Merry Christmas!

Happy holidays to one and all. However you celebrate the season, all the best from your friends and family here at Emptywheel. With all that has transpired in 2020, we are a little out of kilter. The long time friends here probably noticed that there was no yearly Christmas Eve memorial for our late and dear friend Mary, and all the others that have graced these pages but are now fond memories.

There was just too much this year to cover. And, personally, one of my oldest and dearest friends passed earlier this year, cancer no Covid, and her birthday would have been yesterday. It was hard to focus on much. But everyone here has suffered loss and tragedy, so cheers to all.

What are you eating? What are you drinking? Heck, what are you doing? It is such a weird year and time. By this time next year, I guarantee the more normal Emptywheel holiday festivities will be back and better than ever.

For this year though, from all of us, to all of you, thank you for being here. Thank you for contributing. Thank you for caring and thinking. It is a wonderful community, and that is because of each and every one of you.

No spiffy music video today, instead a little holiday joy in an awesome rescue of a deer in distress. Seemed appropriate. Cheers!

114 replies
  1. rattlemullet says:

    Happy Holidays to everyone here that writes and comments on Emptywheel. May you all find peace this day and everyday. Emptywheel is a constant beacon of light to all the darkness that dominates our political atmosphere. I cannot thank you all enough for the effort, the knowledge and wisdom you all impart to me. Thank you.

  2. Legonaut says:

    Thanks, bmaz, Dr. Marcy, Rayne, and all the other fine contributors & commenters in this community for an oasis of sanity, humor, and compassion this (and every) year. Happy Holidays to you all!

  3. John Forde says:

    After having spent time with McCaffery the millennial lab and Kiki (and never having met June Bug) COVID isolation inspired Spousey and me to get a dog. In August we got Lyla, a rescue. She is an 11 month old 25 lb miniature German Shepard & Pinscher. We now circulate daily among 6 newly met households and friend with their dogs. Most are half our age. Lyla brings us much joy. As does Emptywheel. Every day.

    • bmaz says:

      Now you need to meet our little 90 pound bundle of Doodle joy, Puppy Miscue. She is waiting for you at the front window where Kiki used to hold court.

      And give Lyla a treat from her friends in AZ.

  4. Vinnie Gambone says:

    The secret to whether your lost friends smile or don’t is whether you do. With Mr. Maz posting deer videos like that it makes it really easy. Thank You to this entire community-Truest of Patriots.

  5. RMD says:

    Many thanks to Dr. Wheeler, bmaz, and all the other contributors.
    Rarely a day passes without me checking the site for incomparable analysis and intelligent discussion.
    Wishing all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season ….
    and sincere best wishes for a better New Year in 2021!

  6. Dave Noble says:

    a merry Christmas to the commenters and other contributors to this great site. I’ve been following it for several years now, with only the occasional interjection, as I pray for sanity to return to the political world of my American friends.

    From the Great White North (presently brown, grey and raining) Happy Holidays to you all.

  7. Peterr says:

    Peace to you all, in this less-than-peaceful time.

    It’s a bit early to be raising a glass of Bushmills to Dr. Marcy and the rest of the EW crew, but that will happen this afternoon.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I hope it’s a Speyside. Save some for New Year’s Eve, and Burns Night, and… oh, enjoy your day and your libation, everyone. We deserve it, as does most of America. My thanks to you all for being such good companions along the way.

  8. Tracy Lynn says:

    To the Emptywheel community – contributors, commenters, moderators, all, my sincere wishes for a safe holiday season and a very happy new year. I truly appreciate the truth-telling in this blog and hope to contribute to the coffers once business picks up. Hopefully 2021 will offer a more sane, calm life. All my best!

  9. Norskeflamthrower says:

    Thank you to all those in this wonderful community beginning of course with Marcy, bmaz the troll hunter, Rayne and all the regulars here who provide this old grampa the hope that his children and their 6 children have a future worth their struggle. We got to celebrate christmas eve with our daughter, her husband and our first male grand child (born November 21) after spending 14 days in quarantine and a negative covid test. (The little thumper doesn’t know yet how rich his life is gunna be surrounded by 5 feminist cousins who take no prisoners.) We get to have christmas dinner with our other daughter, her husband and their two daughters (4 years old going on 14 and 7 years goin on 20) and we don’t hafta cook, just eat crab legs and beef tenderloin. Our first and then last stops will be at our son’s to drop off and pick up gifts for and from him, his wife and their 3 not so little feminists (ages 19,16 and 13 respectively). I told my grand kids that I was spelling christmas with a lower case “c” because it’s universal not individual and a lot less difficult to write and say than “peace on earth, good will to all” (and of course I refuse to relinquish “merry christmas” to the religious lunatics and murderers) So again, merry christmas to you all. Namaste

    • Norskeflamthrower says:

      Oh and our son and his entire family are in various stages of recovery from covid since he and his wife are teachers. Please, all of you, stay safe and healthy.

  10. Pardon my French says:

    My warmest greetings and thanks to all of you from a French reader who, by reading EW and your comments, can learn and understand much more to what’s happening to the USA. Four years of “annus horribilis” are coming to an end, and there is hope ahead. All my American friends living in France are relieved.
    Take good care of yourselves, all of you!

  11. Ruthie says:

    Good cheer to the entire EW community, and heartfelt thanks to the contributors of the site for all you do. Having an oasis of sanity such as this has really helped me stay grounded.

    As for food and drink, last night we had bacalao a la vizcaina (cod in Basque sauce), an appropriately time consuming and special meal to prepare. To accompany it, naturally, a good Rioja from the nearby region. Tonight is a simpler but no less appreciated affair in my family: a large salad with smoked salmon accompanied by bread and several cheeses. Oh, and more wine. And some champagne with dessert.

  12. P J Evans says:

    Merry Christmas to all!

    (Burrito for breakfast, tamale for supper – and why can’t I find turkey tamales for the holidays?)

    • Chris.EL says:

      feeling your frustration … no turkey-tamales — you know what that means — just going to have to make them yourself; sigh, I know the feeling.

      Sending Christmas blessings to EW humans, canines, felines — birds too!

      Thank you all for sharing your wisdom and this forum.
      Finding obscure “Christmas movies” is fun.

      Recently, looking on Wikipedia at Canadian composer Mychael Danna filmography (just watched Moneyball again) and realized I had The Time Traveler’s Wife too!(an unexpected Christmas film!) (executive produced by Brad Pitt)

      (I’d also like to see The Man Who Invented Christmas…)

      • P J Evans says:

        I would think turkey would be the original version of the ones with chicken – and much more American.
        (One year at work, the fundraiser for the Leukemia-Lymphoma people was tamales in various flavors. Most people bought *dozens*, at about $12 per. They made a *lot* of money that year.)

  13. 200Toros says:

    Thank you to ALL the contributors at this site for keeping us informed with their stunning insight, cutting to the heart of what matters! So grateful for your efforts.

    This is a sad time for me. Most of my family is in Houston, hotbed of covid, Texas is #2 in both total case count and total deaths, and Houston is the epicenter. My sisters demanded that I bring my family there for Christmas, they are Trump cultists and deniers, and flat out said I SHOULD be willing to die to spend time with them, although it’s all a hoax anyway. I refused to take my family into that hot mess. My office has had two positives this week and we are all at home in quarantine anyway. Today I sent all the family a video of my kids playing Jingle Bells on ukulele, and told them I had donated $1,500 dollars to the Houston Food Bank in their names, and that this would go a long way to help those in need. The response, from all 8 family members, sisters, nieces, nephews? NADA. Nothing. Not one word. Ni siqiera una palabra.

    It’s a little hard. This is where Trump has brought us.

      • pdaly says:

        200Toros, best wishes for your home quarantine and for receiving the COVID19 vaccines soon so that visiting nonbelievers is no longer a life-threatening prospect. Whether your family appreciates it, you know you have helped make this pandemic less severe for some than it otherwise would have been.

    • Peterr says:

      I have some relatives in Texas, who span the spectrum from “It’s a hoax” to medical researchers. When the matriarch of the family got COVID right before a mandatory Thanksgiving feast, it caused much consternation. They all got through it, but not without much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

      Blessings to you as you deal with your kin. Having worked with various non-profits involved with food banks and food kitchens, your gift is truly a God-send.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I’m so sorry. I get it.
      Meanwhile, governmental failure to provide assistance makes your food bank donation especially needed. That was a wonderfully generous gesture.

      Personally, I want US government to function well enough so that food banks can become a relic of the past.

    • e.a.f. says:

      loved the ukele playing children video. What a great idea! It was lovely of you to make the contribution to the food bank, its a very Christmas thing to do. Although your family might have not been “impressed” there are a ton of people in Texas who benefited from your generosity. Thank you for being a kind, sensible person who protected their family. You did the right thing.
      When people do things to cause themselves to catch COVID they not only endanger themselves they endanger others who they may pass it on to and all the medical staff who they come into contact with. staying home is what most of us did back in the 1950s and 60s. We sent pictures.
      Thank you for sharing your story.
      Boxing Day is now being celebrated and that requires eating patetoni with ice cream and coffee. An Italian friend left it on the door handle and boy is it good.

  14. harpie says:

    Thank you, Each and EVERY one, for this wonderful community…
    (and what’s left of my sanity).
    Thank you for enlightening me, and sharing with me, and commiserating with me.
    May the coming year bring us ALL more LIGHT and a lighter load to carry.

  15. John B. says:

    Merry Christmas to all as the light returns. Thankful for all that contribute here and the reason it brings.

  16. Bet Mulligan says:

    Merry Christmas to everyone. Bagel in the morning, sobriety meeting at noon and prolly a veggie burger tonight. Just looking for a football game. Thank you for all the work you put in for us.

    • Peterr says:

      Beautiful two part arrangement of a wonderful four part piece, and exquisite visual work as well. I love the use of the “I Can’t Breathe” mural as part of the video.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      That was beautiful, and very moving, especially in that environment where so much strife occurred this year. My favorite part of The Revels in Oakland at the Scottish Rite Temple, and so sorely missed this year, is when the entire audience joins the performers to sing this song as a round.

    • Ruthie says:

      Was it a tortiere? My grandfather was a québécois, and pork pie, as we called it, was part of my family’s Christmas tradition. I still love it.

      • quebecois says:

        Yes, it was a tourtière. My mom’s recipe, pork with beef, few spices and seasoning. Like her, the crust comes from a box.

        • OmAli says:

          When we lived in Ontario I made tourtière for Boxing Day every year. We love it with Swedish lingonberry jam on the side. I have let that custom slip, back here on the GA coast, but you guys have rekindled my desire to resume the tradition!

          God Jul!

      • quebecois says:


        Had it once in 78, stomach meets brick. Not for moi.

        Teens live on that crap, young adults, adults. I simply don’t get the appeal.

        Mais une tourtière Noël, c’est exquis!

        Joyeux Noël!

            • quebecois says:

              Most aficionado I know say that eating a poutine outside of the province is mostly a failure of tastes and textures.

              Our curd is so fresh that you can hear the cow when you listen closely.

              Wait until it’s safe to travel and come here to test it out. Worth every penny.

              Please, don’t forget to tip the guide.

              • scribe says:

                It’s those roadside poutine stands, family-run, that really make the best poutine, which is often also the poutine worst for you. Get an hour or so past Montreal, where the Trans-Canada is one lane each direction, and there you find the gravy-pumping heart of Poutine Nation.

              • punaise says:

                They tried exporting it to Berkeley, but I was never tempted.

                For five years, the business was a hotspot for hungry college students that craved a hearty, late-night snack well past midnight. Store hours for Smoke’s Poutinerie show that the business stayed open through 4 a.m.

                Had it once in Montreal, during the day time and not inebriated, which is apparently the preferred state to enjoy it.

  17. Ginevra diBenci says:

    Watching a couple of the neighborhood gray squirrels jumping from the roof to a bare tree branch. It’s been raining here long enough to wash away the entire foot of snow we got last week, so I wondered why they were doing it–shaking the rain off, scrabbling up and down the tree like kids on a . . . Then I got it: they were playing. On this dark and sorry Christmas the squirrels had the best idea. They reminded me of what I know but forget, which is to pay attention to the world even (maybe especially) when you want to look away. EW always helps me do that. You have no idea how much you all have meant in my life. God bless us, everyone.

  18. Savage Librarian says:

    Forever and ever, and then some. That’s how long I will be grateful to Dr. emptywheel and the entire community. Thanks so much to everyone who has had the courage in countless helpful ways to step up to heal our many ills. Even to those who are wearing their capes of invisibility and imagine they cannot be seen.

  19. fluffytung says:

    Merry Christmas to all here. You have provided the light in the tunnel for so many. May we all get through these dark times together and look forward to a saner and brighter time ahead. Thank you.

  20. scribe says:

    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a better 2021.

    Me, I’m staying in out of the weather, not opening presents. Watching Christmas movies on the tube. Thanks to unprecedented volume and personnel shortages, not to mention corona-inspired work restrictions, the USPS has not delivered anything except the perishables.

    Which will be excellent fare – lots of smoked pork products.

    Stuff I sent out has been enroute for a week already, and the distances are such that I could have driven all of them to their destinations and back home with time left over. I understand the Postal Service has actually had to rent warehouses all over the country to buffer the volume. Seriously. But when the Postal Service says “2 day priority” and it takes a week or more to go 400 miles, I have to talk about it.

    Straightening out that “pre-fund health care and retirement for 75 years in advance” provision of law (enacted 2005) should be a no-brainer. But, the folks who lobbied for that are looking at downtown urban real estate occupied by Post Offices to buy, redevelop and flip. That’s a bipartisan project, BTW. So don’t hold your breath.

    This has been a somber autumn and winter for me. 4 friends or relatives passed, only one from corona. No funerals to attend, no comfort for the bereaved.

    Dinner just went into the oven.

    At some point there will be football today, and that is a positive. As you know from years of experience, King Roger the Clown earned that title for his repeated attempts at ruining a good game. The other day I saw a t-shirt advertised which had a parody of The Shield and the letters NF and L morphed into “No Fans Left”. He’s been working at it and might yet get there. But today there is pro football and that’s a grace we should all enjoy.

    Maybe I’ll talk some trash later but, until then, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

  21. Epicurus says:

    Brandeis, I think, said sunshine is the best disinfectant. There aren’t enough thanks from me for the people on this site for providing continual sunshine, even in what seems the darkest of social times. Thanks!

  22. scribe says:

    I like Kamara’s cleats.

    I’ll lay the over-under on King Roger’s fine about the cleats (non-uniform uniform) at $30k and take the under.

        • scribe says:

          No way the Saints were going to lose that game by the time Payton took out Brees and Kamara. No sense risking an injury. And I think Brees would be the first to say there was no disrespect intended or perceived.

              • bmaz says:

                If you give this particular pastor two weeks, well, I just don’t know. He is FAR more concerned about the Chefs though.

              • Peterr says:

                In the game with the Iggles, they were never ahead. But in the Chefs game, they took the lead in the 3rd quarter. At that point, said the Aints, “We got this.” Said the Chefs, “Hold my beer.”

                • Eureka says:

                  Fair enough. I was more focused on the sting factor:

                  In the game with the Iggles, they were never ahead.

                  To which I will add: shut out for 2.5 quarters, only scoring after 3/4 of our secondary and several of the front seven left the field. Against a rookie start, a kicker with the yips… And vs. 2020 Iggles (New Team as they may be), not Chefs.

                  *Cheers* to Reid & tree

  23. BROUX says:

    Dear Dr Marci, and bmaz,

    Sincere best wishes to all of you. I could try to say something witty, but heck, I’ll keep it simple.

  24. Robin Harper says:

    Happy Holidays to all of the incredible people here at emptywheel. May we all find a modicum of peace during the season.

    I want to say thanks to all the people here at emptywheel. I’m just an average person, not so bright sometimes…this site helps me to understand what’s going on, especially the ‘behind the scenes’ action. I don’t comment often, as I said, I’m not really smart enough to enter into the conversations. But thank you all so very much for all that you do, and for the information you provide. I feel I’m much better at seeing what’s happening around me now that I know some of the details. I also turn to emptywheel when the media can’t decide which version of a story to go with…I can always trust the folks here to have a handle on the issues. Thank you!

    • Peterr says:

      Robin, part of what makes this site special, IMHO, is that “average folks” sometimes have gifts and skills that provide insights not possessed by Marcy and the other main posters, and Marcy & crew are not at all averse to learning from the “average folks” when their expertise comes to the fore.

      Do not be shy at offering your observations. Even when that observation is “Wait – I don’t follow you.”

    • punaise says:

      I hear ya. Many posts here, and the informed comments, go into deep weeds that are way beyond my intellectual pay grade. But I am grateful for the intense research and analysis that informs this.

  25. posaune says:

    Happy Christmas to all here at Emptywheel.
    First place I look in the morning and last place at night.
    You are all treasures to me and I wish each and every person and theirs
    a healthy, fortuitous end of ’20 and start of ’21.

  26. MattyG says:

    Merry Christmas to all – and special thanks to the EW gang over these last DT years. Settling in to a nice bottle of red and wishing the new year godspeed.

  27. pdaly says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Everyone!

    Always thankful for this site, whether visiting first thing in the morning or at the end of a busy day. Best wishes for the new year.

  28. Earthworm says:

    Wanting to offer my appreciation of Dr Emptywheel’s coolly dismissive dissecting of crooks and buffoons; and Bmaz’s choleric version of same; and Rayne’s alternating patience/pithy exasperation; and the less frequent contributions of the informative Supporting Cast.
    Added to all above — the efforts of the commentariat (AKA local color) here, to penetrate the murk and arrive at an understanding of this most interesting time. Thanks, and happy new year to all!

  29. Eureka says:

    Merry Christmas, House of Emptywheel fam!

    I like your post, bmaz, recognizing what is. We are all tired of loss — besides for many of us, this is a season of loss annually — and ready for some vigor in 2021. I appreciate each of you so much.

    It was a muddy, floody Christmas. We had Festivus leftovers — it’s an all-inclusive, non-denominational tradition at spouse’s work and almost no one got time to eat (“Worst Festivus Ever”, offered the relieved-to-be-home, exhausted body coming in the door. “Will you help me bring the stuff in?”). So we had, and will have, chili sauce (MIL’s secret recipe) on hot dogs; pulled pork; snickerdoodles *which the genius baker glued together with cream cheese frosting* … a combo of self-made and selected swaps as they exited. Adults cannot subsist on this diet for long, I have confirmed. I’d like a nice refreshing massaged kale salad. Plus some longer telomere tips.

    I still haven’t finished my Christmas cards. Reasons; ran out of stamps; saw photos of the hoarder-house looking postal sorting center, the desperately overworked relative-skeleton crew they’ve got to handle all this. Perhaps by the New Year…

    • P J Evans says:

      I talked to my brother Wednesday evening, reporting that his package had arrived, and he was saying that the first one delivered was the one that went to Atlanta, but the one going to one of the LA beach cities was still transiting through the distribution center (which is huge). He was hoping it would get delivered yesterday.

      • Eureka says:

        We are even having delays with First Class letter-mail here (though I did receive one Christmas card on the “old schedule”, two days from whence it came). Their package tracking system has always been unreliable — hope your brother’s stuff gets there safely (already).

  30. Molly Pitcher says:

    Been a busy day zooming with daughter and her family who are in Nashville. It took hours to get thru, because of the bomb detonated near the AT & T tower near the old part of town. Messed up AT & T service around the country for several hours. FBI is on it. Google it.

    Thank you to all who come and go here. You have been ballast in rocky seas. You have helped me to think and to see. You have taught me a lot.

    I hope 2021 is an improvement for us all. I would settle for just moving in the right direction at this point. DrMW, bmaz, Rayne and Peterr, you make my days better and provide a remarkable service to the country. I know there are eminent lurkers to this site for good reason.

    A bouche noel is calling. I raise my glass to you all. Maybe someday we can raise them all together.

    Merry Christmas.

  31. Norskeflamthrower says:

    Oh, this just in from christmas dinner with eldest daughter’s family: 7 year old first grader said ” we just have to teach some white people that black lives matter”. merry christmas everyone. Peace, love and strength

  32. e.a.f. says:

    Merry Christmas! Thank you to those who write the articles for this blog and keep it going. Its been a great place for information. Also thank you to all those who comment here.

    Its been a strange year and as Christmas Day is almost over here on the west coast, Vancouver Island, B.C., we got through it and as different as it was, it was O.K. different but O.K. Our provincial chief medical officer told us not to go out and about and it looks like most people listened because there was little traffic on the Inland Highway which I can see from my front window. Like we have more traffic there on at 3 a.m. the neighbours stayed home and didn’t have company. I stayed home.

    I’ve been fortunate not to loose people I know to COVID or have any one catch it. The vaccines are being shot into people’s arms and who knows by next Christmas we might be back to “normal”.
    What was cool was to receive texts and e-mails with pictures from just about every one I know. Grandparents zoomed with their families and others. Today reminded me of what life was like back in the 50s and early 60s when air travel was expensive and rare for working families. You exchanged cards with family pictures especially if you had relatives in Europe. Today was much like that. just different technology

    didn’t bother with a turkey, but the Christmas cookies from the bakery sure were good.
    2021 will be better. Canada will have a hockey season, it looks like for the Canadian teams, who will be able to play in their home arenas. Things are looking up.

    Thank you bmaz for taking the time to write this article. Next stop, New Year’s and then the swearing in of the new Pres. and V.P. in the U.S.A.

  33. vvv says:

    Merry Christmas!

    Up and out at 10:00AM in 15 degree F, fired up the smoker and put on a 9lb rib roast. 4 hours and 3 chimneys of charcoal later, I hadda put it in the oven for the last hour. I roasted taters/broccoli/shrooms/onions at the same time and did sausage crockpot stuffing, even as the daughter made her 3 kindsa cheese and mac. Had her run a triple helping of everything over to my 82 y.o. moms who lives 2 blocks away after my son showed up to get his triple helping share (live-in daughter in med profession and son with his own place manages a grocery, so I won’t let them stay there to eat).

    Drank but coffee and water all day, but I’m just now having a eggnog + Capt. Morgan rum = excellent! Think I’ll have another or 2. And then I’ll have some of daughter’s homemade cheesecake, because Merry Christmas …

    Prezzies for the kids were $ and electric tooth brushes – moms got one of those Apple watch phone health things, to no little sarcastic comment (but I think she’ll like it). I rec’d some slippers, flannel shirts and a bottle of Crown Royal Rye. Yep, Santa’s a good guy ’round these parts.

    Also, watched the 3 Pierce Brosnan Bond movies in the last 2 days for absolutely no reason at all other than laughs – tomorrow will be time to get back to Ripper Street, and gin dirty martoonies.

  34. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    This was the year that I announced to family and friends, “I’m celebrating the hell out of Solstice, and Christmas will just have to wait for July when we can safely gather.” There were multiple sighs; a mix of resignation and relief.

    So I lit loads of beeswax candles, and am in raptures listening to US college choirs from Alabama (Aeolians), Utah (BYU Vocal Point (male) and Noteworthy (female)), and Minnesota. And across the pond, the Choir of Westminster Abbey, plus a cappella groups in UK, Germany, and Ireland. The acoustics in those old cathedrals are etherial. I marvel at all the sound engineers and technical folk who somehow enable sound to circle the earth, and then enter my home with mesmerizing harmonies.
    Best, Musical. Year. Ever.
    Unfortunately, I’ve not yet been able to see the Great Conjunction, due to rain and cloudy skies in my little part of the world. I hope that other EWheelies have been able to catch a glimpse.

    For Christmas: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.

    Because we didn’t host Christmas Dinner this year, the geezer and I are left snacking on his famous pickles, ham, and Comice pears; each creamy pear persuades me that miracles still happen.

    What a year….

    Some days, I don’t stop by EW at all because I know that ‘ten minutes’ will turn into 30, and I’ll hate to leave. When I do click on over, it warms me more than I can express (without becoming either maudlin or treacly) to see the familiar screen names, expertise, wit, and sleuthing. Also, integrity.

    When I first stumbled on EW, I must have taken it for a temporary curiosity, but with each passing year, I value it more and more: the accumulation of expertise and documentation has increased –exponentially — as the analysis and documentation have been so methodically tagged and archived. In my dreams, someday I’ll ‘catch up’ with all the reading.

    Be safe all.
    20 Jan can’t arrive soon enough for most of us, I suspect.

  35. punaise says:

    Cheers to all, and to all a good night.

    We have had a quiet Christmas just with punaisette and monsieur (Dr.) punaisette, both up from Bakersfield. punaise jr. unable to travel back from NYC.

    Great good, fine wines, plenty of what I call survivors’ guilt while so many have so little.

    Our Xmas gifts this year to family and friends were all donations to their respective local food banks.

  36. Chris.EL says:

    I value the perspective of honorable folks from totalitarian countries — to understand their experiences and learn from their lives.

    Bopped to Garry Kasparov’s Twitter tonight to learn his mom has died! Our condolences.

    From Twitter: “Garry Kasparov
    “With great sorrow I share the news of the passing of my mother, Klara Shagenovna Kasparova. My role model, my greatest champion, my wise counsel, and the strongest person I will ever know. I love you, Mama.”

    Image (photo):

  37. FL Resister says:

    Cheers everyone!
    I am a tag-a-long who enjoys reading the blog and your comments.
    Over the year you have given me hope that the worst people in Trump World will be held accountable at least by some folks.
    Someone here said Greenspot was the best whiskey so for Christmas I bought a bottle and was not a disappointed.
    This year I have taken up sourdough bread baking and over the past 6 months have delivered loaves to neighbors, friends, and even people I have been estranged from. To see the genuine appreciation has been good and nourishing in spirit.
    I admire the knowledge and research that goes into emptywheel posts and treasure this space.
    Best wishes to all and keep up the good work! — Judy

  38. Jim White says:

    Wishing whatever joy of the season each of you can find. We had a very quiet Christmas, opening a few gifts over Zoom with one daughter in California and one about five miles away with the two darling grandbabies.

    Also wishing vaccines for each of you in the near future and a chance to begin to enter a new version of “normal”, however known.

  39. laMissy says:

    I am so grateful to all at EmptyWheel. Though I am certainly a late comer to the party, it is a mandatory part of my daily reading. It is akin to Diane Ravitch’s blog on public education; as much is to be learned from those who comment as from the authors of the daily posts. Both indispensable sites are beacons for a more perfect union, public education being the cornerstone of democracy.

    Best wishes to all, as we turn the corner to longer daylight hours and to January 20, 2021.

  40. phred says:

    The best part of being tardy to the Christmas post is getting to read through all the comments from those who managed to be on time : ) John Lehman, Dona Nobis Pacem is one of my favorite pieces of music to sing and that video was exquisite : ) 200Toros, I am so sad for you. I am fortunate to not have any family members or close friends lost to the brainwashing of the Trump cult. It must be so painful for you. I hope that Dr. EW’s merry band brought you both solace and good cheer : ) Kudos to you for the generous donation!

    Bmaz, I am very sorry for your loss. Fortunately you have a large (actually petite, come to think of it) bundle of joy headed your way in the New Year, so that is something to lift your spirits in these waning days of a miserable year, eh? By the way, I LOVE that video, thanks! I saw someone refer to it as deer curling and it made my day.

    It is a joy to see so many familiar names and to find so many, like our household, trundling along as merrily as possible under the circumstances. Merry Christmas and Thank God it’s Almost 2021 to All!

    Dr. EW, thank you as always for all the great work you do. By the way, tell the Mr. to leave Junebug’s window button alone, how else is she going to stick her head out in the rushing wind? ; )

  41. Francine Fein says:

    Happy Holidays and thank you to everybody who writes and comments on this site. I rarely know as much as you all but I learn so much from everybody. I’m a long-time lurker (from back when Marcy live blogged the Scooter Libby Trial). I hope 2021 is a happier time, trump-free, and brings good health to the world and to everybody here ❣

  42. P J Evans says:

    “Good King Sauerkraut looked out
    On his feets uneven,
    Where the snoo lay round and ’bout
    All kerchoo achievin’.”
    [‘Snoo’? what’s ‘snoo’?]
    [Nothing. What’s new with you?]

  43. scribe says:

    Biebs had a nice day yesterday.

    The ‘fins, well, Fitzpatrick pulled one out of his hat, leaving Chucky shaking his head like someone who’d just bet the house and rolled snake eyes. That play was reminiscent of one the Pack (IIRC) pulled in a recent high-stakes game (a couple years ago) which wound up setting up the win. Nicely done.

    On to my Steelers. I think the only plausible explanation remaining is that Tomlin has lost the locker room. They play in a very unmotivated fashion, one. Another commentator elsewhere opined their failures were not curable because the failures are not consistently the same problem and occur in random fashion, two. On first down, they try to run and the runner closes his eyes and doesn’t see the hole, gets slammed for a loss. On second, pass play, on target and the receiver drops it. On third, Ben overthrows it. And no one pays a price for screwing up, three. I have never seen Ben or a coach or anyone chewing out a player for dropping a pass, missing a block, or blowing a play. Compare that to Biebs raising hell on the sideline as a Pat or now as a Buc. After these failures, you see Ben shaking his head, disgust written all over his face.

    My conclusion is that, barring a miraculous turn-around resulting in a Super Bowl win, this is the end of the road for Tomlin in Pittsburgh. He’s earned it. You who’ve been here a long time will, or should, remember that after their abysmal performance (out of the playoffs) two years ago I said Tomlin’s contractual extension was not long, and carried with it the unstated “win, or else”. The 2018 season was highlighted by going 7-2-1 then falling apart going 2-4 to finish the season. As with this year, the league wised up and adjusted to what the Steelers were doing and proceeded to beat them at the end. And the losses in the last 6 games of 2018 were highlighted by just the kinds of stupid, head-out-of-the-game mistakes, errors and fumbles that we’ve seen with this season. Tomlin is inflexible, cannot adjust, and doesn’t. It’s a broken record. The league studies him, learns, and defeats him late in the season.

    Part of the difference between 2018 (go read and this year was the presence of two bad teammates – LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown, both gone since then. That drama masked Tomlin’s coaching failures.

    Last year, when Ben went down early on, Tomlin won a reprieve at that moment. The team coming to finish 8-8 was something of a miracle, likely as much because other teams didn’t take Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges seriously as any other reason. Being rid of the Bell-Brown drama doubtless helped. I mean, the team not having to block people posting team parodies surely left time for game planning. But we’re seeing a replay of 2018’s mental softness and indolent, inflexible coaching. Were it not for a three wins earlier this season where the Steelers either pulled a late score out of their butts to win, or their defense blocked a TD pass at the goal line as time expired, we’d be looking at a team 8-6 sliding to 8-8. Those three wins – in consecutive weeks – were vs. Tennessee (27-24, Gostowski missed a FG to tie as time expired), Baltimore (28-24, Jackson’s last-second pass which would have scored a game-winning TD fell incomplete in the end zone), Dallas (24-19, Owboys’ no-name rookie, first-NFL start, 3rd string QB’s last-second pass which would have scored a game-winning TD fell incomplete in the end zone). The Baltimore and Dallas incompletions featured some serious acrobatics by the Stillers’ secondary to make them come out that way.

    Right now, it’s halftime and the Colts are kicking ass. 21-7 and it’s not that close. I’m not surprised. Were it not for the defense the Steelers would have no points at all. As it was, it took the Steelers 3 downs and a penalty giving them half the distance to move the ball into the end zone from the 2.

    Tomlin must go.

    Or, in the spirit of that lunch counter uncovered in Pompeii: “Tomlin delenda est”.

    • scribe says:

      There you go – different failures every time.
      First and goal at the 1.
      1st down: Snell stuttersteps in the backfield, stopped for a loss of 1.
      2nd down: Ben misses with a pass in the back of the end zone.
      3rd down: Claypool drops a short pass that hits him in the numbers, at the goal line.
      4th down: go for it – Ben’s pass to the corner of the end zone batted away.

      Not the first time these losers have failed to push in from inside the 2 and turned the ball over on downs. Happened the other week, too.

      I note that Watt the Youngest, #44 on your programs (a good number), is on the roster as a fullback. That kind of player is the one you want to give the ball at the one and say “go score a touchdown”. He only sees the field on special teams. For that matter, Cheatin’ Bill would have a linebacker play fullback whether he liked it or not, to go score that TD.

      Tomlin delenda est.

    • Eureka says:

      I remember, scribe.

      I also remember how you wanted them into the playoffs, just wanted them to have the chance — recalling your road to XL (and with an empty ketchup bottle, at that. Hmm).

      You’ve a conundrum for sure, but maybe it’ll be fun for a minute.

      Continuing on to other stuff of football —

      Surely the most pissed team/fans are the Texans — ogling that first round draft chart with the 10-5 Fins’ name therein (their 3rd/4th-ish slot).

      I don’t know that the Eagles can even field a team next week, it’s that bad. Entered missing half (at least) of our defense. When DT Fletcher Cox left the game with a stinger, the whole game went to crap. From a 14 – 3 lead to goodbye Iggles; that has happened in recent years when a(nother) crucial player injury is just the tipping point to disaster. Very ugly loss; bunch more players out. Hurts with a lower body issue that constrained his play (but please I cannot take the ginger coming back right yet, unless I am guaranteed the GOOD Hero Ball version). The really bad sub Olineman I’ve previously lamented (Pryor; been a problem all season — sacks, pressures, penalties — but he’s all that’s available now, and we may be down yet another) (I could use the resistance training, but I’m not their type) played great for the Owboys. Demoralizing JerryWorld refs. Too much, beyond their ability to overcome.

      So then I see them/WFT scheduled for SNF and am like why don’t they just flex that out — only to learn they’d just flexed it in! FFS! I mean I’d like one last pleasant game to watch (and Pederson’s job is on the line) but I fear a blood.bath. and capricious repercussions therefrom.

      As I’ve said, the news before the season even started was Not Good (including Wentz’s off passing, but mainly many of their most talented players to IR and such — clutch leaders) and with the 2021 rona cap situation (developing story. But the Iggles are already leveraged into the future) and everything else, I just don’t know when we will have a stable football team. I’m afraid they’ll commit more errors of tail-chasing — creating more problems with too many of/or the wrong, and too strong, corrections, begetting the need to further correct — when all the patient needs is some water and tylenol.

      Wentz/Hurts sidenote: they’ll have a starter controversy, sure, unless Wentz is traded. (I’m waiting to see if they draft another QB.) But one of the framings they sold (by a respected team-adjacent/former staff source) was that with the new 17-game seasons, it was a ‘genius’ move to have two QBs. Sigh-hhhhhhhh…. this is not NOLA, not gonna work that way in this here town… albeit a good idea to have a talented backup.

      • bmaz says:

        And, yet, the Stillers won out. I don’t know if they are SB ready, but they don’t seem done yet. The kind of fight they put up to win yesterday was, to borrow from that other PA town, gritty.

        • scribe says:

          I got fed up after the half, turned off the TV and went out to do errands.

          I would love to know where they found all that grit, toughness, drive and desire, after sleepwalking through 3 1/2 games, including making the frickin’ Bungles look like Vince Lombardi’s Packers or Paul Brown’s Jim Brown-era Browns, i.e., invincible. This turning it on and turning it off bullshit has to cease.

          I got back from running errands, putzed around, looked at the clock and turned on the tube expecting to see the sad post-game post mortem. To my surprise there was just over 2:00 left and Nance and Romo were going on about the exciting half of football I’d just missed, how the Steelers had come all the way back, yadda yadda. (I knew that if I’d been watching all those TD passes would have fallen incomplete.)

          My first instinct was to watch. I sat down and then my spidey-sense started tingling, telling me that if I did they’d find a way to lose. I am always cautious about relying on my spidey sense but I do listen. And, surely enough, the Colts started driving, got a good penalty, etc. Rivers couldn’t miss and, when he did, it stopped the clock at opportune moments.

          I switched the channel to the other football game. I didn’t look back. At least until I saw the BREAKING NEWS scroll telling me that somehow the Steelers had pulled this one out their behinds.

          Next week, a trip to Cleveland, where the embarrassment of losing to the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS will either have broken the Browns’ spines and spirits or inspired them to kick my Steelers’ butts, seeding in the playoffs and maybe a home-and-home at stake.

          • Eureka says:

            I am certain that the Iggles won in 2017 because spouse was at work, not watching the games (esp. the way the NFCCG went — I predicted the blowout, he looked at me like I was nuts).

            Ideally your Stillers will play you out of this other conundrum (to watch or Be Busy) and you can enjoy!

            • bmaz says:

              Oh, he will watch. Because that is what a Steelers fan does. I met a bunch at SB XXX. Very cool and dedicated fans.

  44. timbo says:

    For Xmas supper? Roast veg and chicken, and homemade cranberry sauce, cherry pie for dessert.

    Yeah, tough year. Thanks for trying to help focus those of us who swing a little too wide at most pitches. Making sense of the crazy takes discipline that most of us just don’t have often enough, particularly in such an intense year as this last one has been. Started with impeachment, filled with pandemic, ends with Twitler flounding around in what we all hope is in vain; a crap sandwich if there ever was one. The best of the year was watching so many people be inspired to fight for the DP Presidential candidate to stop Twitler from being re-elected, and the key handfuls of GOP folks who didn’t kowtow to Twitler’s loony notions after the Presidential election was concluded. The worst was knowing how senseless the deaths of so many fellow citizens were, how ineffectually the US harnessed its capacity to deal with a deadly disease that was clearly within our ability to contain…may this mistake not be repeated again…alas, only time will tell whether or not this country ever gets its act together enough to get back to the level of preparedness it had a decade ago to handle this sort of outbreak in future.

  45. klynn says:

    Sorry to be late with a greeting. This community is a light in the darkness. I am forever thankful for the depth of insight, clarity and humor. This place is a stabilizing force through our nation’s chaos. Thank you to all here.

    Like bmaz, Christmas this year is/was hard. I’ve lost 6 family members in the last three years (3 in the last 3 months) and with reduced caregiving due to the losses, it became the Christmas of processing all the loss. While no losses were due to covid, covid prevented a full honoring of the amazing family members lost this year. But somehow, I take comfort knowing that each would have been fine with the small, humble honoring of their lives, in fact, they would have insisted on it due to covid. I can hear each sternly stating, “Don’t be stupid! It’s a pandemic for crying out loud! Just get me in the ground quickly and quietly! No crowds!”

    But one family member was young. His loss was through an accident and the timing was wrenching. Just an hour after his grandmother died. Thankfully, he was an organ donor and his life saved 6 other lives.

    This was not meant as a doom and gloom post but more of a, “Despite the pain, there is hope,” or as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Only in the darkness you can see the stars.”

  46. scribe says:

    Memo to Cheatin Bill:

    That poor phone had a family. They loved it and cared for it and were quite proud when it got the job on the Patriots’ sideline, after going through all those interviews and practice sessions and all that. They’re all crying now, hoping the broken pieces of their loved one were not mashed into the turf or swept out with the used masks and crap. They want to give their loved one’s complete body a proper burial.

    Please think about that the next time. Take out your frustration on the human assistant who gives you information, and not the poor innocent phone doing its best for you.

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