End-of-the-Year Procrastination

All three branches of the government of are still on holiday vacation, the private sector is also taking a break, and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un didn’t deliver any unpleasant Christmas surprises. For the moment there’s no reason in the news to interrupt the holiday cheer, which might well last until next year, but sooner or later you’ll find the news of the world unavoidable.
When we all get back to it President Donald Trump will still be impeached, with all the headache-inducing arguments that will entail, the stock markets will go up and down, and the situation on the Korean peninsula will remain very scary. The national debt will continue to accumulate, the climate will continue to change, and trade wars will be ongoing and the resulting agreements underwhelming. There will be celebrity scandals and much-ballyhooed product launches by big corporations, and stories about the many good and bad things happening in the world that deserve more serious attention.
For the past several holiday days we’ve been carefully avoiding any discussion of any of it at our family gatherings. This has mostly worked out well, as we have lots of happy memories and fond wishes to share, and that seems most apt for this cold and dark time of year. We’ll put off the news for another week if not another year, and send our best wishes for a Happy New Year to anyone who happens to read this.

— Bud Norman

What Not to Talk About in Christmastime

The House of Representatives is expected to impeach President Donald Trump today on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress today, giving Americans plenty to shout at one other about during their family Christmas celebrations. All the polls and other evidence the country is split pretty much down the middle on the matter, and neither side seems willing to listen to the other, so for now we suggest everyone talk about such anodyne topics as sports and whatever good news they have about the cute kids scurrying around the festivities.
Even so, we’ll be keeping an eye on the developments. This is only third time in American history that a president has been impeached — not counting the impending and inevitable impeachment that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation — and no matter one’s perspective it’s a subject of great importance. It’s very serious stuff, even if many of the arguments being made are utterly unserious.
On impeachment eve Trump issued a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on official White House stationery, and it has to be seen to be read. The president reportedly spent a whole week on it, with input from top White House advisors and Trump’s personal lawyers, and it’s clearly been spell-checked and made use of a thesaurus, but otherwise it’s just a longer-than-usual presidential “tweet.” The are the usual Random Capitalizations and excessive use of exclamation markets, easily disproved claims, personal attacks, and the standard Trumpian tactic of accusing his opponents of whatever he’s been accused of, as well as a complaint that the Democrats “have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”
Nothing in the missive offers any credible refutation of the evidence that has been brought against him, nor any explanation about why he’s blocking key witnesses from offering any exculpatory testimony, but Pelosi’s response that the letter was “ridiculous” and “really sick” also wasn’t very substantive. We’re holding out faint hope that the arguments will be more high-minded during a Senate trial, which is expected to take place next month, but have no expectation that any of it will change anybody’s mind.
Anything’s possible, though, especially these days, and there’s no predicting what bizarre plot twists might unfold in this surreal reality show. We’ll keep an open eye on it, but during the Christmas season we’ll try to keep our mouths shut at the family get-togethers. Some Republicans are blaming the Democrats for impeaching Trump so close to Christmas, but some of them voted to impeach President Bill Clinton on Dec. 19, 1998, and even though our family was in favor of that we mostly talked abut sports and the young kinfolk during that holiday season.

— Bud Norman