Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


The mythical war on Christmas probably ended last year, when bizarrely, Fox News sent its staff a Season’s Greetings holiday card, effectively abandoning its decade-long battle-cry of “Merry Christmas.” After a concession like that, what’s left to debate? Still, we’re not too far removed from this ridiculous right-wing conspiracy to avoid a recap. The debate began in 2005, largely fueled by the conservative shock-jocks of talk radio, and escalated as they made enemies out of everything from Starbucks coffee cups to the Obamas’ annual December card. Depending on your views, saying “Happy Holidays” is either a considerate acknowledgment of American religious diversity or an attack against Christianity. During his campaign, Donald Trump jumped on the bandwagon when he told crowds in Iowa, “I’m a good Christian. If I become president, we’re gonna be saying Merry Christmas at every store…You can leave Happy Holidays at the corner.”

He has yet to make good on that particular promise to his base, despite some strange claims last week that he’d miraculously and single-handedly restored the Christmas liberals had supposedly stolen from American Christians during the Obama years. Regardless, conservative Americans need not fear: their holiday is alive and well, neither drowned by growing multiculturalism nor commercialized to the point of destruction by the forces of capitalism. And while Bill O’Reilly can shout all he wants that “Happy Holidays” is an affront to the birth of Jesus, here are six signs that Christmas is alive and well.

1. Almost everyone celebrates Christmas.

In a survey conducted by YourStorageFinder, which asked 2,006 people from all 50 states about their feelings on the holidays, 95.7% said they celebrated Christmas. By comparison, for every American who celebrates Hanukkah, there are 14 who celebrate Christmas. For Kwanzaa, the ratio is 1 to 49.

Christmas’ popularity defies even religion: About eight in 10 non-Christians in the U.S. celebrate Christmas, according to a Pew poll.

2. Most Americans still say ‘Merry Christmas.’

The same survey found that of the millions of holiday cards Americans send in the mail each December, “Merry Christmas” is still the most popular greeting. It appears on 60.4% of all cards sent. “Happy Holidays” was a distant second, at 27.9%.

Interestingly (and not surprisingly, as the GOP contains less diversity than the Democratic Party), Republicans were far more likely to say they sent “Merry Christmas” cards.

3. More Christmas trees were sold last year than ever.

This one is a win for conservatives who rage about the war on Christmas, and a possible loss for environmentalists: Christmas trees are more popular than ever. In 2016, Americans bought 46 million trees, a huge increase over 2015 when 38.4 million trees were sold.

4. Christmas music tops the charts.

Of the 14 pop songs that made Fuse’s list of the best new holiday music this year, all are Christmas songs. Similarly, Parade’s list of the 12 best holiday albums of the year also features 100% Christmas albums.

Historically, Billboard agrees: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” still dominates the season at #1, and eight of the top 10 holiday songs of all time are explicitly about Christmas. Holiday music defies religion: some of the most popular classics—“White Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire/Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”)—were written by Jewish composers.

5. People are spending more money than ever on Christmas presents.

Americans plan to spend an average of $983 on holiday gifts this year, according to the American Research Group. That’s $54 more than they spent on average in 2016.

6. Non-Christian people don’t mind being wished a ‘Merry Christmas.’

Americans are not as sensitive about holiday greetings as conservatives would have you think. Plenty of American JewsMuslimsHindus, and others agree that “Merry Christmas” does not offend non-Christians by omission.

Liz Posner is a managing editor at AlterNet. Her work has appeared on, Bust, Bustle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @elizpos.


White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.