Friday Talking Points -- A Day Of Infamy

[ Posted Friday, January 8th, 2021 – 17:54 UTC ]

[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 beseiged 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.

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A Monumental Change In Washington

[ Posted Thursday, January 7th, 2021 – 18:08 UTC ]

You'll have to forgive me, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow to write about the yesterday's momentous events at the United States Capitol. Personally, I am still processing what happened, so I'm going to save that rant for Friday. Instead, I'd like to spotlight another momentous event yesterday; one that was seriously overshadowed by the riotous assembly at the Capitol, but will likely have much more long-lasting consequences for the next two years. I speak, of course, of the victories of both Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the two Senate runoff elections held Tuesday in Georgia. Because with these two wins, the Democrats will wrest control of the chamber away from Mitch "The Grim Reaper" McConnell. It'll be the smallest of majority margins -- 51-50 (with the addition of Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote). But the margin doesn't really matter, what does is being able to set the Senate's agenda -- and confirm Biden nominees, as well.

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I'm Speechless...

[ Posted Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 – 15:21 UTC ]


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.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


Freedom Is The Freedom To Say Two Plus Two Make Four

[ Posted Tuesday, January 5th, 2021 – 15:01 UTC ]

Our title today is (of course) the core belief of Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. The entire book hinges on this concept, in fact. The end of the book comes after the totalitarian, personality-cult government reprograms Smith into not just repeating as the party line but actually believing that two plus two really equals five, not four. His belief in this falsehood is total at the end -- the party tells him it must be so, and so he believes it to be true.

This wasn't my original thought for a column today, but after reading the references in another opinion piece today (to give credit where it is due) I had to make it the centerpiece. Because where are we right now? The president of the United States -- a cheap and cartoonish knockoff of Big Brother if ever there was one -- insists that "recalculation" of a state's election results must be performed in order to add the necessary 11,780 votes (which can be "found" somehow, somewhere) that he needs to win the state. Or, to put it another way, that two plus two make five.

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Tackling Election Reform

[ Posted Monday, January 4th, 2021 – 15:45 UTC ]

First of all, I hope everyone had a happy new year. In the political world, the new year isn't really going to start for another 16 days, of course.

President Donald Trump is, in a word, delusional. He keeps proving it, over and over again, beyond any shadow of a doubt. In the past, some have wondered whether Trump really believes some of the wilder things he says, or whether he's just a consummate showman, giving his intended audience exactly what they want (kind of like a right-wing radio personality who knows full well how much he's exaggerating and bloviating, but not caring because it brings in the ratings and the money). But the phone call just released of Trump begging and threatening Georgia's secretary of state should end such hair-splitting, because (if you either read the full transcript or listen to the whole call) it is patently obvious that this is no schtick for Trump -- it's truly what he believes. He has apparently surrounded himself with people even more fervent than he in their belief in all the falsehoods, and he has banished most of those around him who still have even a tenuous connection to reality. This merely feeds Trump's delusion all the more.

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My 2020 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 2]

[ Posted Wednesday, December 30th, 2020 – 18:26 UTC ]

Welcome back to the second part of our annual year-end awards column series! If you missed it, you can check out last week's installment too. But a warning -- for both this column and last week's -- they're long. Incredibly long. Monstrously long. It's been that kind of year, what can we say?

One other quick program note is necessary here -- as you can see from the thermometer at the top of the column, we have now officially reached our fundraising goal for the year, so we'd like to publicly thank everyone for their support. Private thanks will go out later, but we did want to point out we hit our goal before the end of the year (which doesn't always happen), so thanks again to everyone who donated.

OK, this is long enough as it is, so let's just dive right in to the awards, shall we?


   Destined For Political Stardom

There were a few good entries for the Destined For Political Stardom category. Joe Biden got a few nods, but we consider him to already be a star (he's going to be president, after all), so we're looking more for an up-and-comer.

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Section 230? More Like Section 8...

[ Posted Tuesday, December 29th, 2020 – 14:47 UTC ]

That joke may date me a bit, because if you've never served in the military, the only way you'd recognize "Section 8" is from watching M*A*S*H. Corporal Klinger was forever trying to get kicked out of the Army for being insane or unfit to wear the uniform, under the military's Section 8 regulation. Now, Donald Trump is trying to kill a provision of the law that regulates online social media companies that happens to be called Section 230. But in doing so, he's really only proving the depths of his own insanity, since killing off Section 230 would result in the exact opposite of what Trump thinks it will. If Section 230 disappears, Twitter and Facebook and all the others are going to bend over backward to remove any postings that might get them sued. Which covers a whole lot of what Trump regularly tweets.

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Last Chance For Year-End Awards Nominations

[ Posted Monday, December 28th, 2020 – 14:28 UTC ]

OK, to begin with, a word of warning: our schedule for this week is going to be light. Today (obviously) there will be no new column, and tomorrow will be a re-run column, just to warn everyone in advance. Then Wednesday will be the second installment of our year-end awards (see below). Thursday I will try to write a column, but if the "banished words" list comes out early (sometimes it is posted on the last day of the year, sometimes on the first of the new year), then that's what it will cover. Friday, naturally, there will be no column, as we all nurse our first 2021 hangover. Starting Monday, we'll be back to a full schedule once again, as we count down the last 20 days of our national nightmare.

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My 2020 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]

[ Posted Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020 – 18:01 UTC ]

What a year. Seriously, that was a tough one for us all, wasn't it?

Before we begin with the awards, I would just like to thank all the people -- both online and in person -- who helped out by giving me their suggestions and nominations for all of these awards. I have tried to credit individuals where appropriate, but I probably forgot to do so here and there too, so I apologize in advance.

Also, to make this even possible, I didn't even try to provide links to any of it (with very few exceptions). If anyone has any questions about any particular item, just ask and I'll provide a link to give you more details.

One last word of warning -- this column is long. Really long. Long even for me, which should tell you something. Really REALLY long. This is why I only do these columns once a year, because they are always marathons to research, write, and edit. And read -- because I know full well how long this is going to be. So, fair warning, everyone, and let's just get right to my "2020 McLaughlin Awards (Part 1)." Oh, and I almost forgot -- the second of these columns (Part 2) will run in one week's time, next Wednesday.


   Biggest Winner Of 2020

This one is pretty easy. Joseph Robinette Biden Junior was the Biggest Winner of 2020, hands down.

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From The Archives -- Why Christmas Is Not On The Solstice

[ Posted Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 – 17:43 UTC ]

First, I hope everyone had a happy winter solstice last night. Saturnalia, anyone?

Also, hope you had a chance to see Jupiter and Saturn merge, too. That was fun!

But once again, I'm going to have to run a repeat column here, what I believe was my very first Christmas column. And since we all celebrated the solstice last night, it seemed the perfect time to run it again. And, in case anyone's forgotten: please join us back here tomorrow, for the first of our two-part year-end awards columns.

One technical note on the text: I have corrected "Constantine's wife" to "Constantine's mother," because not checking my facts through sheer laziness has always been part of the fun of blogging. Mea culpa to Saint Helena, and all of that.


Originally Published December 24, 2007

When is Christmas? And why?

These are questions guaranteed to get you funny looks when you pop them, especially in a gathering of wassail-soaked relatives. But if you're tired of hearing the seemingly-eternal "this is what Uncle Fred did when he was twelve" stories, and you're leery of bringing up politics with your kin from Outer Podunk, then it's at least a conversation-starter that's somewhat neutral. Plus, you can reaffirm your nearest-and-dearests' image of you as a latte-sipping fruitcake who moved away from the glory of the heartland and now lives on (say it with an embarrassed whisper) the coast.

OK, I should stop editorializing here. After all, the subject at hand is Christmas.

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