Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Ultimate Refutation of Skepticism

Joe Gibbs.

The Redskins have sucked virtually the entire time since he left after winning yet another Super Bowl. Gibbs, on the other hand, went on to major success as a NASCAR team owner.

Daniel Snyder, the much disliked owner of the team in the post-Gibbs era, tried Norv Turner, Marty Schottenheimer, and Steve Spurrier. Not much luck in any case, despite the fact that the latter two are all-time greats and Norv Turner has twice been a very successful offensive coordinator.

This season the breaks are all falling Washington's way. I conclude, in reverse Pat Robertson style, that the blessing of the Lord is upon Joe Gibbs and Dan Snyder was smart enough to hire him and get out of the way.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Pay for Op-Eds Business and My Experience

When I was newly minted with J.D. in hand and some conservative organization experience built-up, I called friends and asked for help finding work. One of the referrals was to a high profile lobbying/public relations firm with a high profile head. I will not name either of the above for fear of getting sued by them. I attended an interview and they explained the nature of some of the work.

One of the things it was proposed I could do was to write op-eds that would later be issued under the name of more famous persons in favor of some public policy initiative or position. At the same time, I'm sure that some of these persons would write their own op-ed, sufficiently proud of their own style and convictions not to turn the job over to the hired gun at firm X. It never occurred to me that anything in that process was wrong. The famous person would be someone who could agree with the stated position. What they would be selling would be their access to the editorial pages of the nation's newspapers and magazines. This is not bribery, but rather someone paying you to say what you would already say if the opportunity arose.

Now, I've heard the Cato Institute's Doug Bandow is basically done for, having taking significant money from Abramoff for columns he wrote. That is a shame. Doug Bandow is a strong writer and thinker.

On the surface, the problem goes like this: I like cake. I want to eat cake. I'm going to eat cake. Somebody steps up and says, "Hey, why don't you eat that cake NOW and I'll pay you for it?" And you do. Wouldn't seem to be an ethical lapse.

But it is and the real answer is revealed by imagining that everyone had full information. The newspaper or magazine wouldn't run the piece if they knew about the payment. The think tank you might work for wouldn't allow you to take the payment because their credibility is even more important than yours. And you haven't told anyone these things because deep down, you know how they would have reacted.

And that's why it's wrong. Take away the self-interest and look at the interests of others and it shines forth bright as day.

Now, I never took that job. Nobody ever slipped me a check in exchange for my promotion of a particular view at their urging. But I might have done it and could have done it without getting as far down the moral analysis as I did in this post.

In the final analysis, I'm sorry for Doug Bandow and damn glad I've had this opportunity to think it through before anyone offered me the chance to screw up.

Pat Robertson's Comments

I agree with Jay Homnick when he states, below, that Pat Robertson, as a spritual leader and ordained minister, has a right to make claims about what God's will might or might not be.

However, I also believe that rights bring responsbilities. Given the necessary ambiguity of any spritual dimension behind secular events, it is incumbent upon leaders such as Pat Robertson to be highly careful and circumspect in the public claims they make about God's intentions in "managing" worldly affairs. In addition, given that evangelical churches have a less rigid structure than older denominations, it is particularly tempting for evangelicals to make such statements. God's will is such a serious matter, however, that one should be reluctant to say in public some things that one might well think and say in private, given that the incorrect attribution of motives to God could in itself be a serious offense against that very God.

This is something to which Robertson seems regularly to give far too little consideration.

Pat Answers

Goodness me, I don't suppose that I'll make a lot of friends with this post. As a matter of conscience, I feel obligated to defend Pat Robertson for his remarks of yesterday.

Robertson, on his famous (or notorious) 700 Club show, said that Ariel Sharon's medical condition was the result of his dividing God's land "and I say woe unto any Israeli prime minister who takes a similar course..."

A range of criticisms has been advanced. 1) How can he presume to know the mind of God? 2) This is the wrong time to say this, while a man is fighting for his life. 3) Mr. Sharon is 5 foot 7 and weighs 260 pounds in a high-stress job; if anything he has lived longer and more effectively than actuarial tables would predict.

None of these points is without a degree of validity. However, it is eminently within the province of a minister to interpret events in a Biblical light and to share his conclusions with his flock. That is the very definition of spiritual leadership in the Judeo-Christian sense.

Robertson believes, as do many practitioners of Judaism and Christianity, that it is not only possible to know the mind of God in many instances (perhaps most), but it is a human duty to see if He has left clues to the message of His handiwork. For a man to be stricken immediately after giving up a part of the land, complete with evictions of devoted Jewish settlers, suggests to this minister that there is spiritual causation present. To say that he has no right to communicate such a view to his students or parishioners is the height of absurdity.

Is Robertson right? I don't know. Is he wrong? I don't know. But I believe that he has every right to that view; that once he holds it he has a right to promulgate it; that once he has those rights he may well have a spiritual imperative to speak.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Letterman, Schmetterman

I am glad that Hunter Baker posted a transcript of the recent dialogue between David Letterman and not-exactly-honored guest Bill O'Reilly on the former's TV program, below.

It is very revealing indeed. I never have liked Letterman, as I found his politics to be all too evident and all too peabrained from the very start. Nobody else with whom I spoke about this ever saw it this way, until now. By the audience's reaction of laughter and applause, it appears that they were in strong agreement with O'Reilly and that Letterman came off as an oaf and thoughtless jackass.

The exchange will have no effect at all on his popularity, I suppose, as most viewers will ignore Letterman's politics, which is fine. But nobody should ever imagine that he's on our side.

The heck with him, I say.

Let us pray for him to retire in comfort soon and be replaced by someone (a) funnier and (b) smarter.

Prime Ministering

Here is a link to Acting Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert's opening remarks at today's special cabinet meeting. I found it to be gracious, humble-but-confident, tasteful and entirely apposite.

We join Mr. Olmert in wishing Ariel Sharon a speedy and full recovery.

(Incidentally, I got a grim chuckle out of this page of the Prime Minister's Office website, offering a list of the "lastest" press releases. That's the only word misspelled at the site; I suppose it's a creative merger of latest and last.)

A City Of Two Tales

A small piece over at The American Spectator today, my first offering of the new year, makes the point that FISA is no more competent or judicious than NSA in monitoring wiretapping. All that is lost by not including them in a decision is one check-and-balance, not some fount of new wisdom.

Here's a tidbit:

Do you and I have any clear indication which of the two alphabet-soup divisions of government has the better judgment? Nah. It's just that there's a check-and-balance involved in having the NSA from the Executive branch be answerable to FISA of the Judicial branch -- and no one likes a canceled check or a zero balance. We would all like to see the I's dotted and the T's crossed, the round pegs in the round holes and the square in the square, but if someone skips a step occasionally we needn't lose much sleep. Even if a court eventually determines that it's not a proper deployment of Executive power, this is a technicality, not an abuse.

The more important question may be, is it working? That is more than the ends justifying the means. If it is working, it shows us that this partnership between NSA and FISA is balanced properly. When things are urgent, NSA acts unilaterally, at least for a few days. When a suspicion is less pressing, action is not taken until the FISA folks get to examine it more minutely. All in all, it adds up to an effective division of duties, like a good marriage.

And on the Abramoff front, permit me to immodestly remind folks that I jumped on that early, right behind Andrew Ferguson (whom I credited), to be exact. Here is my column of last Jan. 12, almost exactly a year ago.

Okay, if you insist, here's a tender morsel from that stew:

Is this as good as it gets? Do we have to adopt cynicism as our new realism? Perhaps we should sit around the bar of an evening, laughing hollowly over our second bottle of hooch, mumbling about how power corrupts. If large sums of cash belonging to goofy tribes and sleepy taxpayers are sitting in unmarked bills in a satchel with the note "Hold for collection by Rostenkowski," does the still-new Republican majority feel obligated to pick it up? After all, we must maintain continuity in governance.

It's starting to smell like a rodent and the miasma is bad for my asthma. The time has come to stanch the stench. This needs to stop, and stop now. If Republicans want to keep the public trust, they need to clear the air and clean the lobby. We know that these folks started out as good people: Jack and Armstrong, the all-American boys. They came as greenhorns to Washington; then, they could not resist trying to horn in on the green. We need to do a gut check and follow our own credo of respecting the taxpayer's money.

When Culture War Meets Late Night: Letterman v. O'Reilly

I have always been a David Letterman fan. Rooted for him, wanted to see him succeed. Still have fond memories of the old NBC days when he wore hightops with his blazers.

On the other hand, I have typically not liked Bill O'Reilly much. Have seen him as a blowhard. Have thought he thinks too highly of himself.

The proverbial shoe is now on the other foot. I read the transcript of O'Reilly's appearance on Letterman where the host was much less than gracious. Points against him. O'Reilly, on the other hand, stood up to a potentially very intimidating situation with a lot of class. Points for him.

Now, I think I like Letterman a lot less and O'Reilly quite a bit more.

Here's the transcript of most of their chat:

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW": How were your holidays, good?

O'REILLY: I had a nice winter solstice, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

You can't say Christmas.

LETTERMAN: You can't say Christmas?

O'REILLY: No.

LETTERMAN: Why is that?

O'REILLY: Because it's politically incorrect. And we did a lot of reporting on this.

LETTERMAN: I wasn't aware that you couldn't say Christmas.

O'REILLY: Yes.

LETTERMAN: When did this happen?

O'REILLY: I actually got a card from a friend of mine that said have a blessed winter.

(LAUGHTER)

I live in New York. You know what you can do with your blessed winter, you know what I'm talking about?

LETTERMAN: I wasn't aware this had happened.

O'REILLY: Yes, you weren't aware of the big, giant controversy over Christmas? You didn't hear that?

LETTERMAN: Well, it doesn't really affect me. I go ahead and do what I want to do. And you know - I mean, but isn't this the kind of thing where like once or twice every 20 years, somebody gets outraged and says, oh, by God, we got to put diapers on horses. Isn't it just about - is this like so what, let it go, it'll take care of itself?

O'REILLY: No. There is a movement in this country by politically correct people to erode traditions.

LETTERMAN: I don't think this is an actual threat. I think that this is something that happened here and it happened there. And so people like you are trying to make us think that it's a threat.

O'REILLY: Wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

Memphis, Tennessee, Bible belt, library, they have a little display where you can — say you are in a duck hunting club. You can bring in a dead duck and put it there and advertise your duck hunting club.

There was a church that wanted to advertise a Christmas pageant. So they brought in the manger scene. And the library said you can have the manger scene in Memphis, Tennessee, but you can't have the baby Jesus, Joseph, or Mary, or the wise men. We're not sure about the shepherds. That was the big debate. Now how stupid and crazy is this?

LETTERMAN: Yes, I don't believe you.

O'REILLY: It's true!

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: I just don't believe you. Let's talk about your friends in the Bush administration. Things seem to be darker now.

O'REILLY: It's pretty rough, you know, but they're not my friends in the Bush administration. I mean, they're not kicking the door down to be on my show.

In fact, you have an easier time getting President Bush to come on here than I have in getting him on "“The Factor”." But I think that the Iraq thing has been full of unintended consequences.

The simplistic stuff about it, hating Bush or he lied and all this stuff does the country no good at all. Our philosophy is we call it as we see it. Sometimes you agree. Sometimes you don't. Robust debate is good.

But we believe that the United States, particularly the military, are doing a noble thing.

LETTERMAN: Mm-hmm.

O'REILLY: A noble thing. The soldiers and Marines are noble. They're not terrorists. And when people call them that, like Cindy Sheehan called the insurgents freedom fighters, we don't like that.

It is a vitally important time in American history. And we should all take it very seriously, and be very careful with what we say.

LETTERMAN: Well, and you should be very careful with what you say also.

O'REILLY: Exactly.

LETTERMAN: Have you lost family members in armed conflict?

O'REILLY: No, I have not.

LETTERMAN: Well, then you can hardly speak for her, can you?

O'REILLY: Well, I'm not speaking for her.

(APPLAUSE)

All right, let me ask you this question.

LETTERMAN: Let's go back to your little red and green story.

O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait, this is important. This is important. Cindy Sheehan lost a son, a professional soldier in Iraq, correct? She has a right to grieve any way she wants. She has a right to say whatever she wants.

When she says to the public that the insurgents and terrorists are freedom fighters, how do you think, David Letterman, that makes people who lost loved ones by these people blowing the hell out of them, how do you think they feel? What about their feelings, sir?

LETTERMAN: So why are we there in the first place? I agree to you — with you that we have to support the troops. They are there. They are the best and the brightest of this country.

(APPLAUSE)

There's no doubt about that.

And I also agree that now we're in it, it's going to take a long, long time. People don't expect it to be solved and wrapped up in a couple of years. Unrealistic. It's not going to happen.

I'm very concerned about people like yourself who don't have nothing but endless sympathy for a woman like Cindy Sheehan, honest to Christ.

O'REILLY: No, I'm sorry. No way a terrorist who blows up women and children is going to be called a freedom fighter on my program.

(APPLAUSE)

LETTERMAN: I'm not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling — I have the feeling about.

O'REILLY: You (INAUDIBLE).

LETTERMAN: I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap, but I don't know that for a fact.

O'REILLY: Sixty?

LETTERMAN: Did I 60 percent? 60 percent, that's just — I'm just spit balling here now.

O'REILLY: Listen, I respect your opinion. You should respect mine.

LETTERMAN: Well, I — I - yes, OK.

(APPLAUSE)

But I think you're.

O'REILLY: Our analysis is based on the best evidence we can get.

LETTERMAN: Yes, but I think there's something — this fair and balanced, I'm not sure that it's — I don't think that you represent an objective viewpoint.

O'REILLY: But you have to give me an example if you're going to make those statements.

LETTERMAN: Well, I don't watch your show, so that would be impossible.

(LAUGHTER)

O'REILLY: Then why would you come to that conclusion if you don't watch the program?

LETTERMAN: Because of things that I have read, things that I know.

O'REILLY: Oh, come on, you're going to take things that you've read? You know what they say about you? Come on.

(LAUGHTER)

Watch it for a couple — look, watch it for a half an hour. You'll get addicted. You'll be a "Factor" fan. We'll send you a hat.

Frankly, handling things this way was stupid on Letterman's part. He alienated a significant portion of his viewership through disrespect of someone they may like and views they surely find agreeable. It's the politics of celebs all over again. You like them, enjoy their work, they shoot off their mouth, and game over.

And just in case you wonder whether Letterman was shooting off his mouth, read the transcript again. He admits he really doesn't know that much.

Abramoff! Abramoff!

This guy was supposedly hired for his political and public relations expertise:



If he was going for Johnny Cash, he missed the target. If he was going for Black Bart, the evilest man to occupy either the Longbranch Saloon or Enron, then he nailed it.

Whoosh!

Do you hear that sound? It's Ralph Reed's candidacy going up in flames in Georgia. Before the primary, even.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Personal Style and Personal Substance in the Omniculture

I'm grateful to Hunter Baker for pointing us to Mark Judge's article on the American Spectator site.

Actually, I think that Mark makes some excellent points, although I agree that he pushes the relationship between style and Christianity too far. Other than that, however, I think Mark is quite right. Most prominent conservatives today have little appreciation of the fine arts, and they show little respect for style, just as Mark says. Among the causes for this, I would suggest the fact that conservatism used to be a more elite position than it has been since Reagan, who made real the populism that Goldwater's candidacy had begun. In addition, the paucity of widely agreed-upon, central standards, the lack of which is a major element of the Omniculture, ensures that elevation and excellence will become minority pursuits.

Another aspect of the Ominiculture that is relevant here is the overall cultural (and political and social) egalitarianism of American society during the past century. It is why, for example, both clothing styles and personal manners have become less formal: to allow those who have not been raised with elevated tastes, to feel that they too have social standing. The outcome of this honorable intention, however, is that instead of raising the manners and appreciation for beauty among what used to be called the lower orders, the standards have been brought down to enable all to reach them. It is the social equivalent of social promotion in schools.

That is rather a pity, I think, but this is a condition that will not necessarily be permanent. There are forces already arising to create a thirst for diversity and originality, and although at this point the manifestations of this phenomenon have not included a strong component of respect for elevation and beauty (indeed, rather the opposite), it is possible that such a thing could happen. However, unless and until most of society agrees on a common set of standards, that remains highly unlikely.

I'm Not Down with the Christian Metrocon Thing

Mark Gauvreau Judge is a good writer, but I think he should have left this one in the unsubmitted file. His basic thesis is that the red state identity basically celebrates cretinism. I disagree with that, despite not really loving NASCAR, Bill O'Reilly, and some of the other targets he picks.

But what is really offensive is that he somehow conflates wearing the right clothes and discriminating consumerism with advanced spirituality in the Christian sense.

I don't think so.

At the risk of repeating myself, I'll include my letter to the editor on the piece:

Dear Editor,

I've always liked Mark Gauvreau Judge's work, but I find at least part of his central thesis about the superiority of being a metrocon questionable and maybe even objectionable. While I agree that there is nothing to celebrate about being tacky or willfully ignorant (which I'm not sure his target group really is), I disagree vigorously that the "second growth" of spirituality involves learning how to purchase and wear the right clothing and accessories. Natty apparel has never been a sign of spiritual maturity as far as I can tell. Were it so the fashionistas would be the deepest folk on earth.

It is one thing to argue that many of today's conservatives don't hold a candle to William F. Buckley on style points (surely, they do not), but to conflate that point with spiritual maturity and depth evokes a Christianity of which I'm not aware. Certainly, a preference for Brooks Brothers over Wal-Mart does little to inform one about the nobility of a particular soul. In fact, the good book might make the opposite case.

Hunter Baker
Contributor to The Reform Club
Athens, Georgia

What's Wrong with Socialism?

Mary Katherine Ham is posting over at HughHewitt.com. If he let’s her post a little more often, I might forgive him for the Harriet Miers debacle.

She says something about socialism that resonates deeply with my own thoughts:

So, conversations with socialists. I have them. A lot.

I have them with that special brand of socialist-- the 20-something post-collegiate angsty intellectual who has the luxury of saying Fidel Castro "has some pretty good ideas" because, for him, it's not a national talking point enforced at the muzzle of a gun and the blindfolded brink of a ditch. That kind of socialist.

They're good folks. They truly do want the best for people. They think "equal" necessarily equals "good." They, therefore, want equality enforced.

Sometimes during these conversations, my big-government buddies concede, "All right, so maybe it doesn't always work in practice, but it's a nice thought."

I used to concede that point. "Yes, it's a nice idea in theory," I'd say, "But it never works in practice. In fact, it's disastrous, deadly, and scoops out people's souls like so many cold lumps of cosmic ice cream, splatted on the sidewalks of humanity. But you're getting the picture."

In the last couple years, I've had to revise that. The truth is that it is not a nice idea, in theory. Well, not if you actually think about what the theory implies.

Socialism is enforced equality. But someone has to enforce. Someone has to take all that a country of dynamic, amazing, different people has produced and slice it up into dull, government-approved parcels that go to each according to his need. So much for diversity, right?

This means that no one owns anything except for the guy doing the enforcing of equality, who without fail, feels a lot less strongly about his own equality with the proletariat than he does about the rabble's equality with each other. That's how Fidel Castro ended up on the Forbe's list of richest people.

This guy inevitably gets a little testy when folks step out of line by wanting to own the things they earn, thereby cutting down on his net worth. And by testy, I mean blood-thirsty and murdery.

Mary Katherine has it exactly right. Beware Chavez-istas. You won’t like the future.

The Ebooks Are Coming! The Ebooks Are Coming! No, Really!

What’s a guy with a carefully developed collection of books to do?  

My father-in-law was a high-level academic librarian for many years.  He always said the book is so good at doing its basic job, there will probably not be a solid replacement for it.

I’m beginning to suspect he might have been wrong about that.

Exhibit A:  I saw a fellow reading a book on some sort of electronic notepad device (possibly a tablet PC) recently.  He also appeared to be able to electronically mark it up.  Looked very good.

Exhibit B:  Michael Hyatt’s weblog keeps mentioning that something like an iPod for readers is coming and it will have a big impact on the market.  Since Hyatt is the president of big publisher Thomas Nelson, I think he knows whereof he speaks.  His latest post really has me sweating it.

Why am I sweating it?  

Because I realize that someday my collection may become quite obsolete and I will be able to do more, faster, better, etc. with a massive collection of books on some tiny media device.

Of course, I’m a Ph.D. student now and can’t wait for even next year.  Still, it hurts a little to know I keep moving all these boxes of books when obsolescence is around the corner.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Review of The Ice Harvest

Fyi, my article on the recent crime film The Ice Harvest is featured today on Breakpoint.

A sample:

Like many modern crime films, The Ice Harvest presents an America rife with corruption but holding great possibilities for redemption. In these films, America is the Land of Second Chances.

Hence both money and religion are central to the story. The film takes place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and tatty, commercialized Christmas imagery is prevalent. The film opens with shots of a nativity scene, as cold rain falls on the manger and drops of water fall on the statue of the infant Jesus as if they were tears. Images of ice and cold water recur throughout the film, and director Harold Ramis uses this to suggest the pervasiveness of corruption (it is like a natural phenomenon) and where it leads: death—literally, in the case of most of the central characters.


Read the rest of it here.

There's Plenty of Hate to Go Around

It is quite possible that some of the incidents of hateful speech and harassment allegedly directed by the Left toward the Right, especially toward African-Americans on the Right, have been untrue or exaggerated. It is important, however, to keep in mind the big picture. And the big truth is that the American Left seems rather more willing to go for the jugular more quickly than anyone else these days, and rather more openly and viciously than in some times past.

As Jeff Jacoby noted in his December 28 column,

Nothing brings out racist slurs like an ambitious black man who doesn't know his "place." So when Maryland's lieutenant governor, Michael Steele, announced his candidacy for the US Senate recently, the bigots reared up. On one popular website, The News Blog, Steele's picture was grotesquely doctored, making him look like a minstrel-show caricature. "I's Simple Sambo and I's Running for the Big House," read the insulting headline accompanying the picture.

This wasn't some white supremacist slime from the right-wing fringe. The News Blog is a liberal site, and the reason for its racist attack on Steele, a former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, is that he is a conservative. Specifically, a black conservative. As far as too many liberals are concerned, blacks who reject liberalism deserve to be smeared as Sambos and worse.

"Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael Steele . . . are fair because he is a conservative Republican," The Washington Times reported. "Such attacks . . . include . . . calling him an 'Uncle Tom,' and depicting him as a blackfaced minstrel."

Once upon a time, segregationists excoriated white liberals as "nigger lovers." Today, racist insults in the political arena are more likely to come from the left -- and to target black conservatives. When Harry Belafonte was asked in August about the fact that black Americans hold prominent positions in the Bush administration, his response was to call them "black tyrants" -- and then to make a sickening (and ignorant) comparison: "Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich."


Jacoby is by no means condemning vigorous debate:

By "hate speech," I don't mean the sharp put-downs that are an inevitable part of vigorous public debate. What I have in mind are the disgusting calumnies and malicious demonizations that should have no place in political discourse. Like University of Michigan historian Juan Cole, a frequent TV talking head, asserting falsely that Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes "has fond visions of rounding up Muslim Americans and putting them in concentration camps." Or US Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont accusing the Bush family of planning to "start another war . . . next year, probably in Iran" in order "to get their son" -- Florida Governor Jeb Bush -- "elected president" in the next election.

If this kind of toxic rhetoric came only from crackpots, it would be easy enough to dismiss. When it comes from pundits, celebrities, and politicians -- people whose views tend to get respectful attention -- it does real damage, and should be universally condemned.


Jacoby cites additional cases, and he notes that Republicans who stray beyond the boundaries of reasonable discourse, such as Pat Robertson in his recent comments suggesting the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, are strongly and quickly denounced by both Left and Right. That is the way things should be. Jacoby is certainly correct in observing that the trend is real and that it should indeed be "universally condemned."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Plight of the Black Republican

Apparently, being a homeless activist can't even save you or your work, if you admit to being a black Republican.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

All Hayle to the Days

There was a time, not so long ago really, when all Christendom knew that Christmas was not a day but a season, that began rather than ended on December 25 and lasted for twelve days, until the Feast of the Three Kings on January 6. And smack dab in the middle of that season comes New Years' Day, which is also celebrated in the Roman Calendar as the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. So today is properly not the time to sigh with the weariness of a bloody awful hangover and take down the dried out and forlorn Christmas tree, but to prepare for another week of feasting, merry-making, and respite from toil.

Of course, our modern culture does not permit that of most of us. There has already been more than enough tomfoolery and corruption of productivity for our relentlessly commerical culture to condone. Happy New Year to all: let your resolutions lie lightly upon your shoulders and keep the merriness of the season in your hearts.


All hayle to the days that merite more praise then all the rest of the year;
& welcome the nights, that double delights as well for the poor as the peer:
Good fortune attend each merry man's friend
That doth but the best that he may,
Forgetting old wrongs with Carrols and Songs to drive the cold winter away.

The Court all in state now opens her gate an bids a free welcome to most;
The City likewise tho' somewhat precise doth willingly part with her cost;
And yet, by report from City to Court
The Countrey gets the day:
More Liquor is spent, and better content, to drive the cold winter away.

Thus none will allow of solitude now, but merrily greets the time,
To make it appeare of all the whole yeare that this is accounted the Prime,
December is seene apparel'd in greene
And January, fresh as May,
Comes dancing along with a cup or a Song to drive the cold winter away.

This time of the yeare is spent in good cheare,
Kind neighbours together to meet
To sit by the fire, with friendly desire each other in love to greet:
Old grudges forgot are put in a pot,
All sorrows aside they lay;
The old and the young doth carrol this Song,
To drive the cold winter away.

To maske and to mum kind neighbours will come
With Wassels of nut-browne Ale,
To drinke and carouse to all in this house, as merry as buck in the pale;
Where cake, bread and cheese, is brought for yr fees
To make you the longer stay;
The fire to warme will do you no harme, to drive the cold winter away.

When Christmas tide comes in like a Bride, with Holly and Ivy clad, --
Twelve dayes in the yeare much mirth and good cheare
In every household is had:
The Countrey guise is then to devise some gambols of Christmas play;
Whereas the yong men do best that they can
To drive the cold winter away.

When white-bearded Frost hath threatened his worst,
And fallen from Branch & Bryer,
& time away cals from husbandry hals,
& from the good countryman's fire,
Together to go to Plow and to sow,
to get us both food and array:
And thus with content the time we have spent
To drive the cold winter away.