What's Next For Democrats

[ Posted Monday, January 10th, 2022 – 16:27 UTC ]

A new year has dawned and Congress is finally getting back to work. In the Senate, this means (as it has for the entire past year) trying to figure out what Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin will accept. So far, the answers seem to be the usual "not much of anything," but perhaps they'll surprise us and actually get something done in the next few weeks.

Right now there are two big pressing issues in the Senate: Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan and passing some sort of voting rights bill or bills. The news on Build Back Better is pretty dispiriting, as the Washington Post is reporting that Manchin no longer supports the version of the plan he himself offered to the White House, just before the holidays. That's right -- he no longer supports his own proposal:

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Friday Talking Points -- Biden Delivers The Best Speech Of His Presidency

[ Posted Friday, January 7th, 2022 – 16:02 UTC ]

Without actually saying his name, President Joe Biden delivered a speech on the anniversary of the failed January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol which directly laid the blame for the atrocity that happened one year ago at Donald Trump's feet. Uncharacteristically (for him), Biden did not pull any punches, did not mince any words, and did not couch his terms in diplomatic language to soften any of the blows. Instead he told the bald truth -- that Trump was responsible for the Big Lie, that the Big Lie was what incited the mob, and that the Big Lie was downright un-American and reprehensible. Biden used one particularly notable phrase multiple times, when he called the violence of January 6th a "dagger at the throat of America" or a "dagger at the throat of our democracy" -- which will probably be the most-remembered line from the whole speech.

It was the strongest speech we have ever heard from Joe Biden, period. The speech took less than half an hour, and Biden was animated and forceful the entire time. Biden may not be the world's best political orator in general, but yesterday he certainly delivered. Maybe it was the heartfelt and honest moral outrage he was so obviously feeling, but whatever the reason, Biden's speech was certainly notable for rising to the occasion.

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A Grim Anniversary

[ Posted Thursday, January 6th, 2022 – 16:08 UTC ]

Instead of commenting on today's anniversary of the worst attack on the United States Capitol since 1814 (and the only one ever launched by American citizens) or how Congress is marking the occasion or President Joe Biden's rather forceful speech this morning, instead I am going to run the two columns from last year that expressed my own reactions to the outrage.

And I have only two words to add to all of it:


Never forget.


I'm Speechless

Originally published January 6, 2021


For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
--Hosea, 8:7


All I can say is: I don't want to hear any Republican who is not condemning and denouncing what is currently happening right now get sanctimonious about "law and order" EVER again.


A Day Of Infamy

Originally published January 8, 2021


[Program Note: -- Due to the seriousness of events this week, we are pre-empting our usual Friday Talking Points format to instead bring you a free-form rant. Because if ever there were a week where a rant was needed, it was indeed this one.]

The sixth of January, 2021, has already gone down in American history as a day of infamy. This is, of course, the same phrase Franklin Roosevelt used to describe the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and it certainly seems appropriate right now.

For the first time since August of 1814, the United States Capitol was attacked. Back then, it was British troops who were at war with America doing the attacking (and burning the building down on their way out). This week, it was a violent anarchist mob encouraged, aided, abetted, and incited by the sitting president of the United States. Five people have died as a direct result of this attack on democracy, one of them a police officer.

This is more than just another protest, folks. In all of the District of Columbia's history -- including during the Civil War -- the Capitol has never been besieged and invaded in such a fashion by Americans. There have been large groups of protesters on the Mall before -- up to a million of them at a time, for some causes -- but they've never violently occupied the legislative seat of out government before, no matter what they were protesting and no matter how angry they were. But this time -- even though the agitators were openly publishing their calls to arms and their intent to disrupt Congress in the Capitol -- neither the F.B.I. nor the Department of Homeland Security even bothered to do a threat assessment beforehand.

Up until this week, the Capitol Hill police were generally regarded as the nation's experts in crowd control and protest security. They should be; they probably provide security for 300 protests or more each and every year. Some would say they were even too heavy-handed in their policing methods, but none of that was on display this Wednesday. There simply was no overwhelming force deployed, the officers who were there were overwhelmed within about a half an hour, and there was no counteroffensive for three whole hours, during which time the cops pretty much just melted away. PBS reporter Lisa Desjardins (who pretty much deserves a Pulitzer for her reporting from inside the Capitol all day) witnessed a mob breaking into the front doors of the Capitol, and she gave an eyewitness account that there was not a single cop to be seen anywhere while this happened.

Where the cops were seen, sometimes they appeared to be genuinely helpful to the rioters. Barricades were opened up for them, and at least one cop posed for a selfie with a rioter. Another was seen gingerly leading a woman down some stairs and supportively holding her hand.

As many very quickly pointed out, the difference in response from federal officers and agents was markedly different than how Black Lives Matter protests were handled, all throughout last summer. One particularly poignant photo of an overwhelming line of riot-gear-clad officers guarding the Lincoln Memorial during a B.L.M. protest starkly showed how differently demonstrations are handled when the participants are Black and White. Donald Trump's photo opportunity with a borrowed Bible in front of a church that didn't invite him (and whose minister later denounced him) was brought up as well, since peaceful protesters were cleared with maximum federal force in order to allow Trump's propaganda photo to be taken.

To put it all another way, if these had been Black people attempting to storm the Capitol, there would be dozens of bodies on the ground and rivers of blood running down the steps before a single one of them got inside the building. Live ammunition would have been deployed at will. The clouds of tear gas would have been so thick it would have been impossible for the news organizations to even see the building. There would have been thousands of arrests, not fewer than 20. And they would simply not have been allowed to leave the building and just stroll back to their hotel -- they'd be on dozens of buses heading to jail, instead. This is White privilege, folks, right in front of everyone's eyes.

Within approximately 24 hours, the sergeants-at-arms of both the House and Senate had resigned, as well as the chief of the Capitol Hill police. That's a good start, but nowhere near sufficient.

Five people died in the United States Capitol, one of them a police officer who was savagely beaten with a fire extinguisher. He is now a martyr to democracy. Four people died in Benghazi, Libya, and Congress spent approximately the next two years launching investigation after investigation into the circumstances. Investigations into the police planning and response to Wednesday should begin immediately after Joe Biden is sworn into office and Chuck Schumer takes control of the Senate. Hard questions need to be asked, including why the Pentagon was refusing both the mayor and the governor of Maryland's request to send in some National Guard troops to retake the Capitol. Both requests were reportedly turned down. The D.C. National Guard is not under control of the mayor, it is under control of the president.

There is no better argument for why D.C. deserves statehood than that. In fact, it should be one of the first orders of business for the new Congress to tackle.

But let's not lose focus on why the phrase "a day of infamy" is so justified. Donald Trump committed an act of sedition against the United States government and our Constitution. The same Constitution he swore an oath to uphold and defend "against all enemies, foreign and domestic." He fomented an insurrection against Congress doing its constitutional duty by ending the process of a presidential election. His goal was to halt the process so Joe Biden wouldn't be officially declared the winner of an election he plainly and clearly won. Trump did all of this by flat-out lying to the public, ever since Election Day. And then he raised a mob and told them exactly what to do -- which they then did. They attacked the Capitol and Congress. Some might quibble over what exactly to call this (was it a coup attempt or treason?), but no matter what term you favor, everyone can agree that this was monstrously un-American.

Vice President Mike Pence is reportedly refusing to do his clear constitutional duty in supporting the movement to use the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from office for being unfit for service. This leaves impeachment as the only route to get rid of him before Joe Biden is sworn in on the 20th. "But doesn't impeachment take weeks and weeks, and is therefore pointless since he'll be gone anyway?" The answer to that is: "Who cares?"

It is the sworn duty of the House of Representatives to impeach Donald Trump as soon as is possible (Monday morning, one would hope). There is no reason to hold any committee hearings at all. A first-year law student could present the case, because it is so damning and so self-explanatory. I have no legal training, and yet I bet I could do a decent job of presenting the case:


Exhibit A -- the audio of Trump's call to the Georgia secretary of state, where Trump tells him "I need 11,780 votes."

Exhibit B -- Trump's tweets and utterances encouraging everyone to come to D.C. on the sixth, including his promise that "It's going to be wild."

Exhibit C -- The entire video history of the rally held on the Ellipse on the morning of the sixth. This would include video of Rudy Giuliani calling for "trial by combat," Donald Trump Junior's promise: "we will never, ever, ever stop fighting," Lara Trump's statement that: "The fight has only just begun. Our family didn't get in this fight for just four years. We're in this fight to the bitter end."

This would also include Trump's speech, where he said things like:

"They rigged an election, they rigged it like they've never rigged an election before.... We won it by a landslide. This was not a close election."

"We will never concede."

"We got to get rid of the weak congresspeople."

"Walk down Pennsylvania Avenue" and "take back our country."

"Walk down to the Capitol."

"Fight much harder."

"You'll never take back our country with weakness."

Exhibit D -- A sampling of news media video and social media video (posted by participants in the riot) which show the U.S. Capitol being besieged and overtaken by a violent riot.

Exhibit E -- the medical records of the police officer who died.

Exhibit F -- Trump's first video message (which was eventually taken down from Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram) to the rioters and anarchists, which includes the lines: "remember this day forever," and: "We love you. You're very special."

Exhibit G -- Pentagon memos and affidavits showing both the D.C. mayor and the governor of Maryland asked to send in the National Guard -- a decision only Donald Trump could approve -- and were repeatedly refused any help, while the Capitol had already been invaded and occupied.

I rest my case.


Donald Trump incited and abetted this riot, before, during, and after the fact. Ivanka Trump tweeted her approval of the "American patriots" -- while the rioters were inside the Capitol. This is both disgusting and very, very dangerous. Which is why Donald Trump needs to be impeached for a second time.

So what if he'd already be out of office by the time it finished? Impeachment has one other important function as well as removal from office, because Congress has the power to bar someone from ever holding federal office again. This would kill any hopes Trump has of running again in 2024 -- which would actually be a giant relief to most Republicans in Congress, truth be told. So it is not impossible that such an impeachment would succeed. The Senate is not scheduled to return to its session until the 19th of the month, one day before Biden will be sworn in. Which means that any Senate trial would take place under the control of Chuck Schumer, not Mitch McConnell.

The best insider account of how Donald Trump spent his day this Wednesday comes from the Washington Post. The whole article is just breathtaking. Here are a few key excerpts:

One administration official described Trump's behavior as that of "a total monster." Another said the situation was "insane" and "beyond the pale."

"He is alone. He is mad King George," said a Republican in frequent touch with the White House. "Trump believes that he has these people so intimidated they wouldn't dare mess with him. I think Trump doesn't understand how precarious his situation is right now."

. . .

As for Trump, one of the people said, "he was completely, totally out of it." This person added, "He made no attempt to reach out to them."

Instead of exercising his commander-in-chief duties to help protect the Capitol from an attempted insurrection, Trump watched the attack play out on television. Though not necessarily enjoying himself, he was "bemused" by the spectacle because he thought his supporters were literally fighting for him, according to a close adviser. But, this person said, he was turned off by what he considered the "low-class" spectacle of people in ragtag costumes rummaging through the Capitol.

. . .

"He kept saying: 'The vast majority of them are peaceful. What about the riots this summer? What about the other side? No one cared when they were rioting. My people are peaceful. My people aren't thugs,' " an administration official said. "He didn't want to condemn his people."

"He was a total monster today," this official added, describing the president's handling of Wednesday's coup attempt as less defensible than his equivocal response to the deadly white-supremacist rally in 2017 in Charlottesville.

. . .

White House aides tried to get Trump to call in to Fox News Channel, but he refused. He at first did not want to say anything but was persuaded to send tweets. Then they scripted a video message for him to record, which he agreed to distribute on Twitter. But the president ad-libbed by including references to false voter fraud claims that they had asked him not to include, the administration official said.

. . .

A former senior administration official briefed on the president's private conversations said: "The thing he was most upset about and couldn't get over all day was the Pence betrayal.... All day, it was a theme of, 'I made this guy, I saved him from a political death, and here he stabbed me in the back?' "

So the president of the United States was "bemused" by what he saw on television. But he was annoyed that they were "low-class," and not dressed properly. You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

Every living ex-president denounced Trump's actions. Three out of four of these (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama) are Democrats. But even Republican George W. Bush was pretty forceful in condemning what had just happened:

Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our Nation's government in disbelief and dismay. It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic -- not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement. The violent assault on the Capitol -- and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress -- was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes. Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation. In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law. To those who are disappointed in the results of the election: Our country is more important than the politics of the moment. Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety. May God continue to bless the United States of America.

He wasn't the only Republican denouncing Trump. In fact, several people who worked directly for Trump did so as well. Mitt Romney did so during the debates (which finally were allowed to take place, after the building had been cleared of insurrectionists), and he minced no words:

We gather today due to a selfish man's injured pride and the outrage of his supporters who he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the president of the United States.

. . .

No congressional audit is ever going to convince these voters, particularly when the president will continue to say the election was stolen. The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth!

He got a big round of applause for that line. Romney also put out a statement:

Today, the United States Capitol -- the world's greatest symbol of self-government -- was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard -- tweeting against his Vice President for fulfilling the duties of his oath to the Constitution.

Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the President's addiction to constantly stoking division.

Even Lindsey Graham denounced the efforts to overturn the election from the Senate floor (although many pointed out that Lindsey looked and sounded like he had had quite a few drinks before his speech), concluding with: "Count me out. Enough is enough."

Here is Jim Mattis, Trump's first secretary of Defense:

Today's tyranny, an effort to subjugate America's democracy by mob rule, was fomented and directed by Mr. Trump. His effort to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice.

William Barr, who was Trump's lickspittle attorney general before he left (right before Christmas), also had some strong language to denounce what happened. He called Trump's actions "a betrayal of his office and supporters," and stated further: "orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable."

Mick Mulvaney, who used to be Trump's chief of staff, resigned his special envoy post, saying: "We didn't sign up for what you saw last night. We signed up for making America great again. We signed up for lower taxes and less regulation. The president has a long list of successes that we can be proud of. But all of that went away yesterday."

John Kelly, also a former Trump chief of staff, was even more blunt, saying the violence "was a direct result of [Donald Trump] poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the fraud."

Retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey was even clearer: "This is an overt coup attempt against the Constitution and to take over the government of the United States. This wasn't a momentary, impulsive crowd. This was deliberately structured by Trump, almost all out in the open."

The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial calling on Trump to resign.

In other words, the dam has finally broken. Trump went too far, even for those who have been riding on his coattails for four years now. Even Republicans are now denouncing him.

Of course, those of us on the other side of the political aisle have been warning that something like this could happen for four long years now. What happened Wednesday was shocking, but it should have come as a surprise to precisely no one.

Donald Trump has been a blight on American democracy from his initial entry into the presidential race. He has destroyed so many norms of behavior it is impossible to count them all. He will exit office having told in the neighborhood of 30,000 lies to the American public while he was president. He got more and more dangerous as the election approached, right out in the open for all to see. Once the election did happen, he retreated into a fantasyland where he had clearly won (because everyone around him had assured him that it simply was not possible for him to lose). And he started amplifying his delusions and spiraling down further into madness.

Wednesday was just the final result, but it didn't happen in a vacuum. Ever since the election, Trump has been aided and abetted by every single Republican who had not congratulated Joe Biden on his victory (and there were precious few of those). They enabled Trump's delusion. They fed it. They defended in on television, in the hopes that Trump would see and maybe praise them on Twitter.

In the end, Trump proved himself to be exactly what we've been saying he is all along: a bully, a thug, and a man-baby who operates by tantrum alone. That is who has been leading our country for the past four years. So please, spare me the surprise, Republicans. If you had eyes to see, you could have figured it out long ago, so don't even try to say how shocked you are now when you've been enabling his worst impulses all along.

All along, Republicans have excused Trump's infantile and vicious behavior. They've pooh-poohed it as just "Trump being Trump," as if the words of the president just somehow did not matter to them. "Oh, he's only kidding," or "he's just being sarcastic," and a few dozen other similar bromides were the stock in trade of Trump's minions and apologists. They could always rationalize and justify what Trump had said, somehow. And, sadly, for the most part the news media just took everything at face value and refused to say things like: "The president lied to the public today about a very dangerous issue." It wasn't until the Capitol was under assault that these reporters finally snapped out of their own delusion and started reporting what was before their very eyes in plain language.

We now have a delusional president who cannot face reality and has retreated into a fantasyland inside his own head. And he still has the nuclear codes. Mike Pence is the ultimate coward in all of this, because a clearer case for invoking the 25th Amendment is indeed hard to imagine.

In the most literal way possible, Trump lied and people died. That alone is sufficient reason to expel him from office.

[BREAKING NEWS: Twitter has just "permanently suspended" Donald Trump's Twitter account. If they can do it, so can Congress....]

In fact, that seems like a great place to end this. A truly fitting end, in fact.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


Merrick Garland's Progress Report

[ Posted Wednesday, January 5th, 2022 – 16:56 UTC ]

Attorney General Merrick Garland gave a speech today to his fellow employees at the Department of Justice. The occasion was to mark tomorrow's anniversary of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol and on American democracy. In essence, it was a progress report from the attorney general, and a defense of his own department's actions since. The speech broke no real news, but then it wasn't really designed to. Whether it will change any minds is doubtful, although it might at least give Garland the benefit of the doubt for another few months.

Garland has been criticized by many, mostly those on the left. The Justice Department is moving too slowly, his critics charge, and has only managed to get a handful of very minor sentences so far from the courts. No higher-ups have been tried, and no instigators or masterminds have been charged with anything at all. This is all admittedly very disappointing, a full year after the incident.

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January 6th Investigations Need To Speed Up

[ Posted Tuesday, January 4th, 2022 – 16:59 UTC ]

Hopefully, as we approach the one-year anniversary of both the most serious attack on our democracy since the Civil War and the most serious attack on the U.S. Capitol since 1814, we may be about to enter a new phase of uncovering exactly what went wrong and holding those responsible to account. I say "may," because at this point nothing is guaranteed.

So far, the efforts to bring justice to the perpetrators of an attempted coup via a violent insurrection which attempted to nullify a presidential election have been rather disappointing. The wheels of justice have been grinding awfully slowly, to put this another way. The efforts to bring full understanding of what happened to the American people have also appeared to move rather glacially, although (to use a different ice-based metaphor) in both cases perhaps we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg while most of it remains invisible below the waterline. And perhaps this will all change rather soon.

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No Worries About The New Normal On The Banished Words List

[ Posted Monday, January 3rd, 2022 – 17:32 UTC ]

Yes, it is that time again, folks! The time when we check in with the learnèd word mavens of Lake Superior State University in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan to see what they've put on their annual Banished Words List. So if you're ready to Gitche Gumee on (so to speak), let's all take a look at the overused phrases to be "banished" from the vernacular, shall we?

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From The Archives -- Politically Correct Season's Greetings

[ Posted Thursday, December 30th, 2021 – 17:40 UTC ]

So as it turns out, I did not actually have the energy to write any new columns this week, so please accept my apologies for slacking off. And I'm not going to post anything tomorrow at all, so this is it for 2021, folks.

I found this while looking for earlier columns to re-run this week, from the long-ago days when actually had two "C.W.s" appearing here regularly. For those who remember such halcyon days, and for those who started reading later on, here is an example of the incomparable C.W. Cunningham's art.

Have a happy new year, everyone! And let's all make 2022 a great year all year long!


Originally published December 22, 2007


About the Cartoonist | Reprint Policy


-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


From The Archives -- The Kringlebase Incident

[ Posted Wednesday, December 29th, 2021 – 17:44 UTC ]

I really should write another one of these sorts of columns for the COVID era. Maybe tomorrow... no promises...

Hope everyone's enjoying their holidays!


Originally published December 23, 2013

Ho, Ho, Holy Cow -- Santa Gets Fighter Escort On U.S. Military Site (Reuters)

A U.S. military website showing Santa Claus delivering his presents while guarded by warplanes has some children's advocates worried.

In a twist to its tradition of tracking an animated version of Santa Claus' sleigh and reindeer as he flies around the globe on December 24, the military is adding the animated fighter plane escort to give a realistic feel to the popular feature, said a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

"We wanted to let folks know that, hey, this is a NORAD video, and we're the military and this is our mission," said the spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis.

[Note: The above article is real. What follows, however, is not.]

We hereby interrupt our live coverage of Pope Francis leading Midnight Mass this Christmas Eve, because we've got some breaking news from the Pentagon. We apologize for pre-empting our traditional Christmas Eve programming, and promise we will continue our coverage after the newsbreak, on a slight time delay so our viewers won't miss a single minute of the Pope.

We take you now to our Pentagon correspondent, who is awaiting the start of this extraordinary and unprecedented Christmas Eve press conference...

...Thanks, guys. We're here at the Pentagon because of some breaking news involving none other than Santa Claus. Yes, you heard me right -- Santa Claus is the subject of this press conference. What's that? OK, we're going to take you live to the podium for the briefing, where an Air Force public relations officer seems ready to speak...

...Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and my apologies from keeping you all from your families tonight. But we were beginning to see irresponsible press reports of an incident which just took place, and so we wanted to set the record straight before any of these rumors took hold.

At approximately midnight, local time, two United States fighter jets were accompanying the sleigh of Kris Kringle (a.k.a. Father Christmas, a.k.a. Santa Claus -- see your handouts for further identification) as a part of the NORAD "Santa Tracker" program.

These fighter jets invited Santa down to a secure military installation for some holiday milk and cookies. That was the only reason we would do such a thing, of course, and press reports to the contrary are just inaccurate. We did not force Santa's sleigh down, and that missile we shot across his bow was no more than our way of saying "why not come on down for a tasty cookie break?" in a friendly and amusing fashion.

Santa did comply... um, perhaps I should rephrase that... Santa accepted our invitation and proceeded to land his sleigh while, for purely humanitarian reasons, we kept the eight tiny reindeer in our sights with a dandy heat-lock signature. Those reindeer really work hard on Christmas Eve, am I right?

Now, I want to say in response to media reports that Santa was forced to land at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that the United States military can neither confirm nor deny the sensitive but fully-secure location where this took place. We prefer to only state that Santa was given a short break in a pleasant island setting, and leave it at that.

As to what happened next, I will turn over this briefing to my colleague from the Transportation Security Administration....

...Thank you, and again, I would like to also offer my apologies as to this late-night... or, rather, very-early-morning holiday briefing. We'll clear all of this up as soon as we can, and then we can all go home for a long winter's nap.

When Santa landed, we offered to perform a security sweep on both him and the contents of his sleigh. Reports that Santa was forcibly strip-searched could not be farther from the truth, as indeed not every piece of Santa's traditional red-and-white clothing was removed. After all, we all have to take our shoes and belts off at the airport, right? So why wouldn't we want to exercise the same caution over this flight, which will impact every bit of airspace in the United States? It's only logical, and we'd like to clear up misperceptions and state that at no time was a body-cavity search performed on Mr. Claus. We did, however, think it prudent to use back-scatter radiation devices on both Santa's sleigh and his oversized luggage, in order to assure the American public that there were no bombs or weapons on board. We did have to confiscate quite a number of very realistic looking toy guns, but the media reports of T.S.A. agents stealing all of Santa's presents are just wildly inaccurate. We only had to confiscate a small percentage of the whole, in actual fact, and only to assure Santa's continued flying safety.

And with that said, I would like to hand this briefing over to the Central Intelligence Agency. Jack?...

...Thanks. First, as to the question of why the C.I.A. was involved in meeting Santa, we would like to remind everyone that the North Pole is not actually within the United States, and therefore Santa has always been considered a foreign national, which falls within the purview of our agency. Also, I'd like to clear up the false report that Santa was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and state unequivocally that I.C.E. was not even involved in this incident. We did duly check the authenticity of Santa's visa, but his immigration status never came up in our conversation.

Also, we at the C.I.A. would like to take exception to the term "interrogation" being used in some media reports. This was a friendly chat over milk and cookies, in a secure (but undisclosed) location on a United States military base, that's all. Nothing sinister about that, right? Santa did seem to have a problem drinking his milk, and so we assisted him in doing so. But we strenuously deny that Santa was, so to speak, "milk-boarded." It was nowhere near that intrusive. We merely fed Santa the milk he was unable to drink on his own with a feeding tube. People in the custody... um, strike that... people under the care of the United States must be kept well-fed and healthy, and we were just following this precept, that's all.

Unfortunately, after this incident, one of Santa's hands became free from its restraint... um, I mean, Santa freely and voluntarily made a motion which set his finger aside his nose, and in a blinding twinkle then disappeared. His sleigh was gone from the landing strip, and he appeared to then move so fast on his errands that even our best fighter jets were unable to keep pace or further intercept him.

Now, as to the question of why we -- and I stress this phrase -- invited Santa down for milk and cookies and a little chat -- I'm going to turn the podium over to my counterpart in the National Security Agency....

...OK, folks, we're almost done here, so we'll be able to all get home soon. Although I feel I must pass on a personal message to the reporter from Associated Press, as we have become aware that his wife just called the fire department about a minor blaze involving Christmas decorations, so I would urge him to hurry home. You're welcome.

Sorry for that interruption. The National Security Agency was present at the discussion with Mr. Claus because we have so far utterly failed in our efforts to intercept and decode the "naughty and nice" database used at the North Pole. We felt this would be well within the national security interests of the United States government, not because we are actively targeting children, you understand, but because in future such a database would be an invaluable asset to search when cases of terrorism arise.

Mr. Claus refused to give up the security codes for what he termed his "Kringlebase," instead trying to get us to believe that his secrets were protected by, quote, magic, unquote, and could never be broken by mortal man. He merely laughed when we magnanimously offered to change our name to the "Noël Santa Agency," which we considered a bit disrespectful on his part. I'll have everyone understand that this conversation took place before the milk and cookie force-feeding incident, when we were still pleasantly chatting. Mr. Claus tried to convince us that his database of naughty and nice children was his own private property, and, furthermore, could never be used for further naughtiness in any way. We don't believe this is true, and we said so -- once in our hands, the Kringlebase would be protected by federal law, and we'd only peek into it when we really, really thought it'd be interesting to do so.

While we did not, in fact, secure the database, we think we have a better-than-average chance of doing so in the coming year. We are currently building a massive data processing center in Utah for this very purpose, in fact, and with enough supercomputers working on the problem, we fully expect we will break Santa's encryption techniques any day now. We would also like to thank Congress for the eleventy-zillion dollars they have given us to achieve this goal.

We would, as a final note, like to assure the American public that we are redoubling our efforts to crack the Kringlebase code not to spy on our fellow citizens at all. We are not interested in the vast majority of the data, since we won't have any need to ever query the "nice" section of the list. So it therefore follows that any child can know for the rest of his or her entire life, that we will not care about them as long as they stay on Santa's "nice" list. For the "naughty" ones, well, we are a nation of laws and you've just got to expect some consequences for bad behavior. We'll be on the lookout for just those consequences as soon as we secure and decrypt the Kringlebase.

There will be no question and answer session, as this will be our only briefing on the subject. Until next year, of course. Although early signs are that Santa will likely be unwilling to allow a fighter escort to accompany him next time around. As he seems to have technology which allows him to fly faster than our fastest aircraft, there may not be much NORAD can do about this.

Thank you all for coming....

...And you heard this important breaking news right here on this station. We conclude our newsbreak and take you back to Midnight Mass with the Pontiff, which we resume right at the point we broke away. Thanks for watching, and have a happy Christmas, everyone!

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


From The Archives -- How About A Saturnalia Display?

[ Posted Tuesday, December 28th, 2021 – 18:03 UTC ]

Everyone having a good between-the-holidays week? We certainly hope so!

Since this is the one week this entire year I'm essentially taking as a holiday week, today I have another column from years past for you to enjoy.

It has always seemed to me that if people can revive long-dead (or at least "mostly forgotten") religions in a modern age -- think of today's Wiccans or Druids, as just two examples -- then why couldn't there be modern-day worshippers of Saturn? In fact, it kind of surprises me that no enterprising group has come up with the idea as of yet (at least, that I am aware of). What would that entail? Well, let's take a look, shall we?


Originally published December 18, 2013

'Tis the season.

What season? Well, that depends upon your belief system, doesn't it?

For Christians, it is the season of Advent, the season of Noël; in short, the season of Christmas. For Jews, the season of Hanukkah. For Muslims, the season of Eid.

For others, joining in the mirth has now come to mean celebrating the season of Festivus, a made-up holiday from a made-up television show. And even the Flying Spaghetti Monster adherents are getting in on the fun this year.

Historically, America has treated Christmas as the sole holiday worthy of governmental approval. In the federal schedule of holidays, there is one and only one religious holiday, after all -- Christmas Day. The mail doesn't move, the courts are closed, and all non-emergency government services are shuttered. Sooner or later, someone's going to get around to suing to change this, but nobody's been that bold in the courts yet. If America is a secular nation, after all (it says so, right here on the label...) then why -- in any god's name -- should it recognize one religion over another in such a fashion? But since this hasn't happened yet, we only mention it in passing as a thought exercise for civil rights lawyers to contemplate. On their day off, perhaps.

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From The Archives -- The Biggest Conspiracy Of All

[ Posted Monday, December 27th, 2021 – 17:47 UTC ]

Never was this column more appropriate, here at the end of what might accurately be called (at least in the political world): "The Year of the Big Lie."

It was actually written twelve years ago, long before things went completely off the rails for at least a third of the American public.

And let me finish by saying I certainly hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and are still enjoying the good cheer of the season.


Originally published December 23, 2009

Speaking as someone who generally enjoys a good conspiracy theory just for the "creative writing" aspect alone, in all good conscience I simply must report this shocking news: I have uncovered a big, fat conspiracy that is no mere theory. We're either being lied to, or we're joining in the propagation of the lie ourselves, with merriment. In actual fact, it would not be hyperbole to call this the father of all conspiracies.

And almost every single one of us has participated in this gigantic hoax, in one form or another, at least once in our lives. For many, it happens like clockwork on a regular basis. And it seems to prove Hitler's point about the "Big Lie" -- if you repeat it often enough, sooner or later a certain segment of the populace will accept it as being true.

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