Friday, December 15, 2006

The Lightning Round:
Do They Know It's Christmas?

The fine, merry staffers of your Lightning Round possess ample evidence refuting claims of the so-called "War On Christmas," which we submit is a wholesale exaggeration promoted by talk-show hosts with too much dead air to fill. Unfortunately for us, something came along this week which gave credence to the critics and spiked our holiday punch with a jigger of foolishness.

WHO SPEAKS FOR THE TREES? Many of you have heard the sad saga of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's Christmas Trees -- the ones that were removed after a complaint from a rabbi who wanted a menorah installed as well, and then reinstated when he dropped the threat of a lawsuit. For everybody else, here's the executive summary.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
"I think the whole thing is ridiculous and really out of proportion," [the rabbi Elazar] Bogomilsky said shortly before the port made its announcement to reinstall the trees. "People should turn to the Port of Seattle and say, 'Wait a minute, what are you doing? Return the trees and give people the spirit of the holiday back.' Right now, nobody's happy."
We feel the good rabbi should have said that to himself before waving a lawyer in the face of airport authorities.
The tree removal marked an unprecedented interruption to a longstanding holiday tradition at the airport. But the question of whether a menorah should be displayed publicly is hardly new to organizations of local Jews; neither is there agreement in the Jewish community over the practice.

Although some irate people criticized Jews in general for the actions of Bogomilsky, "most of the Jewish community does not really support the putting up of public menorahs," said Rabbi Anson Laytner, executive director of the greater Seattle chapter of the American Jewish Committee.
So it appears Rabbi Bogomilsky didn't even have a united front behind him. On the other hand, people would've gladly backed the Port Commission had they the ornaments to let this go to court.
E-mail messages and other comments to the Port of Seattle were running 99 to 1 in opposition to the removal of the Christmas trees, Port Commissioner John Creighton said.

"As a public officials, we need to do the right thing, not the popular thing," he said. "In this case, I think the right thing is the popular thing."
But it's all over now, save for a promise to negotiate and collaborate on holiday cheer for next year.

We at The Lightning Round believe the whole yuletide fracas could have been avoided with a little change in mentality. First, an expression of one's faith does not rob another of theirs. Secondly, an expression of Christmas tidings does not condemn non-Christians. Thirdly, overreaction against traditions and symbols which embody the spirit and meaning of the season is not only sad, it cheapens genuine claims of religious prejudice elsewhere in the world -- which frankly don't involve Christmas trees.

POLITICAL INTRIGUE. Many a Democrat is wringing his hands this week, hoping and praying for the health of South Dakota senator Tim Johnson beyond the obvious reasons. If Sen. Johnson can't continue in office, they lose control of the Senate.

Already, some are floating conspiracy theories -- even in jest. As Joy Behar suggested on Thursday's The View:
"Is there such a thing as a man-made stroke? In other words, did someone do this to him?"
At least nobody's blaming Karl Rove... or John Kerry.

BALLIN'. The NBA is switching back to leather basketballs on New Year's Day, ditching Spaulding's microfiber replacement. Players said it was too soft and sticky and bounced differently. As we noted here, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban commissioned a study backing up many players' claims. But the factor that may have put the old ball back in the net is... you guessed it, litigation.

From the Chicago Tribune:
The NBA Players Association filed an unfair labor practice charge over the change, which annoyed many players because they claimed they had little voice in the matter.
Hopefully this will keep the government's hands off basketballs.

DOES HE HAVE A BOARDING PASS? Ohio State quarterback Tony Smith had to ship his Heisman Trophy home because airport security wouldn't let him take it on the plane.

We at The Lightning Round never got that Homeland Security memo warning about terrorists bearing trophies, but we suspect a more practical explanation is at hand.

From the AP:
Eddie George, the last Buckeye to win the Heisman in 1995, had his trophy get stuck in an airport X-ray machine, losing the tip of its right index finger and bending the middle finger.
Nice to see that X-ray technician got the finger from Mr. Heisman.

BLIND FAITH. Texas State Representative Edmund Kuempel has introduced a bill that would let the blind hunt.

From Reuters:
Under the bill, blind hunters would be required to have a sighted hunter with them and would be allowed to use laser sights and other devices that are currently not allowed.

A blind person can shoot a rifle by mounting an offset pistol scope on the side of the rifle instead of on top," said Terry Erwin, the Austin-based Hunter Education Coordinator with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

"This allows their companion behind them to peer over their shoulder and help them sight it, but the blind person can pull the trigger," he told Reuters.
Unfortunately, it comes too late to help Dick Cheney's friends.

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