Swickard Column - The real Christmas of meaning

Commentary by Michael Swickard -

“I grew up with the classics. My mom and I would sit and watch "Singin' in the Rain" and "White Christmas" - those kind of movies.” Lucas Grabeel

While I am much older than Lucas Grabeel, I too grew up with “Classics” such as, “White Christmas” and had those classic moments like singing loudly in public school, “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” We even meant it back then when we sang, “You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry, you’d better not pout I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town.”
My Christmas seasons have always been inclusionary. Anyone wanting to celebrate Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All was just fine with me. The whole American Christmas legal holiday good cheer on our lips does make some people angry and resentful. Me, I am calling it Christmas until Congress votes to change the name to something else. I do have to confess that the holiday season is a reason all its own and is a bonus to all I have experience over the years from one Christmas to another with my loved ones.
My sister asked last week which Christmas I remember best. They all blur together with many that have meaning for me. I remember best the “Oh Susanna Guitar” Christmas which would have been more appropriate now with our newly elected governor than it was back in the 1950s.
I had lobbied Santa and everyone else who would listen desperately for a drum set. My mother agreed that Santa might bring a drum set as long as it was delivered after her death and while she lay in the doorway which was mom-speak for “Over my dead body.”
When I tore the wrapping paper off I could not believe my eyes. The tag said that it was from my Uncle Gene. As I opened the box and pulled out the guitar my mother, father and I all said at the same time, “Oh my God!”
It wasn’t a real guitar; rather, it had a crank which when turned played “Oh Susanna.” I turned the crank and the song was a hit. Uncle Gene had a big smile, even when my mother, while bringing him a cup of coffee, accidentally poured it on him.
I played the song again while they cleaned up the coffee. It was an easy song to play so I decided to sing along and even added some yodeling and a few high pitch yips and yaps here and there. I was Johnny One Song all Christmas day. Upon reflection I do remember that my parents looked a little frayed by the end of the day.
Then it was time to brush my teeth, say my prayers and go to bed. I played the song one last time for my mother and added some great yodels. What a great Christmas! The next morning I jumped up, grabbed the guitar and turned the crank. No sound came out. Can you believe it? The guitar simply broke while I was fast asleep. I was crestfallen. It just sat there and looked like a guitar, but no song played. My uncle felt my pain and like me looked glum. I asked him hopefully, “Can you fix this?” He looked at my mother who was his older sister and reluctantly shook his head. We called him Uncle Genius, and if he couldn’t fix it, heck it was broken for good since he was an electrical engineer.
I admit I suspected that one of the grown-ups had some hand in the guitar not working, so I asked my mother if she had been playing “Old Susanna” after I was asleep. Her expression wavered between hysteria and alarm. She firmly stated that no one had been playing “Oh Susanna” while I slept. So the guitar broke on its own. My brother Bill said Santa had broken it because he didn’t like the song, but I did not believe him.
Like all of my Christmases then and now the guitar that broke Christmas night is just part of the holiday lore. Maybe Santa really did not like the song, but I doubt it.


"Israeli War Crime" Ads on Seattle Busses

From atlasshrugs.com – "Israeli War Crimes," the enormous advertisement reads. "Your tax dollars at work." To the right of the image is a group of children -- one little boy stares out at the viewer, the others gawk at a demolished building, all rebar and crumbled concrete. It's an ad you'll be seeing soon on a handful of Metro buses in downtown Seattle. A group calling itself the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign has paid King County $1,794 so that 12 buses will carry that message around town, starting two days after Christmas. That's December 27: the two-year anniversary of Israeli attacks on Gaza, aimed at stopping rocket attacks and weapons smuggling. More here


Obama and EPA to Set Greenhouse Gas Standards for Industries

From politico.com : The Obama administration is expected to roll out a major greenhouse gas policy for power plants and refineries as soon as Wednesday, signaling it won’t back off its push to fight climate change in the face of mounting opposition on Capitol Hill. The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to a schedule for setting greenhouse gas emission limits, known as “performance standards,” for the nation’s two biggest carbon-emitting industries, POLITICO has learned. More here

The Net Neutrality Campaign, Who is Behind it?

From wsj.com The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney's agenda? "At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies," he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. "But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control." A year earlier, Mr. McChesney wrote in the Marxist journal Monthly Review that "any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself." Mr. McChesney told me in an interview that some of his comments have been "taken out of context." He acknowledged that he is a socialist and said he was "hesitant to say I'm not a Marxist." For a man with such radical views, Mr. McChesney and his Free Press group have had astonishing influence. Mr. Genachowski's press secretary at the FCC, Jen Howard, used to handle media relations at Free Press. The FCC's chief diversity officer, Mark Lloyd, co-authored a Free Press report calling for regulation of political talk radio. More here

Students Given Detention for Gifting Candy Canes

From gatewaypundit.com : More liberal insanity… Several members of the high school Christmas sweater club were put on detention for handing out candy canes before school. WUSA9 reported: They call themselves the “Christmas Sweater Club” because they wear the craziest ones they can find. They also sing Christmas songs at school and try their best to spread Christmas cheer. Now all 10 of them are in trouble because of what they did at their school.“They said, ‘maliciously maim students with the intent to injure.’ And I don’t think any of us here intentionally meant to injure anyone, or did,” said Zakk Rhine, a junior at Battlefield High School. The boys say they were just tossing small two-inch candy canes to fellow students as they entered school. The ones in plastic wrap that are so small they often break apart.Skylar Torbett, also a junior, said administrators told him, “They said the candy canes are weapons because you can sharpen them with your mouth and stab people with them.” He said neither he nor any of their friend did that. Video and more here


Sum of U.S. Energy Policy = Gas Prices Going Up - Tax Revenues Going Down, Ditto for New Mexico

Bloomberg - Crude oil rose to the highest level in more than two years after government reports showed that U.S. supplies dropped and the country’s economy grew more than previously estimated in the third quarter. Stockpiles fell 5.33 million barrels to 340.7 million last week, the Energy Department said. A 3.4 million-barrel decline was forecast, according to the median of 14 responses in a Bloomberg News survey. The Commerce Department said gross domestic product expanded 2.6 percent in the third quarter, up from a previous estimate of 2.5 percent. “Today’s crude numbers were very bullish,” said Andre Julian, chief financial officer and senior market strategist at OpVest Wealth Management in Irvine, California. “The GDP numbers point to extended growth in the U.S. Previously, we were seeing economic and demand growth in China and emerging markets, now it’s spreading here.” Read full story here:

Plan to Open Gaping Hole on Border is Plugged, for Now

News New Mexico Note - The potential for a gaping hole to be blown in the State of New Mexico's efforts to meet its border security challenges was stalled by the time pressures of the lame duck session of Congress this week. It is somewhat ironic that the terrible damage that could have been done to the state would have come at the hands of its own U.S. Senators, Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. NMPolitics.net- With Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid abandoning hopes of passing an omnibus public lands bill during the lame duck session, it appears that securing the permanent wilderness designation for hundreds of thousands of acres in Doña Ana County is going to have to wait.
Some think wilderness supporters have missed what may be their best chance for a long time of winning the federal government’s highest level of protection for the land. Reid confirmed Tuesday that plans for an omnibus public lands bill in the lame duck session of Congress are dead. U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., had hoped to pass such a bill and was being pushed to include his Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act in it. Not any more.
Jeff Bingaman (left) with Senators Kerry and Reid
“In the short time remaining, the Senate is planning to vote on START, a bill to aid 9/11 first responders, a continuing resolution to fund the government for a few months, and some judicial nominees,” Bingaman spokeswoman Jude McCartin said Tuesday. “So at this point, it seems unlikely that the wilderness bill will come up for a vote before Congress adjourns.” Asked whether Bingaman plans to try again next year, McCartin said he will “give it some thought in the coming weeks and decide in the new year.” Read full story here:


CIA: Wikileaks Task Force Aptly Dubbed "WTF"

The Guardian - The CIA has launched a taskforce to assess the impact of 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables. Its name? WikiLeaks Task Force, or WTF for short. The group will scour the released documents to survey damage caused by the disclosures. One of the most embarrassing revelations was that the US state department had drawn up a list of information it would like on key UN figures – it later emerged the CIA had asked for the information. "Officially, the panel is called the WikiLeaks Task Force. But at CIA headquarters, it's mainly known by its all-too-apt acronym: WTF," the Washington Post reported. WTF is more commonly associated with the Facebook and Twitter profiles of teenagers than secret agency committees. Given that its expanded version is usually an expression of extreme disbelief, perhaps the term is apt for the CIA's investigation. Read full story here:

"Hannibal" Specter Talks Cannibalism

Arlen Specter
The Nation - But who would have thought that the Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat would exit the Senate calling his colleagues a bunch of “cannibals” Referring not just to the intense partisanship that has come to characterize the chamber in recent years but also to the internal ideological wrangling that forced him from the Republican Party in 2009—only to be defeated in a Democratic primary in 2010—the senior senator used his valedictory address Tuesday to declare: "Eating or defeating your own is a form of sophisticated cannibalism." Read full story here:

Goldberg: 2012 GOP Presidential Race is On!

Townhall -  by Jonah Goldberg - Who among us can contain their excitement? The GOP presidential primary season has begun! By my count, there are 24 people who are beneficiaries of nontrivial presidential buzz: Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, John Thune, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, David Petraeus, Ron Paul, Jeb Bush, John Bolton, Bob McDonnell, Jim DeMint, Chris Christie, Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Judd Gregg, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry. Read full column here:

Williams: Black Education Remains a Scandal

Walter Williams
Townhall - ..........The clear message given by D.C. voters and teachers' union is that any politician who's willing to play hardball in an effort to improve black education will be run out of town. The education establishment's solution is always more money; however, according to a Washington Post article (4/6/2008), "The Real Cost Of Public Schools," written by Andrew J. Coulson, if we include its total operating budget, teacher retirement, capital budget and federal funding, the D.C. public schools spend $24,600 per student. Read full column here:

Spence: UN-Investible Growth?

In most cases, growth is good.  Growth is progress. Growth is possibility. And growth is the natural result of moving positively toward the future. Astute investors constantly scour the universe for profitable growth. It is done by examining growth rates, normalizing growth rates, and estimating growth rates.  Revenue growth must be traced as it moves through a company’s financial statements. The growth rates of revenue drivers are critical to understanding sustainability. The astute analyst will even evaluate the growth in the number of employees to gain an understanding of cost growth. Over the years, the holdings of a well managed stock portfolios will span the growth spectrum. Read full column here:


Harbison: Dictator versus Leader

Jim Harbison
What are the differences between a dictator and a leader, which do we currently have in office and which do we want to rule and govern us? My friend Jeff Carlton’s article in the Kingman Arizona Masonic Lodge bulletin gave me the motivation for this column. The ruling style differences he identifies below are applicable to all levels of government, private businesses, and political, social, and fraternal organizations. He writes the following:
King George III
"The Dictator drives his men; the leader coaches them. The dictator depends on authority; the leader on good will. The dictator inspires fear; the leader enthusiasm. The dictator say “I,” the leader says “we.” The dictator fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown. The dictator knows how it is done; the leader shows how to do it. The dictator says “Go”; the leader says “Let’s go.”
Those of us who experienced military service realize that the greatest and most effective way to lead is by example. We all understand that leaders whose conduct is in conflict with their rhetoric are less effective than those whose actions mirror their beliefs. Often failure to follow this concept drives individuals away from an organization or its noble causes and renders both ineffective. I think we can make the same comparison of our political parties. Read full column here: