Patterico's Pontifications


A Cop’s Christmas (Reprise)

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 9:44 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

Once again, and with apologies to those who may have read this before, on this Christmas Eve I bring you a piece I wrote for National Review Online back in 2001. I don’t think I could write another one that could better capture both the joys and the sorrows that come with working as a police officer over the holidays.

Best wishes at Christmas and in the new year to our host Pat, to my fellow guest bloggers DRJ and Karl, and most of all to the readers.

A Cop’s Christmas

For reviving the spirit, there is little in life that can rival standing among a thousand people singing “Adeste Fidelis” in church on Christmas morning. And while I don’t presume to know the minds of my fellow worshipers, I feel safe in saying there was no one in church that morning whose spirit was more in need of reviving than my own, for few professions can rival mine for glimpses into the darkness that sometimes dwells in the souls of men. In the days and indeed the very hours leading up to Christmas, I waded through the anguished aftermaths of two murders, two suicides, an attempted suicide, and a variety of other lesser tragedies, the accumulated sadness of which left me reeling and in doubt as to the wisdom in my choice of careers.

To get one’s intellectual arms around the meaning of that song and the event it commemorates is a challenge even under the best of circumstances, but as I dressed for church Christmas morning I couldn’t rid my mind’s eye of those haunting images: the faces of people who, only moments before I came upon them, were calmly going about their lives unaware of the horror about to befall them, or, as with the suicides, were all too aware of it. I was tempted to go back to bed. Christmas, it seemed to me in that moment, was for the birds.

There have been many such moments in my years as a policeman, but even in the bleakest of them I’ve tried to remember that it has been the blessed combination of faith, family, and friends that has sustained me. So, albeit reluctantly, off to church I went.

I was distracted when I first arrived, looking around at all those people who hadn’t been in church since last Easter and would not be again until the next. Even as the church was filling to capacity and beyond I felt an urge to get up and go home. Then the choir began to sing “Adeste Fidelis,” and then the congregation joined in, and finally even I, falteringly at first, began to sing in praise of that Baby born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

The Gospel that day was from Luke – my favorite description of the Nativity, with all its angels and shepherds and heavenly hosts. By the time the Mass ended and we had sung “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” and a few others, the woes of the previous days had receded into a more proper perspective, one that allowed me to return to work and face the certainty that those awful images will never completely fade from memory, and that new ones just as awful surely will join them before I take off my gun and badge for the last time.

I know too many good and decent people of other faiths – or of no faith at all – to be absolutely certain that we Christians have the final word on God and salvation and the meaning of life. And I know that every civilization throughout history has had its creation myth. But I was raised to believe – and still do believe – that God sent us His only Son to be born as Man in a humble birth, to walk among us, to teach us, and finally to endure injustice, cruelty, and death before rising again, all to show that we, too, with His help, can endure injustice, cruelty, and even death.

If that’s a myth, it’s a pretty good one. I’m sticking with it.

–Jack Dunphy

25 Best Christmas Movies

Filed under: Movies — DRJ @ 8:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

John Nolte at Big Hollywood has been counting down his list of the 25 best Christmas movies. Here are numbers 2-25 (EDIT: #1 added 12/25/09):

1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

2. A Christmas Story (1983) — Ralphie!

3. A Christmas Carol (1951)

4. Christmas Vacation (1989)

5. Going My Way (1944) / The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)

6. Holiday Inn (1942)

7. The Gathering (1977)

8. Home Alone (1990)

9. A Christmas Carol (1984) — with George C. Scott

10. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

11. The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

12. One Magic Christmas (1985)

13. Remember the Night (1940)

14. A Holiday Affair (1949)

15. The Lemon Drop Kid (1941)

16. A Christmas Carol (1938)

17. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

18. A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

19. Prancer (1989)

20. The Santa Claus (1994)

21. Susan Slept Here (1954)

22. An American Christmas Carol (1979)

23. Scrooge (1970)

24. Scrooged (1988) — with Bill Murray

25. White Christmas (1954)

I assume the Jimmy Stewart classic It’s a Wonderful Life will be Nolte’s pick for #1. [EDIT: It was, and I added it above.] I’m no expert on movies but I would have put Christmas in Connecticut in the top 10 and maybe even the top 5.

If Christmas movies aren’t your thing, amble over to GM’s Place for his video of Silent Monks Singing Halleluia.


Christmas Eve Lights

Filed under: Current Events — DRJ @ 5:48 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Amazing Grace Techno – Computer Controlled Christmas Lights from Richard Holdman on Vimeo.

H/T John Hitchcock. Don’t miss his series on Lights of the Season.


Senate Passes Health Care

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 12:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Senate passed ReidCare early this morning in a rare Christmas Eve session:

“In an epic struggle settled at dawn, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed health care legislation Thursday, a triumph for President Barack Obama that clears the way for compromise talks with the House on a bill to reduce the ranks of the uninsured and rein in the insurance industry.

The vote was 60-39, strictly along party lines, one day after Democrats succeeded in crushing a filibuster by Republicans eager — yet unable — to inflict a year-end political defeat on the White House.”

President Obama called the vote “historic” and promptly left with his family for Hawaii. Many Capitol Hill legislators and staffers also scattered to area airports for holiday travel, but don’t feel too sorry for them. They have a multiple-booking perk the rest of us don’t have.

However, the road ahead is uncertain. The White House suggested the reconciliation process may extend into February because of differences between the House and Senate versions — particularly over the public option, abortion and taxes. Perhaps in the New Year, we’ll find out what President Obama’s position is on these topics.


Philadelphia Eagles Celebrate Character … of Michael Vick

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 12:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

If you wondered just how out-of-touch some NFL players are with the true meaning of courage and character, consider that the Philadelphia Eagles have named Michael Vick the 2009 winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, an honor given to a player who shows courage in the face of adversity:

“One recipient is selected from each NFL team, usually for things like coming back from injury, doing good work in the community or long, dedicated service to a franchise. I’d be surprised if the award’s founders intended for the honor to be given to someone doing community service as part of the terms of his parole or for showing courage in the face of reporters asking legitimate questions about federal crimes.

The Eagles’ vote is not only a slap in the face to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, but to the other 31 players who won the award for their respective teams. Some men are truly deserving of the honor, like Ravens safety Dawan Landry(notes) who was nearly paralyzed last year, but has come back in ’09 with four interceptions and a touchdown or Mike Furrey(notes) of the Browns, who does extensive volunteer work in his community. Adding Vick’s name to the roll makes the award seem illegitimate and meaningless.

Apparently Philadelphia players confuse Vick handling dogfighting questions and booing with a measure of class as some sort of courage. That Vick only got a chance to show this mild courageousness because of the extreme cowardice it takes to murder helpless animals isn’t something that crosses their mind. They confuse Vick’s desperation with some sort of integrity.”

The nation discussed whether the NFL should even let Vick play again when he was signed by the Eagles last August. What a difference 4 months makes. That’s how long it took the Eagles players to forgive, forget and honor Michael Vick.


Merry Christmas Eve!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:44 am

We’re together with family: playing games, chatting, watching videos, and looking at pictures.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season.

L.A. Times Editors: The New Popularity of Stalin Reminds Us of the New Popularity of Reagan

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:41 am

From today’s editorial:

To many of those who remember Ronald Reagan’s presidency, his latter-day popularity is a little puzzling.

The Republican icon, who like George W. Bush produced skyrocketing federal deficits by advocating tax cuts even as he hiked military spending and — also like Bush — promoted laissez-faire regulatory policies that culminated in a home-loan crisis, is today so widely admired that even Democrats such as President Obama frequently praise him.

I find fascinating the editors’ suggestion that we should not admire Reagan because large deficits occurred during his presidency. (Place to one side the fact that Congressional Democrats’ spending was largely to blame, and that many argue Reagan’s tax cuts actually increased revenue.) If we’re measuring a presidency by the prodigious nature of its deficits, surely the last president we should admire is Barack Obama, whose deficits dwarf anything Ronald Reagan or George Bush ever dreamed of. And what is the view of L.A. Times editors regarding deficit creator Obama?

We admire President Obama. We endorsed him.

Just a little reminder for you. Now let’s move on to the editorial’s main theme: the resurgence of Reagan’s popularity is reminiscent of the resurgence in popularity of . . . Josef Stalin’s:

But if Americans’ perceptions of Reagan are puzzling, Russians’ perceptions of Josef Stalin are downright bizarre.

. . . .

It’s widely believed that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who recently said Stalin’s legacy is too complex for any black-and-white assessment, is encouraging nostalgia for the dictator in order to build support for his own authoritarian rule.

Like those who aim to canonize Reagan, he has some big advantages: The subject being reinvented is no longer around to demonstrate his many flaws, and memories are short.

Indeed. One of the biggest mass murderers in human history is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and it reminds us of the resurgence in popularity of Ronald Reagan.

I understand that the editors are not equating the two. But the idea that Stalin’s re-emerging popularity would remind them of Reagan’s in any way is just bizarre.

Let’s compare the two. Stalin murdered millions and was instrumental in solidifying a totalitarian regime that took away freedom from countless millions for decades. Reagan won the Cold War, instilled a new respect for conservative principles of limited government, cut government spending as a percentage of GDP, and presided over a multi-year spurt of economic growth.

Pretty much in the same league, I’d say, wouldn’t you?

Thanks to Pat C., who observes: “These guys are beyond parody.”

Yes, they are, Pat. Yes, they are.

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