jewish groups, the Vatican said Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI’s decision moving the wartime pope Pius XII closer to sainthood was not a “hostile act” against those who believe Pius did not do enough to stop the Holocaust.


The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a statement saying that the beatification process evaluated the “Christian life” of Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, and not “the historical impact of all his operative decisions.”

Moving Pius toward sainthood “is in no way to be read as a hostile act towards the Jewish people, and it is to be hoped that it will not be considered as an obstacle on the path of dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church,” Father Lombardi wrote.

That sounds a little odd and hypocritcal to me, but then I don’t really believe in the concept of sainthood. The Catholic Church made Maria Goretti a saint because she supposedly forgave the man who raped and murdered her. That tells me that the Church’s decisions about sainthood actually do send messages.

Amy Sullivan, Time Magazine: No Churchgoing Christmas for the First Family

But there’s one common Christmas practice not on the First Family’s schedule: a visit to Christmas Eve church services.

Why am I not surprised?

Church, in fact, has been a surprisingly tough issue for the Obamas. They resigned their membership with Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in 2008 after Obama renounced the church’s controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. And while the First Family intended to find a local church to attend when they moved to Washington, concerns about crowds and displacing regular worshippers has prevented them from finding a new religious home during their first year here.

The Obamas have attended Sunday services in Washington three times this year — once at the predominantly African-American 19th Street Baptist Church, and twice at St. John’s Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square from the White House.

Three times in a whole year! Amazing, for such a deeply religious man {snort}

At Huffpo, the ever-hopeful Cenk Uygur argues that progs can move Obama to the left! {hysterical laughter}

There are many debates among progressives now on the true nature of Barack Obama. Did he mean anything he said on the campaign trail? Is he really a progressive? Did he ever mean to challenge the status quo or was he using the word “change” as a campaign gimmick? Is he just a corporatist like most other politicians?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! That’s funny. I know Cenk can’t possibly think there’s a chance in hell that Obama actually meant any of the promises he made while campaigning. Come on!

Does he mean well or does he have bad intentions? Come on, don’t be ridiculous. Of course, he means well. But in his own mind, George Bush thought he meant well too (for the most part). I’m positive that Obama thinks that he is doing the best he can to bring about as much change as he can within the limits of this system.

Ooops! I guess Cenk has a way to go before he finally gets all that Koolaid out of his system.

Is he a true progressive or a corporatist sell out? Well, that depends on what you mean. Has he wound up helping corporate America tremendously through health care “reform,” finance “reform,” etc.? Well, Wall Street certainly seems to think so (and so do most progressives). Did he do that because he thought, “I can’t wait to help corporate America and screw over the little guy”? No, I’m sure he thought he had to accommodate the powers that be in order to affect any change at all in this system. But the bottom line has been the same, either way – the system has been tweaked but corporate America chugs along with even more government largesse than before.

I’m sure Obama is a progressive that would help the average American if he thought he could. But apparently he thinks he can’t. He can only bring them a small amount of change because of what he thinks the system will allow.

Uh huh. Keep on telling yourself that, Cenk. Maybe it will somehow make you feel better about being hoodwinked into voting for Bush III.

Paul Krugman thinks that the Heath Care bill will save millions of future Tiny Tims–after 2014, that is.

Krugman scolds people like us who think the bill is nothing but a big mess of corporate giveaways and efforts to control women’s bodies:

Finally, there has been opposition from some progressives who are unhappy with the bill’s limitations. Some would settle for nothing less than a full, Medicare-type, single-payer system. Others had their hearts set on the creation of a public option to compete with private insurers. And there are complaints that the subsidies are inadequate, that many families will still have trouble paying for medical care.

Unlike the tea partiers and the humbuggers, disappointed progressives have valid complaints. But those complaints don’t add up to a reason to reject the bill. Yes, it’s a hackneyed phrase, but politics is the art of the possible.

Oddly, Krugman never mentions either the anti-abortion language in both the House and Senate versions of the bill; nor does he address the shoring up of the Bush conscience rules in the Senate version. How very very strange. I guess Krugman thinks it’s just fine if Congress passes a health care bill for men that allows the government and health care workers to control women’s choices.

The News side of Krugman’s paper isn’t as sanguine as he is.

Health Care Changes Wouldn’t Have Big Effect for Many

what about the roughly 160 million workers and their dependents who already have health insurance through an employer? For many people, the result of the long, angry health care debate in Washington may be little more than more of the same.

As President Obama once promised, “If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.”

That may be true even if you don’t like your health plan. And no one seems to agree on whether the legislation will do much to reduce workers’ continually rising out-of-pocket costs.

Chris Good at The Atlantic: Insurance Industry’s Reaction: Senate Bill Would Raise Costs

And some Christmas-oriented stories:

BBC News: In pictures: Christmas around the world

Longmont Times-Call: The true Father Christmas: Before there was a Santa Claus, there was the generous St. Nicholas

BBC News: Christmas in Iraq: Muslims buy Christmas decorations in a Baghdad market, where both faiths have worshipped side by side for centuries

China View: World pray for peace on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem

NYT Op-Ed: Everyone Is Invited

Kansas City Star: Excerpts from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’

Christmas Eve in West Fargo, North Dakota


42 Responses

  1. Good morning and Merry Christmas to all! BB, your Corrente link is not working.

    • Thanks, WMCB. I fixed it.

      • That was an incredible article. Thanks for finding it. There was also a comment on there by someone named letsgetitdone that was excellent, and echoes many of my own thoughts on Free Trade.

        Basically, his/her gist is that it is nuts to subject our economy and our workers to the forces of global economics in an unprotected manner, when there is no system of world govt to provide any rules. It’s suicidal.

  2. boomer–thanks for the roundup, even on a holiday! The big blue Earth at the top made me smile–perfect image for today.

    • Merry Christmas Wonk! I was glad to do it.

      I’m going over to my brother’s for awhile. I want to see what my nephews got for presents and have a little brunch. I’ll be back before too long.

    • Love the Christmas avatar, Wonk.
      Ho, Ho, Ho!

      Merry Christmas to all at TC who are celebrating today!

  3. There’s an interesting survey in the December AARP Bulletin on internet use. Here are the responses to a couple of the questions:

    Do you ever use the internet to research information?
    Ages 50-64: 68%
    Age 65 plus: 38%

    Do you ever use the internet to read books, newspapers, magazines?
    Ages 50-64: 37%
    Age 65 plus: 18%

    Do you ever use the internet to send and receive email or instant messages?
    Ages 50-64: 64%
    Age 65 plus: 41%

    Unfortunately, the survey doesn’t begin by asking people if they personally own a computer, which might explain some of the numbers (i.e., if you’re already at the local library, you can just pick up a newspaper or magazine and read it there rather than using one of the library computers).

    Still, I think the survey is significant, because it shows that if we want to reach other politically active voters (older voters still being the most politically active), blogs, and even email, are not necessarily the route to go.

    • If 68% of people 50-64 use the internet to get info, 37% use it to read books, newspapers, and magazines, and 64% use it to send instant messages and e-mail, that’s quite a lot of internet usage. And I don’t know how scientific the survey was anyway.

      • I would reiterate the point the many who do have computers are still on dial-up for the foreseeable future. There are many elements of information on the internet that are unreadable as a result.

        • Good point.

        • I guess. I just must not know any of those people. I’m 62, and have been using computers since I was 17. Most people in my generation are familiar with computers and other modern technology. My parents are in their 80s and they have broadband just like I do, and so do all of my sisters and brothers who are baby boomers.

          • BTW, my parents and most of my siblings live in small towns in the Midwest. I’d like to see the figures on how many people use dial-up. Was that on the AARP survey?

          • This was my pontification during the primaries an one of the reasons, I was for Clinton. I keep hearing rumors for the Obama camp, but I have my doubts.


          • The survey just gave percentage responses for a limited number of questions. As I mentioned, it wasn’t a very thorough survey since they didn’t even ask how many respondents owned a computer, much less whether their connection was dial-up or high speed.

            I agree, bb, that everyone I know in our age group is definitely computer fluent. That’s why I was a bit surprised that the numbers weren’t higher. However, I admit that I am in the suburbs of a large city. If rural or small town dwellers were a heavy percentage of those polled, I could see why the numbers were lower than I thought they would be.

  4. Good article on free trade. We need to get our manufacturing back!

    Here’s an uplifting story from the LA Times on Vietnamese refugees and their American sponsors, and a film being made while sponsors are still alive to tell the story:


    “Pham’s story is among those that will be featured in a documentary about the first wave of refugees who fled Vietnam in 1975 and were taken in by American families and churches. The film, “Sponsored ’75,” follows sponsor families who helped refugees gain a foothold in the United States.”

  5. Another interesting figure from the December AARP Bulletin: The median income for adults age 55-plus in 2008 was $23,157.

    And these are the people who are supposed to fork over 3 times the standard policy rate for health insurance?

  6. Who yanked Howard Dean’s chain? Now he’s saying that if the republicans are against it, that’s a good enough reason to vote for it. Wow, simply wow!

  7. Morning BB – Merry Christmas.

    The Catholic Church made Maria Goretti a saint because she supposedly forgave the man who raped and murdered her.

    Now you tell me. She’s the Saint of my confirmation name!

    • Don’t you know the story? The nuns told us about it over and over again.

      Wait a minute. I goofed. Maria Goretti died a virgin, fighting off her attacker. That’s why she’s a saint. If she had actually been raped, she probably wouldnt be.

      Maria’s martyrdom

      On 5 July 1902, finding eleven-year old Maria alone sewing, Alessandro Serenelli came in and threatened her with death if she did not do as he said; he was intending to rape her. She would not submit, however, protesting that what he wanted to do was a mortal sin and warning Alessandro that he would go to Hell.[7]She desperately fought to stop Alessandro, a 20 year old, from abusing her. She kept screaming, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!” Alessandro at first choked Maria, but when she insisted she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her eleven times. The injured Maria tried to reach for the door, but Alessandro stopped her by stabbing her three more times before running away.[8]

      Maria’s little sister Teresa awoke with the noise and started crying, and when Serenelli’s father and Maria’s mother came to check on the little girl, they found the bleeding Maria and took her to the nearest hospital in Nettuno. She underwent surgery without anesthesia, but her injuries were beyond the doctors’ help. Halfway throughout the surgery, Maria woke up. She insisted that it stay that way. The pharmacist of the hospital in which she died said to her, “Maria, think of me in Paradise.” She looked to the old man: “Well, who knows, which of us is going to be there first?” “You, Maria,” he replied. “Then I will gladly think of you,” said Maria.[9] The following day, twenty hours after the attack, having expressed forgiveness for her murderer and stating that she wanted to have him in Heaven with her, Maria died of her injuries, while looking at a very beautiful picture of the Blessed Mother.

  8. The Vatican has apparently also been maneuvering to lure disgruntled Anglicans into the Catholic fold.

    This follows the acceptance of the ordination of Women Bishops by the Church of England.

    The new body for Anglicans who want to convert is called the Apostolic Constitution or, in Latin, ‘Anglicanorum coetibus’.

    It allows Anglicans to become Catholics while retaining some of their traditions and practices.

    The Constitution comes as a response to demands from some conservative Anglicans, unhappy with progressive developments like women bishops, for an easier and larger-scale way to convert. The Holy See has previously approached the issue only on a case-by-case basis and only a handful of Anglican priests have become Catholics in recent years.

    If married, they have been allowed to stay that way.

    The new rules will allow bishops in too but only if they are single.

    The new section of the Catholic Church was announced on October 20, taking some top Anglicans aback. A former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, said the Anglican Church should not be treated as a ”junior partner”.

    He claimed the Vatican had only given Church of England chief Rowan Williams two weeks’ notice of its plan.


  9. Anyone who hasn’t seen it yet should pop over to Cannonfire and see Joseph Cannon’s gift to his blogging community: a delightful parody of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Joe did the illustrations himself and also the poetic text to accompany them. It’s political humor in the best tradition of Tom Lehrer.

  10. The Obama’s: living the lives of gluttons, missing church on Christmas, abandoning the good they could be doing from their position in society.

    Then, one of the controversial Rev Wright sermons was a Christmas service, and Obama said his family was not in church that day. So, like everything else in his life, he’s only as committed to his faith as is required by what he, personally, stands to gain from it.

    • Meh, I don’t go to church on Christmas either. It seems hypocritical to go once or twice a year. Besides if God is everywhere then going to church to worship him seems rather pointless. The only advantage I see to church is the sense of community that you often get from going. IMO it’s a social thing more than a spiritual one.

      I don’t see a church as commitment to faith at all.

      That being said Obama’s version of faith is far from my own. I would never be so presumptious as to expect people to die because of my belief sysyem(and by enacting the controls he and the blue dogs wish people will die)

      • I don’t either. But Obama is always acting holier than thou about his faith. I haven’t been to chuch exept for a wedding or funeral since I was a teenager.

      • Really, I was simply pointing out the Obama contradictions, not trying to claim anything about Christmas and Church in mandatory hand-holding.

        I don’t attend church. Won’t attend church. I am personally opposed to organized religion. Was pointing out Teh One, The Messiah, who speaks with his preacher’s cadence and professes the need for women to consult with their ministers for reproductive rights was not just out of touch with Americans, but a hypocrite of the highest level.

  11. Merry Christmas!!!

    Boston Boomer – this is a great set of links… Thank you so much.

  12. (CNN) — A passenger on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, caused a brief disturbance Friday at the end of the trip by igniting firecrackers, a Delta Air Lines spokeswoman said.

    The passenger was immediately subdued, according to Susan Elliott, spokeswoman for Delta, Northwest’s parent company. The incident resulted in some minor injuries, Elliott said.

    One passenger from the flight was taken to the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, hospital spokeswoman Tracy Justice said.

    The FBI is investigating, bureau spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said.

    The Northwest plane, an Airbus 330, landed around noon ET. It was carrying 278 passengers.


  13. Merry Christmas BB!

  14. merry Christmas every one..

  15. CEOs at Freddie/Fannie get more than coal in their Christmas stocking:


    • Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shake-up, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator.

      One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel—now chief of staff to President Barack Obama—who made at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort.

      As gatekeeper to Obama, Emanuel now plays a critical role in addressing the nation’s mortgage woes and fulfilling the administration’s pledge to impose responsibility on the financial world.

      Emanuel’s Freddie Mac involvement has been a prominent point on his political résumé, and his healthy payday from the firm has been no secret either. What is less known, however, is how little he apparently did for his money and how he benefited from the kind of cozy ties between Washington and Wall Street that have fueled the nation’s current economic mess.


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